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Old 02-07-2015, 08:32 PM   #1
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Ammonia spike in an established, planted tank? Please help.

I have a 10 gallon, planted tank that houses just a betta and an assassin snail and I've been having some water parameter craziness going on lately that I can't get a grasp on.

A little back story, tank has been set up and running/cycled for ~8 months. I've had a male betta in there by himself up until last week when we decided to try and add a few harlequin rasboras. We added 3, then a few days...maybe a week later we added 2 more and an assassin snail. After the last two rasboras were added the betta started acting pretty sickly, so he's in a 1 gallon container (going on 2 weeks now, he's better now), and all 5 rasboras we put in the tank died in 4 days with no visible signs of disease.

I tested the water immediately after losing the first rasbora (1/29)
ammonia: .25
nitrites: 0
nitrates 60-80

Did a large water change (50%), and ended up losing two more rasboras 2 days later. Water test after those 2 died (1/31)
ammonia: .25
nitrites: 0
nitrates: 40

Did another smaller water change, and a day later we lost the remaining two rasboras (2/1)
ammonia: .25
nitrites: 0
nitrates 10

So, as of 2/1, there hasn't been any fish in the tank, just the assassin snail and my water parameters stayed the same as above for the last 5 days, but today I tested the water again and there's a huge ammonia spike, and 0 nitrates.

ammonia: 1.0
nitrites: 0
nitrates: 0

What could possibly be causing my water parameters to be going all wacky? I'd like to get my betta back in the tank but not with how unstable it is right now.

And how do I proceed with keeping the beneficial bacteria fed with just a little snail and no fish?

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I'm at a loss as to how to proceed to getting this tank stable again.

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Old 02-07-2015, 08:46 PM   #2
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Sorry for your losses. That is so weird. I don't know why adding a few rasboras would throw things off so much.

If you put some fish food in there it will help keep the BB fed.
Sorry I can't think of any thing else.
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:47 PM   #3
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Sorry for your losses. That is so weird. I don't know why adding a few rasboras would throw things off so much.

If you put some fish food in there it will help keep the BB fed.
Sorry I can't think of any thing else.
Will the fish food not add to the ammonia problem I'm having?
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:50 PM   #4
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Yes but that's what the BB eat, ammonia. I wouldn't add too much fish food.
Any chance some non-dechlorinated water got added to the tank?
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Old 02-07-2015, 09:05 PM   #5
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No, I add prime to all newly added water.
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:10 AM   #6
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With no fish in the tank for a week, your BB may have started to die off.

Anytime you add fish to such a small tank, assume you might get a mini cycle. I tell people to test daily and expect to up water changes.

Your BB has to adjust to the increase in fish waste.

Plants help, but lightly planted only does so much. Mine are Heavily planted and stocked with tiny Nano fish.

Assume your tank needs to be recycled. Don't over clean filter pads. Just rinse out in used tank water.

Gravel vac, but not the same day you are rinsing filter pads.

If you can get some used media from a well-established tank's filter from a friend or from the store and squeeze the used media, such as filter floss over your filter to transfer beneficial bacteria into your tank or put the used media into your filter.
Keep the seeded material wet while transporting it.

Add more plants.
Get some Indian Almond leaves for your Betta.

When I say heavily planted
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:53 AM   #7
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With no fish in the tank for a week, your BB may have started to die off.

Anytime you add fish to such a small tank, assume you might get a mini cycle. I tell people to test daily and expect to up water changes.

Your BB has to adjust to the increase in fish waste.

Plants help, but lightly planted only does so much. Mine are Heavily planted and stocked with tiny Nano fish.

Assume your tank needs to be recycled. Don't over clean filter pads. Just rinse out in used tank water.

Gravel vac, but not the same day you are rinsing filter pads.

If you can get some used media from a well-established tank's filter from a friend or from the store and squeeze the used media, such as filter floss over your filter to transfer beneficial bacteria into your tank or put the used media into your filter.
Keep the seeded material wet while transporting it.

Add more plants.
Get some Indian Almond leaves for your Betta.

When I say heavily planted
Attachment 263649




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Thanks for the input. I thought what we fed the BB during a cycle was ammonia? And I've had ammonia in there since my problems started, and it's only gone up since the other fish have died.

Here's a photo of the tank.
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Old 02-08-2015, 01:21 PM   #8
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So I changed the water (maybe 40%) this morning and tested the water a couple hours later and ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate all read 0.

Any help or insight as to what is going on?
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Old 02-09-2015, 12:13 PM   #9
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So, roughly 24 hours after the water change and test yesterday, my parameters are wacky again. Yesterdays levels shown in the above post.

Today

Ammonia: 1.0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 20

Anybody????
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Old 02-09-2015, 01:24 PM   #10
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Test your tap water as well.
Check tank for any dead bodies.




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Old 02-09-2015, 02:35 PM   #11
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Test your tap water as well.
Check tank for any dead bodies.




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Definitely nothing dead in the tank, all deaths were accounted for rather quickly after death.

I get a tiny reading of ammonia from my tap, along with ~5 nitrates. But it's my understanding that .25 ammonia or lower from the tap should easily be dealt with by the biological cycle or the plants present in the tank?

I treat the volume of the tank when doing water changes with Prime, which I assume binds the nasties long enough for the cycle and plants to deal with them.

I'm somehow getting ammonia in an empty tank, and up to 1.0ppm in less than 24 hours.
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Old 02-11-2015, 10:17 AM   #12
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I seem to be posting to myself at this point, but will continue to do so in hopes that someone might come along with some idea of how to correct my issue.

Decided to get a reading of all the water associated with the tank.

This is just an ammonia reading, first (left to right) vial is from the tank, second is aged source water, third is straight from the tap.


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Old 02-11-2015, 11:27 AM   #13
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The only other source of ammonia I can think of would be the decomposition of organic compounds in your substrate.

The fact that a tank as heavily planted as yours can't remove it fast enough suggests it's getting added/generated at a pretty high rate.
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Old 02-11-2015, 01:56 PM   #14
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I don't have an answer, but I am subscribed and reading your posts. I want to know the cause also.

I'm sure you are very frustrated.


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Old 02-11-2015, 02:01 PM   #15
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I forgot to say it earlier, your tank is beautiful. You could try planting a houseplant with roots in the filter or in the corner of the tank. Pothos Vines are good for this.

I hope one of our members with more knowledge of water chemistry can solve your problem. There is nothing obviously wrong.


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Old 02-11-2015, 02:02 PM   #16
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Ammonia spike in an established, planted tank? Please help.

What is your pH ?
At low pH the BB stop working.

Are you injecting CO2 ?


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