Ammonia Spike?? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-16-2014, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Ammonia Spike??

Hey All
I completed a fishless cycle over a week ago in a 29g tank.I planted the tank just after I completed the fishless cycle,then I stocked with 4 Neon Rosy Barbs the next day.I installed a Fluval 88 co2 system 3 days ago and changed the carbon filter in my Fluval C-3 filter.The C-3 also has a mechanical filter,small bio-filter and bio-nodes,all of which have beneficial bacteria in them.Yesterday after I stocked with 4 Zebra Snails,I then tested ammonia~0.25ppm.So I did a 35% waterchange.The nitrites and
nitrates are at zero.Today I again tested ammonia~0.25ppm,nitrites~0 and nitrates~3ppm.I'm about to do another large water change,say 50%,
in an attempt to bring the ammonia down.I am really confused at what would be causing this.Is this enough ammonia to cause harm to the fish?
I am concerned for the fish.Aside from doing large water changes;is there
anything else I can do?I would really appreciate help here.
Cheers

Last edited by nova777; 08-16-2014 at 09:09 PM. Reason: Recent nitrate reading
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-17-2014, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Ammonia Spike-Day 3

Hey All,
I did a 50% water change last night and tested again this morning.I did a control test on tap water to make sure ammonia test is accurate and it is.
ph~7.6
ammonia~0.25
nitrites~0
nitrates~5ppm
I am left to only guess the cause/causes of what is going on here
with my,so far,6 week experience in this hobby.After doing some reading,
I suspect my tank is doing a mini-cycle.I am seeing ammonia and nitrates,
suggesting an existing cycle.I can only be thankful that the fish are behaving the same way through out their stay in my tank thus far.They are active and eating well. Were it not for daily testing,I'ld not be aware of anything untoward.Potential causes may be;
1)Overfeeding-I was feeding twice a day.
2)I changed out the carbon media.(potential loss of good bacteria).
3)There are some browning leaves on the plants.
Measures that I am taking to correct this situation;
1)Feeding fish once a day.
2)Removal of any floating leaves(mostly Sunbeam leaves).
3)Daily regiment 50% water changes.
4)Adding Fluval Biological Enhancer(3 day treatment per instruction)after
each water change.
If anyone can suggest anything else I can do or theorize a cause,I would
greatly appreciate it,Thanks in advance.
Cheers

Last edited by nova777; 08-17-2014 at 04:04 PM. Reason: Control Test
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-17-2014, 05:04 PM
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Probably removing the carbon removed some bacteria.

Use a product that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. All other products are a waste of money.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-17-2014, 08:53 PM
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Hello!

Sorry to jack the thread but my tank has never reached 0 ammonia, except for the period before I put the plants in it. I've tested my kit against tap water and the test turns yellow. Testing my tank water always shows slightly off yellow. I'm sure it's <0.1ppm ammonia, but never completely 0ppm.

I noticed that nova777 said there was some browning leaves and I've got a fluval pre filter sponge which gets covered in bits of brown leaves etc. I'm wondering if the decaying leaves could be the cause of the ammonia? I'm still learning so I'm always looking for answers

Even when I clean the sponge, within a day or two there's more debris (the tank looks spotless... I'm not sure where these pieces are coming from! So I can't stop it from happening). Like nova, I am wondering whether this constant (albeit low) level of ammonia will harm fish long term?

Again, sorry for jumping into your thread nova your problem is similar to my problem

Cheers,
rad91
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-17-2014, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Probably removing the carbon removed some bacteria.

Use a product that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. All other products are a waste of money.
Thanks for the response Diana.I did change the carbon medium a day before I started noticing the ammonia.I think you are right as it is at the top of my suspect list.The cycle I'm using came with the aquarium,but thank you again,I'm taking note of the Nitrospira for future purchases.
Cheers
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-17-2014, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radiation91 View Post
Hello!

Sorry to jack the thread but my tank has never reached 0 ammonia, except for the period before I put the plants in it. I've tested my kit against tap water and the test turns yellow. Testing my tank water always shows slightly off yellow. I'm sure it's <0.1ppm ammonia, but never completely 0ppm.

I noticed that nova777 said there was some browning leaves and I've got a fluval pre filter sponge which gets covered in bits of brown leaves etc. I'm wondering if the decaying leaves could be the cause of the ammonia? I'm still learning so I'm always looking for answers

Even when I clean the sponge, within a day or two there's more debris (the tank looks spotless... I'm not sure where these pieces are coming from! So I can't stop it from happening). Like nova, I am wondering whether this constant (albeit low) level of ammonia will harm fish long term?

Again, sorry for jumping into your thread nova your problem is similar to my problem

Cheers,
rad91
Hey Rad91,
No apology nessecary,this is how we all learn.You did not mention if there are any fish in the your tank.I do not know if low levels of ammonia>0.1 will harm fish long term,for now I'm assuming yes.So I'll continue with water changes.How are your plants in general?If you are cleaning the pre-filter sponge every day or two,make sure you are using
the water from your tank to rinse your sponge,tap water will kill beneficial bacteria.Keep cycling your tank until you have zero ammonia and nitrites.
If you have not yet stocked with fish,I would wait to do so.Good Luck
Cheers
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 02:53 PM
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Hi nova777!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nova777 View Post
You did not mention if there are any fish in the your tank..
I don't have any fish in it yet. It's still cycling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nova777 View Post
I do not know if low levels of ammonia>0.1 will harm fish long term,for now I'm assuming yes..
The ammonia is <0.1ppm (less than 0.1). The test doesn't turn the tank water yellow, it turns it into a very very pale green which shows a trace of ammonia. I've seen places that say anything less than 0.25ppm is safe so I'm not too worried, but having 0ppm would be better!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nova777 View Post
How are your plants in general?.
My plants are flourishing! They are all bold green and growing nicely, with no signs of any dying or severed leaves. I've noticed that when I remove the sponge to clean it, some debris falls off into the tank. I might try to put a bag over the prefilter sponge when I next clean it. That way, all the debris is contained in the bag.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nova777 View Post
Keep cycling your tank until you have zero ammonia and nitrites.
My problem seems to be that I can't get it to fall to 0. The tank gets dosed to 4ppm of ammonia and the ammonia drops to 0.1ppm within 24 hours. I cannot get it to drop to 0ppm though. I left it alone for an entire week and it stayed at 0.1ppm. I'm wondering if the decaying leaves on the sponge are producing ammonia? I'm just curious about why my filter will convert 3.9ppm but can't manage to deal with the last 0.1ppm?

Cheers!
Rad91
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-20-2014, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Smile

Hey All,
The tank is back to normal as of yesterday.I did a small water change today to work on the tank.Some of the plants had grown to the top,so I cut them,and re-planted the ends.After the water change I tested
amnmonia~0
nitrites~0
Nitrates~5ppm
Cheers

My problem seems to be that I can't get it to fall to 0. The tank gets dosed to 4ppm of ammonia and the ammonia drops to 0.1ppm within 24 hours. I cannot get it to drop to 0ppm though. I left it alone for an entire week and it stayed at 0.1ppm. I'm wondering if the decaying leaves on the sponge are producing ammonia? I'm just curious about why my filter will convert 3.9ppm but can't manage to deal with the last 0.1ppm?
Hey Rad91,
If you can bring 4ppm ammonia to 0.1 in 24 hours,your tank is cycled.
The rule of thumb is to dose 2ppm ammonia and if ammonia and nitrites are zero within
24 hours,your tank is cycled.Do an 80% water change and test for nitrates.I try to keep nitrates under 10ppm.Feel free to do another water change the day after,if you want to
reduce your nitrates.TBH after my tank was cycled I saw a shade of yellow in the ammonia test that suggested trace amounts less than 0.1ppm,it is the reason I test everyday and also the reason I put Zebra Snails in the tank.Since you have yet to stock why not start with some snails or shrimp,both do an excellent job of cleaning the tank and producing good bacteria.
Good Luck.
Cheers

Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-20-2014 at 12:43 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-20-2014, 02:24 AM
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Nova777, glad the ammonia blip was fleeting!

Rad91,
I am not sure either, why that constant 'almost zero' ammonia shows up.
My tanks are doing this, too, but they evaporate a lot, so I am topping off every few days with tap water and dechlor. I am sure that is where the ammonia is coming from in my case.

If the ammonia and nitrite are both zero 24 hours after dosing 3 ppm ammonia, then you can fully stock the tank, no need to start stocking slowly. You have grown the bacteria, now use them!
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-21-2014, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nova777 View Post
Hey Rad91,
If you can bring 4ppm ammonia to 0.1 in 24 hours,your tank is cycled.
The rule of thumb is to dose 2ppm ammonia and if ammonia and nitrites are zero within
24 hours,your tank is cycled.Do an 80% water change and test for nitrates.I try to keep nitrates under 10ppm.Feel free to do another water change the day after,if you want to
reduce your nitrates.
Hi nova777, I'm glad your tank is back to normal! It's always good to hear some good news!

sorry for not replying yesterday, I had an incident with my tank firstly, a piece of driftwood (which has a slight tendency to float) wasn't pinned down properly and it started floating, taking plants and all sorts with it secondly, my pH dropped from 7.4 to 6... Stalled cycle! Anyway, one complete rescape later and TWO 80% water changes and the nitrates are now down to 30ppm. I'm going to keep feeding my tank ammonia for a few days to make sure that the pH is stable etc and then I'll get some fish (after yet another MWC).

Quote:
Originally Posted by nova777 View Post
TBH after my tank was cycled I saw a shade of yellow in the ammonia test that suggested trace amounts less than 0.1ppm,it is the reason I test everyday and also the reason I put Zebra Snails in the tank.Since you have yet to stock why not start with some snails or shrimp,both do an excellent job of cleaning the tank and producing good bacteria.
Good Luck.
Cheers
I'm planning to get some RCS and some nerites in the tank but I don't want to introduce them before the fish because I need to keep dosing the tank with ammonia to support the filter until I get the fish

Thanks for your help!
Rad91
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 12:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Rad91,
I am not sure either, why that constant 'almost zero' ammonia shows up.
My tanks are doing this, too, but they evaporate a lot, so I am topping off every few days with tap water and dechlor. I am sure that is where the ammonia is coming from in my case.
Hi Diana. That is interesting... Do you think the dechlor is producing some ammonia? Or does your tap water contain ammonia?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
If the ammonia and nitrite are both zero 24 hours after dosing 3 ppm ammonia, then you can fully stock the tank, no need to start stocking slowly. You have grown the bacteria, now use them!
I'm still wondering whether to add all the fish all at once or not. Some people (including my LFS) say that I should add half of them first and then the remaining half a week later. I'm sure my bacteria can handle a full stock but I'm a newbie and don't want to oppose someone with experience, especially the person selling me the fish but I would think that having all the fish in at once gives them some company, reducing stress?

Cheers,
Rad91
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 12:11 AM
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When you test your water are you using the cap on the test tube or your finger?
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 12:56 AM
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When you test your water are you using the cap on the test tube or your finger?
I'm using the cap on the test tube
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Control Test &Control Test with Dechlorinator

Hey All,
It occurred to me the other day that the control test with water
needed to be done with dechlorinator added.So I performed the first ammonia test with only tap water,then I did the second test with tap water
and dechlorinator added and finally a test using the aquarium water,which had a 50% water change yesterday.The tap water only test came back pure yellow-absolute zero ammonia reading,which it should.Here's where it gets interesting,the tap water with dechlorinator tested ammonia~0.25 ppm.There was no ammonia present in either test.The dechlorinator-Fluval
Water Conditioner appears to be tainting the ammonia test.Other water conditioners may also give tainted results,but I haven't tried any different water conditioners.The test tube with the tap water and dechlorinator and the test tube with the aquarium water look indentical-both read ammonia~0.25
ppm.In the future I'll try a different dechlorinator and bump this thread with the results.I am using an A.P.I.Master Test Kit.
Cheers
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 08:04 PM
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Yes, some dechlor will make odd readings with some test kits.
Best method: Use dechlor and test kit made by the same company and read their literature.
Also very good: Test only after the tank has been running 24 hour minimum after you have added dechlor.

My tap water tests 1 ppm ammonia from chloramines. Sometimes the chloramine is a bit higher.
I have separate tests for chlorine, chloramine and ammonia, and a couple of different kinds for each.

When the water is evaporating a lot (summer) I am topping off a lot, and adding dechlor when the top off is more than about 5% of the tank volume. For example, if a 10 gallon tank needs even half a gallon of water (they often do) it would get dechlor.

A reasonable load of fish does not create anything like 3 ppm ammonia per day, so if your tank can handle 3 ppm ammonia then it sure will be able to handle a reasonable stocking level. The fish waste is better spread out through the day, too, which is even better for the bacteria.
You can fully cycle a tank with 1 ppm ammonia if you check it twice a day, and add as needed.
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