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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not sure if I'm having problems or not... I've had a raw shrimp in a piece of mesh in my tank for a week and I just did my first test for ammonia and there wasn't any... so I tested for nitrites... nada. Then I did a nitrate test and still nothing. Have I not waited long enough? The shrimp smells pretty bad so I know it's rotting quite... nicely? and should be producing ammonia. I have a few plants in there, 2 anubis, 1 amazon sword, and a marimo. I've read plants can affect the ammonia... could this be my problem? Have I just not waited long enough?

Thank you in advance!
 

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You should have seen ammonia by now but this is without live plants....with live plants it can be harder to do the fishless cycle....how big is the tank and what is your finial stocking plan....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It's a 20 gallon and I plan to have 1 male betta, 1 bristlenose pleco, 10ish tetras, and maybe a few ghost shrimp.
 

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When you cycle with live plants it can sometimes be a bit more confusing...not harder-just confusing and with live plants it can actually be safer if you wanted to do the fish in cycle-provided that you made the needed water changes...

Plants-since they are organic-they can function as the ammonia source too.....anything alive will work just like pure ammonia or decaying organics-like the shrimp you are using or fish food...the down side of using decaying matter is that they can also produce bad bacteria-not always but sometimes that can create problems in the long term-especially if the livestock are not healthy to start or get overly stressed for some reason.

When live plants start actively growing they will use ammonia as a food source before conversion-often when you have lots of actively growing plants it may take along time if ever before you see the nitrate reading and you have to go by other signs to help tell you the nitrogen cycle has established.

With a 20gal filtered tank with a few plants and a water test kit on hand-what I would do and this is provided that the fish are healthy to start.....make a 50% water change with light vacuum-remove the rotting shrimp then properly acclimate the Betta and pleco and add them-monitor water prams and make 50% water only with ammonia, nitrite 0.25ppm or greater and the regular 50% with light vacuum weekly that you should be doing to maintain the system.

Get your Tetras and QT them in another tank during this-then in about 3-4 weeks properly acclimate them to the 20gal if they are healthy....If you don't have a QT to use (highly recommend QT) and you have to add them to the 20gal when you get them....wait 3 weeks at the very least before you add them to the tank.....

Filter media needs a swish/rinse in the bucket of old tank water a couple of times a month-but don't start this until the 4-5 week or a week after you are fully stocked-unless the water flow is compromised

Monitor the water prams daily for at least 2 weeks past the time you are fully stocked-then weekly right before you make your regular weekly water change and for a few days after you rinse the filter media as a general rule.

Make a 50% water only change anytime you have behavior changes, dead fish, sick fish removed for QT, before you add new fish as a general rule

If you are using the API brand freshwater master test kit-be sure to follow the directions to the "T" especially on time lines, shaking between reagents and reading results and on the #2 nitrate reagent bottle-be sure and shake, bang on the table and shake some more-it tends to settle and can cause skewed reading.....once you get the hang of using this kit it is great and fairly accurate-until then sometime you can have a high user error....watch the fish often they will tell you when something is wrong....

Love to see pics.....
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Alrighties... your post made me realize something. I was doing those tests totally wrong XD

Not only is there ammonia in the tank, there is a crap ton of ammonia. It was super super dark green. I'm guessing I'm at the ammonia spike phase since I made sure to do the other two tests correctly and didn't find anything. Think I should take the shrimp out or leave it in?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'll take the shrimp out then ^_~
 
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