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Old 22-08-2003, 06:22 PM
Jim Seidman
Posts: n/a
Default Include plants when cycling tank?

tose (LeighMo) wrote in message ...
I was just discussing this with my wife last night. We both agreed
that this would be a *better* approach for newbies.

Only if they were disciplined enough to stick to the plan, which many of them
aren't. Heck, many of us experienced fishkeepers aren't.

We could probably argue for a long time over whether abandoning the
plan is worse in a plantless filtered tank or a heavily-planted
filterless tank. Personally, I think that a planted tank would be more
resistant to mistakes.

Nitrate, IME, isn't the problem in a filterless tank. The problem is oxygen.
It may not be an issue in a planted tank during the day, but it can be at
And it can be a total disaster in an unplanted tank that's overstocked.

When I said my tank was "filterless" I didn't mean to imply "without
circulation." I do use a powerhead for water movement. I have however
heard of several people who run without circulation in heavily planted
tanks without a problem.

I'm curious, though: have you heard of many oxygen problems (for
newbies or otherwise)? Usually when I hear of fish gasping at the
surface, it's because their gills are inflamed from ammonia poisoning,
not because oxygen levels are too low.

This may be heresy on this newsgroup, but I actually wouldn't recommend a
planted tank for a total beginner. It adds expense and an extra learning curve
that most people setting up their first tanks don't need. As it is, the vast
majority of people who start keeping tropical fish give up. I'm all for
anything that adds to a newbie's chance of success, including fishless cycling
and powered filters.

While it would require retraining fish store employees, I'm not sure
that it adds expense or learning curve. The total value of equipment
on my 125 gallon actually went down when I redid it, as did the
maintenance required. A low-tech tank really doesn't require that much

A lot of beginners don't even learn about the nitrogen cycle, or that
even after the cycle you need to be careful to add fish gradually.
Plants, on the other hand, can adapt quickly to changing levels of
ammonia. The planted tank will also be much more forgiving of bad
water change schedules. Failing to change the water in a new unplanted
tank can mean death, while failing to change the water in a new
heavily planted tank just means that it looks overgrown. (Similar
arguments can be made for filter maintenance.)

It's a moot point, since stores won't give up their lucrative filter
sales. But if I were advising a newcomer to the hobby, I'd point them
towards a heavily planted tank, since I truly belive that minimizes
their odds of dead fish.

- Jim