I have just purchased a 26 gallon tank that I plan to use for a sorority with a school of corys and perhaps a few tetras if there's room.
I put in some marine sand with fluval plant substrate, then found out the marine sand is no good. I sifted about 98% of it out and added more plant substrate, then did a 100% water change.
I now have quite a few live plants; two or three each of the following: Java fern, hornwort, water wisteria, java moss, and another dark-leaf low light plant whose name I forgot. Here are a couple of pics:
I've been running the tank without the sand for a day now. I plan to add play sand, as I would like a sandy bottom for my cories.
I am not sure how to proceed with the cycling process. Since I have so many plants can I do a planted tank cycle? Right now there are a few tiny black snails in the tank but no fish. I've tried to seed the tank by scrubbing and swishing filter media from two other tanks into the new tank's water.
I did a water test today and got the following:
Ammonia - .25 ppm
Nitrite - .25 ppm
Nitrate - 5 ppm
pH - 7.8 (I have since added some bits of IAL to make the water a bit more acidic)
My questions: Should I put any fish in the tank while the cycle is being established, assuming I test every day and change water as needed? Would the amount of plants I have absorb enough ammonia? Or should I leave it with just the plants until I start seeing zero ammonia and nitrate readings?