Ammonia how high?
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Ammonia how high?

This is a discussion on Ammonia how high? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> As many of you know, I am still trying to cycle my first tank. In the beginning I think I was doing far to ...

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Old 06-19-2010, 08:56 AM   #1
 
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Ammonia how high?

As many of you know, I am still trying to cycle my first tank. In the beginning I think I was doing far to frequent of water changes and nothing was changing. Now, the ammonia is finally starting to spike but I am wondering how high it has to get before the Nitrite will finally show up. Then how high does the Nitrite have to get before Nitrate is finally created?

This morning the Ammonia is .50 but the Nitrite is still 0. I am worried about my fish. One of them, the one that was odd from day one, disappeared over night. I suspect that the other 2 ate him. I don't want to stress the others out so I was thinking of doing another small water change but if I do, won't I just stop the cycle process again? How long can these little guys hang on in high Ammonia conditions? So far, they seem alright but I don't really know what normal is. They are active and eating meals. That said, the one that is now gone ate last night too.
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:31 AM   #2
 
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Water changes do NOT negatively affect the cycling. If ammonia (or nitrite when it appears) is above .25 a partial water change should be done, every day with 50% of the tank is fine. This is the only way to save your fish.

The nitrification bacteria live on surfaces covered by water; they live in the filter media, in the substrate (on every piece of gravel), on plant leaves, on tank walls, on wood and rocks--everywhere. They do not live in the water. When you do a water change during cycling, syphon out the water without vacuuming the substrate (to leave the bacteria there) and replace it. Use a good conditioner--Prime is one that detoxifies ammonia and nitrite so it is good during cycling.

Ammonia and nitrite are highly toxic to all life, and if not kept low can cause internal damage to fish that may kill them later if not sooner. Different fish have different tolerance levels to ammonia and nitrite, but it stresses all fish (at the very least) and will kill others outright.

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Old 06-20-2010, 10:09 AM   #3
 
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+1, great post B.
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Old 06-20-2010, 04:28 PM   #4
 
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Thanks Byron. I did what I thought was best and changed the water. About 50%. I am glad to get on here and read that it is the right thing to do. I was confused because others told me that if I kept changing the water, I would never get my tank cycled.

The fish I thought had been eaten showed up again. Guess I have been successful in providing plenty of hiding spots. That or I am going completely blind with old age. Thanks again for all of your help. I am sure it is hard for some of you to remember what it is like to be a newbie but with all the differing opinions, it is hard to know what is right sometimes. I appreciate everyones patience. :)
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Old 06-20-2010, 06:36 PM   #5
 
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When I started in the hobby, all I had was the fish store (a department store in those days, no real "pet" stores around). And maybe a paperback booklet if one could afford them.

Now we have forums like this one, with many experienced members to help a newbie. How lucky we all are; not just you and other newbies, but I continue to learn a lot from this forum.

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Old 06-20-2010, 09:34 PM   #6
 
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Yes and that is a huge benefit to all of us. The downside is that it is a lot of information to weed through. There are a lot of people that know a lot of valuable information to share and a lot of people who THINK they have great information to share. That is where I am having issues. I have gotten a lot of great info and some scary.

Today I had a lady tell me that I should add a bunch more fish to my tank to get the Ammonia levels higher to speed along the cycle process. I also got the idea of adding a few live plants to my tank and a fun way to do that. I just have to keep weeding. I am still looking for fun rocks to add to my tank. I have to do something to stay busy while I wait until the cycle process is over. Can't find the nice slate in decent size pieces. Part of the fun is trying to find new things to add to my tank. Not to mention shopping for a larger tank. ;) :)
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Old 06-21-2010, 03:12 AM   #7
 
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plants actually would help the proccess a bit...

If you get enough plants, then you won't have to cycle at all...
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Old 06-21-2010, 05:36 AM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
Water changes do NOT negatively affect the cycling.
I had a lengthy debate with Tyyrlym I believe a while back on this issue. I'm convinced that, if you're doing water changes with enough frequency and of enough volume to keep ammonia from ever reaching readable levels, you're probably limiting the potential growth rate of bacteria. If a bacterium is sitting there, it needs X amount of ammonia before it's able to divide, and if the ammonia is half as concentrated in the water as it was previously, that bacterium is only going to be able to grab an ammonia molecule half as often.

Whether that speculation is true or not is essentially a completely moot point, though. If you're doing a fishless cycle there's no need to keep ammonia levels low through water changes, and if you're cycling with fish the health of your cycling fish is more important than any extra time the cycle may take so water changes should be done anyway even if it does prolong the cycle some.
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Old 06-21-2010, 02:00 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamntbatman View Post
I had a lengthy debate with Tyyrlym I believe a while back on this issue. I'm convinced that, if you're doing water changes with enough frequency and of enough volume to keep ammonia from ever reaching readable levels, you're probably limiting the potential growth rate of bacteria. If a bacterium is sitting there, it needs X amount of ammonia before it's able to divide, and if the ammonia is half as concentrated in the water as it was previously, that bacterium is only going to be able to grab an ammonia molecule half as often.

Whether that speculation is true or not is essentially a completely moot point, though. If you're doing a fishless cycle there's no need to keep ammonia levels low through water changes, and if you're cycling with fish the health of your cycling fish is more important than any extra time the cycle may take so water changes should be done anyway even if it does prolong the cycle some.
That's quite true. But how much water would one have to change to effectively eliminate the ammonia or at least reduce it to the point where it would not be sufficient for bacteria? Given that fish and other organic processes regularly produce ammonia, a 50% water change every day is in my view not going to eliminate it; it will reduce it, obviously, that's why we do it, for the fish as you mention; but if the reading is still above zero (which it usually would be until the tank is cycled) the bacteria will presumably manage.

We know that in a cycled and balanced tank, ammonia should never be detectable by tests, but always at zero. And yet one assumes there are bacteria present in balance with the fish. Plus of course the test kits we use are probably not fine-tuned as scientific instruments so a zero reading may in fact be showing when there is some ammonia present.

Plus the fact that if plants are present, they will generally grab the ammonia before the bacteria can, and then in acidic water the bacteria are naturally fewer.

And my short sentence perhaps needs expanding; in the context of the new tank with ammonia present at levels above what the bacteria can so far handle, the fish must come first, and the intended 50% daily water change will not affect the cycling as detrimentally as not doing the water change will affect the fish's health. As you correctly state, that comes first.

That other lady suggesting more fish be added while doing no water changes is clearly out of focus. This will result in stressed if not dead fish, which at least will increase their fish sales I suppose.

Last edited by Byron; 06-21-2010 at 02:03 PM..
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Old 06-21-2010, 06:56 PM   #10
 
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I am actually thinking of puting some plants in pots in my tank. I am going to get a few of those small strawberry pots and put plants in those. I might add one larger pot on it's side for a cave too. Still no big change in the numbers in my tank. I will continue to search for decor instead of fish. :)
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