Dealing with Ammonia.. Cycling what am I doing wrong? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 18 Old 02-14-2011, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Dealing with Ammonia.. Cycling what am I doing wrong?

Ok so here's the deal.. My 20 gallong doesnt seem to want to finish its cycle... I had that problem last week where I lost some fish and I am fighting with the water on a daily basis. I was overstocked now I know for a fact im not after loosing some fish.

Everything seems to move along and ammonia starts to drop and my nitrates keep going up. Then something happens.. My nitrates disappear and my ammonia rises again.

I thought I fixed the issue and the tank was almost cycled and right before it gets there it seems to crash.

I have been doing daily water changes about 30% to deal with it.

My Ammonia readings the past 3 or 4 days when I get home. (Using API liquid master test kit)

4 Days ago.

PH 7.8
Ammonia .25 ppm
Nitrite 0
Nitrates 5ppm

3 days ago
PH 7.8
Ammonia .25 to .50 ppm not quite either
Nitrite 0
Nitrates less than 5ppm

2 days ago
PH 7.8
Ammonia 1.0 to 1.5ppm
Nitrite 0
Nitrates traceable

Yesterday
ph 7.8
Ammonia 2ppm
Nitrite0
Nitrates gone

For chlorine and hardness I use a 6 in one strip. My hardness is off the charts. (not suprised as the tap water here the hardness tests for the city of Orlando come out at 350.) I started using these to make sure I wad using enough declorinator thinking the chlorine in the tap water may be killing my beneficial bacteria.

I am running a aqua clear 50 and a marineland 150. on my 20g

I did replace my aqueon 10 for the marineland as I was having these same issues before. This was swapped out last thursday. The aqueon kept bypassing the filter in a few days. It was a horrible secondary filter.

I have live plants ( i have been told and read that they absorb ammonia)
The plants I have are
Anarchis x 15 stalks ( this has grown 3 to 5 times in size since purchased) It now reaches the top of the tank an is being pushed around by my filters.
Anubias Congesis Large 3 rizomes each with 2 leafs. Almoat as tall as the tank water.
Java fern 2 large plants about 6 or 7 leafs nearly as tall as the tank as well.


To deal with my high ph tap water at 8.4 to 8.6 I buy RO /DI water from a very far away location :( I mix it 50% tap 50% RO. I treat the water with Prime and have been generous with the dosing.

I kept a 55g 10 years ago in a differnt state with much better tap water and I didnt have all the issues I am having now. The one main differnce is I am using live plants in this setup as my old tank was just fake. That tank was slightly overstocked but never had the issues with water I am having now.

My 20g started up on December 23rd.


Just to rule out my tap water does not contain ammonia nitrate or nitrite.

Yesterday rather than doing a water change I dosed the tank with prime to detox the ammonia. I do not have a nh3 only testing kit so I cant tell if the ammonia is only NH4 non toxic or a mix of the two.

I have heard the ammonia live meter by sea chem works great.


It almost seems as though I get close to being cycled and then it starts all over again.... This has happened 4 times now.....

When I lost all my fish a couple weeks ago I used tetra safe start a few days after it started and all my readings made it appear as though I was about to complete the cycle. Nitrates were high no nitrate and only traceable ammonia.

Any Ideas at this point im at a loss...

20 Gallon bedroom tank
5 Guppy
3 Oto Cat's
2 Cherry Barb
1 Bosemani Rainbowfish.

10 Gallon Bedroom
4 Glofish
4 Neon tetra
1 Black neon
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post #2 of 18 Old 02-14-2011, 06:23 PM
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have you had any nitrite readings when cycling?

50 gallon Malawi Mbuna tank
-5 Electric Yellows
-6 Mainganos
10 gallon fry / QT
-9 Elongatus kanchedza fry
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post #3 of 18 Old 02-14-2011, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by catdawg426 View Post
have you had any nitrite readings when cycling?
Yes a very long time ago. but not since its been weeks.

20 Gallon bedroom tank
5 Guppy
3 Oto Cat's
2 Cherry Barb
1 Bosemani Rainbowfish.

10 Gallon Bedroom
4 Glofish
4 Neon tetra
1 Black neon
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post #4 of 18 Old 02-14-2011, 09:53 PM
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maybe your plants are just taking in the ammonia, and the bacteria isn't even converting it at all? and then there's just too much ammonia for the plants? that wouldn't explain the nitrates going away, though. Hopefully some experts help you on this one...

50 gallon Malawi Mbuna tank
-5 Electric Yellows
-6 Mainganos
10 gallon fry / QT
-9 Elongatus kanchedza fry
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post #5 of 18 Old 02-14-2011, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Well todays tests ammonia is down no water change and nitrates are going up again..


Readings
.5 ppm ammonia
0 nitrite
5 nitrate...


Perhaps the everyday water change was taking to much of the bacteria for them to be able to establish?

20 Gallon bedroom tank
5 Guppy
3 Oto Cat's
2 Cherry Barb
1 Bosemani Rainbowfish.

10 Gallon Bedroom
4 Glofish
4 Neon tetra
1 Black neon
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post #6 of 18 Old 02-14-2011, 10:34 PM
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maybe...the bacteria should mainly establish in your filter, so I wouldn't think water changes would affect it that much, have you been doing anything to the filters?

50 gallon Malawi Mbuna tank
-5 Electric Yellows
-6 Mainganos
10 gallon fry / QT
-9 Elongatus kanchedza fry
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post #7 of 18 Old 02-14-2011, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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maybe...the bacteria should mainly establish in your filter, so I wouldn't think water changes would affect it that much, have you been doing anything to the filters?
Other than swapping out the aqueon no. I did replace the carbon in the aquaclear but that was it... The aqueon filters would last me a week and half at most. The mareineland so far has been running for a week without clogging. I dont know what the deal was with aqueon you would breath on the filter and it would back up the water lol.

20 Gallon bedroom tank
5 Guppy
3 Oto Cat's
2 Cherry Barb
1 Bosemani Rainbowfish.

10 Gallon Bedroom
4 Glofish
4 Neon tetra
1 Black neon
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post #8 of 18 Old 02-14-2011, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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just to show how much the plants have grown my avatar compaired to now.... This was a span of 3 weeks. The plants couldn't be happier....


IMAG0296 by mich_m_20, on Flickr

20 Gallon bedroom tank
5 Guppy
3 Oto Cat's
2 Cherry Barb
1 Bosemani Rainbowfish.

10 Gallon Bedroom
4 Glofish
4 Neon tetra
1 Black neon
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post #9 of 18 Old 02-15-2011, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curt View Post
Other than swapping out the aqueon no. I did replace the carbon in the aquaclear but that was it... The aqueon filters would last me a week and half at most. The mareineland so far has been running for a week without clogging. I dont know what the deal was with aqueon you would breath on the filter and it would back up the water lol.
If I'm reading correctly,a week ago you replaced the aqueon filter with the marineland, Did you save the filter material from the aqueon? if not,you lost some bacteria (good kind).
You then replaced the carbon in the aquaclear. Carbon is maybe not wanted in a planted tank. Even though it is usually only effective for a couple weeks,, after this time if left in the filter ,,it becomes a surface area for Bacteria (the good kind) to colonize on. By replacing it,,you lost more bacteria. Best to leave filter material alone while trying to establish bacterial colony and should it need cleaning ,you can swish the material around in old aquarium water (not tapwater) that you take out during water change.
Filter material should not need frequent cleaning unless tank is over stocked and or too much food is being offered. (are you the only one feeding the fish?)
How often are you feeding the fish? I would perhaps feed fish tiny amount, maybe half a dime size amount ONCE every da,y or every other day. Fish food combined with fish waste(poop) =ammonia.
Try reducing the frequency and amount of food offered and try not to disturb the filter material at least until you get a week straight of ZERO ammonia readings.
I believe your tank is fairly well stocked for 20 gal and it is trying to cycle, but recent filter swap , carbon swap, and perhaps a bit too much food is slowing the process.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #10 of 18 Old 02-15-2011, 04:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
If I'm reading correctly,a week ago you replaced the aqueon filter with the marineland, Did you save the filter material from the aqueon? if not,you lost some bacteria (good kind).
You then replaced the carbon in the aquaclear. Carbon is maybe not wanted in a planted tank. Even though it is usually only effective for a couple weeks,, after this time if left in the filter ,,it becomes a surface area for Bacteria (the good kind) to colonize on. By replacing it,,you lost more bacteria. Best to leave filter material alone while trying to establish bacterial colony and should it need cleaning ,you can swish the material around in old aquarium water (not tapwater) that you take out during water change.
Filter material should not need frequent cleaning unless tank is over stocked and or too much food is being offered. (are you the only one feeding the fish?)
How often are you feeding the fish? I would perhaps feed fish tiny amount, maybe half a dime size amount ONCE every da,y or every other day. Fish food combined with fish waste(poop) =ammonia.
Try reducing the frequency and amount of food offered and try not to disturb the filter material at least until you get a week straight of ZERO ammonia readings.
I believe your tank is fairly well stocked for 20 gal and it is trying to cycle, but recent filter swap , carbon swap, and perhaps a bit too much food is slowing the process.

You are very smart ~ great advice!

_______________________
~ Marie ~


125 gallon ~ fake plants I'm a "fakie") ( thanks, Kym

3 Neon Tetras
13 Rummy Nose Tetras
2 Swordtails
6 Rasporas


QT: ( 2.20 )

4 Roseline Sharks
1 Black Mollies
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