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Old 10-16-2020, 10:08 AM   #1
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W/Fish Cycling & Ammonia

Advice, please..

I'm cycling a 5g tank with one hardy fish. I feel like I understand the process pretty well & I don't think I'm making any major mistakes, but I'm having a really hard time just getting my ammonia down to a safe level with frequent water changes.

Fish is fed very lightly right now & eats everything, there's nothing in the tank which could possibly be rotting, etc. But even with generous water changes multiple times a day, I can barely get my ammonia below 1. Filtration should be adequate & is working fine. Fish is happy & shows no sign of distress. It's been about a week now. Why am I getting so much ammonia? Is it just because the tank is so small? It seems physically impossible that the levels aren't coming down with that much water dillution.

Any ideas welcome!
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Old 10-16-2020, 02:40 PM   #2
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How big is the fish?

You are right though, unless your fish is a monster that shouldnt cause the levels of ammonia you are seeing if you are doing multiple daily water changes.

Have you tested your tap water for ammonia? If that contains ammonia your water changes could be simply adding to the issue.
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Old 10-18-2020, 05:00 PM   #3
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Aiken,
Tested my tap water & pale yellow, zero ammonia.
One betta and one snail, neither is being fed much right now.

This is driving me crazy. I'm doing multiple big water changes every day & can barely keep it my ammonia at 1. It's turning into a full-time job.

Can Stress Coat be hurting my (non-existent) bacteria level?
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Old 10-18-2020, 05:51 PM   #4
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A few additional points and questions but hopefully someone else chips in and gives you a second opinion.

Your tank size should be fine for a betta and a snail. Even with zero cycle, it sounds like your ammonia is rising quicker than it should for your stocking.

I cant see how stress coat can be causing your issues. I use stress coat. But perhaps get a new bottle or use a different brand of conditioner.

You say your filtration is sufficient and working fine. What filter media are you using?

Are you doing any filter maintenance?

What is your substrate? Some soil based substrate will leech ammonia into the water for a period.

What decorations are in the tank? I have heard of decs leeching nitrate into tanks, so ammonia is also possible i guess.

Have you done a good gravel vac to make sure it isnt harbouring something decomposing and adding ammonia.

What are your other water parameters? Nitrite, nitrate, pH as a minimum.

How long has your tank been running?

Maybe do an exercise so we can see how quickly your ammonia is rising.
1. Test water for ammonia. What is the reading?
2. 50% water change.
3. Retest water. What is the reading?
4. Retest again after 1 hour. What is the reading?
5. Retest 24 hours later. What is the reading?

Anyway. Onto trying to get your ammonia down. Do you know anyone who has an established tank? If so, would they let you have some established media or a sponge from their filter to put in your filter? If not, did you use any bottled bacteria like Dr Tims One and Only or API Quickstart? Products like these are hit and miss, but you need to try something. Keep up with water changes. If ammonia + nitrite combined is more than 0.5 do 25% water change. If more than 1.0 do 50% water change.
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Old 10-19-2020, 07:14 AM   #5
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Honestly, these test kits cause so much unnecessary stress.

You said right at the beginning of the thread that your fish and snail are showing no signs of distress.....that should be the best test. Just keep observing them and see how they act. If they seem normal don’t worry. If not change some water. You are stressing yourself out over nothing.
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Old 10-19-2020, 10:05 AM   #6
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Aiken,

I think I may have identified the problem. I was using Ammonia Lock (which I think I failed to mention in my first post) which apparently makes ammonia biologically to bacteria- I thought that I could still start a cycle using it. I've been advised to stop the Ammonia Lock, keep doing water changes, and introduce Prime instead.

Fingers crossed that fixes the issue, I knew I had screwed something up. Anyway, thank you for taking the time to reply and give advice!
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