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I made a Noob mistake. At what Ammonia and Nitrite level should I do a water change?


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Hello Fish Friends,

I made a noob mistake.

So my new 37 gal. planted tank cycled in about just over 3.5 weeks. I did a fishless, planted cycle. My parameters were good, plants had new growth, I had algae, everything was great! I added fish snails and shrimp, everything was still great. A few days later added some Hillstream loaches and everything was going along swimmingly.  I took some filter media out of my HoB to hurriedly jump-start a quarantine tank because I had a fish arriving through the mail that I was not expecting ( long story, my previous post tells the tale. https://forum.aquariumcoop.com/topic/15305-frustrating-experience-ordering-fish-online/?tab=comments#comment-126385 ). Still everything is going good, my water parameters are stable, everything was as good as I could hope it would be.

This is when I made a noob mistake.

My water was cloudy and I had never changed the filter media in my HoB and it was looking pretty nasty. I figured that putting clean media in it might clear up the water. I thought it would be fine since I still have the sponge filter sponge and a large intake sponge with good bacteria on it in my tank. I did not clean the HoB at all, just replaced the media, but that was enough to get something off.  A couple of days after that I started getting small spikes of ammonia and nitrites. So far I have not had ammonia over 0.25 or nitrites over 0.50 and my nitrates have been between 10-20.

I have done water changes everyday since the ammonia and nitrite presented. I added Fritzyme 7 during 2 of the water changes. Still everyday, I have ammonia and nitrites. Am I doing the right thing by doing water changes everyday? I didn't add Fritzyme 7 when I did today's 50% water change because after the last two times I added it, it didn't really seem to help.

Am I doing the right thing doing water changes everyday? Am I making it worse? I'm not sure what to do.

Main tank 8-23-21 .jpg

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I would continue the water changes and checking on the parameters. I would rush to get some cycled media. Check to see if your fritzyme is expired. If not, add it to the filter rather than aquarium. The filter holds the bacteria so it needs to get there fast. If you think the fritzyme isn't worth the time, get the cycled media and maybe some seachem safe to help neutralize the ammonia and nitrites. 

And ideally you never want your ammonia and nitrites above 0ppm, so you should do your water changes before that when everything is stable again. Start a schedule and adjust that schedule over time. 

Edited by Keeg
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The harmfulness of ammonia depends on your PH. Check out some coop videos on hot rodding your filter. I do not use any media that ever needs replaced. ( unless I temporarily add coop poly pad) Coop coarse sponge is great. It only needs rinsed gently occasionally. The cloudiness is a bacterial bloom. It occurs when their is not enough beneficial bacteria in filter media and hard surfaces. Water change won’t help. Time helps it will clear up on its own.

Edited by Guppysnail
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On 8/26/2021 at 2:40 AM, Guppysnail said:

 Coop coarse sponge is great. It only needs rinsed gently occasionally 

YESSS, lets hype up the coop sponge. So satisfying to squeeze clean and its the perfect about of holes so babies dont get sucked in but allows large amounts of water flow. I use ceramic cylinders and bio-balls in my canister, with coop sponge on intake. 

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On 8/26/2021 at 2:40 AM, Guppysnail said:

 Check out some coop videos on hot rodding your filter. I do not use any media that ever needs replaced. ( unless I temporarily add coop poly pad) Coop coarse sponge is great. It only needs rinsed gently occasionally. 

Thank you, I do have Co-op coarse sponge in my HoB. I put it in for the first time the day I replaced the poly pad. I also bought the ammonia filter pad  from Co-op. I added that yesterday when I did my water change. I'm hoping it scrubs out the ammonia. I have hard water here. My pH, GH, KH and TDS are on the high range.

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On 8/26/2021 at 2:18 AM, Keeg said:

I would rush to get some cycled media. Check to see if your fritzyme is expired. If not, add it to the filter rather than aquarium. The filter holds the bacteria so it needs to get there fast. If you think the fritzyme isn't worth the time, get the cycled media and maybe some seachem safe to help neutralize the ammonia and nitrites. 

 

I do not have anywhere to get cycled media from. I do not know anyone who had fish. My Fritzyme is not expired. I will try putting it in the filter. I will order some Seachem Safe and continue with water changes if the nitrite and ammonia are still present.

Thank you!

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as you probably now know, your tank was relatively young, so when you pulled the media it likely took with it a good portion of the tanks bacteria. so now, with fish in at least for a short while you will have to stay on top of things. right or wrong, here's what i would do.  as you keep reading ammonia, i would do a 5 gallon ( changing too much water can keep resetting the tanks seasoning, really doing more harm than good) water change daily or every other day, making sure to use whichever water treatment youve chosen to neutralize chlorine/chloramine from your tap water. after  giving the water treatment a few minutes to do its thing, i would add in 1 or 2 tablespoons worth of the fritzyme7 ( no need for a full dose at this point, as the tank does have some bacteria by now, and you just need to keep adding a little, while the tank gets itself established). be patient, and stay vigilant. we've all struggled with these things when we were new, and heck even occasionally hit a rough patch after many years of fish keeping.

Edited by lefty o
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You said "I have not had ammonia over 0.25 or nitrites over 0.50".  While I agree that's not ideal, it's my impression that as long as those combined levels don't get over 1.0 your fish will be fine.  To keep it simple, I'd say just do water changes when needed to keep it from getting any higher.

Also, I've seen reported other places, and believe it's true, that the API test has a 0.25 ppm margin of error, so a reading of 0.25 ppm doesn't necessarily mean you have a problem.  I've also seen reports that the reading may be correct and you still don't have a problem because the ammonia was just produced and the bacteria colony just hasn't had time to handle that small amount yet.  If it wasn't for your small nitrite reading I'd say this is probably the case here.

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