Help Ammonia Won’t Change

jdhef

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Congrats...It does sounds like you are there if you are processing all ammonia with 24 hours. But note that low nitrates only indicated that you haven't processed that high a level of ammonia since ammonia->nitrites-> nitrates. So the more ammonia processed, the more nitrates you end up with. This is way tanks that are more heavily stocked need larger more frequent water changes that tanks that are lightly stocked...more fish, more ammonia, more resultant nitrates
 

lilirose

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Congrats! Agree with the above post completely. Unless you have a very heavily planted tank you will still have to do water changes to reduce nitrate.

My recommendation is that you get your inverts next week, but as I don't keep inverts with my Betta, I question whether inverts alone will keep your bacteria alive. I wonder if the fish shop would sell you a handful of small fish that would be less interested in shrimp (danios, rasboras, something like that) and then let you return them when you're ready to get your Betta, so that you can keep your bacteria thriving while your shrimp get established. If you have a LFS that will cooperate with this idea then you'd be golden.

Before anyone jumps in to correct me, I know that even small fish can attack shrimp, but it would be safer than adding a Betta immediately.
 

jdhef

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Not only do water changes reduce nitrates, they also add highly oxygenated water to the tank, and replace minerals in the water that the fish use up.
 

aoiumi

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If you can swig it, live plants both use nitrates and make the tank look nice, but the fast-growing ones that would really make a dent in nitrates would also need a lot of light and co2, which gets really expensive really quickly.

Java fern, java moss, and marimo moss balls always look nice though.
 

Leafydragon

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Congrats! Agree with the above post completely. Unless you have a very heavily planted tank you will still have to do water changes to reduce nitrate.

My recommendation is that you get your inverts next week, but as I don't keep inverts with my Betta, I question whether inverts alone will keep your bacteria alive. I wonder if the fish shop would sell you a handful of small fish that would be less interested in shrimp (danios, rasboras, something like that) and then let you return them when you're ready to get your Betta, so that you can keep your bacteria thriving while your shrimp get established. If you have a LFS that will cooperate with this idea then you'd be golden.

Before anyone jumps in to correct me, I know that even small fish can attack shrimp, but it would be safer than adding a Betta immediately.
Would it be possible to add a small amount of ammonia with the inverts or would that kill them? Like maybe .1g or .05g instead of the .2g I normally add.
I don’t know if I’d be able to part with any small fish since I get very attached very quickly to pets and the store near me has a two week return policy and I’m getting my betta after three weeks.

Congrats...It does sounds like you are there if you are processing all ammonia with 24 hours. But note that low nitrates only indicated that you haven't processed that high a level of ammonia since ammonia->nitrites-> nitrates. So the more ammonia processed, the more nitrates you end up with. This is way tanks that are more heavily stocked need larger more frequent water changes that tanks that are lightly stocked...more fish, more ammonia, more resultant nitrates
I’ve heard it’s better to have near 20ppm or less of nitrates in a tank, is that true? Would I do weekly or bi-weekly water changes?



Would it also work to just use a tank divider and get them both at the same time then a month then after the shrimp have grown remove the divider?
 
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lilirose

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Would it be possible to add a small amount of ammonia with the inverts or would that kill them? Like maybe .1g or .05g instead of the .2g I normally add.
I don’t know if I’d be able to part with any small fish since I get very attached very quickly to pets and the store near me has a two week return policy and I’m getting my betta after three weeks.
Nononono. Do not add ammonia with shrimp in the tank. It would likely kill them instantly.

I hear you on getting attached. I have some fry in one of my tanks that will probably have to be rehomed (the eggs were on plants that I didn't rinse well) and I legit want to cry when I think about letting them go.

I get super attached to the shrimp too though. I guess this is why I am in this hobby, I love them all.

I’ve heard it’s better to have near 20ppm of nitrates in a tank, is that true? Would I do weekly or bi-weekly water changes?
My eyesight is a little poor and I cannot tell if your plants are real.:watching: Low levels of nitrates are a good thing to have if you have live plants as they are essentially free fertiliser. They are not strictly necessary in a tank without real plants, but absence can indicate a problem with your cycle. 20ppm or below is a good place to shoot for if there are no plants (in my heavily planted tanks I have trouble with it never being that high!) though a little higher is not the end of the world and some people are comfortable with a lot higher- shrimp don't like that very much, though.

I personally do my water changes weekly using test results as a guideline for what proportion of the water needs to be changed. But at least 20% gets changed in every one of my tanks every Monday. That's just, like, my opinion, though.

Edit: Missed your question about the divider. That is actually an option that could work.
 
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Leafydragon

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Nononono. Do not add ammonia with shrimp in the tank. It would likely kill them instantly.

I hear you on getting attached. I have some fry in one of my tanks that will probably have to be rehomed (the eggs were on plants that I didn't rinse well) and I legit want to cry when I think about letting them go.

I get super attached to the shrimp too though. I guess this is why I am in this hobby, I love them all.



My eyesight is a little poor and I cannot tell if your plants are real.:watching: Low levels of nitrates are a good thing to have if you have live plants as they are essentially free fertiliser. They are not strictly necessary in a tank without real plants, but absence can indicate a problem with your cycle. 20ppm or below is a good place to shoot for if there are no plants (in my heavily planted tanks I have trouble with it never being that high!) though a little higher is not the end of the world and some people are comfortable with a lot higher- shrimp don't like that very much, though.

I personally do my water changes weekly using test results as a guideline for what proportion of the water needs to be changed. But at least 20% gets changed in every one of my tanks every Monday. That's just, like, my opinion, though.

Edit: Missed your question about the divider. That is actually an option that could work.
My plants are real and I’m trying to find what plants I can plant in gravel so I can add two or three more (since my water wisteria has basically rotted and died). The image I included is almost how my tank looks now minus the wisteria in front of the driftwood which I was thinking I could just replace with some anubias.

Would the shrimp and snails be able to fit across the divider or jump/crawl across it or would they be perfectly content on the side with the driftwood and plants. My divider is homemade so I’m wondering if I should cut the mesh to match the curve of the lid or leave it level with the tank. I’m not home at the moment, but I believe it’s less than an inch of space between the surface of the water and the top of the lid.
 

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jdhef

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I think there is a good chance they could get over the divider, so you may want to have match the curve of the lid
 

Leafydragon

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Fish Garbage

It looks like I jinxed it by saying it was almost done cycling
Is it possible that the driftwood is the reason for the pH not staying up? I figured I shouldn’t jump the gun and just keep doing water changes if there was still ammonia and wait to see if it might right itself somehow (doesn’t help I always test so late at night). If it isn’t okay tonight then I’m definitely doing a 4.5gal WC.
I included a picture of my tank now. I’ll make the divider a perfect fit before I stock the tank (there isn’t a cut in the mesh for the led to sit so it won’t stay straight up) and am going to keep the betta, nerite snail and two mystery snails on the left side and the shrimp and other mystery snail on the other side?

Should I scrap that stocking idea and just go with a male betta, one mystery snail, one nerite and maybe a small schooling fish (I heard that 6 danios or 4 chili/dwarf/emerald rasbora might go well in a tank this size without the divider). I kinda prefer the second option, and I’d probably use the divider and keep the betta on the left side (but make it smaller by moving the ceramic plate) and the schooling fish on the other side for maybe a few days first then let them interact (that way they establish their own territory and the schooling fish can make their territory in the denser plant side) or getting the betta a month later.
 

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lilirose

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You need to be doing more water changes. You're letting the nitrates go too high. Don't hesitate to change the water if your pH is low or your nitrates are high, even if you just did one two days ago. You're going to have to be prepared to do on-the-spot water changes once the tank is stocked, as your livestock will die if you decide to put it off.

I'd have to advise against trying a schooling fish on one side of a tank that small- they won't have enough room. Danios especially are going to be quite unhappy without enough room to move around. With schooling fish the problem will be more of fin nipping at the Betta, not the Betta harassing them, and they will do it more if they feel they don't have enough space.

(Please forgive if this sounds cranky- it's not intentional or directed at you! I drove 2.5 hours cross-country today to buy specific shrimp for the shrimp tank that I hadn't stocked yet- they assured me on the phone that they had them- and when I got there they only had four of them, and they were all males. I was furious!)
 

Leafydragon

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You need to be doing more water changes. You're letting the nitrates go too high. Don't hesitate to change the water if your pH is low or your nitrates are high, even if you just did one two days ago. You're going to have to be prepared to do on-the-spot water changes once the tank is stocked, as your livestock will die if you decide to put it off.

I'd have to advise against trying a schooling fish on one side of a tank that small- they won't have enough room. Danios especially are going to be quite unhappy without enough room to move around. With schooling fish the problem will be more of fin nipping at the Betta, not the Betta harassing them, and they will do it more if they feel they don't have enough space.

(Please forgive if this sounds cranky- it's not intentional or directed at you! I drove 2.5 hours cross-country today to buy specific shrimp for the shrimp tank that I hadn't stocked yet- they assured me on the phone that they had them- and when I got there they only had four of them, and they were all males. I was furious!)
It’s all okay, everyone has probably had a long week!

For the divider thing I’m not sure I specified correctly, I was saying if I decided to get the betta that day with the schooling fish then I would sue a divider for a day or two so they “establish” territory away from each other then take it out.

I’m definitely going to do a water change like right now (since I’m about to get home) and by the time the tank is stocked I won’t have to test every ~24 hours so I’ll definitely be making sure I have time for a WC before testing once the fish are in there. From now on I’m also going to attempt to leave time for a WC (but it’s hard with all my school activities always being so late).

Edit- scratch the schooling fish idea, I’m hoping to get a few ADF when I go to college so stocking me tank with fish that live 10 years is going to make that a very hard goal
 
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lilirose

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I think you're headed in the right direction- I don't feel schooling fish are likely to work as tankmates for a Betta in a tank that small. Schooling fish do not establish territories- in a tank that size they will need every inch- and again, the issue you're likely to run into is them hurting the Betta, not the other way around, so it wouldn't matter if the Betta has a territory.

IMO you could have a maximum of two ADF in that tank, but I've never kept them myself, and I have no idea if there would be issues keeping them with a Betta.

I'm really more a fan of keeping a Betta on its own with maybe a snail or two in a tank that size, but I realise this may sound disappointing when you're hoping for a busy tank and you've worked so hard. You could always scrap the Betta, then you could have schooling fish and shrimp, or schooling fish and ADF. Or...I just got some little Sparkling Gouramis for my 20 gallon and they are super adorable and fun to watch. They aren't as flashy as a Betta but also not nearly as temperamental behavior-wise, though they are in the same family of fish.
 

Leafydragon

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I think you're headed in the right direction- I don't feel schooling fish are likely to work as tankmates for a Betta in a tank that small. Schooling fish do not establish territories- in a tank that size they will need every inch- and again, the issue you're likely to run into is them hurting the Betta, not the other way around, so it wouldn't matter if the Betta has a territory.

IMO you could have a maximum of two ADF in that tank, but I've never kept them myself, and I have no idea if there would be issues keeping them with a Betta.

I'm really more a fan of keeping a Betta on its own with maybe a snail or two in a tank that size, but I realise this may sound disappointing when you're hoping for a busy tank and you've worked so hard. You could always scrap the Betta, then you could have schooling fish and shrimp, or schooling fish and ADF. Or...I just got some little Sparkling Gouramis for my 20 gallon and they are super adorable and fun to watch. They aren't as flashy as a Betta but also not nearly as temperamental behavior-wise, though they are in the same family of fish.
My original plan was to get a pair of male ADF and a betta but my parents and I weren’t too sure if the college dorms would let me keep the ADF so we decided to wait until after I got there to make sure I wouldn’t have to get rid of them. I love to research pets so I’m definitely sure that having a pair of ADF won’t be an issue with the betta, even three would be fine with a betta in this tank, since they both 95% of the time don’t care about each other. I was hoping to add schooling fish since the tank might seem empty with just some snails and a betta but I’m really holding out hope for those ADFs so I think for a year I’ll be perfectly fine with just my betta, then adding in the frogs (hopefully) when I get to college.
 

lilirose

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Out of curiosity- are you planning to move this tank a long distance after going to such lengths to cycle it? It's not safe to move a tank with water in it- you will stress the silcone at the joins and the tank will be very likely to leak/break.

You have been very responsible to cycle first, but in order to move it safely, you're going to lose a lot of your hard work, and problems will be inevitable if you have to move it several times a year due to breaks.
 

Leafydragon

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Out of curiosity- are you planning to move this tank a long distance after going to such lengths to cycle it? It's not safe to move a tank with water in it- you will stress the silcone at the joins and the tank will be very likely to leak/break.

You have been very responsible to cycle first, but in order to move it safely, you're going to lose a lot of your hard work, and problems will be inevitable if you have to move it several times a year due to breaks.
I was planning on emptying out over half the tank first (and possibly a good amount of the gravel) before moving it, leaving enough for the betta to be comfortable but as little water as possible otherwise. I wouldn’t be able to lift it otherwise. I’m going in-state and the main colleges I’m looking at are 2.5 or 1.5 hours away so max time without the filter running is 3 hours, and I start college next year so I have some time to come up with a good plan. I saved the box and all the packaging so maybe I’d be able to put it in there with all the styrofoam to keep the temp up. And I could ask anyone who’s staying if I leave on weekends to feed them and in total during the year the tank would be moved 4 times (move in day, move out and winter break most likely)
 

lilirose

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I really admire that you took the time to research the nitrogen cycle and I'm sure you've learned a lot, you've done really well so far. I also got my first Betta when I was a freshman in college. He died shortly after the journey at the first Christmas break as I could not keep his situation stable when I had to move him in cold weather (I lived in the Southern US at the time so it wasn't bonechilling but definitely cold enough to kill a Betta).

I guess I'm going to have to leave this thread with a hearty "good luck", as I simply can't be supportive of your plan now that I know the full details.
 
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