Can smaller trace of ammonia sustain larger colony of bacterias? Question 

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Vash

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My 40 gallon tank had been cycling for 5 weeks. Now it can process about 5~6ppm ammonia daily.

However, the other day I added more plants which you can see in my sig. Then I added more ammonia. Maybe a bit too much ammonia.

The next day, some of the leaves started dying. I think it was either because of the too high concentration of ammonia, or the PH swing due to sudden high ammonia. The ammonia reading was way over 12ppm after I added it. PH shot up to way over 9.

Less than 40 hours later, ammonia went down to 0.5ppm, PH went down to below 7. (I have soft water with next to no buffer. Nitrate build up is very bright red on the reading which I can't be sure if it's 40~80 or above 80, or even above 160)

I won't be getting fish for another week at least. I don't want the bacterias to decrease in number. But I don't want to harm my plants with ammonia/PH swing either. Nor I want to have such high concentration of nitrate which will take lots of water change to get down to reasonable level for the fish.(the other day I did a 70% partial water change, the nitrate reading did not change at all, still bright red)

I know in long term if there isn't enough ammonia, the cycle will die back.

But the question is, if I periodically feed the tank small trace of ammonia, lets say 0.5~1ppm every 8 hours (which is 1.5~3ppm per day) instead of 5~6ppm at once per 24 hours, will my cycle die back in short term such as a week or two?
 

funkman262

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If you have a lot of plants, they'll actually compete with the bacteria for the ammonia. If you add drops of ammonia each day, the bacteria may not even have a chance to consume it if the plants get to it first. Some people may even recommend removing any biological filtration (I only have filter floss in my filter to collect debris). This will allow the plants to have a better shot in getting enough ammonia to survive. Although some of the bacteria will survive, they're not as necessary in planted tanks because the plants serve the same purpose without creating nitrates as a byproduct. Some people set up their tanks heavily planted and add fish right away as a way to completely avoid cycling the tank. So pretty much, with the plants in there, I wouldn't stress too much on trying to keep the cycle alive. Just make sure the plants survive.
 

Kunsthure

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I can't remember if you want to do DIY CO2, but you'll have major issues if you don't get some buffering capacity into your water. Check your pH as soon as you get up, before lights on, then check it mid-day, and again right after lights out to make sure the plants' CO2 production won't cause a big pH swing.

And no, your cycle won't be affected in any significant way if you do smaller doses or one large dose

-Lisa
 
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Vash

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I don't have a clue how to safely raise my buffer without changing anything else.
 

ranga97

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Good info with the above posts!
 
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Vash

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So I have only 2 Dwarf GouramI and 4 Zebra Netrite Snails in the 40 gallon right now. I ordered more fish from PetSolutions on Thursday...thought I'd get them today. Unfortunately, they told me the fish won't be shipped until Monday. So there will be 4 more days before I get the rest of the fish.(6 Congo Tetra, 12 Neon Tetra, 6 Peppered Cory cats, 4 Hifin Yellow).

I worry my cycle might die back during this time. As for this Monday which was 4 days ago, it could process 6ppm ammonia per day. But 8 days without this amount of ammonia...not to mention the plants will compete for ammonia...

I am thinking about taking the filter out and run it in a 5 gallon bucket with pure ammonia until the day fish arrive. The plants and existing bacterias outside the filter should be able to handle such light load for 4 days no problem.


Who thinks I should do this please raise your hand! lol
 

jetajockey

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I'm not going to advise you either way but I can tell you that I took a well established canister off of a fully stocked tank and hooked it up to another similar sized tank with less than half of the bioload (to stabilize water params) and I left it on for a week, when I put it back on the fully loaded tank it couldn't handle the ammonia and went into minicycle.
 
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Well, judged from your experience, my bacterias will pretty much be all gone by next Tuesday. No way it will handle the full load by then. It has been 3 full days since I stopped adding ammonia. I guess I will run my canister filter in the bucket with ammonia for the next 3 days.



Well, if anyone who think what I am doing will cause problem, please speak up.
 

Jaysee

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I think running the canister on a big plastic bin is a great idea!
 
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The one I have is only 5g. Might have to add ammonia quite frequently at smaller doses.

I don't have any big plastic bin beside my garbage can lol.
 

Jayde

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edit: Doh, this is Mylar, forgot the wife had this laptop logged in last


wow, that is a good idea...

following that same train of thought, when it's getting to be time to swap some major piece of biofilter media like a biowheel or the sponge for a sponge filter, you could fill a bucket with water and the gunk from a gravel vacuuming, run the new sponge/wheel on a different filter in the bucket and feed it ammonia for a week or two to buff it up and avoid a mini-cycle when you do finally swap it out with the old one.
 

Jayde

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<--- the is Jayde

I don't think limestone in a tank is a very good idea. Depending on how basic or acidic your water is, it can dissolve your limestone.
 

funkman262

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Jayde said:
<--- the is Jayde

I don't think limestone in a tank is a very good idea. Depending on how basic or acidic your water is, it can dissolve your limestone.
lol but that's why Vash is asking about using it. The water is too acidic and Vash is looking for a way to raise the buffering capacity and the pH.
 

TedsTank

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Disolving limestone is an extremely slow process, And can help to stabilize the water. As the limestone works and acidity decreases so will the the amount of limestone affecting the water. You would only have to be careful as to how much to add....certainly not gravel....and keep it well monitored for a while. Less acidity = less disolved solids.
 

Jayde

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funkman262 said:
lol but that's why Vash is asking about using it. The water is too acidic and Vash is looking for a way to raise the buffering capacity and the pH.
I still wouldnt use it. Think of all of the impurities that are in there.
 

funkman262

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Jayde said:
I still wouldnt use it. Think of all of the impurities that are in there.
Such as...? Limestone is actually recommended for aquariums requiring high pH such as an African Cichlid tank and is widely used.
 
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funkman262 said:
lol but that's why Vash is asking about using it. The water is too acidic and Vash is looking for a way to raise the buffering capacity and the pH.
No.

My tap water has PH of 8.2. Not acidic at all.

But my water also has next to no buffer. It is soft.


So once nitrate build up, the PH drops significantly.

I am looking for way to increase the buff safely.
 

funkman262

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Vash said:
Less than 40 hours later, ammonia went down to 0.5ppm, PH went down to below 7. (I have soft water with next to no buffer. Nitrate build up is very bright red on the reading which I can't be sure if it's 40~80 or above 80, or even above 160)
This is what I was basing my response on. Adding buffer will also raise pH, they go hand-in-hand. You can't say you want to add buffer without affecting your pH also.

Also, if your nitrates are increasing that much, there's a problem with your system and/or you're not doing enough water changes. It's best if your nitrates are kept 20ppm or less
 
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