Thanks OFL! As always, tons of great info! I have learned so much from you.
I was wondering... I've learned that in a cycled tank, one type of good bacteria will "eat" the ammonia and release nitrites, and a second type of good bacteria will "eat" the nitrites and release nitrates. I also know that if these are not available the good bacteria can starve and you will lose your cycle. If this is correct, my question is, how do I know if my tank is producing enough ammonia / nitrites to keep the good bacteria strong? I have live plants which I know will use up some of the ammonia and only one betta, 2 ghost shrimp and some MTS. If I test for ammonia and it's 0 as it should be, how does the bacteria "feed" to produce nitites and then nitrates?
Also I'm still a little confused about using Prime, which I use for my wc's. I know Prime does not really "remove" ammonia but changes it to a non toxic form called ammonium, however this ammonium may still show up on my API Master test kit as ammonia. The water straight from my tap shows .25 ammonia. So when using Prime, how do I know if the ammonia registering on the test after a water change is ammonia or ammonium? Do I need another type of test kit to know if there really is ammonia in the tank?
Also, if Prime only neutralizes the ammonia for 24-48 hours, does that mean that 2 days after my partial water change the ammonium changes back to ammonia? And if so, do I then need to test again and possibly use prime again? And if so, if I keep changing the ammonia to ammonium using the prime, where will the ammonia the good bacteria need to survive come from? Or does the good bacteria also eat ammonium? It seems like such a vicious cycle and I seem to keep confusing myself! Lol
I hope this is OK to ask these questions on this thread, if not, would a moderator please move it to the correct place? Thanks so much.