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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I set up a new 20-gallon tank about 12 days ago and got the pH to about 6.8 (temp is staying around 74 degrees F) and then put three Endler's Guppy in it. The ammonia went up to about 1ppm and I did a 25% water change as well as drop in a dose of AmmoLock (a week ago today). Since then I've been testing it every day and the ammonia has stayed below one and most of the time 0.25-.5ppm but I haven't changed the water again. Should I be performing water changes even when it's staying that low and I've been putting AmmoLock in it every other day (according to the instructions on the bottle)? Neither the nitrites nor nitrates have moved from 0ppm yet (which doesn't surprise me with the ammonia staying low and it being so soon).
I also have an assortment of various plants (four of them) and a couple of moss balls in there if that changes anything.

Thanks for any advice!
 

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Has the tank been through a cycle yet? I'd stop with the ammo lock as it's not a long term solution and it could be getting in the way of your bacteria building. I've tended to build ammonia to 4 for larger tanks/ heavily populated or 2 for nano/ low bioload before I do the initial water change. Are you using active substrate, adding ammonia or attempting a fish in cycle?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It hasn't been through a cycle yet. I was going for fish in since that was what I was used to. This is the first tank I've set up since taking a break from it 7 or so years ago.
 

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It hasn't been through a cycle yet. I was going for fish in since that was what I was used to. This is the first tank I've set up since taking a break from it 7 or so years ago.
I understand, I've used feeder guppies from my colonies to start cycles in some situations, no judgments. I would let ammonia build to between 2 and 4, keep an eye on behaviour of the guppies and only use ammo lock in an "emergency" (fish struggling, sudden high spike).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
1031959

To be honest, I'm not sure what kind of plants they were. The place I bought them from was just having a sale on assortment bags and I wasn't picky so I just picked up one of those. I do know there's some Java Moss in there though. It's stuffed in the Whiskey barrel and cave in these photos but I recently got some fish line and wrapped it to the base of that cave.
 

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I wouldn't be surprised if your plants are taking up ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate that the fish generate. Three small guppies aren't much of a bio load in a 20 gallon tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I was starting to wonder that. I was worried about throwing too much in at once though. Would you think that adding a little bit of bottled ammonia or adding more fish is the better route at this point? (Or something else entirely)

I'd eventually like a small group of dwarf shrimp, a couple cory catfish, and either a few ember tetras or kubotai rasboras in there.
 

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Adding more fish is the better option. Direct dosing of ammonia is potentially dangerous in small volumes as it's easy to overdose. If you see ammonia get above 0.5 mg/L do a 25% water change.
 

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My advice would be to remove the fish. It's unnecessary and cruel to house them in a tank that doesn't have an existing nitrogen cycle. Get yourself some ammonia from the hardware store/online or use fish food to get that tank cycled. Re-home the fish so they aren't slowly being tortured to death with gill burn. It will take the same amount of time regardless.
 
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