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What Constitutes an Ammonia Spike?


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Would appreciate some advice from experienced keepers. I have a new 40 gal. breeder set up that I used a combination of Fritz 7, Fritz Fishless Fuel (Ammonia) and eventually some active sponge filters from Angelsplus.com to cycle. My goldfish arrived yesterday from King Koi and they appear to be doing great (2 baby Ranchus & 2 baby Orandas). I have some moss, a water sprite and a small crinum calamistratum in the tank as well. The substrate is sand.

The water parameters before the fish arrived 24 hours ago:  Ph 8.2, Ammonia 0 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 10 ppm, 70 degrees f

The water parameters this morning:  Ph 8.2, Ammonia 0-.25 ppm (can't really tell but it looks like maybe a tinge of greenish), Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 10-12 ppm, 70 degrees f

It's hard for me to discern if there's a green twinge, but it seems it could be heading in that direction. Is this to be expected with the increased bio load? Does an increase portend an Ammonia spike? How much Ammonia constitutes a spike? I know it is very important to keep Ammonia & Nitrite at zero, and I have also read a bit this morning about calculating unionized Ammonia versus the raw Ammonia result produced by the test kit.

I test the tank daily because I really don't want my fish to suffer any ill effects.

Thanks in advance!

--JuliIMG_7975.jpg.a5ee5a7a2e7999941fe6ccdc7f81986e.jpg

Edited by dolphin
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There is no *real* answer as @Mmiller2001 said, any ammonia that appears can be considered an ammonia spike (assuming you already have established nitrifying bacteria). Since you added the new fish, and it's a higher bio-load than previously, I would expect that you could have a bit of ammonia while the bacteria builds up to new, higher levels. The key is to do water changes and keep testing to keep it a minimal amount while that happens.

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On 5/21/2022 at 11:37 AM, dolphin said:

It turns out that it’s zero ammonia… I was just being neurotic!! I tested my water out of the tap & compared with this morning’s ammonia results & they were indistinguishable. Whew!!

Ph 8.2, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10, temp 70 f

yahoo!!

Another way to tell if it's iffy is to take the cap off and look straight down the tube with something white under it. My tap has about .5ppm ammonia, so comparing to the tap results isn't always guaranteed.

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On 5/21/2022 at 9:42 AM, Katherine said:

Another way to tell if it's iffy is to take the cap off and look straight down the tube with something white under it. My tap has about .5ppm ammonia, so comparing to the tap results isn't always guaranteed.

That’s a great suggestion! How do you handle ammonia out of the tap on a long term basis???

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Another thing to note is that most water quality tests have a range of accuracy. For total ammonia tests the range is above 0.25 which means any measurement between that and 0 is almost indestinguishable without a spectrometer. In other words, if you only have 0.05 ppm, which is no big deal, it will still look like 0.25 ppm on the color chart.

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On 5/21/2022 at 11:44 AM, dolphin said:

That’s a great suggestion! How do you handle ammonia out of the tap on a long term basis???

I try to keep my water changes on the smaller side so my tank ppm doesn't get close to what the tap ppm is. Then the bacteria can take care of it very quickly.

I actually set up a new quarantine tank last night with a small sponge filter taken out of another tank and it had cycled down to 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite by the time I got up this morning. And that one was the full .5ppm ammonia to begin with since it was all new water.

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