Dry start method + dark start method

Jeezusjuiicee

I'm going to be starting my 1st planted tank next year.
So I recently discovered both the dry start and dark start method. 1st I came across the dry start where you blend moss into a paste and paint it onto the desired substrate, then mist it and cover with plastic wrap and grow it like a house plant essentially.

Then the dark start method Wich kind of goes against the dry start method. Where you fill the tank with aquasoil, hardscape, water, and run the filter with no lights and no water changes for 3 weeks, the aquasoil will let off ammonia at the beginning so it will feed the filter, and the lack of lights will keep the algea at bay. So you can see how these to methods don't really work so well together lol. My research hasn't gotten as far as looking up individual plant needs or what plants I want yet. But I'm sure moss won't grow in 24/7 darkness for 3 weeks!

but then I thought of a plan that just might work. What if I did a period of dry start (don't remember how long it's supposed to be) then when the moss has established and I'm ready to fill the tank. I take the hardscape that has moss growing on it, and put it in a big plastic bin, and keep the lights running on the bin while my tank sits in the dark doing the dark start. So after the 3 week dark start I can bring the lights and the mossy hardscape back into the cycled tank.

That would probably put me at like 6-8 weeks of start up time. But I think it would really pay off if I'm on the right track. I'd love to hear what an experienced pro would say about this!
 

Freshfishguy

I'm going to be starting my 1st planted tank next year.
So I recently discovered both the dry start and dark start method. 1st I came across the dry start where you blend moss into a paste and paint it onto the desired substrate, then mist it and cover with plastic wrap and grow it like a house plant essentially.

Then the dark start method Wich kind of goes against the dry start method. Where you fill the tank with aquasoil, hardscape, water, and run the filter with no lights and no water changes for 3 weeks, the aquasoil will let off ammonia at the beginning so it will feed the filter, and the lack of lights will keep the algea at bay. So you can see how these to methods don't really work so well together lol. My research hasn't gotten as far as looking up individual plant needs or what plants I want yet. But I'm sure moss won't grow in 24/7 darkness for 3 weeks!

but then I thought of a plan that just might work. What if I did a period of dry start (don't remember how long it's supposed to be) then when the moss has established and I'm ready to fill the tank. I take the hardscape that has moss growing on it, and put it in a big plastic bin, and keep the lights running on the bin while my tank sits in the dark doing the dark start. So after the 3 week dark start I can bring the lights and the mossy hardscape back into the cycled tank.

That would probably put me at like 6-8 weeks of start up time. But I think it would really pay off if I'm on the right track. I'd love to hear what an experienced pro would say about this!
I haven’t done the dry start method, but after doing 4 planted tanks in the future if I were to do one I would go with the dark start. That would be a good way of greatly lowering the chance of algae getting out of control in the beginning while the tank is getting established. You may need to add an additional ammonia source at some point during the cycling though, I’m not sure if the aquasoil ammonia could carry the whole cycle. I added additional ammonia when I cycled a tank with ADA aquasoil that leached ammonia a while back but I was less experienced then and it may not have been necessary. One other thing I’d point out is not all aquasoils leach ammonia, so that’s something to keep in mind when purchasing aquasoil.
 

VSA

Dry start on moss can take up to 6 weeks so you should be able to time the dry start and dark start to coincide with each other and not need the plastic bin.
 

Jeezusjuiicee

I haven’t done the dry start method, but after doing 4 planted tanks in the future if I were to do one I would go with the dark start. That would be a good way of greatly lowering the chance of algae getting out of control in the beginning while the tank is getting established. You may need to add an additional ammonia source at some point during the cycling though, I’m not sure if the aquasoil ammonia could carry the whole cycle. I added additional ammonia when I cycled a tank with ADA aquasoil that leached ammonia a while back but I was less experienced then and it may not have been necessary. One other thing I’d point out is not all aquasoils leach ammonia, so that’s something to keep in mind when purchasing aquasoil.
Thank you I'll keep that in mind! I'll be doing water tests so I'll see how much ammonia my soil will leach. I think I'm gonna be using the tropica brand. Do you think I can do the dark start cycle, and then when it's complete I would empty the tank to plant , but instead of filling it back up that's when I do a dry start? I know you said you haven't done one of those. But I think the only concern doing it that way would be the filter drying out during the dry start.
Dry start on moss can take up to 6 weeks so you should be able to time the dry start and dark start to coincide with each other and not need the plastic bin.
I'm sorry I don't know what you mean! How can I grow the moss in the tank if the lights are off?
 

VSA

Thank you I'll keep that in mind! I'll be doing water tests so I'll see how much ammonia my soil will leach. I think I'm gonna be using the tropica brand. Do you think I can do the dark start cycle, and then when it's complete I would empty the tank to plant , but instead of filling it back up that's when I do a dry start? I know you said you haven't done one of those. But I think the only concern doing it that way would be the filter drying out during the dry start.

I'm sorry I don't know what you mean! How can I grow the moss in the tank if the lights are off?

You don’t need to grow the moss in the dark tank.

You should be able to take a rough guess at cycling times for your dark start and growth times of moss for your dry start. If you synchronise the two you will simply be moving the dry start moss straight to the tank that has completed it’s dark start and is no longer covered to keep out light.
 

Jeezusjuiicee

You don’t need to grow the moss in the dark tank.

You should be able to take a rough guess at cycling times for your dark start and growth times of moss for your dry start. If you synchronise the two you will simply be moving the dry start moss straight to the tank that has completed it’s dark start and is no longer covered to keep out light.
Oh just do them at the same time you mean I see! Like a dry start but not in the tank hey?
I actually have a humidity dome for small seedlings and new plants from when I used to grow stuff lol. So that's actually a genius idea!
Wait wait guys I'm a dork. I have a well established fish tank already running for 2 years now. I'm literally building the filter for my new tank right now and I won't have it set up for months. I can just run this filter on my current tank and then I'll have a cycled filter for my new tank. So after I do a dry start I can just fill it up and turn on the lights! I'll still wait a week or 2 before adding fish obviously test the water but I think that's probably the best bet. I appreciate everyone's feedback and tips!
 

VSA

Yes, if it is moss you are doing it doesn’t need to be done in the final tank it is going to as it will be attached to something else and you can move it. Obviously if you were dry starting for a carpet then you would need to use the actual tank.

I’m a bit confused on your second part. If you’re going to be doing dark start then you will be using an ammonia leaching substrate. If you already have cycled filter media then you could just make sure all the ammonia leaches out of your substrate in a bucket and once ammonia free just add it to your tank along with your dry start moss and filter media and you have a cycled tank (once you have tested it’s parameters off course).

May be I’m missing something but I don’t understand why dark start is part of your set up process?
 

ruud

I'm currently setting up a new aquascape: 5 Gallon Tank - Nature style low-tech 4,5 gallon aquascape | Freshwater Aquarium Journals Forum | 512718 ...still puzzling on the hardscape; will post a new update soon.

In parallel I'm running a hob filter, that I intend to use for this aquascape, on a separate tank, which I believe has fairly similar water conditions as the intended conditions of the new aquascape. If you don't have a tank, dump aquasoil in a vase and add the filter to the vase and let it run for a few weeks. Both aquasoil and filter can be added later to your tank.

This way, I don't have to look at a dark tank for a few weeks; life is simply too short.

In parallel I've planted various carpet plants in a very shallow vase that is filled with aquasoil as well; the plants are growing emersed. The vase is out in the open; I'm not creating a moisty environment for the plants, apart from keeping the soil wet of course.

Once the hardscape is done (can easly take weeks till Im happy), I simply add the hob, the soil with beneficial bacteria, the carpet plants, along with other plants, to the new aquascape, which I then fill with water to the top. I'll see to it that most of the scape will be planted to prevent algae from settling. So I'm not going to wait for plants to grow, I simply use a lot of plants from the start.
 

Jeezusjuiicee

Yes, if it is moss you are doing it doesn’t need to be done in the final tank it is going to as it will be attached to something else and you can move it. Obviously if you were dry starting for a carpet then you would need to use the actual tank.

I’m a bit confused on your second part. If you’re going to be doing dark start then you will be using an ammonia leaching substrate. If you already have cycled filter media then you could just make sure all the ammonia leaches out of your substrate in a bucket and once ammonia free just add it to your tank along with your dry start moss and filter media and you have a cycled tank (once you have tested it’s parameters off course).

May be I’m missing something but I don’t understand why dark start is part of your set up process?
Well the reason I thought of a dark start was 1st, I've tried a planted tank once in the passed and boy did I get some serious algea. But it was due to many factors (didn't do my research) 2nd I forgot about the whole trick where you can use established media for a new tank! And I'm not very clever when it comes to these things. I have no imagination lol. I'm really loving all the help here tho :) lots of great ideas
I'm currently setting up a new aquascape: 5 Gallon Tank - Nature style low-tech 4,5 gallon aquascape | Freshwater Aquarium Journals Forum | 512718 ...still puzzling on the hardscape; will post a new update soon.

In parallel I'm running a hob filter, which I'll use for this aquascape on a separate tank, which I believe has fairly similar water conditions as the intended conditions of the new aquascape. If you don't have a tank, dump aquasoil in a vase and add the filter to the vase and let it run for a few weeks. Both aquasoil and filter can be added later to your tank.

This way, I don't have to look at a dark tank for a few weeks; life is simply too short.

In parallel I've planted various carpet plants in a very shallow vase that is filled with aquasoil as well; the plants are growing emersed. The vase is out in the open; I'm not creating a moisty environment for the plants, apart from keeping the soil wet of course.

Once the hardscape is done (can easly take weeks till Im happy), I simply add the hob, the soil with beneficial bacteria, the carpet plants, along with other plants to the new aquascape, which I then fill with water to the top. I'll see to it that most of the scape will be planted to prevent algae from settling. So I'm not going to wait for plants to grow, I simply use a lot of plants from the start.
Now that's smart! Cause I was going to do the same thing, take a long time to set up the hardscape like a week atleast probably, it will be my 1st time! I'm so excited haha. My current tank is all fake rocks and ornaments, I still love it but I want to be a real boy lol xD thank you so much! I'll keep an eye on your journal there. I'll probably start one myself when I get my tank!
 

ruud

Well the reason I thought of a dark start was 1st, I've tried a planted tank once in the passed and boy did I get some serious algea. But it was due to many factors (didn't do my research) 2nd I forgot about the whole trick where you can use established media for a new tank! And I'm not very clever when it comes to these things. I have no imagination lol. I'm really loving all the help here tho :) lots of great ideas

Now that's smart! Cause I was going to do the same thing, take a long time to set up the hardscape like a week atleast probably, it will be my 1st time! I'm so excited haha. My current tank is all fake rocks and ornaments, I still love it but I want to be a real boy lol xD thank you so much! I'll keep an eye on your journal there. I'll probably start one myself when I get my tank!
I'm well over 20 years in the hobby ;)
 

Jeezusjuiicee

I'm well over 20 years in the hobby ;)
Haha wow! Well I appreciate your sensei advice
 

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