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Old 08-26-2003, 04:11 PM   #1
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what's going on here?

hey, i'm new to the board and to the hobby and i have a few questions.

i have a Top Fin 10 gallon starter kit that has been cycling since 8/9. like a complete novice ,on the 2nd day, i added 3 zebra danios and some kind of tetra(not sure what kind-he's small, orangish with a black triangle shape on his back half.). there was a white cloud for a day or so, which i assume was the bacteria bloom and then shortly after all but the tetra died. once again, like a novice, i added in 3 more danios and 3 black skirt tetras which all seem to be healthy, happy and fine. anyway, the problem is that the tank has serious ammonia issues probably due to the bioload and not being finished cycling. the ph is around 8.0, nitrites have been consistently around 0.3, but ammonia is at 3.0(it's never been bellow 1.5). the tank's temp is around 78-80 degrees. i've done several water changes, usually between 20 and 30% and even did 70% once and the ammonia goes down for a few hours, but then shoots right up again. i've used tap water and distilled water, but still get the same results. i've even cut down the feeding to once or twice a week.

so, if ammonia is so toxic then why do all the fish seem so normal and healthy? i use Complete Care by Tropical Science to condition the water and Laborett's Tetratest. i realize that the water conditioner detoxifies the ammonia, but nonetheless, the high level seems to be stressing me out more than the fish. could the test kit be bad?

i imagine that the tank is still cycling and the ammonia levels will subside, but with everything i've read (especially here-you guys are very helpful) i'm not sure my tank is behaving normally.

any answers or advice would be greatly appreciated.

thanks.
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Old 08-26-2003, 10:48 PM   #2
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I think you may have answered your own question. Im unfamiliar with Complete Care by Tropical Science, but you say it detoxifies ammonia? If so, what it does is convert ammonia to a non-toxic form which does not affect the fish (least, not in the doses found in fishtanks). It WILL still register as ammonia on Nessler tests, which is what I'm guessing your Laborett's Tetratest is. Only salicyte tests can tell the difference between the different forms of ammonia. So since the ammonia has been converted, the fish aren't affected...just you *grin*

You may want to try a water conditioner which does not convert ammonia. It may mean more water changes to keep ammonia from affecting your fish, but at least you will know what the levels truly are and can control them better. I've read, although I don't think this is scientifically confirmed, that the nitrifying bacteria do not work as well with the converted ammonia, and it slows the cycle down.
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Old 08-27-2003, 02:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
nitrifying bacteria do not work as well with the converted ammonia
I've been pondering this a bit...so I looked back in my micro notes from last fall, and did some research!

What I make of it is that both ammonia (NH3) and ammonium (NH4) exist in freshwater systems...NH3 being harmful, NH4 relatively harmless...and they exist at different percentages according to pH and temperature.

It doesn't say on my bottle of ammo-lock, but from what I understand, the "ammonia detoxifiers" convert NH3 to NH4.

Now to the bacteria...the nitrosofyers conver NH3 to nitrite (NO2), and the nitrobacters convert the NO2 to NO3...I could throw in all the info on the electron transfers, but uh...probably not relevant.

These guys do NOT use NH4 as their substrate! These reactions are somewhat complex...that little H makes a big difference.

There is a seperate family of bacteria that do use NH4...but they are anaerobic...they take NH4 and NO2 and make N2.

So what happens when you use an "ammonia detoxifier"? Basically you throw off your pH, and you take away the nitrosofyers "food" source. Of course, this is better than your fishies dying...but it does set you up for a fresh cycle.

Hope this helps somebody! I know I learned a lot today LOL
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Old 08-27-2003, 10:29 AM   #4
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Also did a little research, and came across this article about Amquel: http://www.novalek.com/kpd58.htm .

LOL While I definitely don't have the backround sweets does (awesome explanation sweets! I may borrow it from time to time if its alright with you) it appears Amquel converts ammonia in a slighty different way, by binding it with their product. In any case, again ammonia is made unavailable to the nitrifying bacteria (btw sweets new studies show its the nitrospiras and nitrosospiras which actually do the nitrogenous waste conversion, although I would gather the end result is the same).

Awesome little biology lesson this morn. Next for me to learn is why the Nessler tests can't tell the diff. Heh, maybe that'll be tomorrow's project.
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Old 08-27-2003, 03:21 PM   #5
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There's actually a whole bunch of bacteria that are capable of oxidizing the NH3...but for most of them it becomes a question of their "preferred" substrate.

some that'll oxidize ammonia: Nitrosomonas, Nitrosococcus, Nitrosospira, Nitrosolobus, Nitrosovibrio.

some that'll oxidize nitrite: Nitrobacter, Nitrospina, Nitrococcus, and Nitrospira.

Of these, only some of 'em exist in freshwater environments.

The Nitrospira is kinda interesting, since it has it's own seperate "branch" on the phyolgenic tree, meaning it's genetically distinct from the rest.

anyhoo...I'll stop blabbering for now LOL...
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Old 08-27-2003, 03:21 PM   #6
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I think you'll find that the fish you think is a tetra is actually a Harlequin Rasbora. Check this link: http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/s...=21&pCatId=887

It's weird that the zebra danios would die while the rasbora stays alive! Danios are good fish for cycling tanks, generally. I've used them to cycle my big tank before, and had no casualties.

I also used an ammonia-reducing pack in my aquaclear filter (which is pretty cruddy) to reduce toxins... Good luck with the cycling.
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Old 08-28-2003, 04:22 PM   #7
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thanks for the feedback guys.
two quick questions :
1. how long will it take for the ammonia blocker to be out of the tank so i can see what the real levels are? will it be filtered out or will it just wear off or will water changes take care of it?
2. will there be a second noticable bacteria bloom when the ammonia eaters arrive?

thanks again.
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Old 08-28-2003, 05:21 PM   #8
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well...that's kinda tricky. There is a constant flux between NH3 and NH4...which is why a lot of the nessler type tests show you how to calculate the percentage of "toxic" ammonia (based on temp and pH). Add to that the constant input of NH3 from the fishies, and then the amquel, and the bacteria that may already be there....lot of factors.

Just keep an eye on your levels...when your ammonia starts to drop, and your nitrites jump, you're on your way! If you're really curious, you could invest in a Non-nessler ammonia test....it will only test for the NH3 rather than both the NH3/NH4....but that certainly isn't necessary.

There won't always be a noticable bacterial "bloom", and likewise, sometimes you get blooms that are unrelated to the cycle (which i'm dealing with right now argh!).

good luck!
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Old 08-28-2003, 07:53 PM   #9
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*nods and agrees with sweets*

There is no guarantee there will be a bacterial bloom; in fact most bacterial blooms do not consist of the nitrifying bacteria, but of heterotrophic bacteria (both hang out in your tank; nitrifyers eat nitrogen waste, heterotrophics eat organic waste and occasionally nitrogenous waste if there isn't any organics). Too much organic waste (poo, rotting food, etc) will kick start a bloom.

Your tank IS cycling and has ammonia eating bacteria; the presence of nitrites says so. Its just not done yet and theres not enough of those guys to handle the load. Plus, the secondary guys (who eat nitrites and convert it to nitrates) do not appear to have shown up yet. The water changes are the only thing which will remove the ammonia converter; you'll need to continue with them to get it out as well as keep the ammonia/nitrite levels diluted. Plus, you want to get it out of there so the nitrifying bacteria can chow down on the proper nutrients they need. Yeah, water changes will slow down the cycle by diluting the nutrients (ammonia/nitrites), but your cycle has been slowed down anyway by the ammonia converter. Besides, its better to have alive healthy fish then a quickly cycled tank *grin*
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Old 08-29-2003, 01:53 AM   #10
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cool.
thanks guys.
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