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So when I started my 12g a couple months ago, the water conditions were looking great. Then a few weeks in, ammonia and the Nite’s shot up.

It can be part of the process. I did some water changes which kinda helped. But when the plants began truly growing, everything balanced out. In fact, when I was having trouble with it I increased the amount of plants by 20-30%. The more I got in there (plant and snail wise) the better it started looking/acting.

Also! I started my Wonder Shell log today!
 

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I put a bit of wonder shell in my fish's 2.6 gallon tank today, and the PH is now at exactly 7, and the rest of the markers are good as well! They say to only put a tiny bit in a planted tank. I'll continue to add more of the wonder shell as needed. I also added some to my snails' 1 gallon tank. At least they are all good for now! :)

However, my new 5 gallon tank's markers are not right. I want to transfer the two snails and the betta to this bigger tank when it's ready. It's been two weeks and the nitrates and nitrites are still high, and the PH is also on the high side. I can see algae growing in tank. The soil instructions said to wait at least two weeks before adding fish. The soil had fertilizer in it, although I've since realized I don't need that. I added some fish food to the tank today. Is this normal cycling, do you think? Should I be doing water changes with this empty tank? At least most of the plants in this tank are looking good. I added some wonder shell to it today as well.
With a new tank you need to do large water changes often until the parameters stabilize. If you have an established tank, try squeezing or swishing the filter media into the water of the new tank. This adds tons of beneficial bacteria to jump start the colony. Always make sure to use a good dechlorinator or the chlorinated water can kill the bacteria that regulates your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Sometimes tanks take a long time to get going well. If you notice a high amount of ammonia, you can dose some dechlorinator since most of them neutralize ammonia for about 24 hours so it's not toxic to fish. I have always used Prime and couldn't be happier with it. Well maybe if it didn't smell like sulfer...

If you're using test strips to test the parameters, I suggest just getting an API master kit. The sciencey method takes longer, but is kinda fun and give you a chance to monitor the aquarium more. It's a little pricey, but you get what you pay for. More accurate readings. Test strips are super unreliable. I've tested them side by side with liquid testing and they're not even close on the nitrates and nitrites. They are better than nothing though. Patience is a big part of setting up a new tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
So when I started my 12g a couple months ago, the water conditions were looking great. Then a few weeks in, ammonia and the Nite’s shot up.

It can be part of the process. I did some water changes which kinda helped. But when the plants began truly growing, everything balanced out. In fact, when I was having trouble with it I increased the amount of plants by 20-30%. The more I got in there (plant and snail wise) the better it started looking/acting.

Also! I started my Wonder Shell log today!
That's great to know, thanks! The plant store sold me some plants with already browning leaves, so I need to clean those out. Maybe I can add more plants. Hopefully the wonder shells will help. And I'll start doing water changes. Yay for wonder shells!
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
With a new tank you need to do large water changes often until the parameters stabilize. If you have an established tank, try squeezing or swishing the filter media into the water of the new tank. This adds tons of beneficial bacteria to jump start the colony. Always make sure to use a good dechlorinator or the chlorinated water can kill the bacteria that regulates your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Sometimes tanks take a long time to get going well. If you notice a high amount of ammonia, you can dose some dechlorinator since most of them neutralize ammonia for about 24 hours so it's not toxic to fish. I have always used Prime and couldn't be happier with it. Well maybe if it didn't smell like sulfer...

If you're using test strips to test the parameters, I suggest just getting an API master kit. The sciencey method takes longer, but is kinda fun and give you a chance to monitor the aquarium more. It's a little pricey, but you get what you pay for. More accurate readings. Test strips are super unreliable. I've tested them side by side with liquid testing and they're not even close on the nitrates and nitrites. They are better than nothing though. Patience is a big part of setting up a new tank.
Thank you! I'll start the large water changes today in my 5 gallon tank, along with the Prime.

My current 2.6 gallon tank doesn't have a filter, just gravel and plants. I'm just doing a lot of water changes with Prime while I wait to put my fish in the new 5 gallon tank.

I'll consider the API master kit, thanks for the info. I'm doing a lot of testing of the water of my current tank because I worry about my fish. The water is like a science experiment!
 

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That's great to know, thanks! The plant store sold me some plants with already browning leaves, so I need to clean those out. Maybe I can add more plants. Hopefully the wonder shells will help. And I'll start doing water changes. Yay for wonder shells!
I can’t remember what your tank is stocked with, so excuse me if I’m repeating anything.

When it comes to dying leaf matter, this is where shrimp/snails really begin to do their work in our little ecosystems. Ramshorn snails are particularly good at eating decay and dying leaf matter. (I have 4 or 5 different kinds of snails in my tanks. Haha, sounds crazy, but they all have their individual purpose).

Then the shrimp break down matter even further. Which makes the “waste” more accessible to the bacteria in the substrate/soil.

You have a bette tank if I remember correctly. So shrimp may not work (expensive snacks for your betta!), but I’d throw in some snail friends.

I have some anacharis I’d be happy to give to you. They’re fast growers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I can’t remember what your tank is stocked with, so excuse me if I’m repeating anything.

When it comes to dying leaf matter, this is where shrimp/snails really begin to do their work in our little ecosystems. Ramshorn snails are particularly good at eating decay and dying leaf matter. (I have 4 or 5 different kinds of snails in my tanks. Haha, sounds crazy, but they all have their individual purpose).

Then the shrimp break down matter even further. Which makes the “waste” more accessible to the bacteria in the substrate/soil.

You have a bette tank if I remember correctly. So shrimp may not work (expensive snacks for your betta!), but I’d throw in some snail friends.

I have some anacharis I’d be happy to give to you. They’re fast growers.
I have snails, they're in a small tank waiting for my new 5 gallon tank to be ready. :) I really love animals, so I wouldn't be happy if they died. I have a mystery snail and a tiny nerite snail, which will go with my betta in the 5 gallon tank. Hopefully doing water changes, and using Prime and the wonder shell will help! I cleaned out the tank of the dead plant debris yesterday, and I'll do some testing again. Thanks for the offer of the snails, though - since I only have a 5 gallon tank, I think I have enough. And I look forward to them helping my tank in the future!
 

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I have snails, they're in a small tank waiting for my new 5 gallon tank to be ready. :) I really love animals, so I wouldn't be happy if they died. I have a mystery snail and a tiny nerite snail, which will go with my betta in the 5 gallon tank. Hopefully doing water changes, and using Prime and the wonder shell will help! I cleaned out the tank of the dead plant debris yesterday, and I'll do some testing again. Thanks for the offer of the snails, though - since I only have a 5 gallon tank, I think I have enough. And I look forward to them helping my tank in the future!
I've heard that Bettas might nip at the antennae and stuff on mystery snails, so just keep an eye out for that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I've heard that Bettas might nip at the antennae and stuff on mystery snails, so just keep an eye out for that.
Thanks! I read that, AFTER I got the snail. She's quite the character, probably because she does come out of her shell quite a bit. There's not much going on with the tiny nerite snail. lol So I'm hoping I can keep her.

I'm going to add the snails to the 5 gallon tank first, and then put the betta in afterwards. My betta is bold and friendly, and she doesn't seem to be threatened easily from what I've seen so far. I'll be keeping a close eye out to see how it goes!
 

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If you want baby mystery snails, get another one. I think there are male & female sexes for them. You'll have to learn the difference.
They don't live too long so have a next generation would nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Today my new 5 gallon tank finally has some good stats! And I've had the wonder shells in there for a while now.

Ammonia 0
Nitrates 0
Nitrites 0
pH 7
KH 40 (could be higher?)
GH 40

For weeks my nitrites have been at .5 or 1. Here's what my tank looks like now, after some plants died, others were removed (anubias), and I added some more. I couldn't keep the gravel layer even with all the plant rearranging, I hope that's okay.

73558


Should I wait to ensure these water parameters stay the same over the next week, or move the animals in right away?

Also, how should I transfer my snails and betta to the new tank, given they are in tanks with different water parameters (e.g., pH of 6 instead of 7)? The new water is better for them, but it could also be a shock. Half an hour in a plastic bag doesn't seem like enough of a transition!

Lastly, how long should the snails live in the new tank before I transfer my betta? I don't want my betta to be territorial.

Lots of questions, I know! :)
 

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KH 40 (could be higher?)
GH 40
Is this measured in dKH/dGH? If so, that's quite high! The wonder shells look to have been successful, but I wouldn't add any more. Interested to hear others opinions - is 40dGH too high? Mine is currently sitting around 30dGH, but I feel like a more reasonable target would be 15-20. That said, all my critters seem happy and healthy at 30, so maybe 40 isn't a problem? The plants will certainly like it.

In any case, make sure you drip acclimate the betta when you add it. It's probably coming from softer water, so it will need some time to adjust. If you're concerned about the snails making it, you could drip acclimate them as well...although I usually just toss them in after floating the bag for a while. Maybe start by adding the snails and continuing to monitor the parameters, and if everything looks good move the betta in a few days later?
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Is this measured in dKH/dGH? If so, that's quite high! The wonder shells look to have been successful, but I wouldn't add any more. Interested to hear others opinions - is 40dGH too high? Mine is currently sitting around 30dGH, but I feel like a more reasonable target would be 15-20. That said, all my critters seem happy and healthy at 30, so maybe 40 isn't a problem? The plants will certainly like it.

In any case, make sure you drip acclimate the betta when you add it. It's probably coming from softer water, so it will need some time to adjust. If you're concerned about the snails making it, you could drip acclimate them as well...although I usually just toss them in after floating the bag for a while. Maybe start by adding the snails and continuing to monitor the parameters, and if everything looks good move the betta in a few days later?
I'm using an API chart to interpret the results. I use their test strips. It says KH and GH shouldn't be zero:

73561


Hmmm... You are supposed to replace the wonder shells after they dissolve in the tank. I bought a bunch of them!

Thanks, I will drip acclimate the snails first! Then the betta a few days later. :)
 

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Ah, I see, I think it's measured in PPM? If that's the case, it's not very high at all. 40ppm ~= 2.2dGH I think. So you could probably keep using them for a while.
Hmmm... You are supposed to replace the wonder shells after they dissolve in the tank. I bought a bunch of them!
I did this too! Right after I bought a big batch, I tested my hardness...and it was definitely high enough that I didn't want to add more! The Wonder Shell folks talk about adding them regularly to maintain some electron chemistry thing that I don't understand...but I half suspect this is just marketing to get you to buy more. Besides, they also recommend doing water changes regularly (which removes the excess hardess), which I'm not interested in. Anyway, I too am sitting on enough Wonder Shells to last me for the foreseeable future :D
 

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Concerning the wonder shells, I’m still working on my own log and experiment. I saw a little increase in GH, but nothing outstanding.

However, I experienced explosive plant growth in some species after the shell had been in there a few days. (This is where I’m wondering if the ion exchange and balance that they claim comes into play).

I’ll share more later. I want to run another test that measures the levels of other compounds and elements in the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Concerning the wonder shells, I’m still working on my own log and experiment. I saw a little increase in GH, but nothing outstanding.

However, I experienced explosive plant growth in some species after the shell had been in there a few days. (This is where I’m wondering if the ion exchange and balance that they claim comes into play).

I’ll share more later. I want to run another test that measures the levels of other compounds and elements in the water.
Interesting! I would say they raised the GH in all the tanks I put them in. And possibly the pH too.

I'd like to raise my KH more, sometimes that's really low. I think they've helped some with that.

I know my snails need the calcium from the wonder shells, so I'll use them for that regardless.
 

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Ah, I see, I think it's measured in PPM? If that's the case, it's not very high at all. 40ppm ~= 2.2dGH I think. So you could probably keep using them for a while.
Yeah, the test strip versus liquid test differential is confusing. With API, the liquid test is measured in dKH or dGH but the test strips are measured in ppm. For the better part of this year I thought I had a GH/KH of 5 ppm. Thank goodness someone posted a YouTube video on the liquid test that set me straight.
 

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I'd like to raise my KH more, sometimes that's really low. I think they've helped some with that.
Wonder Shells don't help with KH, they only add GH. For KH you can add baking soda, or something like Seachem Alkaline Buffer (which is just fancy baking soda). I believe the dosing was around 1tsp baking soda per 10 gallons.

I saw a little increase in GH, but nothing outstanding.
I'm looking forward to seeing your results :) I didn't do a good job of regularly recording my parameters after introducing Wonder Shells, but I definitely saw a large GH increase after completely dissolving three small shells in my 6.5 gallon (like from around 10dGH to 30dGH). But obviously this was a one-off situation, and I had already been messing with my hardness w/ other recipes before that. If I started over now, I'd probably do more regular testing starting from fresh water. Regarding the ion exchange, it would be interesting to run some tests on the effectiveness of this as well. They claim only the "fresh" shells have the charged ions, so maybe testing stale vs fresh shells and their effects on fish/plants?
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Wonder Shells don't help with KH, they only add GH. For KH you can add baking soda, or something like Seachem Alkaline Buffer (which is just fancy baking soda). I believe the dosing was around 1tsp baking soda per 10 gallons.


I'm looking forward to seeing your results :) I didn't do a good job of regularly recording my parameters after introducing Wonder Shells, but I definitely saw a large GH increase after completely dissolving three small shells in my 6.5 gallon (like from around 10dGH to 30dGH). But obviously this was a one-off situation, and I had already been messing with my hardness w/ other recipes before that. If I started over now, I'd probably do more regular testing starting from fresh water. Regarding the ion exchange, it would be interesting to run some tests on the effectiveness of this as well. They claim only the "fresh" shells have the charged ions, so maybe testing stale vs fresh shells and their effects on fish/plants?

I had quite a spike in GH in my small tank today, where my fish is temporarily right now. I used too much wonder shell.

I do need KH, but I added a small amount of baking soda to a tank once and the pH, KH, and GH were off the charts. I had to do many water changes to get the levels back to normal (it must have gone into the gravel as well). I'm afraid to use baking soda again.

I got my wonder shells directly from the mfg because they don't have an expiration date on the package. But I had to pay for shipping. :(
 

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I had quite a spike in GH in my small tank today, where my fish is temporarily right now. I used too much wonder shell.
What is the new hardness?

I do need KH, but I added a small amount of baking soda to a tank once and the pH, KH, and GH were off the charts. I had to do many water changes to get the levels back to normal (it must have gone into the gravel as well). I'm afraid to use baking soda again.
Pure baking soda should not affect GH. If you're worried about using off-the-shelf baking soda, you could pick up something like Seachem alkaline buffer to use instead, which will list the exact dosing to reach the desired KH. But wonder shells will have a negligible effect on KH, so I wouldn't expect much change there with continued use.
 
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