My 10 gallon finally appears to be cycled. I was getting close at the beginning of the week. Ammonia levels were down, nitrite was off the chart, and nitrate was rising. I was impatient so I did a 50% water change, used Prime for the first time, checked my levels for safety, and put Penfield on the right side of my divided tank, along with four new live plants, including some moderately fast-growing red root floaters. Controversial, yes? I have never heard of someone inserting a fish near the end of a fishless cycle, but it seems to have worked. I have tested twice daily for the last three days and all levels have remained at 0 with nitrate remaining below 10 ppm. I placed Parli into his half last night, and it took about eight hours to get used to the flow of the filter, but he seems fine, now.
As you can see, my filter is insanely baffled because the intake flow is incredibly strong. The intake is on the sides and the bottom instead of the front, so I have sponges wrapped around all the intake openings, black panthose over all the sponges, and one additional sponge suctioned to the bottom. I had a fish die from being stuck to the intake and unable to come to the surface to breathe before, so I'm really paranoid. I figure the sponges can only help my bacteria colony.
Parli and Penfield spend a lot of time flaring at each other through the tank divider. I had two tall silk plants on each side, but I got some large silk leaves from Dollar Tree, soaked them over night, and floated them on either side of the divider as well. There was just too much open space.
So anyway, that is my first tank cycling adventure. It was not optimal to insert Penfield before the cycle was finished, but I monitored the water carefully, used Prime, and his waste along with the additional live plants appears to have finished my cycle almost immediately. I am still testing the water daily for a few weeks to make sure.
What else can I add to my set-up, what are some easy live-plants, and do you think I'm being too insanely paranoid about my filter?