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Ammonia levels spiking like crazy! WHY?!

This is a discussion on Ammonia levels spiking like crazy! WHY?! within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I want to keep an African Cichlid tank once it is done cycling. Everyone tells me to keep the pH at 8.2 for cichlids ...

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Ammonia levels spiking like crazy! WHY?!
Old 06-04-2011, 12:32 PM   #11
 
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I want to keep an African Cichlid tank once it is done cycling. Everyone tells me to keep the pH at 8.2 for cichlids but since i dont have any cichlids in the tank i was trying to keep it at a more stead level that the black fin tetras and the betta male tolerate. I did a huge water change last night, 80% and the ammonia is still sitting at 2.0ppm. The pH of my local tap water read below 7.0, closer to the 6.6 according to the color card for my API master testing kit, with the 5ml viles and drops.

The only thing i could think of that i did different since i first started the tank was i finally got around to buying a algae scrubber and finally cleaned the inside of the glass of my tank, next day...Ammonia was through the roof. So in my semi-logical mind the only conclusion i can come up with is all my bio filter colonize had formed on my interior glass and i wiped them all out when i cleaned the glass.

I have never tested the hardness of the water, mainly due in part to the lack of knowledge on the subject and how it relates to my tank in terms of the fish i keep. I have no idea how to change water hardness if it is to soft or hard.

You mention not using pH setters. If i cichlid likes anything from 7.6-8.5 and my tap water is 6.6...what do i do?
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Old 06-04-2011, 12:45 PM   #12
 
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1- Ammonia spike could have been from dead algae that settled in the tank.

2- Don't use artificial 'PH-up' type products. I would simply go to a farming store, and buy some powdered limestone.
Limestone has a ph of, at most, 8.6, but isn't particularly water soluble. You can add it over time until your PH is where you want it. I use the same stuff in my livebearer tank.. I mixed it with my black sand, and now I have gray sand and a stable ph of 7.4. (My tap water is 6.3)
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Old 06-04-2011, 12:54 PM   #13
 
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The less chemicals going into a tank with fish, the better. In fact, I never add anything except water conditioner and plant fertilizer. It is not always easy to determine the effect chemical substances may have when combined with others, or in conjunction with your hardness, pH, substrate, etc. Each aquarium is very different biologically.

As redchigh noted, there are natural means to raise hardness. I have always used dolomite, or crushed coral and magnesium sulfate. But before that, you need to know your tap water hardness [the water supply folks may have a website with water data, many now do]. Messing with hardness and pH can be detrimental to fish.
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Old 06-04-2011, 01:22 PM   #14
 
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If you make sure to buy crushed dolomite, (if you decide you have to), then it will raise both the Kh and Ph gradually.
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Old 06-04-2011, 01:38 PM   #15
 
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Little over my head with the hardness and dolomite stuff but i will got to my lfs this weekend ( I only have sunday and mondays off) and will look into it. It has been 4 days now that the tank has bad over 2.0 ammonia reading and the first are still doing fine, i mistakingly put a decent sized cichlid in the tank when i first started and he died within 3 days of ammonia at .50.

If anyone knows Futurama then you will get this quote. -"Of course its still intact! Its Dolomite baby!"
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:50 PM   #16
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jadgpanther4tw View Post
Little over my head with the hardness and dolomite stuff but i will got to my lfs this weekend ( I only have sunday and mondays off) and will look into it. It has been 4 days now that the tank has bad over 2.0 ammonia reading and the first are still doing fine, i mistakingly put a decent sized cichlid in the tank when i first started and he died within 3 days of ammonia at .50.

If anyone knows Futurama then you will get this quote. -"Of course its still intact! Its Dolomite baby!"
First find out your tap water hardness and pH. This is your starting point, and necessary if you are going to start messing with raising hardness. When you tell us these numbers, we will know how to best advise.

Your fish store will likely want to sell you chemicals. There are several that raise hardness, and while I am not saying some of them will not work, they are very expensive. Long-term this is a concern. Seachem's "Equilibrium" for example. Using dolomite is completely natural and a one-time deal. Dolomite is simply a calcareous rock that you can sometimes buy in gravel form. As redchigh noted, it is ideal for this purpose because, unlike coral, it will raise mineral hardness and KH, and this is essential to maintain stability when you start fussing with hardness/pH.

Years ago I maintained successfully a tank of livebearers (also need hard water) and rift lake cichlids, when I had very soft acidic water out of my tap. I simply used a substrate of dolomite gravel.
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Old 06-05-2011, 12:35 AM   #17
 
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Right now I just have standard gravel or peddles, and some course grain sand mixed up as a substrate. Where might i find dolomite? Would the fish store have it or home depot or something? And i should replace my entire substrate with this stuff? I will look into my local tap water figures and give you the numbers as soon as i find them. I got home from work tonight and the ammonia was still over 2.0 so i did another 50% water change...grrr!
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:17 AM   #18
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jadgpanther4tw View Post
Right now I just have standard gravel or peddles, and some course grain sand mixed up as a substrate. Where might i find dolomite? Would the fish store have it or home depot or something? And i should replace my entire substrate with this stuff? I will look into my local tap water figures and give you the numbers as soon as i find them. I got home from work tonight and the ammonia was still over 2.0 so i did another 50% water change...grrr!
If your tank water is below 7 in pH (acidic), ammonia will not be a problem for fish as it changes to ammonium which is basically harmless. If there are live plants, they will use it. End of that problem, though the source of the ammonia is still something you need to ascertain. Redchigh may have hit the mark on that.

Dolomite used to be available in fish stores as gravel substrate, particularly for marine tanks. I have not seen it for years now, though i understand it is available but probably online (ask you local fish stores if they have it). My only issue with dolomite is that it is white, and white substrates are not the best for any fish. If it were me, I would consider using dolomite in one of the baskets of the canister filter. Coral sand (the buff colour) makes a good substrate in rift lake cichlids tanks, very authentic. It will raise pH as it is calcareous, and some dolomite in the filter would add both calcium and magnesium and provide good pH buffering. Calcareous rock such as limestone for tank decor, creating the caves these cichlids need, is another way to add some hardness. Vallisneria plants do very well in hard water, and are found in the rift lakes.

Byron.
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Old 06-05-2011, 03:30 PM   #19
 
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My local fish store doesn't have any live plants in stock nor any dolomite. I am planning a trip to another bigger town tomorrow to go to a Pet Smart and see what they have. I was thinking about getting limestone or ordering a few pieces of this stuff called Holey Rock

Medium Rocks

Right now the decor in my tank is a few large pieces of tunnely plastic drift wood pieces, Some did mention to me about geting crushed coral and mixing it with black sand for a very nice bottom for the tank.

Thank you for all the continued help btw from everyone!

BTW, how much crushed coral for a 46 gal tank would I need?
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Old 06-05-2011, 04:11 PM   #20
 
it sounds like your tank maybe never cycled yet...
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