Ammonia - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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Ammonia

Hello all! I just signed up today, so I apologize if you have any rules I inadvertently break. Whenever I'm trying to find information, hits from planted tank always give intelligent and helpful answers, so thanks for all the help you don't know you've given me!

So I just got a new tank, 180 gallons. I thought I started it correctly, but maybe I was impatient. I bought four 75 gallon sponge filters and hooked them up in my existing tanks for a little over a week. During that time I filled the tank and cycled it with API Quick start and two 75 gallon hob filters with used padding. I also added about 20 gallons of water from already cycled tanks. When my nitrate, nitrite and ammonia hit zero, I added the sponge filters, then fish over about 3 days. I have about 50 small tropical fish: bettas, tetras, mollys, guppies, barbs, corys, the basics. The only 'large' fish are my adult crayfish Bloo and two juvenile rope fish.

The tank is nowhere near as planted as I'd like, I have the plants I want picked out but it will take a couple paychecks to get them all. Right now it has some assorted swords around 12" each, a few large water sprites, copious guppy grass and duckweed, a few other random small plants, and a glosso carpet that sprouted a couple days ago. There is a lot of driftwood, and even without it I have trouble keeping my pH up so I included a lot of shells. The substrate is a mix of organic soil and gravel with crushed seashells

Yesterday I noticed that my sensitive little ropes looked upset, so I tested and found 0.5ppm ammonia. I immediately put in ammo lock to keep the fish safe. Then I went through all my other tanks (I have five, 16 to 30 gallons each) and washed their (very dirty) filter sponges in the new tank. I also grabbed some used substrate and rinsed it in there as well.


I pruned any damaged plants and looked around for dead fish and can't find any, there are a lot but I either know them individually or know how many of each there should be and I don't notice anyone missing

Today I checked again and the ammonia read slightly higher, not quite 1ppm. My nitrite, nitrates, and chlorine are 0, GH is 150 (South Florida), pH is about 6.8, KH is 80. I did a 30% water change just now. The fish don't seem stressed except maybe the ropefish, but they are my first so I'm not positive what their 'normal' is.

I don't know what else to do at this point. I have zero dollars until Friday, the ammo lock will wear off soon, and I'm very worried. I would really really appreciate any advice. Thanks so much!

DP
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:06 PM
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The organic soil- what type did you use? I wonder if ammonia is leeching from this soil.

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60 g. w/ F1 Alenquer discus pair and wild red spotted green discus
30 g. Shrimp Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Flex 9 gallon- Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Spec 3- Golden Bee shrimp
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure what brand the soil is. I got it at home depot, it was about $6 for two square feet. This gave me about an inch of dirt, under/mixed with an inch of gravel.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:26 PM
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This may very well be where your ammonia is coming from.
But, also, you may be experiencing "new tank syndrome" where the biofilter is just not yet established enough to handle the waste of the fish.

I would up the water changes until your tank becomes more established. Dont rely on Ammonia-Lock and bacterial starters- more water changes are all you need to bring water quality into order. What volume of water are you changing and how often?

All Low-tech:
180 g. w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. w/ F1 Alenquer discus pair and wild red spotted green discus
30 g. Shrimp Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Flex 9 gallon- Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Spec 3- Golden Bee shrimp
30 g. Quarantine/Hospital

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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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I normally do 30% every two weeks. I will definitely up the water changes, what do you recommend? Do you think I should try to remove the soil? I put the ammo lock in to keep the fish comfortable until this is resolved, do you have a better recommendation? Thanks so much 😊
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:38 PM
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The Ammonia Lock is fine, but if you run out-- dont worry that you need to by more to control ammonia. You dont.

I dont think you need to take the soil out, just need to up the water changes until it stops leeching ammonia. This scenario is typical with biologically active substrate- that it will leech ammonia in the beginning and one will need to do more water changes initially. But, as your bio-filter becomes established and you get more plants in your aquarium, this issue should subside. In the meantime, try doing 30-50% water changes once weekly. This should get you at undetectable numbers ( ammonia). If ammonia still detectable with once weekly water changes, do 2 x weekly.

This issue should settle over next couple weeks.

All Low-tech:
180 g. w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. w/ F1 Alenquer discus pair and wild red spotted green discus
30 g. Shrimp Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Flex 9 gallon- Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Spec 3- Golden Bee shrimp
30 g. Quarantine/Hospital

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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That is a huge relief. I will definitely up the water changes. I read a lot about using soil before I did it, but I didn't make the connection that it is a biological substrate or see it mentioned anywhere. Thank you so much for your help!
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 03:16 PM
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Discusluv hit the nail on the head I believe.

When you say you mixed in the soil with the gravel, does that mean that at least some of the soil is on top of the substrate?

If so, that is not the proper way to add soil to aquariums. Typically you put down an inch of soil (max and some here argue for much less) and then you cap the soil with 1-2 inches of something inert. Whatever you use as the inert cap it needs to have pretty small grains. Something in the 1-4 mm range is ideal. Coarse sand works pretty well for this. Small gravels also work well. What you don't want is to be using something with huge pieces like pea gravel. This just lets the soil mix directly with the water which you definitely want to avoid.

If your cap has pieces in it too large or there is a lot of soil (more then say you could gravel vac up in a few water changes) on top of your substrate, you may need to add something into your tank to "re-cap" your soil. If this is going to make your substrate too deep (like 4 inches deep) you may need to remove things and start over. If you do remove the substrate, then make sure you pull out all the fish first. As you pull up that dirt you will be releasing a LOT of stuff into the water including any bacteria that died in that substrate which will definitely be bad for the fish.

Hopefully that is not needed.
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 04:32 PM
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I also agree that its the dirt thats releasing Ammonia. Lots of water changes, AND frequently, to get rid of it. Lots of Prime, and Stability from Seachem. Along with constant check on water. You should be good.

I recently went through somewhat similar to this. I emptied my tank, kept all the fish in a backup tank, added dirt, then blasting sand to cap it. Then filled up the tank with tap water. Then took out about 90% of that water. Then flooded again. Then dump about 50%. This took out tons of ammonia. Then I flooded it again, added prime. Then added a brand new canister filter (other one needed replacement.) Then I added all the plants. Then I started taking out my sponges from established sponge filters, started squeezing them in this tank. All the water and gunk fell in this new tank. It was disgusting, needless to say at first. But filter took care of it soon enough.
I waited about one week before I added any fish. First, do another water change ~30%. Then check the parameter, and then added my fish. All my fish are good now.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 05:09 PM
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@ 6.8pH 1ppm ammonia is not generally toxic..
https://www.hamzasreef.com/Contents/...reeAmmonia.php

NH3 is what kills and at those parameters you have about .0034ppm..


Watch your Nitrites...and pH...You'll get problems around 7.5-ish ..possibly..
Should be fairly buffered so can't see pH changing much..

Eventually that ammonia will be converted to Nitrite.. then of course nitrate by other bacteria..
THAT may be an issue since your Nitrite to Nitrate Bact appear dysfunctional..


More you mess the more you can really foobar things..
Get a bottle of Prime..
https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcos.../seachem-prime

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
@ 6.8pH 1ppm ammonia is not generally toxic..
https://www.hamzasreef.com/Contents/...reeAmmonia.php

NH3 is what kills and at those parameters you have about .0034ppm..


Watch your Nitrites...and pH...You'll get problems around 7.5-ish ..possibly..
Should be fairly buffered so can't see pH changing much..

Eventually that ammonia will be converted to Nitrite.. then of course nitrate by other bacteria..
THAT may be an issue since your Nitrite to Nitrate Bact appear dysfunctional..


More you mess the more you can really foobar things..
Get a bottle of Prime..
https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcos.../seachem-prime

The OP cannot buy any additional products until Friday as noted in first post. What advice do you have for them in the interim knowing this?

All Low-tech:
180 g. w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. w/ F1 Alenquer discus pair and wild red spotted green discus
30 g. Shrimp Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Flex 9 gallon- Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Spec 3- Golden Bee shrimp
30 g. Quarantine/Hospital

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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for taking the time to reply. I put the gravel over the soil but some became mixed as I added new items to the tank. I will re cap it with another layer of something more fine. And continue with the water changes as suggested, and use prime when I do. Thank you so much!
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
The OP cannot buy any additional products until Friday as noted in first post. What advice do you have for them in the interim knowing this?



thought and prayers..


Anyways on a more serious note.. Only thing is monitor and do water changes..
Removing gravel/stuff.. adding gravel stuff. will more than likely be counter productive..


If I read this right.. tanks prob. 2 weeks old already..


like I said "I'm" not worried about the ammonia but what comes next..
At this point woudn't mess till it gets worse..
The N bacteria are slow to reproduce..but thay should be doing fine at this point..damage what's "hopefully" building up and you just have to repeat the cycle..
o/p's also overly concerned w/ pH.


They get Nitrites and/or pH spikes above 7 then they may need to "do something" messy..
Quote:

The fish don't seem stressed except maybe the ropefish, but they are my first so I'm not positive what their 'normal' is.

worst thing to do, in my "OPINION is over react..
Troublesome part is zero Nitrates ..

And learn about ammonia..
http://home.eng.iastate.edu/~jea/w3-...monia/nh3.html
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production...water-2013.pdf

When the guppys start lining up facing the filter outlet THEN they have issues..

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."

Last edited by jeffkrol; 08-27-2019 at 05:57 PM. Reason: edit
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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So... that escalated quickly. I woke up, checked the fish, as I said earlier only the ropes seemed a little off. I did the water change, posted here, and took a nap for an hour. I just went out to check on the tank.. dead. So many dead.

All my barbs, tetras, glass cats, some guppys, Molly's, a ropefish. Only the bettas seem confused about all the fuss.

I pulled everyone out, destroyed everything and badly clouded the water doing so but I think I have them all. I have two empty tanks with no fish, just a filter and used water (fish living here went in the large tank), I wanted to get some new ones next week. Guess what? Full of ammonia. I divided everyone up between some other tanks, and a bucket for the rope. I needed a drink.
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Myfeesh View Post
So... that escalated quickly. I woke up, checked the fish, as I said earlier only the ropes seemed a little off. I did the water change, posted here, and took a nap for an hour. I just went out to check on the tank.. dead. So many dead.

All my barbs, tetras, glass cats, some guppys, Molly's, a ropefish. Only the bettas seem confused about all the fuss.

I pulled everyone out, destroyed everything and badly clouded the water doing so but I think I have them all. I have two empty tanks with no fish, just a filter and used water (fish living here went in the large tank), I wanted to get some new ones next week. Guess what? Full of ammonia. I divided everyone up between some other tanks, and a bucket for the rope. I needed a drink.
When did you test the ammonia and get a reading of 1 ppm?

Edit: I looked back-- you said this morning tested at 1ppm ammonia.
You did a 30% water change.
Now, all fish dead.
Something doesn't add up here.

All Low-tech:
180 g. w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. w/ F1 Alenquer discus pair and wild red spotted green discus
30 g. Shrimp Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Flex 9 gallon- Bloody Mary Shrimp and Caridina cf. babaulti "Zebra"
Fluvel Spec 3- Golden Bee shrimp
30 g. Quarantine/Hospital

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