1. ccraw024 Initiate Member

    I am perplexed with my current freshwater tank situation. I have a 29 gallon freshwater tank with 1 red tailed shark, 2 bleeding heart tetras, 2 white skirt tetras, 2 candy cane tetras, and a mystery snail (who may possibly be dead :( I don't know what happened. I have him in a bowl with tank water and am waiting to see if he moves).

    (EDIT) I also have live plants in the tank.

    My levels are:
    0 nitrate
    0 nitrite
    1.0 ammonia

    I had been having a cloudy water problem for a few weeks now, which I assumed was a bacteria bloom that showed back up after I slowly added fish over the course of the 8 week period. I tested my tap water ammonia levels which were at 2.0 PPM !!! AHH!!!! So my local fish shop told me to buy prime and startsmart complete to maybe kickstart the cycle because I am not even sure if my tank EVER DID CYCLE TO BEGIN WITH!!! I added the startsmart to the water 2 days ago and now my tank is totally clear, but my ammonia levels are still at 1.0ppm and 0 nitrate/nitrite. When I test my water that I keep in a bucket after I add prime which I use for water changes weekly, the ammonia was at .25ppm (not too bad). I actually put prime directly into my tank because I was so worried about the ammonia levels hurting my fish -- I dosed it appropriately and added it last night. I checked my water parameters this morning and they were what is listed above....and now my snail who was kicking last night hanging out at the top is now half out of his shell in a bowl. My fish seem happy as pie but I DO NOT know what to do about this ammonia problem. I did a partial water change today with water treated with prime, along with a partial gravel cleaning with a vacuum and this still did nothing to help the ammonia levels. Is the prime giving me a false reading? If so, why is the prime helping the partial water change water but not the entire tank? Sorry for the long winded description, but I do not know what is going on and now I fear my snail is dead because of it :-(
  2. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Prime doesn't remove ammonia, it simply binds it into a form that's not harmful to fish. The effect only lasts about 24 hours so you'll need to redose after that time. Your test will still pick it up though.

    Welcome to the forum!

  3. ccraw024 Initiate Member

    Thanks for the quick reply! I know that prime does not remove the ammonia, but I guess I am just not understanding why I have never in the 8 weeks have gotten a nitrite/nitrate reading from my API liquid test kit. My water is now crystal clear but my snail is apparently dead. I do my partial water changes, condition the water, and do gravel cleanings. Is my red tailed shark and other fish just putting off that much waste? I only feed them every other day...
  4. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Oh I see. My misunderstanding!

    What's your maintenance schedule normally like? How often do you do water changes and how much water do you change? Do you clean or replace your filter media? How do you clean it and how often?

  5. aaron0g Well Known Member Member

    Sounds silly but when ur cleaning do you clean the filter and when conditioning the water is that out of the tank before filling?
  6. ccraw024 Initiate Member

    I do a partial water change (around 20-25%) once a week, along with a partial gravel vac. on the same day. I have the fluval aqua clear 3 media biological HOB filter, and have not cleaned any of the media yet because I do not want to mess up anything. The filter seems to be functioning fine but maybe I need to clean the sponge? I know I need to clean it in tank water but I guess I am worried to clean anything since I just added the smartstart 2 days ago and don't want to rinse off any bacteria colonies that may be forming :-(

    I am so paranoid that I am doing to much and am going to mess something up! I really don't feel like I over clean or over do anything -- but I do not want to add more chemicals in fear of harming my fish or stressing them out. Maybe I just need to be patient and wait for the smartstart to start working? Does that need a few weeks to really kick into gear?
  7. ccraw024 Initiate Member

    I have not touched the filter since the day I got it -- and I condition the water with prime and wait for it to be room temp before adding it to the tank. I have a fluval 3 media HOB biological filter.

  8. Airth Member Member

    Welcome to fishlore. =)
    What percent of water changes are you doing? I recently had an ammonia spike after adding 2 mollies. It took my bacteria about a week and a half to catch up. I did 50% water changes daily (one 70% change). My ammonia dropped from 1ppm to .5 then to .25 and then 0 during that 1 and a half week period. At which point my nitrites spiked to .5 ppm then dropped to 0 over the course of a day or 2. Just keep at it and your ammonia should go back to being 0.

    On a side note, a 29 gallon really is too small for a red tailed shark. This guy will get up to 6" and a minimum tank size is 55 gallons. I would suggest rehoming, returning, or upgrading to a larger tank. I've had my shark for about two months and she's grown at least an inch in that time.
  9. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Sounds like you're doing the right things, it may just take some time! Does the SmartStart recommend adding daily or one big dose and then leaving it alone?
  10. aaron0g Well Known Member Member

    If you have ammonia in your tap water you will struggle to bring the levels down with water changes, using safe start or equivilent should help start cycle but still not instant, with a few fish everything will take a little longer and spikes will be higher whilst cycle begins

  11. ccraw024 Initiate Member

    Thanks for the reply! I am doing around 20-25% water changes once a week. Maybe I will do a larger water change next week and see if that helps...and I know red tailed sharks will grow pretty large -- don't worry I plan on getting a larger tank soon for the little guy :)

    by the way can you guys check out this picture of my snail and tell me if he is alive.. :-( he does not smell like anything but has been sitting exactly like this is this bowl I moved him to for 2 hours.

  12. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Snails tend not to do well in unclean water. Is there ammonia in the water in the bowl?
  13. ccraw024 Initiate Member


    Here is a picture of my tank.

    The water in the bowl is straight from the tank. So the ammonia level is probably 1.0 ppm. I read that you should put them in a bowl to see if they will move to the surface for oxygen. and he has not done this at all or even budged in 2 hours. Just hanging half out of his shell like that :-( I gave him a gentle poke and nothing. Did not even budge.
  14. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Oh dear, that doesn't sound good:(
  15. aaron0g Well Known Member Member

    Never kept snails myself, what temps ur water as the nitrogen cycle works faster when warmer but ammonia then becomes more of an issue to the fish it took me around 8 days to get the ammonia to 0 after adding a bacteria boost and filter material from smaller tank, (with fish) then even longer for the nitrite to drop, using the boost stopped any harmful spikes though
  16. ccraw024 Initiate Member

    Temperature right now is 78 but usually it is 80.
  17. aaron0g Well Known Member Member

    Perfect for the cycle but at that temp try to keep the ammonia below 0.5 to prevent fish loss it will be hard but try more regular water changes than once a week try every other day, also can you get hold of any water with a lower level or from an established tank to lower the levels of ammonia you are putting in to the tank?
  18. aaron0g Well Known Member Member

    Sorry quick addition if your ph is below 7.6 your ammonia can go to around 1.0 before fish loss is likely
  19. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Keep your tank at the temperature that's best for your fish. Any ammonia should be taken care of through water changes and Prime anyway. I just had to deal with an emergency cycle with a rescue angel and a Pleco and I had to do daily 50%+ water changes and dose Prime for the whole tank. At lower temperatures fish immune systems are less effective and bacteria grows more slowly.
  20. ccraw024 Initiate Member

    Thanks for all of your help! I will talk to my local fish shop about buying their ammonia free water and hopefully use that with prime and up my water changes to twice weekly and hope that gets rid of my problem.

    Update: My snail has not moved at all since I put him in the bowl. I took him out gently and gave a little poke and nothing :( I'm still gonna leave him in the bowl for a little while longer....just to see....

    Also, I just rinsed my foam media from my filter with tank water (not directly in my tank, but took the tank water and put it in a bowl) and that thing was FILTHY. EWWW!!! Maybe that will help with getting my ammonia levels right now since the foam won't be so clogged....