We got our tank on April 22. We put in sand, 5 plants (one of which has been removed because it was all sad and dying, the other 4 are doing fine) and a bit of driftwood. Sometime shortly after we added gravel to go on top of the sand. On may 7 I noticed that we had snails. yay snails..... I started fish-less cycling it with 5ppm of ammonia on May 11. I had a stall in my cycle when I went on holiday for 10 days.
When I returned home on May 26, I started cycling again with doses of 5ppm of ammonia whenever the ammonia hit 0. On june 5, my cycle appeared to be completed with ammonia, nitrite, nitrate ant 0,0,80. Just to be sure I dosed it with 5ppm again. Ammonia and nitrate were both 0 the next day so i did it again. zero the next day again. From everything I'veread that means that the tank is cycled.
we rented a car to go on an overnight fish-shopping, inlaw-visiting trip, and before I left, I dosed the tank with a further 5ppm just to give the bacteria something to do while I was away. (we were just window-shopping the first day, don't worry, lol)
On day 2 we bought 5 baby endler hybrids, 4 baby dwarf chain loaches. I've read that endlers like well planted set-ups and the loaches in the shop speared to like hiding behind things so we bought 2 more bits of drift wood to make caves and hidey holes, as well as dwarf anubias and a (something plant?) both attached to more small bits of driftwood, and another, bigger, leafy plant to keep everyone happy.
My fishless cycling appears to have worked because it's been 4 days and there have been no spikes<3
side note: I don't think that what we have are actually dwarf chain loaches. the patterns on the side are totally different. theyre super cute though, so we will keep them for a while. If, when we have the car on the road next month, they appear to growing too big to be a dwarf variety, I'll take them back to the shop and trade them for some proper dwarf ones.
We had some cloudy water issues from the newer bits of driftwood, so I removed them, and I THINK we have it cleared up now.
I don't have a full tank shot yet that isn't cloudy