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Doing this for a month need help!

Sergical

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Hello friends, ( this is going to be a long post and apologize for the length )

I am posting on here in hopes of curing my "first fish tank stress". I have setup a 10 gallon freshwater tank that I bought from my LFS. It came with its own hang on back filter and of course the tank. Before setting up the tank I did a little bit of research on how to set it up and recommended to use a dechlorinate for my tap water. I went ahead and wiped my tank down with a soft cloth and just some tap water. I filled up the tank with gravel ( about 1-2 inches) and made sure that the gravel was clean and ready to be set in the tank. I bought 2 live plants and a few small decorations to personalize my tank. I filled up my tank with treated water and made sure that my tank was at 78 degrees before introducing any fish. That's where I made my first mistake, I added some guppies to the tank to early and unfortunately they died due to the water quality and the tank had not been through its nitrogen cycle. Long story short, It has been about one month now, I have one guppy, 3 molly's, 3 cories, 2 nerite snails, and 2 tetras in my tank. They currently seem healthy, they swim around happily and don't seem to have any issues so far. I recently added a air pump to agitate the water a little bit and purchased a Seachem Ammonia Alert as I wanted to make sure it didn't get out of hand and wanted to provide the best for my fish. I have done about 3 50% water changes (I make sure I clean the filter with the aquarium water and not tap, I turn all my equipment off before cleaning, I siphon the gravel to remove excess pellets or food, I make sure to treat the water with Seachem primer) to the tank since I have had it and tested the water using test strips in which I stopped due to inaccurate results. I purchased a API master test kits with the droplets and this is where it gets bad.
As of yesterday:
pH- 7.6
Ammonia - between 2.0 and 4.0ppm

I knew this was really bad and like I mentioned before I really want my fish to live a happy life so I immediately jumped online and searched some stuff about removing ammonia from water. I found some post about some cities having high ammonia levels in there tap water so I went ahead and tested my ammonia from my tap. Tested around 2.0 - 4.0ppm which had been the same water I had been adding to my tank which makes sense to me due to the similar ammonia results. I was frustrated and took adeep breath and thought "if I could remove the ammonia from my tap water before doing a water change to my tank, my ammonia levels would subside." I went to my LFS in search of a product to remove ammonia and decholorinate tap water. I found a product called Aqua Solutions Ultimate - which is a liquid additive to water that removes ammonia and dechlorinates water and I thought that it was perfect to add to my tank. I got home quickly got my bucket, filled it with room temp water, added the Aqua Solutions Ultimate, took my thermometer and made sure the water was about 76-79 degrees to not shock the fish with the new water. Before adding the water I tested the ammonia again with the Aqua Solutions Ultimate added to the water and the test came back 0ppm. I felt really good about adding the water and finally having some clean and good quality water for my fish. Filled up the tank with the treated water, tank looked clean, fish were happy, I was happy. About 5-6 hours later, I decided it was a good time to test my pH and Ammo levels again. I went ahead and did that and got about the same from the last time except the ammonia level went down a bit.

Currently:
pH- 7.6
Ammonia - 1.00 - 2ppm

I was upset and frustrated that all that work I did accomplished such minimal results. As of the time of this post, my water is cloudy and it smells just a little (not sure whats that about). I am debating getting a whole new water filter, one that just hangs on the back and getting a new filter media but I haven't made that decision yet and hoping someone can help me with this dilemma.
Edit: I did purchase pH DOWN in hopes of lowering my pH (any thoughts on this? I haven't added it yet and won't until someone tells me its okay)
 

Ben2522

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Hey. Im new here also so probably not best for me to comment yet. However noticed you posted a while ago so just wanted to say, someone will respond to you soon. Its a good group here. @JuiceBox52 @Colin_T
 

Jan Cavalieri

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Ok, take a deep breath.

Your tank isn't cycled yet which is why you continue to have ammonia. The GOOD news is that if you add a capful of Prime every 48 hours you will deactivate the ammonia and any nitrites - after 48 hours they convert back again. The tests will STILL show you have ammonia and nitrites in your tank because you have to buy a special test kit to measure active and inactive ammonia or nitrates (it's not worth the money - just trust in Prime) . Be assurred Prime is keeping the ammonia under control even if the numbers don't read that way. That said, you still want to get rid of that ammonia - you don't want to be dealing with this forever.

Purchase a bottle or two of Tetra Safe Start Plus. This conditions your water (has all the stuff prime has in it - plus good bacteria - so no need to continue with the prime except on days you don't add the Tetra Safe start - you don't want ammonia and nitrites to be converting back to active.

Then start doing a weekly 75% water change (including siphoning out all the poop and leftover food. When you add you water back in put a little Safe Start in each bucket of water for a total of a capful or twol. The Safe Start contains some much needed bacteria that will allow the ammonia to convert to nitrites and the nitrites to convert to nitrates. You need to test all these parameters as often as you want to see when the tank starts cycling. What will happen is that you'll get lower or zero Ammonia readings and some higher Nitrite readings, eventually you'll start seeking some Ntrate readings (NItrite is very harmful, Nitrates not so much although you don't want to let them accumulate too high - they basically mean you have a dirty tank of water. But it's not unusual to have some lower level of Nitrates nearly all the time, especially if you test before water change day.

I was so anxious to see when my tank started cycling I tested Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates every day (I'm disable so I have time on my hands), it was cool to see the ammonia turn to zero and the nitrites rise and then in a few more days to see the nitrites fall and the Nitrates rise. The 75$ water change sounds excessive but it has served me well as well as some of the moderators on here. I want to SEE my fish, so while dirty looking water may test out perfectly you may have a hazy tank and you won't be able to see the beauty of your hard work. I have 3 major aquariums so I have to change my water on 3 different days because it takes me nearly 4 hours (I can't carry much water with out resting frequently and I'm pretty compulsive about keeping a clean tank). I don't worry about taking my water's temperature - I just elbow check the existing water and do the same for the new water and that's probably within a few degrees and is fine. If anything I go a little on the warm side. If you've ever bathed an infant - same idea.

Sounds like you're being really attentive we just need to get the nitrogen cycle going so you don't have to worry so much about all those test values. It's a lot of work now that pays off later.

If you ever have a larger tank or add a bunch more fish, start using the Tetra Safe Start a few days before and after getting the fish - it will beef up your bacteria load so you can handle the stress to the tank of adding extra fish. I made that mistake once and I was left with cycling my tank all over again - that's when I tried different bacterial products and found that Tetra Safe Start seemed to work the best by a longshot.
 

seangee

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Welcome. As there are fish in the tank your best course is to do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading >0. Only feed sparingly once or twice a week until they get to 0 and stay there. Add some fast growing floating plants if you are able to.

Please do not add pH down. There is no need for this and your pH does not need adjustment. It is worth mentioning that you have both hard (mollies and guppies) and soft (tetras and cories) water fish in the same tank. If you are able to get your GH (general hardness) readings we can advise which species are best suited to your tank. We need to know the number as well as the unit. If you have test strips these are good enogh to give us an idea, alternatively the values may be available on your water supplier's website.
 

essjay

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And please do not add Prime to the tank. It should only be used to treat new water during a water change, at the dose rate for the volume of the new water only. Prime is a water conditioner not a treatment.

The only way to deal with ammonia and/or nitrite in the tank water is by a water change.
 

Barry Tetra

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There is a way to get rid of ammonia and nitrite completely by cycling a tank, cycle a tank is when you put ammonia and nitrite down to 0 by using nitrosomonas bacteria to "eat" ammonia and turn them to nitrite then another bacteria name nitrobacter and nitro spira will "eat" nitrite and turn them to nitrate, you can speed up the process by buying the ‘bacteria bottle’ I would recommended tetra safe start. Also can someone check my grammar on this post, as I always use this copy above to explain what cycle a tank was. @essjay please check my grammar. :)
 

essjay

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There is a way to get rid of ammonia and nitrite completely by cycling a tank, cycling a tank is when you put ammonia and nitrite down to 0 by using nitrosomonas bacteria to "eat" ammonia and turn them to nitrite then another bacteria name nitrobacter and nitro spira will "eat" nitrite and turn them to nitrate, you can speed up the process by buying the ‘bacteria bottle’ I would recommended tetra safe start.
The red is the only real grammar I can spot :)
 
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Sergical

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So the best course of action based off of what I read is to perform a 75% water change and adding the tetra safe start plus. What should I do after? How much should I add? And how about the high levels of ammonia in my tap water?
/
 

utahfish

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Cycling a tank is important and is always the first thing posters on here will tell you which is good, and what others havent mentioned is that your tank is over stocked and improperly stocked for a few reasons.
Mollies can get over 6 inches and are dirty fish, they make alot of poop which creates lots of ammonia. Corydoras get around 3-4 inches and while not super dirty arent minimally dirty like say a neon tetra. Even when your tank is cycled the amount of ammonia these 6 fish will create will be difficult for you biological filter to keep up and break down into nitrates. Also most products that claim to get rid of ammonia arent really getting rid of it, the product breaks it down into a less toxic nitrite or nitrate which in essence is doing the job of your biological filter starving it of the ammonia it feeds on.The only way to remove the ammonia is by changing the water and replacing it with water with no ammonia in it. Having said that nitrate is less toxic than ammonia but im guessing if your ammonia in your tap is high than so are your nitrates in which case i would suggest getting more plants to eat it up. Having said that mollies and guppies are hard water fish corydora and tetras are soft water fish so one or the other are going to suffer depending on your water hardness. Having said that tetras and corydora are both shoaling fish that need to be kept in groups of at least 6 or more and tetras need at least a tank 2 feet in length to shoal. A ten gallon isnt a good space for a group of corydora or tetras.
Find out what your water GH is and then stock your tank with the appropriately sized fish for that water and size and youll find youll have less problems. Keep asking questions keep doing research and good luck cycling that tank:)
 

seangee

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How much should I add? And how about the high levels of ammonia in my tap water?
I have no idea about your country / state but in the EU the maximum permissable level in drinking water is 0.5 ppm, so you may want to take it up with your water supplier. Some of it is no doubt due to chloramine being used to treat the water. Water conditioners split the chlorine and ammonia and remove the chlorine. A cycled tank should be able to deal with what is left but products like Seachem Prime neutralise the ammonia for 24-36 hours which is sufficient for your filter to deal with this.
 

Retired Viking

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As far as plants that will help absorb ammonia I recommend, water sprite, hornwort, moneywort and anacharis. You can allow them to float or "plant" them in your gravel. They are easy to care for and absorb what they need from the water.
 
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Sergical

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I really appreciate the overwhelming information and suggestions. @utahfish based off of what you told me I’m going to go ahead and give my Molly’s and guppy to my LFS. I’m going to make it a cory and tetra tank instead of mixing fish which you had mentioned wasn’t good. I’m going to go ahead and purchase the Tetra Safe Start plus and some plants that someone had suggested for the ammonia. When I get home I’m going to do a 75% water change and make sure to clean my gravel also. I haven’t changed the filter media in my filter since I got the tank about a month ago and do have a replacement what should I do with that? Or should I leave the old filter and just wash it with the aquarium water?

edit: how much fish is ideal for a 10 gallon tank
 
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