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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’m pretty sure that my tank is finished cycling as of a couple of days ago, so I’m wondering what livestock to add first – snail? fish? shrimp?

FYI, my parameters today were:
pH: 7.2 (it seems to stick at a pretty stable 7.2, which may be a little higher than my fish prefer)
Ammonia: 0.0 ppm
Nitrites: 0.0 ppm
Nitrates: 5.0 ppm
GH: 89.5 ppm (5 drops to change color)
KH: 53.7 ppm (3 drops to change color)
Phosphates: 0 ppm (too low?)

My plan is to slowly/gradually add livestock to keep it as stable as possible in there. I hope to get (just one) mystery snail, 3 amano or 5 cherry shrimp, and either cardinal or ember tetras or chili rasboras (either a larger school of just one of those species, or smaller schools of two of the species).

FWIW, tank is a 17 gallon 60P with Amazonia v.2 substrate running an AquaClear 30 HOB. Currently non-CO2 but strongly considering getting a CO2 set up. Running my Finnex Planted+ 24/7HLC at 60% intensity with a 6 hour photoperiod (time to start slowly increasing intensity level and/or photoperiod?).

My plants seem to be doing ok – moneywort and alternanthera reineckii are noticeably growing; anubias, hygrophila araguaya, and sagittarius subulata look perky; crypts and vallisneria are holding their own but showing no growth. I have just a little brown algae (diatoms?) on my plant leaves, so I’m not sure there’s much for snails or shrimp to eat yet. My driftwood is sporting some of the whitish milky stuff that I think is bacteria; not sure that anyone will eat that …

Thanks for any guidance!
 

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You're going to need some Phosphate. 78.76 mg KH2PO4 will raise your approximately 55 liters up to 1 ppm. Adding animals will increase your Phosphate. If you see any GSA it's a sign you need more Phosphate. Be restrained with it though. A little bit of Phosphate goes a long way. You're doing well. You did a textbook cycling. Good outcome.
 
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With aquasoil you don't need to add phosphates it's already in the soil. You won't need to add po4 for quite some time, especially in a low-tech setup. I would add the fish first, but slowly. Personally I wait 2 months to add anything. Regardless of cycling I like to get the tank the way I want it, move plants around and get them growing before adding livestock. The more mature a tank is the easier it is to add fish successfully.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you @Savetheplants. I figured the phosphates were too low — do I need to find out why they’re low? Or just add KH2PO4 and/or animals? Do I need to buy KH2PO4 as a separate chemical (and where do I buy it), or is it contained in a complete fertilizer like Thrive? I’m nervous about measuring inaccurately and adding too much. Would adding animals take care of the problem without resorting to KH2PO4? What animals should go in first?
Sorry for all the questions!

@Asteroid — thank you for that! One question: if aquasoil (like my Amazonia) adds phosphates, why would my phosphates test result be 0 ppm?
 

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I always add snails first to a tank, but I also have a lot of them and my theory is if one or 2 die, its really no big deal to me as they breed pretty well for me. If I have my drothers, I typically add amano shrimp after that (assuming I plan for them to live in the tank). They will help deal with any algae issues and they are pretty cheap and not something my kids will get attached to if they die since they all look alike. If everything is stable and good a week later I start adding fish.
 

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@Asteroid — thank you for that! One question: if aquasoil (like my Amazonia) adds phosphates, why would my phosphates test result be 0 ppm?
Most of the phosphates will be in the substrate not in the water column. Either way you will get some in the water between the substrate, fish food/waste. It just might not be enough to register on standard test kit.

I always add snails first to a tank, but I also have a lot of them and my theory is if one or 2 die, its really no big deal to me as they breed pretty well for me. If I have my drothers, I typically add amano shrimp after that (assuming I plan for them to live in the tank). They will help deal with any algae issues and they are pretty cheap and not something my kids will get attached to if they die since they all look alike. If everything is stable and good a week later I start adding fish.
Are you talking about pest snails like bladder. I really don't count those as even adding, since they'll just show up anyway. If your talking about nerites, ramshorn I've always found those to be more sensitive then hardy fish.
 

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Are you talking about pest snails like bladder. I really don't count those as even adding, since they'll just show up anyway. If your talking about nerites, ramshorn I've always found those to be more sensitive then hardy fish.
I am talking ramshorn, I agree they are more senstive, which is why I use them as my canaries ;P I have a LOT of ramshorn snails, some of which are culls (not the right color) so its easy for me to find 'volunteers' for new tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So far I have no pest snails, and would really like to keep it that way! Would really prefer not to deal with snail overpopulation and egg removal, so hoping (perhaps unrealistically) to get by with just a single mystery snail. Just not sure whether to add it before, or after, my first small group of fish.
 

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So far I have no pest snails, and would really like to keep it that way! Would really prefer not to deal with snail overpopulation and egg removal, so hoping (perhaps unrealistically) to get by with just a single mystery snail. Just not sure whether to add it before, or after, my first small group of fish.
If you decide to add a mystery snail be aware there is a 50% chance its going to die, and also you should plan to feed it on day 1. That's a big snail and your new tank probably doesn't have a lot of food for it so boil a veggie for a few minutes and add that to the tank. Do this once every few days to a week after that if you want it to live for the first month or so. (remove the rest of the veggie after say 12-24 hours).

While I don't mind pest snails like bladder snails, they are really not my favorite. I do like ramshorn snails though, I just think they are spiffy and they help keep your tank clean. Some folks just have an aversion to snails though so /shrug.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@minorhero - Unfortunately I’m one of the snail-challenged people. They just kinda creep me out. I actually like the looks of of ramshorn snails better, but I thought I should go with a mystery snail because my reading seemed to indicate I’d have less trouble with hard-to-remove egg deposits, especially if I have only one. Why would a mystery snail be so likely to die, assuming I put food in there for it? And let me know if I should reconsider the ramshorn please!
 

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Pest Snails are an indicator organism. If they overpopulate the tank has too much food/waste. So they are helpful in that regard. It’s very difficult to keep your tank “sterile” from snails completely and there’s really no reason to.

Other than pest snails I would wait, since as @minorhero alluded to, there isn’t much for them to eat in a new setup. Better to let biofilm and other nutrient sources develop with the tank
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ok sounds good @Asteroid. So does that mean that the first animals I add should be fish? I forgot to mention that I’d also like to have some Pygmy corys or otos in addition to schooling fish. Should I add small numbers of each fish at the same time, or should I stagger their addition?
 

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Ok sounds good @Asteroid. So does that mean that the first animals I add should be fish? I forgot to mention that I’d also like to have some Pygmy corys or otos in addition to schooling fish. Should I add small numbers of each fish at the same time, or should I stagger their addition?
I would just put one species of schooling fish In to start. I’d wait to add Cory’s or Otos.
 

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@Asteroid made a good catch about the PO4 being in your substrate. Add the fish and you will have PO4 in your water column. It might not be necessary to add more. But if you should decide to, don't try dosing the powder directly into the tank unless you have a lot of water. Instead dilute 7.88 grams KH2PO4 in 490 ml water with 10 ml Flourish Excel to preserve it and store in refrigerator. Dose 5 ml into your tank to raise PO4 1 ppm. This is your custom recipe for your 55 liters of water. As far as availability, I don't know. Please post back with what you find.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
That is so very helpful, @Savetheplants — a custom recipe no less! I did find KH2PO4 online (e.g., Nilocq sells it), but if it’s ok/safe for the fish, I’ll add a few schooling fish first and let them settle in and recheck the phosphates to see if they’ve increased at all. Then I’ll use my “custom recipe” if needed. Very kind of you.
 

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Re: your animals, I’d add the tetras first. Let them dirty up the tank for the inverts and catfish. I’ve had bad luck adding Cory cats early, so keep them for last. I love my mystery snail, has the best personality in my fish tank. You won’t regret getting one. :)
 
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