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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Sorry if this is a question with an obvious answer, but my search of TPT posts hasn’t cleared this up for me. My tank seems to be fully cycled. Starting on Day 16 of my cycle my API test kit told me that I was at 0 ppm for ammonia. That reading stayed at 0 until yesterday (Day 24), when the ammonia reading rose to .25 ppm. It was time for my scheduled water change yesterday, so I tested for ammonia again after changing out 50% of the water (replacing it with tap water treated with Prime). I retested the ammonia immediately after the water change, and again today – still at .25 ppm.

So what could account for the .25 ppm ammonia reading? There is no livestock in the tank. Just my plants and Amazonia v.2 substrate. My other readings have remained consistent – pH @ 7.2, nitrites @ 0, nitrates @ 5 ppm.

Could it be the Thrive+ I dosed last week (Day 22 -- first/only time with that product)? Otherwise nothing has changed in the tank.

Should I do anything? Or should I try to ride it out?

I was hoping to get a few fish this coming weekend, but assume I can’t do so now with .25 ammonia readings. Assuming I’m able to get it back to 0 ppm, how long do I need to wait after reaching 0 ppm again before it’s safe to add a small number of fish?

thanks for any light you can share.
 

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From the Seachem website:

"Prime® works by removing chlorine from the water and then binds with ammonia until it can be consumed by your biological filtration (chloramine minus chlorine = ammonia). The bond is not reversible and ammonia is still available for your bacteria to consume. Prime® will not halt your cycling process.
I am going to assume that you were using a liquid based reagent test kit (Nessler based, silica). Any type of reducing agent or ammonia binder (dechlorinators, etc) will give you a false positive. You can avoid this by using our MultiTest™ Ammonia kit (not affected by reducing agents) or you can wait to test, Prime® dissipates from your system within 24 hours. "

Seachem - Prime
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for that — really appreciate the help @Mark Fisher. But still doesn't explain it. I ve been using the API ammonia test kit all along and that’s what’s showing the increase — an increase from the 0 ammonia readings that same test had previously shown since Day 16. And the .25 reading doesn’t dissipate/go down 24 hrs after using Prime either. I’m perplexed.
 

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Might check out these 2 threads, I think its just something that substrate does for a lot longer than 2 weeks, on purpose, to cycle a new tank and provide nitrogen to plants.


 

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Thanks for that — really appreciate the help @Mark Fisher. But still doesn't explain it. I ve been using the API ammonia test kit all along and that’s what’s showing the increase — an increase from the 0 ammonia readings that same test had previously shown since Day 16. And the .25 reading doesn’t dissipate/go down 24 hrs after using Prime either. I’m perplexed.
Personally.. not an issue esp if your pH is 7 or less.
I've personally found that light green (.25) just is sometimes.
sorry, not very scientific but it's been reported numerous times w/ no really good explanation.
From contaminated test tubes to finger residue to ???

I don't believe the test is inaccurate, just that the results are common and normally not a big issue.
Nitrites are a different story.

Those Ammonia detecting discs that you place in the tank seem "immune"
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you, @Dreya and @jeffkrol. I feel somewhat reassured. My test today showed ammonia a bit above 0 ppm but less than .25 ppm. So holding steady. Would it be safe to go get a few inhabitants now? Small schooling fish?
 

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I would wait another two weeks. Amazonia will leach ammonia for a while. Did you possibly disturb the soil. Even planting something or blowing the soil around a bit can release ammonia. My advise is not to rush livestock. Sure they might do fine, but why rush. Are the plants growing? Get the plants looking good, get them in place you want them and then add fish. At 2-3 weeks you should be removing 50% of the water 2 - 3 times per week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oops. Too late, @Asteroid. :-(
im sitting here carefully acclimating 5 ember tetras from my trustworthy LFS. Went down this afternoon with some tank water and my testing info. He looked it over and said he would think it’s safe. (And yeah he wants to sell stuff, but I do trust him.) I really hope I didn’t make a big mistake ...
🤞🏽🤞🏽🤞🏽
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks @Asteroid. I’ve been doing 50% water changes according to ADA’s instructions (every day 1st week, every 2 days 2d week, every 3 days 3D week, and down to 2 this week). Hoping I’ll be ok ...
 

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That's good. I mean the water changes will always reduce any ammonia so it becomes less of an issue to worry about if you do them. The Embers are pretty hardy. One thing to keep in mind with aquasoil as I might have mentioned is don't disturb it. If you do by accident or if your doing some plantings and you see some cloudiness come up, immediately do a water change.
 

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Maybe get some Amquel dechlorinator. It doesn't "detoxify" Nitrate like Prime does. What does "detoxify" even mean? Does that mean the plants can't use it? Anyway maybe dosing a little Amquel will help reduce the Ammonia. Your pH is reasonably low for Ammonia toxicity. You realize those new fish are going to add Ammonia, right? Keep on testing. Every water change will help.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you @Savetheplants. Yes I know my new fish will add ammonia and I’m definitely going to be checking out the levels daily. Will go buy some Amquel tomorrow. And will up my water changes as needed. Thanks so much.
 

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Don't buy Amquel Plus because it detoxifies Nitrate. Kordon made it to compete with Prime. I've bought it by mistake in the past. You want the plain old Amquel. It will detoxify the Ammonia and leave the Nitrate alone. The instructions tell you how much to put in to relieve your Ammonia situation.
 
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So what could account for the .25 ppm ammonia reading? There is no livestock in the tank. Just my plants and Amazonia v.2 substrate.
Hi mickmac,

I think the answer to your question lies above. I've never used Amazonia but my bet is on this being the culprit. It would be easy to check, wouldn't it? Just take a sample of tank or tap water, add some Amazonia, give it a good shake. Measure ammonia before and after.

Anon

Those Ammonia detecting discs that you place in the tank seem "immune"
Hi jeffkrol

I use the Seachem Ammonia Alert in some of my tanks and I find them very handy. I like the fact that they only indicate toxic free ammonia (NH3) and 'ignore' ammonium (NH4+).

Anon
 
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For me, the API kits always measured .25ppm. My guess is that your ammonia is zero. You can try calibrating the kit in three different ways, from easy to more involved:
1) Test your current kit on tap or, better, distilled/RO water to see if it has any color.
2) Buy a Salifert kit and compare it to the API kit. For me, the Salifert kit reads zero when the API kit reads .25ppm.
3) Assuming that option #1 shows zero, add NH4NO3 to distilled/RO water to see at what ppm point the kit begins to read total ammonia. This calculator will help you choose your NH4NO3 doses: James' Planted Tank - Dosing Calculator
 
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