ammonia presence - what next??

whereisdani_r

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Hi there -

About two days ago, my ammonia levels were testing at .25 on the API. I had just done a partial water change the day before and couldn't do it until the next day so I used Ammo lock (never used before, this was just hopefully to stabilize until the next day) Before I did the water change, the ammonia was still .25. I did the water change, and I have tested again now looking steadily at .25 again. I know API can be a little unreliable, but my clownfish starting to swim a little sluggish is what started freaking me out. temp is at 71.4, ammonia, .25 ph 7.5, nitrite 0, nitrate 0

I have no idea how to get this ammonia to stay down correctly, I have had no issues since my aquarium cycled - do I just keep changing the water?

Info on the tank: 32 gallon bio cube, 2 small clownfish, 2 fireshrimp
Clownfish were added as a pair 2 months after a successful cycle, 1 fireshrimp and a soft coral 3 weeks after that, great testing still. Then second fireshrimp a few weeks after.

What I think happened here is when I got the second fireshrimp at the LFS, I asked if it was okay to add live rock, I wanted to add to the rock scape, but didn't want to risk anything in the aquarium. They advised that adding a 3 lb rock would be totally safe, that it was clean and nothing need to be done to it when I got home.
But that's the only thing that I can really see that has massively started changing the system.

If it is the rock, should I remove it at this point? How should I make sure my livestock makes it through this and what is the best course of action? Should I take them out of there? I don't have a quarantine tank set up yet.

Sorry I'm all over the place but I'm just surprised the levels won't go down with the water changes and worried I'm not doing the right thing to keep everyone safe.

Thank you for your help

Protein skimmer is the tunze 9001 and working great
filter chamber was modded from biocube kit to in media tank with algae, carbon, and filter sponge
koralia wave pump
 
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brandon429

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this is now linked as the 14th misread from api on our cycling thread. you have no ammonia

the use of the ammonia binder changed the test readings too thereafter
can you post a tank pic

here are the biological reasons you dont have ammonia: with .25 as a holding number, not compounding, in the face of active daily fish bioload, it means you have active filtration bacteria or the number would be 8 ppm by now

and where there are filtration bacteria, and literally any amount of live rock, you have no free ammonia. This in addition to the misreads that always land at .25 and never rise (some land at .5 as well and remain there/varies) means we have a testing error.

Biology also presents visual clues we know make your tank zero ammonia

clouding water/smell

pics are about to show that.
You have also cleared the required submersion time frames for 100% of cycles.

The reason we have a thread about how to cycle aquariums without test kits is because that method never fail, stalls, or is hard to make a quick call whether or not a given tank is ready/cycled:
 
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Jamesrup0411

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how long did you cycle for?
Did you test your ammonia after your cycle? Did it read 0?
I’d spend a couple bucks on better test kit or take to the lfs and have them test your water. Long as the rock is live I don’t believe that it would start a small cycle.
 

LiveWire

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Welcome to the REEF!! I am guessing that the 71.4 is a typo. If you tank did in fact fully cycle then if it were me I would get some Nitrifying Bacteria and double or triple dose it to your system. It should take care of the ammonia and relieve the stress that I'm sure the fish are currently under.
 
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dwest

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Hi there -

About two days ago, my ammonia levels were testing at .25 on the API. I had just done a partial water change the day before and couldn't do it until the next day so I used Ammo lock (never used before, this was just hopefully to stabilize until the next day) Before I did the water change, the ammonia was still .25. I did the water change, and I have tested again now looking steadily at .25 again. I know API can be a little unreliable, but my clownfish starting to swim a little sluggish is what started freaking me out. temp is at 71.4, ammonia, .25 ph 7.5, nitrite 0, nitrate 0

I have no idea how to get this ammonia to stay down correctly, I have had no issues since my aquarium cycled - do I just keep changing the water?

Info on the tank: 32 gallon bio cube, 2 small clownfish, 2 fireshrimp
Clownfish were added as a pair 2 months after a successful cycle, 1 fireshrimp and a soft coral 3 weeks after that, great testing still. Then second fireshrimp a few weeks after.

What I think happened here is when I got the second fireshrimp at the LFS, I asked if it was okay to add live rock, I wanted to add to the rock scape, but didn't want to risk anything in the aquarium. They advised that adding a 3 lb rock would be totally safe, that it was clean and nothing need to be done to it when I got home.
But that's the only thing that I can really see that has massively started changing the system.

If it is the rock, should I remove it at this point? How should I make sure my livestock makes it through this and what is the best course of action? Should I take them out of there? I don't have a quarantine tank set up yet.

Sorry I'm all over the place but I'm just surprised the levels won't go down with the water changes and worried I'm not doing the right thing to keep everyone safe.

Thank you for your help

Protein skimmer is the tunze 9001 and working great
filter chamber was modded from biocube kit to in media tank with algae, carbon, and filter sponge
koralia wave pump
I haven’t used an API test kit in a long time. But when I did, my ammonia would never go to zero according to my test kit and my eyes when it was actually zero.
 

brandon429

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several other issues stated above support the completed cycle condition ready/done/cycled/can go

that test drift from dwest is true but there's biology clues out there clearly stated as well that its zero ammonia.

compounding for example, how are fish wastes being processed daily only amounting to .25 leftover...no mechanism exists for that. not possible to design a reef filtration system that handles daily only 99% of a given fish bioload

There is either enough surface area active, or there isn't. That combined with submersion times indicates all ready, post pics

* in the thread below, I drain my whole 12 year nano reef to the bone for 30 mins, in the air, all corals rocks and micro moving life. Next vid shows 12 hours later/all fine.

You aren't lacking bac.
If air contact or moving rocks killed bac, my 1 gallon reef couldn't survive a thousand 30 min drains. Use accurate microbiology/get clear results.

base everything off your test kits? see the thread :) we have 17 examples just like yours.
 
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ahiggins

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That rock is a good 1/4 of your rock...if there was die off from the live rock going into your system, there could easily be a spike. I don’t know if I would write it off as a messed up test before confirming. Do you have a Red Sea kit? Or perhaps an lfs? Each could confirm if it’s the test or not.
 
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whereisdani_r

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Yeah it is does take up a lot of mass, if it is a die off, should I remove rock or would that make it worse?

I don’t have the Red Sea, I’d have to purchase at store after work, if available, I’ve had trouble finding them nearby, don’t know if I can wait for online.
 
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whereisdani_r

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how long did you cycle for?
Did you test your ammonia after your cycle? Did it read 0?
I’d spend a couple bucks on better test kit or take to the lfs and have them test your water. Long as the rock is live I don’t believe that it would start a small cycle.
Two months, and it tested at zero for a couple of weeks before I added the fish.

Definitely think it will be worth but I mentioned to someone else they’ve been tricky for me to find locally can order online, hopefully as the other poster mentioned it’s just a false test
 
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whereisdani_r

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Welcome to the REEF!! I am guessing that the 71.4 is a typo. If you tank did in fact fully cycle then if it were me I would get some Nitrifying Bacteria and double or triple dose it to your system. It should take care of the ammonia and relieve the stress that I'm sure the fish are currently under.
Yes typo! And thank you! I’ve been lurking forever I hate that a freak out is what made me finally create the account! Lol

And thank you, I’ve been thinking that may be a good idea, if the ammonia is zero/test is false will that harm the system?

And yes sorry 74
 

brandon429

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those shrimp you have, two of them

they cannot survive free ammonia. your clouding is from new, unrinsed live sand.

remember, no mechanism exists for a biosystem to oxidize only 98% of a given bioload daily, leaving a trace amount unoxidized in the tenths or hundredths range.

Does not occur, I realize this is easily dismissed though :)

100% of future testing until you do a water change is void, use of water conditioner changes readings. you should specifically not remove anything, its reducing your active surface area. I know opinions vary on cycling completion/its a shortage in our hobby. things to shore up cycling, we're all testing based nowadays with zero biology factored and that's why cycles are all over the place. But in 1989, they all completed within a month

that only began to change with the advent of mass titration testing. agreed your rock isn't anywhere near old, but you have two of the most sensitive tank mine canaries one could use post cycling.

If you put those two shrimp in an uncycled tank, and feed them only 1 time, they're dead overnite. that fast...
if you had no confirming life forms, and no stated submersion timeframe + boosts added, then we couldn't guess cycling off that picture alone but you did have those other factors.

here's how we can cycle all tanks without testing, if we opt to:
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/the-microbiology-of-reef-tank-cycling.214618/

how often do we make bad calls there

any losses, deaths
literally no biology is being used here though it is pictured above.

Even if the shrimp are debatable, you have the other factors. The holding ammonia at the classic .25, not compounding, plus feed and fish contributing. not being factored.

Biology, and what you can see and smell, and durations, are how you judge a cycle in 2019. this is misread, you have no lacking bac.

purchase more anyway if you like, retail industry is ok w that
 
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jgvergo

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If you are sure you went through a full cycle, then you have denitrifying bacteria in your rock, which is good. In all likelihood, when you added the new live rock, quite a bit of the life on the rock died prior (or after) to adding it to your tank. This could be a result of exposure to air, temp swings, changes in salinity as it was moved from one tank to another, etc., etc., etc. When you put it in your tank, your bacterial colony tried to process the ammonia into nitrite and nitrate, but was probably overwhelmed by the amount of dead and decaying matter. The colony will grow as a result of the new source of "food", but it's simply not large enough to keep up. That's why you are seeing the ammonia spike.

So what to do:
1) Regular water changes - this will physically remove ammonia
2) Add some denitrifying bacteria - this will beef up your current colony
3) Continue to test - make sure the ammonia does not get out of hand
4) Monitor your fish for signs of stress - if they are still showing signs of stress remove the new live rock

If you do have to remove the new live rock, cycle it separately in a tub or bucket until it stabilizes.

Keep us posted!
 

ahiggins

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Yeah it is does take up a lot of mass, if it is a die off, should I remove rock or would that make it worse?

I don’t have the Red Sea, I’d have to purchase at store after work, if available, I’ve had trouble finding them nearby, don’t know if I can wait for online.
If it’s been there a day or two, it would be pointless to remove at that point (which it sounds like it has been. Ride it out , IMO.
Our aquariums are all about ratios and balance. What makes me think it could be die off is the ratio of new rock to existing.
And shrimp don’t always die of small amounts of ammonia-I’ve had ammonia and inverts in the past. The only thing I’ve seen kill shrimp or inverts 100% of the time is no oxygen or copper in the water.
Good luck, I think you’re on the upswing :)
 
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Lasse

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Hi. I agree with Brandon (Holy.... did I type that :) :)) It is likely a fake result. Even if it was not - there is no danger at all. API measure both NH3/NH4. It is only NH3 that is toxic. How much NH3 you have when reading 0.25 total NH3/NH4 depends on pH and temperature. Use this tool in order to determ the toxic value of 0.25 total ammonia (NH3/NH4)

Sincerely Lasse
 

brandon429

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Ahiggins
were you using seneye to see bare ammonia not being processed by an active tank? small amounts stated above/ not verified in my opinion, how do we know your titration testing was accurate as it is here

once seneye testing is rampant, we will see the true nature of free ammonia in the reef for sure.

those specific shrimp w die in small amnts of ammonia. we know them from years of peroxide work/how sensitive they are.
this is a no free ammonia tank, you don't have to buy anything but you can if you want to. each day you wait, not buying or doing anything, the fish continue to swim, the corals open, the shrimp do their thing....true free ammonia = death whole tank in 12 hours. you've had many 12 hour sessions with that bioload in place :)
 
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brandon429

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We should for sure get a seneye user to track how hard it would be for .25 to be truly unoxidized in a system that already carries a fish bioload. We'd have to be dumping it in by the half hour predicted, massive sustained doses of dr tims liquid ammonia to overcome what's demonstrably there as a working ammonia filter

api makes it seem like bac are weak, in need of our offerings

but seneye? opposite story.

the greater issue is that with titration testing, free ammonia is seen as a low impact event (that's why everything in the tank is ok, cuz a little free ammonia doesn't hurt it would seem, if ammonia testers were accurate nowadays)

if someone puts a solution of .25 free ammonia and water dilution into the eye, that burn is how a fish feels but all over.

consequential
registers in the tank as fish swimming upside down, labored breathing etc

there is a consequence for true free ammonia in the presence of animals that try to excrete it, and that consequence is all the symptoms of kidney failure. doesn't take long to kill

95% of the time when free ammonia is reported on a web thread it is not there at all.

The reason an aquarist cannot design any system that will always leave .25 ppm unoxidized for a given bioload is because that condition in a system that otherwise does oxidize some ammonia indicates a lack of surface area, and not a lack of bacteria.

a person cannot guess the exact surface area maximums it would take, and bioload constants, to leave out .25 at all times for the sample, not possible.

add that to the fact my cycling thread has a total pattern of .25 misreads and I think we make a strong case for why these fish are not dead last week.
 
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whereisdani_r

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Thank you Brandon so much for your response! This is very thoughtful and has put my mind at ease. And thank you for the resources, it has got me thinking about my system in a different light. Appreciate so much for all the input.
 
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