Maintaining Bacteria And Plants After Cycle If Stocking Is Delayed? (general Tips Welcome Too!)

  1. JenC

    JenC Well Known Member Member

    Hi all,

    I'm doing a 10g fishless cycle and have a question about maintenance after the cycle if the tank's not stocked immediately. This is my first tank so I want to take things slowly, get the tank planted, continue learning, and practice some basic maintenance before adding fish.

    I read that I can keep the bacteria fed after the cycle by dosing ammonia to 3 ppm daily until I add fish (after a water change). Is that right? And will plants be okay in that environment for a few days or weeks - daily ammonia to 3 ppm, fertilizer (root tabs/liquid), and no detritus?

    I'd like to know I can at least keep plants alive and the tank somewhat managed before adding fish. I also figure it's better to get the tank planted properly first rather than trying to arrange it with fish. If you think this is silly/wrong just let me know. I don't know anyone who has an aquarium so I have no idea.

    Any and all input would be appreciated. Truly - any tips or constructive criticism would be welcome. I'm trying to do this right but I had no idea how complicated or expensive this was. I just started out wanting a betta fish in an empty 2.5g tank!

    Thanks,
    Jen
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Set-up:
    10g freshwater. AquaClear 30 Power Filter. Canister corner filter - came with tank starter kit; running for added 02 and to jump start empty 2.5g tank if it's needed. Six white LED hood lights from starter kit; I assume it's a low-light environment. Medium gravel substrate. Current plants = 1 java fern, 1 amazon sword, 4 large marimo moss balls, 1 coco mini moss. 1 large piece mopani wood, boiling and soaking for days now.

    Key Nitrogen Cycle Stats:
    Day 1: Dosed ammonia to 4 ppm. Day 10: Ammonia 2-4 ppm; Nitrites 0.5. Day 11: Ammonia 2-4, Nitrites 1, Nitrates 10. Day 13: Ammonia 0-0.25; dosed back to 3 ppm, Nitrites 5. Tank pH generally stable 7.4-7.6 throughout. Working on KH and GH testing.

    Plants I'm Considering for Low-Tech Tank:
    java moss, s repens, anubias, jungle val, narrow leaf chain sword, riccia fluitans.

    P.S. I know 10g is super small. I'll avoid overstocking and reduce potential for fry by avoiding live-bearers and/or doing same-sex only species; I know I can't have much. I'll also do drip-acclimation.

    I neglected to add that I have a heater in the 10g. It's a preset Tetra HT Submersible. I don't have another for my backup 2.5g; I suppose I'm hoping it's not needed? Let me know if this is wrong thinking.
     
  2. Sarcasm Included

    Sarcasm Included Well Known Member Member

    Continue adding ammonia to the tank at the same amount that you have been. It is usually best to plant the tanks before adding stock because of the plant may go through a melting period, which it is contributing to the ammonia levels instead of reducing.
     
  3. toolman

    toolman Well Known Member Member

    Agree with sarcasm included, many people also think plants help a cycle go smoothly or faster. I'm not sure if that's the case or not but I don't believe it would hurt.
     


  4. Sarcasm Included

    Sarcasm Included Well Known Member Member

    Plants that absorb nutrients directly from the water column will readily take in ammonia more so than nitrates. This reduces the amount of ammonia in the tank, reducing the amount of bacteria needed to process ammonia and speeding up the cycling process. The rate of which is dependent upon whether the type of plant and how fast the plant is growing.
     
  5. -Mak-

    -Mak- Well Known Member Member

    Agree with the others, but I don't think 3 ppm is necessary, 2 ppm would work fine. At high levels of ammonia even the beneficial bacteria and plants can die off.
     
  6. K

    Kris23 Valued Member Member

    Do NOT stop dosing ammonia. That is the best feedback I can give you. I cycled my tank a year ago, added fish, they died, and then I got discouraged. I maintained the tank and plants, but I stopped dosing ammonia so now I have to restart the cycling process again. But yeah, the plants will totally be fine. I've been dosing with fertilizers and they're good.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    JenC

    JenC Well Known Member Member

    Thanks everyone! I appreciate the advice and will keep dosing the ammonia at 2-3 ppm/day. It's being processed very quickly - within a few hours - and I'm looking forward to when the nitrites start dropping.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    JenC

    JenC Well Known Member Member

    That's ultimately my fear - that I'll go through all this initial work, carefully select plants and fish, and have them all die because I really have no clue what I'm doing! :(