Your fish is producing AMMONIA all the time! AMMONIA is toxic in ANY amount!
Even with water changes and cleaning, there will always be ammonia in the water. This can cause all kinds of crazy problems, and can even kill a fish within 24 hours.
If you don’t do anything to make the ammonia go away, the ammonia that builds up between water changes is toxic and painful for your fish.
You need to find a way to remove the ammonia as it’s produced, so the fish is never affected by the ammonia!
The only way to do this is by growing good bacteria!
This beneficial bacteria basically “eats” the ammonia and turns it into safer things!
Where is this bacteria? How do we grow it?
Your filter is the main home for your beneficial bacteria! There is some bacteria in the substrate of the tank, and some on the decorations. There’s basically none in the water.
You want to encourage this bacteria to grow by providing it with a safe place in the filter to establish.
This means that you don’t want to clean the filter as often as you’d think.
If you wash the filter too much, or wash it under chlorinated tap water, you could kill your colony of bacteria. You don’t want to clean the filter often. When you do, rinse it out in water that you’ve removed from the tank into a bucket, or have dechlorinated.
I only recommend replacing the media when it’s physically falling apart!
If you’d like, you can split the filter into two jobs, or two sections. The first part is for physically filtering out the debris you can see! This can be washed often, while the other section is able to do the filters main job! It’s able to grow the good bacteria if it’s left alone more! Due to it being second in the filter, you should be able to go a lot longer without cleaning it! This way your colony of beneficial bacteria will thrive!