Appreciate the words of wisdom. Frustration is defitely setting in now though, checked today and the ammonia is at 2 but nitrites and nitrates have gone to zero. I must've done the gravel vacuuming wrong.
Wonder what would happen if we add Hydroponic Fertilisers like General Hydroponic's products (Genhydro.com) which contain nutrients for plants?
Would these micro and macro nutrients be better than fish-foods or ammonia etc?
I have a 3 gallon tank with 1 beta, a snail, a dwarf cat fish and a few ghost shrimp. I have 2 plants and recently introduces a "faux" fluval moss ball that is supposed to help with reducing nitrites and other nasties like phosphates (it got really good reviews on Amazon). My filter contains a aqua clear foam filter, diamond blend activated carbon/ammonia neutralizing crystals and biomax so I can sustain my bacteria colony. I have been testing my water daily and I see that I have no levels of ammonia but the nitrites are approaching 5 ppm! I have been doing daily water changes at around 30%, using the appropriate level of aquarium salt with each change. I recently started also dosing with Seachem Prime which gets RAVE reviews on Amazon to assist with the nitrite reduction - this is also a declorinator, removes ammonia, replenishes the stress coat, just an all around great product. I am still testing daily but I do not see any reduction in my nitrite levels - I seem to notice that the nitrates are creeping up which indicates that I am about half way through my cycle. None of my little fishy friends seem to be negatively impacted by these high nitrite levels but I am still concerned. The tank has been up for about a month, so I am sure I am still cycling. That being said, I have read that some people find it difficult to fully cycle such a small tank so I am not sure what my next steps are. Any ideas? I am using test strips so that may be part of the issue and I need to upgrade to the API kit. I also tested my tap water after 24 hours of sitting out and it showed no signs of ammonia, nitrites or nitrates so this is clearly a tank issue. (I also have horribly hard water and I am not so sure what I can do about that).
You can expect nitrite at this stage of the cycle. Use a double dose of Prime to help detoxify it. And do 50% water changes as necessary to keep it below 0.50ppm. Never let it get anywhere near 5.0 ppm with livestock in the tank. A mossball doesn'y grow fast enough to have a measurable effect on the water quality. You need lots of fast-growing plants for that.
Dose Prime @ 2-drops per gal of tank size with every water change. Dose Prime @ 1-drop per gal of tank size daily until the cycle is complete.
Can you get a reading of your water hardness. We'd like to know the pH, the GH and the KH before we suggest how to deal with it, if it's even necessary.
You don't want ammonia-neutralizer in your filter (or anywhere else). Prime detoxifies ammonia but it still feeds the bacteria you're trying to grow. Charcoal is harmless. But you're better off replacing it with aquarium sponge. Wait until the tank is cycled for a few months before you replace it. What brand of filter are you running?
You will get a more accurate reading of your water quality with a liquid test kit. Most of us use this one: [ame=http://www.amazon.com/API-Freshwater-Master-Test-Kit/dp/B000255NCI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379756505&sr=8-1&keywords=API+freshwater]Amazon.com : API Freshwater Master Test Kit : Aquarium Test Kits : Pet Supplies[/ame]
Can you have your water tested (maybe at your LFS) for pH, GH and KH. This will help us determine if anything needs to be done about your hard water.
A 3gal tank is not harder to cycle than any other size, but ammonia and/or nitrite can build up fast. You really have to keep a close eye on it.
Your tank is overstocked by quite a bit. Even too much for a 5g, in my opinion. A Betta and shrimp is OK for a 3g. Maybe a Betta and small snail. But certainly not another fish plus all that. At least get the catfish (what kind?) and the snail into another tank, please, for the long-termhealth of your livestock.
I put a deep blue sponge filter (with air stone) in my 3.4gKK with my EE delta betta. its been almost 2 days to the month that ive started the cycling. I did a 50 wc on the 5/8/14 and ive been testing the water every few days. im reading 0 ammonia and nitrite. I do have 5ppm nitrate atm. is my tank cycled yet and is the nitrate a bit too high for the fish? its been a while since I had to cycle a tank, the last was my 5g tank and that was at least 1 year ago. I do have plans to add a sponge filter and air stone/pump on my other 3.4gkk.
can someone please remind me of the safe water parameters for a fish I cycle?