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Old 08-10-2014, 04:53 PM   #1
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Newbie and ammonia / nitrate levels.

Hi, I'm new here had a tank for 9months now.

I have a 110l tank, with 5 rummey nose tetras, 3 x Dalmatian mollies, 6 x black widow tetras and a cat fish.

I have regularly tested my water with strips since I began and stocked the tank slowly, but this weekend bought an API liquid testing kit which I think is more accurate. No fish added for around 10 weeks.

I tested the water yesterday and had 0.25ppm ammonia, 0 nitrites, 20ppm nitrates. I did a 25% water change and tested this evening 24hours later. Readings were 0.25ppm (or maybe under - colour was between 0.1 & 0.25 readings), 0 nitrites and 40ppm nitrates.

I was concerned the nitrates were up given the water change, so tested my tap water, which reads 0.25ppm ammonia.

So my questions are:

1. Could the increase in nitrates be because of the ammonia in my tap water?
2. As I have ammonia in my tap water should I keep water changes to a minimum?
3. Will the nitrates reduce when the ammonia reduces without a further water change? Or is this the only way to reduce nitrates. I think nitrates in the tank is better than ammonia and I assume as I have nitrates the tank must have cycled.
4. All fish seem healthy apart from one mollie which has a red sore on each gill, could this be caused by the ammonia? - anything else I can do?

Any advice greatfully received!

Thanks, Ian.



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Old 08-10-2014, 05:10 PM   #2
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you could filter the tap water with a ro filter
or cheaper put some puregen in your tanks filter , It will remove the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates (warning it will make the tank look like the water leaked out lol)
puregen removes most organics from the water and can easily be regenerated every 4-6 months
chemipure also will work
some test kits get fooled by the chemicals put in the tap water
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice micey, will check out Ro filters tomorrow. Is there any down side of using puregen in the filter?

I also treated the tank with snail away a few days ago, think some were on some plants I put in a while ago. Would using snail away be a problem while there is ammonia in the water? Going to get a couple if snail eaters soon, not sure what type yet, but won't add them until the ammonia is sorted.


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Old 08-10-2014, 07:06 PM   #4
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never had any problem with pureigen unless you want you water dark like black water , it will remove tannin from the water and you have to ether replace or regereate it when it turns dark , ever 4-6 months
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:52 PM   #5
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Have you cut the good down ? This could be the reason for hi ammonia and nitrates


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Old 08-12-2014, 08:54 PM   #6
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you could filter the tap water with a ro filter
or cheaper put some puregen in your tanks filter , It will remove the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates (warning it will make the tank look like the water leaked out lol)
puregen removes most organics from the water and can easily be regenerated every 4-6 months
chemipure also will work
some test kits get fooled by the chemicals put in the tap water
Purigen has very little effect on ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. Such a small effect that it's honestly not even worth noting. Also, for a .25 ammonia rating a r/o filter is overkill. It will force you to remineralize your water to make it safe for fish.

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Thanks for the advice micey, will check out Ro filters tomorrow. Is there any down side of using puregen in the filter?

I also treated the tank with snail away a few days ago, think some were on some plants I put in a while ago. Would using snail away be a problem while there is ammonia in the water? Going to get a couple if snail eaters soon, not sure what type yet, but won't add them until the ammonia is sorted.

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Using snail away or really any chemical additives in the water is usually a bad idea. A lot of them have bad effects on fish as well as the inverts while some can end up nuking an entire tank worth of fish.

If you want to cut down on your snail population then all you need to do is feed less. One feeding a day is all your fish need and even then they only need enough to eat for 3 - 5 minutes tops. There should be very little left over for the snails. You could also try rubber banding a piece of blanched zucchini to a rock and sticking it in the tank at night. When you turn the lights on you should be able to pull it and a bunch of snails out along with it.

Lastly, a .25ppm ammonia level is absolutely nothing to worry about. If I'm not mistaken each 1.0ppm of ammonia comes out to be 2.3ppm of nitrate. Also, if you're doing a 50% water change it will keep your ammonia in the safe range for fish so you don't have to worry about anything there either.
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:04 PM   #7
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I would not worry about the ammonia. Your tap water probably has chloramines in it which would trigger the kit. This is totally normal and can be ignored.

What I am concerned about is the rate at which you are generating nitrates. Adding 25ppm in nitrates in 24 hours is huge. Are you sure you test kit is correct?
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:33 AM   #8
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Ok, thanks for all the advice. It's now been a week since my last (30%) water change, tested 3 times over the past week and highest levels are 0.25ppm ammonia and 20ppm nitrates (now).

Looks like I'm ok!? Will carry on doing 30-50% weekly water change and keep an eye on it. I can only assume when I had the reading of 40ppm nitrates I did something wrong on the test!

Cheers, Ian



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Old 08-14-2014, 11:43 AM   #9
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You can lower your nitrate levels by adding a bio media that supports anaerobic bacteria. Once these bacteria colonies are formed it will help eat away the nitrates. This will not eliminate them all together but it fully completes the nitrogen cycle.


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Old 08-14-2014, 11:56 AM   #10
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You can lower your nitrate levels by adding a bio media that supports anaerobic bacteria. Once these bacteria colonies are formed it will help eat away the nitrates. This will not eliminate them all together but it fully completes the nitrogen cycle.


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That's absolutely true, however anaerobic conditions are quite complicated to achieve in a fresh water tank. Without either a filter designed specifically for it or a diy piece of equipment its just not gonna happen.
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