Solved Tap Water Tested At 8ppm Ammonia A Couple Weeks Ago... Still Feeling The Effects?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Selenity, May 16, 2018.

  1. SelenityNew MemberMember

    I'm starting to think that my 55g is cycling again. I test the tap water once a month just to be on the safe side. A couple weeks ago, it tested at 6.0/8/0/0!!! I had just done a 50% WC the day before for my weekly WC... and my tanks all tested at 8ppm ammonia that night. I managed to get the Shrimp tank down to 2ppm (lost half my shrimp....) and am still doing daily 50% WC, my 5g Betta and 10g Betta tanks are at 6.8/0/0/10 now so those are good to go. My 37g is at 6.6/0/0.5/20 today before a 50% WC. My 55g is at 6.0/8/0/0. I have been combating this high ammonia and recycling ever since my tap water tested high for the ammonia. I've lost 6 guppies, 7 RCS, 3 mollies, 1 platy, and 1 glowlight tetra since this all started from the various tanks. I have been dosing daily with prime (double amount), feeding only every other day, vacuuming half the substrate each week, and dosing with double Stability.
    But I'm not sure what to do about my 55g.....

    I have a new 30g I've set up today and am starting to cycle since my water is showing 6.8/0/0/0 again. Would I be better off moving the 55g community to the 30g with the HoB filter? Would this even help if all of my BB died off?

    I'm at a loss and becoming discouraged :(
  2. Discus-Tang

    Discus-TangWell Known MemberMember

    I would recommend using loads and loads of stability in your 8ppm tank, that bacteria will feast. This should quickly deplete ammonia, but may cause a nitrite spike (which is no different from an ammonia spike in terms of harm). This will go down eventually though, as the second set of bb will thrive with all the nitrite.

    Also remember to only change your media by seeding the new one with bacteria first.

    You will have losses, though don't be discouraged. Next time I would recommend doing fishless cycles so that fish lives don't get lost. But don't worry, we all make mistakes :)

    I hope I answered your question, let me know if you need to know anything else.
  3. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    At a pH below 7.0, ammonia starts turning into ammonium, and by the time the pH gets down to 6.0 all ammonia has turned into ammonium.

    The good news is that ammonium is far less toxic to fish than ammonia (some claim it is non-toxic). The bad news is that ammonium is a terrible food source for the ammonia converting bacteria and can make cycling a tank pretty much impossible.

    One thing you need to be careful about is that since ammonia is the food source for the ammonia converting bacteria, and the nitrite that bacteria then releases is the food source for the nitrite converting bacteria, if your pH is close to 6.0 your ammonia converting bacteria will become dormant and will no be releasing nitrites. So your nitrite converting bacteria will starve off due to lack of nitrites. Then if you suddenly raise your pH level closer to 7.0, the ammonium will turn back into ammonia, the ammonia converting bacteria will wake up and start consuming the ammonia and releasing nitrites. But since your nitrite converting bacteria has starved off, you suddenly end up with a huge nitrite spike which can wipe out an entire tank overnight. Don't ask me how I know this.

  4. OP

    SelenityNew MemberMember

    @Discus-Tang - actually, my tank was fully cycled before I started adding fish - I did a fishless cycle. But after the ammonia spike in my tap water, things started getting hairy. :-( Thanks for the advice, though. :)

    @jdhef - So it's all ammonium probably.... darn. Well. Guess it'll make my tank quicker to cycle next time? I'm going to pull all the community fish out and put them in the 30g once it's cycled. Then fix the 55g somehow :/

  5. CardeaterValued MemberMember

    I don't claim to have any advice concerning the PH issue.

    I just wanted to add that Seachem claims a 5x dose of Prime is safe to redose every 24 hours. (I saw you were doing a double dose). If you dig through their support forums, they give numbers of how much the product can lock up.

    I might be off but I think the 5x dose can supposedly detoxify up to 4ppm ammonia. It detoxifies nitrite as well. I don't know how much of each offhand and I don't remember reading about which it would lock up first if both are present.
  6. OP

    SelenityNew MemberMember

    Thanks @Cardeater! I'll take a look around and see what I can find out. :D
  7. CardeaterValued MemberMember


    That post says 48 hours but anyway that's the place to look for info.

    A post from their tech support in that thread:
    08-23-2016, 12:23
    Thank you for your post! Yes, Prime can be extremely useful when cycling as you can dose every 48 hours to keep toxins bound into a non-toxic form. A regular recommended dose can detoxify up to 1 ppm of ammonia and you can safely dose up to 5x the recommended amount for higher levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. This will detoxify these dangerous compounds, but still leave them in forms that the bacteria can use as a food source.

    Another thread:

    Guy is asking if he can redose every 24. Answer makes it seem like you can but they feel it's unnecessary as it locks it up for 48 hours. Seems like you can do 24 hours though. The danger of overdosing Prime, from my brief research is it could deoxygenate the water too much if you use to much.

    03-2011, 09:18
    Re: Prime questions...

    Thank you for your questions, Abbeysdad. All water conditioners only have the ability to bind to ammonia, nitrites and/or nitrates for a limited period of time; Prime actually will do this for a longer period than any other product available. You're correct; in an established tank, the beneficial bacteria will consume these things within this time period. However, in a new setup or cycling tank, we recommend dosing Prime every 48 hours to keep the ammonia/nitrites detoxified. As long as you are using Prime as directed, there is no harm in adding it this frequently for an extended period of time. Every 24 hours should not really be necessary, as it will remain active for up to 48 hours. We hope this answers your questions

    Last edited: May 19, 2018
  8. OP

    SelenityNew MemberMember

    Oh that's awesome! So with me dosing every 24 hours a double dose, I've been dosing approximately 4x the recommended dose, maybe?

    I wonder if Safe has the same timeframe because I've ordered it, too, since I now have a 55g, 37g, 30g, 10g, 5g, 5g, and probably about to have another 80g.

    But if my bacteria are dormant from the low pH.... does that mean the ammonia just sits around? Because it sounds like I need to move the fish out to the other tank once it's cycled and let this tank finish it's re-cycle. Do you concur? If I do this, should I continue to dose with Prime/Safe? Hmmm or should I toss in something to buffer the pH up so the bacteria awaken and then dose daily with Stability. Hmmmm.
  9. Mom2some

    Mom2someWell Known MemberMember

    If you remove the fish there is no need to use Prime.
  10. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    I didn't mention it in my previous reply, but do note that the ammonia converting bacteria will become dormant, but only for a certain amount of time, I don't know what that amount of time is (I have read somewhere about 2 weeks) but after enough time that dormant bacteria will just starve off, leaving you with no bacteria,
  11. CardeaterValued MemberMember

    Safe is the same stuff but in powder form. Here's a thread at mfk explaining the dosage change Seachem made and the recommended dosage (from the old label):


    I have an order of Safe that just arrived. It's so.much more.economical to use. It'll be harder to dose for my 10g QT tank though.
  12. OP

    SelenityNew MemberMember

    Thank you for your help, everyone! My tanks are now all stabilizing. The tap water is still good, too. Looks like I'm in the clear. Thanks again!!

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