Go Back   Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community > Freshwater > Freshwater & Brackish - Getting Started
Click Here to Login

Join Aquarium Advice Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com
 
Old 06-08-2022, 11:59 PM   #1
Aquarium Advice Newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: USA
Posts: 4
Unhappy New to this, and I really need help with ammonia!

I bought an 8 gallon biorb cube for my daughter at Christmas (not knowing that people generally dislike them) and added one betta and a snail. I read up on cycling and thought my tank was cycled by mid February. Then at the end of April my ammonia starting spiking, a lot. Soon it was going from below .25ppm to nearly 1ppm over a couple days. I've done countless water changes since this started, with vacuuming, but it always goes back up again quickly. I do get significant amounts of nitrates after the spikes (although not a lot of nitrites), so I assume my bacteria are working. The tank is really clean. I've added new bacteria. I also tried using Ammo Lock for a while. Nothing is fixing this and now I'm totally out of ideas about what could be happening.

And, on the advice of everything I read, I wasn't changing the filter, but just cleaning it in used tank water. But then I read that sub-gravel filters like these actually must be changed because they store so much waste that if left unchanged they eventually create ammonia spikes. So five days ago, when the level was at about 1ppm again, I changed the filter, and the airstone. There are a lot more bubbles now than before, so maybe something was clogged. In any case, The next day the ammonia was nearly zero, but today it is again at nearly 1ppm.

I'm totally exasperated.

Other info:
-Tank temp is 80 degrees
-I seem to have really hard water. I did a KH and GH test, showing 3 and 19 respectively.
-My PH was around 6.5 when I started seeing this issue, which seemed low. I found that the filtered water I was using was 6.5 but my regular tap was about 7.6, so I started using that for water changes instead, always with Prime. My PH is now around 7.6.
-I've tested my tap water. No ammonia there.

If anyone with more experience is willing to share their advice, I would be really grateful!

Thank you.

Attaching a photo of the tank in case it's helpful.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	fishpic.jpg
Views:	15
Size:	252.1 KB
ID:	323574  

__________________
psari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2022, 03:22 AM   #2
Aquarium Advice Addict
Community Moderator
 
Aiken Drum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,206
This may not be helpful, but i think there is more going on here than simply not being cycled.

Going from essentially zero ammonia to 1ppm in a couple of days with just 1 betta and a snail in an 8g tank seems a lot even if you arent cycled. Something else is contributing.

The substrate that comes with those tanks and i understand forms the biological filtration appears to cause a lot of large voids that will trap detritus, which will decompose and lead to ammonia spikes. It must be very difficult to keep clean, and too much cleaning will crash your cycle. Must be a very fine line.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say people generally dislike those tanks, and you have found one of the reasons.

I would make sure you don't overfeed to reduce the amount of nitrogen that is going onto the tank, if possible remove any uneaten food after a couple of minutes.

I will say that at 1ppm ammonia, thats in the safe zone for your pH of 7.6 at a typical aquarium temperature, so i wouldnt be panicking about your fishes health short term, but it really should be at zero.

To add. The biological filtration in your setup is provided by the substrate. The filter cartridge is providing mechanical and chemical filtration only. I presume there is some sponge and carbon in there. Its fine to change the cartridge periodically, and doing so will remove some of the waste build up in the sponge. What does the manufacturer recommend timewise for replacing these?

Ammo lock and prime doesn't remove ammonia, it just locks it in a non toxic form for a day or two. The ammonia is still there, and once the ammo lock/prime wears off the ammonia will revert to a more toxic form depending on pH and temperature.

You could try dosing something like API stresszyme that contains detritus eating bacteria that will consume detritus before it breaks down to ammonia and reduce the bioload overall and may help.
__________________
Aiken Drum
Community Moderator
Aiken Drum is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2022, 07:19 PM   #3
Aquarium Advice Newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: USA
Posts: 4
Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. There is indeed a sponge-like filter inside the filter cartridge and a layer of carbon underneath. The manufacturer recommends changing every 4-6 weeks. The tank is incredibly hard to clean, but I've done it so much lately that I assumed it was clean, but maybe there is still debris in the cracks and crevices. I found online advice discouraging vacuuming too much so I started to worry I had, but maybe these tanks just collect so much gunk in the substrate that my cleanings still aren't doing the job. I''ll try the stesszyme you recommended.

If it is just uncleaned detritus hiding in the substrate, and the nature of the substrate makes it infeasible to really clean it out as well as one should, could a large enough population of bacteria be cultivated over time to counterbalance that?

Thank you again.
__________________
psari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2022, 02:48 AM   #4
Aquarium Advice Addict
Community Moderator
 
Aiken Drum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,206
If the advice you are getting from people who actually keep these tanks is to not overclean i would go with what they say. I agree that too much cleaning is probably counter productive. You will remove gunk, but also the bacteria that feeds off ammonia. My understanding is that bacteria grows quite quickly, it can double in 24 hours in ideal circumstances. So once you have some established bacteria it will quickly catch up to the amount of food available providing there is sufficient filter media to support the amount of bacteria you need. There is a lot of media there compared to how much you would have in a filter made for 8g tanks.

Try the stresszyme, and note its not just a one off dose. It needs to be redosed at water changes and takes a while to have noticable effects. See how things progress over an extended time period. Keep up with water changes to keep water safe. For info at your tap water pH and typical aquarium temperatures you will start to run into toxicity issues above 1ppm ammonia.
__________________
Aiken Drum
Community Moderator
Aiken Drum is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2022, 03:12 AM   #5
Aquarium Advice Addict
Community Moderator
 
Aiken Drum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,206
One thing you may want to do as a safety net is get a seachem ammonia alert patch and keep it in the tank.

https://www.seachem.com/ammonia-alert.php

This will give you a visual indication of the amount of "free" ammonia in the water rather than total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) that your water test is testing for and let you know precisely when you have an issue. TAN should still be zero, but at least the alert patch will let you know if your water is safe at a glance.
__________________
Aiken Drum
Community Moderator
Aiken Drum is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2022, 02:14 PM   #6
Aquarium Advice Newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: USA
Posts: 4
I just ordered th ammonia alert. Thank you. I had no idea those existed. I'll add the stresszyme today, and will keep it up.

I've actually had trouble finding advice from people with these tanks. It seems like people who are serious about aquariums avoid them so completely that most advice is from other beginners like me.

Thank you again. I think I have a game plan for next steps.
__________________
psari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2022, 04:18 PM   #7
Aquarium Advice Addict
Community Moderator
 
Aiken Drum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,206
I know this is a little late, but just noticed this video go live and it brought this thread back to my mind. You wanted some advice from people with experience with these tanks.

https://youtu.be/wouDZINgpq4

Worth a watch, outlines issues with the biorb filtration, and suggests a DIY improvement.
__________________
Aiken Drum
Community Moderator
Aiken Drum is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2022, 12:56 PM   #8
Aquarium Advice Newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: USA
Posts: 4
Thank you very much! I think my tank may be in better shape lately. I actually realized a ridiculous mistake I was making that occasionally resulted in off readings: I wasn't cleaning my test tubes well. After a week of good readings I suddenly got a weird green on my ammonia test, but the badge you had suggested said all was fine, so I redid the test with different tube and the levels were good again. So I cleaned the first tube really well, retested, and got a good result. I can't believe that a dirty test tube caused that, but it seems that it may have because all the tests since have been normal. I'm still watching levels closely, but I'm thinking that that one dirty test tube may have been the cause of what appeared to be occasional sudden spikes in my ammonia.
__________________
psari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2022, 03:20 PM   #9
Aquarium Advice Addict
Community Moderator
 
Aiken Drum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,206
With regards to the badge and the ammonia test, they are measuring different things.

The ammonia test isnt actually a test for ammonia. Its a test for total ammonia nitrogen. (TAN). This is free ammonia + ammonium. Its only the free ammonia that's harmful. The badge is reading free ammonia only. So its possible for your ammonia test to show high levels of ammonia (TAN) but if there is low free ammonia in proportion to ammonium then the badge would still show your water as safe.
__________________
Aiken Drum
Community Moderator
Aiken Drum is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
ammonia

Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
I am in love with this thing and I really really want one! logansmomma1228 Cichlid Discussion 3 06-24-2010 12:20 AM
Really really really need some help guys!!!! spring007 Freshwater & Brackish - General Discussion 5 12-31-2005 11:16 PM
Fat ... really really fat beta Megalofyia Freshwater & Brackish - Unhealthy Fish 7 11-03-2003 11:45 AM
A Really New "Newbie" with Some Really Dumb Questi Thom46 Freshwater & Brackish - Getting Started 20 01-22-2003 04:02 PM







» Photo Contest Winners







All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:32 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.