Ok, my tanks have been set up since the beginning of July. the 2nd one I set up maybe two weeks after the 1st, so it is a bit further along in it's cycle. They are two 10 gallon tanks, There is a male betta in each one.
Ok, first the question about cycling:
both tanks have pothos growing in it and sponge filters. The first tank has 2 pothos in it. I was a bit hasty and got a snail, and added it to that one a few weeks ago before the cycle had complete. Then I got some harsh ammonia spikes, and put the snail in a bowl by himself once I realized that ammonia was not good for him, and plus that, this betta fish was very harsh with him and nipped him every change he got and took off his antennae. He went from cruising around to staying in his shell all the time. When i put him in the bowl, and he realized this betta was gone, he went back to his old self and started cruising around like he did when I first got him. I changed his bowl water every day and put zucchini in, (and other things that he couldn't be bothered with, such as cucumber and algae wafers, but he was happy when I stuck with the zucchini. This is important later.) After a couple weeks in his bowl with daily changes, he grew his antennae back.
Anyway, this first tank went through ammonia spikes, and nitrite spikes. They have both stopped and remained consistently at 0 for the about a week now. But I am also getting no nitrate spikes at all. I personally think the vile still looks yellow and thus 0 for nitrates. My husband says it doesn't look very yellow to him. but not quite orange (the next level) either. Has my tank cycled? Are there nitrates there, but the pothos plants are sucking them up? There is also two struggling stalks of moneywort and a couple sprigs of floating anacharis in here is well.
On to question #2, the zucchini-betta.
even with daily water changes, the snail in the bowl got so he wasn't looking so good. I did a test on his water, and realized that, even with daily water changes, it had gotten so to that the ammonia in his bowl was more than both of the tanks, since they had both passed the ammonia>>nitrite part of their cycles. So I noticed that the betta in the 2nd 10 gallon tank has a slightly less aggressive-"hunty" personality than the first betta. When I give him live food, it takes him forever and a day and resucking it up and spitting it out directly in front of his face with the turkey baster before he ever sees it. I felt like he would be a bit more gentle with the snail. This tank is still getting some slight nitrite readings, but the ammonia has remained at 0 for several days now. I put the snail in there, and he really blossomed. He almost immediately came out and cruises all over this tank. He has been for several days now. The fish did nip off half his antennae once, but he hasn't any more. The fish is constantly right beside the snail, and the difference that I notice is that the snail no longer flenches at him or goes inside his shell every time this fish comes close to him, the way he did with the first betta fish. I think these two get along much better.
But, at the same time, when I put his blanched zucchini in, I notice the betta pecking and pecking at it. This morning, I noticed that the betta fish looks slightly engored. I asked my boys if they had overfed him again, they said no, they had not fed him at all. Then I notice the betta picking at a floating zucchini seed. there was a hole through the zucchini this morning. the snail has never eaten a whole through the zucchini before.
I think this betta fish is gorging himself on the snail's zucchini. This can't be healthy, right? Not sure what to do.