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Fishless cycling water change/wonky fishless cycle?


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Hi all,

I have a two part question: I was wondering when to do my first water change (and how much) after cycling with just plants? And, is it possible for my tank to get out of whack with just plants? (I don't have any fish yet)

I have a 15 gallon tank with java ferns, a couple bacopa, a japanese clover, and christmas moss on driftwood. I've been letting it do its thing for ~2 months, with root tabs for the bacopa and clover and two pumps easy green fertilizer once a week. I started getting algae about a month ago (yay!), little hydras, tiny copepods, and the pond snail that snuck in on a plant seems happy. I've been letting things grow and haven't done any water changes or tank cleanup beyond removing some plants that melted back, taking out some snail eggs, and trimming the algae.

Throughout this process my ammonia level has been 0, and the nitrite and nitrate have been low. There was a small nitrite bump in the beginning, and then that went down to 0 after a couple weeks and has been at 0 since. Nitrate has been <10ppm throughout.

It seems like the algae has stopped growing as of a couple weeks ago (picture attached--it used to be thin and stringy and very abundant; it's not short and clumpy and disappearing). I haven't seen any copepods recently, either. The driftwood has tiny white dots on it (picture attached). Are these signs that something is going wonky with the cycle, or just normal?

All my water parameters are normal as of this morning (0 chlorine, ~7.4-7.6 pH, ~80-100(KH)ppm buffer, 300(GH)ppm hardness, 0ppm nitrite, nitrate<10ppm). I assume once I add fish the parameters will change and I'll be testing a lot to figure out my water change schedule. Until then, do I need to perform weekly or monthly water changes with these parameters? Should I do a water change right before adding fish? How clean should I scrub it pre-fish?

Thank you for any help! This forum has been such a good resource! 



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All water parameters are fine I would keep a check on your parameters if they stay the same then I would just do a water change before adding fish i would only add couple of fish a week over the next couple of weeks to allow the benefial bacterial time to catch up after adding them I would do 25% water change a week if you start to see ammonia or nitrites after adding your fish I would do daily small water changes and add prime to detoxify any ammonia or nitrites

Edited by Colu
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