Cycling stalled and now ammonia is spiked

Snarbleglarf

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Hey guys, I have had my saltwater tank set up for about a month now and it’s still in the middle of cycling, I am doing a fish in cycle with 2 Ocellaris clownfish and everything was going fine until a few days ago, previously my ammonia was at 0.25, nitrite was 0.25-1.0 and the nitrate was going between 20 and 40 (I have 20 nitrate coming from the tap) but now I all of a sudden have an ammonia spike and as of yesterday it was a 1.0 and today it’s a 2.0 and my nitrites have stayed at a 1.0 and my nitrates have stayed at a 40 for the past 3 days. I have done 2 large waterchanges to try and get the cycle going again but it doesn’t seem to be working. I also have a new colony of copepods that I only noticed yesterday could they be the reason for my cycle stalling? (This is my first saltwater tank so I’m very new to everything saltwater)
 
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Reefer1978

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Your tap has nitrates of 20ppm????? Is this from well? Did you test your tap for ammonia? I would switch to RODI water as soon as you can. What test kit are you using?
 
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Snarbleglarf

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Your tap has nitrates of 20ppm????? Is this from well? Did you test your tap for ammonia? I would switch to RODI water as soon as you can. What test kit are you using?
Yeah we tested our nitrates the other day and it read 20 :( it’s not well water for sure but idk where exactly it’s coming from our ammonia is 0 from the tap, and I’m using the api saltwater testing kit. We are in the process of switching to RODI due to our hardness being through the roof also
 

Nem0

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Yeah we tested our nitrates the other day and it read 20 :( it’s not well water for sure but idk where exactly it’s coming from our ammonia is 0 from the tap, and I’m using the api saltwater testing kit. We are in the process of switching to RODI due to our hardness being through the roof also
you can get distilled water from your local grocery store until you get an RODI unit!
 

Reefer1978

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Yeah we tested our nitrates the other day and it read 20 :( it’s not well water for sure but idk where exactly it’s coming from our ammonia is 0 from the tap, and I’m using the api saltwater testing kit. We are in the process of switching to RODI due to our hardness being through the roof also
I've lost plenty of livestock due to API test kits. Get a better test when you get a chance. For your current reading, saltwater kit used on freshwater will show different reading, API nitrate card for freshwater is a little bit different. Here's the image:
upload_2019-7-11_9-5-55.jpeg


Going back to your tank, I don't think you would see a huge ammonia spike from your livestock, and copepods deff wouldn't do it they are way to tiny. I suspect at ammonia of 2ppm not much will be alive for long. You should see signs in the fish, heavy breathing from ammonia burn, etc. Large water changes with 0 ammonia water would lower the reading, if it's staying stable I suspect 2 things:
  1. Test kit is no good
  2. Your tap water has ammonia
 
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ReefGeezer

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Where did the copepods come from? Did you set up with live rock or something else that could be dying off and adding to the ammonia level?
 

Lasse

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Stop feeding. Are there chloramines in the water? Could be the sources for NH3/NH4. Did you change the water just before the spike?
pH?
I do not know API tests but I have heard about many false readings from that test according to ammonia reading. These tests show total NH3/NH4 readings and it is only the NH3 that is of concern. However . the NO2 readings indicate not fully cycling. The NO3 reading is probably a false reading - you read that because of high NO2 reading

How do your fish look like? If you change water and you have chloramines in the tapwater - use activated carbon in order to block the chloramine.

The table below show you your NH3 values at a reading of 2 ppm total NH3/NH4 at different pH - from here

Do not panic - but do not feed before you are sure the NH3/NH4 is much lower. But if you fish behaves normally - probably the test is wrong. Get Sea Chem ammonia alert instead - it reads only NH3

Screen Shot 07-11-19 at 03.08 PM.PNG

Sincerely Lasse
 
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Jared Lowe

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You could add a live nitrifying bacteria to the tank make sure you turn off protein skimmer or uv sterilizer though for 48hours. Bio-spira, Dr Tims all in one, fritz. Bio-spira should be at all local big chain stores. Should lower the ammonia levels enough to save the fish, I think another product from seachem known as prime can also lower ammonia in emergencies, but I have never used it before.
 

Reefer1978

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You could add a live nitrifying bacteria to the tank make sure you turn off protein skimmer or uv sterilizer though for 48hours. Bio-spira, Dr Tims all in one, fritz. Bio-spira should be at all local big chain stores. Should lower the ammonia levels enough to save the fish, I think another product from seachem known as prime can also lower ammonia in emergencies, but I have never used it before.
Prime binds ammonia for 24-48 hours but doesn't lower it. It's a good tool for emergencies, but if the tank is not cycled and the ammonia in the water column is not processed, it will be released back.
 
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Snarbleglarf

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Where did the copepods come from? Did you set up with live rock or something else that could be dying off and adding to the ammonia level?
I added new live rock a few days ago one had a bad hitchhiker which has been removed but I am assuming that’s where the copepods came from because I haven’t added anything else in the tank besides the rock
 
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Snarbleglarf

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If your pods (copepod) still are alive - I´m rather sure that it is at least a partly wrong reading

Sincerely Lasse
They were alive this morning and there are a lot of them to, you can see them swimming in the water column and they are all over the glass. I’m going to try and get the seachem testing kit, I didn’t realize api was so unreliable :( and from what I can tell the fish are fine, a few days ago they were hanging out towards the top of the tank but they weren’t gasping for air or fully at the top just in the top section so I added an airstone to provide more oxygen and added ammo lock for the ammonia spike and they are back down to the middle section of the tank now (I also have never had clowns before so I’m not sure what is classified as normal behavior but from what I can tell they are doing good)
 

Jared Lowe

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They were alive this morning and there are a lot of them to, you can see them swimming in the water column and they are all over the glass. I’m going to try and get the seachem testing kit, I didn’t realize api was so unreliable :( and from what I can tell the fish are fine, a few days ago they were hanging out towards the top of the tank but they weren’t gasping for air or fully at the top just in the top section so I added an airstone to provide more oxygen and added ammo lock for the ammonia spike and they are back down to the middle section of the tank now (I also have never had clowns before so I’m not sure what is classified as normal behavior but from what I can tell they are doing good)
Since this is the first time you have had clownfish, don't freak out if they start twitching at each other its a dominance behavior and normal. I know most people who see it for the first time think the fish is having a heart attack/seizure but this is normal. (Youtube has a ton a videos showing how it will look, just look up Clownfish twitching or clownfish dominance display)
 

ReefGeezer

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I added new live rock a few days ago one had a bad hitchhiker which has been removed but I am assuming that’s where the copepods came from because I haven’t added anything else in the tank besides the rock
Your ammonia spike could be a product of die off and decomposition on or even within the live rock. You could continue the cycle without the fish inf this is the case.
 

jordan10

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Since this is the first time you have had clownfish, don't freak out if they start twitching at each other its a dominance behavior and normal. I know most people who see it for the first time think the fish is having a heart attack/seizure but this is normal. (Youtube has a ton a videos showing how it will look, just look up Clownfish twitching or clownfish dominance display)
Lol my clowns I been seeing them do that for bout 2 years well ever since I got them. I really thought there was something wrong with them. Thanks
 

Lasse

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Aeration with a an airstone is a great idea. You can also run your skimmer with max air. All of this will help you to aerate out toxic NH3, (it is a gas) In this case you can run your skimmer without the cup.

Sincerely Lasse
 

Paul Sands

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If your pods (copepod) still are alive - I´m rather sure that it is at least a partly wrong reading

Sincerely Lasse
Then you would surely be wrong. Most copepods can withstand, and even thrive, in ammonia levels that would kill most other reef inhabitants.
 
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