Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Ann Arbor, MI USA
Im not sure if you mean NitrATE or NitITE. In the header it says nitrite and in the body it says nitrate.
I would agree the4x4hoss the best thing to do would be to obtain an ammonia test kit. As to where to source one in Sweden, I am not sure.
If you are talking nitrite, you should see a spike in nitrites during the cycle and if your test kit is saying <.3 and you havent seen a spike yet then this means that your cycle hasn't finished yet. You could still have considerable ammonia, but I doubt it as you have very little bioload, which is actually an issue in this situation unless you have been adding ammonia in some other way.
I could be wrong with this if you could test both nitrates and nitrites and show that you have detectable nitrates and zero nitrites. 3 weeks would be a very fast cycle though so I doubt it.
Other sources of ammonia other than waste from livestock is decaying plant matter, some new substrates (usually the more soil type one) can leech ammonia, and uneaten decaying food.
A couple of snails is a very small bioload and you will only grow a sufficient colony of bacteria to deal with the amount of ammonia that the tank is producing. So, if you have not been adding small amounts of ammonia to do a fishless cycle (not advisable without a test kit) or have not been deliberately overfeeding to induce ammonia spikes you likely have a very small colony of nitrifying bacteria.
So basically if you want to cycle the tank you need to get more ammonia in there.
1st option: "Fishless cycle" with ammonia: You can search for the methodology here on the forums. It involves adding household ammonia (non sudsing, non pefumed) to the tank to grow the bacteria colony. you dose the tank to 3ppm of ammonia. This would require a test kit obviously and likely would not be advisable for your snails.
2nd option Fishless cycle with alternative nitrogen source: is to add ammonia into the system by some form of overfeeding. Some people just use fish food but this is messy I think. I prefer shrimp. Go to the store/freezer/fridge and obtain one decent sized shrimp/prawn (not breaded) throw it in the tank. Shrimp is almost pure protein. Protein is high in Nitrogen. As the bacteria breaks down the shrimp it basically turns into a slow release ammonia source. Nitrifying bacteria thrive and reproduce. Replace shrimp if snails completely consume him. Continue to check nitrates/nitrites every several days. Wait another couple weeks. you should see a nitrITE spike and then see the nitrITEs go to zero as the nitrATES continue to steadily rise. Water change with dechlorinator. Then add some hardy fish and observe.
3rd option is to just throw in some cheap hardy fish and do frequent water changes. This will likely cause the suffering and possibly death and most find it ethically repugnant, but it seems like every time we talk about cycling a tank someone brings it up, so I thought I would first. It is an option. It does work. Its just not a very good option in my opinion.
I will reiterate ammonia test kit would be better and is very useful to have on hand down the road.
If I completely missed the boat here sorry, it is early and I am rambling...