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water out of whack

2448 Views 19 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  brogan
I have been cycling my aquarium for almost 2 weeks now, ive been using colonize by dr foster and smith at the start and got a real bad bacteria bloom. so after posting on here and some members steared me in the right direction on cycling my tank i can now say the water is clear with the exception of the white hair algae growing on my drift wood. but the main reason im making this thread is my water parameters are all out of whack, i was told to put pure ammonia in the tank so i bought some from ace hardware which has no additaves in it. i put a bit to much in and did some water changes but at the moment its been about a week my ammonia readings are off the chart in the blues. my nitrites are up and so is my nitrates. heres a photo of the readings i am getting from the test kit. this test kit isnt really old bought it maybe three weeks ago. ive done atleast 3 10 gallon water changes since adding the ammonia with still no drop in color. i was using fish food to add ammonia but have sense siphoned out most the food. please help

tank specs:
tank: 60 gallon "53 actual"
filtration: eheim 2217, diy moving bed filter, (coming soon) rena xp3
Co2: not hooked up yet
co2 reactor: cerges diy reactor
lighting: 2 48" t5h0 ge starcoat, giessman blue+, (coming soon) 36" th50 power glo, 2 moon lights. (lights go on at 8 am off at 8 pm, moon lights from 8pm to 8 am)
water filtration: Bulk Reef Supply 4 stage RO unit, ro supplement
Substrate: 80lbs tahitian moon sand

here is a picture of the colors im getting form my test kit from left to right ph, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates

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Seems "out of whack" is correct!

Assuming there are no funky things like the colors being shifted by the camera, I would go for trying much more water change. When you say too much ammonia was added, it leaves us a bit in the dark. It looks like WAY too much might be the case. Ten gallons changed on 60 is not getting you back into a reading that means anything. Step one for me would be to get the ammonia out so I could get a reading. The water change will also take the nitrite and nitrate down. Right now you are just pegging the meter!

Depending on your experience, there may also be some questions on the testing. Liquid tests are more accurate but they are also far easier to screw up the results. Shaking, time, uniform drops are something to check up on as you go. Not saying it is wrong, just that it is a common problem and MIGHT be part of the problem.
Wow, yeah I would definitely go for a much larger water change to get ther readings at least within the color scales of your test kit.

I would also be interested to know how much ammonia you added. Does your tank water smell like ammonia?! (I'm only half-kidding when I ask that!)
A 10 gallon water change out of 53 actual gallons will only drop the ammonia by 20%. If the actual level is way off the chart, then 20% less will still be way off the chart.

I would do a 100% water change, and re-test. When you do something close to 100% water change there is still water trapped in the substrate, and that holds some ammonia.
Then add BARELY enough ammonia to test 3 ppm.

Then follow the test results for a few days. See how well established the bacteria are. There is something happening, the nitrite and nitrate are coming from somewhere.

pH is barely into the acceptable range for growing these bacteria the fastest. If you could get it higher, into the mid 7s or so that would be better. Do you have a KH test? If so, get the KH well over 3 German degrees of hardness, and closer to 10 is better. Add baking soda to do this.

Other things to grow these bacteria quickly:
high pH. upper 7s to low 8s.
high KH. well over 3 degrees, and 10-20 is better. You can reduce this once the bacteria have grown.
Add some KH2PO4. Not much. The bacteria need these minerals.
Moderate GH (at least not low- high is not a problem); keep the GH higher than 3 degrees.
I do not know if the bacteria need other minerals, but I dose almost like the EI method (no nitrate, though). But I definitely include trace minerals.
High oxygen level, best achieved by good water flow.
Ammonia and nitrite no higher than 5 ppm.
No toxins in the water. Use dechlor with every water change if you are on a water system that uses chlorine or chloramine. No fish medicines, no algaecides, no snail killers...
I do not know if Excel slows these bacteria, or at what dose.

Remember we are trying to grow these bacteria as fast as possible. Once the colony is established you can alter the parameters in the tank to suit whatever livestock you want. The bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions, but right now we are aiming for optimum conditions for optimum growth.
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my ph was in the upper 7s to low 8s, last 2 water changes were with pure ro water with no added minerals which is why the ph is low 7s to high 6s. ill test my gh and kh a bit later today as i have class for most the day today. for trace elements and minerals im using kent marine ro right with every water change i do except the last 2 like stated earlier. i have a bottle of api ammo lock coming in the mail which i will start using with every water change, i cannot do to much water changes at a time due to how slow my ro unit is. i have air pumping into the tank for good oxygen saturation and have an rena xp3 coming in the mail tomorrow. right now im not getting enough flow as my many diy mods have slowed my eheim 2217 down a bit. and no my tank doesnt smell like ammonia. as for the testing method i did exactly as the instructions stated, the test kits i have are the liquid ones from api, gh and kh as well as fresh water master test kit. ill have to run a hose from my ro unit in the restroom to my fish tank as i only have 2 5 gallon water containers for moving water back and forth, but atleast i have no class tomorrow so i can do a 50 percent water change. also what do you guys recommend to get ride of white hair algae? its on my drift wood and i have been taking the wood out and washing it in tap water to get the algae off it but how can i get it out of the tank? i would use my uv light but that would only be conter productive for growing my good bacteria at this point.
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You will never get rid of algae or fungi. Clean up the worst of it, and when the cycle is done perhaps a) it will quit. OR b) The livestock will eat it.
If it is pure white, no chlorophyll, then it is fungi, not algae. It will go away after a while, but just keep cleaning it up.
well after i finish cycling the tank ill turn on my 9w uv light which should help with algae or fungi. going to start doing a 50 percent water change on the tank right now and do some other little modifications to the tank.
At this point I might go away from using RO water for the cycle. As noted, get the cycle done and then adjust for the right water to do the plants or fish. To me the whole process is not going to go very far with that much ammonia killing everything, even the good bacteria. Save the RO work for later.
I would also not bother testing for nitrite/nitrate at this point. Test to get the ammonia right and then when it is being converted quickly, check for nitrite and at the end of the process you will find nitrate. Right now, with that much ammonia, the rest of the process of testing is just confusion.
That makes sense.
Lets get the ammonia and just a few other things right, get the fishless cycle back on track.

100% water change.
Make the new water:
GH and KH at least 3 German degrees of hardness, it does not matter if they are higher, higher is better.
Do not use RO unless there are toxins in the tap water.
Use dechlor for chlorine or chloramine.
Ammonia 3 ppm.

Run that for 24 hours, test for ammonia and nitrite.

Post back here with the results.
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as far as ro water, i have my own ro unit so i can make as much as i want, i am probably going to do a 80% or more water change. i put a bit of ammo lock into the tank to help with my ammonia problems along with doing water changes.
Do a large water change with tap water.

Another suggestion, that light is too strong to be on that long with no ferts or CO2.
i haven't done a water change as of yet as i want to do some filter maintenance at the same time i do my water change, i have some filter media coming for my rena xp3 i just bought to go along with my eheim 2217. as far as my lighting being to strong, yes it is a good deal of light but im not going to be turning on my co2 or dosing ferts till after i get the tank fully cycled, as of now if i leave my lighting schedule as is 12 hours both t5 from 8am to 8pm and moon lights for the rest of the other time i am getting some algae blooms but a quick addition of api algae remover and tanks clear in no time at all. i added some ammo lock and haven't done a water change yet and right now my ammonia levels have come down a bit im getting readings in the green once again. and im adding back minerals to my ro water with ro right by kent maine. 1 tsp with every 5 gallons with the powdered stuff
You really should turn down your light period until you start dosing and injecting before you run into huge algae issues. You dont want to have to be using a chemical algae remover.
i have my main lights off and am only running a single 39w no reflector power glo bulb during the day and my moon lights during the night.
... algae remover ... ammo lock ...
... ro right by kent maine...
Do not use these when you are trying to grow bacteria.
Good, and what are the GH and KH after adding this? (RO right adds the minerals that will raise the GH, but not KH.)

Do you have tests for GH and KH? Very important when you are using RO!
The bacteria use the carbon from carbonates. Use baking soda or other carbonate source to keep the KH at least 3 dKH.
Also, RO water has no other minerals, and these bacteria also use some phosphorus. I would add a fertilizer that has phosphorus, just a regular dose, whatever the package says.
my filter media should be coming in tomorrow hopefully so by wednesday ill start working on the water parameters again. im more than likely going to do a 100 percent water change as i need to level my aquarium stand its leaning towards the front left corner of the aquarium and i figure this would be as good as time as any. i do have gh and kh test kits and will check thoes as well. if need be i can run some of my long ro water lines with just tap water to refill the aquarium for now. when im using my ro system i know my tds is around 430 tds and we have hard water here with lots of calcium in it.
Hard water is better than soft to grow the bacteria. I would start with that.
its been a while since my last update, redid my filtration for the tank and did about a 95 percent wanter change went down as far as my 2 1/2-3" sand bed and filled the tank with 10 gallons ro water and rest with tap water. here is the test result from the
before water change

first day after water change on 9/27

today 10/1

my ph is around 7.2 or higher, ammonia has dropped to around .5ppm nitrite is still up and so is nitrate.
here is my gh and kh
KH: 3drops GH: 9 drops
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should i start adding fish when the nitrites start dropping off? also is it a good idea to do a water change before i add fish once the water parameters get to where i want them? and how will adding co2 to the tank change the ph will it increase or decrease? thx
It looks like your ammonia fixing bacteria are doing the job, but you still need to build up your population of nitrite consuming bacteria. I would do a 50% water change every few days and keep testing until nitrites go down to zero.

If your ammonia goes down to zero, I would add small amounts of ammonia (get it up to about 1ppm) and wait until they read zero before adding any more.

Eventually, your ammonia and nitrite readings will be near zero, but keep an eye on nitrates because they can get quite high.

I would also wait on CO2 because it will lower your ph , and it might slow down the bacteria reproducing process.

Once your ammonia and nitrites are near zero, and you lower nitrate levels through water changes you can add fish.

Good luck!
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