Ammonia Gone Crazy

jreynolds6883

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I'm in need of some help/guidance, let me give you a quick background of where I'm at and whats going on. First I have a 36g bowfront tank 2 years old, 50lbs of live rock, 2-3" substrate, HOB Reef Octopus Classic 100 skimmer, HOB filter running carbon cartridge, 2xhydor 565gph powerheads, 300w LED. Tank has been great for the past 6-8 months no elevated numbers except Nitrates when I would go longer than 2 weeks for water change. Marine life is several inverts, 2 clowns (medium size), 2 banggai cardinals (medium size). So 4 weeks ago I got more serious about the care of my tank and wanting to put more into to prepare to add corals soon. So I did a water change and decided to pull the skimmer off and clean it for the first time in 2 years. Another additive in the same week my wife got a Fluval EVO 5g and I took a small rock (5lbs) out of my tank and placed in hers to help cycle it. A week later I was preparing for a water change and noticed my ammonia levels were elevated .25ppm per API test kit. Did water change (10gallons) waited a day and no change in ammonia, did another water change 2 days later and no change. So I waited a week and did another water change (15gallons) and still no change showing .25ppm. November 22nd I tested the water and it was now showing .50ppm so I started using prime to lock ammonia. Did 3 more water changes the following week and it would go down to .25 for a day and back to .50 after a couple hours. So last Saturday against better judgement I bought a beautiful large Diamond Goby at LFS for a great deal Black Friday Sale. After introducing the Goby it went crazy in my sandbed stirring all kinds of stuff up, but awesome to watch him. So I checked my Ammonia daily and have noticed it continuously going up since then with a water change daily (10gallons). It was at 1.0ppm last night so I added more prime up to 5x as it says on bottle and tested levels today and it shows 8.0ppm! My nitrites are 0 and have been the whole time and nitrates are 10ppm. All my fish look fine, eating, swimming as normal, so could this be the result of prime in my system making it show elevated numbers. I have a seachem ammonia test kit coming in the mail that will allow me to test free ammonia but in the current time what should I do? Also what started this ammonia increase from the beginning, cleaning skimmer, removing small rock? I'm nervous that I may lose my fish if I cannot resolve this and just to throw it out there in the past 4 weeks I have done over 150gallons of water changes with no help. I'm exhausted with the water changes it seems its been all my spare time these past few weeks, so any help would be appreciated, thanks.
 
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Silent

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Quit doing water changes and let the bacteria even out would be my advice. It seems like a mini cycle due to bacteria being removed. They say not to do water changes during cycling so I imagine this is not much different. Also test with new test kit when it comes to make sure numbers are what they are.
 
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jreynolds6883

jreynolds6883

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Quit doing water changes and let the bacteria even out would be my advice. It seems like a mini cycle due to bacteria being removed. They say not to do water changes during cycling so I imagine this is not much different. Also test with new test kit when it comes to make sure numbers are what they are.
So is there a such thing as too many water changes, and if so how do I bring this ammonia down or do you even believe it is elevated? I’m hoping this is just the prime making it show high, fish are still thriving, eating and acting like normal.
 

lapin

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Prime will bind ammonia so its not toxic. After 48 hours it will release the bind.
 

flsalty

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First off, ATI is famous for false readings. Secondly, Prime really messes with the test. It is unlikely you have 8ppm of ammonia. Your fish would be showing signs of ammonia poisoning. Try a different brand of ammonia test.
 
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jreynolds6883

jreynolds6883

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First off, ATI is famous for false readings. Secondly, Prime really messes with the test. It is unlikely you have 8ppm of ammonia. Your fish would be showing signs of ammonia poisoning. Try a different brand of ammonia test.
I agree by what I’ve read their kits are horrible but have treated me well until now. Test tonight showed 1ppm, Thursday I will have Seachem kit in hand no local LFS within 1hr drive to grab one. But back to the originating cause to make the ammonia appear, any suggestions of what did it?
 

flsalty

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I agree by what I’ve read their kits are horrible but have treated me well until now. Test tonight showed 1ppm, Thursday I will have Seachem kit in hand no local LFS within 1hr drive to grab one. But back to the originating cause to make the ammonia appear, any suggestions of what did it?
I'm not convinced you had any ammonia to begin with. I've seen enough anecdotal evidence that has shown 0.25 is a false reading with the API to not trust it. Nothing you've mentioned would cause it. Did anything die? Even if it did, your system seems capable of handling it.
 

Samina

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I would have to agree with @flsalty, API will give false readings on an established tank. I think it has something to do with free ammonia and ammonia-nitrate that skews the result.
I have had this happen to me and it left me baffled because everything in the tank looked happy and healthy. But looking at the green tint on that vial would have me expecting to see everything closed up and fish gasping for air.
However, whenever I have used API when cycling a tank, it was pretty spot on. So the test in itself is not junk. I wonder about its accuracy for an established system though.
 
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jreynolds6883

jreynolds6883

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It’s your API test kit. Just ask @Salty Lemon !

how old is the test kit? Seems like they have a shelf life, mine still reads 0 at the moment, but if it didn’t I wouldn’t believe it!
Test kit is over a year old, come Thursday I will throw this kit out with a quality one coming. I bought Seachem brand because it shows free ammonia, however is there any other suggested brands that are seen to be superior?
 
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jreynolds6883

jreynolds6883

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I wanted to follow up with each of you on this crazy few weeks with my tank. The Seachem kit came in 2 days ago and I was not happy with the kit and all the steps you have to take to reach results so I order a Salifert kit and it came in today. I ran my first test and it came out to be 0! Thanks guys for all the help, API has definitely lost my business forever.
D9206418-CC64-44B7-8B37-713516195A4D.jpeg

On another note this diamond goby we got last week is very skittish whenever anyone walks by the tank and never comes out to eat or in the evening. Any ideas on coaching the goby to be more active during the evening?
 

Magellan

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I wanted to follow up with each of you on this crazy few weeks with my tank. The Seachem kit came in 2 days ago and I was not happy with the kit and all the steps you have to take to reach results so I order a Salifert kit and it came in today. I ran my first test and it came out to be 0! Thanks guys for all the help, API has definitely lost my business forever.
D9206418-CC64-44B7-8B37-713516195A4D.jpeg

On another note this diamond goby we got last week is very skittish whenever anyone walks by the tank and never comes out to eat or in the evening. Any ideas on coaching the goby to be more active during the evening?
Give him time to adjust, some fish will take a month or more!
 

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