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Discussion Starter #1
Just hoping for some reassurance and/or pointers if I’m on the wrong track with my cycling.

Day 9 in a planted tank (photo taken just now). Water parameters today (as near as I can determine with the API test tubes) =

7.2 pH
1.0 ppm Ammonia
.25 ppm Nitrites
5.0 ppm Nitrates
107 ppm GH (6 drops to turn color)
53 ppm KH (3 drops to turn color)
0 ppm Phosphate

No CO2, no animals. 17 gallon tank with ADA Amazonia v. 2 substrate. I have not added any ammonia, food, or bacteria to tank. I did 50% water changes daily on Days 1-7; switched to 50% every other day for Week 2, and will do 2 WCs in Week 3. I was running foam, charcoal, and ceramic rings provided with Aquaclear filter until today; just removed charcoal and replaced with a (second) bag of ceramic rings. Heater has been holding pretty steady since setup at 72*. Lights on daily for about 6 hours total at 60% intensity (Finnex Planted+ 24/7).

Does this seem par for the course? Should I be doing anything differently at this point?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you — very reassuring. So does it seem like the tank is actually cycling? I ask mostly because I assumed I’d be seeing more algae, diatoms, or plant melting by now.
I don’t plan to add any fish until 4-6 weeks after I set up the tank. I keep reading different recommendations about when to add shrimp and snails, but since I don’t see much algae yet (if any), I assume I can wait on adding them (despite some sources that say I should add them now/soon). Correct? Thanks so much.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hello again –

I’m back to this discussion, hoping for further advice from experienced planted tank people.

Currently on Day 14 in my 17 gallon 60-P tank. I have ADA Amazonia ver.2 substrate. (Still a low-tech tank, no animals, no added ammonia, batería, fertilizer, CO2). I did 50% water changes daily in first week, every other day during second week, and will do three this week if I can figure out how the “3 water changes/in third week” I’ve seen recommended is different from “every other day” !!!

I’ve been running my Finnex Planted+ 24/7 HLC for 6 hours daily at 60% intensity, followed by 10% intensity WRGB lighting ramp-down period. Wondering if I should be increasing the lighting intensity and/or duration at this point …

Some of my plants are showing growth, especially some moneywort stems. Vallisneria hasn’t grown much that I can tell. Anubias (nana and petite, I think) look good. Crypts are holding their own, though I think a very few leaves have melted. Floating Salvinia seems fine, not noticing any huge growth there either.

My water parameter tests have me a bit confused. Latest tests yesterday showed pH at 7.0, ammonia at .50 ppm, nitrites at 2.0 ppm, and nitrates at 0.0 ppm. It took 6 drops of the GH test solution to change color, and 3 drops of the KH solution to change color. Phosphates tested at 0.0 ppm.

Are these test results about what I should expect at this point in my cycling? If not, what seems off?

My spiderwood is showing white filmy “blobs” along its surface, and I am noticing a bit of rusty-brown colored “dusting” on all my plant leaves – diatoms? I don’t have any shrimp or snails yet – is it time/advisable to add a few of them now?

Also, I’m thinking that maybe I should figure out when to start dosing with fertilizer. I bought a couple of ADA’s “brighty” liquid fertilizers from my LFS, mostly because the owner is very helpful and I want to support him. I realized that he was upselling me on “Cadillac” fertilizers, but he runs a very nice ADA-focused store and, since I don’t know anything about chemistry, I decided to just go with his recommended fertilizer for now. When should I start dosing? And do I need to add anything extra (trace minerals etc) to make the fertilizer complete for my low-tech plants?

Thank you so much for any feedback or advice anyone might care to offer.
 

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Cycling can take six weeks but your Nitrites are higher so I think you already have bacteria converting Ammonia to Nitrite. In a week or two you will have new bacteria converting Nitrite into Nitrate. So keep testing for that Nitrite to be gone. Turn your lights down even more if you think algae is getting bad. The bacteria will grow faster if you turn up the heat. I would hold off on the animals until the Ammonia stays below 0.25 ppm. Dose your ADA fertilizers as instructed because your recent Nitrate, Phosphate and probably your Potassium and Micros are too low. ADA prescribes lower parameters for some reason. I wouldn't deviate from the instructions.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, @Savetheplants. I appreciate your help and suggestions. I will probably go ahead and dose using the ADA fertilizers. Maybe I should consider raising the temperature a bit as you mention too?
 

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In the above thread there was a chart that I posted showing how much ammonia I added and how long it took to completely cycle a tank. Also had a link to a site (I think) that I used to calculate how much ammonia to add based on various variables (i.e. tank size, current ammonia reading, etc.). Unfortunately I believe most of the pictures I uploaded are now gone. If I remember correctly, I was dosing around 4ppm Ammonia with a full cycle taking around 3 weeks. Post #85 looks like where all the real data started.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@Immortal1 — thanks for that. The thread and chart are good and helpful. I’m not dosing ammonia (relying on my ADA Amazonia substrate to supply it instead) — slower going perhaps but I’ll get there. So long as my current test results look to be in the “typical” range for my cycling timeline, I’m happy.

@AbbeysDad — thanks very much for the link(s). Good food for thought as I work through all this. Today my ammonia was at 0.0 for the first time. Progress!
 
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