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Old 12-08-2011, 10:04 PM   #1
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Can't get ammonia below .25ppm...

How's it going everyone? I am just getting back on these boards and into aquariums again for the first time in about 7 years, but so far so good.

I have had my 55 gallon up and running now for roughly 7 weeks after having to start again due to my previous 55 breaking. Everything in the tank, including the gravel, filter filter media, decor, and plants in the new tank was recycled. 10 days in, I had all 0 ratings for ammonia and nitrites, thus I added a few corys and 10 shrimp. The 0-0 ratings continued until 10 days later when I added 8 juvenile X-Rays and then things spiked or possibly had spiked before that as the 3 days prior I was out of town and was not able to do a test. I did 5 days of 50% water changes and since then all the results have returned to normal with Nitrites back to 0 and Nitrates sitting at 5ppm, but the ammonia is still at .25 a little over a week later. I have tested just about every day for the past 2 weeks and no change. I am using the API Master Kit, which I have heard can be hard to read.

The temperature is set to a constant 78 degrees and the filtration is 1 AC 70 and a Cascade 300, so filtration should not be a problem. The tank is well planted and I am currently using Flourish and Excel (dosed every other day) in combination with DIY CO2.

Thanks in advance for any advice and let me know if you need anything else.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:11 PM   #2
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I'm pretty sure product to get it out I forget what is called err!! Sorry I'm no help but there is a product around 6$ to get down
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:15 PM   #3
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I'm pretty sure product to get it out I forget what is called err!! Sorry I'm no help but there is a product around 6$ to get down
Prime? That is the only thing I may use, but that only would get loves down for roughly 24 hours. I currently do use Prime though.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:17 PM   #4
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Oh ok sorry. That's what I meant prime
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:31 PM   #5
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Have you tested your tap water for ammonia? Its not common but you can have ammonia in your tap water.

Test it straight from the tap, also set some out for about 24 hours and test it, and it might not be a bad idea to test some bottled water as a control (there had better not be any ammonia in bottled water). This will help you determine if you actually have ammonia in the tank or if its just hard to read.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:41 PM   #6
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Have you tested your tap water for ammonia? Its not common but you can have ammonia in your tap water.

Test it straight from the tap, also set some out for about 24 hours and test it, and it might not be a bad idea to test some bottled water as a control (there had better not be any ammonia in bottled water). This will help you determine if you actually have ammonia in the tank or if its just hard to read.
I have done the tap and comes out a bit brighter yellow, but the current ammonia test reading .25 has a slight green hue to it compared to the tap, but not dead on to the Ammonia Test card. I'm assuming there is ammonia in the tank just because of the test, but I am having a hard time determining where it could be coming from so I question the test . I cut back feeding to every other day and continued to do between 20-30% water changes every 4 days or so.

I am just baffled at this point. I have added some hornworts and other plants in hopes that they could help use up any excess nutrients and help keep my test levels down, but I'm not sure if that would help ammonia at all.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:02 PM   #7
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I had ammonia consistently show up like this once. I did water changes and cut feeding like you did. Turned out there was a bit of food stuck in a corner under a bit of a rock that I was missing with the water changed (gravel vacuum). It really wasn't a lot either. After I cleaned it out I had to rearrange the tank a bit so that corner would get better flow; the decorations were blocking the flow too much. Other than something like that I am not sure what it could be.

I am assuming you cycled? Maybe the new fish are just putting out a little more ammonia than your BB can handle at the moment.

I am thinking some one with a lot more experience than I will need to chime in and help.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:13 PM   #8
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I just did that. Rearranged and stirred up everything a few days ago and still nothing. The only other thing it maybe is a couple of those Wal-Mart bulbs that haven't bloomed and I missed under my moss and they are possibly rotting. I thought possibly it was a coconut I had put in, but have since removed. I have to leave my tank to someone else here for 18 days in a month or so due to a trip and am trying to get it under control before then to avoid any bigger issues. So at this point I am terrified and have no idea what else it could be.

Would like some more advice from some with more experience as well. Thanks for the help thus far fellas.


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I had ammonia consistently show up like this once. I did water changes and cut feeding like you did. Turned out there was a bit of food stuck in a corner under a bit of a rock that I was missing with the water changed (gravel vacuum). It really wasn't a lot either. After I cleaned it out I had to rearrange the tank a bit so that corner would get better flow; the decorations were blocking the flow too much. Other than something like that I am not sure what it could be.

I am assuming you cycled? Maybe the new fish are just putting out a little more ammonia than your BB can handle at the moment.

I am thinking some one with a lot more experience than I will need to chime in and help.
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Old 12-09-2011, 03:04 PM   #9
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Just wanted to bump this up for a bit more input.
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Old 12-10-2011, 02:01 PM   #10
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Just wanted to bump this up for a bit more input.
1 more bump
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Old 12-10-2011, 06:40 PM   #11
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I'm guessing the addition of new fish overwhelmed the bacteria and they may need time to adjust since you moved everything over from the old tank. What kind of fish and how many do you have in the tank now? Have you tested PH to make sure it hasn't crashed (which can stall nitrification if it drops too low)?

My only thought right now is to keep doing 50% daily water changes to keep ammonia <.25 until the bacteria catches up. You already ruled out your tap water as an ammonia source which is good. Have you rinsed off your filter media in old tank water lately? Sometimes things can build up in there and cause spikes. Other than those things and assuming you aren't grossly overstocked things should level back out.
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:09 PM   #12
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I think you should just continue testing it and doing water changes as needed. Your bacteria is trying to catch up with the bio-load of the fish. It will build and your ammonia will go back to 0.


Just like library said above me!
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:18 PM   #13
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Thanks for the help everyone. Just did a water test this afternoon and it appeared to be back to 0. It wasn't the bright yellow as per the API test kit, but did not carry that same green hue I had become used to. Thanks again!
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:49 PM   #14
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Maybe I was crazy the other day and wanted the test to be yellow, but the ammonia today was back to .25. All other test were fine, both 0 nitrites and nitrates and the ph was reading was 8 (due to the hard water in my area).

I am still baffled on how my ammonia could still possibly be .25.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:58 AM   #15
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Just want to bump this again. Is there any way it could be my filter media? I cleaned it a few weeks back and haven't since in order to insure a good establishment of bacteria. Could this be the source of the ammonia?
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:06 PM   #16
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Have you found those plant bulbs you mentioned that could be rotting? If not I'd find them and remove them. Also do you vacuum your substrate with water changes? Do you have sand or gravel? Swishing filter media in old tank water during a water change could help as well.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:08 PM   #17
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Have you found those plant bulbs you mentioned that could be rotting? If not I'd find them and remove them. Also do you vacuum your substrate with water changes? Do you have sand or gravel? Swishing filter media in old tank water during a water change could help as well.
I got a majority out, I just noticed I missed two. I have been vacuuming the substrate, which is sand.

I am doing another big water change tomorrow and hopefully that will help.
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:07 PM   #18
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Give your tank a really good clean. If you have a canister filter and haven't rinsed the media (in tank water) for quite some time that could be it also. Just don't over do the rinse, don't change the media or sponge parts just a light rinse using the same water. Guess you could do that with other filters, I just haven't had much experience with the over the side ones. Key thing is not to strip the Bio too much, just a light cleaning.

Then after that give the tank a full dose of Seachem Prime and you should be good. If worse comes to worse and you over clean to the point of mini cycle, get some Seachem Stability and that will take care of the cycle very quickly (like a day, because its not a full cycle)
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