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Discussion Starter #1
First off, hello everyone! My first post here on APC!

I recently set up a low tech, no CO2 46g bowfront tank.

About a week into my fishless cycle, I decided to add a couple plants.

I now have:
1-huge Amazon sword
1-mini amazon sword
1-Scarlet Temple
1-Wisteria
2-Red Ludwigia
1-Java Fern
5-Dwarf Sagittaria

I have 2x39w T5

My question is, should I leave the lights on during the cycle, for the plants? If so, how long should I leave them on each day? A full 12 hours or less during the cycle?
 

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With plants in the tank, you should definitely keep the lights on. I would call 1.7 WPG of t-5 medium light on a 46G. With that, you'll need to watch carefully for algae growth. You will need fertilizer for the plants (not just the micro nutrients, but N,P,K as well) and a carbon source (Flourish Excel).

The lights should stay on for about 8 - 10 hours with that amount of light. To help with algae, you might consider a split schedule ( 5 hours on, 4 hours off, 5 hours on ) . You may also want to get a timer for the light.

Here's a link that might help with some basic info:

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/new-planted-aquariums/8790-basics.html

-Dave
 

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T5 bulbs are much brighter than other fluorescent bulbs, so 1.7 watts of T5 is worth at least 2.2 watts of other fluorescent bulbs. So, I would call your tank at least a moderately high light tank. You will definitely get algae of various types if you don't supply enough carbon to keep the plants growing as fast as the light is driving them to grow. It is the fast growing plants that keep the ammonia level at zero in the tank, and that discourages algae from starting. The photoperiod should probably be 8 hours or less per day. As far as I have been able to learn, based on reading these forums and on the advice of the "experts", a split photoperiod has no effect on algae growth, either good or bad.

If you had started the tank per http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/fertilizing/54943-how-start-new-aquarium.html#post413807, that would probably have been the best way to start it. You don't now have that option.

For the carbon the plants need you can dose Excel, but no amount of Excel is equal to CO2 as a carbon source. It is just much better than none at all.
 

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As far as I have been able to learn, based on reading these forums and on the advice of the "experts", a split photoperiod has no effect on algae growth, either good or bad.

For the carbon the plants need you can dose Excel, but no amount of Excel is equal to CO2 as a carbon source. It is just much better than none at all.
I use a split photo-period and my algae is nothing like it used to be before doing it. That said, I can't honestly say the split photo-period is the reason my algae became under control. That's because at the same time I changed it, I also got better at dosing ferts, learned to spot nutrient problems, and my tank has been aging and getting more settled in (even a 7 month-old set-up is still young).

I won't change what I've got going because 1. I like seeing the lights on at night and 2. I'm too chicken to change what is working for me right now.
Just keep in mind that there is great wisdom in learning from another's experience/knowledge...and hoppy's got LOTS of it.

Totally agree about the CO2. If you really want a non-CO2 tank, use excel. But if you want the best results, there's no match for CO2.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all the help so far!

The only reason I don't do a small lights off period in the afternoon, is because taking the lights on and off twice in one day has been proven to cut the life a bulb almost in half. Just want to save a little money. ;)

I have some excel on me now. But should I start using it right away, or should I wait for it to cycle?

Oh, and I'm probably going to start a journal/diary of my tank, if any of you want to pop in and give advice/aquascaping tips now and then.
 

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Both posters make some good points. If your doing a planted tank, depending on how much plant mass you have there really isn't much of a cycle. The plants will take care of that for you. It's very important at startup especially if you have medium to hight light to do the following to avoid issues with algae:

Run your lights around 6 to 7 hrs for the first month or so. I've never done the split period but you don't have to worry about it if you limit lights to 6 to 7 hrs. Eventually you can increase it to 9 to 10

Use carbon in the filter. I don't mean a carbon-based product like excel. I mean activated carbon that goes in the filter. This will help remove waste in the early stages. The plants don't really get going for a while and the biofilter is immature. After a few weeks you can remove the carbon.

If your not using co2, use excel right away and daily.

Don't put fish in for at least a month.

Change 50% of the water weekly. This will not affect the cycle. Most bacteria forms and adheres on surfaces.

If you do these things you will dramatically reduce algae and other headaches.
 

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Ok, thanks!

One more question, I've been cycling for 10 days now at 1ppm ammonia.....still no nitrite.

How long does it usually take to get the initial nitrite spike? I know there are a million variables but....how long did it take for you?
 

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The last times I started a tank I planted heavily from the start, did no cycling at all, added fish very soon, within a week, and had no problems at all that I could relate to ammonia or nitrite. The secret is planting heavily and providing enough nutrients and light for the plants to grow rapidly. Then, they consume any ammonia the moment it appears in the tank, so the bacterial colonies that always form in an aquarium just form more slowly, but aren't missed in their absence.
 

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Ok, thanks!

One more question, I've been cycling for 10 days now at 1ppm ammonia.....still no nitrite.

How long does it usually take to get the initial nitrite spike? I know there are a million variables but....how long did it take for you?
As hoppy said you might night even notice a cycle, but I don't know as you mentioned all the parameters of your tank. The heavier you plant the better, but not everyone is in a position to plant heavily at first and might not want to so if you follow the things I mentioned you'll be better off. Yeah you could plant heavily and add fish right away, but why risk it. Get the plants growing and looking like the tanks right then slowly add some fish.
 

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I just this week did kinda what hoppy is talking about. When I ripped up my UG filter last Saturday I took the opportunity to tear the tank down COMPLETELY. I cleaned/scrubed the HOB, the powerhead, the glass, and rinsed/siphoned the gravel with clean tap water several times (still not sure I should have done that...but it sure looks new) . If any bacteria survived it was only on the driftwood and possibly some plants.

I re-planted with what was previously in there (after some well-needed trimming) and filled the tank back up, squirted in dechlor (as I filled) and threw the fish back in. All that in 6 hrs. It's been 6 days now and no sign of stress in the fish. My water is kinda cloudy right now (I'm guessing a bacteria bloom? ) but that's all. So, if you plant heavy, you are good to go. :D

-Dave
 
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