Adding Ammonia to Established Tank for Nitrate Control

DIFish

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Hey guys. I am struggling to keep my nitrate levels up on a newly established tank. What are your thoughts on dosing low amounts of Ammonia to feed corals and produce Nitrate? Aiming for around 10ppm Nitrate but stuck around 0-3ppm. Was planning on diluting my ammonia down to 1% and dosing 4x a day to around .1ppm total ammonia levels each time. So .1ppm x 4 doses per day x 7 days per week would be around 2.8ppm ammonia total or 10ppm nitrate per week extra. I figure I could scale up or down as needed until proper levels are met. Does anyone have experience with this? I know my corals will be fine and think it would be processed pretty quickly but wanted some more opinions.
 
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People have done this before without issue. I am more of a fan of dosing amino acids instead and just feeding the fish more (especially if you have fish like tanks, anthias, etc.). It just seems simpler to me. I dose aminos daily to counter 0 nitrates.
 
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DIFish

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People have done this before without issue. I am more of a fan of dosing amino acids instead and just feeding the fish more (especially if you have fish like tanks, anthias, etc.). It just seems simpler to me. I dose aminos daily to counter 0 nitrates.
I have been increasing my feeding but I am starting to feel like I am just dumping food in. Eventually I will have more fish to help but right now I only have 6. I also tried some reef roids but that seemed to do more for phosphates than anything. Actually think I went overboard there and now I have this really smelly algea all over the glass. I will look into amino acids more, but I just don’t like the thought of having 0 Nitrates. Is it fine to dose aminos on a new tank with just frags?
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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In a low nitrate situation, dosing nitrate, ammonia, and amino acids are all good choices with their own pros and cons.
 
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I have been increasing my feeding but I am starting to feel like I am just dumping food in. Eventually I will have more fish to help but right now I only have 6. I also tried some reef roids but that seemed to do more for phosphates than anything. Actually think I went overboard there and now I have this really smelly algea all over the glass. I will look into amino acids more, but I just don’t like the thought of having 0 Nitrates. Is it fine to dose aminos on a new tank with just frags?


Yes it's fine to dose aminos with just frags. It basically is a tasty nitrate supplement
 
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In my system, amino acids break down (in part) to ammonia, and dosing large amounts ~1ppm N of aminos in a day, results in accumulation of NO3.
So dosing amino acids at that level (far higher than the dose in say, acropower) is like dosing aminos, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. As all seem to be produced under that situation.

whether that's more or less desirable than just dosing NO3 is hard to answer and depends on your goals.
 
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DIFish

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In my system, amino acids break down (in part) to ammonia, and dosing large amounts ~1ppm N of aminos in a day, results in accumulation of NO3.
So dosing amino acids at that level (far higher than the dose in say, acropower) is like dosing aminos, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. As all seem to be produced under that situation.

whether that's more or less desirable than just dosing NO3 is hard to answer and depends on your goals.
My goal is to keep all corals well fed and provide adequate sources for growth and coloration. Stable water parameters with Nitrates around 10ppm seems to fit the bill so that’s what I am aiming for as I am sitting on 0. I have more fish coming in which should produce enough waste, but currently I am over skimming the tank a bit and experiencing some new tank algae growth which I assume are sucking them up. More looking for a temporary solution.
 
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DIFish

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Just an update as I hate reading similar threads and never knowing the outcome.
been dosing Ammonia alongside Ammino acids for 2 weeks to fight low nutrients and Dinos(new tank)
I dose to exactly .4ppm at 8am and another .4ppm at 8pm. My Seneye reads 0 after about 6 hours. So far my zoas and other softies are loving it, and are all open again. LPS and SPS remain unchanged. Had a smidge of Dino to begin with and still do, but they haven’t gotten any worse. Still sitting under 5ppm nitrate so continuing to dose until I hit 10ppm+!
Thanks for the help!
 
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brandon429

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@DIFish hey if you happen to own another test kit, Red Sea or api, can you take a comparative ammonia reading so we can chart it against the seneye six hour time

it’s handy to see if the test kit right after dosing indicates a change, and how long it may take to go back to baseline

*if this easy comparative test is possible please also take a baseline reading on the tank with the non digital kit before the ammonia dose
 

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What you are doing is probably fine, and I'm glad it's working out. Since you are doing it daily, If it were me, I'd feel better about splitting that 0.4 PPM ammonia dose into two doses, just so I didn't have to think about pH, or fish experiences.
 
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DIFish

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@DIFish hey if you happen to own another test kit, Red Sea or api, can you take a comparative ammonia reading so we can chart it against the seneye six hour time

it’s handy to see if the test kit right after dosing indicates a change, and how long it may take to go back to baseline

*if this easy comparative test is possible please also take a baseline reading on the tank with the non digital kit before the ammonia dose
I have an API and seachem alert badge. The badge never registers as it is tracking free vs total, and the seneye is also tracking free. I can do this test tomorrow morning though and post my overall process and reading with the API test too if it helps.
 
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DIFish

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What you are doing is probably fine, and I'm glad it's working out. Since you are doing it daily, If it were me, I'd feel better about splitting that 0.4 PPM ammonia dose into two doses, just so I didn't have to think about pH, or fish experiences.
I am dosing based on a calculation at my ammonia % and adding in some buffer so I’m worst case scenario it is .4ppm dosed max. Haven’t noticed any ph changes with constant monitoring and am watching the fish closely. Will split it up if I notice any negative changes to them for sure!
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Yes please do this helps us tremendously in cycle assessment work, your thread can be a real reference in the future with the pics and after dose comparisons, very important and rare info governed by a seneye. 1% rare

I have a 35 page cycling thread where we would be interested in seeing what seneye registers alongside those other big name kits with a known dose, very rare.

*that the alert badge does not register a direct addition of ammonia I find interesting. It has the increments marked on it to register your dose


yet it doesn’t pick up/ that’s a fascinating start I would have thought it would get darker for a while


pls when possible post a full tank shot of the reef
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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Just an update as I hate reading similar threads and never knowing the outcome.
been dosing Ammonia alongside Ammino acids for 2 weeks to fight low nutrients and Dinos(new tank)
I dose to exactly .4ppm at 8am and another .4ppm at 8pm. My Seneye reads 0 after about 6 hours. So far my zoas and other softies are loving it, and are all open again. LPS and SPS remain unchanged. Had a smidge of Dino to begin with and still do, but they haven’t gotten any worse. Still sitting under 5ppm nitrate so continuing to dose until I hit 10ppm+!
Thanks for the help!

Thanks for the update. :)
 
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My goal is to keep all corals well fed and provide adequate sources for growth and coloration. Stable water parameters with Nitrates around 10ppm seems to fit the bill so that’s what I am aiming for as I am sitting on 0. I have more fish coming in which should produce enough waste, but currently I am over skimming the tank a bit and experiencing some new tank algae growth which I assume are sucking them up. More looking for a temporary solution.
When adding nutrients to a reef tank, nutrient uptake by coral inhabitants is a major end consumer. Nutrient recycling to grow your reef is the point to heavy feeding. If your skimmer is oversized, it will definitively strip out organics from your bulk water. @Lasse injects skimmate In plenum under sandbed. I prefer using corals and ornamental seaweeds to outcompete nuisance film algae.
 
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DIFish

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Will post results in a few hours, still waiting for everything to return to 0. I turned the skimmer off(no cup) this time before I dosed to see how much was just the bacteria/corals/algea and it looks like my skimmer was doing some of the heavy lifting. Expecting a ~8 hour period from .5 to 0 instead of my normal 6 hours to 0 ammonia. Interesting watching the change in equipment in real time.
 
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DIFish

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@brandon429 Here you go, tried to be as thorough as possible and provide references/validation.
Time stamps included in photos and match seneye FREE ammonia stamps for easy conversion. Yesterday was 10/21/22. FTS in follow up post. First pic is from right before dosing and the rest are after. Vials are all API TOTAL ammonia in date measured 5min after mixing. I still fed fish like normal but did not do my 2nd .5ppm Dose at 8pm like normal. I also turned of my skimmer until this morning so that it would not suck any up. My bottled ammonia is right around 3% and I tried my best to dose to exactly .5ppm but left a little safety buffer. Also I dose close to where the Seneye unit is so the huge initial spike is really just barely above .02 Free. Did not bother with the seachem alert as it did not move and only shows a different color once above .02 FREE ammonia and I should have only been above that for 10min or so. Calculation for reference also below. If you want more info on the tank you can find more detail in my build thread.

Bulk image warning
dosing calc.png

free ammonia calc.jpg

Seneye Dose testing.png
dosing pic 1.jpg
dosing pic 2.jpg
dosing pic 3.jpg
dosing pic 4.jpg

dosing pic 5.jpg

dosing pic 6.jpg

dosing pic 7.jpg
dosing pic 8.jpg

dosing validation.jpg
 
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@brandon429 Here you go, tried to be as thorough as possible and provide references/validation.
Time stamps included in photos and match seneye FREE ammonia stamps for easy conversion. Yesterday was 10/21/22. FTS in follow up post. First pic is from right before dosing and the rest are after. Vials are all API TOTAL ammonia in date measured 5min after mixing. I still fed fish like normal but did not do my 2nd .5ppm Dose at 8pm like normal. I also turned of my skimmer until this morning so that it would not suck any up. My bottled ammonia is right around 3% and I tried my best to dose to exactly .5ppm but left a little safety buffer. Also I dose close to where the Seneye unit is so the huge initial spike is really just barely above .02 Free. Did not bother with the seachem alert as it did not move and only shows a different color once above .02 FREE ammonia and I should have only been above that for 10min or so. Calculation for reference also below. If you want more info on the tank you can find more detail in my build thread.

Bulk image warning
dosing calc.png

free ammonia calc.jpg

Seneye Dose testing.png
dosing pic 1.jpg
dosing pic 2.jpg
dosing pic 3.jpg
dosing pic 4.jpg

dosing pic 5.jpg

dosing pic 6.jpg

dosing pic 7.jpg
dosing pic 8.jpg

dosing validation.jpg
I would stick to your original plan of smaller doses. Although your six or seven fish are ok at pH 8.0, if you increase it somehow, that 0.5ppm NH3/NH4 may be not a good plan.
 
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DIFish

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I would stick to your original plan of smaller doses. Although your six or seven fish are ok at pH 8.0, if you increase it somehow, that 0.5ppm NH3/NH4 may be not a good plan.
Yeah was surprised at the results, the number stayed much higher for 2x as long without the skimmer. Will probably cut the dose in half moving forward and just leave the skimmer without a cup as I have been getting good results already. Algea was looking crazy this morning and Dinos are possibly gone? Or the algea has just grown over them the last few days.
 

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