Setting up 5.5g tank (newbie!)
I am brand new to this world and I am feeling quite confused about a few things after hearing so many conflicting instructions on how to set the tank up and create a beautiful, healthy and happy home for it's new inhabitant/s.
I bought a 5.5g tank from my local fish store and asked their advice on preparing everything and they simply said to let the filter run for a week and then it'll be fine. My initial thought was "amazing!! i can have little friends swimming around so soon!" but then I became curious as to why I had to wait a week and how to tell if everything was actually safe and inviting. This led me to fish in/fishless cycling (the idea of fishless seems like an obvious choice to me). I also bought a black quartz substrate after asking the assistant which would be best and he said any is fine, which I hope is the case, and I also bought an anubius on a bit of smooth driftwood. I'm planning on heading back in a few days to pick up a few more smaller/taller plants.
I am really needing a bit of guidance on getting that good bacteria started while keeping the plant happy. I bought a master test kit today and checked the water after it's been running for 24 hours with the heater at 28 degrees (C) and with decent aggitation at the surface in a low light setting. The ammonia seemed to be sitting at 0.25 ppm and nitrites and nitrates both at 0. Is anything happening with my tank? What can I do to encourage the bacteria growth? Should I wait before I add any more plants?
And another question I'm struggling to find a decent answer for is who is going to live there. It's been suggested that get a betta and a 3cm bristelnose catfish until they are ready for a larger tank which I was told could be a year or two? Again I'm just a confused fish tank owner wanting to create a healthy and happy environment and I would absolutely love any advice or opinions!