Thank you for your post, VJM!
I am kind of planning to rush this, but since reading your post, I think I will set up the substrate, decorations, and plants, and then take care of the plants exclusively to make sure there are no problems.
I appreciate the warning!
I started off with an amazon sword plant, a water wisteria plant, and two mystery snails, and let that sit for a day with water conditioner and Topfin Bacteria Supplement (Recommended by a PetSmart employee). Then I took my water back to PetSmart for the free test and explained to the 'Fish Expert' employee that this was only after a day. She said that my water was already stable (Which could be confirmed by my snails, which are usually stressed when moving into a new tank, but acclimated after less than 12 hours of being in my tank) and that I could get 2 green cory's, but that would start the cycle. I added two small green cory's yesterday.
Here is my current water status:
What size is your tank? 10 gallons.
What temperature is your tank? 78F.
Does your tank have a filter? Yes.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No.
Is your tank heated? Yes.
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? Betta in quarantine right now, only 2 snails and 2 cory catfish in the tank with 2 underwater plants.
What type of food do you feed your fish? Floating betta pellets for the snails, sinking algae wafers for the catfish.
How often do you feed your fish? About 10 pellets a day for the snails (And they eat it pretty fast), one wafer a day for BOTH catfish (They haven't eaten yet, I had to remove one wafer after 14 hours, and just added another one today).
How often do you perform a water change? Cleanup / top up daily (500ml max), 25% at start of cycle (Today, to lower nitrates and nitrites), 20 - 30% weekly.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Nutrafin Aqua +Plus Water Conditioner, Top Fin Bacteria Supplement.
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
After these readings, I did a 25% water change. I noticed some erosion on my snail's shell, and the water change bumped my pH back up to 8.2. My water is really stubborn and never goes as low as 6.8 pH, I don't know what happened there. I removed my filter this morning to find brown stuff all over the cartridge. There seemed to be none of it anywhere else. I threw out the cartridge and replaced it with a new one. I heard that you're supposed to leave it in, but my mom saw it and demanded that I throw it out... She also demanded that I turn the filter off at night, which I'm sure has caused some damage. It was left off for 10 hours. The fish seem fine, not eating yet, but just getting used to the tank. The snails are clinging to the surface though. The plants are doing great considering that I'm not using fertilizer and just stuck them in the sand (PetSmart employee recommendation).
How long can the catfish go without eating?
I know they are hardy fish, and when a betta is stressed, you can see it in the form of a pale face and discolouration. How do you tell if a green cory catfish is stressed?
What kind of water parameters will cause the catfish to get sick / ill?
Will they survive the cycle at this rate?
My black mystery snail seems to be producing a lot of waste and hasn't moved today. Does this sound normal?
How can I tell if I've overfed the fish or snails?
I have a quarantine bowl standing by for the cory's and snails. It is filled with the water from the bags I got them in. I also have fresh water standing by. If I need to remove them, I can quickly and easily.
There are a lot of issues here. I will come back after work and try to address them. For now:
1. Your tank is not cycled.
2. Starting/keeping a tank cycle with the filter off is going to be difficult.Once it is established, you MAY be able to take the filter out, or you may not.
3. Brown stuff on the filter is good. By tossing the filter, you restarted your cycle.
I would return the cories and cycle the tank. At this point, I would do fish in cycle. be ready for nearly daily water changes, for around 30 days.
A sressed cory will become pale when stressed.
nitrite is a little too high... keep up with those water changes :)
if possible I would try to rehome the corys until the tank cycles, PH 6.8 actually lowers the toxicity of ammonia... watch for adverse reactions when the PH is raised...
keep up posted!
Well the water parameters are the same as yesterday with the low nitrite (1.0ppm) and the low pH (6.8ppm).
I'm worried about the pH because i read that a tank with pH too low won't cycle, and that it's bad for the snails unless I add a calcium supplement.
I will probably be doing 20 - 30% water changed daily or any day that I see the nitrites spike.
Once again, Nitrates seem to be at zero or very low.
nitrite is still somewhat high for fish, for snails you can add a pinch or two of montmorillon calcium clay (sold for koi and pond fish), that helps inverts with moulds and shell preservation wirh minimal impact on water parameters. Im not sure how low is low for PH.. but is ur seeing nitrites, the cycle seems to be on its way :D