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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hiya,
I have been silently reading the forums for a few weeks, but have a pretty strange situation that has finally caused me to post.

I have a 10 gal low tech tank setup.
single 5500k 15w bulb
gravel substrate with fert. sticks below each of the rooting plants.
Tetra Whisper EX filter, with the water level high enough to keep surface disturbance to a minimum.
and very little else.
my list of plants include
Two small (at the moment) Cryptocoryne Wendtii red's
Two stems of Anacharis (the others were just a pain and kept uprooting due to the gravel substrate)
Marsilea Quadrifolia
three Amazon Sword's
Java Moss
one Moss ball
and newly added Lilaeopsis Brasilinsis

All of my plants are doing great, and growing quite a bit surprisingly in my low light tank. The inhabitants include only 6 Zebra Danios.

The problem I am having is my levels are all out of whack. The cycle went without a hitch up until now. All of my levels smoothed out two weeks ago. A couple days ago the levels were
Ammonia 2.0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5
PH 7.0
I did a 60% water change due to the ammonia, which scared the crap out of me.

tonight two days after that change and my levels are reading
Ammonia 2.0
Nitrite .25
Nitrate 10
PH 6.0

Using the API Liquid test kit.

So what is causing this and what can I do to fix it before I loose my little friends?
I am going to do another 60% water change tonight to make sure my little guys are not killed. But I do not understand after having two weeks of normal readings, that suddenly I have tons of ammonia, and nitrites, along with the PH dropping a full point.

The last thing I did was move some plants around, and add the micro sword and moss ball.

Thank you in advance for the help.
 

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How long did the tank take to cycle and how long has it been running total? When did you add the fish and how, did you add them all at once or over a period of time? Is it possible something died in the tank? What kind of fertilizer sticks are you using? If they aren't specifically for aquariums, it's likely that the sticks use urea which is a precursor to ammonia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow, thank you for the quick responses.

The tank has been setup for two and a half months. I added the first of the plants on week two, And added my Danios two weeks ago after the water stabilized.

The fert. sticks I am using are fore aquatic plants. It is produced by Nutrafin and they are called Plant Gro, if there is a problem with them let me know, and they will be gone within a few min.

Thank you very much for the help so far. I will stop by the LFS and pick up some more of the Anacharis.
 

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When you rearrange plants and are using plant tabs or plant sticks, you release some of the fertilizers into the water. It is possible that those aquatic plant sticks do contain some ammonia or urea, since the whole idea is that they will be under the substrate, not out in the water. That certainly sounds like what happened. If so, the next step might be green water - that would confirm it.

It is always possible, if not probable, that the test readings are wrong. Our hobby test kits are not noted for accuracy and should be calibrated with water having known amounts of ammonia, or nitrite, etc. to be sure the readings mean something. If you don't get green water, the test kit was probably not correct.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When you rearrange plants and are using plant tabs or plant sticks, you release some of the fertilizers into the water. It is possible that those aquatic plant sticks do contain some ammonia or urea, since the whole idea is that they will be under the substrate, not out in the water. That certainly sounds like what happened. If so, the next step might be green water - that would confirm it.

It is always possible, if not probable, that the test readings are wrong. Our hobby test kits are not noted for accuracy and should be calibrated with water having known amounts of ammonia, or nitrite, etc. to be sure the readings mean something. If you don't get green water, the test kit was probably not correct.
Thank you, I will keep my eye out for green water. This is my first planted tank, before this all my tanks were planted with plastic and silk lol. The Danios are not showing any signs of stress, their gills look good and color is great. This is quite an adventure for sure.
 

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If I understand what you've posted so far correctly, you did not cycle this tank before adding the Zebra danios (letting a tank run with live plants but no livestock doesn't do much go get the N-bacteria colony going). My suspicion is that you're just now starting to cycle (or just caught a cycle which started after you added the danios).

I'd just keep up with the daily water changes, and be glad that you have zebra danios, as they're some of the hardiest fish, and most likely to survive a tank cycle.

You may also want to double-check that your tap water doesn't contain ammonia.

What product do you use to treat your tap water? Some test kits will still read the de-toxed ammonia, depending on the reagents used in the test kit and the type of water conditioner you're using.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If I understand what you've posted so far correctly, you did not cycle this tank before adding the Zebra danios (letting a tank run with live plants but no livestock doesn't do much go get the N-bacteria colony going). My suspicion is that you're just now starting to cycle (or just caught a cycle which started after you added the danios).

I'd just keep up with the daily water changes, and be glad that you have zebra danios, as they're some of the hardiest fish, and most likely to survive a tank cycle.

You may also want to double-check that your tap water doesn't contain ammonia.

What product do you use to treat your tap water? Some test kits will still read the de-toxed ammonia, depending on the reagents used in the test kit and the type of water conditioner you're using.
I set up the tank and let it start the cycle for two weeks, adding a bit of fish food to fuel the ammonia. I then added plants two weeks later, and then four weeks after the plants, I added the Danio's so in all the tank has been up and running more or less for 6 weeks. I did have a nice ammonia spike, then nitrate spike a week before adding the Danio's, it quickly came down to 0. I am not sure if by adding the plants on week two that I stalled the cycle, or allowed the plants to out compete the bacteria for resources. I did check my tap water, Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0 PH is 7 (which has me concerned that the ph in my tank is at 6.0 could ammonia cause this?) I use Prime for the water treatment prior to adding it to the tank. And my test kit is the API master kit.

I am sure glad I got the Danio's too, I knew they were hardy (its been about ten years since my last tank.) and my daughter thought they were "the cutest small fish" as per a previous response I am adding in 4 more bunches of Anacharis back into the tank, and another moss ball I just could not resist.


Thank you very much for the response.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Well that's good then! :thumbsup: You ruled out several possibilities.

I think the most likely thing left, is you stirred up debris and caused the spike when you rearranged the tank, as Hoppy suggested.

The fact that you're getting some nitrite and nitrate readings means that the N-cycle hasn't shut down from your pH.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well that's good then! :thumbsup: You ruled out several possibilities.

I think the most likely thing left, is you stirred up debris and caused the spike when you rearranged the tank, as Hoppy suggested.

The fact that you're getting some nitrite and nitrate readings means that the N-cycle hasn't shut down from your pH.
Thank you very much for the help, not only to you, but all that responded. I have started to calm down now lol.

I did a 30% water change earlier this evening, and just did water tests.

Ammonia is still not gone, but it is down dramatically. Here are the numbers
Ammonia - ~.50 (the color was in between .25 and .50)
Nitrite - .25
Nitrate - 5.00
PH -6.8

My Danio's are much more active after the WC, and are exploring the new plants like crazy.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Sounds like things are definitely looking up, you'll just have to keep an eye on those parameters and do water changes when needed. I'd try to keep the ammonia at or below 0.25 ppm if at all possible.

Since the tank was already cycled and you also added some more plants, I doubt this mini-cycle will last long. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sounds like things are definitely looking up, you'll just have to keep an eye on those parameters and do water changes when needed. I'd try to keep the ammonia at or below 0.25 ppm if at all possible.

Since the tank was already cycled and you also added some more plants, I doubt this mini-cycle will last long. :thumbsup:
You were exactly right about the mini cycle due to me messing around with plants. I added two more plants the other day, and well... the ammonia shot up. It has come down again to less than .25 ppm so what I really need to start doing is quit messing in the tank lol.

Here is the tank. A mishmash of plants, which seem to be growing quite well.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pHosting/f/380_pTrackerb.jpg
(the blurs are my Danios)

Thank you again for all the help.
 
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