Ammonia levels?
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Ammonia levels?

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Old 05-30-2011, 11:19 PM   #1
 
Ammonia levels?

Hello all,

I'm new here. I've started up my first fish tank in years (always had some at a kid, but never did it right).

I THOUGHT I was doing it the right way when I started, however I really had no idea what I was doing. It's now been about 6 wks since I set it up. I have a 29 gallon tank, and I have 2 sunset platys, 1 balloon belly molly, 1 dalmatian molly and 2 cremecicle lyretailed mollies (my personal favorites). I had another dalmatian molly but she died shortly after having 4 fry. The 4 fry (now a week old) are doing great in a breeder box inside the tank.

Anyway, for the first two weeks I didn't do anything to the water (other than water conditioners). I was told by the people at the fish store not to touch the water for at least 2 wks. So when I finally decided to test it, the ammonia was about 3.0, so that is when I started reading up more and realized I did everything wrong.

I started reading several fish forums, and learning from everyone's posts. I started doing frequent water changes, started using Prime with each water change. Now for the last couple weeks my ammonia levels have been between .25 and .5. Never gone up any higher or gone any lower. My fish seem fine, they are fat and healthy looking, very active and eat well.

I have been using the API liquid test kits (but have used API test strips first, but got the liquid because everyone says the liquid is more accurate -- tho my test results for both liquid and test strips have been very close) Through the couple weeks now that the ammonia levels are staying lower, I have still never gotten any nitrite readings and usually a trace reading of nitrate.

I decided to give Tetra Safe Start a try after reading up about it. So yesterday after changing about 50% of the water, adding Tetra Aquasafe water conditioner... I let the new water filter for a couple hours and tested it (ammonia was .5) and I added the whole bottle of safe start. Now I know every thing I have read, people have said to wait about 48 hrs to test the water again, but I decided to test it again just out of curiosity.... ammonia was about the same but it took several minutes to get to the .5 color level (where it usually turned right to that color soon as I stopped shaking the tube).... nitrites were 0, but this time Nitrates were between 0 and 20.

In the whole time I've had this tank (about 6 wks) I have never gotten a nitrite reading, but now I'm getting Nitrate readings (and have had trace levels show up before). Is this normal? is this possible?? According to what I have read, unless the levels of ammonia/nitrite/nitrates get to high, I should not change water for 10-14 days after using safe start so for now I'll just keep testing and keep an eye on it.

Just so you know more about my tank..

PH is usually between 7.0-7.5
ammonia (today) was .5
Nitrite 0
Nitrate between 0-20
water temp is about 78 degrees.

I have some salt in the water. I have two HOB filters, a 150 penguin bio-wheel and a 100 penguin bio-wheel. The 150 has two filters inside it.

Anyway... what is your opinion? Is the tank cycling? The reason I tried safe start is because I was afraid it wasn't cycling. Like I said, I'm very new to this, and I'm just trying to do whatever is best for the fish. I enjoy them so much already, I can absolutely seeing me adding more tanks in the future.. once I understand how this all works.


Two of my Mollies..
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:34 AM   #2
 
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if you get nitrite readings your wrong......nitrate is what the nitrite turns in to your tank is fine just don't over stock a tank again when you set it up
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:09 AM   #3
 
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Might try testing the tapwater or water used for water changes for ammonia.
Might also try PRIME for dechlorinator during water changes.I might feed the fish less food ,maybe once a day for a while and tiny amount and see if ammonia levels are reduced.
Would take care to clean filter cartridges(not bio-wheels) in old aquarium water you take out during water changes rather than tapwater.
Dumping whole bottle of anything in to the tank is not good idea and could affect test result's.
If there is no ammonia in tapwater,and test solution is allowed to set for appropriate time ,then ammonia must come from decaying food,poop,or plant matter.
A couple 50 percent water changes along with reduced feeding of fishes should produce result's.
At six weeks,,there should be some biological filtration going on assuming the biowheels haven't been disturbed, and they have been running for the six weeks in tank holding fishes.
Would not add any more fishes until I got ammonia sorted out for it will only make matter's worse.
Would try vaccuming the gravel more regularly if not doing so.

Last edited by 1077; 05-31-2011 at 03:12 AM..
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:10 AM   #4
 
Thanks... actually I have tested the tap water, there is no ammonia, nitrate, nitrite... anything like that in my tap water. I have well water (not sure if that matters).

Adding the whole bottle of Tetra Safestart is what the directions on the bottle said to do. This is the only thing I added a whole bottle of.

I have used Prime in the past during water changes, but I did not use it for a dechlorinator when I used Tetra Safestart because I wasn't sure if the two could be used together????

The bio-wheels have not be disturbed at all. The Penguin 100 is fairly new, as I decided to add that one to get more filtration. But the 150 has been running the whole time since I have had fish and the first filter in it (there are two slots for filters) has been in it the whole time. The I added another filter to it about 2 wks ago... but left the old one in as well. I have not rinsed any of the filters with tap water either, but will rinse them again in old tank water.

I'll feed less and see what the ammonia tests reads after a while with that. My fish are pigs though and eat up most of the food I put in there pretty quickly.

I agree.. I have no plans to add more fish until the levels of ammonia are down. I do use a gravel vac almost every time I do a water change which has been about every day... to every other day. The whole time the Fish have been doing great, never look sick or unhealthy and the water has remained very clear, never cloudy at all.
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Old 05-31-2011, 12:11 PM   #5
 
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First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

I'm puzzled too by the constant ammonia. Four molly in a 29g is not a heavy fish load, and I am thinking the tank has cycled from what you've mentioned.

Are you contemplating live plants? Molly would love plants, especially some floating ones, and plants would (or should) handle the ammonia.

Byron.
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:04 PM   #6
 
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First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

I'm puzzled too by the constant ammonia. Four molly in a 29g is not a heavy fish load, and I am thinking the tank has cycled from what you've mentioned.

Are you contemplating live plants? Molly would love plants, especially some floating ones, and plants would (or should) handle the ammonia.

Byron.
Thanks for the welcome...

I actually have 4 mollies and 2 platys.

I do not have any live plants in my tank, but I have been thinking about adding some. What would be some easy (for a beginner) plants that I might be able to find at the local fish store, that would live well in water with some salt in it? Also preferably plants that don't need hours and hours of light??? as I don't typically keep the light on my tank hood on for more than a few hours a day... just depends on the day and my work schedule. What all would I need to do (if anything) for the plants so survive? and how many plants would be good to start with?

So I tested the water this afternoon. Ammonia was up to 1.0 today (I didn't do a water change last night because I added Tetra Safe Start to the water 2 days ago).. Nitrites were 0 and Nitrates were under 20. I guess I should do a water change tonight then???

I'll look at some plants tomorrow after work, as I work close to a couple fish stores..
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:08 PM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow1 View Post
Thanks for the welcome...

I actually have 4 mollies and 2 platys.

I do not have any live plants in my tank, but I have been thinking about adding some. What would be some easy (for a beginner) plants that I might be able to find at the local fish store, that would live well in water with some salt in it? Also preferably plants that don't need hours and hours of light??? as I don't typically keep the light on my tank hood on for more than a few hours a day... just depends on the day and my work schedule. What all would I need to do (if anything) for the plants so survive? and how many plants would be good to start with?

So I tested the water this afternoon. Ammonia was up to 1.0 today (I didn't do a water change last night because I added Tetra Safe Start to the water 2 days ago).. Nitrites were 0 and Nitrates were under 20. I guess I should do a water change tonight then???

I'll look at some plants tomorrow after work, as I work close to a couple fish stores..
I really don't know what to suggest on that ammonia, it has to be coming from somewhere. Any chance your test kit is faulty or expired?

Plants need light and nutrients. The latter can occur from organics and water changes but may or may not need supplementing. Light is critical, the spectrum, intensity and duration; we can discuss types. A minimum of 6 hours daily can work, or more; a simple timer works well as consistency is good for fish and plants, and it can be set to be on when you are normally home to view the aquarium.

Floating plants would be good with livebearers, and also provide refuge for fry if that is wanted. Stem plants, substrate-rooted plants...have a glance through our plant profiles, several of the commonly-available species are included. Second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top (same as fish profiles), then Freshwater Plants obviously.

Byron.
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Old 05-31-2011, 05:14 PM   #8
 
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I really don't know what to suggest on that ammonia, it has to be coming from somewhere. Any chance your test kit is faulty or expired?

Plants need light and nutrients. The latter can occur from organics and water changes but may or may not need supplementing. Light is critical, the spectrum, intensity and duration; we can discuss types. A minimum of 6 hours daily can work, or more; a simple timer works well as consistency is good for fish and plants, and it can be set to be on when you are normally home to view the aquarium.

Floating plants would be good with livebearers, and also provide refuge for fry if that is wanted. Stem plants, substrate-rooted plants...have a glance through our plant profiles, several of the commonly-available species are included. Second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top (same as fish profiles), then Freshwater Plants obviously.

Byron.

I don' t know if the test kit is faulty or expired. I can't seem to find any expiration date listed anywhere on the container or the bottles??? Just lot numbers.

I did a water change this afternoon of about 50% +/- of the water. Moved a lot of the fake plants and decorations around so I could get any food or waste out of the gravel better. Used Prime again. Will just see what it goes from here.

I'm going to look at plants tomorrow and see what I could find to work with my tank. I've looked through the freshwater plants section and have a couple I'm going to HOPEFULLY look for at the fish store tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully this will help my tank. I don't have a problem with having the light on 6 or so hours a day. I would just prefer it be off while I am at work is all.
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:30 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow1 View Post
I don' t know if the test kit is faulty or expired. I can't seem to find any expiration date listed anywhere on the container or the bottles??? Just lot numbers.

I did a water change this afternoon of about 50% +/- of the water. Moved a lot of the fake plants and decorations around so I could get any food or waste out of the gravel better. Used Prime again. Will just see what it goes from here.

I'm going to look at plants tomorrow and see what I could find to work with my tank. I've looked through the freshwater plants section and have a couple I'm going to HOPEFULLY look for at the fish store tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully this will help my tank. I don't have a problem with having the light on 6 or so hours a day. I would just prefer it be off while I am at work is all.
You can get simple timers for lamps at hardware stores for a few dollars, all my tanks are on timers. Just make sure there is light in the room, be it daylight or room lights, when the tank light comes on and goes off. This minimizes shock on the fish.

On the ammonia, remember that test kits read ammonia and ammonium as "ammonia" and Prime detoxifies ammonia by changing it to ammonium, so the API test (and most others) will still read it.
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Old 06-03-2011, 08:05 PM   #10
 
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You can get simple timers for lamps at hardware stores for a few dollars, all my tanks are on timers. Just make sure there is light in the room, be it daylight or room lights, when the tank light comes on and goes off. This minimizes shock on the fish.

On the ammonia, remember that test kits read ammonia and ammonium as "ammonia" and Prime detoxifies ammonia by changing it to ammonium, so the API test (and most others) will still read it.
Just an update..

So I now have 3 smaller plants in the aquarium, two of them on driftwood. Have had the plants in the tank for a few days now. Just in case my test kit was faulty I went ahead and bought a new master kit today.

The ammonia has stayed down to about .25 now. Still getting a 0 reading for Nitrites. Nitrates as of today are about 10. The color shades for 10 and 20 on the API tests for Nitrate are so close in color its hard for me to tell the differences, but I think its 10. PH is about 7.5.

I also have added a few snails to help keep any left over food cleand up, however I have also reduced the amount I am feeding the fish, and while some of them act like they are starving when I feed them, they are doing well, though I do believe the two platys are VERY pregnant.
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