So I have had Alacrity a little while now and since getting my test kit I test the water every other day. Anyway, finally there is some ammonia showing up. Just barely but some. Less than .25ppm.
Anyway, it's a 20g with just the betta and a mystery snail. I don't want to change too much water since I'm still trying to cycle (nitrates and nitrites were both at 0) so I don't know how much to actually change.
I'd say wait until it truly hits .25ppm and then change half. You need to have some ammonia in there to cycle it, but you don't want it to get to toxic levels. Please note that I am a big fish tank kind of person, so maybe more frequent, smaller changes could do the same thing.
You don't want to base water change needs on test results alone-since other toxic substances can buildup-With that said, in a 20gal filtered with that stocking level-you most likely still have a long way to go....At any rate....
Making water changes won't hurt the nitrogen cycle. The beneficial bacteria are sticky and adhere to all the surface areas, in the top layer of the substrate and in the filter media-very little are in the water column itself and water changes generally won't stall or hurt the nitrogen cycle, however, you don't want to over clean either.
Even with that stocking while cycling-I would stay on at least a weekly 25-50% with vacuum in all areas you can reach without moving anything or disruption of plant roots. Only clean the viewing walls to allow the BB to colonize on non-viewing walls, decorations...etc.....It is important to vacuum some of the mulm/debris on the substrate weekly so the colony of BB are not suffocated or starve since they need oxygen and depend on food to be delivered to them.
Filter media needs a swish/rinse in the bucket of old tank water to remove buildup for the same reason a couple of times a month, however, I wouldn't do this until you start to see a nitrate reading unless the water flow is compromised.
I have one moss ball and some kind of plant in the filter, not sure what it is exactly. Was in an aquatics package but not an aquatic plant. I am always extremely careful that he eats all the pellets I put in because I don't drop another in unless he's eaten the previous.
When I put the filter on this tank it was a filter that had been used on a different tank for a while. It's a biowheel and still should have some BB but I wasn't sure.
Thank you very much OFL :3 I'll keep up the 50% changes. I've never cycled with a test kit before so I never knew what my numbers were, it's a little confusing at first.