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What is considered "light stocking"

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Hi ~

I have been in the cycling process for what seems a life time (47 days/6.7 weeks/1.5 months). Anyways.. ūüôā

I currently have 1 guppy, 1 cory cat fish (1 albino, 1 peppered), 1 yellow mystery snail, and now one randomly appearing Ramshorn snail from my live plants. 

my plants are really doing well and have new growth. at one point I did have a bit of ammonia (0.20-0.25 ppm) that lasted 4 days, with no Nitrite or Nitrates... and now NOTHING.. 

I wanted to add at least 2 more cory's (1 albino, 1 peppered) to the tank, but not sure if that would cause more problems. I know about the 1 inch per gallon theory, but am under the impression that is to determine the full stocking potential. But what is considered low or light stocking? I want to get my tank cycling moving again, and just don't know what more to do. I am feeding lightly (which includes an algae wafer a week), and fertilizing 1 cap full weekly as well (with the stuff the place I purchased my plants provided me).  I don't mean to sound whiney.. but just want to give my cory's some more buddies to hang with. But don't want to cause any additional risk or cause fish death. 

Any experience or advice is welcomed. If I can't add more fish till my tank is cycled.. then I will accept that. 

Thanks everyone. 

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You have plant growth and fish and so you are cycled. Bacteria will now increase to accomdate the fish you have. When you have no nitrate appearing from fish waste your fish to plant ratio is heavier on the plant side and you have "low" stocking. If you have a plant packed tank, you may never see nitrate, and it is possible to overstock in terms of physical crowding without causing a surge of nitrate. 

You don't say how big your tank is. If you have a 10 gallon, and you want corys and guppies you can easily have 5-6 smaller corys and a few guppies all of the same sex and be lightly stocked. If you have 1 female and 1 male guppy you are already overstocked, lol. (jokes--population explosion incoming!)

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I have a 20 Gallon High tank and only 1 male guppy. I had 2 other males, that died not long after they arrived. I believe that is my fault because it was a new tank, and I did not have the right testing kits, knew nothing about the hobby etc... so its was a quick learning curve. 

See below a picture of my planted tank. 


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@Sandra the fish rookie, Total surface area of the aquarium, plants & filter set-up will help dictate stocking capacity.  One easy way is by adding a coarse, pre-filter sponge on the filter intake, for beneficial bacteria to grow.  

 @Brandy, brings up a good point in her comments above,  I.E. about sometimes in the more heavily planted aquariums, one may not see nitrates directly; since plants do uptake that as a food source.  I learned that awhile back, when cycling a tank.  Plants were growing & no nitrates were present.  I started adding fish slowly & nitrates started to rise very little from the increased bio-load, showing the nitrogen cycle was indeed working, but not quite "measurable".

The internet often tells us that the nitrogen cycle, once completed, is a done deal.  On the contrary, when a new tank is " cycled ", it can support the produced bio-load of the tank, at its current stocking level.


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I sort of think the better word would be that a tank is ready for fish when it is "seeded" with bacteria. At that point it will continue to respond to the increase and decrease in bioload with an increase or decrease in bacteria population. As long as fish are added slowly, the amount of fish a tank can hold is both higher and lower than we expect. Higher if you want to be a slave to water changes, and your fish are small and not physically crowded or agressive. Lower if you prefer a more hands off method.

I have a nearly perfectly balanced small tank that holds snails, shrimp, pea puffers and plants. I could go months with nothing more than tossing in a few pellets for the shrimp every couple of days. The puffers eat the food that the tank makes. The plants handle the nitrates. 

Some day I may get all my tanks to that point. But probably not.

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Depending on size of tank, you can start adding new fish every 10 days or so once you have been cycled and see how the water parameters react. It's much easier to do in a bigger tank, more forgiving. I usually add a whole school in my 55g while my 10g only gets a few at a time.

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