ammonia problem - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-16-2013, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Saint Louis, MO
Posts: 26
A while back I lost a couple of cories to columnaris, and treated the tank with Triple Sulfa. All seemed well, but I was aware that it can cause a gradual, delayed die-off of nitrifying bacteria.

I should have kept an eye on that for a longer period than I did. I added a few guppies and barbs and all still seemed well, but then one day I noticed the Seachem ammonia alert was reading "alert" rather than "safe". I did an API ammonia test and it was reading in the range of 4 PPM!

I've been treating with Prime, made sure I have no dead fish, did water changes and substrate cleaning, etc. I added Fluval Zeocarb to my filter, and borrowed some extra media from my wife's tank -- but the ammonia in mine is still not going down significantly. The ammonia alert is still reading "alert".

Our tap water reads 1ppm on the API test kit, though we condition with Neutral Regulator before adding it.

I've read that it can take weeks to reestablish nitrifying bacteria. Is there anything else I can do to help the process along?

FWIW: 38g tank, Aquaclear 70 with Zeocarb, Purigen and loaded to the top with bio media. 8 CW010 cories, 6 panda cories, 3 male cobra guppies, 5 gold barbs (puntius semifasciolatus). Some floating anacharis and an assortment of other plants, though not what I'd call heavily planted. No added ferts, no CO2, the stock low-wattage light that came with the tank.

AQAdvisor puts me at 136% filtration capacity and 93% stocking level, though it should be a bit lower since the fish are young.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 12-17-2013 at 05:13 AM. Reason: Merged back to back posts
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-16-2013, 06:01 PM
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I might wonder if more than one person is feeding the fish?
Might also consider canister filter which would accomodate more media =more surface area for bacterial colony.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-20-2013, 03:43 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Location: Saint Louis, MO
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I'm the only one feeding. I did move everything around and find a fair amount of decaying plant matter though.

Unfortunately I lost two more panda cories, so I'm down to 4 out of the original 8. I suspect they had been stressed by the previous columnaris outbreak -- and potentially prior to that, since it's only been the pandas that have had any health issues -- and the ongoing low levels of toxic ammonia were enough to do them in.

Anyway, I took your advice and added a canister filter. (A SunSun HW-302.) Running both filters, I have double the water exchange rate and quadruple (or more) the media capacity.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-20-2013, 06:59 PM
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Location: Pflugerville, Tx
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When there is an indication of ammonia, water changes are almost always the best place to start. Any idea of stress from this is far less that burning gills with ammonia. Water change water change, until it comes back.
I would not depend on the stick on alerts for long. Don't they "expire" at some point? I count them in the "too easy, too simple" group.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-22-2013, 07:34 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Saint Louis, MO
Posts: 26
Can you recommend an ammonia test kit that only measures NH3? I'd like to have a clear idea of how much has been neutralized by water conditioners and how much is the really scary kind. Like I said, our tap water reads 1 PPM thanks to chloramine, but it should be 100% neutralized before it enters the tank.
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