Need to understand whats going on

Compo

Member
Hi

My tank has been running now for well over 6 weeks and these are my reading will post pic
The ammonia has been at this level for well over a week I have 20 neons in the tank at the min its 200ltr running a fluval 306 canister with a 1kg of bio media but I have never seen the nitrite go purple
I have been told to dose seachem stability for 7 days and re test
Can someone point me in the right direction
Temp is currently at 80
Tank also has bog wood and 4 little plants
 

Lilthuglet

Member
First step, I'd test the tap water. If there's ammonia coming out of the tap you may need to buy in some clean water.

Second, once you know you have some ammonia free water, do water changes. 20-50% every day until the ammonia comes down. You do have some nitrates by the look of things so I think you are getting some cycling happening, not seeing nitrites may be a lightly stocked tank cycling too quickly through that stage. I never saw a nitrite spike on either of my 100l/29g tanks, just got tiny ammonia readings when I first added some, then nitrate 48 hours later (using seeded media).
 

MacZ

Member
High ammonia and no nitrite means the tank is not yet cycling. Luckily the pH is below 7 so the ammonia isn't acutely toxic (which can change very drastically if the pH rises, so keep an eye on the pH). It's the nitrates that probably come from the tap, not the ammonia. Even if there are 10 kg of bio media, those have to be colonised by beneficial bacteria to be of any use. More is not necessarily more effect in this case. Stability alone is not going to work, also whatever bacteria-product you use, at best it safes you one week of cycling.

Troubleshooting:
Did you use anything as an ammonia source to cycle before adding fish?
How long are the fish in the tank?
Did you do any waterchanges since adding the fish? Or at all?

First measures:
- Test the tapwater. I doubt there is Ammonia in it, but I am quite sure there is Nitrates in it. This is not as bad as long as it's less than 50mg/l.
- Re-test your tank water and make absolutely sure there is no user-error involved.
- Do waterchanges. 1x a day 50% of the tank volume until the ammonia readings are down. Use dechlodinator if needed and try to match the temperature as good as possible, 1-3°C difference are no problem.
- Get a KH-Test. The pH points to low KH, which is not bad for Neon tetras, but can influence the cycle.


Sidenote: Could you also - please - use punctuation? Half my questions are just to make sure I got you right.

Compo said:
Hi

My tank has been running now for well over 6 weeks and these are my reading will post pic
The ammonia has been at this level for well over a week I have 20 neons in the tank at the min its 200ltr running a fluval 306 canister with a 1kg of bio media but I have never seen the nitrite go purple
I have been told to dose seachem stability for 7 days and re test
Can someone point me in the right direction
Temp is currently at 80
Tank also has bog wood and 4 little plants
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
Thank you for the replys.

I have tested my tap water 0 ammonia and also 0 nitrate.
I also have only done one water change at 50% so far because not sure if this would interfere with the cycle or not.
I have noticed some brown like stuff going on the fake rock wall also .
And finally I have been using the fluval cycle biological enhancer as well as seachem stability
Do I just keep it all going and keep dosing with fluval and seachem till I see a change ?
My plants look like they are doing ok and growing
Thanks for any advice
 

MacZ

Member
Compo said:
I have tested my tap water 0 ammonia and also 0 nitrate.
The 5mg/l-result on the test can be within error margin. Very likely, the tank is not fully cycled yet.

Compo said:
I also have only done one water change at 50% so far because not sure if this would interfere with the cycle or not.
No it does not, especially when you basically do a fish-in cycle keeping ammonia levels low is necessary.

Compo said:
I have noticed some brown like stuff going on the fake rock wall also .
Likely just some diatome algae, absolutely normal during the first few months, nothing to worry about.

Compo said:
And finally I have been using the fluval cycle biological enhancer as well as seachem stability
Do I just keep it all going and keep dosing with fluval and seachem till I see a change ?
Both not really necessary, it will only safe you a week of many to cycle. Also never think just adding those magically reduces ammonia and the like. Marketing makes it seem so, it does not. Usually when using bacteria from a bottle, you only need to add a few ml in the first few weeks directly to the filter and that's it. The rest just takes time and as many such products have enzymes in them, that break apart nitrogen compounds sometimes they are counterproductive.

Compo said:
My plants look like they are doing ok and growing
Sure they do. Plants use Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates to grow and don't mind higher levels in the water.

Now, what may be a problem is the pH, as beneficial bacteria usually are less effective the lower the pH. At 6.0 they are working slow and are very much inactive, below 5.5 they first hibernate and then die off. So your low pH in the tank could be influencing the time the cycle takes.
You should probably also check the tap-pH and definitely get a test for KH. It is possible that the KH in the tank is depleted (thanks to too little waterchanges), which also can stall the cycle.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
So just keep cycling but do more frequent water changes and just up my ph a little. ?

Also keep testing to see if there are any changes.

Thanks
 

MacZ

Member
Compo said:
So just keep cycling but do more frequent water changes
Yes!

Compo said:
and just up my ph a little. ?
No! Please first find out, why the pH is so low. Meaning, get a test kit for KH, because KH and pH are connected. Right now it's guesswork and every way of tempering with the pH without knowing KH is gambling with your fishes lives.

Compo said:
Also keep testing to see if there are any changes.
Yes, that's fine.
 

86 ssinit

Member
What’s your ph out of the tap? I’m amazed your neons are still alive. Makes me wonder about the test. But I guess that’s the low ph in the tank. If the tap ph is as low you will want to add some crushed coral to raise it up some. Than do 50% water changes to remove the ammonia. Your doing a fish in cycle now. So test as you go and change water as needed.
 

MacZ

Member
86 ssinit said:
What’s your ph out of the tap? I’m amazed your neons are still alive. Makes me wonder about the test. But I guess that’s the low ph in the tank.
Ammonia is only acutely toxic above a pH of 7.2. With a pH of 6.2 - 6.4 (that's how I would interpret the readings in the first post), the ammonia are in NH3 form and not NH4+.

My suspicion is more that regular waterchanges might be sufficient to keep everything stable.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
From left to right
1 = tap water ph
2= tank water ph
3= ammonia
4= nitrite
5= nitrate
This is after 50% water change done today
For got to add the picture
 

86 ssinit

Member
Well your tap ph is real low so you’ll need to add crushed coral to bring it up. The ammonia test is from the tap or tank?
 

MacZ

Member
Isn't the tap in North America often saturated with CO2? Could that be the reason for the tap-pH?
I would first do a de-gassing test, before using any buffer, even if it's coral.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
86 ssinit said:
Well your tap ph is real low so you’ll need to add crushed coral to bring it up. The ammonia test is from the tap or tank?
Tank
MacZ said:
Isn't the tap in North America often saturated with CO2? Could that be the reason for the tap-pH?
I would first do a de-gassing test, before using any buffer, even if it's coral.
I am in the UK thats my Water straight from the tap
So as it stands just keep going with about a 50% water change with prime added daily to bring down the ammonia.
Then keep testing to see the ammonia drop and that will keep the tank cycling but bring the ammonia to a safer level. ?
 

MacZ

Member
Compo said:
I am in the UK thats my Water straight from the tap
Okay, that makes it easier, so the pH won't change when you leave it standing overnight. You're more to the North I suppose? Also maybe look up your water provider's website, they are required to put up the water analysis every year.
 

86 ssinit

Member
Mac I was going on the tap being 6.0 and his tank 6.4. Thinking the tank was after degassing. That’s why I suggested the coral. But I’ve never used coral. How much would you need?
 

mattgirl

Member
Welcome to Fishlore

I am going to be pretty blunt here. The only reason your fish aren't dying is because your pH is so low. The extreme amount of ammonia in this tank isn't as toxic as it would be if your pH was higher.

Before attempting to do anything about the pH I highly recommend you get that ammonia level down to no more than .25ppm. Zero would be even better but is often difficult to accomplish. It may take changing out half the water daily or even every 12 hours to get it down but to protect the fish it must be done.

Once you get it down crushed coral may help but you may have to go a different route to raise the very low pH water before pouring it in the tank. If the pH could be held up to close to 7 the cycle will start moving forward.
 

MacZ

Member
86 ssinit said:
Mac I was going on the tap being 6.0 and his tank 6.4. Thinking the tank was after degassing. That’s why I suggested the coral. But I’ve never used coral. How much would you need?
I see. Depending on the properties of the water the amount would differ. And that's why I advised to also get a test for at least KH.
I very much agree with mattgirl, first get the ammonia out, find out why the pH is so low and then raise it.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
Thank you all for helping
Will start by just doing water changes each day to try and get the ammonia down.
Then look at my PH and hopefully try and get this tank cycled.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
So yesterday I did a 50% water change and today I have done the same 50% again and looks like things may of started again.
Piture one shows no nitrite and picture two looks like nitrite is starting to show.
 

MacZ

Member
I see only one picture. And what exactly do you mean by "started again"?
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
If you look back i posted my Water test .
Than posted todays and looks like the nitrite has started as there was none of that the other day.
But still working on getting the ammonia under control doing 50% water change everyday ?
 

MacZ

Member
Compo said:
If you look back i posted my Water test .
Than posted todays and looks like the nitrite has started as there was none of that the other day.
But still working on getting the ammonia under control doing 50% water change everyday ?

Ah, I got confused. I still see no Nitrite or Nitrate. But that will come at one point.

Yes, go on doing 50%, whenever Ammonia are over 0.5 mg/l.
50% is the lowest percentage that will significantly dilute Ammonia.
 

mattgirl

Member
I am happy to hear you are making some progress with the water changes. The ammonia isn't looking quite as deep green as in the first photo. Hopefully soon you will just see barely a tint of green. I can't see the hint of purple in your nitrite testing tube but often it is hard to distinguish slight color differences on a computer screen.

I don't think we have asked before. Which water conditioner are you using? Lots of folks that use well water choose not to use one but since you are doing a fish in cycle I am going to recommend you get and use Seachem Prime. It isn't as necessary with the pH as low as we are seeing but once we get the pH up it will be. It is going to detox the low level of ammonia this tank will have until the cycle is complete.

I actually consider a water conditioner a very inexpensive insurance policy. I added it way back when I was on well water since it claims to remove heavy metals. I am not exactly sure what heavy metals may have been in the water but I chose not to take a chance and not use it. I add very few products to my tanks but always use a water conditioner.

I just re-read your original post and realized I had missed the tanks temp. Since you have neon tetras in this tank I would lower the temp to no more than about 76. 80 is pretty high for them. I also noticed from your first photo of this tank that it is pretty bare. These little guys really enjoy cover. Well, mine do so I am just assuming they all do.

Bacteria will be growing on everything in this tank. The main colony of it is going to be on your filter media because that is where the most food is going to be but it also grows on every surface on the tank. If you are planning on adding more decor to this tank, now may be a good time to do it.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
mattgirl said:
I am happy to hear you are making some progress with the water changes. The ammonia isn't looking quite as deep green as in the first photo. Hopefully soon you will just see barely a tint of green. I can't see the hint of purple in your nitrite testing tube but often it is hard to distinguish slight color differences on a computer screen.

I don't think we have asked before. Which water conditioner are you using? Lots of folks that use well water choose not to use one but since you are doing a fish in cycle I am going to recommend you get and use Seachem Prime. It isn't as necessary with the pH as low as we are seeing but once we get the pH up it will be. It is going to detox the low level of ammonia this tank will have until the cycle is complete.

I actually consider a water conditioner a very inexpensive insurance policy. I added it way back when I was on well water since it claims to remove heavy metals. I am not exactly sure what heavy metals may have been in the water but I chose not to take a chance and not use it. I add very few products to my tanks but always use a water conditioner.

I just re-read your original post and realized I had missed the tanks temp. Since you have neon tetras in this tank I would lower the temp to no more than about 76. 80 is pretty high for them. I also noticed from your first photo of this tank that it is pretty bare. These little guys really enjoy cover. Well, mine do so I am just assuming they all do.

Bacteria will be growing on everything in this tank. The main colony of it is going to be on your filter media because that is where the most food is going to be but it also grows on every surface on the tank. If you are planning on adding more decor to this tank, now may be a good time to do it.
Hi
Temp has now been lowered.
I already use prime as my conditioner And have done from the start.
Just going to keep going with the water changes and keep cycling and hopefully it cycles over the next few weeks.
 

mattgirl

Member
Compo said:
Hi
Temp has now been lowered.
I already use prime as my conditioner And have done from the start.
Just going to keep going with the water changes and keep cycling and hopefully it cycles over the next few weeks.
Good job Once you get the ammonia down then we can see if anything will need to be done about the pH. Folks have been known to cycle tanks with a low pH but it seems it takes a very long time for it to happen.

I normally just recommend running crushed coral to raise and stabilize the pH but in this case crushed coral alone may not work. You may need to both run CC and also treat your well water before putting it in the tank. For now though, the most important thing is getting the ammonia down.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
Hi again

So a few days in now doing 50% water changes daily these are still my results.
 

MacZ

Member
Did you get a KH test, meanwhile? It's still the unknown factor to explain what exactly is going on. Guesswork won't help.
 

86 ssinit

Member
Ok there may be something in the tank releasing ammonia. The pic doesn’t show the whole bottom. But I do see a shell and a piece of driftwood. What else is in there. Try removing the shell first for a few days still doing the water changes and see if ammonia goes down. If not remove the wood. Next what is your substrate?
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
Hi
There is 3 plants. a large piece of drift wood that had been boiled and soak before being put in at the beginning.
Also them shell looking things are just plastic.

As for the KH kit that should be here today and will post results when I can.
 

Fae

Member
86 ssinit said:
Ok there may be something in the tank releasing ammonia. The pic doesn’t show the whole bottom. But I do see a shell and a piece of driftwood. What else is in there. Try removing the shell first for a few days still doing the water changes and see if ammonia goes down. If not remove the wood. Next what is your substrate?
This is a really good point, what the chance there's a dead neon somewhere in there? I'd take a good look and maybe do slightly larger water changes, they won't hurt.

Mattgirl suggested adding more decor because it will help your cycle, it's kind of like adding more filter media. Bacteria will grow on it.

Oh and if you have your filter on full blast, trying turning it down (lifting the aquastop valve lever slightly, not more than halfway). More time spent in contact with the bacteria is sometimes better than high flow.

Oh oh oh I just realised, neons are tiny and the 307 has a pretty large intake. If one died it could have easily gotten sucked in. Maybe check there if you're missing any of them and don't find them in the tank
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
All neons are acounted for and I have a sponge on my intake to stop that happening.

Just adjusted the flow now on the filter about a quarter.

Do you think I should deep clean my substraight?
 

Fae

Member
Compo said:
All neons are acounted for and I have a sponge on my intake to stop that happening.

Just adjusted the flow now on the filter about a quarter.

Do you think I should deep clean my substraight?
Oh good, I'm a little paranoid about fish getting sucked into filters, it's the worst.

What are you using for substrate?
 

mattgirl

Member
Hopefully once you get your test we can get to the bottom of what's happening and can help you deal with it. I am seeing nitrates. Since you don't have nitrates in your source water this is telling us that you have both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria and actually quite a bit of it. If you didn't these 50% water changes would have them much lower than what we are seeing in the test tube.

You said the shells are made of plastic. It is possible the plastic in the shells is reacting with your water and causing what we are seeing. I would remove them and if you want shells replace them with real ones. Real ones will actually help you with the low pH problem we are seeing.

Some decor simply will not work in our tanks. For one lady it was high nitrites caused by a piece of decor made specifically for a fish tank. She removed it and the problem was gone.
Compo said:
All neons are acounted for and I have a sponge on my intake to stop that happening.

Just adjusted the flow now on the filter about a quarter.

Do you think I should deep clean my substraight?
If there is a possibility of a lot of leftover food in the substrate then yes, deep clean it. If you are sure there is no food in there then hold off for a while. We don't want to disturb the bacteria if we don't have to do so.
 

Fae

Member
mattgirl said:
Hopefully once you get your test we can get to the bottom of what's happening and can help you deal with it. I am seeing nitrates. Since you don't have nitrates in your source water this is telling us that you have both ammonia and nitrite eating bacteria and actually quite a bit of it. If you didn't these 50% water changes would have them much lower than what we are seeing in the test tube.

You said the shells are made of plastic. It is possible the plastic in the shells is reacting with your water and causing what we are seeing. I would remove them and if you want shells replace them with real ones. Real ones will actually help you with the low pH problem we are seeing.

Some decor simply will not work in our tanks. For one lady it was high nitrites caused by a piece of decor made specifically for a fish tank. She removed it and the problem was gone.

If there is a possibility of a lot of leftover food in the substrate then yes, deep clean it. If you are sure there is no food in there then hold off for a while. We don't want to disturb the bacteria if we don't have to do so.
Great work detective, I think you're on to something regarding the ammonia source.

Compo I reread a bit and remembered I wanted to tell you that seachem stability is an okay product but it's a bit misleading. It does contain bacteria that will eat ammonia/nitrite, however that bacteria is different from what will ultimately colonize your filter. So it won't help you grow your BB, but it will temporarily perform the function of BB for about 24 hours
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
Ok so what do you recommend to use instead of seachem stability ?

Will remove them shell things and see what happens. So do we think the plastic may have something to do with the ammonia problem?

I will also do a light vacuum of the gravel it only covers the bottom its very shallow on my Water change tomorrow
 

Fae

Member
Compo said:
Ok so what do you recommend to use instead of seachem stability ?

Will remove them shell things and see what happens. So do we think the plastic may have something to do with the ammonia problem?

I will also do a light vacuum of the gravel it only covers the bottom its very shallow on my Water change tomorrow
I'm not sure if I would use anything just yet until we get the ammonia sorted out, as mattgirl said if you have nitrates and ammonia that means you have a good amount of BB already.

I think removing the shells is a great place to start. Anything unnatural I would remove if that's possible, just to eliminate all the variables.

Hmm if you have time to today, I would probably do daily water changes just because your ammonia is so high. Your fish should be dead honestly. Even the lightest green colour is pretty toxic, let alone over 1ppm.

Do you know what your fake rock wall is made of?

And did you use the liquid test kit as well when you tested your tap water?
Do you know what your fake rock wall is made of?

And did you use the liquid test kit as well when you tested your tap water?
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
My fake wall is by fluval.

Yes I used the liquid test kit on my tap water you can see on one of the other images my tap water test by the side of my PH test.

What do you say I remove the shell things vacuum my gravel and do an 80% water change. ?
Then re test
 

Fae

Member
Compo said:
My fake wall is by fluval.

Yes I used the liquid test kit on my tap water you can see on one of the other images my tap water test by the side of my PH test.

What do you say I remove the shell things vacuum my gravel and do an 80% water change. ?
Then re test
Unless I'm missing it completely, I only saw the ph test for your tap water? Did you test it for ammonia?
 

MacZ

Member
Fae said:
Hmm if you have time to today, I would probably do daily water changes just because your ammonia is so high. Your fish should be dead honestly. Even the lightest green colour is pretty toxic, let alone over 1ppm.
You forget that Ammonia is not in toxic form in such low pH.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
Sorry
Yes this has been tested for ammonia and 0 ammonia in my tap water.

Think I will remove shell things and vacuum the gravel and do 80% water change and then re test my water.
 

Fae

Member
MacZ said:
You forget that Ammonia is not in toxic form in such low pH.
Ah sorry, I meant that they should be dead but luckily the ph is low. I read the thread! Lol

Also,
"Haha! Fool! This isn't even my final form c:<"
Compo said:
Sorry
Yes this has been tested for ammonia and 0 ammonia in my tap water.

Think I will remove shell things and vacuum the gravel and do 80% water change and then re test my water.
Okay good, I just wanted to rule out tap water and also make sure you were able to get a low reading with the ammonia test to rule out defective product.
Yes that sounds like a good plan
 

mattgirl

Member
Compo said:
My fake wall is by fluval.
What do you say I remove the shell things vacuum my gravel and do an 80% water change. ?
Then re test
Is the fake wall inside or outside the tank? If inside I really hope it isn't causing what we are seeing. Even though it is made by a well known company it may be having a reaction to the chemistry of your water.

One young lady I was helping was dealing with off the chart nitrites. Even 100% water changes wouldn't remove them. We were going crazy trying to figure out what was going on. I finally had her take her decor out. She took the 2 pieces out, did another 100% water change and the nitrites were gone, never to be seen again.

Both resin pieces were made specifically for a fish tank. The nitrite didn't spike until she was well into the cycling process so it didn't happen as soon as she put the pieces in the tank. Once they spiked nothing we tried would lower them until we removed the decor. It was such a shame because they were really nice looking pieces.

I hope that isn't what is happening here because that is a very nice looking wall. We can hope just removing the plastic shells will take care of it.
Compo said:
its 200ltr running a fluval 306 canister with a 1kg of bio media but I have never seen the nitrite go purple
I just re-read the OP and read about your bio-media. Do you also have sponges and/or other media in with the 1kg of bio-media? Something other than the 20 little neons is causing this high ammonia reading. Hopefully we will get to the bottom of where this ammonia reading is coming from.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
I hope its not the background !

I have in my fluval in the bottom tray course medium and fine pads and the other 2 trays have bio media in around 1kg.. 500g in both.
The fluval also has side sponges like a pre filter and there in also.
Forgot to add my Rock wall is inside the tank
 

86 ssinit

Member
Yes remove and do your water change and see what happens. How are the neons?
Yes remove and do your water change and see what happens. How are the neons?
 

MacZ

Member
The backgrounds are Fluval, so they are safe. Basically same product as the Eheim backgrounds. They do their homework on making sure they are safe. And IF they were not, plastic leaches other stuff than nitrogen compounds.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
The little fellas are all doing ok...
I am thinking of removing the plastic ornaments cleaning the gravel and 80% water change.
Would you also clean all the filter out in the fish water ( i don't mean in the tank ).
Then I would have removed the shell ornaments done an 80% water change and cleaned the filter down surly thats got to get it down. ?
 

mattgirl

Member
Compo said:
The little fellas are all doing ok...
I am thinking of removing the plastic ornaments cleaning the gravel and 80% water change.
Would you also clean all the filter out in the fish water ( i don't mean in the tank ).
Then I would have removed the shell ornaments done an 80% water change and cleaned the filter down surly thats got to get it down. ?
The little fellas are all doing ok...
I am thinking of removing the plastic ornaments cleaning the gravel and 80% water change.
Would you also clean all the filter out in the fish water ( i don't mean in the tank ).
Then I would have removed the shell ornaments done an 80% water change and cleaned the filter down surly thats got to get it down. ?
Hopefully doing all of this will start bringing the ammonia down.
 
  • Thread Starter

Compo

Member
Should I do a clean on the filter also ?
 

mattgirl

Member
Compo said:
Should I do a clean on the filter also ?
Is the water still flowing through it freely? I've never used a canister filter but if I understand them correctly I don't think they need to be cleaned as often as a sponge filter or a HOB. I would just remove the plastic piece and do the water change for now.
 

86 ssinit

Member
Did you say you have a prefilter sponge on it? If so just rinse that. Leave the filter alone for now unless the flow has drastically reduced.
 

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