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Hey guys,

so I got my 10 gallon tank 5 weeks and 4 days ago for my two bettas that I had and didn’t know anything about the nitrogen cycle so I added my conditioner, divider and what not and then added my plants, 2 fish, 3 Nerite snails, 5 ghost shrimp and 2 cherry shrimp then finally started to learn about the nitrogen cycle. I immediately got schematic prime and started dosing and everything was fine. I even got fluval biological enhancer and added it as instructed.

for awhile ammonia was at .25 ppm and I got ammo lock because I thought it would be better than prime and I thought that the .25 ppm would just go to 0 but it rose anywhere between 4 and 8 ppm but I left it because it was in a “non toxic form”. when the instructed week was up it wouldn’t go back down past that. I did everything it said “water changes (fairly frequent), service filter (got a sponge filter yesterday), and reduce feeding. I went back to using schematic prime two days ago and I’ve done 2 water changes and ammonia is still sitting between 4 and 8 ppm and nitrate and nitrite are at 0.

I’m not sure what to do or what I’m doing wrong but it is starting to get very frustrating. Can anyone help?
 

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If the tank has been running for 5 weeks, with filter and all. Then the nitrogen cycle is running and has been.

Secondly, luckily for you shrimp and bettas are perfect. Especially since I think your bettas are not in yet?

Shrimp dont produce a lot of bio waste
They do. But not nearly as much as a fish. It's probably like 5 to 1 or something.

Bettas are labarynth fish, they can and actually must breathe fresh air at the water's surface.

So what I would do. Stop treating the water. Do a change. Probably 25% then 25% again the next day. Shrimp aren't big on water parameter changes.

Use the recommended amount of prime or equivalent in the water you add to the tank if you're on city water to take out chlorine. If well, not needed.

Lastly, if you dont have the betta yet, wait a week after the shrimp. Shrimp should go in first anyway. Also, if all went in at once just a day or two ago, you can pull the bettas out. They can literally live in a cup on counter(not in the sun). Then put them back in in a few days. Separate cups....
 

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A few initial thoughts that I have and a couple questions to go along with it. After your response we can dive deeper.

The end game is to have your Ammonia readings turn into Nitrite readings to then later turn into Nitrate readings. Beneficial Bacteria (BB) forming for each of those groups is what you are missing.

How to get there! Your plants are playing a huge role in helping out as they feed off of Ammonia & Nitrates (once you get them). If you only have a few plants .. go get more along with fertilizer to assist in their need to grow & eat up your toxins (Ammonia & lesser form in Nitrates). Next: you need substrate so the BB has more places to grow. Do you currently have a substrate layer & what is it and how thick?

As far as your filter .. how many GPH does it turn or process? You want that # to be at least 4 times your tank size .. so at least 40 GPH. Personally I would take out the carbon filter as it absorbs the nutrients that your plants need to grow. Use that space to double up on biomedia. Biomedia is your biggest friend right now & the plants are second!

I wouldn't do water changes (WC) greater than 50% if you can still keep the Ammonia low that way .. this is so you do not remove what BB is growing in the water columns waiting to attach to your substrate, walls & decor.

Feed once a day .. skip feedings every 3rd day or so & keep testing your water once to twice a day & keep track. You will start to notice the change in tides of Ammonia turning to Nitrite to then later turning to Nitrates. As this happens you are nearing the finish line.

Good luck!!!

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Hard to say, seems like your ammonia to nitrite bacteria is not working.
Sooner or later it will kick in abd you will have an issue until the nitrite to nitrate bacteria rises high enough to process the nitrites. Keep the Prime handy.

The bacteria needs to live somewhere abd substrate filter media are good places for them.

You said you just added a sponge? Did you have any filter at all prior to that?
What us your pH?
Substrate?
 

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Whoa, yeah... back up. Sponge filter just went in? pull out the bettas. Shrimp and snails should make it. maybe. but without a tank that has a cycle going you're going to just have to roll the dice or take them back or to a buddy's that has a cycled tank. at this point it has been a day or two at least. so with the bettas pulled and if everything hasn't died yet I bet you will pull through. but definitely remember this lesson if/when things die. It was the nitrogen cycle that wasn't done properly.

and don't add anymore ammonia(if that was you, I feel like I see posts in groups. always similar ones at the same time so it could have been someone else. Sorry I am not rereading to find out.) I would do like 10% water changes daily with a little Prime or equivalent for shrimp. that way ammonia levels stay down a bit and the Prime will help to combat and dilute anything that is spiking. after about a 2-3 weeks from now, I would think things should level out. then bettas can go back in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A few initial thoughts that I have and a couple questions to go along with it. After your response we can dive deeper.

The end game is to have your Ammonia readings turn into Nitrite readings to then later turn into Nitrate readings. Beneficial Bacteria (BB) forming for each of those groups is what you are missing.

How to get there! Your plants are playing a huge role in helping out as they feed off of Ammonia & Nitrates (once you get them). If you only have a few plants .. go get more along with fertilizer to assist in their need to grow & eat up your toxins (Ammonia & lesser form in Nitrates). Next: you need substrate so the BB has more places to grow. Do you currently have a substrate layer & what is it and how thick?

As far as your filter .. how many GPH does it turn or process? You want that # to be at least 4 times your tank size .. so at least 40 GPH. Personally I would take out the carbon filter as it absorbs the nutrients that your plants need to grow. Use that space to double up on biomedia. Biomedia is your biggest friend right now & the plants are second!

I wouldn't do water changes (WC) greater than 50% if you can still keep the Ammonia low that way .. this is so you do not remove what BB is growing in the water columns waiting to attach to your substrate, walls & decor.

Feed once a day .. skip feedings every 3rd day or so & keep testing your water once to twice a day & keep track. You will start to notice the change in tides of Ammonia turning to Nitrite to then later turning to Nitrates. As this happens you are nearing the finish line.

Good luck!!!

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
This was very helpful. This is the tank btw substrate is about 2 inches thick.
1027469
 

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This was very helpful. This is the tank btw substrate is about 2 inches thick. View attachment 1027469
Looks like ada aquasoil.

Suspect some of the ammonia is still from it.
Normally most substrates are fine homes for beneficial bacteria. Maybe not so much w aquasoil?
Time wiil fix it but the nitrite spike will be thr riskiest point.


 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Looks like ada aquasoil.

Suspect some of the ammonia is still from it.
Normally most substrates are fine homes for beneficial bacteria. Maybe not so much w aquasoil?
Time wiil fix it but the nitrite spike will be thr riskiest point.


Sorry forgot to mention it’s fluval stratum. I usually vacuum the gravel every time I do a water change. Should I stop so the BB can grow
 

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I wouldn't slow down on vacuuming your gravel just yet .. others are stating BB might not attach to it easily & it collects the leftover food & poop which both converts to Ammonia. If you had carpeting plants .. they would use that to feed FYI in which case you wouldn't vacuum the sub. Do as small of WCs as you can daily to keep Ammonia as low as possible while not sucking out the BB in the water columns. Slowly adjust your temp as high as your fish & plants will allow to 78-80 .. the higher the temp, the faster your BB will grow.

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Beautiful tank setup btw .. lucky fish/plants/shrimp!!

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With Ammonia between 4 and 8 ppm I would do a big water change. And then another and then another. I suggest you get a 5 gallon bucket, 25 or even 50 watt heater, 1 inch diameter acrylic tube, a 1 liter wide mouth Nalgene or quart size Ball jar, air pump, airstone, some airline and some Dr Tim's Live Nitrifying Bacteria or whatever you're already using. Put the tube in the jar. Surround the tube with biomedia from your aquarium because it's probably close to being cycled. Insert airstone into the tube. Fill the bucket with dechlorinated water. Put the jar in the bucket. Put the heater in the water turned up as high as it will go. Start the airpump. Dose 2 ppm Ammonia and finish cycling with all that that entails.

Your LFS might have some biomedia in a bag they can sell you. I bought some last week for $20. I'm also cycling a bucket to get some more biomedia going. You shouldn't have Ammonia that high in your inhabited aquarium. Do your cycling in a bucket. It took me a couple days running around to get everything together but I got it running now. Do some big water changes AND use the Prime. Get that Ammonia out of there. I don't know what your pH or water temperature is but Ammonia [NH3-N] above 0.50 ppm is not safe for fish. Sorry for the lecture.

UN-IONIZED AMMONIA (NH3) TABLE 25° C
pH____________________________Factor

6.5......................................................0.0018
6.6......................................................0.0022
6.7......................................................0.0028
6.8......................................................0.0035
6.9......................................................0.0044
7.0......................................................0.0055
7.1......................................................0.0070
7.2......................................................0.0088
7.3......................................................0.0110
7.4......................................................0.0138
7.5......................................................0.0173
7.6......................................................0.0217
7.7......................................................0.0272
7.8......................................................0.0329
7.9......................................................0.0424
8.0......................................................0.0528
8.1......................................................0.0655
8.2......................................................0.0711
8.3......................................................0.1000
8.4......................................................0.1227
8.5......................................................0.1497

NH3 under 0.005 is conservatively safe. Multiply your test result by the applicable factor.

at 7 pH 0.0055 x 4 ppm [NH3-N] = 0.02 ppm NH3
at 8 pH 0.0528 x 4 ppm [NH3-N] = 0.21 ppm NH3

Even the 0.02 ppm NH3 at 7 pH is not so good. But it is survivable. Lower levels of NH3 can affect the developement of young fish. If NH3 gets too out of control you can burn a fish's gills causing permanent damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
With Ammonia between 4 and 8 ppm I would do a big water change. And then another and then another. I suggest you get a 5 gallon bucket, 25 or even 50 watt heater, 1 inch diameter acrylic tube, a 1 liter wide mouth Nalgene or quart size Ball jar, air pump, airstone, some airline and some Dr Tim's Live Nitrifying Bacteria or whatever you're already using. Put the tube in the jar. Surround the tube with bio media from your aquarium because it's probably close to being cycled. Insert airstone into the tube. Fill the bucket with dechlorinated water. Put the jar in the bucket. Put the heater in the water turned up as high as it will go. Start the airpump. Dose 2 ppm Ammonia and finish cycling with all that that entails.

Also your LFS might have some biomedia in a bag they can sell you. I bought some last week for $20. I'm also cycling a bucket to get some more biomedia going. You shouldn't have Ammonia that high in your inhabited aquarium. Do your cycling in a bucket. It took me a couple days running around to get everything together but I got it running now. Do some big water changes AND use the Prime. Get that Ammonia out of there. I don't know what your pH or water temperature is but Ammonia [NH3-N] above 0.50 ppm is not safe for fish. Sorry for the lecture.

UN-IONIZED AMMONIA (NH3) TABLE 25° C
pH Factor pH Factor
6.5 .0018 7.6 .0217
6.6 .0022 7.7 .0272
6.7 .0028 7.8 .0329
6.8 .0035 7.9 .0424
6.9 .0044 8.0 .0528
7.0 .0055 8.1 .0655
7.1 .0070 8.2 .0711
7.2 .0088 8.3 .1000
7.3 .0110 8.4 .1227
7.4 .0138 8.5 .1497
7.5 .0173


NH3 under 0.005 is conservatively safe. Multiply your test result by the applicable factor.

at 7 pH 0.0055 x 4 ppm [NH3-N] = 0.02 ppm NH3
at 8 pH 0.0528 x 4 ppm [NH3-N] = 0.21 ppm NH3

Even the 0.02 ppm NH3 at 7 pH is not so good. But it is survivable. Lower levels of NH3 can affect the developement of young fish. If NH3 gets too out of control you can burn a fish's gills causing permanent damage.
Don’t apologize for the lecture. I have learned a lot thanks to you guys and I will apply my new knowledge. I appreciate it a ton You guys are the best thank you
 

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Others are providing good information but there are a couple points that should be made:

1. Shrimp won't survive ammonia spikes. They're not hardy like snails. If the tank isn't 'cycled'? Shrimp should be removed for sure.

2. Do not vacuum substrate like this - that causes it to break down.

- vacuuming causes what to break down? The waste into Ammonia or BB to not attach/grow? I'd like to learn here, please elaborate. If the waste is out of the tank then should it matter?

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Wow @Savetheplants, very high detailed .. nice work!!

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Thank you JTMoney. This is something I have been working on for a couple of weeks. I have to give credit where credit is due. I got this idea from a post by Dr. Tom Barr. The tube in a jar was my idea. It hasn't worked for me yet though. You need the air because warm water doesn't hold as much oxygen. The higher temperature makes the bacteria grow faster. It's hell in that bucket. Fish would not survive in there.
Don’t apologize for the lecture. I have learned a lot thanks to you guys and I will apply my new knowledge. I appreciate it a ton You guys are the best thank you
I think you are going to be OK. 0.005 ppm NH3 is ridiculously conservative. 0.05 ppm NH3 is probably more realistic for our hobby. It depends on the sensitivity of the species and the fish's stage of developement. If your pH is 7.0 and your water temperature is 25 C, then all you have to do is divide 0.05 ppm NH3 by 0.0055 to find that you could go as high as 9.09 ppm [NH3-N] Total Ammonia Nitrogen. Your test indicates between 4 and 8 ppm so I think you're going to be OK.
 

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Others are providing good information but there are a couple points that should be made:

1. Shrimp won't survive ammonia spikes. They're not hardy like snails. If the tank isn't 'cycled'? Shrimp should be removed for sure.

2. Do not vacuum substrate like this - that causes it to break down.

- vacuuming causes what to break down? The waste into Ammonia or BB to not attach/grow? I'd like to learn here, please elaborate. If the waste is out of the tank then should it matter?

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Vacuuming causes your substrate to break down. Dirt/clay-based substrates shouldn't be disturbed if you can help it. Planting is generally fine. But not the kind of disturbance created by vacuuming. I generally never vacuum any shrimp tank. No reason to do anything but spot clean substrate when you're keeping shrimp.
 
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