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Old 10-24-2011, 01:42 PM   #1 
mathkid
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Smile Plant-only tank - what to feed the plants?

Hey all,

I just ordered a bunch of plants from Aquatic Plants Central (anubias, cabomba, water sprite, water wisteria, pennywort) and I'm looking forward to their arrival! I want to quarantine the plants and get a planted aquarium set up and running smoothly before adding a betta, though. Any ideas how to make sure the plants get enough macronutrients until fish are added? I have Flourish comprehensive, but I don't think that's meant to replace the ammonia from fish waste...

-mk
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Old 10-24-2011, 01:53 PM   #2 
Kytkattin
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I would look into a fishless cycle. Basically you add the ammonia in yourself, be it with shrimp (?) or fish food. Not sure about the shrimp thing... I remember reading it somewhere, but I am not sure what it means.

The fish food will be broken down by the bacteria into ammonia, then nitrite, then nitrate once you have a good cycle going.
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Old 10-24-2011, 02:02 PM   #3 
mathkid
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Thanks Kytkattin! Yeah, I've heard of the raw shrimp thing, but I think I'd rather go with fish food. Does anyone know of a good source of pure ammonia? That'd be less messy, which I'm a fan of. =) I'm not sure if a heavily planted tank will actually cycle (establish all the right bacteria colonies), since the plants may eat up the ammonia before bacteria can get to it. But it should keep the water safe, which is the important thing!
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Old 10-24-2011, 02:12 PM   #4 
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It should cycle, even if it isn't in the way we normally think of a cycle (with the bacteria). I am not sure if a normal cycle doesn't occur if you have plants. I always thought it did...

fish food is probably your best bet. I don't know of any other sources of pure ammonia, but there might be. Hopefully someone more experienced comes along to answer!
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Old 10-24-2011, 02:17 PM   #5 
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Go to your local drug or grocery store. Look in the cleaning supplies section. Generally, the cheaper the product, the less likely it is to have surfactants, perfumes, etc., which you want to avoid. I went to my local London Drugs (which I don't think you have in the US), and just grabbed their brand of 100% ammonia from the household cleaners. All different brands will have different concentrations, so make sure to go slowly when adding it and make a few measurements with your test kit. I think I got a liter for about $2, so its cheap stuff and you'll never use that much.

If you're just going to be adding a betta you can probably just add enough to get you to 2-3 ppm of ammonia and then see do your test 24 hours later and see how much the plants have used up and add more accordingly. The biological cycle will still form, it'll just be slower and fewer bacteria will form as the bacteria won't me solely responsible for taking up the toxins. If you're planning to add more fish and depending on the size of the tank you may want to make more ammonia available in the tank (4-5ppm) so the tank is ready for a larger bio-load on the intro of fish. Or just take it slow and only add a few fish at a time after cycling.
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