Ammonia Control in a Hospital Tank

Discussion in 'Fish Disease Treatment and Diagnosis' started by Brew12, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    When we need to set up a Hospital Tank for a sick fish we often don't have much warning. The priority is getting the tank set up and ready for fish ASAP. We don't have time to properly cycle the tank. Since we will likely be dosing medicines into the tank, we can't use live rock. One of the most important things we can do to minimize ammonia levels is to only feed what the fish will quickly eat and remove any uneaten food quickly. This is the ounce of prevention. The fish will also naturally produce ammonia, so what other options do we have?

    Regular water changes to keep ammonia down is one option. This can not only be expensive and time consuming but it also makes maintaining the correct level of medicines challenging.

    If you are a good Cub Scout and are always prepared, you probably keep a sponge for your HT's HOB filter in your sump. Shame on me, I don't, so this isn't an option. This is actually a very good idea since it is the most reliable way to add nitrifying bacteria to your HT.

    My preference is adding a store bought product of nitrifying bacteria, commonly referred to as Bacteria in a Bottle. This can be a quick way to establish a large enough population of nitrifying bacteria to prevent ammonia build up with a light biological load in your HT.

    It is important to remember that nitrifying bacteria do not typically live in the water column. They prefer hard surfaces to cling to. Having a media with a lot of surface area will be very useful to sustain a healthy population of bacteria. This can be filter floss, a sponge, or other specialized media. Just try to chose one that will not absorb medicines or copper.

    So we have set up our HT, put some filter floss in the HOB and we grab our bottle of bacteria and dump it in. We are good to go, right? Well, not necessarily. Not all bottled bacteria products are the same. They fall into 2 major categories. They can be active (or live) which means as soon as you add them into your aquarium they go to work. They can also be inert and in a spore form. These bacterial will need more time before they will efficiently process ammonia. You may also notice that some claim to contain aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. For use in a HT only the aerobic bacteria are important. Anaerobic bacteria are used deep in live rock or in a deep sand bad to convert nitrate to nitrogen gas. This won't happen in a properly set up HT.

    If you need a tank set up, and set up now, using a live bacteria product is going to be the best way to go. It will make a noticeable impact within a few hours of adding it. The live bacteria products do have some drawbacks. First, they have a shorter shelf life. They are typically full strength for up to 6 months and will still work well for up to 1 year. The product will also need be stored at room temperature or refrigerated. If it is frozen or exposed to too high a temperature it is likely that enough bacteria will be killed to make the product useless.

    The bacteria that come in a spore or cyst form may not work well for a day or 2. If you need immediate results you may be disappointed. The nice thing about these products is that they are very stable. They can be frozen and handle relatively high temperatures much better than live bacteria. They also have a shelf life of 5 years or more. It isn't too uncommon to find a bottle of live bacteria that doesn't work. That is much less likely with these products. If you have 2 or 3 days to get your filter established prior to adding fish, this is the way to go. Just remember, you do need a small ammonia source to get these bacteria functioning at peak levels a few days prior to adding the fish. A few drops of pure ammonia or a little ghost feeding should get this bacteria going.

    So which products are which? Some are pretty clear and some take a bit more research. In my next post on this thread I will put a list of what category each product fits in. I will try to keep it updated. If you are curious about a product you don't see on the list, please let me know and I will see if I can research it and find out.

    Edit: I wanted to throw out another suggestion which I did when I set up my QT the latest time. In addition to using Biospira I also added some macroalgae into my QT. (Thanks for reminding me, @beaslbob ) As long as you start with a clean and copper free QT this is an excellent way to help control ammonia while your bacteria population grows. Just remember to pull it out prior to treating with copper or other medicines that could kill the algae.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
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  2. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Live Bacteria Products:
    Dr Tims One and Only
    Instant Ocean BioSpira
    Fritz Turbostart 900
    ATM Colony
    Two Little Fishies BioPronto


    Inert Bacteria Products:
    Seachem Stability
    Aquaforest Bio S
    Aquavitro Seed
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
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  3. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Louisiana Reef Club Expert Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Excellent work! I'm gonna sticky this for awhile.
     
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  4. bios

    bios Well-Known Member

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    Brew
    What you think about:
    Zeobak zeovit
    Biodigest prodibio
    So you will help also europe people's:)
    That will not find product youlist
     
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  5. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I actually have emails out to both companies. Neither is very clear. I believe that Biodigest is live bacteria and would like confirmation. It makes me nervous that they recommend repeated dosing. I haven't been able to find much at all on Zeobak.

    I will update both when I get more information.
     
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  6. cmcoker

    cmcoker Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Know anything about aqua forest life bio fil?
    They say it live bacteria to assist nitrification, looks like it some sort of filter media with the bacteria on it.. Thought this may be interesting for a hospital tank since it's media and bacteria in one but not sure if that form if media would absorb copper, etc..
     
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  7. Sistawolf

    Sistawolf Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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  8. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thanks, I appreciate it!
     
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  9. Swoody

    Swoody Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Excellent information! Thank you!
     
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  10. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    They don't come out and say it, but I'm guessing that it is media with Bio S. In fairly small amounts I wouldn't worry about the media absorbing copper. Looks like a very nice product if you have 2 or 3 days prior to adding fish.
     
  11. Sistawolf

    Sistawolf Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    But of course!!
     
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  12. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Nice info and thanks for putting it together!
     
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  13. Reefltx

    Reefltx Well-Known Member

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    Guys, try Seachem AquaVitro Seed, this stuff works extremely well.

    Probably the fastest working bacteria in a bottle I've ever used!!
    I recent purchased it last week to help cure a container filled with live and dry rock. I dosed the container with ammonia to 2ppm, checked the next day and it was still 2ppm. I dosed 10ml of "Seed", 24hrs later ammonia tested at 0ppm! So, I dosed some in my QT which the ammonia badge has been showing "alert" for a few days now. And, 24hrs, the badge is showing 0!?

    Whatever strain Seachem is using with this line is really working. BTW, the QT has cupramine at .5ppm and it still worked.
     
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  14. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Glad you had good success with this! I find it important for people to share their results. This is bacteria in a cyst/dormant form so I am a bit surprised it worked that quickly but it may be very highly concentrated.
     
  15. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Great write up and great information!

    I'd like to add that to combat ammonia in quarantine or hospital tanks do NOT use amquel, prime, or other ammonia detoxifiers in conjunction with medications, especially copper! This will act as fish poison, and is responsible for many qt and ht related deaths.
     
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  16. pboutin

    pboutin Well-Known Member CTARS Member

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    What's the general rule if you want to properly cycle a Hospital Tank that has been treated with Copper or plan to treat with copper. I'm looking to set up a tank and have the time to set it up right. I've been reading that cupramine will kill most beneficial bacteria. So what's the deal? Add cupramine first then add bacteria to get the cycle going? Cycle the tank fist and slowly bring up the dose of cupramine? I'm a bit confused on how this should work.

    Thanks for any help.
     
  17. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I actually just reset my QT 2 days ago and added some Biospira. I like to give it at least 3 to 5 days prior to adding copper to let the population grow. Copper will not immediately kill the bacteria but it will slow down its growth. I haven't had my bio filter break down enough start reading ammonia even when I've had copper in my system for 30+ days.
     
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  18. azbigjohn

    azbigjohn Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    That's great info right there! And here I had been thinking Seachem was better than the Instant Ocean stuff, and here the IO stuff would work faster!
     
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  19. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Thank you!

    I do want to clarify something. I am in no way trying to say one form is better than another. If you want something you can store in your supplies where it may not be used for a year or two, or if there is a risk of it freezing during shipping, you would want an inert product. If you need to have a functional population of bacteria almost immediately, go with a live product. Even the inert products will begin processing ammonia in a matter of hours and reach full capability within a day or two.
     
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  20. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I agree, I dose the bacteria products daily to boost. Giving it a head start pre-copper is a great idea, IMO
     
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