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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in the third week of cycling my 55 gal tank, and I've done a few water changes (50% of so over the last week to bring the Nitrites down because they were way over the 5.0 PPM max the API Freshwater Master Kit can detect.) My Ammonia levels in my tank are close to 0 (0.1-0.2 PPM) guessing by the color of the test tube. I had never measured the Ammonia in Tap water because I guess I ASSUMED Tap water wouldn't have any. I filled a test tube up to the line with tap water and got a reading of 0.5 - 0.75 PPM. This kinda blew my mind, is this even safe? I don't have fish yet but once my tank cycles and I perform water changes, wont this add Ammonia to my tank? or will the Bacteria handle this Ammonia increase from the tap water quickly enough to keep the fish safe? I currently finishing up using API Stress Coat when adding water during water changes. I have a bottle of PRIME which I will use once the API Stress Coat is used up. On the label of the PRIME, it mentions it handles Ammonia as well. Does API Stress Coat neutralize Ammonia as well?
 

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You will need to use a water conditioner that will bind Ammonia and make it non-toxic, Seachem Prime is an example of this. It only works for ~48 hours, but that's long enough for bacteria or plants to take care of it. I would highly recommend live plants, as they do an even better job than bacteria.

Ammonia is not common in tap water, but isn't unheard of either. Particularly for people on a well. If it is city water, your town should have a water quality report you can consult, most post it online.
 

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I get ammonia readings out of the tap, and my city uses chloramines so I use conditioners that detoxify the ammonia. When you start adding fish, make sure you're using the Prime. Another alternative is Seachem Safe which is about 1/10 the cost per gallon to treat. It comes in a powder though so you'd need to make your own solution.
 

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Did you test the water immediately out of the tap? Or off gas it. Can't remember exactly how this effects your readings, but it will if you didn't :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the heads up. I tested directly from the tap, didnt gas it off. But when I tested my aquarium after a 50% water change, about an hour or so after the water change, the ammonia levels had risin slightly (original tank water was 0.10 -0.20 PPM , an hr after water change it was 0.4-0.5 ppm. Would the natural degassing that takes place after a water change take longer to occur? should I have wait more than an hour to get an accurate reading? In any event I now know to use PRIME or other Water Conditioner that binds Ammonia, as well as Chlorine and Cholramines I plan on using live floating water sprite to help with nitrates/nitrites, but wanted to develop a healthy system of bacteria first before adding the plants so I could take advantage of fully stocking my tank
 

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It really doesn't matter HOW the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are being consumed, as long as it IS being consumed. Floating plants are great for nitrogen removal, and the use of them can even bypass the need to cycle. Plants are more efficient at removing nitrogen than bacteria, and if you wait for the bacteria to build up in numbers and then add plants, the plants will out-compete the bacteria and the bacteria will slowly die off anyway due to starvation.
 

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If you intend live plants, plant the tank now and forget "cycling." Once planted, especially with floating Water Sprite, you can add a few fish and go from there. Plants take up a lot of ammonia/ammonium as their preferred source of nitrogen. And nitrite is not an end product, so that part of the "cycle" is a non-issue.

As for the tap water, once you have live plants it is probably a non-issue, but to be safe using a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia won't hurt. Most of these work by changing ammonia to ammonium which is basically safe, and the plants and bacteria will take up either form readily. It is the initial influx of ammonia that may cause issues, so using such a conditioner deals with this. As someone mentioned, these products become ineffective after 24-48 hours, but by then the plants/bacteria will have taken up the additional ammonia/ammonium so all is well.

I personally wouldn't use Prime unless you also have a nitrite and/or nitrate issue in the tap water [and you should test tap water for both just to be certain]. The fewer chemicals entering a fish tank the better, and if there is no problem then dosing such products is unnecessary. It is always best to let nature handle water chemistry when possible, and your plants and bacteria will deal with the nitrogen cycle without chemical interference.

Byron.
 

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Byron, there are chemicals such as Ammo-lock that do what you said (detoxify ammonia, chlorine and chloramine) without mentioning nitrite and nitrate, but I don't believe Seachem Prime actually ADDS anything additional in order to detoxify nitrites and nitrates. According to their website, the formula wasn't designed for nitrite and nitrate removal, but it just happened to do so at elevated doses:

Q: How does Prime make a difference in reducing Nitrates?


A: The detoxification of nitrite and nitrate by Prime (when used at elevated levels) is not well understood from a mechanistic standpoint. The most likely explanation is that the nitrite and nitrate is removed in a manner similar to the way ammonia is removed; i.e. it is bound and held in a inert state until such time that bacteria in the biological filter are able to take a hold of it, break it apart and use it. Two other possible scenarios are reduction to nitrogen (N2) gas or conversion into a benign organic nitrogen compound.
I wish we had some more "concrete" explanation, but the end result is the same, it does actually detoxify nitrite and nitrate. This was unexpected chemically and thus initially we were not even aware of this, however we received numerous reports from customers stating that when they overdosed with Prime they were able to reduce or eliminate the high death rates they experienced when their nitrite and nitrate levels were high. We have received enough reports to date to ensure that this is no fluke and is in fact a verifiable function of the product.


Seachem. Prime FAQ

I don't know if Prime does actually have more chemicals than Ammo-lock, or if API simply didn't conduct the necessary studies to say that their product also detoxifies nitrite and nitrate. But then again, I just checked out Seachem's product line again as I'm typing this and saw that they carry a product similar to Ammo-lock called AmGuard. The only differences that I'm seeing between Prime and AmGuard (aside from Prime detoxifying nitrite and nitrate) is that Prime also detoxifies heavy metals and provides slime coat. Now I'm wondering if it's the chemicals included for those that are mysteriously detoxifying nitrite and nitrate. I agree that it's best to add as little chemicals as possible, I just thought the above response from Seachem was interested.
 

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Byron, there are chemicals such as Ammo-lock that do what you said (detoxify ammonia, chlorine and chloramine) without mentioning nitrite and nitrate, but I don't believe Seachem Prime actually ADDS anything additional in order to detoxify nitrites and nitrates. According to their website, the formula wasn't designed for nitrite and nitrate removal, but it just happened to do so at elevated doses:

Q: How does Prime make a difference in reducing Nitrates?


A: The detoxification of nitrite and nitrate by Prime (when used at elevated levels) is not well understood from a mechanistic standpoint. The most likely explanation is that the nitrite and nitrate is removed in a manner similar to the way ammonia is removed; i.e. it is bound and held in a inert state until such time that bacteria in the biological filter are able to take a hold of it, break it apart and use it. Two other possible scenarios are reduction to nitrogen (N2) gas or conversion into a benign organic nitrogen compound.
I wish we had some more "concrete" explanation, but the end result is the same, it does actually detoxify nitrite and nitrate. This was unexpected chemically and thus initially we were not even aware of this, however we received numerous reports from customers stating that when they overdosed with Prime they were able to reduce or eliminate the high death rates they experienced when their nitrite and nitrate levels were high. We have received enough reports to date to ensure that this is no fluke and is in fact a verifiable function of the product.

Seachem. Prime FAQ

I don't know if Prime does actually have more chemicals than Ammo-lock, or if API simply didn't conduct the necessary studies to say that their product also detoxifies nitrite and nitrate. But then again, I just checked out Seachem's product line again as I'm typing this and saw that they carry a product similar to Ammo-lock called AmGuard. The only differences that I'm seeing between Prime and AmGuard (aside from Prime detoxifying nitrite and nitrate) is that Prime also detoxifies heavy metals and provides slime coat. Now I'm wondering if it's the chemicals included for those that are mysteriously detoxifying nitrite and nitrate. I agree that it's best to add as little chemicals as possible, I just thought the above response from Seachem was interested.
I agree. The "uncertainty" from Seachem as to how Prime actually works bothers me. Assuming other conditioners, such as Nutrafin's Aqua+ or Kordon's, etc, don't somehow bind nitrite/nitrate would suggest to me that something in Prime does but this something is not in the others.

But there is also the wider issue of Prime messing with nitrite and nitrate. In a well-planted tank, ammonia is going to be taken up by the plants and (to a much lesser extent) bacteria. I would prefer leaving this for nature to handle, rather than adding something unknown into the mix, which might well end up being of more harm than good.

Yet another is the issue of TDS. This came up a few weeks back in another thread and the final outcome was the realization that all these extra TDS do cause difficulty for soft water fish, so again the fewer the better.

My bottom line is that I prefer adding as little stuff as possible to the aquarium, and if this or that isn't an issue, then products that target this or that don't need to be in the tank. Water chemistry is a very complex issue, and the more stuff going in to the mix, the more likely something will occur.

Byron.
 

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In new tanks, I use Kordon's AmQuel+ or Seachem's Safe when changing water to detoxify the ammonia until the bacteria can consume it, but after a couple months when the plants fill in I just use Kordon's NovAqua+ to simply deal with the chloramine and don't even worry about the ammonia in the water because the plants consume it so rapidly (plus I don't do massive water changes at a time so the ammonia becomes heavily diluted). You make a valid point though about using products like Ammo-lock or AmGuard instead, and I'm now considering switching to one of those (or similar) instead of using Safe when dealing with ammonia.
 

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In new tanks, I use Kordon's AmQuel+ or Seachem's Safe when changing water to detoxify the ammonia until the bacteria can consume it, but after a couple months when the plants fill in I just use Kordon's NovAqua+ to simply deal with the chloramine and don't even worry about the ammonia in the water because the plants consume it so rapidly (plus I don't do massive water changes at a time so the ammonia becomes heavily diluted). You make a valid point though about using products like Ammo-lock or AmGuard instead, and I'm now considering switching to one of those (or similar) instead of using Safe when dealing with ammonia.
I only have chlorine in my tap water. I used Kordon's NovaAqua for many years back in the 1990's and had no issues. I am now using Nutrafin's Aqua+, only because it is the least expensive in bulk and also has the least amount of impact. It detoxifies heavy metals which I don't need, but I am prepared to accept that extra. I did try Big Al's which only handles chlorine/chloramine, but it left the tanks cloudy for a day or sometimes two after every water change.

I never have ammonia issues, even in new tanks as I plant well from the start, so that is one less issue.:)

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Byron,
If I wanted to stock 8-10 african cichlids at once, how much water sprite would I need floating in my 55 Gal tank to suffice? 5 plants, 10?
 

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While not directed at me, I'll say from my own experience with using place to do fish day-one ... it's best if you do not add them all at once. Slow and steady is the key, particularly since new plants can take some time to get adjusted and start growing at full speed.

If I was doing it, I would follow a stocking schedule, only adding new fish every ~1-2 weeks.

Even with plants, you should not add fish if you have readings of Nitrites (like you do right now). Wait for the plants/bacteria to get that to zero along with your weekly partial water changes. Nitrites are very nasty for fish (and plants will take Ammonia before they take Nitrite).
 

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From what I understand it is not uncommon for ammonia to be in tap water where they use chloramines. This appears to be a problem for water compaines when they switch from chlorine to chloramines. So much so they take actions such as flushing the storage tanks, resevours, pipes and so on.

The chloramines break down to chlorine and ammonia which feeds bacteria just like in our tanks. Or even possibly bacteria in the plumbing break down the chloramines.

I do agree that plants will rapidly consume the ammonia plus the ammonia from your fish to keep the tank safe. You may get an initial nitrAte spike as the plants are initially getting nitrogen from the ammonia not nitrates. Then as the aerobic bacterial builds up and consume the ammonia, the plants consume the nitrates instead. So after a few weeks nitrates drop down.

Sometime nitrItes will kinda stall at high levels so I stop feeding until they drop down.

Actually what I do is start the tank planted, wait a week, then add 1 fish (10g tank), then wait a week with no food being added, add some more fish and start feeding 1 flake per day. The idea is to get the plants established and conditioning the tank. Then to add the bioload slowly so the tank can keep up.

I also do no water changes and just replace evaporative water with untreated tap water. Again the tank can keep up with that low level of chlorine/chlormines.


my .02
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Makes sense, I'll get the water sprite and let them start to grow for a week or so, making sure they are working and the nitrites have dropped and then add 3-4 fish (1 species) at a time.....
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Water sprite is one of the easier growing plants from what I gather when left floating. Whats the bare minimum of supplements to add to the water to have it grow. Would it get all the nutrients it needed from Fish/Food waste or would I need to dose with Plant nutrients as well?
 

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Water sprite is one of the easier growing plants from what I gather when left floating. Whats the bare minimum of supplements to add to the water to have it grow. Would it get all the nutrients it needed from Fish/Food waste or would I need to dose with Plant nutrients as well?
What I do is let the plants condition the water with no additives.

Then add fish after a week or so.

So the plants just grow and expand to whatever the bioload can support.

I have heard on some systems you can develop a iron deficiency. So I dissolved an iron gluconate pill in a 12 oz (or so) soda bottle and dosed a capful each week or so. But that didn't seem to make much difference.

some use fertz and add carbon dioxide to get the plants really really thriving. I just don't do that. I just let the plants and fish balance each other out.


my .02
 

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Water sprite is one of the easier growing plants from what I gather when left floating. Whats the bare minimum of supplements to add to the water to have it grow. Would it get all the nutrients it needed from Fish/Food waste or would I need to dose with Plant nutrients as well?
It depends. Nutrients come from various sources naturally. All nutrients will come from fish foods, but I do not recommend overfeeding fish just to get better plant growth, and minimal fish feedings may not necessarily provide sufficient nutrients to balance the light. Other nutrients occur in the water, hence regular water changes; this primarily replenishes the hard nutrients that are macro-nutrients, namely calcium, magnesium, potassium. Water Sprite is a soft water plant naturally, so its uptake of these is likely less than some plants like swords would be, but still they are essential macro nutrients. Then there is the light; more light or longer duration (provided the intensity is sufficient to start with) means more nutrients to balance, otherwise the plants will slow photosynthesis and algae has the advantage.

Floating plants generally require more nutrients because they grow faster. This occurs because they are closer to the light so intensity is rarely a problem, plus they are able to assimilate CO2 directly from the air which gives them a faster supply and more of it.

If I do not add Flourish Comp to my tanks at least once weekly, the Water Sprite (which I have in all but one of my tanks at the moment) begins to fail. It slows in growth, and the leaves begin to break apart. I have experimented over the past year, and with two weekly doses of Flourish Comp it improved significantly. I went to three doses per week, and it improved further again. Just to complete the picture, I've gone back to twice weekly as this results in good response from all my plants.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well turns out the Watersprite seller on CL hasn't responded, but I found a guy selling Amazon Frogbit. the leaves ar broad and it floats which should provide some shade and security for mbuna. (which Im getting from another CL seller on Sunday)...The frogbit guy is selling some for cheap so Im going to try and get some this weekend. research shows that it grows best up to a ph of 7.5......Im still going to try it in my mod. hard water, 8.0 pH tank.

Byron I'll pick up some Flourish Complete this weekend as well.
 
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