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Effects of feeding on ammonia levels

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by seangee, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. seangee

    seangee Member

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    We all see the advice not to overfeed in a new tank, and because we have read http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?/topic/421488-cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first, we understand why decaying organic matter is bad.

    But just how bad truly shocked me!

    On Friday I added sand to a Fluval Flex 57 - that's 57 litres or 15G (U.S.) minus a bit for the sand and air. I also added a few Malaysian Trumpet snails before turning the lights out for the weekend (who wants algae). Before I did this I added a single algae wafer. It was smaller than the ones I usually feed so I have attached a pic next to a UK 5p coin.

    This morning (Monday) I tested the tank for ammonia. I did test on Friday and as expected it was zero. This morning my test kit showed a good solid 4ppm (pic attached). For reference putting a single fish in that water for one hour is a death sentence (it wouldn't die immediately but death would be pretty much guaranteed). Worse than that the algae wafer was still there and still producing ammonia.

     

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  2. **sarahp**

    **sarahp** Member

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    Blimey!! I wouldn't have thought that one algae wafer would have had that much of an effect on the water quality!!
     
  3. seangee

    seangee Member

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    Neither would I - which is exactly why I posted it. I used black Limpopo sand so that should be totally inert (at least in theory), but it is a totally sterile envronment (i.e. new tank).
     
  4. Ch4rlie

    Ch4rlie Unlicensed Moderating Moderator
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    Is the tank cycled?

    I ask because am a little confused about this thread.

    I assume the purpose of the algae wafer is to feed the snails.

    But remember that snails do poop and this ammonia is created. Do you have any other live stock in that tank as well as the snails?

    And do you have live plants as well perhaps?
     
  5. seangee

    seangee Member

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    Sorry for causing confusion. The reason I started the thread is to provide information to new fish keepers. I deliberately kept the first post short because I wanted new members who found themselves in a "fish-in cycle" to read the whole thing. We always tell people in that situation to be careful about over feeding for good reason. I personally had no idea so little would cause so much of a problem so quickly.

    Here is the rest of the story.
    The tank is completely uncycled.
    It has no plants. I planned to plant it on Friday and fertilise to kick start the cycle. The plants never arrived on Friday - they still haven't arrived so I won't be using that supplier again!
    I added MTS because I think they an essential part of the ecosystem.
    The algae wafer mostly to start the nitrogen cycle as there was nothing else I could do to the tank over the weekend. I am going on holiday later this week and hoped to come back to a mature and established tank with no further intervention for two weeks. Obviously I have no idea how that will turn out so I haven't planned to buy fish yet.

    Testing this morning was mostly idle curiosity. Because I am about to go away I also assumed that I would need to add more wafers to get the cycle going (in case my plants don't arrive before I leave). I had no idea that the single wafer would have got the ammonia to such a dangerous level. (I'm assuming that 4 tiny MTS have not had a significant impact on the ammonia levels :rolleyes:).

    So what I did next was remove the remains of the algae wafer and rinsed the sponges from the Fluval 406 out of my community tank in the nano tank. Fingers crossed that my plants arrive in time for them to establish by the time I get back.

    I also have a pretty effective way of measuring that the cycle is in fact complete when I return without having to add fish (or ammonia) :whistle:
     
  6. Ch4rlie

    Ch4rlie Unlicensed Moderating Moderator
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    Now that does make a certain amount of sense.

    First thing I would mention is that fish in cycle is notoriously hard to determine accurate ammonia / nitrite levels simply due to the livestock and feeding since both affects ammonia / nitrite readings.

    So I would not assume that a single algae wafer would produce 4ppm of ammonia, there may be other factors involved.

    The only way I can think of really to see what readings a single algae wafer could potentially reach is to put a algae wafer in a glass container or an empty tank with just dechlorinated water and test after, say 24 hours to see what sort of readings one would get.

    Kind of a tricky one to solve but a decent enough theory though.
     
  7. Baccus

    Baccus We are not born just so we can die
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    With no filteration at all on a small body of water (equal to being an uncycled tank with no plants) I know for a fact even a small bit of algae wafer can quickly foul the water, if you then add some form of live like a snail or two and before you know it the water is truly putrid and the snails are either dead or madly trying to escape the water.
     

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