Total Newbie, where did I get ammonia?

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Aquarium Advice Newbie
Apr 3, 2022
Hi all, Im hoping this community can help me. I just set up my first saltwater tank a couple of weeks ago. My local fish store told me to put in some Dr. Tim's wait a week and then come in to test my water and get my first fish for a fish-in cycle with a second bottle of Dr. Tim's. I used CarabSea LifeRock and the Arag Alive sand and when I had the water tested my Ammonia and Nitrites were a little too high to add a fish. Where did the ammonia come from? I didnt add any and as far as I can tell the liferock and arag alive sand arent supposed to have a source. I appreciate the help, total newbie here.
Thanks! I used the Dr. Tims one and only but expected I would need to introduce an ammonia source to start the cycle. The rock they sold me was just in a pile on the shelf. My best guess is it had been used in one of their tanks and re-dried. Or maybe the AragAlive sand is more alive than advertised.
Couple things- depending on if it was clean dry rock or used to be live rock in a system- If it was clean dry rock, there’s a “chance” the bag of livesand gave you some ammonia. The amount that you tested at, however, unlikely. If the rock was dirty and simply removed from a system and put on a shelf, that in combination with the livesand can definitely give you enough die off ammonia to be your source. Id probably follow up with the store and ask so you have an answer.

That all said, what test kit are you using? Don’t say API please lol.
The store tested it for me so Im unsure what test kit they used, I would guess they are using something digital because of the number of tests they do per day. Free water tests is how they drive people into the store but who knows. They guy that helped me on day one wasnt there so when he gets back ill ask him. If the cycle has actually started great! If it was an inaccurate test, I want to know so I can add ammonia and get the party started. Thanks again!
I’d invest in a test kit. I like the Red Sea Marine Care, you can test ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, plus PH and Alk. Better to trust yourself than someone else in this hobby. That way you can follow your cycling progress along the way.
I agree with flaxen waxen. Better to trust yourself than somebody else. It helps you too be sure that you did the right thing.
Thanks all! I hopped online and bought the Red Sea test kit, another bottle of Dr. Tims, and an ammonia source. Im going to monitor the cycle myself, it will be a learning experience and at least if I mess up its my fault.
Just keep in mind when you’re cycling, you really want 2 large cycles of ammonia rising, nitrite rising, ammonia falling, nitrite falling, nitrate rising, and no ammonia or nitrite. This should give you enough exposure to populate enough bacteria to handle the bioload. I’ve never used Dr Tim’s but I’m sure there’s plenty of experiences online you can find.
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