Dirt tank, High ammonia. wth
If anyone can help me I would greatly appreciate it. I am having a problem with ammonia in a new dirted tank.
I set up a 5.5 gallon. I used an organic potting mix. Planted heavy. Next day I checked ammonia. Reading Zero. Never tested again. Assumed there was nothing that would add ammonia. I let it run for about a week. Then bought 4 Cherry Barbs. Next morning one was dead. 1 was at the top gasping, the other 2 closed fins and wiggling back and forth in one spot. Went to work, got home, another dead. I decided to check the parameters. Ammonia off the chart. Did not expect that. Immediate Water change. Ammonia Drop. Next day. Ammonia over 4. I have several other tanks so I took the fish out. To late they had to much damage I guess, they died a few days later.
I am not an expert but I am an experienced fish keeper. This is just my 1st dirt tank. I let the tank run for 6 weeks. I had a white film cover everything after the 1st week. Kept doing changes. plants kept melting.
Finally after 6 weeks and ammonia continueing to rise no matter what, I took tank down and got miracle grow organic potting mix. Ingredients were identical to the stuff I was using. Put dirt in, topped with black sand. planted heavy again. this was in the morning. that evening I checked ammonia. reading zero. next morning check and its off the chart. Same thing today. 4 days now. the miracle grow is worse than the other stuff. I do an 80% water change and within an hour the ammonia test is off the chart.
I did search after search and I am not seeing anyone having this problem. I want to do dirt but am about to say fk it and go back to flourite.
If anyone can tell me what step i missed or what I can change. I really want to do a dirt tank.