I figured I would just let my tank cycle naturally (fish-in) over time. I haven't really put any effort into it.
So I was very pleased yesterday when my tank started to register nitrite. It had started to show a bit of ammonia last week. This is a 5 gallon tank, as mentioned in the title. I think the cycle got jump-started because I finally added live plants last week.
Currently, the tank is at 0.25 ppm ammonia, and 0.5 ppm nitrite, 0 nitrate. The ammonia has not gone higher than about 0.5 ppm. My pH is 6.8 and the temperature is 77-78 degrees F, for your reference (I know this affects the potency of ammonia and nitrite).
OKAY, so my question is, how much should I be changing the water at this point? Before now, I had been doing one 50% change per week (before leaving for weekend), vacuuming substrate. I don't want to inhibit my cycling tank. Yesterday, I changed out 20% of the water, no vacuuming (last 50% water change before that was Friday) just to keep the levels down for my fish's sake.
I'm leaving for Thanksgiving Wednesday night until Monday and I'm kind of concerned about leaving a cycling tank. I don't want the ammonia to spike while I'm gone, but I don't want to crash the beginning cycle by doing a large water change before I leave.
So, I guess my question is, how much water, if any, should I change out today and how much should I change out Wednesday before I leave?
I'm really happy that my tank is starting to cycle, but it sure did pick a horrible time!