High ammonia after partial substrate change?
Yesterday I changed about 1/4 of the substrate in my tank and replaced it with fine sand. I rinsed the sand first in a pillowcase, hit the side of the bath with the pillowcase to squeeze the most water out before I used it in the tank. So far no problems, water is a bit murky but it quickly settle down. a few hours later, I test the water just to be sure (the fishes shows no sign of unease btw). 1 ppm ammonia, 0 nitrites! Crap, I do a 40% water change, add Prime to make sure, seems okay.
This afternoon I test again, 0,75ppm ammonia, 0 nitrites! Double-crap, another water change. I test immediatly afterwards and nothing changed.
I still monitor it closely and the fishes still look fine, but I really thought since I was doing it step-by-step I wouldn't throw the cycle that badly out of whack! Then I realized, I rinsed the sand with normal tap-water...did I destroy my cycle by rinsing the new sand with untreated water? It is just because 1/4 is still too much to switch at once?:shock:
If the fish still look fine, I would strongly suspect a false reading from the test kit. Many things, including Prime, can sometimes interfere with Nesslers (yellow) reagent tests. Unless your tapwater has .75 ppm ammonia in it, no change after a water change is impossible.
I am assuming you dont have a UG filter since you are using sand. With an established power filter, I have a hard time seeing what you did causing an ammonia spike. But keep a close eye on the fish just in case.
Would not worry about ammonia if pH is 7.4 or lower. If so, stop doing water changes since further disturbances will hinder reestablishing/stablizing bio-activities. . I would keep close eye on possible Nitrite spikes as Ammonia is controlled though.
Today my readings were 0,50 ppm and still 0 nitrites. One of my guppies looks unwell but I can't be sure it's the ammonia since I've had him for less than a week, he's the only one looking bad, and I've already lost another guppy from the same batch a few days ago to unknown causes :/
water changes are necessary are and suppose to be good. well not in all cases. sounds like you may have the same problem that i have. your tap has ammonia in it. test your tap and get a reading. if your tank is fully cycled and you get a reading of about 1ppm, within a 12-24 hr period, your tank will be back at 0ppm.
I would think that if there was ammomia in the source water that there would have been problems before now. Anyone who has ever tore down a tank can surely attest to the gunk under the substrate which could have contributed to sudden ammonia spike. The bacteria may have trouble adjusting to this sudden, albeit temporary increase in ammonia from detrius that was suddenly released. You may wish to increase the amount of water conditioner used during small water changes until you get a handle on it. PRIME is safe to use at double the recommended dose.:-)
That's the only logical reason why it happened, considering my tap water has no ammonia...I'm surprised at the amount of ammonia released by the substrate considering the tank is only a month old (I used media from 2 other established tanks to seed it and it cycled in a week)
Is there a way I can prevent it happening again? I still have 3/4 of the tank to do :-?
Considering that the tank is only a month old, (should of maybe left seed material in longer) It is possible that enough bacteria was removed to cause a spike in ammonia. Also ,you don't say what fish were used during the cycling but guppies, don't really create much of a bio load which may also be contributing factor.
As for hoe to prevent it from happening again,, You say you used seed material from two other tanks to help cycle this tank. Can you move the fish to one of those tanks? or move the betta to a smaller temporary tank, bowl, etc so that you can move guppies to betta tank while you change substrates?
It is always a good idea to monitor water conditions for at least ten days after you think tank has matured or cycled. And leave seed material in the tank for three weeks to four weeks after you think the tank has cycled so that these little bumps are avoided.
I used fishless cycling with only fish food as ammonia material, and the seed material is in fact still there (I put a foam from my closed 10g in the filter, and squeezed the foam from my 5g tank in the water). I waited 7 days after the water parameters evened out to start moving my fishes in :-?. I was too confident that the seed material would hold the tank upright I guess
I could use the 5g for the gourami and my 6 corys I guess, for a few days they would be okay. The ammonia is already almost to 0 this morning, so 3 days cramped in a 5g are the lesser of the two evils :cry:
Well, were it me,, I would be sorely tempted to hold off on changing substrtate but you have to make your own call. I would remind you that the addition of the fish to the five gal could cause ammonia spike there as well. Must always remember,, cycling never really reaches a point where it is complete. The bacteria grows and decreases with available food source. This is why many have problems after the tank has cycled. Too many fish added too soon, for bacteria to adjust to waste produced by the sudden addition of numerous fish or fish that are large waste producers.
While the fish are in the five gal. should you decide to continue with changing substrates, I might feed them sparingly maybe once every other day.They won't starve and this will help keep ammonia levels in the five gal to a minimum. I would get everything ready so that you can make the switch quickly and fish won't be uncomfortable any longer than necessary. Hope it works out.;-)
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