Ammonia Rising In Cycled Tank!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Kiks, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. Kiks

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    Hello everyone,

    I have a 30 gallon (112 l) tank that has been cycled since March 13th. I used pure ammonia to cycle it and ammonia readings has been at 0 ppm, nitrite has been 0 ppm and nitrates has been between 5 - 15 ppm ever since.
    In my tank I have several plants, rocks and driftwood. One of the pieces of driftwood was added the day before I started having issues with ammonia. The piece is made for aquarium use and has been boiled and left in a bucket of water for more than 24 hours.
    In my tank I also have 2 BN plecos (2 - 3 inches). One male and one female. There are also 5 Amano shrimp and 10 RCS. The male BN pleco is fanning wigglers at the moment and has been fanning in his cave since the 17th this month. I also have one pregnant RCS.
    All seem to be doing good, although they did a little better before the ammonia became an issue. Some of my Amanos has turned a little darker and blue-ish, which I've read is a sign of stress while the female BN pleco seems to be a little hyperactive.
    Since the first day I tested and my ammonia was at 0.25 I've done more frequent water changes. Instead of changing 25% once a week I've been changing 25% 2 - 3 times a week. I thought it would go down slowly, but when I tested my water today it was still at 0.25 ppm. I did a 45% water change and tested the water 30 minutes later which now read 0.50 ammonia!
    I treat my water with AquaSafe and that's what I've always been using. I feed my BN plecos and shrimp frozen food, flake food and pellets.
    The fertilisers I use are Tropica Premium Fertiliser and Tropica Specialised Fertiliser. I've been using the Premium one since the beginning but bought the Specialized one later on. I use both in the doses suggested on the back of the bottles.

    I've made a little timeline to help you get a better overview of the different events:

    March 20th: 4 x Amano shrimp added to tank
    March 31st: 2 x BN pleco added to tank
    April 6th: 5 x RCS added to tank
    April 17th: Female BN pleco has laid eggs
    April 18th: New plants added to tank
    April 18th: 5 x RCS added to tank
    April 18th: New plant fertiliser purchased
    April 20th: Driftwood added to tank
    April 21st: Ammonia reads .25 ppm
    April 21st: 25% water change
    April 23rd: Ammonia .25 ppm
    April 23rd: 25% water change
    April 24th: Ammonia .25 ppm
    April 24th: 25% water change
    April 25th: Ammonia .25 ppm
    April 25th: 45% water change
    April 25th: Ammonia .50 ppm

    Please help, I don't know what to do. From the looks of it water changes aren't helping at all and that's my only go to solution, when the problem isn't illness. Only when I made this post I realized that the ammonia issue came since adding the driftwood, but I really don't think that's the problem, though I will be removing it from the tank to see if it has any effect.
    Any thoughts, ideas and comments are welcome.

    Thanks for reading!
  2. AllieSten

    AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

    Have you tested your tap water?
  3. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    What type/size filter are you using?

    It's possible your bio-load has surpassed the filters capabilities.
  4. OP

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    No, I actually haven't. I will do that as soon as I get home and thanks for the suggestion! I've only tested the pH, which was at 7.4. The pH in my tank is usually around 8 - 8.2. I've been using water from the same tap always, but of course something could've changed.
  5. OP

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    I use the one that came with the aquarium when I bought it. It's a Claro 300 (I think it's 300... I am not completely sure.) and as far as I know no one has really heard of it or uses it and I'm assuming it's somewhat garbage. I intended to buy a new one, but found out that this one seemed to be doing just fine.
    I should say that I had 6 guppies in the tank with the plecos and shrimp for maybe a little over a week way before the ammonia became an issue. During that time and some time after the ammonia was still at 0. This has made me think that it probably isn't a bio load issue.
  6. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    Understood, but just pointing out that as driftwood rots in the water it will add to the ammonia. At what rate is dependent on quite a few variables.
  7. OP

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    What variables are those? I'd love to provide more information to try to solve the issue or find out why there's even a problem.
    I've tried finding the filter online which is not so easy, but I found the measurements of the 300 model and the 600. I am not at home so I can't measure my filter, but I'm quite sure it fits the description of the 600 model. However on Ebay (that's the only place I can find any information in English) it states that the Claro 600 shouldn't be used in aquariums larger than 75 l (20 gallons). I don't know if this is correct, though. It goes through 600 liter/158 gallons an hour. Is this way too little for a 30 gallon tank?

    Also, the driftwood I have in my tank is no more than two months old. Could it still be rotting?
  8. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    Even the hardest of woods will deteriorate slowly. The variables of deterioration are many! They include, but not limited to, chemical levels in the water, PH of the water, hardness of the wood, temperature of the water, water movement/erosion, species of wood, salinity of the water and many other factors I'm unaware of I'm sure.
  9. OP

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    Gotcha. Well, that is a lot of information that I can't really provide, since I don't even know how to find out. All I can tell you is that my tap water has a pH of 7.4, but it rises to 8 - 8.2 in my tank. The temperature is 77 F/25 C and I know one of my stones is a dragon stone.
    If you have any suggestions when it comes to things I could try, do tell and thanks for helping!
  10. Piaelliott

    PiaelliottWell Known MemberMember

    Usually it is suggested to have a flow rate of 8-10 times the size of the aquarium. With a 30 gal aquarium is should be 240-300 gph.

    Take the driftwood out and see if it is rotting to make sure there is no issue.
    Guppies have a high bioload, maybe they caused the spike. I have no idea in what way the pleco wigglers affect the water. I assume they add to the ammonia as well.
  11. OP

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    Alright, so the flow rate is way too low. I'll go to the store tomorrow and see if they have a better one. The guppies were removed before the ammonia started rising, but actually not that long before, so I guess that could be a reason. The wigglers are just as messy as the parents, but they're really really small (like 0.07 inches).

    Does anyone have any idea why the ammonia would go from 0.25 ppm to 0.50 ppm before and after a 45% water change? Unless it's my tap water it seems really odd to me. I tested it right before the water change and it was at 0.25 and then I changed the water which took me about 30 minutes and after that I let the filter run for another 30 minutes and tested the water which was at 0.50 ppm. It went up 0.25 ppm in like an hour.
  12. Da_MOJO

    Da_MOJOValued MemberMember

    For the safety of the fish, is there any possibility that you could pick up some SeaChem Prime? This will help manage the Ammonia and bind it so it is more easily removed by your filters.

    Did you recently replace or rinse out any of your filter media? And +1 on the bigger better filtration. I would go with an AquaClear 50 (at the very least). That should provide adequate filtration for your size tank. Just remember to run both filters at the same time for about a month to seed the new filter with BB. Or you can purchase SeaChem Stability to help kickstart the BB in the tank. It just seems like you lost some of your BB somewhere along the way.
  13. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    You may have high chloramines in your water. From what I've gathered AquaSafe breaks the bond of chloramines into chlorine and ammonia. This would explain the rise in ammonia after a WC.

    As suggested you should probably pickup some Prime to bind the ammonia so it's not harming the fish.
  14. OP

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    I don't think SeaChem Prime is sold in stores here, but I thought AquaSafe did pretty much the same?
    I have not rinsed my filter media for the past month or so and I just squeezed it in tank water. It has been the same filter media ever since I started up the tank in February.
    I'll see what filters they have at my local store. Maybe they have AquaClear or Eheim.
    Thanks for your comment! I do agree that it seems like some of the bacteria disappeared along the way.

    Are there any tests for chloramines? Would be interesting to find out if this is the reason. I don't hope it's my tap water that has changed, since it seemed to work out perfectly for the first couple of months.

    From Tetras website about AquaSafe:
    "Immediately neutralises dangerous chlorine, chloramine, copper, zinc and lead."
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  15. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    That's the problem though. It neutralizes chloramine(chlorine+ammonia) by breaking the chlorine-ammonia bond. You then have chlorine (which it also neutralizes) and ammonia, but it doesn't bind or neutralize the ammonia from what I've gathered. Prime works in a different manner (different chemical properties) to do the same but it also binds to the ammonia so that it is harmless to the fish but bacteria can still consume it.

    I'm not sure about any tests for chloramines. I use my city's yearly water quality report to see what possible levels I have in my water. Luckily my city doesn't use chloramines. Only chlorine and fluoride.

    *Edit - it is mandatory for cities in the US to provide this report but you may have to contact city hall or the water department to get it
  16. OP

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    I see. Thanks for a lot of helpful information.
    I'll go to the store to buy a new filter, so I'll ask them when I'm there anyway if they have Prime or anything that works the same way.
    My filter has a button where you can turn up the water flow. Obviously I'll be turning it up first thing when I come home. However, I've tried turning it up before and in my opinion there's pretty much no difference. Pretending that it does turn up the water flow, will this have an effect on building up more bacteria in the filter? I read something about that somewhere.
  17. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    IMO there is no substitute for Prime. It's pretty unique. You may want to order it from Amazon like I did. I just made sure I ordered it with other things I was planning on getting to qualify for that free shipping!

    Theoretically, yes, the more dirty water with food going through the filter the more BB will grow, but this also depends in the filter having enough media for the BB to grow in. My 3.5g also came with a subpar filter that I added a bag of enough Fluval BioMax for a 30g tank. I also removed the carbon from the included filters.

  18. OP

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    Well, if my local store doesn't have Prime I'll buy it online. And I'll be fine with paying for shipping, rather that than my fish dying!
    I'm a little chicken about adding new stuff to my tank, though. I know that if the ammonia doesn't go down my fish will die, so of course I'll be doing all I can, but I'm always afraid that new stuff will mess up my tank, but then again my tank is already messed up.
    So what you're saying is that maybe the filter just can't hold any more bacteria? It really bugs me cause it seemed like it was holding onto more bacteria like a week ago. What an annoying problem this is!
  19. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    I'm saying it's possible or that it needs more time to adjust to a higher bio-load. Sometimes when new sources of ammonia are introduced to the tank there is another "mini-cycle". The BB may just need time to grow more to accommodate this. The fact that you're ammonia went up after a WC though is strange unless there's chloramines. You should actually get some tap water in a cup, treat it with your normal ratio of AquaSafe, wait 15 minutes, and then test the water for ammonia. This will tell you if my theory is correct that it's the chloramines being broken into chlorine and ammonia.

    Also, BTW, Prime is relatively so safe that you can dose up to 5x the instructed amount without overdosing your fish. In fact it says to do that on the bottle in case of an emergency ammonia spike.

    Another thing I like about it is that it only takes 7 drops (2 per gallon) to treat my 3.5g. I could add 35 drops though in an emergency and my fish will not overdose.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  20. AWheeler

    AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Are you sure it has nothing to do with the ferts you are using in your tank? I agree with everyone else about the Prime....and about needing a better filter.
    You might be able to pick up a chloramine test kit at a pool store. Just ask them to make sure it is a chloramine test and not a chlorine test (unless they sell both now)