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Old 03-08-2011, 11:56 PM   #1
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New to hobby and looking for some advice

Hi,

I am new to this hobby but very enthusiastic. I do not take up and drop things very easily.

I have started out with a 29gal planted freshwater tank.
This tank was started 1/27/11. I am having some issues with cycling and specifically my PH and ammonia. I think my PH issues may have been resolved as I found out the the North Eastern US has very soft water and therefore I did not have sufficient buffer (Ca) in the water. I have been recommended the proper additive for this and now my PH has stabilized at 6.4
The ammonia in the tank keeps creeping up and is at .50ppm at the moment and I am not sure why. Nitrates and Nitrites are both at 0ppm. I feed twice a day but only very small meals. I have been changing my water quite frequently, about 25% every other day but now I am trying to do it a bit less frequently as I am afraid that I am not allowing my biological filter to develop. I even have been vacuuming the gravel at risk to plant roots to try to combat the ammonia issue. I have:
1 beta
6 red eye tetra
3 Schwartz Cory
1 Oto cat (prized fish)
3 Nerite snails
and about 10 shrimp (amano, red cherry, ghost)

My tank is heavily planted and also has a very large piece of Mopani wood in it. My substrate is specifically for plants and I have very good filtration. I condition my water with AmQuel before changing it. I have recently have some shrimp death and I just can't figure out what is wrong. Perhaps another clue is that I also have a lot of algae in the tank (not green water but still a good amount). I would really appreciate some help with figuring out what is going wrong here. I recently got a second filter so now I have a hang on the back type and a Eheim 35 gal canister filter. Could this have made my tank cycle again? But my NO2 and NO3 levels are still 0ppm. I love my little fish dearly (especially my piggy Beta) and I want to give them the best environment possible. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:07 AM   #2
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It sounds like your tank is not fully cycled. The reason your ammonia keeps going up is because there is fish and not enough bacteria. Read about the nitrogen cycle. Frequent water changes especially if the ammonia goes above 0.25 is a must when cycling with fish. This means that sometimes you might need to do twice or more per day PWC (partial water changes). Doing PWC does not disturb the bacteria because most of them will live in your filter media or gravel or any surface really and very little is in the water column. Maybe don't vacuum all the gravel all at ones.

What kind of test are you using? Liquid is best. Try API freshwater master kit. Also I recommend Prime by seachem as a water conditioner.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:07 AM   #3
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Have you noticed if you've had a spike in your nitrites within the past few weeks? It sounds like you haven't hit the nitrite spike yet and your ammonia spike has stalled. With ammonia levels at 0.5 you need to do a 50% pwc asap. Your cycle will probably go slower because you are doing a fish-in cycle. I did the same with my 29gal and I battled ammonia for awhile.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:19 AM   #4
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I had a spike in the nitrites and nitrates a while ago and then things seemed to even out. That is why i added more fish (I only had some zebras at first) and things seemed to go well for a while and now I am having the ammonia problem. I have the API master test kit. I was so excited to start that I think you may be correct in saying that I added fish to soon. I read a bit after the fact and in retrospect probably should have tried no fish cycling. How long did you battle the ammonia? I will change right now and leave the gravel alone. How much longer do you think the tank will cycle?
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:55 AM   #5
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I agree that you have too many fish and not enough bacteria, I would do a water change every other day about 50%, and certsinly dont buy more fish, eventualy the water will contain a high amount of nitrites and finaly your cycled tank will have 0 ammonia 0 nitrites and some nitrates, then you can change the water less often.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:45 AM   #6
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I fought my ammonia levels for about 4 weeks and now I'm just about done with the nitrite spike. The reason it is taking longer is just like you said in your original post: performing water changes slows the growth of the bacteria because in essence you are taking away their food. However if you dont perform pwcs your fish will die. This May when I start my 75 gallon I will definitely do a fishless cycle. Just keep up the pwcs and it will the tank will work itself out

One thing I've learned (and the pros on here can confirm) do not change out your filter media. Just rinse and clean your existing media in the tank water from your pwc. Changing the filter media creates mini-cycles.
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