How often do you water change, and how much? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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I’m struggling to get rid of ammonia, it fluctuates between 0.5 and 1.0 and I just can’t seem to get rid of it. The tank is mature and quite heavily planted with co2 injection. I bought it second hand complete with plants and fish. It was still up and running when I picked it up and set up straight away once I got it home so I assumed filter would be fine and didn’t anticipate having to deal with cycling issues. I’ve had it for 16 days.
I’m doing 50% twice a week, have dosed with Fluval cycle numerous times but still showing ammonia. Fish all seem fine, plants are fine but have some black spot algae and some hair algae- not enough to really cause an issue though.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 12:25 PM
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Use Prime until tank cycles. It will covert ammonia to the less toxic ammonium. Dose the the full amount for water volume every 48 hours and you should be fine. 50% water changes weekly is more than enough and I would only do that if you are dosing EI.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 12:35 PM
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Was the bacteria in the substrate kept alive as well. Depending on tank size/setup most of the bacteria would probably be in the tank and not in the filter in a mature tank.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 12:43 PM
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Yeah, draining the tank wouldn't have dried out the substrate if it was done right away. Only thing that I can think of is those double 50% WCs in the last two weeks may have reduced the bacterial colony if tap water wasn't treated. Probably just needs to build back up. Shouldn't take long. I'd still recommend using Prime.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 12:55 PM
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I'm assuming the move involved a total tear down and restart at your place.
In a mature, cycled tank, ammonia levels are so low as to not be detectable, so between filter and substrate, MAYBE much (if not all) beneficial biology was lost.
However, you should also check your source water. (some one correct me if I'm wrong) But Prime (and perhaps other conditioners) converts chlorine/chloramine to fairly harmless ammonium which shows up as ammonia on test kits. So if your testing right after a water change, it could be a false reading.

OTHERWISE, the tank MAY BE cycling. In which case, Prime and water changes (as recommended) are your answers until ammonia levels are no longer detected.

To directly answer the posted question, I only fertilize very modestly but I change 25-50% weekly except fry tanks where I change 50% every other day.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice all. I’ve only been changing water so frequently because of the ammonia readings. We drained all water before transporting but there was still a covering on the gravel. I transported plants and filter in buckets with some of the tank water. I didn’t clean anything when I got it home, just refilled and started it all back up as quickly as possible.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:16 PM
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Thanks for the advice all. Iíve only been changing water so frequently because of the ammonia readings. We drained all water before transporting but there was still a covering on the gravel. I transported plants and filter in buckets with some of the tank water. I didnít clean anything when I got it home, just refilled and started it all back up as quickly as possible.
what readings do you get from you tap water? or, whatever water you are using for your water changes?

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Tested my tap water and ammonia is 0. My tank readings for today were ph 7.2 NH3/4 1.00 NO2 0 NO3 10 or 20 not entirely sure which as colours are so close on chart! Using API master test kit.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:20 PM
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Did the substrate ever dry out or did you fill it back up with untreated tap water?
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:22 PM
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ok. i would give it a bit of time, and it will likely balance itself out soon.

though, if you really want to do something about it, try making an upflow algae scrubber. then seed it with a little bit of the algae that is growing in your tank, as that is the algae that is already doing ok.

the algae in the scrubber will drop your ammonia levels down once it starts growing. i often use algae scrubbers as a way to "cheat" when setting up new tanks. it allows me to bypass the new tank syndrome.

though to be honest, your tank will probably go back to normal pretty soon anyway.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:32 PM
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Prime (and perhaps other conditioners) converts chlorine/chloramine in tap water into fairly harmless ammonium which shows up as ammonia on test kits. So test your CONDITIONED tap water.
AND like HOC asked, did you refill with unconditioned tap water, then condition (possibly killing the BB in the substrate)???

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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No substrate didn’t ever dry out, and I filled it with prime treated water. If I can work out how much prime to add to a small amount I’ll check the treated water.
What is an algae scrubber?
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:52 PM
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No substrate didnít ever dry out, and I filled it with prime treated water. If I can work out how much prime to add to a small amount Iíll check the treated water.
What is an algae scrubber?
an algae scrubber is any device that is designed to grow algae in it and circulate tank water. the idea is to grow algae in an area where you want it so that it does not grow where you dont, but in the process it also removes nutrients that algae need. ie, ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, etc.

"The ecologist is continually having to look at the aspects of nature with which he is unfamiliar and perforce must be an amateur for much of his working time.... professionals may carp at omissions, misconstructions, or even downright errors in these pages. perhaps ultimately they may forgive them for the sake of the overall vision that only the amateur, or the ecologist, blithely sets out to experience."G. Evelyn Hutchinson
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 03:10 PM
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My money is on "Patience, the tank is still cycling. Wait and monitor. Don't be devastated if you lose some fish - you may given your ammonia content". Why do I say this? read below:

My research shows that water changes are only a short term and temporary way to tackle ammonia - Ammonia is reduced by bacteria that convert it to nitrites and yet other bacteria convert the nitrites to nitrates. Nitrates can be impacted by water changes. The fact that you have ammonia means that your fish are producing more ammonia than your current bacteria can handle. Did you add fish to the tank after you bought it? That may also disturb the balance of the bio-load. The bacteria build on surfaces, primarily in the bio-media surface in your filter. Unless you changed the filter pads, your filter bacteria should have survived. But even though you did the right things, the evidence shows that some bacteria died away and now it needs time to rebuild. Some fish are hardy - thats why people even use these fish for fish-in cycling. My guess is that you have a relatively hardy variety of fish, otherwise, they would not have made it in ammonia water for 16 days.

The city puts Chlorine in water to kill bacteria, so any contact with chlorinated water is bad for the helpful tank bacteria. But looks like you are already using a dechlorinator. When you first refilled your tank, are you sure you dechlorinated the water BEFORE adding it to the tank? because if not, you might have killed some of the bacteria and that might explain the imbalance.

If you have a temporary place for this fish, move them there and follow fishless cycling steps to ensure your tank is cycled before putting the fish back in. You can leave the plants there - they help with the cycling. Otherwise, if you cannot move the fish, then you just need to wait and watch. Do water changes frequently, but make sure you only add dechlorinated water to the tank. If you don't have enough bio media in your filter, get some from your LFS. If your LFS will give you some media they are already using, then thats best because it will give you a live quantity of bacteria to give you a jump in your cycling process.

Bump: My money is on "Patience, the tank is still cycling. Wait and monitor. Don't be devastated if you lose some fish - you may given your ammonia content". Why do I say this? read below:

My research shows that water changes are only a short term and temporary way to tackle ammonia - Ammonia is reduced by bacteria that convert it to nitrites and yet other bacteria convert the nitrites to nitrates. Nitrates can be impacted by water changes. The fact that you have ammonia means that your fish are producing more ammonia than your current bacteria can handle. Did you add fish to the tank after you bought it? That may also disturb the balance of the bio-load. The bacteria build on surfaces, primarily in the bio-media surface in your filter. Unless you changed the filter pads, your filter bacteria should have survived. But even though you did the right things, the evidence shows that some bacteria died away and now it needs time to rebuild. Some fish are hardy - thats why people even use these fish for fish-in cycling. My guess is that you have a relatively hardy variety of fish, otherwise, they would not have made it in ammonia water for 16 days.

The city puts Chlorine in water to kill bacteria, so any contact with chlorinated water is bad for the helpful tank bacteria. But looks like you are already using a dechlorinator. When you first refilled your tank, are you sure you dechlorinated the water BEFORE adding it to the tank? because if not, you might have killed some of the bacteria and that might explain the imbalance.

If you have a temporary place for this fish, move them there and follow fishless cycling steps to ensure your tank is cycled before putting the fish back in. You can leave the plants there - they help with the cycling. Otherwise, if you cannot move the fish, then you just need to wait and watch. Do water changes frequently, but make sure you only add dechlorinated water to the tank. If you don't have enough bio media in your filter, get some from your LFS. If your LFS will give you some media they are already using, then thats best because it will give you a live quantity of bacteria to give you a jump in your cycling process.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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I’m pretty sure I did add prime to the buckets before they went in the tank, that’s how I always do it so I don’t think I would’ve done it differently that time but who knows, maybe I did- it would explain a lot. I did add some fish to the tank afterwards too, thinking a mature tank could handle it. And I washed the filter sponges out in water change water after I noticed the ammonia creeping up- they were really filthy. I didn’t touch the bio max beads though.
So anyway I’m assuming I’ve messed up the biological balance and will need to deal with it, I don’t another cycled tank to put the fish in so will just have to stick it out. So if I’m cycling and adding prime every 48 hrs how often should I be water changing, and how much at a time?
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