20 Gallon Tank Help me figure out where the ammonia came from

Matt11711

Hi, I decided to test my ammonia today and wow, I had some in the tank! I've done a couple things in the past couple days so I'd like to list them out and see if any stand out as very likely the cause.
First off, my tank has been running since the beginning of January with an aquaclear filter. I haven't replaced the carbon or bio media. Honestly when I find the time I was planning on removing the carbon and adding more sponge.
However, a couple days ago I noticed my filter flow was down so I rinsed the intake sponge and the filter sponge and wrung them out a couple times. This was done in water that I had left standing for several days and that I'm 80% sure I had treated with aqueon water conditioner. I added more halfway into washing the sponges because I couldn't remember.
Because the water has been standing out, my cat has been drinking from it, and I added it to my tank. I figured that whatever he got into the water would be fine, and he really enjoys drinking from the bucket.
I also had placed a piece of blanched zucchini in the tank a couple days ago, and I had just left it while the otos and shrimp slowly ate it. I pulled it out once or twice to remove pest snails but my fish were still eating it and I figured it was fine. It certainly didn't look rotten.
Finally, I did about a 40-50% water change tonight to lower the ammonia. It was only about .25ppm anyway, but while I did the water change I decided to uproot some of my fast growing stem plants (anacharis and hornwort) and gravel vac under them. And then I started taking out a bunch of hornwort deciding that I wanted fish to actually be able to swim between the stems I had previously been taking my cuttings and just slamming them into the substrate next to the other stems, so it was very cramped). And that is how I found a lot of brown and rotting hornwort underneath all the stems. Not nearly as much volume wise as the zucchini, but this was obviously brown and rotting.
Any ideas about which of these caused the ammonia? I don't really feed fish food because the only fish in the tank are otos and a clown pleco.
 

Salem

It was likely the combo of the zucchini and the hornwort. Just because it's not fish food or doesn't visually look like its rotting doesn't mean its not. That low of a reading isn't too concerning though. You may want to test your water for ammonia again in a few days to make sure everything is fine.
 
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Matt11711

It was likely the combo of the zucchini and the hornwort. Just because it's not fish food or doesn't visually look like its rotting doesn't mean its not. That low of a reading isn't too concerning though. You may want to test your water for ammonia again in a few days to make sure everything is fine.
Yeah I'm going to check it tomorrow and then in a couple of days. Thanks for the reply!
 
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