Hi all, I'm an active lurker, but this is my first post. I've done some searches on this and haven't been able to get a definitive answer:
I have a new (setup over Christmas) 30g tank that is a moderately planted low tech with a reasonable fish load. This is my first tank since I was a teenager, and first planted tank ever. I did a fish-in (four black neon tetras) cycle using Dr. Tim's One and Only. I am running a Filstar XP2 with Seachem Matrix (which I have been very careful to keep dirty
) and a Current Freshwater LED+. I'm dosing with Flourish Excel and Flourish and using Prime for my weekly ~33% water change.
The current livestock:
13 black neon tetras
6 Schwartz's Cories
~8 stems of hygro difformis (~8")
1 Amazon Sword (~8", 20 leaves or so)
1 Anubias Afzelli (~8")
4 Anubias Nana (2x 6", 2x 2")
3 Cryptocoryne Wendtii (~4")
3 Cryptocoryne Balansae (~8")
1 Java Fern (~8")
4 clumps of dwarf hairgrass
All of the plants except the hairgrass are pretty happy, and showing decent growth; the hygros and crypts have probably all doubled in size in 2-3 weeks, all of the anubias have sent out at least one new leaf, and the sword has several new leaves.
I also have some brown algae that the otos are enjoying and two of the three pieces of Mopani wood in the tank have the white fungus fur that seems to be pretty common and harmless - not too concerned with either of these.
Now, that's that background info, on to the concern: At three and a half weeks in (the full fish load has been in the tank for a week and a half), I have been testing at least every other day and I have never gotten a reading over 0.25 ppm for ammonia, and have never gotten a reading of ANY nitrites or nitrates. I'm not even sure that the ammonia really gets to 0.25 ppm, but there is sometimes a slight green tinge to the yellow in the API test - its definitely never really 'green'. I have read about settling of the reagents in the nitrate test specifically, and I have shaken the snot out of those bottles (as well as the other tests), but it continues to read zero.
So I have two specific questions:
1. Is it possible my tank is not fully cycled? I would have thought that if it wasn't the ammonia would climb more quickly than that with 21 fish in it (the black neons and cories are all decent size, a couple are 1.5"). Maybe the slight ammonia readings I got last week was from the nitrifying bacteria colony catching up to take care of the additional load from the cories?
2. Assuming that my tank is fully cycled, could my plants be consuming all of the nitrates?
Thanks for any insight!