First I'll say a happy hello to the forum!
This is probably TMI, but better that than too little. Here's some background, and please take it easy on me, I'm a rookie
My father and I recently started our first aquariums. They are both planted and have been cycling for about 3 weeks. Marineland Kit 20 and Kit 30 respectively. We both opted for adding a very few fish to help cycling. I added 3 red eye tetras to my 20 gallon tank during the first week and they seem to be doing fine. I've been doing liquid water tests every couple of days with the API kit. Ammonia spiked during the first week, then came down as nitrite rose slightly, then both came down to zero and nitrate started climbing gradually. I've shared this with my LFS and compared against cycling profiles described in various online articles, and from what I can tell this is on par and the tank is making good progress with the cycling. The tetras have lived up to their hardy reputation in the presence of the ammonia spike.
During the third week I started to notice some brown spots on the leaves of my jungle val and red wendtii. I thought it might be a disease, but I showed pictures to my LFS and turns out it was only some brown algae. I also had some white stuff that looked like tiny pieces of lint stuck along the tank walls in various places. They recommended I go ahead and add a janitor crew. On their recommendation I bought 1 clown pleco, 3 oto catfish, 1 siamese algae eater, and 1 whisker shrimp (just because I really wanted a shrimp). All of them were added to the tank two days ago after doing a 10% water change.
The next day I immediately noticed several small holes in my jungle val and red wendtii. There are also a few jungle val tips that have a chewed appearance. It has all happened since adding the janitor crew. One more day later there are more holes and chewed spots.
Other things I've observed:
1. Out of all the new 'janitor' fish I just added, the oto cats spend the most time stuck to plants.
2. The clown pleco spends most of its time stuck to the tank walls or gravel and not as much time stuck to plants.
3. The shrimp hasn't touched the plants that I've seen and spends all of its time on the substrate or doing some pretty fun to watch acrobatics in the water.
4. The siamese algae eater really gets around and I've seen him eating off of pretty much every surface in the tank including plants.
So, are any of my janitor crew possibly responsible for the new damage to my plants?
I have read that small holes in leaves are a sign of snail activity. If I have snails, then I must have gotten them when I added these new fish. I did NOT dump in the store water. I netted in the new fish and shrimp after acclimatization. So if a snail or two entered the tank it must have been free floating in the plastic bag and somehow piggybacked on the netting material. What are the odds of that?
Thanks for enduring my long post. I really appreciate your help.