couple questions about dirt?
been keeping aquariums for around 3 to 4 years and have had pretty good success with plants in a "low tech" setup. But i wanted to try my hand at dirt substrate.
Okay, 3 to 4 weeks ago or so I set up a 6 gallon tank(this is sorta an experimental run for my 55 gallon) with about an inch maybe lil less of MGOCPM. with around an inch of sand as a cap. i used regular PFS like stuff from Menards. so basically i just poured in the dirt, pulled out large chunks of wood chips and stuff. Then i mixed in Osmocote+. Next i wet down the dirt and finally capped it with the sand. filled the tank up with tap water. Did i do this correct?
For plants i have Java Fern, Anubias Nana(maybe idk for sure) 3 small to medium sprouts of a bronze crypt and a small 3 leaf sprout of a green narrow leaf crypt. neways, all of them had nice roots when i planted them and looked healthy! the anubias has put on 1 new leaf. and the crypts have put on a couple new leaves. no change on java fern.
small internal filter. (sponge and powerhead) its like for 5 to 10 gal tanks.
im using a small heater rated for 5 to 10 gal. its holding solid at 78F
23 watt CFL in a shop style reflector. its on a timer for 4 hours in the morning then off for 4 hours then on for 4 hours in the afternoon.
Basically for maintence ive been doin 50% WC every couple days cause the water is stained to the max with tanins. i thought at first were from the wood. but must be mostly from the dirt.
Oh and i have no fish in it yet because i dont know if its safe for them. there are however a good number of pond snails. NOT MTS. they are breeding and i can see there egg bubbles all over the rocks and wood.
so i started testing the water to figure out if i had a cycle. this is were my questions started.
after being set up for around a month
im getting pre waterchange
4 ppm ammonia
0 ppm nitrIte
40 ppm NitrAte
ph 8.2 to 8.4
my tap water tests at
*also double checked tests and took my time they are done correctly*
after doin a 50% water change my ammonia and nitrate dropped drastically. ammonia was still at .25 to .5 hard to tell with color nitrite was at 0 and nitrate was at 5 ppm(i treat incoming tap water with prime)
My questions are
why is my water in my tank reading ammonia if im cycling and getting nitrate reading?
did i do something wrong with my set up?
thanks for reading!