Is there any way I can get ammonium out of my water or is it okay to have?

Scampy

Hi everyone, this is my first post here!
Anyway, I’ve been cycling my 10 gallon tank for three weeks now. Before starting my cycle, I tested my tap water. I’ve noticed that it was 1.0 ppm. I was assuming this is because of ammonia. However, someone told me that there is also ammonium in the water and the API master kit tests both ammonia and ammonium.

Week One Test Results:
Ammonia: 2.0ppm
Nitrites : 0.50ppm
Nitrates : 0 ppm

Week Two :
Ammonia: 1.0 ppm
Nitrites : 0 ppm
Nitrates: 5 ppm

- I was able to get the aquarium and tap water to match.

The start of Week Three:
Ammonia : 1.0 ppm
Nitrites : 0 ppm
Nitrates : 10 ppm

I recently purchased Seachem Alert. I saw that this tests Free Ammonia. The color in the middle of the wheel is yellow while the color on my API testing kit is green (still 1.0ppm). I heard that ammonium isn’t as toxic as ammonia depending on the PH. My PH is 7.4.

I’m very confused. I’m not going to add any fish until I’m completely certain that the API testing kit test is just ammonium and the Seachem Alert is correct.
Any advice is appreciated, thanks!
 

mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :)

Once your tank completes the cycle the bacteria will remove both ammonia and ammonium. With your pH being 7.4 I have to think if you are getting an ammonia reading with the API test it is actually ammonia. I could be wrong but I would be more willing to trust the liquid test over the Seachem Alert.

did you add seeded media or bottled bacteria to jump start this cycle?
 
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Scampy

I added tetra safe start. The entire bottle. When I first started my tank, it started out as high ammonia (according to the API test) because of the tap and I fed the filter. I have since stopped feeding the filter because the ammonia was already high. I saw this chart and went off of it.
No matter what I do, I can’t get the ammonia down because the water from my tap has ammonia or ammonium, or, at least, detoxify it. It has been reading 1.0ppm for a week.
I’ve turned up the heater to 82F to see if it’ll help.
I should also mention that my PH levels are usually a 6.4. I was able to raise it with baking soda just a few days ago
 

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mattgirl

You are still early in the cycle but adding the TSS may speed things up. It works well for some. Not so well for others. Once you have grown enough ammonia eating bacteria the ammonia in your tap water isn't going to be a problem. Doing water changes will add some ammonia each time but your bacteria will take care of it for you once the tank is fully cycled.

Your cycle slowed down during the time the pH was so low but getting it up should straighten that out. Instead of adding baking soda you may want to consider adding crushed coral instead. It will raise and stabilize the pH.
 
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Scampy

How high should the pH be? It’s been at a 7.4 for a couple of days now. Should it be higher?
 
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mattgirl

How high should the pH be? It’s been at a 7.4 for a couple of days now. Should it be higher?
As long as it is holding at 7 or above your cycle should keep moving forward. Your 7.4 is fine.
 
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Scampy

As long as it is holding at 7 or above your cycle should keep moving forward. Your 7.4 is fine.

Quick question, my cycle recently spiked from 1.0 ppm to 2.0-4.0 ppm of ammonia. I haven’t been feeding the filter because there has already been a lot of ammonia in there. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do?

I’ve tried to do a water change. I bought water from the pet store(2.5 gallon) to see if it’ll help dilute the ammonia after the water change. It didn’t help.
 
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mattgirl

Quick question, my cycle recently spiked from 1.0 ppm to 2.0-4.0 ppm of ammonia. I haven’t been feeding the filter because there has already been a lot of ammonia in there. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do?

I’ve tried to do a water change. I bought water from the pet store(2.5 gallon) to see if it’ll help dilute the ammonia after the water change. It didn’t help.
Can you explain what you mean when you say you are feeding the filter? Cycling a tank takes time and patience. It isn't unusual for it to take 3 weeks or sometimes even longer for the ammonia to start going down. If your pH was really low for any length of time it will have slowed it down even more.

Right now it is just a waiting game. Since there are no fish in this tank the ammonia level isn't hurting anything. If it is actually up to 4ppm it is just going to longer for it to go down.
 
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Scampy

Hi again!

yes, my ammonia was up to 4.0 and two days later, nitrites showed up. Over the past couple of days, the bacteria has gotten the ammonia down to .50 ppm. At one point, my nitrites were off the charts and so was my nitrates. It was over 5 yesterday morning and was about .50 this morning. I did a water change today because my nitrates were 160 ppm.

My readings now are .25 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and between 20-40 nitrates. I recently got ammonia from the hardware store and was wondering if it was okay to use. I’ll attach the pic below. Dr. Tim’s won’t be here for another week and I don’t want my bacteria to die off. If it is okay to use, how much should I dose the tank? It’s a 10 gallon tank.
 

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mattgirl

The amount you need to add depends on the strength of the ammonia. Start by adding 10 drops. Give it time to get well mixed the tank and run the ammonia test. If those 10 drops don't get it up to 2ppm add more. Keep track of how many drops it takes to get it up to 2ppm so you can add the same amount each time it goes down to or very close to zero.

I have to think this cycle is very close to done. You will know it is done when you add 2ppm ammonia and see both ammonia and nitrites at zero 24 hours later.
 
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Scampy

Should I wait until the ammonia hits 0 before dosing it back up to 2ppm or is it okay to do it now?
 
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mattgirl

Should I wait until the ammonia hits 0 before dosing it back up to 2ppm or is it okay to do it now?
If it is down to .25 you can go ahead and get it back up now.
 
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Scampy

Is it okay to lightly start stocking my tank now? My 10 gallon tank converted 4ppm of ammonia in less than 48 hours. I did a water change because the nitrates were high. My tap has 1ppm of ammonia in it. I was able to convert 1ppm of ammonia in a little more than 5 hours.
 
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mattgirl

Is it okay to lightly start stocking my tank now? My 10 gallon tank converted 4ppm of ammonia in less than 48 hours. I did a water change because the nitrates were high. My tap has 1ppm of ammonia in it. I was able to convert 1ppm of ammonia in a little more than 5 hours.
It does sound like this cycle is complete and safe for fish now. Since you have 1ppm ammonia in your source water I am going to recommend you do smaller water changes than I normally recommend. I normally recommend changing 50% of the water each week but in this case I am going to recommend you change out 25%. By doing so you will only be adding .25ppm ammonia. continue using Prime as your water conditioner. It will keep the ammonia detoxed long enough for the bacteria to clean it out. I will suggest since you are only changing out 25% of the water you do two water changes one week a month.
 
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Scampy

I just wanted to make sure this is okay... my API test never truly reached 0. The lowest color it reached has been .25 even after water changes and water in a jug (the ones that you buy from the pet store that has no ammonia or anything in it.) is it possible that I’m still cycled but the tests just won’t ever go to 0? All the nitrites are gone from when I dosed the tank to 4ppm but the last stubborn .25 ammonia never fully goes away. Is there anything that you can suggest? Is it okay?
 
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mattgirl

I just wanted to make sure this is okay... my API test never truly reached 0. The lowest color it reached has been .25 even after water changes and water in a jug (the ones that you buy from the pet store that has no ammonia or anything in it.) is it possible that I’m still cycled but the tests just won’t ever go to 0? All the nitrites are gone from when I dosed the tank to 4ppm but the last stubborn .25 ammonia never fully goes away. Is there anything that you can suggest? Is it okay?
I read lots of reports of folks never seeing a true zero with the API liquid test. If you are seeing the same color when testing bottled water I have to think what you are seeing is fine. If you add enough ammonia to get it up to 2ppm in the tank, it is back down to 0/,25 and you see no nitrites within 24 hours then I have to think this cycle is done.
 
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Scampy

Hi! Quick question. I just started my second fishless cycle about a week ago. I now have 2ppm of ammonia, off the charts nitrites, and about 160 nitrate. Is it okay to do a small water change or should I leave it how it is? I haven’t touched anything yet.
 
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mattgirl

Hi! Quick question. I just started my second fishless cycle about a week ago. I now have 2ppm of ammonia, off the charts nitrites, and about 160 nitrate. Is it okay to do a small water change or should I leave it how it is? I haven’t touched anything yet.
What is your ammonia source? I have to wonder how you have managed to get off the chart nitrites and nitrates in a weeks time. Tell me a bit more about how you are cycling this tank.
 
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Scampy

I used Ace ammonia and a little less than half a bottle of tetra safe start. I had it left over from my first tank and decided to use it for the second one as I didn’t want it to go to waste. I know it said not to do a water change until about 10 -14 days. I’m on day 8 or so. I haven’t changed the water yet but the nitrites are off the charts and I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to happen yet lol.
I also top off the water with water from my first fish tank when the water has evaporated some in the second tank. I’ve only done this once. The pH is 7.4 and temp is 82.
 
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mattgirl

I used Ace ammonia and a little less than half a bottle of tetra safe start. I had it left over from my first tank and decided to use it for the second one as I didn’t want it to go to waste. I know it said not to do a water change until about 10 -14 days. I’m on day 8 or so. I haven’t changed the water yet but the nitrites are off the charts and I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to happen yet lol.
I also top off the water with water from my first fish tank when the water has evaporated some in the second tank. I’ve only done this once. The pH is 7.4 and temp is 82.
Since this is a fishless cycle I would just go ahead and give it the full 2 weeks before doing a water change. It is very unusual to see nitrites and nitrates this high this early in the process but i guess it is possible after adding bottled bacteria. You say the ammonia is 2ppm now. How high did you get it when you first started the cycle? I am just wondering how much ammonia has been processed since starting this cycle.
 
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Scampy

i totally forgot that my tap water has 1.0 of ammonia in there so by accident, I dosed it to two using the liquid ammonia. It’s been that way for the week it’s been in there. The ammonia hasn’t gone down but the nitrites and nitrates have sky rocketed. That’s why I’m super confused. I’ve been searching Google but I haven’t had one solid answer on why the ammonia hasn’t gone down and why the nitrites and nitrates have gone up so much.
I thought, maybe my testing kit was not good but I just bought one at the beginning of this month so that can’t be it. When I test the other fish tank, I get 0 on nitrite and ammonia. I just can’t seem to figure out why the ammonia is not going down yet.
 
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mattgirl

i totally forgot that my tap water has 1.0 of ammonia in there so by accident, I dosed it to two using the liquid ammonia. It’s been that way for the week it’s been in there. The ammonia hasn’t gone down but the nitrites and nitrates have sky rocketed. That’s why I’m super confused. I’ve been searching Google but I haven’t had one solid answer on why the ammonia hasn’t gone down and why the nitrites and nitrates have gone up so much.
I thought, maybe my testing kit was not good but I just bought one at the beginning of this month so that can’t be it. When I test the other fish tank, I get 0 on nitrite and ammonia. I just can’t seem to figure out why the ammonia is not going down yet.
I have to be completely honest. What you are seeing shouldn't be happening. If it has not processed any ammonia then I have no idea how you could be seeing the nitrites and nitrates you are seeing.

Are you seeing no nitrites and low nitrates in your cycled tank? I only ask because you said you topped off this tank with water from it. What if anything have you added to this tank other than the water conditioner you used when you first set the tank up and the TSS?

The nitrites and nitrates you are seeing were not produced by ammonia eating bacteria since this tank has processed no ammonia. They had to have come from somewhere.
 
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Scampy

In my first tank, yes there’s no ammonia and no nitrites with small nitrates. Under 20. The only other things I have added to the tank since decorating it was a little bit of Iron for the plants, plants, and hard scape. Other than that, I haven’t touched it.
I did put in a small piece of media in the filter during the first day. My nitrites have crept up since around day 3-4 and now they’re off the charts. It’s just the ammonia that’s not going anywhere.
These are my test results from June 25th and the 27th. Nitrites are still going up, nitrates are still high. And ammonia not going anywhere.
 

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mattgirl

In this case all I can advise is give the TSS the full 2 weeks. At that point if you are still seeing these same readings I will recommend you change out most of the water to get both nitrites and nitrates down as low as possible. The water change is going to raise the ammonia since you have it in your tap water. Once the water change is done just keep an eye on it to see if it starts going down.
 
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Scampy

I truly thought I understood this nitrogen cycle, but this tank is just confusing me. When I went to bed last night, the ammonia was between 1 and 2. The nitrites were still off the charts. Nitrates between 80-160, I think? I’m not sure. Today, I’m not detecting any nitrites. Maybe I just had a random spike? Ammonia hasn’t gone down either lool
 
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mattgirl

I truly thought I understood this nitrogen cycle, but this tank is just confusing me. When I went to bed last night, the ammonia was between 1 and 2. The nitrites were still off the charts. Nitrates between 80-160, I think? I’m not sure. Today, I’m not detecting any nitrites. Maybe I just had a random spike? Ammonia hasn’t gone down either lool
This isn't unusual for nitrites. This is what they do. High one day, gone the next, never to be seen again. Amazing that it is happening so quickly but I wouldn't be overly concerned about no longer seeing them.
 
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Scampy

hi, update on my tank in case you were wondering. Since we last talked, my ammonia was at a 2, now it’s down to a 0. My nitrite test came out to be a grey color. I couldn’t understand what that meant so I did some Google searching… it means that my nitrite levels were way off the chats. So right now, I am doing a water change because of it being so high. I didn’t know what else to do. I’m hoping this water change will bring it back down to normal range.
 
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mattgirl

hi, update on my tank in case you were wondering. Since we last talked, my ammonia was at a 2, now it’s down to a 0. My nitrite test came out to be a grey color. I couldn’t understand what that meant so I did some Google searching… it means that my nitrite levels were way off the chats. So right now, I am doing a water change because of it being so high. I didn’t know what else to do. I’m hoping this water change will bring it back down to normal range.
I would first run the test again. Be sure you wash the test tube out well before doing so. it is possible there was residue from a previous test left in there and is affecting this test. I have never seen a nitrite test being anything other than a super rich purple even when they are off the chart high.
 
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Scampy

I ran the test twice with two different testing bottles. I had a nitrite bottle that expires in 2025 and 2026. I used them both and both came up with the same color. So I decided to test the tap water. The results came out to be .25. I put 1ml of tank water mixed with 4ml of tap water into the testing tube, and the results came up off the charts. So I did a 50 percent water change, the color is now a dark purple after the water change.
I tested it multiple times.
 
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Andres391

This is what works for me weakly 20 percent water change and aa ling as the ammonia is not higher then 2ppm if it is I would do a 50 percent water change even with ammonia in tap water one your ammonia goes down dont worry about the nitrates if its 5ppm your good if its to high what for them to die off to atleast 5ppm check every 2days. If that don't work add seachem stability as directed for 1st time use. That should speed up your cycle by the way. Worst case scenario dose your tank with seachem prime according to how many gallons you have this will also detoxify nitrates in a emergency as stated in the instructions this will allow plants if you have any and other bacteria to eat them easier.
 
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Scampy

I did the 50 percent water change yesterday to get some color back to the nitrite tube and it’s still a dark magenta color. Should I leave it alone now or should I do another water change to get it to a purple on the chart?
 
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mattgirl

I did the 50 percent water change yesterday to get some color back to the nitrite tube and it’s still a dark magenta color. Should I leave it alone now or should I do another water change to get it to a purple on the chart?
Did you do the dilution test again? Since this is a fishless cycle the high nitrites really shouldn't pose a problem other than taking forever to go down. As long as the ammonia you are adding is still going down then the cycle is moving forward.

To be perfectly honest I have never heard of a cycle acting like this. It really isn't making any kind of sense to me. Normally once we have our nitrite spike and it drops back to zero, as we have seen this tank do, it doesn't spike up off the chart again. Something other than the normal cycling process is causing what we are seeing. Can you show me a photo of this tank? What all do you have in it in the way of substrate and decor?
 
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Scampy

No, not this time. The test was from the tank water itself.
I have flI also substrate along with sand. I accidentally dumped too much sand in there tho so it looks a bit funky.
In the tank there is,
10 jungle val
20 dwarf sag
4 Hydro Araguaia
2 Java fern narrow leaf (they’re attached to the log)
4 Chain Sword Narrow leaf
2 Blue Seiryu Rocks
Can’t tell what type wood it is.
3 plants from petco, they had a sale that was like buy 3 get 3.
I know, a lot of plants but some will be transported to another tank once it grows.
all the dead and dying leaves have been trimmed.
 

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mattgirl

I love the jungle look you have going on in there. Since there are no living creatures other than live plants in this tank I would just let the cycle do what it is doing. Add ammonia when it goes down to or close to zero but no more often than every 24 hours. Instead of every 24 hours though you could just add it every 48. That will be often enough to keep the bacteria well fed.
 
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Scampy

Thank you! Good thing I read this! I was about to dose the tank again with ammonia. I dosed it last night to 1 to see how long it would take. It’s completely gone now. I’ll dose it again tomorrow morning.
I’m just going to let the tank sit for now. Thank you for all your help.
 
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Scampy

Update yet again, I did a very large water change last night as the nitrate levels were close to 160 and nitrite levels were still off the charts. I got the nitrite levels down to .25 and nitrate levels to between 10 and 20. I dosed to 1 ppm last night and this morning, ammonia is 0 and nitrite levels are a bit more than 0 but less than .25. I’m almost there!
I’m hoping to start stocking by next Monday. I just want to make sure I don’t have any more nitrite spikes before adding fish into the tank.
 
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Scampy

hi, quick question. I seem to have hydra in my aquarium, Are they bad? I can’t seem to find a definite answer. I was only planning on putting a mystery snail and betta in this 10 gallon. There’s nothing in there just yet. How can I combat this? I saw somewhere saying that platies would work but I don’t think the tank is big enough for them with a snail and betta? Google isn’t really helping. The hydra is white.
 
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