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Old 10-24-2011, 08:04 PM   #1
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ammonia bad out of tap and Culligan machine

Hi,

I'm trying to get a tank started for a Betta. I tested my water out of the tap and it has a PH of 8.0 and ammonia of 3 PPM. So I figured I'll try buying RO water from the grocery store. Imagine my shock when it showed up with a PH of 8.8 and ammonia of 8 PPM(or higher, that's the highest my test goes).

Should I start trying to work with distilled water and 10% of tap water, plus Betta Bowl Plus so the water has the trace minerals a betta needs? Or some other idea that I haven't been able to google after about 15 hours of work.

I'm widely open to any ideas at this point.

Thanks,
Dan
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Old 10-24-2011, 09:02 PM   #2
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Wow-are you drinking this tap water? If you have city water, i would suggest you contact your water provider and have them come out to take samples/run tests (this will cost you nothing). Just a thought, but have you tried testing a jug of plain spring water (poland springs, dannon both have ph @6.5, others vary) and possibliy using that instead?
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Old 10-24-2011, 09:07 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm not that happy about how crappy the water is. Unfortunately, I'm broke and live in a crappy area of town. I might give the water company a ring, but I really doubt it's going to make much of a difference. Our pipes are 50 years old and it's hard enough to just not have a few water outages a year just from rust. For example, we're still on septic. If you complain a lot they offer to convert you for around $20k-50k per house and our homes are worth about $30k each. We also blow a transformer about 3 times a year and lose electrical.

Anyhow, I'm open to trying spring water. I'll buy a variety and see how they test. Thanks for the idea. I'll post with results Thursday.

Thanks,
Dan
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:00 AM   #4
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R/O should have zero ammonia & near neutral pH. I bet the grocery store have not change the filter for ever & it had sprung a leak. Try to find a better source of R/O if you can.

Also, make sure your kit is testing correctly .... Get a bit of distilled water & test that. If it doesn't read 7.0 (or a bit lower due to CO2 in air) and zero ammonia (and everything else), your kit is bad.

If you end up using distilled water, you will need to reconstitute it with some buffering salt for tank use or you risk pH crash.
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:05 AM   #5
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I've sort of suspected that. I've bought RO water in the past and it never had this problem. That said, I have a new test kit now, but it still seems bizarre as ****.

I'll try a full spectrum of sources, test 'em all and see what happens. I've always had bad tap water in this area but I was TOTALLY baffled by massively worse water from an RO spot this time.

Let's look on the bright side. At least there are no fish involved and just one poor $4 plant that is being tortured by all this horrible chemistry.
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:34 AM   #6
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Plants will actually do just fine in ammonia! They prefer it over nitrates.
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:05 PM   #7
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I'm not sure if it's the PH or the ammonia, but it's shredding my Bleheri(Echinodorus paniculatus) just a little bit more every day. However, one of my betta bulbs has produced a sprout. Anyhow, I'll pick up some water today during errands and get y'all an update by Thursday.
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:02 PM   #8
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I did find one source of bottled water that is at least usable at 6.6 PH and below 0.25PPM ammonia. It's the Nestle brand.

I tried also to pick up some Great Value drinking and spring water, plus some Ozarka water. All were out out of the PH range:

Spring water: 7.8 PH
Ozarka: 6.0 PH
Drinking water: 6.2 PH

So I did a 90% water change as I didn't drain down into the gravel. Then loaded up some of the 6.6 PH water.

The next day the PH was up to 7.8 so I did a 50% water change and added in some of the 6.2 PH water bringing it to 7.0 PH. Ammonia was at 3PPM so I added ammonia until I got it to roughly 5PPM to start the cycle again. Also kept the tank at around 55% full to have more waterfall from the pump and more oxygenation.

Today I tested and the PH was back up to 7.6 PH and the Ammonia was still at 5 PPM. No nitrites yet. I added 6 drops of PH down to get it down to 7.2 PH. 5 of the 6 betta bulbs have sprouted but the one live plant is just shredded to almost nothing. Also, the pump wouldn't work at 55% full anymore so I had to fill it to about 75%.

I'm not sure why the PH keeps spiking each day but it's only been a few days. I'm also not sure why the pump is not working as well. The filter in there is only a week old.

Anyhow, I figure I'll just keep testing each day for PH, Ammonia and nitrites and hope that things calm down soon. Thanks for the tips on getting a variety of water. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Thanks,
Dan
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:02 PM   #9
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I would NOT use pH down. Unless you REALLY know what you are doing, you are going to get unstable pH that is more harm than a slightly "out" pH. <And if you really need to buffer your water, you would be using a real buffering salt rather than pH down ....>

To understand your pH issue, you need to know the water's KH. <You should not be doctoring water without knowing the KH & GH.> In addition, you also need to know the equilibrium pH of the water. pH of bottled water is not necessarily stable. Due to dissolved gasses, pH can change once exposed to air. It is best to take a sample & let it sit in a dish for 24 hr & test the pH after that & see what the real pH of the water is.

If your pH is increasing in your tank, it is possible there is something that is dissolving into the water (such as carbonaceous rocks or sand, coral, etc.) Also ammonia is basic & will increase pH ... so you need to test the pH when the ammonia is zero ... before you add the extra for the fishless cycle.

I suggest you use just one water source consistently, and not try to chase a magical pH level using different water or chemicals. Fish & plants do well in a wide range of pH, so no need to stress over something that is a bit off, as long as it is stable.

The only reason I would doctor water is if it has low KH (and will therefore be prone to pH crashes). This would be the case if you use distilled water or R/O D/I. In that case, you add a buffering salt to hold then water at a desired pH. Something commercial or just simple calcium carbonate or NaHCO3 (baking soda).
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:05 PM   #10
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okay, I let the Nestle water sit open for 3 days and the PH rose to 6.8, which is even better for me. I'm going to stop worrying about PH in the tank and just continue with the cycle. Today I started getting Nitrite readings of 0.25 so it looks like the cycle is beginning to move along. Something, ammonia or PH is messing up some of the betta bulb sprouts but that's okay. They have a warranty, so I can always return them and get some more of them.

By the way, I only have rocks in the aquarium that I've had in this tank for about 2 years. It's just that blue gravel you buy at petco. No coral, etc. One decorative resin item is in the tank.
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:25 AM   #11
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For the last 3 days the ammonia has been sitting at 8PPM or higher(8PPM is where my test maxes out at). Nitrites have been rising. 0.25 3 days ago and 1PPM now. The guide I've been following for fishless cycling recommends continuing to add ammonia every day, but at smaller amounts once you see nitrites appearing. But with my ammonia sitting at 8PPM every day I'm hesitant to add more ammonia.

Any thoughts?
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:30 AM   #12
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oh, and I removed one betta bulb that was rotting. I suspect that was the source of my ammonia increase as I haven't added ammonia since 10/27.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:55 AM   #13
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Time for a BIG water change! Ammonia levels above 4ppm may in fact stall your cycle and inhibit the growth of your bacteria. Get your amm level down to @4ppm and monitor it daily for drops (redose back up to 4ppm). Good luck!
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Old 11-07-2011, 09:22 PM   #14
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Okay, 50% change 3 days ago. Ammonia was still at 8PPM and nitrites stayed at 1PPM. Repeated 2 days ago. Ammonia is now at 4PPM. Nitrites have dropped to 0PPM. So I may be starting over from scratch again. The plants are all doing pretty well.

Is the basic theory just to try to add enough ammonia each day to keep it at around 4PPM until nitrites show up? I've been told to figure out how much it took initially to go from 0 to 4PPM then add that same amount every day but that's how I got up to 8PPM so I don't think that idea is very sound.

Thanks again for the help guys.
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Old 11-12-2011, 05:49 PM   #15
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Found ammonia at 2PPM yesterday. Added 104 drops of ammonia over a period of several hours. I was testing every 20 minutes. I think the cycle has started as the ammonia reading wouldn't budge. Gave up on it for the night.

Today I bought some Ace Hardware ammonia. Also talked to a LFS guy and he ranted and raved about fishless cycling, so I bought $1.89 of tubing and left. Got home and tested. Ammonia was at 1PPM, nitrites at 0PPM, nitrates at 5PPM. So I watered down my 10% ammonia at a ratio of 10:1. Added 1ml of 1% ammonia and it jumped up to 5PPM. I also added a pinch of ground up flake food per eco's guide. I'll test again tomorrow. I'm also going to pick up a air pump and stone to increase oxygenation. This tank doesn't have an adjustable heater, so it's sitting at 79F. Plants are all doing very well in the tank.

I've become a bit annoyed with trying the cycle in this small tank, so I picked up a 10 gallon(yes, I know this is also a small tank) tank. I set it up last night and put in an air pump and one air stone. I added some filter media from the tiny tank and 12ml of the old ammonia last night. Ammonia didn't seem to budge, so I really started suspecting that my ammonia was bad or something else weird was going on. That's part of why I bought the Ace Hardware ammonia today.

I'm currently dosing the 10gallon tank up to 4PPM. I have also added some ground up fish food to the tank and planted some bulbs for onion, aponogeton and waterlily. I've turned the 50W heater up to it's max and it's slowly increasing the temperature. It started at the minimum of the temperature strip, was 74 yesterday and is 76 today. I keep my house very cold in the winter, so I'm going to watch to see if it keeps climbing. If the temperature stalls out, I will pick up a second heater to get me a higher temperature.

When I get a chance I'm going to buy a second air stone for the 10 gallon, and a pump and 2 air stones for the tiny tank.

For this 10 gallon I'm considering 2 different setups:

a) 3 killiefish, 5 cardinal tetras and 2 pygmy cory/2snails
b) 6 guppies, 2 pygmy cory/2 snails and a ghost shrimp

As always, I'm totally open to input, criticisms and advice.
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Old 11-12-2011, 06:16 PM   #16
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Hi Daniel! Ok, just so im straight here, your now cycling 2 tanks, right? And your ammonia has been dropping from 4ppm in your first one? Thats good news!! Hopefully, the ace ammonia will help things out! Just make sure you keep an eye on your ph levels iin both tanks (a big drop or jump can stall your cycle). I cant help you in respect to stocking your tanks (im goldfish lover) but im sure someone will chime in with suggestions!
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Old 11-15-2011, 12:56 AM   #17
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I'm back to getting weird readings again.

@jlk, I am now cycling 2 tanks. I'll break them up more clearly this time.

TINY TANK
yesterday
temp 79F
PH 6.6
Ammonia 4PPM
Nitrite 5PPM
Nitrate 30PPM

I didn't do anything. Just was happy to see nitrites and nitrates

today
Temp 79F
PH 6.0 or lower
Ammonia 4PPM
Nitrite 0PPM
Nitrate 0PPM

Actions: I added an airstone to try to shorten the cycle period.

SMALL TANK
yesterday
Temperature 81F
PH 8.4
Ammonia 8

Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
did a 25% water change with bottle water of low PH but didn't make the PH budge. did a 37.5% water change brought it down to 8PH and 4PPM Ammonia.

today
Temperatuere 83F
PH 8.2
Ammonia 4PPM
Nitrite 0PPM
Nitrate 0PPM

So for whatever reason it seems like my tiny tank is crashing again. I have no idea what's doing this. The plants are growing pretty well. I think I should do a partial water change to bring the PH back up to at least 6.5. Any opinions?

As for the 10 gallon tank, I think I need to do a water change again to bring the PH down to at least 8.0. Again, I'm open to any suggestions.
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:20 AM   #18
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Just a note as to the second post in this thread, scientific studies have shown that toxic levels in drinking water for ammonia range from 33mg (cation) to 100mg (NH3) per kg of body weight per day. If we stray on the safe side and assume that 25mg (total of both ions) is the toxicity threshold, a person weighing 150lbs would have to drink roughly 120 gallons of water containing 3ppm ammonia in a day to reach that level.

Not exactly a large concern for health if your tap has a little ammonia in it
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:18 PM   #19
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The tiny tank probably needs pwc to bring the ph up a bit higher than the 6 range & to bring up the buffers to get the nitrites moving again. Its odd that they went from 5 to 0 though with no wcs. Im a bit lost on that one. The wc in the small tank is up to you as long as the ph doesnt get too high. You have a heck of a balancing act going on here with your water! Lets see how things look the next time you test & keep our fingers crossed!
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Old 11-15-2011, 07:58 PM   #20
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I do have several plants in the tank. I'm wondering if 2 aponogeton, 2 onions and a bleheri were enough to suck up those nitrates as they're going like crazy. They're not full sized as they were started from bulbs, but I have read that plants can consume nitrates.

I did a PWC to bring PH back in line and Ammonia was back down and Nitrates at 5PPM today. So I think you're right about the PH and that has stalled the cycle a bit. The big tank isn't really doing much. I fixed the PH with a PWC but nothing else to report other than two of the bulbs look really icky/slimey. I had a water lilly bulb do that once and it never produced any sprouts. The others haven't sprouted yet.
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