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Howdy!
What are your recommendations for filtration on a 20 gallon long planted tank? Is a sponge filter the best option for any planted tank? When you plant, do the plants already have the necessary bacteria to consider the tank cycled? Am new to planted tanks and am getting ready to set one up. Just want to get as much information as I can. Thanks!
 

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I have two 20 gallon long planted tanks that are filtered using sponge filters. You can't consider the tank to be cycled just because you add plants. If possible get a sponge from an already cycled tank (which is what I do) or see if you can put the sponge filter in a friend's tank for a couple of weeks to get it colonized with bacteria.
 

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I second the sponge filtration. I have tried all types of filtration and sponge is by far the easiest. If you are doing a planted tank, all you really need is water movement. Get a small powerhead and a sponge pre-filter and you are set.

Plants don't have denitrifying bacteria, but they will readily take up ammonia that are produced by the fish. Your best bet is to do it step by step. First plant the plants, then start your filtration. Wait a couple of days and then add a few fish (I recommend ottocinclus first). Wait a couple more days, add more fish...etc. Doing things gradually will allow time for the tank to adjust. Ever since I started this approach, I have had more success.
 
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