Hi all, complete newbie at keeping fish and aquatic plants here. Really need some advice on cycling a new tank of mine. I've done a lot of reading but I can't find anything regarding what I should do now. Please bear with my story, and thank you SO much in advance. I'm freaking out!
I got a 65 litre (approx 17 gallon) tank on October 2nd (12 days ago as of posting). Details: Horizon 65
. It comes with a HOB filter, a 12W white LED light, and a heater.
I am setting this tank up for a betta, and some tank mates (I wanted harlequin rasboras).
On Day 1, I chucked in some frogbit, hornwort, and duckweed. Respectively, frogbit has been ok and multiplying but has rotted a little when I covered the tank for 2 days with its glass cover, the hornwort has grown a bit but is shedding somewhat, and the duckweed is doing fine and multiplying. I also have a tiny sprig of water sprite I think, which has been floating around and doing fine.
Today I got a piece of driftwood with an Anubias (think it is Nana) and some moss (possibly Java, store wasn't sure) which I threw in. I have ordered some Java Ferns which will come in about 2 weeks, and I bought some Malaysian driftwood which I started soaking today.
I was going with fishless cycling.
I live in Australia where you cannot get ammonia for cycling so I have been using fish food. Day 3 I had a bacterial bloom which settled, though I had no ammonia readings with my API Master Test Kit (liquid, not strips). Nitrites and nitrates have always been at 0. A few days ago I threw in a lot of food because I was getting impatient with the ammonia, and overnight ammonia went to around 4ppm. The water got disgusting and cloudy. I left it as is for a few days and there was an increasing amount of white fuzz growing on the decaying food (fungus I think, because it seemed ).
Now my family members have not been very understanding regarding the need for cycling, and have pestered me since Day 1 as to why there were no fish in the tank. I have constantly explained to them I am doing fishless cycling, and it would take some time.
2 days ago, my friend who has an established oscar tank, gave me a bit of gravel and some filter media (looks like charcoal in a small mesh bag). She said I was doing okay and just needed to wait. I noticed some little worms appearing after adding her stuff. Hopefully they're not harmful.
Today, without asking me, my father went and bought some fish and added them to the tank this morning. He bought 4 neon tetras and 2 cory catfish.
When I got home in the evening and tested the tank, ammonia at 4ppm and I did a huge water change in hopes of keeping the fish alive. Got it to about 0.5ppm in the end. I also scooped out as much of the decaying food as I could to remove the source of ammonia. I don't believe I can return the fish to the pet store. They appear active and are swimming around (both before and after the water change). Corys are ferreting through the gravel but have also been seen zooming up to mid-tank and upper-tank regions, neon tetras look a bit timid but are moving around and trying to eat the small floating fish food debris I have stirred up.
I have Seachem Prime and Seachem Stability. I have been adding the Stability on/off for the last few days, Prime to dechlorinate (seeing as I didn't have fish before, but now I need it for the ammonia detoxifying I know, and it is only temporary for 48 hours?). My friend uses Neutral Regulator for her oscar and she has popped some in my tank too...
- Where do I go from now with my cycling? What happens now that fishless cycling has become fish in cycling?
- I read that neons and corys are not very hardy fish for cycling. So how do I do my best to keep them alive? Water changes how often?
- I have heard mixed reviews about neons and bettas, with neons possibly nipping betta fins. I am planning on getting a halfmoon betta/dumbo betta. Is this pretty much impossible now with neons?
- Is the light that I have going to be enough for the types of plants I have? I am going for plants that do not require substrate as I only have gravel, and want water column feeders only.
- With the size of the tank and the number of fish I have, do I have enough space if I want a school of harlequins? I am aware that I may not have enough neons and corys (I heard from some sources there needs to be at least 6 of them for each type?).
- My tank is not heavily planted I don't think, so I don't think I can do a Silent Cycle but I am unsure of what a Silent Cycle really is. Will the plants help the fish along during the cycling process? Will it affect cycling as it takes up ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, effectively competing with the bacteria for their food source?
I am VERY frustrated with how things are going because this is my first time setting up a fish tank properly, I am inexperienced, and I am trying to do things right. However, without supportive or understanding family members (but rather people who hijack what I'm doing!), I'm worried that my tank and its cycling process has been ruined.
EDIT: I can provide photographs if they will be helpful!