Tank stopped eating ammonia twice during cycle - Ph dropped from 8 (tap) to 6 (tank)

sgjackson

Are you doing a fish in cycle, fishless cycle or was your tank cycled and you had a sudden ammonia or nitrite spike?: Fishless cycle

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank?: 65g
What type of water are you using in your tank? (tap, well, RO/DI, other): Tap
When did you start cycling the tank?: 4/17
What type of filtration are you running on this tank? (sponge, HOB, canister, other): Aquaclear 110 with Fluval Edge Pre-filter Sponge
If canister or HOB list all the media you are running in it. (manufactured cartridges, sponge, etc.): Sponge, carbon, and rings it came with
Do you have good water agitation/surface movement?: Whatever is coming from the filter.
What is the water temperature?: 82 currently, see spreadsheet for daily values.


Products used while cycling
If this is a fishless cycle what ammonia source are you using? (fish food, Dr Tim’s ammonia, other):
Fritz Ammonium Chloride
If adding liquid ammonia how often do you dose ammonia in your tank and in what quantity? (1ppm, 2ppm etc.):
See spreadsheet. The Fritz product is a powder rather than a liquid.
Are you using a dechlorinater and if so, which one?:
Seachem Prime, dosed on water changes.
Are you using bottled bacteria and if so, which one?:
Seachem Stability
Did you add seeded media from a previously cycled tank?:
No.
What other products/chemicals are you using? (list them all):
Python for water changes, pre-filter sponge from Fluval, driftwood, seiryu rock, anubias, java ferns.


Testing and cycling process
What was your knowledge of the nitrogen cycle before beginning to cycle your tank? (none, beginner, intermediate (please explain), advanced):
Beginner
What do you use to test the water? (API liquid, test strips, other):
API Master Test Kit
Did you test your tap water for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH, if so post the results below?:
Yes: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates, 8.0 pH
Have you done any water changes and if so, when?:

Changed water twice now, see spreadsheet for more info.
How much water did you change?:
50% to lower nitrites twice and 90% to put in plants, see spreadsheet for more info.
Did you vacuum the substrate?:
I did the first time I changed water.
Did you clean your filter, filter media, decorations and/or glass?:
No.
If using disposable cartridges have you replaced one recently?:

No.

*Parameters - Very Important
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Tank water:
Ammonia: .5
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 6.0

Tap water:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 8.0

Explain your cycling problem in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the problem leading up to now)

You can see a daily rundown of my water parameters and dosing at this Google Sheet. If Stability does not have a cap value listed, I just poured some from the bottle. Aquarium Water Testing

I've had the tank eating ammonia and it's just stopped twice now in the past month. pH is regularly dropping - at first I assumed from driftwood, but going from 8 to 6 strikes me as kinda weird now. I now wish I had tested this daily. GH/KH is 4 from the tap. Help me figure out what I'm doing wrong, if anything.
 

StarGirl

Is your ammonia dropping to zero at all? Why did you stop adding it because of the pH?

You may want to get some crushed coral to boost your KH, that will keep your pH from swinging like that. That kind of stuff happens when you are cycling. When it drops so low it stalls they cycle to almost nothing.
 
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sgjackson

Is your ammonia dropping to zero at all? Why did you stop adding it because of the pH?

You may want to get some crushed coral to boost your KH, that will keep your pH from swinging like that. That kind of stuff happens when you are cycling. When it drops so low it stalls they cycle to almost nothing.

It has never dropped to 0 and I am regularly dosing ammonium chloride - you can see the daily values and dosing on the spreadsheet I linked in the op. Putting it here again for reference. Aquarium Water Testing
 
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Salem

Once pH gets to 6 it generally will take a while to cycle, further below it can get to the point where it won't cycle at all. This is because the ammonia turns to ammonium in more acidic waters.

Your pH is likely dropping because your GH/KH is pretty low. As Star mentioned you can use crushed coral to help with that. Just be careful to not dump a large amount in at once because it can cause a very drastic upswing that can be a pain to get back down.
 
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sgjackson

Once pH gets to 6 it generally will take a while to cycle, further below it can get to the point where it won't cycle at all. This is because the ammonia turns to ammonium in more acidic waters.

Your pH is likely dropping because your GH/KH is pretty low. As Star mentioned you can use crushed coral to help with that. Just be careful to not dump a large amount in at once because it can cause a very drastic upswing that can be a pain to get back down.

How much coral should I add, and where?
 
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StarGirl

Once pH gets to 6 it generally will take a while to cycle, further below it can get to the point where it won't cycle at all. This is because the ammonia turns to ammonium in more acidic waters.

Your pH is likely dropping because your GH/KH is pretty low. As Star mentioned you can use crushed coral to help with that. Just be careful to not dump a large amount in at once because it can cause a very drastic upswing that can be a pain to get back down.
It only buffers to a certain point then stops depending on your water. Rinsing it really good first will help with a big spike, but it really doesnt matter as much being a fishless cycle.

It looks to me like you needed to add more ammonia to get it to 3-4 ppm.

A handful, usually in your filter if there is room. If not on the substrate works too. It just slowly melts. You could put it in a chunk of panty hose so you can adjust it easier also.
 
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sgjackson

Right now I'm thinking do a big water change (75%?), add crushed coral to filter, then dose ammonia to 4ppm again and see what happens. Make sense?
 
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StarGirl

Yep sounds like a plan. Doesnt hurt to try stuff when there are no fish involved. ;)

If you want to test something....test your pH after your tap water sits out for 24 hours and see what the reading is. This is your true pH of your water. Not out of the tap.

Make sure you get crushed coral and not the sand type.
 
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philly27

id do a 75% water change like sgjackson said or (2) 50% water changes to replace the minerals used up from the tap water. in my experience when the pH drops that much its bc the minerals were taken up in the 5 weeks youve been cycling. and as the others stated get some crushed corral to help balance things out.

I was stuck at .5 ammonia on 2 tanks at the same time last month and WCs fixed both fishless cycling tanks. and 48 hours later i was on the fast track to completely cycled. Hopefully Mattgirl will chime in as shes the resident cycle guru and has helped me immensely. Good luck, friend.
 
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mattgirl

Thank you philly27. I've read all the replies so far and agree with the recommendations and explanations as to why the cycle is stalling. Keep the pH stabilized with crushed coral and the cycle should keep moving forward.

when fish in cycling I recommend rinsing the CC first to prevent the initial pH spike but since this is a fishless cycle that isn't a problem. Since the pH is dropping so drastically I would start with a cup of CC and go from there.
 
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sgjackson

Thank you philly27. I've read all the replies so far and agree with the recommendations and explanations as to why the cycle is stalling. Keep the pH stabilized with crushed coral and the cycle should keep moving forward.

when fish in cycling I recommend rinsing the CC first to prevent the initial pH spike but since this is a fishless cycle that isn't a problem. Since the pH is dropping so drastically I would start with a cup of CC and go from there.

I did a 75% water change and dosed ammonium to get to 4ppm ammonia tonight. I will check parameters including PH/GH/KH regularly, and I'm adding crushed coral to the filter on Sunday - will start with a cup. What am I looking for in the parameters to add/remove coral?
 
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mattgirl

The spread sheet tells me how much powdered ammonia you are adding but it doesn't tell me what level that amount brings the level up to. When you run your test after adding it what number are you getting? 2ppm? 3ppm? 4ppm? For a 65 gallon tank 4ppm wouldn't be too much. This number will determine how much bacteria the tank will have grown once the cycle is complete.
I did a 75% water change and dosed ammonium to get to 4ppm ammonia tonight. I will check parameters including PH/GH/KH regularly, and I'm adding crushed coral to the filter on Sunday - will start with a cup. What am I looking for in the parameters to add/remove coral?
this answered my question :D

Run the test StarGirl suggested to determine your true pH level. It is possible you will always have to run CC in your tank. Doing so really isn't a problem. I have run it in my tanks for years because I have such soft water.

You do want to keep it in there until you are sure your pH is no longer dropping. You do want to make sure it stays up to at least 7. It is only going to raise the pH so much no matter how much you put in there. I can't tell you what the number is going to be because it depends on the chemistry of your water. The number for me won't be the same as what you see.
 
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sgjackson

The spread sheet tells me how much powdered ammonia you are adding but it doesn't tell me what level that amount brings the level up to. When you run your test after adding it what number are you getting? 2ppm? 3ppm? 4ppm? For a 65 gallon tank 4ppm wouldn't be too much. This number will determine how much bacteria the tank will have grown once the cycle is complete.

this answered my question :D

Run the test StarGirl suggested to determine your true pH level. It is possible you will always have to run CC in your tank. Doing so really isn't a problem. I have run it in my tanks for years because I have such soft water.

You do want to keep it in there until you are sure your pH is no longer dropping. You do want to make sure it stays up to at least 7. It is only going to raise the pH so much no matter how much you put in there. I can't tell you what the number is going to be because it depends on the chemistry of your water. The number for me won't be the same as what you see.

Thanks. For reference - the instructions for the ammonium say 1 teaspoon = 100 gallons, but testing showed that was slightly aggressive and I hit 4ppm with 1/3rd of a teaspoon and 1/4th. I use that as a basis to figure out how much to add.
 
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mattgirl

Thanks. For reference - the instructions for the ammonium say 1 teaspoon = 100 gallons, but testing showed that was slightly aggressive and I hit 4ppm with 1/3rd of a teaspoon and 1/4th. I use that as a basis to figure out how much to add.
It is good that you worked with it to determine how much you would need. Quite often the instructions do seem to get it much higher than it needs to be. Not for just this ammonia source but for others too. If the instructions are followed for one other popular liquid ammonia the ammonia level in the tank will be much too high. I often recommend only adding 1/4th of what is recommended to be begin with and work up or down from that amount.
 
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AustibthrAquariast

I live in Richmond TX. The Tap water varies depending on the weather. I have unknowingly caused my tank to recycle if i used tap water that had been treated right after a massive rain storm. 2 products that have saved my tank twice now is Neutral Regulator by Seachem. Works amazing. Also Prime by Seachem. I have had to use Prime when i have the spikes. It has single handedly saved my stock.
 
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sgjackson

Params in the tank 24 hours after water change and dosing 4ppm ammonia are 2ppm ammonia, 2ppm nitrites, 20ppm nitrates, 6.8pH, 4gh, and 3kh. I left out a glass of water for 24 hours and my pH from the tap is 7.6. Crushed coral shows up tomorrow.
 
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sgjackson

PH crash again tonight - bacteria ate most of the ammonia (I refilled up to 4ppm and it went down to .5), but nitrites stayed at 5ppm+ and nitrates stayed at 40ppm. PH is at 6, GH in the tank is 5, KH is either 0 or 1 (turned yellow on first drop). Can reference the last couple of days of numbers and items used at the spreadsheet here.

I've got one cup of crushed coral in the filter. This is what I bought. Put it in a little filter bag in between the bio rings and carbon that came with the filter (Aquaclear 110). What are next steps? Water change and more coral?
 
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mattgirl

I would do a water change. After the water change just add enough ammonia to get it up to 2ppm. Let's give the nitrite eating bacteria a chance to catch up with the ammonia eating bacteria. This may also slow down the drop in pH. If we can get it to that point hopefully this cycle will finish up.
 
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sgjackson

I would do a water change. After the water change just add enough ammonia to get it up to 2ppm. Let's give the nitrite eating bacteria a chance to catch up with the ammonia eating bacteria. This may also slow down the drop in pH. If we can get it to that point hopefully this cycle will finish up.

Will do this tomorrow. Thanks for the help.
 
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sgjackson

I would do a water change. After the water change just add enough ammonia to get it up to 2ppm. Let's give the nitrite eating bacteria a chance to catch up with the ammonia eating bacteria. This may also slow down the drop in pH. If we can get it to that point hopefully this cycle will finish up.

I did a water change and dosed ammonia to get to 2ppm last night, and it tested at 0 just now. Nitrites are at .5, nitrates are at 5. I am concerned because PH has fallen again to 7 and KH is now at 2 rather than 3. Do I redose ammonia? How much? Anything else?
 
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StarGirl

I would keep dosing ammonia until you have no Nitrites. 7 pH should be fine.
 
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sgjackson

I would keep dosing ammonia until you have no Nitrites. 7 pH should be fine.

Do you think it's worth adding more coral to the filter if the PH/KH matches the same pattern as the last water change I did which had a PH crash and no KH two days later?
 
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mattgirl

Do you think it's worth adding more coral to the filter if the PH/KH matches the same pattern as the last water change I did which had a PH crash and no KH two days later?
I would add more. If what you have in there now is in the filter hang another bag of it under the out flow of the filter. We want to have water running over/through it.
 
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sgjackson

I would add more. If what you have in there now is in the filter hang another bag of it under the out flow of the filter. We want to have water running over/through it.

Yeah, it was in the filter in between the rings and the carbon. I dosed ammonia back to 2ppm and put another cup in a filter bag and hung it from the drawstring out of the filter outflow.
 
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sgjackson

0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 20 nitrates tonight. PH and KH holding at 7 and 2 for two days now. Things are looking good.
 
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StarGirl

Did you add some more ammonia to see if it drops by tomorrow?
 
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StarGirl

Sounds like you are getting really close YAY!
 
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