So, I recently set up a 20XH, and I'm almost 2 weeks into the fishless cycle.
Dirted low tech with some driftwood. ~2" MGOPM, and ~1.5-2" flourite black sand.
Eclipse I twin lamp for light/filtration.
Have a couple anubias rubber banded/tied to the driftwood, a couple java fern, some marselia and micro sword (I don't have the full scientific names for all of them, and I don't have access to the partial list right now, so I've probably got the names wrong), a tiger lotus, a couple cabomba, and some ludwigia (not doing to hot right now), some pennywort, and a bunch of frogbit floating around up top.
After I got it all planted and filled with water, I noticed a couple minuscule ramshorn snails, and one decent sized pond snail. I'm kinda glad, I don't mind snails, and I'm all for diversity in the tank.
I wasn't sure if the snails would make it through the cycle, but so far it looks pretty good. I've been checking NH4, NO2, NO3 every night, and adding enough ammonia to bring it up into the 3-5ppm. Most nights it's at 0-1ppm when I check, and my NO2 tends to be around 2-5ppm. NO3 is almost off the charts, usually 50ish ppm, up to ~100 ppm.
I've been doing some partial water changes, both to reduce the NO2 and NO3, but also to cut down on the tannins (I'm getting a lot of leeching, both from the driftwood and the MGOPM), and pulling out the frogbit as it grows (I try to take out the uglier looking/dying ones).
Lately it looks like the pond snails had a mini population boom- there are dozens of tiny ones all over the place (again, I don't mind, and I'm glad something is in there to get at the algae on the glass and fungus on the driftwood), but I haven't seen any of the ramshorns for almost a week (until today, there was a pretty large one on the glass, and I think it may have laid eggs - there was a gelatinous blob on the substrate, and when I look at it closely, it looks like a tightly wound helix of transparent beads.
Unfortunately, when I was checking the water parameters the other night, I noticed a bunch of weird insects hanging around under the hood. They looked sorta mosquito-like, except not quite (sat hugging the surface instead of standing upright, wings looked a bit odd). I killed most of them, and again last night when I did a water change. Then today I noticed a mosquito larvae diving when I walked up to the tank.
So... anybody have any suggestions on what to do about mosquito larvae? I figure I'm probably going to have at least another week or two before I can add fish, which would seem to be the easiest way to control them.
And as to snails, are they typically unaffected by the cycling process? should I wait till the cycle is over before trying to add Malaysian trumpet snails?
Any suggestions would be appreciated. Here's a pic of the tank I took shortly after set-up, sorry about the quality (the blue tape is from me trying to locate studs to put in anchors for earthquake straps and such)