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What is generally considered the preferred cycle method for starting a new planted tank?
 

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AV8TOR said:
What is generally considered the preferred cycle method for starting a new planted tank?
There shouldn't really be one. Plants will take care of nitrogen cycle.

Planted Tanks and the "Silent Cycle"

Ammonia and Nitrite kits are usually useful when cycling a tank. However, if your tank is heavily planted, the chances are you won't see an ammonia or nitrite spike if you track these parameters when cycling. In fact, the only indication that your tank has cycled may be the appearance of nitrates. Even then you may not get a reading: heavily planted tanks with a light to moderate fish load often test zero nitrates, since the plants take up some of the ammonia before the bacteria convert it, plus most plant species can back-convert both nitrite and nitrate to ammonia (ammonium). If you let a large plant load get established for a week or two in your new setup, it's usually safe start to add groups of fish in weekly increments, but testing for zero ammonia and nitrite first is always a good idea. Remember to put in some fish food while your plant are getting established so they and the beneficial bacteria have some nitrogenous waste for food. In addition to planting heavily, it's wise to start out with a nice percentage of stem plants, which, growing fast, consume more nutrients (fish waste). Once your tank is well-established and in balance, you can start to replace some of the stem plants with slower-growing, rooted ones (if you like).
 

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I always add bio-spira to my new tanks even though it is probably not needed. It just makes me feel better and worry-free.
 

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Mulm or biomedia from an old established tank, commercial bacterii (eg. ADA Bacter 100), starter fishes, etc...
 

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I'd say that there might not be a preferred method to start a tank but there are a few things that one very much must do:

1. Start with all your equipment.
That may sound stupid but often people hook up only part of the equipment and add the rest later. I believe that is a receipe for a disaster.

2. Genrerally - the more plants from the start the better.
Chuck Gadd's article (on his site) about starting a tank is a good step by step advice.

3. Plants should be in good health and clean of algae.
So they will establish themselves as fast as possible.

4. The first few weeks of the tank development one needs to check things every single day.
By that I don't mean running all water parameter test every day. I'd say watch the plants is better - let them be your guide.

--Nikolay
 
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