Should I add bacteria?
I have a freshwater 10 gallon set at 79 degrees with full spectrum fluorescent lighting, some plants driftwood, sand substrate and 2 platties and a dwarf frog. I have had this setup for a month and 2 weeks now so it is a relatively new tank.
2 weeks after setting up the ammonia never spiked and stayed under .25, but after treating for ich with an herbal medicine and sea salt, the ich was eradicated but for the last 3 weeks the ammonia levels have stayed over 8.0. The fish show no signs of distress and to this day there is no sign of nitrates or nitrites.
I have been doing 50% water changes very week to normalize the salinity and remove the medicine/ammonia but the ammonia isn't budging. I did do a switch from gravel to sand substrate afterwards too and got a new filter a fluval c2 which is an enormous upgrade from the little aqueon filter I had before.
So I realize the ich treatment, changing of filters and substrates has greatly stalled the cycle, and I am wondering if at this point it would be better to let it cycle on its own or should I just pick up some supplemental bacterias?
Also the tank is starting to get that fish tank smell. Is that smell from the algae? That's about the one thing I have not cleaned, was the algae with a pad.
Bacteria supplements are a cause of great debate here on TFK and every other fish forum. I think this is largely due to inferior products marketed in years past that just didn't work. Sometimes the cultures were just wrong and sometimes the bacteria/archea was/is killed from poor shipping and/or storage.
I think these products have now come of age and in time hobbyists won't think twice about starting a new tank using a bacteria supplement if they don't have filter media or substrate from an established tank.
However, it should be noted that even with a bacteria/archea "seed", it's not instant pudding and ammonia and/or nitrite spikes can occur.
Footnote: When cycling a new tank, it's good to use a conditioner like Seachem Prime to temporarily (24-48 hrs) detoxify ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and heavy metals.
We need more data, as if the ammonia really is 8 ppm, and is ammonia and not ammonium, the fish would all be dead. So other factors are involved.
What is the pH in the tank? And what is the tap water pH [if testing again, remember to shake tap water vigorously before testing pH]?
What meds/treatments for ich did you use?
Are the plants OK? Meds can sometimes weaken or kill certain plants. This adds to the ammonia, but also removes the plants' ability of dealing with ammonia.
Which water conditioner are you using? Some detoxify ammonia.
Not everyone will recommend bac terial supplements, but I do, heartily. If you add a good one, it does seed bacteria. Seachem's Stability, Tetra's SafeStart and Dr. Tim's One and Only are all good and they do work to speed up the establishment of nitrifying bacteria.
Edit. I see AD posted simultaneously, but we are on the same page.
The ph is between 7.6 and 8.0. I have not tested the tap water ph but tap water ammonia is about .25. I have been adding ammo lock by API every 2 days for the last week or so. The plants are all healthy green and strong most of them added after the ich treatment but the 2 healthiest ones added before. The ich treatment I used was an herbal ich attack by kordon. It heavily discolored the water but its back to normal after several water changes.
I am using water conditioner by API. Although I don't know if their ammo lock also conditions the water? I have been adding both but the wc only after water changes.
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I asked about pH because it affects ammonia in a similar manner; above 7 ammonia is the toxic ammonia, but below 7 it is mainly ammonium.
I tried the Kordon product once and it didn't do anything, except muddy the water as you said.:lol: But, that's past.
tagging along with Bryon-- the ammonia is probably locked up.
Most test kits test both locked and free ammonia as the same. Including the api test kit.
Seachem has an ammonia multitest that measures the dangerous free ammonia and the total (including the locked) ammonia. so you can tell if more ammonia lock is needed.
If I remember correctly seachem also has an ammonia dot in tank. That measures just the free ammonia so it it show no ammonia you are sefe even if the api kit shows 8ppm.
So I would first do those tests and if the ammonia is locked I would stop all additions of the ammonia lock. It does have the side effect of also locking oxygen so when overdosed can actually suffocate the fish.
The plants will great ammonia sponges and oxygenate the water as well.
I don't believe the herbal kordon did anything. I stopped using it after 5 days of no results, because my fish were dieing from the ich, and opted for giving my tank a fever. The fever eradicated all the ich within 24 hours and after 4 days I turned it back down and it has not come back.
I don't know where to get these other test kits as there are no local aquatic stores other than the big pet chains which have limited supplies
I have the Seachem Stability product but also have a relatively heavily planted tank. I know that Seachem claims their product includes anaerobes but I still am encountering an ongoing read of nitrates. e.g. - 5 to 15 ppm and continue to need frequent water changes.
I have recently reduced the nitrates slightly by putting some rooted plants (Pothos) into my HOB filter, rooted into a mix of peatmoss and sand covered by gravel, ceramic rings and lava rock. I'm still not satisfied because I want to see close to zero nitrates.
Not all of my plants are growing with great gusto. Notably the wisteria are growing slowly and the hornwort which is surprising. The Rotala indica is growing great. The Cryptocoryne affinis is just beginning to spread after 4 months and my Vallisneria americana gigantea is growing like mad but not spreading. The Java fern seems to just reproduce and decay. I'm not sure about this plant, as to how it should behave.
I really expected to have zero nitrates with plants. I've tested my substrate of peat and sand with a zero reading for nitrates. I've trapped out a lot of the snails. I put some purigen in the filter. The nitrates still persist.
Anyway, I'm thinking of trying to dose with Stability again. I wonder if I might have better results if I shut off the filter for a while and dump the stability in there. The anaerobes might establish in the mud (peatmoss & sand) at the bottom (???)
Sorry for rambling off track a bit.
Abbeysdad; Interesting you use the term bacteria/archaea. I use this often in my writings and thought I was the only one. [I may have been the first to use the term archaeal]:lol:
Are the nitrates in your source water? Or solely from the aquarium itself?
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