Confused about cycling and ammonia levels - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 70 Old 11-25-2009, 07:58 PM
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My 32g finished cycling about a month ago after a solid month of cycling. I'm surprised that your test kit did not mention when to do a water change. I have a nutrafin test kit for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, and I checked levels daily for the first month and they remained very low. During that time I did a weekly water change (20%). When ammonia levels started rising above 0.6 (yeah you read right) I would do an immediate water change (20%). Same for nitrites over 0.3. The nutrafin test kits clearly state: "If the result is above 0.3 (nitrites)... immediately chage 20% of the water". I realize that every company may have a different approach to the inexact science but at least I had guidelines to go by.

Now you might say I was overzealous there but the cycle took its course and finished without ever having hazardous levels of toxins in the water which was important for me because I was too impatient to go with fishless cycling.

With a 10g, I would definitely not shy away from the daily water changes and would probably up them to 30% because the ecosystem is smaller and toxins are more contained and concentrated and are more likely to rise faster - I think (this is not scientific on my part: it's guesswork). I don't think you can hinder the cycle with water changes... but you can definitely cause havoc in your tank by adding chemicals to it to control the ammonia levels.
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post #12 of 70 Old 11-26-2009, 12:29 AM Thread Starter
Thanks again for all of your advice.

Pardon my ignorance, but I still feel like I'm getting conflicting information.

Some of you say DON'T use any chemicals to mess with the nitrogen cycle, yet some of you suggested Prime, which "gets rid of nitrites, nitrates and ammonia".

I bought some Prime, did a 50% water change and added the correct amount of Prime for a 10g. I tested the water shortly afterward and these are the results:

Ph: ~7.3 (same as every time I've tested it)
Ammonia: .25 (.25 is the lowest level above 0 - 0 is yellow and it progresses to dark green from there, so it could be somewhere between 0 and .25 - I don't really like the color crap. I can barely tell the difference between some of the shades, and the only major difference is between 0 and the next level.)
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
(I have not had any nitrite or nitrate show up yet.)

Is the ammonia showing up actually ammonium, as converted by Prime, or do I still have an ammonia problem?

...or does the Prime take awhile to work?

By the way, you can scratch the Danio off the list of fish. For whatever reason, my betta (I think I might name him Killer, or Dahmer) does not like danios, because he killed all three of them. I didn't actually witness him doing so, but I'm assuming that is what happened. I found the last two dead with their guts torn open. I'm assuming he not only killed them, but started to eat them. Or did he not kill them and I have another issue going on?

He still chases after the white clouds, but they seem to be much faster than the danios, because they can easily dart away from him.

Anyway, I'm ready for more advice. Do I need to do more water changes until the ammonia is undetectable?
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post #13 of 70 Old 11-26-2009, 01:52 AM
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Prime should be used anytime you perform a water change. Products,and or chemicals other than water conditioner are not needed. Prime detoxifys harmful ammonia from chloramines in tapwater, and renders it relatively harmless ammonium which will still feed the (cycle) Water conditioners don't detoxify the ammonia for much longer than twelve to 24 hours and in tanks with fish,, Ammonia is produced constantly through respiration and or poop and urine. This is why we need healthy biological filter with colony of bacteria present to eat the ammonia produced by fish (cycling). If it were otherwise,, we would not need filters holding this good bacteria but would simply add a few drops of Prime or other water conditioner each day.
So long as there are fish in your tank ,I would highly recommend using water conditioner at each water change.
The booklet that came with the API test kit does say that any levels of ammonia can be stressful. If one reads the entire paragraph with regards to ammonia test and results. And depending on species,some suffer more quickly than others, while others do not present symptoms for some days,or weeks.
I would try and keep levels below0.25 with water changes.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #14 of 70 Old 11-26-2009, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
I did another water change this morning, using Prime, and the result was a very light green. Lighter than .25, but not yellow, which indicates 0. The API booklet also states that ammonium will still test as ammonia, so could this just be the ammonium showing up on the test? If not, do I need to keep doing 50% changes until it is down to 0? How do any of you get test results below .25 and above 0? What test kit will give you something better than .25 gaps?
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post #15 of 70 Old 11-26-2009, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by paxt0n View Post
I did another water change this morning, using Prime, and the result was a very light green. Lighter than .25, but not yellow, which indicates 0. The API booklet also states that ammonium will still test as ammonia, so could this just be the ammonium showing up on the test? If not, do I need to keep doing 50% changes until it is down to 0? How do any of you get test results below .25 and above 0? What test kit will give you something better than .25 gaps?
The Prime is handling the ammonia, it detoxifies it to ammonium and this will still show as ammonia with test kits.

Monitor the nitrite, this tank is cycling so nitrite will start to rise and peak then fall to zero. The daily pwc will be critical with nitrite as Prime does not detoxify nitrite (to my knowledge). I would not worry about .25 ammonia because Prime is handling that, however, watch the fish and if signs of stress appear do a 50% pwc.

1077 may add something, I won't disagree if he does.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #16 of 70 Old 11-26-2009, 11:42 PM Thread Starter

The bottle of Prime says:

Chlorine, Chloramine, Ammonia

Detoxifies Nitrite & Nitrate

Provides Slime Coat

I was in a rush this morning and left the ammonia test in the test tube. When I got home from work, it was yellow, which indicates a level of 0. Is there a reason it would change to zero?

Also, I just tested again and got the following results:

Ph: 7.2
Ammonia: .25-.5(?) I have a hard time with the color differences. I'm going to attach a picture of this, so you can see it
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0+? (see picture - I put the card upside down, so the lower levels are one the bottom - it has clearly been yellow before, but now it seems to be orange-ish..would it make sense to never have any nitrites, but have nitrates start to show up?)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg ammonia.jpg (33.9 KB, 42 views)
File Type: jpg nitrate.jpg (31.8 KB, 42 views)
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post #17 of 70 Old 11-27-2009, 01:01 AM
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Yes leaving the test solution set for longer than instructions indicate,will alter the results (inaccurate). Not leaving the test solution set long enough (5 min) will render results(inaccurate) .As stated before,,Keep ammonia levels no higher than .25.
Feed the fish sparingly,Take approx dime size amount of food and crush it to near powder with your fingers. Feed approx one half this amount ,ONCE every other day. Feeding more,,will cause ammonia levels to rise.
If you see green water in the test vial ,and you have fish in the tank,,change some water. Some might suggest that water changes slow the cycle but so long as fish are in the tank and breathing this won't be the case. I cannot add much more than I have at this point. With fish in the tank during the maturing or (cycling process),, your biggest enemy is too much food or too many fish producing ammonia that cannot be processed,, for there has yet to develop the bacteria (good kind) in sufficent mass,, to process the ammonia. In approx a week to ten days ,perhaps longer,, the ammonia will begin to drop and nitrites will begin to rise. Same thing applies with respect to water changes when levels of nitrites call for water changes as per instructions from the API test kit.The API kit is far more accurate to use than many others and is used by the majority of folks keeping fish. It is also easy to use. We can make it harder if we choose.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #18 of 70 Old 11-27-2009, 07:44 AM Thread Starter

Thank you for making things VERY clear, for this VERY new aquarist. I really appreciate it!

I will follow your directions and let you know how things end up, once the tank is cycled.

I do have ONE more question, though.

I understand the instructions about the flake food, but I feed pellets to the betta. Is one pellet every other day an acceptable amount, or is that not enough?

OK, make that two more questions. :D

Should I be using enough Prime to treat the entire 10 gallons every time I do a water change, even if I do a 25% change once or twice a day?

Thanks again!!

Last edited by paxt0n; 11-27-2009 at 07:50 AM.
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post #19 of 70 Old 11-27-2009, 08:08 AM
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Your betta will be fine with only one pellet every other day.

Since your tank is very unstable right now, in the cycling stage, I would treat the entire 10 gals with prime.
Once the tank is cycled, zero ammonia and nitrites, treating only new water will be fine.
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post #20 of 70 Old 11-28-2009, 06:11 PM
hey im new to the forum how do u stary a conversation
im sorry im interupting
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ammonia , freshwater aquarium , new tank

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