Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

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Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby PeterK » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:17 pm

Hello Team,

Thank you for the opportunity to learn! I have returned to Tropical Fish keeping after an absence of some 40 years. Things have certainly changed! Here is my sequence of events:

4/12 Installed my new Juwel Rio 125L. Added thoroughly washed gravel and "ice quartz" stone. Half filled the tank with tap water.
11/12 Added 50+ plants (mostly Vallis and Crypts). These were all grown emmersed by the supplier. Also added 10 TNC plugs along the back of the tank, and half a dose of TNC Complete for those elsewhere. Filled with water and added Tetra Aquasafe. No fish. I have added nothing else.
14/12 Started to check my water quality with an API Master Kit:
ph (tap & tank) 7.4, NH3 4.0, NO2 2.0, NO3 20.
15,16,17/12 As above.

I was expecting to find nitrates, because I know it's in the fertiliser, but where have the ammonia and nitrites come from? The Crypts are starting to "melt" as expected, so perhaps this is the reason for the ammonia, but nitrites already?? Where do I go from here?

Thanks again for the opportunity,
Peter K
Juwel Rio 125

'Arry the Assassin

The man who never made a mistake, never made anything....I made lots
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby cousin it » Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:26 pm

Hi
welcome back to the hobby, a lot has definitely changed in the time you have been away.
You are correct in thinking that the crypts melting slightly could be adding to the ammonia and nitrites along with the water that you filled the tank with, this will be perfectly normal during the initial startup stage of the aquarium, I would imaging that over the next week or so you should start to see these levels start to reduce, plants can have a confusing effect on new tanks as they consume ammonia and nitrates which is why tanks started with plants in go through what is often called a silent cycle.

This article documents the cycle process and gives water parameter readings over the break in period, you will probably find your tank will follow a similar pattern.
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby PeterK » Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:25 pm

Thanks Daran,

As you can tell, I was quite alarmed at the NH3 and NO2 levels so early. I have now read up on the Silent Cycle, and will, as you advise, wait for a while and see. I am hoping to obtain some gravel and mulm from a very mature tank at the weekend, so that should help.
Thanks again,
Peter
Juwel Rio 125

'Arry the Assassin

The man who never made a mistake, never made anything....I made lots
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby cousin it » Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:31 pm

You are welcome :)
It is a bit of a shock when starting up tanks to find levels like that, but with plants and fertiliser present in the tank you will see slightly different readings than you would in a bare tank doing a fishless cycle.
I would be tempted to do a test on your tap water as this will give you a guide to what additional nh3 and no2 could be added when water is changed.
Sourcing some good old mulm from a mature tank is an excellent idea, when I set up new planted tanks I tend to squeeze out the filters from my other tanks into the base of the new one before adding the substrate, this assists the development of healthy bacteria and slightly speeds up the cycle.

Any additional questions you have do not hesitate to ask as a lot of things have changed but at the same time some of the good old methods are still the best :D
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby PeterK » Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:47 pm

Thanks Daran,

Tap water is: NH3 0.25, NO2 zero. Tank parameters still the same. I WILL have patience....honest! I also have a snail outbreak, which can only have come from the online plants. I have some questions about this, but will start a new thread. Is that the way to do it?

Thanks again Daran, I will keep you posted when things start to change.

Peter
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'Arry the Assassin

The man who never made a mistake, never made anything....I made lots
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby cousin it » Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:01 pm

It would be best to start a new topic to cover different aspects, that way the original issue does not become confused.

Patience is a wonderful thing to possess. . . . apparently :mrgreen:
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby PeterK » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:48 pm

Daran, YOU WERE SPOT ON! See below:
Dec 18 NH3 4.0 NO2 2.0 NO3 20, added 10ml of TNC Complete & soaked bogwood (bought dry)
Dec 20 NH3 2-0-4.0 NO2 2.0 NO3 40 (nitrate increase due to fert?)
Dec 21 NH3 2.0 NO2 2.0-5.0 NO3 5
Dec 22 NH3 0.25 NO2 25+ NO3 5 PH 7.4 (NO2 test was 1ml tank water + 4ml tap water, result X 5).
So, I am now in a fishless cycle with plants? I have ordered ammonia (Kleen Off) on line, but am not expecting it until after Christmas. I could not find a local supplier. Should I add fish food to keep the bacteria going until it arrives? If so, how much?

With your skill at predicting the future, perhaps you ought to buy a Lottery ticket this week-end?

Best Regards,
Peter
Juwel Rio 125

'Arry the Assassin

The man who never made a mistake, never made anything....I made lots
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby cousin it » Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:02 pm

Hi
I only keep planted tanks and have watched quite a few cycle over the years and most follow a similar pattern, depending on substrate used.
If you are going to add additional ammonia I would not add any fish until this has been completed as their health might suffer, alternatively if you have used some mulm and gravel from a mature tank you could add a couple small hardy fish to get the cycle going and swap to a fish in cycle.

Alas my ability to predict things is definitely limited to aquariums.
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby Carylnz » Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:06 pm

cousin it wrote:Alas my ability to predict things is definitely limited to aquariums.


Damn! There goes my next question :rofl:
My home forum is The NZ Fishroom http://www.fnzas.org.nz
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby PeterK » Tue Dec 23, 2014 8:41 pm

Hello Daran,
Unfortunately the guy who promised me the mulm and gravel has now let me down 3 times. I cannot bring myself to add fish with a nitrite reading of 25+, so I have added a small pinch of flake. The bottle of ammonia is apparently "on it's way" - hope it's not "snail mail". Will keep you posted.

Best Regards
Peter
Juwel Rio 125

'Arry the Assassin

The man who never made a mistake, never made anything....I made lots
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby PeterK » Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:00 pm

Hello Daran,
Hope you & everyone had a good Christmas. The Kleen Off ammonia has just arrived whilst I was testing. Despite 3 x 25% w/c's to try and get my NO2 to measurable amounts over recent days, it is still showing 25+(1ml tank +4ml tap, result x 5). NH3 is steady at 0 - 0.25, but NO3 is climbing rapidly(40-80), so "phase 2" of cycling appears to be underway.
If I add, say, 2ppm of NH3, to keep the "phase 1" bacteria going, this will presumably create even more NO2.
I have read somewhere that very high nitrite levels can stall the cycle. HELP !!!!
I will be patient, I will be patient, I will be........Mind you, the plants are starting to look a lot better......if only there was a fish.......
Best Regards
Peter
Juwel Rio 125

'Arry the Assassin

The man who never made a mistake, never made anything....I made lots
PeterK
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby cousin it » Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:28 pm

Hi
Christmas went well but much of it was spent pruning plants in the tanks :lol:
Your plants will consume some of the NH3 so I would probably add the 2pm dose.
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby PeterK » Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:54 am

Hi Daran,
Have added the 2ppm NH3, next day the NO2 was down to 10, and the NO3 almost 160!! Did a 50% w/c to reduce. My stowaway snails are thriving in these high numbers, and my otherwise improving plants are under attack. So ...........off I went to the only LFS that seems to make any sense, ..... and bought ........... 'Arry the Assassin Snail! Today, parameters are: NH3 1.0 NO2 10 NO3 80. Two questions:
1) Do I continue to w/c to keep NO3 under control?
2) Do I wait for NH3 to zero before adding more?
Thanks again for keeping ME "under control". Things seem to be heading in the right direction now.

'Arry and I had breakfast together earlier ...... gruesome .....'Arry that is.....

Peter

ps The man who never made a mistake, never made anything ......I made lots....
Juwel Rio 125

'Arry the Assassin

The man who never made a mistake, never made anything....I made lots
PeterK
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby cousin it » Mon Dec 29, 2014 12:25 pm

Hi
We do try to assist people the best way we can to prevent issues and to enable them to enjoy the hobby rather than just add more tanks to the for sale section of the local paper, your previous experience is showing great through this and as such you should have a great tank in the near future.

I would be tempted to wait for the NH3 to drop a little more before adding any additional amounts.

The plants will start to consume the no3, I would be tempted to reduce the water changes for the cycle period and watch the levels, you could always add some tropical hornwort to the tank to mop up excess no3, I know of planted tanks with dosed levels of close to 100 NO3 and the plants and livestock are perfect, NH3 and NO2 are more the levels to keep a close eye on, once they are dropping quickly after dosing a known amount of NH3 you know the tank has a healthy bacterial colony.

It might be worth adding a form of carbon for the plants to encourage them to use up the NO3, flourish excel is a good option.
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Re: Unexpected Ammonia & Nitrites

Postby PeterK » Mon Dec 29, 2014 1:07 pm

Thanks Daran,
I am as much interested in the plants as I am the fish. Hornwort and carbon here I come!
Will be in touch when I get there ........ wherever "there" is, of course!

Best Regards
Peter
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The man who never made a mistake, never made anything....I made lots
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