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philthefish 11-23-2005 04:17 AM

Ammonia Level not dropping to zero
Hello all,

I'm new to this forum and am looking for a bit of advice......

I have a 55 Gall FOWLR which has been set up for about 4 or 5 months. I originally cycled the tank without any fish using Biomature (which is basically an ammonia solution)....once cycled I added a medium Clownfish and a small Yellow tang. After a week or so the ammonia level rose to 0.25 ppm and I could not get it to drop off. It stayed like this for about 3 weeks, and then overnight I lost both fish (neither had been eating well). I didn't restock the tank for about a month (due to cashflow problem!) but I was dosing with Biomature every other day to give a supply of ammonia to keep the biological filtration working (I have a large canister filter which is double the size required for this tank).

About 3 weeks ago I added a small picasso trigger and again the ammonia level rose to 0.25ppm and has not dropped off. I only feed a small amount once a day and there is no food debris in the tank.

Does this sound normal? The fish seems quite happy at the moment so I am not overly concerned, but how long does it normally take for the ammonia to totally Zero? Is there anything else I should be doing? I did a 10% water change last night and will check the level again when I get home tonight.

Thanks in advance

dorian965 11-23-2005 05:39 AM

how much liverock do you have? also, what type of filter media are you running in your canister?

philthefish 11-23-2005 06:06 AM

I have about 20lb of live rock in there (I know this is not enough to filter the system alone hence the canister filter). I have an eheim with the gravel size substrate (not sure what it's called) and bioballs. I also have a sea clone 100 skimmer (I know!!! seems to be skimming quite well though!)

Hara 11-23-2005 08:20 AM

it sounds like the tank never cycled properly and this will keep happening until it does.

philthefish 11-23-2005 08:42 AM

That was what I was thinking Hara.....I shall keep monitoring levels daily and doing water changes when necessary.....

Anyone know from experience how long this will take (I know it's not an exact science!)?

melosu58 11-23-2005 10:59 AM

I`m not much on chems. If you cycle with a small shrimp it should take 4-6 weeks(fishless)

runway1 11-23-2005 01:15 PM

My feeling as well. Your trigger will be stressed for sometime if he's the only bioload pushing the cycle.

I'd say have a friend or lfs hold the trigger and do a full cycle with some shrimp while also adding a bit more rock. After you've zero'd your ammonia, you can add the trigger. Otherwise, I think you'll lose him soon.

How are your NO2's? If you have ammonia, you'll likely have some NO2 as well.

philthefish 11-24-2005 02:52 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Further update.....I got lucky on the way home last night. I stopped at one of my LFS (one I wouldn't normally buy fish from, but is ok for dry goods etc.). When I went in, the shelves were all being cleared and most of the tanks were empty. They are based in a garden centre and have been taken over by a new franchise (Maidenhead Aquatics). I managed to get about 30lb of live rock out of one of their display tanks for the princely sum of £5! I've added this to my tank, so i hope this will help with the last bit of the cycle.

I measured my ammonia when I got home following the previous days water change. My test kit starts at 0 and the next step is 0.25 although definitely not zero, the colour appeared half way between the two 0.1ish at a guess.

Although I don't agree with cycling with fish (As can be seen from my original post re using Biomature), I've heard that Triggers are particularly hardy and should survive the cycle. Is this true?


P.S. I will do a Nitrite test tonight and report back tomorrow (last time I checked it was about 0.1ppm).

Pic of my tank attached aswell

melosu58 11-24-2005 08:09 AM

Alot of fish dont make it and those that do end up pretty mean. Read the above site to see what they have to go through

philthefish 11-24-2005 11:26 AM

Further update!.....I'm now starting to doubt my test kits!

My nitrite is zero....surely if my ammonia level had been 0.25 for a couple of weeks I would be seeing some nitrite (even if it was only 0.1)?

I have 2 different types of Ammonia test kit. A Red Sea one (which is the one I have been using recently) and a Salifert one. Both are liquid types. The Salifert one is very difficult to distinguish between 0 and 0.5 and that's why I prefer the Red Sea one......having said that, I've just used the Salifert one and if I had to put money on the reading, I would say it was zero.

Anyone have troubles with either of these kits?

Fish looks fine and dandy....eating well and not hanging round near the surface (a sure sign of ammonia poisoning), no over-active or reddened gills.

I'm not sure what to believe anymore!!!!

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