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Old 09-23-2018, 11:39 PM   #1
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QT Tank Ammonia Spike

I posted this on my build journal, but figured it would be a good idea to make a dedicated post for it as well.

I have a 10 gallon, bare bottom quarantine tank running with a double sponge filter. One of the sponges I swapped out with a sponge from my established 20 gallon.

About 36 hours ago, I placed 5 bronze cories in QT. They went through floating, then drip acclimation and then were netted into the tank. No fish store water went in with them. As of this morning (about 12 hours after), I've had an alarming ammonia spike, up to .50.

I didn't expect for the sponge to instantly cycle the QT tank, but I expected better than this. I did a 25% WC and it didn't even touch it. Did another 50% WC and it still didn't seem to help.

I ran out and got Imagitarium ammonia remover, which I was really hoping to not have to use as it makes the tests inaccurate. I see that it's also a dechlorinator. Should I use the remover instead of dechlorinator, then? I dosed the tank about half as much as it called for as I had already used dechlorinator and didn't want to do another water change tonight. The ammonia test was no different after, but as I understand it, the tests will continue reading the same amount of ammonia regardless.

I plan on doing at least 50% WC every day and use the remover until I can get the ammonia under control.

Should 5 cories be causing this much of a spike this quickly in a 10 gallon? I've fed them 3 sinking wafers so far, one every 12 hours and they eat it within an hour. I then use a turkey baster to suck up any detritus and waste.

They are otherwise acting fine. Exhibiting schooling behavior, exploring the tank and taking small fish naps. No gulping, no attempting to jump.
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Old 09-24-2018, 02:03 AM   #2
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It could be possible that your dechlorinator, such as prime, is converting ammonia into ammonium which I believe your test kit can't tell the difference. Adding the sponge may have introduced some ammonia???

This seems odd because I've kept up to as many small fish as you have on multiple occasions with the set up you got and generally I go two days before I get any ammonia reading. It sounds like you are doing everything correctly as well. Keep changing out 50% of the water daily and make sure to suck out as much bad stuff as possible after feeding. Maybe it's the wafers being left in there for an hour?? Maybe cut back to feeding every other day and break up the wafers for a faster feeding.

Your prime should be converting the ammonia to ammonium for 48 hours but surely 24 hours???
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Old 09-24-2018, 02:27 AM   #3
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Hm, I wonder if it could be the sponge. The tank it came from is fully cycled, but I think the majority of the bacteria are actually on my decor. For the water change tomorrow, I'll squeeze it out in some tank water and see if that helps. I didn't squeeze it at all prior to adding it.

As for the wafers, they are the tiny sinking ones from Hikari, not the algae wafers. Maybe a half centimeter in diameter. It seemed that 2-3 a day would be appropriate for their feeding needs?

As for the rest, my other tank is reading 0 ammonia and I use everything else the same. Same water, same API dechlorinator. I made sure, in fact, to not get a dechlorinator that was also an ammonia remover. Because I didn't want to affect the cycling and monitoring of my tank.

I'm going to assume it's a combination of there not being much bacteria on the sponge and there being waste in the sponge that is messing with the water levels. After the WC tomorrow, I'll use the Imagitarium ammonia remover (that includes a dechlorinator, apparently) instead of my usual API dechlorinator and squeeze out the sponge.

As an aside, there is definitely bacteria present because it's converting into fairly high levels of nitrite as well. Poor fish!
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Old 09-24-2018, 10:25 AM   #4
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You might have to just get yourself some Prime and do water changes daily. At least the prime is converting ammonia to the safer ammonium for two days I believe.

I've never tried seeding an empty QT at the same time I've added fish so idk if that maybe causing you some initial problems or not. Personally, I don't cycle my 10g QT tank although I used to prior to getting fish. Now I just buy fewer fish at a time, change 50% of the water every 2-3 days, bare bottom, HOB filter, heater, glass lids, LED light strip, and a thermometer. I've kept up to 5 schooling fish, not cories, in this set up before adding them to my main tank. I could go two days before getting any ammonia reading. Then I'd do a 50% water change. Id also use Prime dechlorinator. Never used anything else in my QT.

A little while back I got into a discussion with a member here who stated that when Prime converted ammonia to ammonium that an API test kit would still recognize the ammonium as ammonia even though ammonium is the safer, less toxic form. Essentially the API test can't tell the difference. Just some info. You stated you are showing nitrite as well though.

I would try to switch to Prime, also get some API stress coat+, do daily 50% water changes. If it doesn't get better you may have to remove the sponge filter or at least wash it out completely and run it. See if that helps.
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Old 09-24-2018, 11:49 AM   #5
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The ammonia remover I have does the same thing that Amguard does. Prime does the same thing with ammonia, afaik, it just also does nitrite. Going to keep my eye on the levels and see if I need to grab something like Prime instead.

Will be doing my 50% water change in about an hour. Will see how it goes!
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Old 09-24-2018, 11:55 AM   #6
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Alright buddy. Report back
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