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Discussion Starter #1
I'm on day 22 of fishless cycling. Been more-or-less following Dr. Tim's instructions and using his little squeeze bottle of ammonia (sure, it would have been way cheaper to just buy pure ammonia, but this is idiot-proof and easy to measure).
:iamwithst

Anyhow, today both ammonia and nitrites were ~.2ppm after I measured both quite high last night (2-4ppm range). I added a TON of ammonia...enough where I'd expect to see 5ppm ammonia, at least. But I've checked a couple of times over the past several hours and can't get the ammonia above 1ppm. Nitrite is currently sitting at .5ppm and Nitrate at 5.

So, assuming both ammonia and nitrite are low by morning, should I go ahead and do a 50% water change and then go get a few nerites (quite a bit of ugly diatoms needing clean-up) and maybe even 3 fish (probably starting with 1M, 2F dwarf gouramis)? :hihi:

I'm a noob. With my 5g tank I did fish-in cycling and that took a solid 6 months. I never expected fishless to be THIS fast, but I'm really pleased with how stressless this has been. I think I was lucky that I didn't lose any critters to cycling on my first tank.
 

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From what I've read, ammonia and nitrite should always be at zero 24 hours after adding ammonia for a tank to be considered cycled. If the ammonia and nitrite are at 0 tomorrow, 24 hours after you added the ammonia, and the next day, then yes.
 

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Ahh, good, I figured I was getting close. Tonight is the first that I've seen any evidence of Nitrates.
 

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You can't hurt anything by letting it go an extra day or two (as long as you continue feeding it ammonia.) It does take a little while for the nitrite --> nitrate bacteria to get established. That said, if this is a planted tank, go for it; the plants are going to suck up small amounts of ammonia almost immediately.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Excellent! Crazy weekend on-deck so it's looking like Mon. may be perfect for adding critters other than the little stowaway pond snails (who couldn't care less about toxic levels of ammonia and nitrites). :thumbsup:
 

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As noted above: Your tank is getting really close.
If the ammonia and nitrites get used up, tests show 0ppm at 24 hours, then it is cycled. Continue feeding the bacteria with ammonia until you are ready to add fish. The nitrates might be so high it takes 2 x 50% water changes to get them back down into safe levels for the fish. Or the plants may be removing them, so the NO3 test could be anywhere. Big water change is still a good idea.

You have raised enough bacteria to fully stock the tank. 3 fish and a handful of snails will not produce enough food for as many bacteria as you have raised. Add more fish.

Nerites: Sure. A 50 gallon can handle half a dozen to a dozen.
Gouramis: Gouramis are not social fish. They do not live in groups, harems or other collections. The males are especially territorial, and can kill anything in their space, especially other Gouramis (even females of the same species) and related fish like Bettas.
Also, female Dwarf Gouramis are not usually available. Are you getting these from a breeder?
Best housing is one tank: one Gourami. Bring them together only for breeding, the same as you would Betta splendens.
 

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Gouramis: Gouramis are not social fish. They do not live in groups, harems or other collections. The males are especially territorial, and can kill anything in their space, especially other Gouramis (even females of the same species) and related fish like Bettas.
Also, female Dwarf Gouramis are not usually available. Are you getting these from a breeder?
Best housing is one tank: one Gourami. Bring them together only for breeding, the same as you would Betta splendens.
Ahhh...I have read that more than one male is definitely bad, but that 1 male + 2 females would keep a male from harassing 1 female excessively. I'm reasonably certain our nearest LFS had males and females. I do have quite a few tall plants, already, and a largish piece of mopani wood in the center -- would that help break up sight lines enough to keep a male from being a major jerk fish?

Perhaps I should add 10-12 danios at the same time, too. Would that be enough to maintain bioload for the bacteria? I want to wait on corys until my DHG at the front of the tank and tiny tissue cultured plants are established enough that they won't tear it all out. Eventually want a pair of Bolivian Rams, too, but those I'll likely wait on until I see how other occupants are getting along.
 

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What's your complete stock list? Aggressive fish usually go last, such as the rams and the gouramis, while less aggressive fish go first.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What's your complete stock list? Aggressive fish usually go last, such as the rams and the gouramis, while less aggressive fish go first.
The Rams and gourami are the only semi aggressive-ish ones I'm considering. Then corys or otos and a couple schools of danios, most likely. Maybe cherry barbs. I like tigers, but it sounds like they're too aggressive, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah, what I saw when nitrates showed-up is that I had several days of ammonia and nitrites both falling to about the same amt. I'd add ammonia to 2-3ppm and by 24 hours later (or less) both had fallen to .2ppm, with a spike of nitrite (generally ~2ppm) in the middle.
 

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zoomy:
Gourami males are territorial. This means they are defending the nest area. They do not harrass the females to make them breed. They are chasing the egg-and-fry predators out of their territory.

Basic life style:
Males build nest, defend the area.
Female ready to breed comes into the territory. If she is not ready he chases her away.
They breed.
He chases her off and tends the nest, eggs, fry.
If she stayed in the area she might eat eggs or fry.

A 55 gallon tank with LOTS of tall plants might be enough to keep the females out of sight. The male might just claim part of the tank. Maybe.
Some Gouramis are milder than others.
Dwarf Gouramis, Paradise Fish, Betta splendens and Three Spot Gouramis (all color morphs) are about the most aggressive. General recommendation is one one of these per tank.
Moonlights and Honey Gouramis are probably middle-level. I have had them work in pairs or trios, and had some aggression. Some of this may have been tank size, or lack of territory markers.
Pearls and Snakeskins are usually among the milder Gouramis. Snakeskins get too big for a 55, but I had a trio in a 125 (6' long) several years ago. A couple of Pearls would highly likely work in a 55 (I have kept them in a 3' long tank)
Gouramis are individual fish, with their own personality. I have heard of Dwarf Gouramis so aggressive they had to be removed from the community tank because they were attacking all the other fish, even those that swam lower down. I have heard of one person with aggressive Pearl Gouramis.
If you can get all females (any species) they are more likely to get along, same way as a group of Betta females are usually OK together.

Go order:
Milder fish like Otos, mild schooling fish, snails.
then pushier fish like Rams, Gouramis.

Substitute for Tiger Barbs: Pentazona Barbs (5 banded barbs) or Ruby Barbs. These can be a bit pushy, but nowhere near as aggressive as Tiger Barbs.
Cherries are nice looking, but not exactly schooling. The males are a bit too feisty to get along like schooling fish. Checker barbs might work.
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strangewaters:
What if both nitrite and nitrates are really high but ammonia is low
The bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite grow fast, so ammonia will start dropping first. You need to keep adding it. Return it to 3 ppm once a day.

The bacteria that convert nitrite to nitrate (Nitrospira sp) are slower growing, and they don't even get started until after the first group has started generating nitrite.
Once they do get going the nitrate starts rising, but the bacteria are not up to dealing with all the nitrite right away, and the ammonia --> nitrite bacteria keep on producing nitrite.

So:
Ammonia low
Nitrite high
Nitrate high

... means the fishless cycle is roughly 1/2 to 2/3 done.

Also, as noted above, not all nitrate tests will read right when nitrite is present. Ignore nitrate and concentrate at keeping ammonia and nitrite in the right levels to grow the bacteria as fast as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Go order:
Milder fish like Otos, mild schooling fish, snails.
then pushier fish like Rams, Gouramis.

Substitute for Tiger Barbs: Pentazona Barbs (5 banded barbs) or Ruby Barbs. These can be a bit pushy, but nowhere near as aggressive as Tiger Barbs.
Cherries are nice looking, but not exactly schooling. The males are a bit too feisty to get along like schooling fish. Checker barbs might work.
I'm definitely going to look at the alternatives to tiger barbs. I like the way those little things school and zip around. And 1 exceptionally handsome dwarf gourami and a pair of Bolivian Rams certainly sounds like the way to go, after filling out with more docile guys/gals and letting them settle-in.
 
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