Do I need to make sure NH3/NH4 are 0ppm or just NH3 0ppm

khittik

Dear all,

I have just set up my new salt water tank with Natural Sea Water. It has been more than a week and the tank should be fully cycled now.

I have done the test daily using API test kit (NH3/NH4) and the result is approximately 0.25ppm.

However, I have also bought a Seachem Amonia Alert and placed in the tank. It has been more than 4 days. It shows as safe zone: less than 0.02ppm. I believe this kit only tests NH3 which is free ammonia (un-ionized ammonia)

My question is: Can I put the fish and coral in the tank? Should I make sure NH3/NH4 are 0ppm or just have to make sure NH3 is 0ppm at all times?

Please help!

With kind regards,

Khit Tik
 

MacZ

Should I make sure NH3/NH4 are 0ppm or just have to make sure NH3 is 0ppm at all times?
NH3 becomes NH4 under a pH of roughly 6.8, at 6.0 all Ammonia is present as NH4. The higher the pH the less NH4 is present. Over 7.2 all of it should be NH3. So as you are setting up saltwater, your pH should never be low enough for NH4 to be significantly present at all.

The tests detect both.

Fresh- or saltwater, the cycle takes longer than a week to establish.
 

Azedenkae

My question is: Can I put the fish and coral in the tank? Should I make sure NH3/NH4 are 0ppm or just have to make sure NH3 is 0ppm at all times?
No, it does not need to be zero. There has been multiple tests that found a very low basal amount of ammonia in marine tanks even when very well established. Like, very, very, very low and close to zero.

What you do need to make sure though, is that the tank is cycled. Which forgive me if I am wrong, but I feel like you may have been provided wrong information on what 'cycled' means.

So before I detail my thoughts, can I ask what you know about the cycle and what you believe 'cycled' to mean (aside from being 'safe' for live stock, like how do we actually know a tank is cycled)?
 

khittik

No, it does not need to be zero. There has been multiple tests that found a very low basal amount of ammonia in marine tanks even when very well established. Like, very, very, very low and close to zero.

What you do need to make sure though, is that the tank is cycled. Which forgive me if I am wrong, but I feel like you may have been provided wrong information on what 'cycled' means.

So before I detail my thoughts, can I ask what you know about the cycle and what you believe 'cycled' to mean (aside from being 'safe' for live stock, like how do we actually know a tank is cycled)?
From what I know about cycle is when the reading of ammonia is low, which is close to 0ppm and most of them have been converted to nitrite by nitrifying bacteria and to nitrite and then to some of the nitrate which must be taken out of the tank by water changes.

I am new to this. What I confuse is that, does ammonia and ammonium NH4 is the same thing. When I do the test API test shows 0.20ppm but Seachem alert shows as less than 0.02ppm. So I am not sure is this good? API company told me it is safe to put the live stocks once NH3 is close to 0ppm and need not to wait for NH4 to be close to 0ppm because this is non toxic
 

MacZ

What I confuse is that, does ammonia and ammonium NH4 is the same thing.
It's basically the same. If your pH is above 7.2 it is 99% NH3. If your pH is below 6.8 it is 99% NH4.

Do you know your pH?

From what I know about cycle is when the reading of ammonia is low, which is close to 0ppm and most of them have been converted to nitrite by nitrifying bacteria and to nitrite and then to some of the nitrate which must be taken out of the tank by water changes.
Not necessarily. Low ammonia can also just mean, there is no influx of Ammonia. Usually Ammonia comes from decomposition of biomatter, and from the metabolism of animals. Fish "breath" out ammonia via their gills as they breath out CO2. So there is a constant source of ammonia in a stocked tank. This ammonia is then processed in the cycle.
In a cycled tank this happens fast due to the amounts of microorganisms in the filter and on surfaces.
If you have just started the tank and not fed the bacteria much in terms of ammonia (which you have to slowly raise in a fishless cycle until a certain amount is processed in a sufficiently short time) the microfauna will not grow. First the little critters metabolize Ammonia to Nitrite. Only when Nitrite has shown up you know the Ammonia is being processed. And only when Nitrates show up, you now the Nitrites are processed as well.

So basically: When you add ammonia and some hours later you have only readings for nitrates, that's when the tank is cycled.

Now I see a problem though. You say your source water is natural seawater. So you get your water right from the ocean? No filtration before adding it to the tank?
 

WRWAquarium

Get yourself a good few kilos of live rock would be my advice if you haven't allready. using live rock from an established tank sump has and some store bought pieces allowed me to very quickly cycle my new saltwater setup.
 

khittik

Now I see a problem though. You say your source water is natural seawater. So you get your water right from the ocean? No filtration before adding it to the tank?
Get yourself a good few kilos of live rock would be my advice if you haven't allready.
I am using Waterbox 20 gallon aquarium.
I have 20 Lbs of CaribSea live rock.
I used 20lbs CaribSea Special grade live sand.
I use Natural Sea Water from Natural Seawater (Sea Water) Supplier - NSW Delivered Nationwide (They send Sea Water with 0 ammonia)


Their sea water readings as follows:
Common parameters of our natural seawater (Sea Water, NSW, Saltwater) are:

Salinity 34-36 ppt, Nitrates 0-0.9, Nitrite 0, Calcium 400-450ppm, Alkalinity 7.5-8.6dKH, Ammonia 0, PH 8.0-8.3, Magnesium 1250-1350ppm, Phosphate 0-0.05ppm, Silicate 0-0.1.

Very quick cycling process, as the seawater holds over 11 million forms of live bacteria per gallon

What you want me to do?
 

Azedenkae

Sorry, I missed your reply.
From what I know about cycle is when the reading of ammonia is low, which is close to 0ppm and most of them have been converted to nitrite by nitrifying bacteria and to nitrite and then to some of the nitrate which must be taken out of the tank by water changes.
This is part of the cycling process, but not all of it.

You are correct, but that only indicates that there is nitrification going on, not how extensively it is going on (i.e. that the nitrification capacity may not be actually high enough).

The purpose of cycling is not only to establish nitrification, but to an extent where it makes it safe for live stock to be added.
I am new to this. What I confuse is that, does ammonia and ammonium NH4 is the same thing. When I do the test API test shows 0.20ppm but Seachem alert shows as less than 0.02ppm. So I am not sure is this good? API company told me it is safe to put the live stocks once NH3 is close to 0ppm and need not to wait for NH4 to be close to 0ppm because this is non toxic
Yes and no, they are in a balance. It is true that you do not need ammonium to be zero if ammonia (or 'free ammonia') is close. Nonetheless, for marine aquariums the proportion of free ammonia to ammonium is higher given the higher pH.

With that said, it is best to ensure total ammonia (free ammonia + ammonium) can be handled by nitrification, rather than just free ammonia. That is what we tend to care most about. Don't forget, as free ammonia is consumed, ammonium turns into free ammonia as they have to always be in a balance. So there is a certain point where even when free ammonia is effectively oxidized, it may continue to remain at a high enough level to harm your live stock.

The way to know a tank is cycled is if it can handle at least 1ppm total ammonia a day.
 

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