Ammonia Problems ?

cuseman

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I have a 55G tank with plastic plants which I have had 3+ months. After learning a hard lesson with a fish-in cycle, it finally cycled and started to add fish. I use an eheim 350 professional cannister filter and enough water filtration from both sides. I currently have:
3 bala sharks
3 serpae tetras
3 black skirt tetras
2 dalmation mollys
2 silver tail mollys
1 marble tail molly

Over the last 2 weeks, my ammonia has been stuck between .25-.50 and I can't get it down and my PH stuck between 6.6 and 6.8; my nitrates are 0, nitrites are 0. I have added PH neutral regulator and PH up at different times and have done water changes. I have also used aquasafe tap water conditioner with the water changes. My fish seem to be doing fine and they are eating, but I am concerned that these numbers don't move.

Thank you in advance to everybody.

Any suggestions from anybody?
 

bizaliz3

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Hi! Just a few questions to start....

How quickly did you add all those fish? How many at a time?

If your tank was cycled you should have a reading for nitrates. How did you conclude that you had completed your cycle?

Why are you messing with your PH?
 
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cuseman

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I had a spike after about 6 weeks which killed off the few fish I was stupid enough to put in after 2 weeks. I haven't read nitrites or nitrates for about a month or so.

I added in 3 fish to start and then more after 10 more days or so and then 10 more days or so.

I thought my PH should be around 7.0.
 

Thunder_o_b

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Your aquarium is not cycled if you are not reading nitrates.

As for pH do not get twisted up about it. Though it has to be said as you get lower in to the 6 range ammonia turns into ammonium which is harder for BB to convert in the cycle.

What is the pH of your source water?

Changing pH with chemicals is risky. You can Change it naturally. But generally it is best not to mess tith it.
 

bizaliz3

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cuseman said:
I had a spike after about 6 weeks which killed off the few fish I was stupid enough to put in after 2 weeks. I haven't read nitrites or nitrates for about a month or so.

I added in 3 fish to start and then more after 10 more days or so and then 10 more days or so.

I thought my PH should be around 7.0.
If your tank is only a few months old and you haven't tested your nitrites or nitrates in a couple months, and you hadn't cycled it first, how do you know that you got your tank cycled? 6 weeks in and you were having a major spike,and you said the tank has only been running for about 3 months. What were those readings a couple months ago? What made you conclude that you were cycled and ready to have 14 fish slowly added?

I am going to guess your tank was still cycling when you started adding your fish and now you are trying to catch up and be cycled for all the fish you added.
 
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cuseman

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I had a spike and then I had been testing the water every few days and consistently were at
Ammonia 0
Nitrates 0
nitrites 0
PH 6.8

I continued to test twice a week and everything was fine and did regular changes but the ammonia appeared about 10-14 days ago and has stayed at .25-.50. When I had my old Freshwater tank and my Saltwater tank I got into a habit of testing weekly.

I hadn't tested the PH of the tap water - only the ammonia in the slight chance ammonia was present but it was zero

I just tested the PH of the water source and its 6.8-7.0 using the API drops test kit
 

bizaliz3

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cuseman said:
I had a spike and then I had been testing the water every few days and consistently were at
Ammonia 0
Nitrates 0
nitrites 0
PH 6.8

I continued to test twice a week and everything was fine and did regular changes but the ammonia appeared about 10-14 days ago and has stayed at .25-.50. When I had my old Freshwater tank and my Saltwater tank I got into a habit of testing weekly.
Zero nitrites or nitrates after a big ammonia spike would be impossible wouldn't it? Did you do anything to the filter media after this spike?

How many fish were left after the spike but before you added more?

I really think you should test your nitrates and nitrites now. I am not sure why you have ignored those readings for months :-( They are critical to follow when cycling a tank.
 

Logan.t.Foster

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pH is not a problem. As long as there are no big ph changes, I would leave it alone.
No nitrites does not mean no cycle. In a heavaly planted tank, with frequent WC, you can get and maintain 0 nitrates. I have done it before.
As for your case, we need more information. After you put water and the filter in the tank, how often (if at all) did you "feed" the bacteria? If you let the tank sit for a few weeks with out doing anything to it, you won't grow the BB you need.
Did you have ammonia, and nitrates and nitrites at any point?
Or did you have 0 ammonia, but >0 nitrites and nitrates?
I am trying to see if you at any point had a complete cycle.
 

bizaliz3

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Logan.t.Foster said:
Or did you have 0 ammonia, but >0 nitrites and nitrates?
I am trying to see if you at any point had a complete cycle.
OP said the nitrates and nitrites haven't been tested in months and have always been zero.

And yes, zero nitrates are possible in an established, well maintained, heavily planted tank, but this is a brand new tank. That had a huge ammonia spike and killed off a bunch of fish. A huge deadly ammonia spike is not usually followed by zero nitrites and nitrates. Unless 100% water was changed and filter media removed/replaced. Right?? And in that case, the cycle would have started all over again.
 
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cuseman

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after the spike - I am sorry I don't have the exact numbers as I didn't keep a log - I waited for nitrates and ammonia to go down and I think waited 5-6 days before adding fish - I had one left and had started with 5.

I have been testing the nitrates, nitrites, PH and ammonia twice a week. I have done regular water changes all the way through and have not done anything to the filter - I was going to do a maintenance this weekend and possibly put in zeolite crystals in the tray as someone had mentioned they are effective to keep in there and actually help the water-especially any ammonia.
 

Logan.t.Foster

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bizaliz3 said:
And yes, zero nitrates are possible in an established, well maintained, heavily planted tank, but this is a brand new tank.
I know, but I don't want him to get a 0 nitrate reading, and freak out because he think his cycled has crashed.
 

bizaliz3

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you mentioned that you hadn't tested the nitrates or nitrites in a couple months though....but you said you have been doing it twice a week now? I sorry, I guess am confused.

Have you ever had a reading for nitrates?

Logan.t.Foster said:
I know, but I don't want him to get a 0 nitrate reading, and freak out because he think his cycled has crashed.
Right, but achieving consistent reading of zero nitrates in a tank that's only a few months old, with that many fish added during those few months and it wasn't even cycled first and had a relatively recent huge spike of ammonia....would be impossible in my opinion.
 
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cuseman

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I am sorry if I wasn't clear - when the nitrates went up, the ammonia went up to but never over 2.0 - I have been reading where people had ammonia issues where it went to 5 or so.

To be clear I had the tank going for approximately 10-14 days before I had any fish and then tried a fish-in cycle which was a huge mistake and I should have known better after all these years. After adding the fish, 3 and then 2 more, that is when the nitrates went up, the ammonia went up to around 2.0, and the PH shot down to around 6.0. When numbers came back down with the one remaining fish, that is when I started adding fish again. And I was fine until I started getting the ammonia at 0.25-0.5 and it won't change.

I hope I made things easier to understand. And I do test nitrites, nitrates, ammonia and PH all at the same time every time I change water.

Based on everyones questions and comments, it seems there may not have been a full cycle - and I came back too fast? Unfortunately this is how I did my other tanks in the past......SO MUCH FOR DOING THINGS ON YOUR OWN
 

bizaliz3

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cuseman said:
I am sorry if I wasn't clear - when the nitrates went up, the ammonia went up to but never over 2.0 - I have been reading where people had ammonia issues where it went to 5 or so.

To be clear I had the tank going for approximately 10-14 days before I had any fish and then tried a fish-in cycle which was a huge mistake and I should have known better after all these years. After adding the fish, 3 and then 2 more, that is when the nitrates went up, the ammonia went up to around 2.0, and the PH shot down to around 6.0. When numbers came back down with the one remaining fish, that is when I started adding fish again. And I was fine until I started getting the ammonia at 0.25-0.5 and it won't change.

I hope I made things easier to understand. And I do test nitrites, nitrates, ammonia and PH all at the same time every time I change water.

Based on everyones questions and comments, it seems there may not have been a full cycle - and I came back too fast? Unfortunately this is how I did my other tanks in the past......SO MUCH FOR DOING THINGS ON YOUR OWN
Ok, so lets assume the tank was sufficiently cycled for your one remaining fish. There was only enough beneficial bacteria to eat up the ammonia produced by that one fish.

Then you slowly added more and more. (doing it slowly was smart but still) So now there needs to be more beneficial bacteria to keep up with all the fish you added. So you are going through a mini-cycle.

I am still confused why you told me you haven't tested nitrates or nitrites in "a couple months" when I asked you what they currently are. So since now you are saying you test them every time you test the ammonia, what were they last time you tested the ammonia?
 

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bizaliz3 said:
I am still confused why you told me you haven't tested nitrates or nitrites in "a couple months" when I asked you what they currently are. So since now you are saying you test them every time you test the ammonia, what were they last time you tested the ammonia?
Just an observation...I think the OP meant he hasn't registered any nitrites or nitrates for over a month. The way it was written it wasn't very clear.
 

bizaliz3

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mattgirl said:
Just an observation...I think the OP meant he hasn't registered any nitrites or nitrates for over a month. The way it was written it wasn't very clear.
Oh!!! Ok. He hasnt READ any nitrates or nitrites. It isn't that he wasn't testing them. I get it now. Thanks.

I still don't understand why they are zero under the circumstances. Do you have any ideas?
 
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cuseman

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sorry bizaliz3 - I may have misunderstood or answering another question from someone about the PH in the water source that I hadn't tested..

I just tested the water now and its at:
PH - 6.8
ammonia - 2.0 (was at .25-.50)
nitrites - .25
nitrates - 0
 

bizaliz3

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cuseman said:
sorry bizaliz3 - I may have misunderstood or answering another question from someone about the PH in the water source that I hadn't tested..

I just tested the water now and its at:
PH - 6.8
ammonia - 2.0 (was at .25-.50)
nitrites - .25
nitrates - 0
No, I apologize for misunderstanding!
Those readings make a little more sense. But they are scary. That's really high ammonia.

Right now the ammonia has to convert to nitrites and then nitrates. Once you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and a low level of nitrates you will be cycled.

Due to the conditions currently, I suggest daily water changes with seachem prime until you see some nitrates along with zeros for nitrites and ammonia.
 

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Have you tested ammonia in your source water?

And are you shaking the life out of the second nitrate test bottle? When I first started testing, I was getting 0 for nitrates on the liquid, but a small reading on test strips. If it's not shaken really well, you can get a 0 reading when you actually have nitrates.

Have you recently replaced filter media at all?
 

bizaliz3

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ETNsilverstar said:
Have you tested ammonia in your source water?

And are you shaking the life out of the second nitrate test bottle? When I first started testing, I was getting 0 for nitrates on the liquid, but a small reading on test strips. If it's not shaken really well, you can get a 0 reading when you actually have nitrates.

Have you recently replaced filter media at all?
Even if the nitrates are not zero.....tests show him developing nitrites now. So we've definitely got an incomplete cycle going on.

He also mentioned that he has not done anything to the filter during this time frame.
 

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