Hello Everyone. This is my first post on the actual forums. Here is a quick rundown of the aquarium I am going to be asking questions about.
1 Male Betta
4 Corydoras (Albino, Green, Julii, Spotted)
4 Ghost Shrimp
Topfin 10 Filter
Nat Geo FreshWater LED (20")
8~ Amazon Swords
Old Ruins Statue
Alright, so it begins that I buy a small 3 gallon Marineland Tank with an led and filter set up. I put my betta in there, and decide to get a cory. I get the albino. The betta seems to perk way up. I decide to get another cory. All is well, water looks clear, no issues of any sort for the two weeks I have the tank in there. I decide I want to go bigger, so I headed on over to Petsmart and started asking questions. I ended up getting this 10 gallon tank, and the gravel / Amazon swords (4 at this point, from same packaging tube)/ and the filter. The young lady there tells me that in order to cycle the tank I have to let the filter run for a few days with the stuff that will be in the tank. I had no idea that cycling was even a thing, and to this moment I am still unsure of every detail of it, try as I have to understand it. So for three days I allowed the tank to run uninterrupted. I have a glass lid over it, but no LEDs yet. On the fourth day, I put in my betta and (3 at this point) corys. The first day is absolutely gorgeous. Crystal clear water, just plain gorgeous. The next day, I wake up and it's very cloudy. I went to petsmart again and asked about this and was told that it was normal and part of the cycle. Fair enough. A few days later I ended up getting yet another cory, and five ghost shrimp. One shrimp dies the next morning. Two weeks after that, I bought a panda cory, only to have it die just two hours afterwards. On this same expedition, I purchased some mopani (?) aquatic wood and let it soak for one day in a bucket outside as I was directed by the petco guy. After a few hours of having it in, my water is completely yellow. This was on the 9th of this month. I panicked, thinking this was a bad thing only to find out I was badly instructed on how to go about placing the wood into my tank. Since that day I have had it in a bucket outside, now with a second piece as well as a zebra rock, and I empty the water at least once a day and refill it.
Back to the topic of the yellow water, as I read on I found out about tannin. I proceeded with water changes daily since then, with today being the only time I have not done one since. The water has, since yesterday, become clear again, but is very cloudy. I barely found out about all the water testing materials and purchased them a few days ago. I got the Jungle Quick Dip 5 in 1 Test strips, and a few days later API Ammonia test strips. When I did the first test with the 5 in 1's, , Nitrate/Nitrite were 0, Hardness was around 50, Alkalinity was 40, and pH was 6.8. I was told by a petsmart employee that these were good numbers. Two days ago I went and bought the ammonia test strips, and here is where the problem really begins. The ammonia reading is currently sitting at 3.0. I have tested it three times now, getting the same reading each time. As I said earlier, I have only stopped doing the water changes just today. I may go ahead and do one right now. I am vacuuming it, but not removing the plants. Should I be doing this?
Today's readings were:
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 1.0
Hardness - 150 ppm
Alkalinity - 80ppm
pH - 7.2
Ammonia - 3.0
Temperature - 80degrees
I will mention that the fish are ALWAYS energetic, my betta always comes to the front looking for food or just to stare at me in the mornings when I am getting ready for work (or any other time I am near) and has even changed color entirely since transferring it to this tank with all its mates. It was a very dull reddish black all over with a torn up red tail, and now it's a brighter red with a brilliant streak of blue scales going across the sides of its body on both sides all the way from its tail to its eyes, and its tail has grown more. As for my corys, they are either relaxing on the floor close by to each other or swimming around like crazy whenever I see them. The shrimp as just there being shrimp. They are all very wonderful little guys and I have grown very attached to each one. They're just all brimming with personality and seem completely healthy, but I am worried about all the following issues.
I had been feeding one wafer a day to the corys, and as of one week ago only give the betta three pellets, or one pellet and a bloodworm. Before then I had it understood to feed the betta as much as it will eat in one sitting, until I found out about how they are opportunistic eaters. I don't know if that is the cause of the high ammonia. As I understand it, the cycle goes - > High ammonia, low ammonia -> High Nitrite, low nitrite, - > High Nitrate, low nitrate, no nitrite/ammonia. My filter media is currently brown, and I had read somewhere that this is the bacteria colony.
Next, my plants do not seem to be growing very rapidly. I put in root tabs from petco almost two weeks ago to no avail. Small portions of some have browned, but it has not spread at all. I have pruned all the leaves that were completely brown right at the beginning, but all the other leaves are very green and healthy looking. As I said, my LEDs are the nat geo freshwater LED bar, which as I have heard Natgeo is not a very reputable brand. I know nothing about color temperatures and such, and am going to look into it tomorrow.
Lastly, there has been, since the beginning, what seems to be hair algae. It isn't as intense as some of the pictures I have already seen on here, but it isn't green. It seemingly only appears on that dragon statue, and at the very base of the larger settlement of Amazon swords. I have taken the dragon out before and cleaned it, but it comes back. At first I thought it was the shrimp, but I have no clue what is causing it. If I can figure out how to get pictures onto a post I will try to upload one as soon as I can.
My question is, what in the world am I doing wrong at this point? I have been doing the water changes at about 25-40% each time, using dechlorinator each and every time, lowered the quantity of food I am giving to the fish (I skipped feeding them altogether for today as I had read somewhere else to do that to help with ammonia), and planted more amazon swords to help with the ammonia. I realize my information is all scattered and my post seems very frenzied, and I apologize in advance for that, but I am very worried about what is going on with this tank. I have wanted to have a beautiful aquarium ever since I was little but never had the money for it, and now that I do it just seems like everything is going downhill. Again, I apologize for the sloppiness of my first post as well as the length, and thank anyone who reads and double thank for any advice. I will be back tomorrow!