After Dionysus got sick, in order to be sure nothing in the tank was making him ill, I sterilized everything and completely changed the tank. I know I destroyed my cycle, but it was honestly for good reason--after taking apart everything in the filter, I discovered that somehow, BUGS had gotten inside of it where I couldn't see(even during a big water change, were squished between the pieces where it was put together) and were clearly decaying. I don't know how much that affected my water, but it was GROSS!
Anyway, since then, I bought about 6 more plants in the tank, and I'm having a lot more trouble getting the tank to start cycling again properly! I've been hearing that planted tanks don't cycle as well(plants eating ammonia, etc.) and so I'm wondering the best course of action here. Keep trying to cycle? Should I let the plants do the work? They seem to be doing a great job of keeping the ammonia down not even letting enough get in to get eaten by nitrites.
What do I do if the plants keep messing with the cycle? It should eventually cycle right? I've never messed with an uncycled 5 gallon tank, when Dionysus goes back in, how should I do water changes?
That is a type of cycle. You can cycle a tank by growing bacteria in a filter cartridge or by planting your tank so heavily that the plants take the place of the bacteria. Instead of nitrates (like my cycled tank) you have plants that are doing the work for you. But I don't how long a plant cycle takes to be complete, but if you are seeing ammonia spikes, then the tank isn't ready yet. Once all the ammonia spikes stop completely, the tank is safe for fish.
To be honest, I don't know much about planted tanks but I do know planted tanks is one of the few ways to have a cycle without a filter. Since the plants have replaced nitrates, you'll probably want all your levels to be ammonia 0 nitrITEs 0 nitrATEs 0 instead of the usual ammonia 0 nitrITEs 0 nitrATEs 10-30. Hopefully someone who has cycled a tank with plants will notice this thread. I just read up on it briefly while I was searching for fishless cycling methods. ^_^;
As far as I know, that's still a cycle you are seein (called the silent cycle). It does cycle properly (the filter does build up the good bacteria), but you never see any spikes because the plants just eat them all.
I'm not totally savvy on this, though - my only cycle with a planted tank was done with a heck of a lot of seeding and reliance on the plants to make it safe for my fish. I didn't do any parameter testing.
OFL can tell you alot about this. I've got a planted tank, and this whole silent cycle thing is confusing I must admit. Oh, and after one month, the filter foam block is brown... I so want to chuck it >.> resisting urge.
If that's the case, I'd really like a lot more plants. To be honest, I didn't expect the amount I have to affect the cycle this much(It isn't much...a few java ferns, moss ball, anubias... Mostly the java ferns) but they sure are really messing with things.
I think if this is going to keep making things weird, I'd like to do it right and do a REALLY REALLY well planted tank. How many plants are we talking to do this reliably? Also, how fast do most plants tend to propagate? It would be nice to have more plants simply from cuttings and such and have them grow and spread so I don't have to spend a bunch on plants, but I definitely think I need a little more variety.
I Can't remember if she said 50% or 75% coverage. Mine is about 50%, depending on how the anachris is doing at any given point.
I've got mostly java ferns, a few anubis, anachris and moss.
Sorry I can't offer better advice, try pming OFL, she will walk you through it.
How fast plants propogate really depends on so many factors: light, fertilisation, CO2 etc. For instance, my java fern in my 5 gallon under 1wpg barely did anything. In my 16 gallon under 1.5 wpg with fertiliser, it propogates a fair old bit.
If you want a plant that propogates a lot, get elodea densa/anacharis. It grows like a nutcase, so you just chop the long bits off and stick the end in the gravel. Brand new plant. Grows like a weed (it is actually a weed in some parts of Australia). Lacefern is pretty quick to propogate, too. It acts like java fern - root clusters and new leaves growing off old ones.
Live active growing plants can help keep the water safe.....the tank will cycle, however, it may take longer and you can't always depend on the water pram results as the sign that the cycle has established-look for other signs.....like good algae.....
The silent cycle that planted tank go through is different than un planted tanks.....Depending on the number and species of plants-they will use ammonia before conversion, however, the process is still going on
You don't want to over clean planted tanks....both the fish waste and any left over food is good for planted tanks by providing nutrients for the plants....everything gets recycled in a sense.....but weekly water changes are still needed with light vacuum...its a balance......its a closed system after all.....
I don't like to say...don't worry about the nitrogen cycle.....but don't worry...don't stress over it in a properly planted tank with active growing plants......key word...active growth......slow growing plants like anubias and java fern are also low feeders and don't use as much byproduct from the system......fast growing high feeders...like most stem and floating plants-you should be needing to trim the plants every 7-10/12 days....
We the hobbyist are the best water testers by the power of observation......