I have had a fish only 50g tank for about ten years. I originally cycled my tank and have had very stable parameters since. That is until just recently when I changed my substrate. I am preparing for a plant re-try and one of the prep steps I did was to remove the pebble substrate and replace it with plant friendly substrate. I checked my params before and they were normal for this tank 0/0/15.
I drained about half my water. Removed rocks and decorations. Removed fish. I removed the pebbles. I had a couple of cups of pebbles and a couple of quarts of muddy water remaining in the tank. [at the time I was not worried about leaving a few old pebbles and a little old water as I wanted to keep some of my bacteria and this should have added to whatever was living on my two bio-wheels and filter elements.] I was adding plant friendly substrate from aquariumplants.com and used a 5G bucket full. I had followed the mfg instructions and lightly rinsed the substrate before adding. I added the substrate. I had 25 gallons of "city water" in 5g pails which had prime and overnight wait before using. I made an additional 25 G as I emptied my 5 buckets and added the rest of the water the next morning.
It took 24 hours to clear all the dirt out of the water using the HOB Marineland filter I use. I have an ammonia issue now. During the water refill I checked and had just over 1.0ppm. Had between 1.0 and 2.0 after filling completely. I checked my tap and it was zero, check tap with prime and it was zero. I did a 40% water change and checked and it was 1.0. I waited 24hrs and did another 40% water change and it was 1.0 before and 1.0 after, (that did not make any sense to me). Waited another 24hrs and did a 3rd 40% change and it was again 1.0 before and after.
I do not understand why I am not seeing a reduction in the ppm count after mixing 40% of the volume @0ppm and 60% at 1.0ppm.
That is odd since you're using the same filters which should already have high enough bacteria to handle the ammonia. You didn't let the bio-wheels dry out during this process, did you?
No, the out of water time for the filter was not long, less than an hour. And, enough water remained in the filter sump to keep the filter element wet.
Some of this is simple stuff but I have ask :-D accidents happen you know.
Good question. The 'overnight' scenario makes me think this also.
Originally Posted by funkman262
Sorry, Have to ask: Was the filter running over night? Or off due to the low water level?
I added the substrate. I had 25 gallons of "city water" in 5g pails which had prime and overnight wait before using. I made an additional 25 G as I emptied my 5 buckets and added the rest of the water the next morning.
I also hope you added a dose of dechlor equivalent to the tanks full volume.
One thing I would mention as a possible cause of the immediate ammonia is that the left over 'muddy water' you mention from the first substrate [By 'pebbles' do you mean pea gravel sized?] could have contained a lot of mulm that got stirred up and brought your levels up but this doesn't explain why the math on the expected reduction isn't right after the WC. Unless the Bio-wheels [If it's a biowheel filter] dried out as mentioned above which means you are now cycling with fish.
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Any chance this was ADA plant substrate? That can give ammonia issues for awhile. Read of it often. Other substrates should not have changed anything unless the filter media was also clean.
When I know I will be changing substrate, I make sure the filters are good and grungy and have not recently been changed so they have lots of bacteria in them.
The filter pick up has to have a piece of water proof tape added where the sections fit together but it works fine with low water levels, (I also place a plastic ramp under the outflows to reduce splashing. Good questions but no, the bio-wheels did not dry out. The filter ran during all overnight periods.
Yes, I add Prime which takes the Chlorine out, and I age the water for 8 hours or more which also takes the Chlorine out.
Pebbles discussed were original substrate, white and approx. 1/4" in diameter.
Agree, the only logical place the ammonia could have come from was from the remaining pebbles and muddy water.
All above does not address my confusion about why the process of mixing new ammonia free water with existing water with high levels of ammonia does not reduce the level of ammonia.
Yikes! 1ppm is pretty high for having an established BB colony. =/ I'm thinking along the lines of the above two posters. Your BB colony could have been wiped out. I'm hoping that's not the case. Have you cleaned your filters, since they were probably sucking up a ton of mulm/mud? The filters could be full of gunk and unable to perform at peak efficiency.
Tank 1: 20gal Long Planted Freshwater - 1 Crowntail Betta + 8 Oto Cats + 1 Horned Nerite Snail + 2 Orange Rabbit Snail + 5 Amano Shrimp
Tank 2: 75gal Planted Freshwater - 6 Serpaes + 1 Black Phantom + 3 Golden Wonder Killies + 1 Opaline Gourami + 2 Striped Raphael Cat + 4 SAEs + 5 Assassin Snails
Tank 3: 10gal Planted Brackish Water - 4 Nerite Snails
Tank 4: 10gal Planted Freshwater - 5 Rabbit Snails + RCS
My 75 Gal Journal
My Snail Breeding Journal
I do not know what ADA substrate is. Here is a cut and paste of the description of the material I used.
AquaDurt.com: Freshwater Plant SubstrateÂ®
Used as a complete system with our exclusive: AquaFertz.com "Substrate Vitalization System", (and proper water conditions, lighting etc), we guarantee total success of your planted aquarium. (if you follow our recommendations and purchase your equipment & plants from us)
(ask our tech guys if you have the proper water conditions & lighting etc.)
All natural. No artificial coloring.
Contains minerals and nutrients and rich in iron. Provides optimum fresh water aquatic plant growth.
Used with our exclusive "Aquariumplants.com's own Substrate Fertilizer Pellets" we GUARANTEE success.
NEW: 3 colors to choose from; Black Diamond, Natural Amazon, Red River
Will not break down or dissolve or turn to mud like others do.
Does not cloud water
Granular Size: 1.2mm to 2.8mm
outperforms ALL other planted substrates (guaranteed)
TYPICAL CHEMICAL ANALYSIS
component weight %
volatile free basis
Loss on Ignition.................2.20
Same substrate I use in my tanks. That is not the ADA I mentioned earlier.
You need to do some "large" water changes to bring that ammonia level down. I believe too much bacteria was removed is all which can happen if filters are not holding enough bacteria.
You need not "age" the water, either. Prime removes the chloramine and chlorine instantly. Letting it sit around in pails only let's it get too cold to add to the tank.
Check your tap water for ammonia, too.
Tap water was already checked before and after prime and came out zero (according to OP).
EDIT: How old are the test kits? I believe they reduce in accuracy over the years.