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Old 05-21-2015, 05:58 PM   #1
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Uh Oh. Ammonia Help?

Hey, all! I posted about a week ago about how my fish were dying. You (very gently, thank you!) told me that I likely had ammonia, despite the rest of my numbers looking fine.

I returned the fish, bought a liquid kit and voila! I had ammonia. Not much, but a bit. So I thought to myself, "Hey, why not speed up the cycling a little? I've already got some bacteria in there from a big hunk of driftwood my sister gave me from her established tank. Since there aren't any fish, I'll go get some ammonia (the right kind) and add it in!" However, during the "adding a little in" process, it accidentally got DUMPED in. My ammonia was probably 20ppm+.

Now. After tons of water changes, I'm down to 4ppm. On Monday, I got some filter media from a friend's tank to help rebuild bacteria (because I'm just going to assume I killed what I had). When I tested last night, my ammonia was down to around 3ppm, nitrites were around .25 and nitrates were about 30. However, this morning I tested and my ammonia is back up above 4ppm!

I have no fish in the tank whatsoever, which the exception of two TIIIIIINY little baby cherry shrimp that hitched a ride with some recent plants I got. It is a planted tank. Last night, I moved a bunch of stuff around and buried some bio balls that wouldn't fit in my filter in the sand. Do you all think some ammonia could have been trapped in the sand and that's what did it?

I'm so confused. Haha. Any help would be appreciated! Also, do you think lowering the pH would help? For some reason, i've got wicked high pH. Somewhere in the 8.4 range. :S I have 3 pieces of natural driftwood in there and i've tried using Seachem Neutral Regulator to help.
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Old 05-21-2015, 06:35 PM   #2
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Hello.

I'd be surprised if those shrimp babies were even alive at 4ppm ammonia.

Keep your ammonia up at 4ppm till your tank can bring it down to 0ppm in 24 hours. This ensures you have plenty of BB.

pH swings are common during cycling, I would wait till after the cycle and see if it is still very high. Peat moss is a great way to bring down pH. Just put a bag of it in the filter. Or you can mix your tap with RO water.


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Old 05-21-2015, 06:38 PM   #3
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Hello.

I'd be surprised if those shrimp babies were even alive at 4ppm ammonia.

Keep your ammonia up at 4ppm till your tank can bring it down to 0ppm in 24 hours. This ensures you have plenty of BB.

pH swings are common during cycling, I would wait till after the cycle and see if it is still very high. Peat moss is a great way to bring down pH. Just put a bag of it in the filter. Or you can mix your tap with RO water.


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Right? Somehow they ARE still alive, though! And they seem to be quite happily scooting around, eating algae and cleaning the sand. It confuses me.

The pH I'm not as concerned with. The Fiancť is a biologist (pharmaceutical, not environmental) and he insists that once we get the pH down below 7, the plants will do more to help with the ammonia. I've read otherwise. :P My concern is how my ammonia went up 1ppm overnight without any fish in there (other than the tiny baby shrimp). There aren't any rotting plants or anything like that. In fact, last night when moving stuff around, I pulled all of them up, trimmed any sad-looking leaves and trimmed the roots as well. The only thing I can imagine is that there was ammonia trapped under the sand that mixed into the water last night when moving the sand around. It's pool filter sand, for the record.
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Old 05-23-2015, 12:09 PM   #4
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Uh Oh. Ammonia Help?

Best guess is may have stirred up some organic material in sand which hetero bacteria converted to ammonia.


http://www.bioconlabs.com/autoheterobac.html

http://www.oscarfish.com/article-hom...-bacteria.html
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Old 05-23-2015, 10:11 PM   #5
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Thanks, everyone! It looks like we're moving a bit now. I talked to someone at our local fish store and got something called Microbe-Lift Special Blend. It's not exactly a quick-start (when I asked about those, he flat out said they don't work, but since adding that we're really moving on our cycle!

Our ammonia was stuck at 4ppm for over 5 days with our nitrites off the chart and our nitrates around 20. After adding a bit of that stuff yesterday and today, our ammonia hit 0 and nitrites around 5. I haven't checked nitrates yet, but it looks like my cycle is finally moving. I added a bit more ammonia today to get it back to 2, so we'll see if it goes back down tonight and tomorrow morning.

Woohoo! I can't wait to be done. I forgot how much cycling sucks. :P
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Old 05-23-2015, 11:04 PM   #6
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Patience is the key when cycling. Is usually takes a little longer for the nitrite converting bacteria to get established than is does the ammonia converting bacteria. As long as you keep feeding ammonia they'll continue to grow. Once you can add ammonia and yore test shows zero ammonia and nitrite within 24 hrs your done. Large water change to bring nitrates down and then fully stock.
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Old 05-23-2015, 11:14 PM   #7
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Yeah, for sure. It just seemed like I was totally stalled on the ammonium part for a loooooooooong time. I'm glad I'm finally past that part, at least!
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Old 05-23-2015, 11:19 PM   #8
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I feel your pain, I did a fishless cycle once that took over six weeks, but that is one of my favorite tanks now with tons of cherries and a breeding pair of peacock gudgeons.
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Old 05-23-2015, 11:24 PM   #9
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Ooh, those are pretty! Haha. I'm trying to figure out what to put in mine once I can actually start getting stuff. I'm set on neons and cherry shrimp. From what I'm reading, peacock gudgeons are "peaceful fish", but does that mean they wouldn't eat my neons and shrimp? Haha. I'd like some more interesting fish to put in there!
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Old 05-25-2015, 09:38 PM   #10
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Hey, everyone! Sorry I keep asking so many noob questions. I appreciate your patience! I just want to make sure this is all normal. I dose my tank to 2-3ppm ammonia and within 3-4 hours, it's back down to zero. Every time I see it at 0, I dose again so I don't starve the bacteria. But my nitrites are still off the charts high. :/ Is it typical for the 1st colony of bacteria to be THAT efficient while the second colony still isn't really doing much?

My nitrates are very low. Less than 5. I did a ~50% water change yesterday and it's a planted tank, so that could be it. Before the water change, we were around 10 nitrates.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 05-25-2015, 09:59 PM   #11
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Your plants are helping bring down the ammonia. Keep dosing till your nitrite flatlines at 0. You will wake up one day and it will be gone.


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Old 05-26-2015, 12:30 AM   #12
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When it comes to fish less cycling, it is often claimed that high nitrites will stall a cycle. I don't have scientific evidence or links to prove or disprove this though.
You can perform water changes to bring down the nitrite level. You can also dose less ammonia (1-2 ppm daily) which will reduce the nitrites produced. I don't think you will starve them. The nitrite to nitrate conversion does take much longer than the ammonia to nitrite step.
If you can obtain established media then it will really speed things up.


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Old 05-26-2015, 12:57 AM   #13
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Got a link but on desktop and not a scientific paper. From memory it was a waste water plant and they had 20ppm nitrite as a limit before impacting bb.
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Old 05-26-2015, 03:05 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by CJRose14 View Post
Hey, everyone! Sorry I keep asking so many noob questions. I appreciate your patience! I just want to make sure this is all normal. I dose my tank to 2-3ppm ammonia and within 3-4 hours, it's back down to zero. Every time I see it at 0, I dose again so I don't starve the bacteria. But my nitrites are still off the charts high. :/ Is it typical for the 1st colony of bacteria to be THAT efficient while the second colony still isn't really doing much?



My nitrates are very low. Less than 5. I did a ~50% water change yesterday and it's a planted tank, so that could be it. Before the water change, we were around 10 nitrates.



Thanks for the help!

In my honest opinion, this is where the fishless cycling guide falls down. Constantly adding ammonia to the tank can have many negative effects on the cycle but starving the bacteria is not one of them.

Think about it. Every time you add or dose back up by 1ppm ammonia you are converting that to 2.7ppm nitrite. The nitrite scale only goes up to 5ppm so if you calculate how much ammonia you have added you can see estimate how many 50% water changes you are going to have to do to see a colour difference on the chart.

Adding ammonia also increases the demand on alkalinity 7.14ppm alk per 1ppm ammonia which is protecting the ph from falling to a value which can stall a cycle. It also increase the demand on bacteria nutrient requirements in order to multiply and grow.

The Nitrosomonas bacteria are an extremely efficient bacteria in that the multiply faster and convert ammonia at a rapid pace.

Material I have read in the past suggests that high amounts of nitrite (exact value is unsure) can encourage growth of nitrobacter rather than nitrospira which are the usual bacteria in our aquariums at lower nitrite levels. Nitrobacter are more prevalent in waste water treatment facilities where massive amounts of nitrite are recorded.


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Old 05-26-2015, 08:41 AM   #15
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the fishless cycle I have read about says once nitrites show you should only dose 1/2 of the amount it took to get the tank to 4 ppm ammonia every 4 days.
Once nitrites go to 0 then hit it full with ammonia for final 24 hour test.
Hope this helps.
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Old 05-27-2015, 04:58 AM   #16
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Listen to Caliban. If his post made your brain hurt, here's the TL&DR:
Don't dose so often. The bacteria will NOT starve. Just do a half dose every few days, like Tom says. Never dose more often than once every 24hrs, it's just not necessary.

At this point I would do a 99% water change, add new (dechlorinated) water, add one single 4ppm dose and don't dose again for 4 days. See what happens.
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Old 05-27-2015, 05:59 AM   #17
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Gudgeons will likely eat all the young shrimp, they will stalk them and mine even stalked the adults but they were bigger and darted away pretty quickly. My tank full of shrimp too many to count went down to 4 adults in less than 6 months.
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Old 05-27-2015, 12:30 PM   #18
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Thanks, everyone! I ended up getting some white cloud minnows to help out. I didn't want to overdose the tank and end up feeding it too much ammonia, but I was paranoid I'd under-feed and kill the bacteria! My nitrites are still off the charts high, but i've been using prime to detoxify the nitrites and the minnows seem to be perfectly happy. They're swimming and schooling (schoaling?) and eating. Hopefully they'll help out so I don't have to worry as much about ammonia. :P I've had them for 3 days now and no signs of any stress.
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Old 05-27-2015, 04:57 PM   #19
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If you added fish to a fishless cycle then break out the water buckets!
?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????
Why in the world would you?
It is no longer safe with fish in tank to allow ammonia or nitrItes to be over 1ppm.
Change water if any levels are elevated .
:nitirtes off the charts " mean you should probably need 2 or 3 50% changes in a row!For real!
Just cause fish seem fine today does not mean they will not have a lowered/distressed immune system and allow or cause infection in your tank in the future.
You were so close hopefully the tank will cycle quickly.
Otherwise I think the addition of fish was a mistake.
You need to be changing water now BIG time and testing at least daily.
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