Increase lighting to help ammonia problem?
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Increase lighting to help ammonia problem?

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Increase lighting to help ammonia problem?
Old 03-24-2011, 07:13 PM   #1
 
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Increase lighting to help ammonia problem?

Would increasing the lighting on my planted tank have any possible quick impact on ammonia levels in my tank? Without going into details of my screw-ups, lets just say I'm having to re-cycle a stocked tank.
I can keep ammonia under control with continued water changes, but would it help to raise my lighting (+1 T5HO 5000K plant bulb) level temporarily? Would that encourage additional plant uptake of the ammonia? I know I risk algae, but fish come first...

55 gallon tank, 3 months set-up, Nitrates are at 0, but ammonia is sitting between .15 ppm (after water change) and .35ppm (before water change). pH was at 7.4 last night, when I found the high ammonia levels. I did put in some ammonia-sorb & carbon "stuff" into my canister last night as a stop gap.
Have swords, misc. stem plants, duckweed in the tank.

Doing more water change now....
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:48 PM   #2
 
The ammonia absorb stuff will absorb ammonia the problem is that the ammonia will not be available for the bacteria and then you will never have a proper cycled tank. If you have certain fast growing plants then HO lights would help but you would have to fertilize. Your best bet is just daily 15 gallon or so water changes with prime.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:23 PM   #3
 
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The ammonia at .35 is not so high that the plants should not be able to handle it immediately. Of course, depending upon your issue, ammonia may be occurring rapidly on a continual basis, so that the plants are at their max. If the fish are under stress from ammonia or anything else, I would not add to their stress by increasing the lighting since the plants would probably not be able to respond better.

I would recommend an ammonia detoxifier however, as these usually work by changing ammonia to ammonium which is then harmless to fish, but both bacteria and plants can utilize ammonium/ammonia interchangeably so there is no effect on either the nitrification cycle establishment or plant assimilation. In fact, the latter probably would improve, since the plants could grab the ammonium rather than having to change the ammonia to ammonium themselves which is more work for the plants.

Remember also that test kits will read ammonia/ammonium as "ammonia."

Byron.
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Old 03-26-2011, 09:06 PM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
The ammonia at .35 is not so high that the plants should not be able to handle it immediately. Of course, depending upon your issue, ammonia may be occurring rapidly on a continual basis, so that the plants are at their max. If the fish are under stress from ammonia or anything else, I would not add to their stress by increasing the lighting since the plants would probably not be able to respond better.
I would recommend an ammonia detoxifier however, as these usually work by changing ammonia to ammonium which is then harmless to fish, but both bacteria and plants can utilize ammonium/ammonia interchangeably so there is no effect on either the nitrification cycle establishment or plant assimilation. In fact, the latter probably would improve, since the plants could grab the ammonium rather than having to change the ammonia to ammonium themselves which is more work for the plants.
Remember also that test kits will read ammonia/ammonium as "ammonia."
Byron.
Byron - thanks for the response. Per your recommendation to many folks here, I did finally get an API test kit early last week. The dip stick tests really were not accurate. I found a seachem "ammonia alert" that hangs inside the tank. Says it only reads the toxic form, I guess I'll see.

I added some ammonia-sorb to my canister on Wed. evening, adjusted my pH down about 0.4 using API pH down over a couple of days (from 7.6 originally to 6.9 by this evening) to help chemically convert the ammonia, and I have been doing 2x daily water changes. Getting better. My angelfish are no longer all showing red "stress" lines and their fins are looking much better.

So far so good. One upside of the water changes is it's getting rid of all the crud I dumped into the tank that caused the tank to start cycling again in the first place! My swords, myro plants, and cabomba have been growing like mad.
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Old 03-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
Byron - thanks for the response. Per your recommendation to many folks here, I did finally get an API test kit early last week. The dip stick tests really were not accurate. I found a seachem "ammonia alert" that hangs inside the tank. Says it only reads the toxic form, I guess I'll see.

I added some ammonia-sorb to my canister on Wed. evening, adjusted my pH down about 0.4 using API pH down over a couple of days (from 7.6 originally to 6.9 by this evening) to help chemically convert the ammonia, and I have been doing 2x daily water changes. Getting better. My angelfish are no longer all showing red "stress" lines and their fins are looking much better.

So far so good. One upside of the water changes is it's getting rid of all the crud I dumped into the tank that caused the tank to start cycling again in the first place! My swords, myro plants, and cabomba have been growing like mad.
Be very careful with the pH down stuff. More importantly, it depends upon your water hardness, especially the KH. This buffers pH and if it is significant the pH may fluctuate which is not good with fish in the tank. If your KH is low it will probably lower the pH and it will stay there. I have this API product and have used it, but never in tanks with fish, only in a new tank with fresh tapwater (mine is pH 7.0-7.2 but no GH or KH to speak of so this quickly lowers it permanently).
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Old 03-27-2011, 02:00 PM   #6
 
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Good advice. Right now, the pH is slowly going back down toward my local tapwater's 6.8-6.9. I still can't believe it was up to 7.6 the other day. I even used the high-range pH test to confirm my first two test. Of course, the pH test sticks still read 6.8 the entire time - oh, and the ammonia reading using the dip sticks was consistently zero!

I used the API pH down twice @ 1/2 the recommended dose until I could do some additional water changes. I'd probably recommend it for use in emergencies, but you are correct, a really rapid bouncing pH is not a good thing! Not planning on using it again, the water change is a much better option to mitigate the problem!
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