Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Fishless cycle will work with ADA products supplying the ammonia.
The basic fishless cycle, starting with no bacteria takes pretty close to 3 weeks.
Old tank water has almost no bacteria, and solid surface decor like large rocks also have little bacteria populations. Driftwood might have a pretty good amount of bacteria because of the holes in the wood, most wood is quite porous.
Keep up the water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrite under 5 ppm.
neither group of bacteria do well when these values get too high.
Make sure the GH and KH are over 3 German degrees of hardness. These bacteria need some minerals, they use the carbonates as a source of carbon.
The first group of bacteria, that remove ammonia and produce nitrite are fairly fast growing, and I would expect the nitrite to start showing up by the end of the first week, and doing a pretty strong attempt at spiking in the second week. Watch it. Do water changes to keep it under 5 ppm.
The second group of bacteria, that remove nitrite and produce nitrate are slower growing. However, they will get going, and by about the end of the third week the nitrite will be under better control, but still watch it. While the fishless cycle generally takes 3 weeks, sometimes the bacteria need a little more time to stabilize their population.
Using the aquasoil as a source of ammonia is fine, but it has a natural cycle of its own.
When newly submerged it can produce a lot of ammonia (too much for the nitrifying bacteria), and this production stays pretty high for several weeks.
However, just about the time the nitritfying bacteria really need the soil to stay in production, the levels of ammonia start to drop. You may have to add another source of ammonia to keep the bacteria fed. If you need to do this add enough ammonia once a day to test at 3 ppm.