Crazy high ammonia levels? WTH?
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Crazy high ammonia levels? WTH?

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Crazy high ammonia levels? WTH?
Old 11-02-2011, 12:49 AM   #1
 
Angry Crazy high ammonia levels? WTH?

Ive had my 36 gallon tank up and running for about 4 months. Tank was fully cycled after a few weeks using tetra safe start. I have 12 cichlids (4 yellow labs, 4 acei, 4 red zebras) in the tank and 1 pleco. All about 1-2".

Before these high ammonia levels, I did 50% water changes each week and vacuumed once a month. My water levels were always 7.4-7.6ph, 0-.25ammn, 0 NI, 20-40 NA.

About 2 weeks ago I checked the water and the nitrates were between 80-160 (closer to 160 but hard to tell), 0 nitrites and .25ammn. I did a 75% water change and the nitrates were down to about 20.

3 days ago I checked the water and the ammonia looks like its between 4.0 and 8.0!!! Nitrates looked to be around 80-160 again. I changed roughly 80% of the water and checked the levels an hour later. Nitrates were down to 20 but the ammonia was still between 4.0 and 8.0. I added prime to the tank b.c I was worried for the fish.

The next morning I removed all the fish, rocks and decor. I vacuumed the gravel thoroughly making sure to stir up all the gravel and I changed about 90% of the water.

I checked the water today and the ammonia is between 4.0-8.0 again after a vacuum and 90% water change. 7.0PH, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 10.

All the fish are very active (like always) and they are showing no signs of stress. I have 2 HOB filters with carbon filters, fluval foam around the filter intake pipe and aquaclear biomax inserts inside both of the filters. I changed the carbon filters about 3 weeks ago. Ive had the biomax inserts in the filters for about 2-3months. I rinse the fluval foam inserts once a week with tank water to clean them out.

Whats causing this ammonia spike?


Last edited by Romad; 11-03-2011 at 05:16 AM..
bentz69 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2011, 01:14 AM   #2
 
Edit - Tank temp 80, Im using gravel, food is NLS cichlid pellets, I feed them 2x a day.

Is there something wrong with my ammonia test kit? If the ammonia was really 4.0-8.0 for 3 days wouldnt these fish be dead by now?
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:36 AM   #3
 
I would get the tank water verified by another kit, even if it is just LFS dip strips. See if they get an ammonia reading too. Also you can mess with that kit, test your tap since it should be 0. Then test a 50/50 mix of tap and tank to see if you get some inbetween reading.
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:44 AM   #4
 
I tested my tap water and it reads 0-.25. I know this normal for my tap water b/c I tested it a few months ago and I got the same results.

Tap water


Happy fish lol
bentz69 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2011, 09:49 AM   #5
 
I'm not a big fan of cartridge filters. It sounds to me that your bacteria used your cartridges as the infrastructure and when you changed them, you 'tossed the baby out with the bath water'. with cartridge filters, never change both at the same time unless you have some other bio-filtration (apparently the bio-max you have stuffed in there is not well populated). Also, use the same cartridges until they nearly fall apart - you don't need activated carbon in the system except for special circumstances.
I'm just spit balling, but looks like your cycle begins anew and you will need to monitor and do frequent water changes (I suggest using Prime) to keep ammonia in check until the bacteria colony develops to handle it.

good luck.

AD
AbbeysDad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2011, 04:44 AM   #6
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
I'm not a big fan of cartridge filters. It sounds to me that your bacteria used your cartridges as the infrastructure and when you changed them, you 'tossed the baby out with the bath water'. with cartridge filters, never change both at the same time unless you have some other bio-filtration (apparently the bio-max you have stuffed in there is not well populated). Also, use the same cartridges until they nearly fall apart - you don't need activated carbon in the system except for special circumstances.
I'm just spit balling, but looks like your cycle begins anew and you will need to monitor and do frequent water changes (I suggest using Prime) to keep ammonia in check until the bacteria colony develops to handle it.

good luck.

AD
That was well over 3 weeks ago when I changed the carbon filters. I had to change both at the same time b.c they were both clogged to the point where the water was basically dripping out of the filter instead of coming out at a steady stream.
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:11 AM   #7
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bentz69 View Post
That was well over 3 weeks ago when I changed the carbon filters. I had to change both at the same time b.c they were both clogged to the point where the water was basically dripping out of the filter instead of coming out at a steady stream.
Every tank is different with respect to bio-load and it can take 3 weeks before you see a serious ammonia spike (although with your stock level, I'd expect it to be sooner).
Regardless, your tank appears to be recycling and you need to do the necessary water changes to keep in check. It is important to get ammonia levels down as strange as it may seem, high levels of ammonia inhibit the nitrifying bacteria growth we need.
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