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I feel like I need some expert advise.

I recently started a 10 gallon up. It's been going for a couple of months. I got a filter from Craigslist(it came with other accessories, I was really more after a cheap hood) and the filter broke recently, about two weeks ago. Ever since it broke the ammonia levels have been really high. I was doing 50% water changes each day and I also have a sponge filter in there,it doesn't seem to work very well by itself, it functions more like a bubbler then anything. About 3-4 days ago my new filter arrived in the mail. I set it up and it seems to work fine. However I'm still getting ammonia spikes. My tank is starting to stink a little. I've been using ammonia neutralizers to at least keep the fish alive. I think my tank may be re-cycling. Does anyone have any advise on what I can do to speed the process along? When I do water changes should I be doing 50% a day? 25% twice a day? 50% twice a day? I'm running out of ammonia nuetrilizer and I need to figure out the quickest way to fish cycle.:-(

By the way stocking level:
1 female betta
7 neon tetras
1 mystery snail
 

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Your tank is cycling again. After your filter broke and was taken out, it likely killed all or most of your beneficial bacteria. Treat it like a normal cycling tank. Use Prime too, that should help protect your fish a little bit, but may not fully.

You have too many fish in there too. A ten gallon isn't big enough for neon tetras to begin with, but since your beneficial bacteria isn't colonized enough yet, it cannot handle the amount ammonia being put into the water. Some bottled bacteria, like from Stress Zyme+ may help even it out after a time, but it's going to take a while for it to convert because the fish are adding too much, and the tank is cycling. Do heavy water changes daily, about 40-50% or so.
 

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A 10 gallon is big enough for neons, I'd say you're at max capacity as far as stock. You are fishless cycling and I agree with Sylver, pick up some Prime. Just use that as your conditioner with your water changes and up them to about 75% once a day to see if that helps. Also stop feeding for a couple weeks. It won't harm the fish and it'll ease up on your bioload a little. A sponge filter actually works as more than just a bubbler, this particular kind of filter is basically all biological media - a.k.a. a huge place for beneficial bacteria to live. It's one of the best kind of filters you can have for smaller tanks. What is your ammonia spiking to in 24 hours?
 

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The smell may be from the additives, however, are you doing a gravel vac to remove mulm/detritus? That may be a possible culprit, although my money is on the ammonia lock.

As to the neons...there's a lot of debate there, as you can see. Fro the research I've done and observing other people's tanks and the fish in it's natural habitat...this is a fish that truly benefits and shines when kept in high numbers, and a ten gallon tank just isn't able to really provide that. When kept in numbers around 15-20 neons really seem to flourish. I'd really recommend viewing a video showing these fish in their natural habitat, they look gorgeous swimming in shoals of hundreds, even thousands.

It all comes down to the owner, however. There are no definitive lines in fish keeping, and the boundaries are always being explored. It's really up to the owner to decide (based on research), the space and numbers they are willing to provide.

As to your tank, you seem to have lost a lot of the cycle when your filter died (did you save any of the media?), so treat your tank as if it's going througha fish in cycle.

Daily water changes of between 50% - 75% will be helpful to your fish, and if you can get hold of some media from an established tank that can also be really beneficial.
 

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It's up to each of is to decide how much space we want to give our fish, whether they are bettas, goldfish or neons. Some people provide the bare minimum, some people provide more - similar to the school size question.

I agree with Jen - neons typically do better in larger groups, and you can only put so many neons in a small tank.
 
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