New canister filter setup - Ammonia increase

Mr-Furious99

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I have a 30 gal tank that is cycled, using an AquaClear HOB filter. I recently decided to switch to a canister filter but don't have a second tank to cycle on. Right now I am running both filters in the one tank with the hope of cycling the Fluval 207 canister filter that way. Is this problematic? There are fish in the tank as well.

I have noticed since doing this, 2 days ago, that I have a slight ammonia increase. Typically I am at 0 ppm Ammonia, 0 ppm Nitrites, 5 ppm Nitrates (I have NEVER been able to decrease my nitrates below this - even with daily water changes). After adding in the second filter I am at 5 ppm Ammonia, 0 ppm Nitrites, 5 ppm Nitrates. I have done water changes the last 2 days as well, to try and keep that ammonia down.

What I'm asking is, is this normal and if not, what is a good way to grow beneficial bacteria on the new canister filter as I don't have a second tank.
 

Naughts

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5 ppm ammonia or 0.5? 5ppm would have killed the fish.
Your filter switch plan sounds fine, run both for two months before removing the HOB.
The ammonia must be a separate issue - have you checked the tank for dead fish/ plants?
 

Colin_T

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No it's not normal to get an ammonia reading after adding a second filter.

The original filter should still be running normally and keeping ammonia and nitrite levels at 0. The only reason you would get an ammonia reading is if you washed the media under tap water, or changed the filter media in the original filter (AquaClear).

Normally if you want to start a second tank, you take half the media form the established filter (AquaClear) and put it in the new filter with the new media, and you have an instant cycled filter ready to go on the new tank.

Did you do anything to the AquaClear when you added the second filter?

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Check your tap water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If you have 5ppm of nitrates in the tap water, then that is as low as the tank nitrates will go.

Check the tank for dead fish or uneaten food. Give the tank a good gravel clean and change most of the water to dilute ammonia.
 
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Mr-Furious99

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0.5 ppm - that's correct. I had a lot of dead plant leaves in the tank that I took out before the water change. I haven't done anything to the AquaClear filter, and didn't clean it when I added the second filter.

The only things that have changed other than the addition of the 2nd filter are: The Fluval 207 has a carbon filter pack in it. Before that I didn't use a carbon pack. I added some root tabs to the tank for my plants - NilocG ThriveCaps.

However, I did a water change before adding the tabs, and the ammonia was at 0.5 ppm before and after. My phosphates are high now, but I understand that's to be expected between the tabs and the carbon filter.

I'll continue to monitor and do changes as necessary, but shouldn't I wait a bit before doing a water change since adding the root tabs? (I realize this isn't exactly the right forum to be discussing tabs)
 

Colin_T

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Remove the carbon (black granules) from the filter because it will remove the plant fertiliser from the water.

There is no reason to use carbon unless you have heavy metals or chemicals in the water.

Just have sponges in the filter.

Your tap water might have ammonia in it.
 

Naughts

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I think you should water change every day until it returns to zero.
 
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Mr-Furious99

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Your tap water might have ammonia in it.
It very well might. I'm usually at 0 ppm ammonia however. I'm about to test the tap water here.. I just recently moved places (across the road) and the water parameters (pH wise) are way different.
 

Byron

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It very well might. I'm usually at 0 ppm ammonia however. I'm about to test the tap water here.. I just recently moved places (across the road) and the water parameters (pH wise) are way different.
What exactly is the difference in the pH? Are you remembering to out-gas the CO2 before testing tap water pH? This can give a false reading. Let a glass of tap water sit 24 hours, then test. Or sometimes agitating the tap water very vigorously for several minutes can do the same (out-gas CO2) if there is sufficient air space in the container. Unless the water is from a totally different source, there should not be that much of a pH difference other than the CO2 issue.

Live plants are in this tank (you are using substrate tabs) so ammonia should never be present. Most moderate and fast-growing plants can take up a lot of ammonia/ammonium. Floating plants are best for this.

The substrate tabs...I do not know anything about NilocG ThriveCaps but from the info on the website I would question them. No substrate tab should release nutrients into the upper water column, and most certainly not phosphates. There is more than enough phosphate in fish food for any planted aquarium. Have you used these before, or is this new? I use Seachem's Flourish Tabs because they are complete, they do not leech anything into the water column, and they are very effective for larger rooted plants like swords.

Nitrates at 5ppm is not that bad, assuming this is where they are after a week with no intervening water changes. The tabs you are using might increase nitrate now. Some planted tanks do run with zero nitrates, but most are in the 0-5 ppm range [natural or low-tech, high tech is very different]. Mine have been in this range for over a decade now.
 
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