Ammonia Won’t Lower?

HairdresserOctopus

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hello everyone. I am currently cycling my new 29 gallon. I started my cycle around 12 days ago, and here’s how it went:
I added prime to treat the water when I filled up the tank, added Ammonium chloride, and then added TSS. The day after, there was ammonia , nitrite, and nitrate levels appearing (although it may be the fert I’m using (easy green) for my plants) present at the time. Yesterday, I tested the water, only to find Ammonia stagnant since the beginning (around 2ppm but the vial appeared pretty dark green) and with nitrate sitting at around 5. No nitrite whatsoever. I have plants (and an extreme brown algae problem) so i still have no idea why it hasn’t cycled yet, or why ammonia hasn’t appeared to go down?
 

mattgirl

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It sounds to me like the TSS failed. There are lots of reasons as to why this would have happened. If I were you I would do a big water change (at least 75%). Add prime to dechlorinate the new water if you have chlorine in it. Wait at least 24 hours (very important) and then add another well shaken appropriate sized bottle of TSS and ammonia up to at least 3ppm. Do nothing but check the ammonia level and add more as needed to keep it up to at least 2ppm for 2 weeks. You can top off evaporated water but only use water that has set for at least 24 hours since Prime was added to it.
 
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HairdresserOctopus

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It sounds to me like the TSS failed. There are lots of reasons as to why this would have happened. If I were you I would do a big water change (at least 75%). Add prime to dechlorinate the new water if you have chlorine in it. Wait at least 24 hours (very important) and then add another well shaken appropriate sized bottle of TSS and ammonia up to at least 3ppm. Do nothing but check the ammonia level and add more as needed to keep it up to at least 2ppm for 2 weeks. You can top off evaporated water but only use water that has set for at least 24 hours since Prime was added to it.
aww, I spent 6 dollars on that bottle of safestart
 

Islandvic

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@HairdresserOctopus , congrats on your new tank!

I believe I read on Tetra's website that extreme cold or extreme heat can negatively affect TSS.

Depending on how old the bottle is, it may have been transported in the middle of last summer and subjected to 100°f+ heat for sustained periods while in transit or storage for example. That is only a theory .

I have used it before with success though.

Another cause could be there isn't enough media in the filter for the beneficial bacteria to colonize on.

Yes, it will colonize in the substrate, as I know someone will point out.

I would counter that though by stating that if we could rely on that to properly cycle the entire tank, people wouldn't have to worry about losing their nitrogen cycle when they discard and replace their filter cartridges, but that is not the case.

What model filter are you using?

Is it cartridge based ? If so, do you have any other media in the reservoir?
 

Momgoose56

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I have to partially agree and disagree with others. It sounds to me like your Safestart DID work. From what I've been reading on this site about the efficacy of Safestare, it DID introduce some of the Nitrate Oxidizing Bacteria (NOB) to your tank. In order for you to have Nitrates, NOB have to be present and busily breaking down the Nitrites in the tank-resulting in the presence of Nitrates. The thing is, you don't yet have the level of Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) you need to break down the Ammonia in the tank.
I agree with @mattgirl that you could do a 50-75% water change and then redose the tank with ammonia to 3 ppm then recheck it daily to keep the ammonia at 2ppm until you start seeing ammonia levels dropping to 0 daily.
When you DO the water change and while your tank is cycling, don't vacuum gravel, change or rinse the filter media or clean anything in the tank. I would also skip feeding plants while cycling as well. There's enough ammonia and nitrates in the tank for the plants for now.
And as others said-there's no such thing as "instant cycling"! For bacteria to work in a tank, they HAVE to establish and grow on surfaces. Make sure you have plenty of filter media in your filter, do not remove any media, wood, plants or decorations from your tank and adding the sponge filter wouldn't hurt-it adds more high water flow surface area for bacteria to attach to.
 
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mattgirl

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I have to partially agree and disagree with others. It sounds to me like your Safestart DID work. From what I've been reading on this site about the efficacy of Safestare, it DID introduce some of the Nitrate Oxidizing Bacteria (NOB) to your tank. In order for you to have Nitrates, NOB have to be present and busily breaking down the Nitrites in the tank-resulting in the presence of Nitrates. The thing is, you don't yet have the level of Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) you need to break down the Ammonia in the tank.
I agree with @mattgirl that you could do a 50-75% water change and then redose the tank with ammonia to 3 ppm then recheck it daily to keep the ammonia at 2ppm until you start seeing ammonia levels dropping to 0 daily.
When you DO the water change and while your tank is cycling, don't vacuum gravel, change or rinse the filter media or clean anything in the tank. I would also skip feeding plants while cycling as well. There's enough ammonia and nitrates in the tank for the plants for now.
You could very well be right but I have to think that low reading for nitrates came from the ferts added to this tank since the ammonia level didn't go down at all from the original dose. That is the reasoning behind my thoughts that the TSS failed. If the bacteria was still alive and active the ammonia should have been gone after almost 2 weeks.
 

Momgoose56

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One other note, raising your tank temperature to around 80°F will encourage faster bacterial growth. Also, a pH around 7.6 or higher also helps.

You could very well be right but I have to think that low reading for nitrates came from the ferts added to this tank since the ammonia level didn't go down at all from the original dose. That is the reasoning behind my thoughts that the TSS failed. If the bacteria was still alive and active the ammonia should have been gone after almost 2 weeks.
That may be true, but what I've been seeing about Safestart seems to indicate that it ONLY introduces NOB to the tank in many cases-even in tanks with no plants/ferts. I don't know if as @Islandvic said, that cold or heat may have 'killed' any AOB in the Safestart (AOB may be more sensitive to temp extremes) but as I said, in many cases, immediate elimination of Nitrates is noted in tanks that have used Safestart without affecting Ammonia levels. So, the OP can just try the water change and ammonia redose as you suggested and see if Nitrates reappear without the addition of more ferts.

Do you understand what mattgirl and I are saying @HairdresserOctopus? If it's not clear, let us know....

Error: I said "elimination of Nitrates" above and I meant "elimination of NITRITES"-sorry for any confusion!
 
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