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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have kept dwarf cichlids for several years and had success breeding Kribs, gb rams, and Apistogramma Agassizii. Where I lived at the time had hard water so I adjusted with discus buffer. We moved states and I'm setting up tanks starting with a 10 gal in my daughter's room. The parameters of the tap water are Ph: 8.4, Ammonia: 0.5ppm, Nitrite: 0.0ppm. As a test I conditioned 5 gallons with stress coat and let rest for 2 days and the Ph and Ammonia droped to 7.8 and 0.25ppm. I plant cycled the tank and did not use the discus buffer. It is a little under a month old and I have new growth on the plants. I did regular water changes and after the nitrites spiked and fell back to 0 the the water is Ph: 6.6, Ammonia: 0.25ppm, Nitrite: 0.0ppm, Nitrate: 20ppm my hardness kit is slightly expired but reads Gh: 89.5ppm and Kh: 35.8ppm. I have added 2 small Amano shrimp and a Mistery snail and there are some bladder and rams horn snails that came in with the plants. My question is can the driftwood acount for the drop in Ph or could there be residual buffer agent in the substrate causing the drop? I ask because the next tank will be a low tech 3gal nano for my wife's office that will house blue dream shrimp and a pair of Scarlett Badis which will be my first time with that style of tank and shrimp. I plan on buying a shrimp/plant substrate and trying to figure out if I'll need anything else to get the water right. Thanks for your time and any information you can provide.
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Your tank isn't cycled, so you're likely to experience parameter shifts until that's done. But the wood is a likely culprit (tannins), as well. You aren't heavily planted enough to be able process or "plant cycle" waste from livestock.

Shrimp - even Amanos - and Mystery Snails are quite sensitive to ammonia and ammonium, so it'd be best if you remove them until your tank is ready. Typically, you'd want your tank to be able to process 2-3PPM of ammonia that you dose in under 24 hours. Then do a 100% water change and add livestock like shrimp.

Dario dario, while small, will consume pretty much any young shrimp you have. They're also likely going to hunt, harass and possibly kill adult shrimp because that's just what they do. I've had them rip legs off large Amanos. I wouldn't keep them with shrimp in a tank that small and would go shrimp-only. Dario dario really need at least twice the space (not necessarily the volume) that a standard 3gal tank can provide and ideally something along the lines of a standard 5.5gal or 10gal tank. If you choose to go with a longer tank, you could probably get away with using a 3gal - something like one of the shallow UNS 3gal or 6gal tanks or a 3gal long like I have linked in my signature. Fluval Spec V (5+gal version) would also work really well.
 

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The API test is not accurate enough and it tends to show 0.25 Amonia when there is none. Considering that your tank is 1 month old and you've seen the Nitrite spike and go down to zero, I would say your tank is probably cycled.

Regarding PH, what substrate are you using? Is that aquasoil?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No the substrate is Seachem Flourite as a base layer that I capped with black sand. My first time trying this technique and I should have used more sand as the Flourite has come through in a few spots but live and learn.
 

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No the substrate is Seachem Flourite as a base layer that I capped with black sand. My first time trying this technique and I should have used more sand as the Flourite has come through in a few spots but live and learn.
Both Flourite and sand are inert, so they aren't impacting your parameters. But there's also no reason to cap substrates like that other than for aesthetics.

API, while not the greatest, is definitely accurate enough (unless the kit is expired) to determine if there's ammonia/ammonium in your tank. It can, however, be difficult to read. Checking it in the wrong lighting can even lead to problems discerning coloration difference. One thing you can do to test your kit's effectiveness is to test some RO/DI or distilled water to see what the reading looks like (zero) and then test water you know has a certain amount of ammonia in it.

Since your tap water contains ammonia, as many municipal sources unfortunately do, there can be spikes detected like this during water changes - enough to harm sensitive livestock if not treated with Prime. If your utility system uses chloramine instead of chlorine, some dechlor products neutralize only the chlorine portion and leave the ammonia behind. (Prime would neutralize it and likely be a better product for you overall.) If your tank is fully cycled, it should be able to process that ammonia pretty quickly. If it's taking several days to clear up, your tank unfortunately isn't fully cycled - no matter how long it's been set up.
 
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