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Dealing with Ammonia.. Cycling what am I doing wrong?

This is a discussion on Dealing with Ammonia.. Cycling what am I doing wrong? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by SweetPoison You are very smart ~ great advice! Well, not really,, I have just made about all the mistakes one can ...

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Dealing with Ammonia.. Cycling what am I doing wrong?
Old 02-15-2011, 05:14 AM   #11
 
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Originally Posted by SweetPoison View Post
You are very smart ~ great advice!
Well, not really,, I have just made about all the mistakes one can make over the years, and somtimes I happen to help others from also making mistakes, or help solve issues by remembering that which I have also done or tried.
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:43 AM   #12
 
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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.
I am the only one feeding. I feed every other day right now and its only small bits i let them finish / grab everything before I add more food. I also alternate between flakes one day then next feeding day crisps and then next feeding day i break off a tiny pierce of hikari dried brine shrimp this is great because it floats and never attempts to sink. Fish love it too. but i am very strict with feeding until this clears up.

I was having these same issues before I did the filter swap... The carbon I did 2 weeks ago as part of the monthly change. The other filter items I rinsed with aquarium water not tap. Thats why I cant figure out why the cycles seems to crash.

I did put the bio grid's from the aqueon in the tank for 3 days.

I am no expert by any means but I did run a 55g for several years... the 2 main differnces between my 55g was gravel and softer lower ph water. the 20g differnt hometown liquid rock for water and sand..


This is my first attempt at sand I have been running my fingers through it every two weeks so it doesnt compact as I read could this be killing some of the bacteria?

Also the sand itself in some locations is turning a brownish color. Not dark and not the whole tank just one area.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:18 AM   #13
 
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I am the only one feeding. I feed every other day right now and its only small bits i let them finish / grab everything before I add more food. I also alternate between flakes one day then next feeding day crisps and then next feeding day i break off a tiny pierce of hikari dried brine shrimp this is great because it floats and never attempts to sink. Fish love it too. but i am very strict with feeding until this clears up.

I was having these same issues before I did the filter swap... The carbon I did 2 weeks ago as part of the monthly change. The other filter items I rinsed with aquarium water not tap. Thats why I cant figure out why the cycles seems to crash.

I did put the bio grid's from the aqueon in the tank for 3 days.

I am no expert by any means but I did run a 55g for several years... the 2 main differnces between my 55g was gravel and softer lower ph water. the 20g differnt hometown liquid rock for water and sand..


This is my first attempt at sand I have been running my fingers through it every two weeks so it doesnt compact as I read could this be killing some of the bacteria?

Also the sand itself in some locations is turning a brownish color. Not dark and not the whole tank just one area.
With no ammonia readings from tapwater, the only way for ammonia to become problem is too many fish,too much food, dead or decaying fish or plants,and filters being disturbed before bacteria can build to sufficient numbers for waste created.While lower pH makes ammonia less toxic,it also prohibits bacterial growth which much prefers hard alkaline water over soft water.
Bacteria generally colonize the first few centimeters of substrate where oxygen is more available, and if sand isn't deeper than three inches,then little worries with respect to hydrogen sulfide buiding up in sand. Won't hurt to sift it, but prolly won't hurt to lay off for a while.
Reduce amount of food being offered to maybe half a dime size amount every other day, or every two days and see if ammonia levels drop.If so,,then you know that food is contributing to ammonia levels.(Fish won't starve)
Perform perhaps a little larger weekly water change ,maybe 50 percent and this too should help.Hang in there.

Last edited by 1077; 02-15-2011 at 10:22 AM..
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:38 AM   #14
 
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With no ammonia readings from tapwater, the only way for ammonia to become problem is too many fish,too much food, dead or decaying fish or plants,and filters being disturbed before bacteria can build to sufficient numbers for waste created.While lower pH makes ammonia less toxic,it also prohibits bacterial growth which much prefers hard alkaline water over soft water.
Bacteria generally colonize the first few centimeters of substrate where oxygen is more available, and if sand isn't deeper than three inches,then little worries with respect to hydrogen sulfide buiding up in sand. Won't hurt to sift it, but prolly won't hurt to lay off for a while.
Reduce amount of food being offered to maybe half a dime size amount every other day, or every two days and see if ammonia levels drop.If so,,then you know that food is contributing to ammonia levels.(Fish won't starve)
Perform perhaps a little larger weekly water change ,maybe 50 percent and this too should help.Hang in there.

I am curious as to what the readings will be when I get home. I was changing the water every day 30% sometimes more sometimes less. To lower the ammonia levels. I would test afterword and almost always would be zero. So im wondering if I was never allowing the bactera to grow... This time I am treating the tank with prime to comvert the ammonia to a non toxic form and this appears to be working as I havent changed the water in 3 days. If ammonia is lower and nitrates are up when I get home I can suspect my water changes were to often or too much.


I would feel more comforable with this method if I had a test kit that could tell the differnce between nh3 and nh4 rather than combined.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:58 AM   #15
 
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I am curious as to what the readings will be when I get home. I was changing the water every day 30% sometimes more sometimes less. To lower the ammonia levels. I would test afterword and almost always would be zero. So im wondering if I was never allowing the bactera to grow... This time I am treating the tank with prime to comvert the ammonia to a non toxic form and this appears to be working as I havent changed the water in 3 days. If ammonia is lower and nitrates are up when I get home I can suspect my water changes were to often or too much.


I would feel more comforable with this method if I had a test kit that could tell the differnce between nh3 and nh4 rather than combined.

Changing water has very little effect on the bacteria or cycle for that matter for there is very little bacteria actually in the water.
Bacteria colonizes on hard surface's in the aquarium like decor,substrate,wood,glass,and material in the filter where oxygen rich water that the bacteria thrives on passes through each hour.
Prime will detoxify ammonia and nitrites for approx 12 to 24 hours depending on what levels are and this allows bacteria to work on the ammonia whether it be ammonium or ammonia, it doesn't care and will consume both. Fish also produce ammonia through respiration and waste (poop) .Prime only works for so long and bacteria takes up the slack. If prime could address ammonia created by fishes and waste longterm,,then we wouldn't need filters ,we could just dose the tank with Prime each day but it doesn't work that way.
Bacteria doesn't care what form of ammonia is present but until you read zero for six or seven consecutive days,the bacteria has not yet established in sufficient numbers or quantity for the load present.IMHO
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Old 02-15-2011, 11:38 AM   #16
 
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Changing water has very little effect on the bacteria or cycle for that matter for there is very little bacteria actually in the water.
Bacteria colonizes on hard surface's in the aquarium like decor,substrate,wood,glass,and material in the filter where oxygen rich water that the bacteria thrives on passes through each hour.
Prime will detoxify ammonia and nitrites for approx 12 to 24 hours depending on what levels are and this allows bacteria to work on the ammonia whether it be ammonium or ammonia, it doesn't care and will consume both. Fish also produce ammonia through respiration and waste (poop) .Prime only works for so long and bacteria takes up the slack. If prime could address ammonia created by fishes and waste longterm,,then we wouldn't need filters ,we could just dose the tank with Prime each day but it doesn't work that way.
Bacteria doesn't care what form of ammonia is present but until you read zero for six or seven consecutive days,the bacteria has not yet established in sufficient numbers or quantity for the load present.IMHO

i understand. I was using prime as a temporary fix to see if the water changes would have any effect.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:34 PM   #17
 
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Tonights water reading update...


.25 ammonia
0.00 toxic ammonia ( I now have a tester for toxic ammonia)
nitrite 0
and nitrates traceable.


Here is what I dont get...

I thought nitrates would only go down in the event of a water change... I haven't changed the water in days.. yet the nitrates are going down... This is what is really throwing me for a loop...


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Old 02-15-2011, 11:43 PM   #18
 
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Tonights water reading update...


.25 ammonia
0.00 toxic ammonia ( I now have a tester for toxic ammonia)
nitrite 0
and nitrates traceable.


Here is what I dont get...

I thought nitrates would only go down in the event of a water change... I haven't changed the water in days.. yet the nitrates are going down... This is what is really throwing me for a loop...


Live Plant's will often result in low nitrate readings assuming they are growing and not dying.If plant's are dying, then they can release ammonia.
I really think it's your fish load and or waste created by same, that is contributer to the ammonia readings.20 gallons is not that big for the numbers of fish you have. But that's just my opinion.
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