Ammonia Won’t Change Help

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Leafydragon, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    C6CA3BFE-9AEF-450C-85BC-B8754DF72CAE.
    Pink lines are normal days and blue is test after something was added/changed (ammonia added or water change)

    I started my tank’s cycle using TSS+ and the cycle seemed to be going very well until last night when I tested it and the ammonia hadn’t gone down. I’ve been testing it since then and the ammonia levels won’t go down while the day before it had been processed in almost 24 hours. Did I make a mistake? Should I consider adding another bottle of TSS+? I might go ahead and order another bottle just in case. I use api test kit and Prime to condition my water.

    I included a picture of the tank if that’s important
     

    Attached Files:

  2. lilirose

    liliroseValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    238
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ireland
    Ratings:
    +204
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    I just finished doing fishless cycles in four tanks using TSS and pure ammonia. I was certain I'd crashed the cycle completely on the second tank, as there was a drastic pH drop- exactly like what your sheets show- and the nitrites reappeared. I came to this site for advice. I was told that- regardless of what I had read elsewhere- one must do large water changes to reduce nitrates and stablise pH during a fishless cycle or you risk crashing it. Pretty sure you have done this, but it's not 100% clear as you didn't show the dates and amounts of water changes (which is something I added to my own spreadsheets after running into this issue).

    Also I was advised not to add ammonia immediately after getting a 0 amount on my spreadsheet but rather to wait 24-48 hours, as the bacteria will take quite a bit longer than this to "starve".

    In fact I would say that you are adding ammonia much too often- you should not add any until the number drops to 0 and stays that way for at least 24 hours.

    This is contrary to what other websites advise, but I followed what I was told here to the letter for my second two tanks, and now I have four that are fully cycled and stocked with healthy fish.

    BTW, adding more TSS will not do any harm, but it's also not strictly necessary.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    Sorry it’s a bit cut off in the picture, but the last column was for water change and I did a 3-4 gallon one on 8/19. Should I do another water change in that case? And from now on should I wait a day after ammonia goes down to redose it?
     
  4. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Messages:
    8,013
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
    Ratings:
    +6,699
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    @lilirose is correct :)

    What is the PH of your source water? If it is 7 or above water changes will get this cycle moving forward.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    The source is about 7.6. So I should start doing water changes more often?
     
  6. lilirose

    liliroseValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    238
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ireland
    Ratings:
    +204
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    IMO (like I said, I just finished doing what you're doing x4), you should do 50% water changes every time the pH drops below 7 or when the nitrates go above 20. This is what I did and it worked really well for me.

    Finishing a fishless cycle is a great feeling and it looks like you're almost there!
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    I’m not exactly sure how much water is actually in my tank (due to water displacement from the gravel and decor) but I’ll just fill up my 2gallon bucket twice in that case. :happy:

    I’ve just been super anxious about my cycle since I wanted to get the snails and shrimp for my tank before the betta and I only have a few chances in the next month due to my busy schedule and I want to make sure I don’t mess anything up so I don’t have to restart my cycle.

    Sorry to ask, but about how long did it take for you to finish your cycle, so I have a rough estimate of if I’m moving in the right direction.

    Thank you again for your help!
     
  8. lilirose

    liliroseValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    238
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ireland
    Ratings:
    +204
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    My first tank took just over a month- I started on May 31 and stocked it on July 2. The second two went a little more quickly (three weeks) as I put three sponge filters in the first tank when I started, so the second two filters were somewhat pre-seeded. Those were all 20 liter (5 gallon) tanks. The fourth tank took about six weeks, but it was 90 liters (21 gallons) and it had a huge, brand new HMF (a specialised type of sponge filter) and no seeding other than the addition of TSS.

    The betta you see in my avatar is in tank #2. I've had him for a month yesterday. :)

    I have to warn you- even though you didn't ask- that a lot of Bettas will kill shrimp. I have shrimp in three of my four tanks but the Betta only shares his space with a nerite snail as I couldn't bear the idea of losing shrimp.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    I was hoping to just get two shrimp for now and let them get big enough that the betta might not see them as an expensive snack and I was going to get a few mystery snails and one nerite snail. I’m going to make sure to watch for aggression as well.
    Thanks for the help and quick replies!
    I hope my tank turns out as well your yours did!
     
  10. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Messages:
    8,013
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
    Ratings:
    +6,699
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    The most likely reason your ammonia stopped going is the drop in your PH. When it is that low the ammonia turns to ammonium. The good thing about ammonium is it isn't as toxic to fish. The bad thing is it isn't very good food for your bacteria. The bacteria can still use it but not as well as ammonia.

    Your API test doesn't know the difference between ammonia and ammonium so will just show the total amount.

    Getting PH up above 7 will turn the ammonium back into ammonia and your ammonia eating bacteria will start feasting again.

    Once the cycle is complete keep an eye on your PH levels for a while to make sure they are stable. If it continues to drop there are natural ways to buffer it to help keep it stable. For now water changes should keep it where it needs to be.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    D347D202-40D8-4B09-A5DC-89CFCA5116CA.
    Here are how my test results are looking so far. I will only be able to water change again tomorrow night (5-6 galling this time) so hopefully my tank will be fine until then. Should I add the ammonia after the wc tomorrow? I went ahead and turned up the temperature in the tank to 83F
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
  12. lilirose

    liliroseValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    238
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ireland
    Ratings:
    +204
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    I know it's very late in the game to suggest this, but when I was doing this I used a spreadsheet, on Google Sheets (which is free). I have a template and would be happy to share it, a person could then just fill in the numbers.

    I'm saying this because the piece of paper you're trying to share is nearly impossible for me to read. :-(

    To the point- am I reading correctly that your nitrates are over 80ppm and your pH has dropped as low as 6.0? You are long overdue for a water change, my friend. Please don't add any ammonia at all until after you do one, as the bacteria you're trying to grow can't thrive in those conditions.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    I’m changing my water when I get home in a few hours and I will definitely change to digital for my tracking. How long after the water change should I wait to add the ammonia?
     
  14. lilirose

    liliroseValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    238
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ireland
    Ratings:
    +204
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    You should do the water change and test the water again. If the ammonia is zero, the pH is above 7, and the nitrates are below 20, add ammonia. If you don't meet all of these conditions, do another water change and test again.

    When you meet all of these conditions, you can dose some more ammonia. I really would not add ammonia until then.

    Hang in there! I know this can be frustrating. By the time I was done I hated doing water tests so much. Then I was able to stock my tanks (slowly) and it was all worth it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
  15. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    Fish Garbage

    There’s a link to my tracking. My water seemed to meet all the requirements but I’m going to go ahead and do a small water change now then check again later tonight to add the ammonia.

    I actually like doing water tests:p, makes me feel responsible. I’m just wishing the process would go faster so I can stock my tank sooner that way I don’t have to wait as long to add the betta (since I want to add everything else in first and give it some time to grow), but the most important thing is getting the tank cycled first.

    (Sorry about the weird name, I was half asleep when I made it and I just left it as is)
     
  16. lilirose

    liliroseValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    238
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ireland
    Ratings:
    +204
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    Wow, that is a lot easier to read! :) Now that you've got your pH and your nitrates in hand, and hopefully will keep them that way (though you still must keep a close eye on both!)- nitrites are actually key to knowing how close you are to being ready for fish. For me "disappearing nitrites" took a lot longer than "disappearing ammonia" but it looks like you were close to being over the hump with nitrites before you asked us for help, which is a very good sign.

    I would go ahead and add some ammonia at this point, and you'll probably see them both disappearing pretty quickly. The usual advice is to make sure both process in less than 24 hours for a full week before you add fish, but I'll admit that I got impatient and jumped the gun by a couple of days and things still worked out really well for me.

    I have to say that it makes me super happy to see a newbie do a proper fishless cycle- what's more common is a newbie who buys a tank and decorations, lets it sit for 24 hours like the guy at the pet store said, is super excited about this hobby, and then doesn't understand why the fish go belly up over and over. I got my first tank in 1983 when I was a kid and I was the one in that position then, though of course I had no Internet and it was really difficult to get good information on cycling back then- I don't think I really figured it out for another ten years after that, and unfortunately a lot of fish died in the process- though I was nothing if not persistent. (I'm just getting back into fishkeeping after a 20 year break, which is why I just finished doing all this myself- it's not my first time, of course.)

    You are off to the best possible start.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    I’m so glad to hear that my cycle is going so well and from someone with so much experience! I’m really excited to finish my cycle (as you can tell by my daily and sometimes multiple daily tests) so I’m very grateful for your advice to help speed up the process. I always figure if I’m taking a life into my hands I need to do it right (why I spent six months researching before getting my pet rats) so I really want to make sure my tank is as perfect as I can get it before stocking it. Thank you!
     
  18. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    411
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Midwest
    Ratings:
    +249
    Experience:
    5 to 10 years
    I think your first statement about the pH drop being the source of the problem may be correct, but I believe there's a problem with the explanation of why. At typical aquarium temperatures and a pH of 7.0, only 0.5% of total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) is toxic free ammonia. The other 99.5% is ammonium. Even at a pH of 8.0, only 5% of TAN is free ammonia. When the nitrifying bacteria are working, they'll reduce TAN to 0ppm, so something is removing the 95% of TAN that isn't free ammonia at pH 8.0 and the 99.5% that isn't free ammonia at pH 7.0.

    If the bacteria can't metabolize ammonium then TAN would barely budge due to biological filtration.
     
  19. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Messages:
    8,013
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Closer to Heaven every day but for now-Arkansas
    Ratings:
    +6,699
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    And this is why I often say I don't know or totally understand the science behind it. I just know what happens when we see certain things happening and how to fix them. :)
     
  20. OP
    OP
    Leafydragon

    LeafydragonValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    96
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    Ratings:
    +12
    Experience:
    Just started
    Fish Garbage

    I’m beyond excited!! I think my tank to close to finishing cycling! The pH has almost evened out, the nitrates aren’t going too high, nitrites are staying at 0, only thing I need to make sure about now is that the ammonia goes down within 24hours. I’m so excited because if this is true then that means I can stock my invertebrates next week! :D:D
     
Loading...