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I'm twelve days into a brand new set up and my ammonia reading hasn't exceeded 0.1 mg/L since I started testing about eight days ago. Today I tested nitrite and nitrate for the first time and was getting 0 and between 5 and 10 mg/L respectively. I wasn't expecting to see nitrate for another week or two based on the reading I've done about fishless cycling new planted tanks. Interestingly enough I noticed a couple pest snails, about the size of a popcorn kernel, that probably came in with some of the plants I bought. No dead ones yet. They seem to be doing fine. Also, I was busy and left the substrate and hardscape in the tank for a couple weeks before planting and filling up with water for the first time (not sure if that would make a difference). I planted heavily with fast growing stems and a few slow epiphytes. Anyway, I don't intend to troubleshoot anything at this point and I will continue to monitor water parameters for another couple weeks before adding fish. I'm just curious if anyone has had a similar experience with an abnormally fast cycle.
 

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Have you tested your water’s nitrate reading before it goes into the tank? In the U.S. 10mg/L (10ppm) of nitrate is considered safe to drink (CDC guideline) so it is possible your municipal or well water has some nitrate before the bacteria do any converting.

with that low of ammonia reading my guess would be that your plants are uptaking the small amount of ammonia being created in your tank.

are you adding any source of ammonia?

pest snails are very hardy and will survive high levels of ammonia so they aren’t a strong indicator of water quality in that way.
 

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Only "abnormally fast" cycling I've done has been by using mature filters, substrate, hardscape and over planting. Usually that's an instant cycle. Using mature sponges and proper cycling methods takes me a couple weeks. New start ups usually take me about 6 weeks to cycle. My water is battery acid, though, so I'm pretty sure most peoples' time lines are quicker than mine. I'd try getting your ammonia total up to at least 2 to see how your filtration handles it before adding fish. You may not be cycling at all of your plants are using up the ammonia before it feeds bacteria.

I've found pest snails in wet substrate that's been left to rot for a few months (did a break down of a former customers tank for them) I wouldn't trust them to indicate your cycle. They're good at telling you if you're overfeeding though 😉
 
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