Hi, the set-up pot was just a mini version of the tank in a jam-jar, using gravel from the tank (but no heater, filter, etc). I've disposed of it now....it was interesting to see what the different water containers did over a coupe of days. Thanks for the idea.
Anyway - update: I have 0 ammonia! and somewhere between 0.5 -1 nitrite
So now I am really scared that the nitrite is going to kill my lovely fish - at least I now know what happening: it's starting to cycle. I can't believe how long this has taken. Its the best part of 2 months, it seems to me the plants (and algae?) had been keeping the equilibrium (even during my poor attempt to fishless cycle). Until I got the panda gara, who ate all the algae and added to the bio-load.
One of my Platys isn't faring so well now. Poor thing. She's hanging in there, sometimes I think she is doing really bad, then a bit later she seems ok again. But this morning she was looking really hollow and I thought she was a gonner.
On the other hand, I did see one of my fry this evening though - about 2cms long and definitely too big to get eaten now. The ammonia obviously didn't harm it, but I am sooo worried how it will do knowing that nitrite is even more toxic.
Any idea how long it takes for the nitrite to be neutralised? I read the bacteria takes longer to grow. I'm not sure my nerves (or the fish) will cope with this for another 2 months.
If I could turn back time, I make sure the tank was better prepared!
I have set up another tank now. I am thinking of just leaving it for now, in case of emergencies, so I could transfer a casualty if needed. Although, the other side of me would like to get it cycled as soon as possible. I have a bottle of ammonia and decent test kit at the ready
I've also ordered some Prime.