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Wuts up, I'm new to this forum, and new to fish keeping as well. Always wanted an aquarium and just started a 10 gallon about 3 months ago. I heard after the fact that smaller aquariums are harder to keep up than larger ones. My problem is this: I can't seem to get a bio filter going... here is the situation: I started the aquarium with 3 black skirt tetras (sorry I don't know the scientific names). After 4 weeks the ammonia level was 0ppm so I figured I was good to add more fish. I added another black skirt and 3 zebra danios. Changed 25% of the water every three weeks but ammonia level kept building... nitrite and nitrate stayed at 0. Figured maybe my filter wasnt big enough for that many fish so I bought a bigger filter. It's been 4 weeks and ammonia is still at 4ppm and still no nitrite or nitrate. The fish seem healthy... any ideas on why bio filter won't establish?
 

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You really should be doing a 20% WC every week, and vacumming your gravel in 4 sections, a different section each week. This will allow your bio-colony to be strong but yet keep the tank clean. Watch over feeding as will that is a common mistake when starting out, just a small pinch not more than the fish will eat in 2 to 4 mins. Try and feed them 2 times a day in small amounts. The rotting food will cause ammonia, as do any dead and rotting item. You can also put some live plants inthe tank. I will assume you have the standard lighting system that comes with a 10 gal tank setup, meaning you got a 18 watt bulb, that in a 10 gal. tank will give you a 1.8 WPG. So most plants you can pick up will work... look for some java ferns, money/penny wort are easy plants. get some liquid ferts. My choice is seachem products, florish and florish excel will give you everything you need for live plants.
 

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fishboydanny
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ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all part of the cycling proccess. first, ammonia spikes, then the bacteria that absorb ammonia change it to nitrite, then bacteria that absorb nitrate change it to nitrate, and plants use nitrate for themselves; each of which is less toxic than the one before. after all of this 'drama' completes its cycle, then it is safe to add more fish to the few already in there.

I often don't do waterchanges until this is all over, because I feel that WC remove the beneficial bacteria along with the bad stuff. in my opinion, you shouldn't start the section by section WC until thes is over and everything is complete (the cycle, that is). If you still want to do WCs, then I feel you should just scoop out water, don't gravel vacuum until this process is over and the tank is stabilized. I'm not saying everyone else is wrong, but what works for me..... other people have had different procedures!!! Glad to help!
 

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This tank is 3 month old the cycling process should have been finished. so I was going off that fact. Thinking that he was not doing weekly WC or was cleaning to will. Both of these will cause the nitrates and nitrites to show a reading of 0, but is ammonia was showing a reading 4ppm.... which is cause by fish waste or rotting materials.

If it was a new tank I agree with you Danny about vacumming the gravel but not do a WC. If it was a fishless cycle, than yes no harm can come, but if your using fish, than you should never let the levels get higher that 20ppm, as this will cause harm to the fish. From gill distruction to death. I never gravel vac.. during the cycling process, but WC's imo are required for the health of the fish.
 
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