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Old 06-07-2005, 10:11 PM   #1
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Ammonia stumped! Do these results make sense?

I am very new to this aquarium stuff and having a lot of trouble understanding cycling in my first tank.

Unfortunately my ignorance has cost 5 baby fantails their lives. (all due to overcrowding and ammonia poisoning)

However, I am determined to learn from my mistakes and give the remaining 2 tykes a chance.

This is our 19th day and to control the ammonia in the tank I am doing the following:

1) Using Seachem Prime to condition my tap water.
2) Changing 20% of the water daily (without disturbing the substrate too much)
3) Inserted an Aquaclear Ammonia Remover (out of desperation as the fish were dying!)
4) Testing the water daily

This is where I have a problem.
Using Tetratest Laborett NH3/NH4 3-step test the ammonia levels have been between 0.25 - 1.5 mg/L.
The Aquarium pharmaceuticals Freshwater Ammonia test (Nessler) measure 0 ppm.
What does this mean?
Have I screwed up the start of my aquariums cycle by adding the Aquaclear Ammonia Remover?

Your knowledgable help/suggestions are most welcome!

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Old 06-07-2005, 11:08 PM   #2
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I have not ever used Aquaclear Ammonia remover so I am not sure how it will affect your cycle, but I have read that using those products can make your test numbers meaningless, as it somehow affects the tests ability to actually measure the true levels of ammonia in the water.

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Old 06-07-2005, 11:08 PM   #3
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I'll try and give some limited insight into your situation. I don't generally "cycle" with fish and am unaccustomed to some things you used, but I'll try and get a "feel" of your situation for more abled people to chime in.

What is the size of your tank? Personally, I don't ever cycle my tank . I just seed from an existing aquarium, and have an EXTREMELY weak bio load initially for it to "cycle". So far this method has given me no cycling related deaths So if your tank is "large" enough, and you can seed it, your fish should have a fair chance, due to the tank's stable parameters and weak bio load.

19 days, unless the ammonia has been exceptionally high, you should be a fair way into your cycle. Perhaps a nitrite and nitrate test is in order to see your progress.

Conditioning tap water is vital. If you didn't before, it (chlorine) could be a major factor in your fish's deaths.

Most ppl generally are against the use of chemicals such as that remover u used. However, I don't know much (well anything) on it so I can't suggest an opinion.

Testing and changing the water daily is quite a commitment. I applaud you. I try to even do it bi-weekly, but at times I'm unable to do even this.

In terms of the test kits, like every test, to be useful it requires reliability and validity. Generally, ppl go for reagent kits (I don't know if yours are reagent or strips).

Good luck, and best wishes.
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Old 06-08-2005, 06:28 AM   #4
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Thanks for you input!
To answer your questions:
1) My tank is a 10g.
2) I am afraid that my ammonia load was quite high given that I initially had 6 small goldfish in the tank.
3) I have tested nitrite and nitrate, both are at 0 ppm.
4) I have been conditioning my tap water to remove the chlorine from the start.
5) Both my ammonia test kits involve reagents. The Tetra test uses 3 separate reagents and the test takes 20 minutes to develop. The Nessler test uses on reagent and the results are immediate.

So as I understand it, my tank is still early in the cycle process given that I have no nitrites & no nitrates. I just don't know if the ammonia remover insert is going to slow this cycling process down even more?!

Thanks again for your kind responses.
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Old 06-08-2005, 06:39 AM   #5
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IMO you're going about this the right way. And we do learn from our mistakes. The ammonia is quite high and doing whatever you can to reduce it is beneficial to the fish. It will however slow the cycle down.
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Old 06-08-2005, 07:29 AM   #6
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i see you are in ontario, canada...so i would suggest testing your tap water and see if it has chloramines...just fill a glass and let it sit 24 hours and test ammonia...im in toronto and we have chloramines in tap water and that gives you a positive reading in your test kit...HTH...and welcome to AA!!!
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Old 06-09-2005, 02:45 AM   #7
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IMO, you should never add that ammonia remover stuff because it is nothing but trouble. My mother in law added some when her tank was first cycling and it NEVER cycled until she did a 100% water change... after 2 months of trying to get it cycled!
If you are doing a cycle with fish, its better to do large daily water changes to keep from poisoning your fish.
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Old 06-09-2005, 07:44 AM   #8
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I just received a reply from Hagen regarding the
AquaClear Ammonia Remover Insert
. This is what they said, "The ammonia remover insert consists of a specific type of zeolite which acts as an ion exchange, with the ammonium ion being attracted and bound to the zeolite. The nitrification cycle will not be affected as the quantity of media within this insert should not completely remove all ammonia."

So I guess my answer is - the nitrification cycle will be slowed down. That's okay by me - my two remaining goldfish are doing MUCH better.

Thanks you all of your of your kind advice! This has been a terrific & helpful welcome to AA!
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Old 06-09-2005, 07:55 AM   #9
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The manufacturer of the product will say whatever they need to say to make you keep buying those products... in most cases you don't need them, its a waste of money, and it messes up your water big time. If its binding to the zeolite, it means its still in the water just as something else thats non toxic, but most tests will still read positive for ammonia and it will be next to impossible to get an accurate test reading without doing a 100% water change... i don't know about you, but i want to know exactly what's in my water, i don't want false readings.
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Old 06-10-2005, 03:45 PM   #10
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Checkout this very helpful website on zeolite.

This is a very useful UK website called FishDoc the Home of Fish Health.

The site recommends that zeolite should not be used longterm but to manage an emergency situation. A direct quote:
It should only be used to manage an existing problem and not used on a long-term 'just in case' basis. First, if used permanently there is always the risk that it will 'dump' its ammonium collection. Secondly, it also acts as a water-softener and will remove calcium from the water.
In my case, I credit zeolite (along with daily water changes) with helping me save my 2 remaining goldfish. We are not out of the woods yet. One of them has dropsy, fortunately she is still eating and out & about in the aquarium. I am hopeful.

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