Ammonia Not Lowering After 3-4 Daily 50%-70% Water Changes?

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AxieMushu

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After succesfully cycling my tank, I added my axolotl, and now ammonia keeps rising. Today the ammonia levels are 3.7ppm, but that's what it was reading 3-4 days ago, and since then I've been doing daily 50-70% water changes. Why isn't it coming down?

I switched my regular dechlorinator for Prima by seachem two days ago, and introduced API Ammo Lock to prevent my axolotl from getting ammonia burn.

I tested the running water from the sink and ammonia is 0ppm, so it's not coming from there.

Could it be the sand producing the ammonia? I cycled the water with food and there was a lot of residue left on the sand, even though I tried elliminating most of it. I took all the sand out the other day and tested the water from the tank, and the water that was left with the sand, and after 24h there were no changes or signs that it is the sand causing the ammonia. But maybe I didn't wait long enough.
Right before putting my axolotl in the tank, I washed all the sand, could have i killed majority of the beneficial bacteria in my tank, and now there is no cycle anymore? I can't remember what type of water I used to clean the sand.


What should I do, and why isn't it coming down with daily large water changes?
 
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AxieMushu

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How long and how did you cycle the tank? What do you have for filters?
I did a fishless cycle with food, took me around a month and a half but ammonia and nitrites were down to 0 and my nitrates were 10-30. I have the aquaclear 30 and I just added next to it the aqueon 10 filter a couple days ago in an attempt to filter the ammonia faster, even though the water movement on that side of the tank now is too high for my axolotl to want to go under.
 

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It does sound like your tank was cycled. Please don't add any more ammo-lock. It does lock up the ammonia but when locked up your bacteria can't use it for food so it just keeps building up.

Your best bet is to continue the water changes and using Prime to neutralize the ammonia. It is neutralized but your bacteria can still use it.

Removing and cleaning the sand will have removed some of the bacteria but as long as your didn't over clean your filter media the cycle should catch up fairly quick. Keep in mind that the bacteria grows on every surface in the tank so the less you disturb it at this point the better off the cycle will be.
 
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AxieMushu

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It does sound like your tank was cycled. Please don't add any more ammo-lock. It does lock up the ammonia but when locked up your bacteria can't use it for food so it just keeps building up.

Your best bet is to continue the water changes and using Prime to neutralize the ammonia. It is neutralized but your bacteria can still use it.

Removing and cleaning the sand will have removed some of the bacteria but as long as your didn't over clean your filter media the cycle should catch up fairly quick. Keep in mind that the bacteria grows on every surface in the tank so the less you disturb it at this point the better off the cycle will be.
I cycled my tank with both of the filters except for the last week of the cycle when I left the filter I wanted to use with the axolotl (aquaclear 30) operate by itself. A few days ago, when this problem started, I rinsed my filter media with old aquarium water because I noticed I hadn't done it in the whole cycling period it was extremely dirty and with goo. The water came out completely brown, so I also rinsed the filter walls to eliminate the goo from there, just using my clean hands and old aquarium water. I also scrapped the aquarium walls and tried to suck up the dirt the best I could, but because it was time to clean it.

Is it possible this cleaning broke my cycle? Also, could I use half the dosage of the ammo lock, or would that still be bad? I read axolotls are very sensitive to ammonia, and mine is doing fine so far but I don't want her to start getting sick. Water changes don't seem to be lowering the ammonia at all
 

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That is a lot of cleaning 'specially with a new cycle I really hate to have to say it but by cleaning so much you did remove a lot of the bacteria.

All is not lost though because fortunately you cleaned the filter and filter media in tank water so the bacteria there should still be strong.

Personally I would not use ammo-lack at all. Your damaged cycle needs the ammonia. It can't use the ammonia locked up with ammo-lock so the number will just continue to rise. It will be locked up so less harmful for your little guy but it will still show up in the test. I have a feeling your ammonia levels will go down with water changes and only adding Prime.

BTW: What size is this tank?
 
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AxieMushu

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That is a lot of cleaning 'specially with a new cycle I really hate to have to say it but by cleaning so much you did remove a lot of the bacteria.

All is not lost though because fortunately you cleaned the filter and filter media in tank water so the bacteria there should still be strong.

Personally I would not use ammo-lack at all. Your damaged cycle needs the ammonia. It can't use the ammonia locked up with ammo-lock so the number will just continue to rise. It will be locked up so less harmful for your little guy but it will still show up in the test. I have a feeling your ammonia levels will go down with water changes and only adding Prime.

BTW: What size is this tank?
It’s a 20 gallon tank. Should I buy some sort of product that adds bacteria in the water? Or should I just leave it be with 50% daily water changes, and if I see my axolotl starts to show any symptoms just put her in a separate container for the time being?
 

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It’s a 20 gallon tank. Should I buy some sort of product that adds bacteria in the water? Or should I just leave it be with 50% daily water changes, and if I see my axolotl starts to show any symptoms just put her in a separate container for the time being?
I have read good words about Tetra Safe Start Plus. It might not be a bad idea to use some of it. I don't know if it is necessary since I am sure you still have some of the same bacteria it will be adding in your tank already but I don't think it would hurt either.

Before you add anything else though you may want to give water changes and Prime a chance to get you back on track. Do a big water change (at least 75%) first. What we are trying to do is get as much of the ammo-lock as possible out of there. We want that ammonia free and available for the bacteria to eat.

I would do back to back water changes until you get the ammonia down below one. As long as you keep it below one Prime will protect your little guy from it and there will still be enough left to feed your cycle.

during this time I would only feed him/her the bare minimum to help keep the ammonia down.
 

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I had a fish room that had been running for a year. One day I cleaned the glass, the filter media, and vacuumed the gravel on all the tanks. The next day I tested and there was ammonia. I had broken a long-established cycle. I did a water change, tested a couple days later, and everything was back to normal.

You can break a cycle cleaning too much, but in my experience as long as you don't kill off the filter media, it should bounce back pretty quickly.
 

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I had a fish room that had been running for a year. One day I cleaned the glass, the filter media, and vacuumed the gravel on all the tanks. The next day I tested and there was ammonia. I had broken a long-established cycle. I did a water change, tested a couple days later, and everything was back to normal.

You can break a cycle cleaning too much, but in my experience as long as you don't kill off the filter media, it should bounce back pretty quickly.
I sent my main tank into a mini cycle too. It had been running perfectly for about 2 years. I started trying to get rid of the snails that came in on a plant. I removed the gravel and replaced it with sand and also did more cleaning than I should have. Luckily it only took a couple of extra water changes, with Prime to keep my fish safe, to get it right back on track.

a new cycle is still pretty fragile so the less cleaning the better but even a long established cycle can be damaged.
 

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You are using good filters on your tank. If they fit side by side with the tank's lid/hood on, I would use them both.

I have 2x Aquaclear 30's on my 20g, so I am familiar with them.

Are you using the include bag of carbon?

If so, pull it out and replace it with another bag of Bio-Max or some Seachem Matrix.

That will allow more surface area for the beneficial bacteria to colonize.

Next time you perform a cleaning, alternate the bags of bio-media that gets rinsed off.

I use a sponge pre-filter on the intake tube. I then cut the sponge in the bottom of the basket cross-wise so it's only half as tall. Since there is a pre-filter sponge, the inner one doesn't have to be full size. That way I can fit even more media in the basket.

As for your question about bacteria in a bottle, I have used Tetra Safe Start (aka TSS) successfully. It is not going to hurt to add it into the tank and could benefit by jump starting the cycle.

If you do use it and the tank becomes fully cycled, you can discontinue its use. The directions say to use it after every water change, but that is not needed.
 

CichlidDream

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... Please don't add any more ammo-lock. It does lock up the ammonia but when locked up your bacteria can't use it for food so it just keeps building up...
Interesting. I didn't know this fact about ammo-lock (have never used it). What is the purpose of this product being on the market then? If it stalls a cycle, why they do sell it for?

To OP: The brown staff you have rinsed from the inside of your filter was your beneficial bacteria. (((
 

mattgirl

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Interesting. I didn't know this fact about ammo-lock (have never used it). What is the purpose of this product being on the market then? If it stalls a cycle, why they do sell it for?
Money maker.

To OP: The brown staff you have rinsed from the inside of your filter was your beneficial bacteria. (((
not really. That sludge is just a build up of waste that has to be removed occasionally.
 

Fish0n

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I did a fishless cycle with food, took me around a month and a half but ammonia and nitrites were down to 0 and my nitrates were 10-30. I have the aquaclear 30 and I just added next to it the aqueon 10 filter a couple days ago in an attempt to filter the ammonia faster, even though the water movement on that side of the tank now is too high for my axolotl to want to go under.
Prefilters and sponges can be modified into place to dampen flow. It is usually done for bettas if you are looking fo examples on youtube.
 
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AxieMushu

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You are using good filters on your tank. If they fit side by side with the tank's lid/hood on, I would use them both.

I have 2x Aquaclear 30's on my 20g, so I am familiar with them.

Are you using the include bag of carbon?

If so, pull it out and replace it with another bag of Bio-Max or some Seachem Matrix.

That will allow more surface area for the beneficial bacteria to colonize.

Next time you perform a cleaning, alternate the bags of bio-media that gets rinsed off.

I use a sponge pre-filter on the intake tube. I then cut the sponge in the bottom of the basket cross-wise so it's only half as tall. Since there is a pre-filter sponge, the inner one doesn't have to be full size. That way I can fit even more media in the basket.

As for your question about bacteria in a bottle, I have used Tetra Safe Start (aka TSS) successfully. It is not going to hurt to add it into the tank and could benefit by jump starting the cycle.

If you do use it and the tank becomes fully cycled, you can discontinue its use. The directions say to use it after every water change, but that is not needed.
If you alternate the biomedia, what do you do with the ones you aren't using? I read that letting them dry up kills all the bacteria. I am currently using the media that comes with the filter, but I will try to find bio-max or seachem matrix. However, wouldn't it be bad for me to change the media now?
 

mattgirl

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If you alternate the biomedia, what do you do with the ones you aren't using? I read that letting them dry up kills all the bacteria. I am currently using the media that comes with the filter, but I will try to find bio-max or seachem matrix. However, wouldn't it be bad for me to change the media now?
I am pretty sure he meant alternate cleaning them. Meaning don't clean all the media at the same time.

I run 2 HOB filters on my big tank. I rinse the media in one of them one week and the media in the other one the next week. I also run 2 dual sponge filter in this same tank. I clean one sponge each week alternating through them. That way each sponge gets cleaned once a month.
 

Islandvic

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Yeah, maybe I should have been more clear.

If you have a regular size bag of bio-media and a 2nd bag that is smaller you can slip tin the TopFin filter for QT work as needed, dont rinse them off thoroughly at the same time. When it's time to clean the filter, rinse out only one bag. Then the next time the filter is cleaned, rinse off the other bag.
 

THRESHER

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Yeah, maybe I should have been more clear.

If you have a regular size bag of bio-media and a 2nd bag that is smaller you can slip tin the TopFin filter for QT work as needed, dont rinse them off thoroughly at the same time. When it's time to clean the filter, rinse out only one bag. Then the next time the filter is cleaned, rinse off the other bag.
I agree. Only wash 1 bag at a time so that way you always have good strong BB in each bag.
 
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