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Using media/plants to help cycle new tanks


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#1 iwrmom

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 12:00 AM

I have a new question for you experienced fishkeepers...

We currently have a 15g with ELB in it. There is java moss, java fern, anubias and anachris. In addition, we have driftwood and and a lava rock cave set in the substrate.

We have been offered a free 30g set up...stand, tank, heater, filter, lights...an offer I can't pass up. I was wondering...I know using a filter from an established tank will instantly cycle a new tank, but what about using just plants and decor from an established tank? Will the new decor I have to add to the established tank crash the cycled tank or will it be okay as long as I leave the filter? Will the plants and decor alone be enough to instantly cycle a new tank? Or...should I stuff an extra sponge in my established filter for a week and let beneficial bacteria settle in that and use that to cycle the new tank? Of course if these are all bad ideas...please please let me know so I don't make mistakes.

Thanks.

#2 Thriftyfisher

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 03:02 AM

Plants can be used to shorten the cycling of a tank. Plants are covered in with beneficial bacteria and they themselves also remove ammonia and other harmful chemicals from the water.

I set up tanks and put fish in them the next day. I use some tank water from other tanks, plants and light stocking at first. The other thing I do is a large water change after 2-4 days. Remember, most of my tanks are species tanks and I usually am only putting a pair or small group of fish in it and then as they breed the tank fills up with more fish.

Setting up a planted tank and then putting a bunch of Najas grass into the tank will effectively cycle the tank. Najas grass grows very fast and can eliminate the need to cycle a tank. Once the other plants have established themselves, after a couple weeks, you can remove all or part of the Najas grass. (You will probably need to at that point anyway so that it doesn’t completely take over the tank.)

You can also read Diane Walstad’s book “Ecology of the planted tank.” This is a great book if you would like to do low tech planted tanks she is the king.

I hope this helps.


#3 Oldman

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:56 AM

Using just plants and water is almost useless in terms of cycling. The plant surfaces probably have traces of the bacteria that you need but they are not nearly enough to safely put fish into a tank. If you have a heavily planted and thriving tank, like this one, you don't even need to cycle it. The plants will absorb all nitrogen from your fish. That is one of the principles involved in Diana Walstad's NPT being populated on day 1.

[img align=left width=640]http://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll251/Oldman1947/Plants/XenotaeniaCrop.jpg[/img]

Note: this tank is lightly planted when it comes to relying on it to remove nitrogen. It needs to be cycled to really work.
[img align=left width=640]http://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll251/Oldman1947/Plants/Aponogetifolia1024.jpg[/img]

Why not simply split the media between the existing and new tank filters, or you could keep the new filter wet while you move it so that it stays cycled. You can steal about 1/3 of the media from a mature filter nad usuaslly have no problem in the old tank.v That will give you a nice start to cycling the new tank and may permit you to stock with a few fish.



#4 fuzzypants

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 06:12 AM

I've always had good luck with plants/"old" water from another tank and a few flakes of fish food. let the fish food dissolve, and within a week usually my tank is completely cycled and stable. Of course old media works as well, I keep a sponge filter in my tank just for emergencies and have one frozen which I just de-thaw in extreme cases (haven't used it yet)

#5 iwrmom

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 02:33 AM

Thank you all for the great ideas...I took a little from everyone. I used a sponge that I had in my other filter...used it to slow the water flow in the other tank but easy to move and replace. I used a medium size piece of driftwood with java fern and anubias on it from the old tank. I split and moved a hunk of java moss and some vals from the old tank. Got some riccia and anachris for each tank. Couldn't find guppy grass anywhere around here after calling or visiting 7 stores, where would be a good place to get some...craigslist maybe? And used three gallons of tank water from the other tank. "Fed" the tank for a week. Moved the five females and fry into the new tank yesterday after testing the water. Tested the water again today and it is not showing any ammonia, nitrites or nitrates. I will test every day for a week or so just in case. Oddly, the old tank did have a small spike of ammonia after I moved things around (somewhere between 0 and. 25 ppm). I am guessing it was because the gravel got stirred up and I moved some of the beneficial bacteria out of there. I changed four gallons of water and I will test again tomorrow. I am planning to add five or six pygmy corys to the male endler (only 5 males right now) tank at the end of this week or next week when I am sure the water is stable. Do pygmy corys and endler's coexist well together from anyone's experience?

I had 21 fry from my five females but I am down to about 14. Is that "normal"? I have read conflicting information about whether or not the endler females eat the fry. The fry are only three days old...would they be better off in the male tank?

#6 Oldman

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 03:22 AM

I have kept cories with endlers since I first got endlers several years ago. I do not have C. pygmaeus with mine but I do have some C. habrosus in their tank. The habrosus are about the same size as pygmaeus but have a color pattern more like peppered cories.

#7 iwrmom

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:17 PM

I got c. pygmaeus last week and c. hasbrosus this week...three of each...and they seem to love swimming around with each other AND with the five male endlers. It is the perfect little community. But...no more fishies for the 15g for now. It has 11 between the corys and endlers and I think that anymore than 15 fish in a 15g is considered overstocking (unless my plants and the small size of the endlers change the equation). I will move in the few male fry when they show color but anything else will have to wait until I get a bigger 30g tank from a friend.




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