Ammonia in freshly filled tank?

Stratnoob

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Hi,
I had just setup new tank. Substrate is 50/50 mix of sand and eco sand (coral sand substitute) washed thoroughly, some dragon rocks, spider root, couple of plants ( glued to the hardscape with super glue). Filter media is pumice ( Saechem Matrix). I had filled it yesterday, turned on the filter today, put in dechlorinator (tetra aqua safe), some plants fertilizer and fluval cycle. For tommorow I was planning to start fishless cycling by adding ammonia, but the initial water test after previous steps is already showing 4ppm of amonia in the tank. Any idea where this might come from? I had tested tapwater afterwards and all is clear.
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Hi welcome to the forum :) Have you used any aquarium soil products? They often leach ammonia out in the first few days.

Also how come you have added a coral sand type substrate? Is it a product to raise your ph and hardness? Typically this is not something you want to do with a planted tank?

Wills
 
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Stratnoob

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Hi welcome to the forum :) Have you used any aquarium soil products? They often leach ammonia out in the first few days.

Also how come you have added a coral sand type substrate? Is it a product to raise your ph and hardness? Typically this is not something you want to do with a planted tank?

Wills
Hi, no soil, just those two sands.
It will be Mbuna tank so I had wanted to raise the ph slightly, hence the mix of the substrate. I have just java fern and Cryptocorynes, they are supposed to be mbuna safe, so asumed they could withstand raised pH..
 

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Hi, no soil, just those two sands.
It will be Mbuna tank so I had wanted to raise the ph slightly, hence the mix of the substrate. I have just java fern and Cryptocorynes, they are supposed to be mbuna safe, so asumed they could withstand raised pH..
Ah cool thats good then :) Some plants are ok in african tanks, Crypts and Valis in particular. I'm not sure how the Java Fern will fair but worth a try. The main issue with plants and Mbuna is the digging or sometimes they just peck at them.

I was going to say no obvious source of 4ppm of Ammonia though but... how are the plants doing so far? Any brown or yellow leaves? Or how about the wood does it all still feel hard if you press your thumb nail into it?

Wills
 
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Stratnoob

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Ah cool thats good then :) Some plants are ok in african tanks, Crypts and Valis in particular. I'm not sure how the Java Fern will fair but worth a try. The main issue with plants and Mbuna is the digging or sometimes they just peck at them.

I was going to say no obvious source of 4ppm of Ammonia though but... how are the plants doing so far? Any brown or yellow leaves? Or how about the wood does it all still feel hard if you press your thumb nail into it?

Wills
As the tank is filled for 24 hours, the plants probably haven't had a chance to realise the environment fully. 😂 We'll see in couple of days.
I have Valis in other tank, but it is growing like crazy, so I wanted something more decent just to add colour and Java Fern was mwntioned pretty often, so I hope it will be ok, as all kf it is glued to rocks so Mbunas wont get to it 😉.
I'll do another ammonia test in the morning and see if it went worse or stayed the same. As 4ppm is "correct" amount for this stage I should leave it like this, unless it gets worse.
 
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Stratnoob

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And haven't tested the wood, it was soaked for couple of days before, but still floats so I had put rock on it to keep it down.
 

Linkandnavi

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Could be the result of chloramine in the tap water. Some water companies use chlorine. The dechlorinator deals with that, no problem.

Other water companies use chloramine, which is chlorine bound with ammonia. A dechlorinator breaks down and neutralises the chlorine, leaving ammonia in the water. In a cycled tank your filter will take care of that in the usual way. Some dechlorinators like Seachem Prime claim to "bind" the ammonia into a harmless state for 24 hours so that the filter can take car of it, but bound Ammon still shows up on tests.

I would be surprised if the amount of chloramine in the tap water would be capable of producing 4ppm though. Might be worth seeing if you can get a copy of your local water report and see what they use? If you're in the UK just go to your water company's website and they'll have a postcode search.
 

Slaphppy7

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Welcome to TFF

What kind of test kit are you using? Have you tested your tap for ammonia?
 
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Stratnoob

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Could be the result of chloramine in the tap water. Some water companies use chlorine. The dechlorinator deals with that, no problem.

Other water companies use chloramine, which is chlorine bound with ammonia. A dechlorinator breaks down and neutralises the chlorine, leaving ammonia in the water. In a cycled tank your filter will take care of that in the usual way. Some dechlorinators like Seachem Prime claim to "bind" the ammonia into a harmless state for 24 hours so that the filter can take car of it, but bound Ammon still shows up on tests.

I would be surprised if the amount of chloramine in the tap water would be capable of producing 4ppm though. Might be worth seeing if you can get a copy of your local water report and see what they use? If you're in the UK just go to your water company's website and they'll have a postcode search.
I'm in UK with Severn Trent, they claim they use chlorine.
So the ammonia level was the same it night (around 1AM), but went to 0-0.2 range in the morning. Sample around 10 AM... I doubt the fluval cycle works that well :D
 

Linkandnavi

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I'm in UK with Severn Trent, they claim they use chlorine.
So the ammonia level was the same it night (around 1AM), but went to 0-0.2 range in the morning. Sample around 10 AM... I doubt the fluval cycle works that well :D
It looks like Severn Trent do sometimes use different reservoirs and depending on which one they use, they sometimes use chloramine (See here). I'd still be really surprised if it was enough to give a 4ppm reading though.

I've used NT Labs test kits before and always found them decent but (and I'm in no way meaning to sound patronising) but I'm wondering if you read them right the first time. The reading seems odd and the changes of your filter being able to take care of 4ppm ammonia after less than 24 hours is virtually zero. You definitely checked it against the ammonia chart, as you say it was 4ppm but the NT Labs ammonia chart jumps from 2 to 5 with nothing in between.

Just a word of warning when it comes to the nitrate test with the NT Labs kit. NT Labs measures nitrates in N03-N. Most kits (such as API which is the most popular) measure nitrates in N03-. If you multiply the NT Labs figure by 4.43 you'll get to the nitrate figure that everyone else on the forum will be using (See here for some info on that).
 
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Stratnoob

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It looks like Severn Trent do sometimes use different reservoirs and depending on which one they use, they sometimes use chloramine (See here). I'd still be really surprised if it was enough to give a 4ppm reading though.

I've used NT Labs test kits before and always found them decent but (and I'm in no way meaning to sound patronising) but I'm wondering if you read them right the first time. The reading seems odd and the changes of your filter being able to take care of 4ppm ammonia after less than 24 hours is virtually zero. You definitely checked it against the ammonia chart, as you say it was 4ppm but the NT Labs ammonia chart jumps from 2 to 5 with nothing in between.

Just a word of warning when it comes to the nitrate test with the NT Labs kit. NT Labs measures nitrates in N03-N. Most kits (such as API which is the most popular) measure nitrates in N03-. If you multiply the NT Labs figure by 4.43 you'll get to the nitrate figure that everyone else on the forum will be using (See here for some info on that).
I mean I don't understand what is happening either, so you being sceptical about my readings is a valid point.
But I'm kind of certain what have I seen. The colour was somewhere in-between 2 and 5, closer to 5, so yes the 4ppm was mainly a guess. And I had concluded 2 test and one tap water test in-between. Where the difference between the tap water and fish tank water tests colours was significant.
Here is complete test from this morning. I had added fluval cycle last night, and it seems the ammonia level is up again a little. Might it be that it actually contains some ammonia?
I've included also Nitrite and Nitrate test. They both are now present in the tank. I've done also tap water nitrite test and it is 0 as expected. I didn't had time for tap water nitrate test... Will do that later today.
IMG_20220110_093333.jpg

I guess I should be happy it is working that quick, but the speed of it is worrying.
 
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Stratnoob

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So the water conditions were stable for couple of days. However today I'm at 0 ammonia, 8 ppm nitrites and 240ppm nitrates. (don't have the vial with nitrite test, but the colour was the same pink as nitrates)
IMG_20220118_124530.jpg

So in theory I should now feed ammonia and wait until nitrites go to 0, but the numbers of nitrites and nitrates seems very excessive? Or is it still ok? I'm still worried something in the tank might be leaking the ammonia. I had used super glue with cigarette filters to stick hardscape together, and unsuccessfully baking soda with super glue (that I had removed)
 

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The danger with adding ammonia is that nitrite will get high enough to stall the cycle. If your nitrite test showed the same pink as nitrate, it is showing the highest colour for the nitrite tester so it could 8 or anything above 8. Stall point is around 15 ppm.
Nitrate testers work by converting nitrate into nitrite then testing for nitrite so if there's already nitrite in the water, the nitrate test picks that up as well making the nitrate reading higher than it really is.


I know you have not started following the fishless cycling method on here yet, but I would start following that.
From your test results (0 ammonia, 8+ nitrite) I would start adding the snack dose of ammonia (1 ppm dose, labelled as dose #3) or you risk pushing nitrite too high.
 

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