I'm going to buy a Python Siphon to vacuum out food debris and poop on the bottom, and get another water check for my PH and current Ammonia levels... thing is, I have two other turtle tanks that have never had any ammonia issues, and I have never took caution specifically against it, like chemicals or water changes...Yellow Turtle01, Part of my home zoo is a collection of very large tropical fish. Cichlids known as FLOWERHORNS. I can tell you from my experience that their water gets changed at 40% weekly and it is a minimal amount. An aquatic turtle would produce waste at an even higher rate and your NITRATE, NITRITE and ammonia levels will be continuously out of control without constantly vacuuming or netting up any debris daily and changing a good amount of tank water weekly, or at least as often as you can. Also, have you checked your PH levels? The water will be very acidic. The ammonia removing chips are a band aid at best. If you can control the NITRATE and NITRITE , they will in turn help to biologically regulate your ammonia. It's all very confusing at first and I recommend you research regulating ammonia. Soon you'll be a pro.
I do have a 400 gallon Fluval filter for the tank, which is 180... I am planning on the plants, thoughI really second to all people who suggesting both using good filters or adding some aquatic plants in your aquarium to regulate ammonia instead of using some chemical solution.
For me, I use almost 3 times higher filter capacity for my aquarium and still I feel that I need to add more filtering. With my current filter, I can maintain ammonia at safe level for 3 weeks, but due to the debris and dirt from waste and food, I usually do 80% water change once per two weeks.
Just google "ammonia cycle for aquarium" for you to understand more of how to control ammonia in water.
So I should expect a few weeks for the biological filter to startup and get healthy, and start maintaining the tank better?The bio balls, ceramic rings and such work because beneficial bacteria grow colonies on them and break down waste, but the good bacteria is easily killed with chemicals and when they are overwhelmed, your levels will get all screwed up. They need to be in the filter so that all or most of the water passes through. They would not be beneficial sitting in the tank. A Wet/Dry system would be ideal for turtles, but would involve more complex changes to what you have. You need time to establish these colonies. It looks like you are very careful and a great pet owner. I'm sure you'll do well.
All bio balls, bio rings, ceramic rings are same purpose to develop colonies of bacteria. Some product will claim they grow bacteria faster and more colonies, which I'm no sure correct or not. Anyway, I've been using ceramic balls inside my canister filter and plastic bio balls for my pond. Both do the good job controlling ammonia, and while ceramic balls are much more expensive, the bio balls won't fit into my canister filter, so I still need to use ceramic ones. Most important is you need continuous water flow through them and a good mechanical filter before the balls, so dirt won't cover the balls' surface and hinder bacteria to grow inside the pores.I do have the BioRings though, should it make that make of a difference?? Didn't seem to help before