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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2013

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    Question Ammonia in the tap water affecting cycling - help!

    0 Not allowed!
    Hello! I'm new to this wonderful hobby, and have someone helping me a bit, but I'm starting to wonder if the advice I'm getting from him is good, since it seems to contradict what I've read on the site. I'm trying to cycle with fish, 3 male guppies.

    First, my tank info (all is newly-bought except where noted):

    20 gallon tank (used)
    Aquaclear 20 HOB filter
    TopFin heater (used) - barely on, so the temp is at 75 F
    gravel substrate
    plastic and silk plants
    decorative resin rock with plastic plants
    decorative resin windowed gate sort of thing (think Rivendell from Lord of the Rings)

    Four weeks ago:
    Tank set up with no fish. Added Prime. Added Special Blend. Ran for a week with filtration. Did get a cloudy tank for awhile, but I didn't have any test kits yet, so I don't know what levels were.

    Three weeks ago:
    Added Special Blend as directed. Ran for a week with no fish.

    Two weeks ago:
    Added recommended Special Blend dosage.
    Added three guppies.
    Water tested with strips (yeah, I know.)
    GH 180 ppm
    KH c. 60 ppm
    pH 7.0
    nitrite 0 ppm
    nitrate 20 ppm

    Tested two days later:
    all levels the same

    I hadn't purchased an ammonia test until the next day (yeah, I know.) Those readings were:
    ammonia 0.25 ppm

    First water change took place the next day. I only changed 2 gallons worth, prepped with 1/8 tsp of Prime and left it to sit overnight. The levels after the change were:
    GH, KH, nitrite, nitrate all the same
    pH rose to 7.2
    ammonia rose to 0.5 ppm

    Later that day, I added 20 mL of Special Blend as recommended
    retest of pH c.7.3

    Two days later, I tested our tap water for ammonia upon recommendation from my friend. I found it sits at about 1.0 ppm straight from the tap. I treated it with Prime until it was at 0.25 (I was concerned about overdosing on the Prime, so didn't bring it to 0). After a half-tank water change, the tank read 0.75 ppm of ammonia.

    Two days later, I tested again, with the last strip:
    GH, nitrite, nitrate all remain the same (180, 0, 20 ppm)
    pH is now at 7.6
    KH has risen to 80 ppm
    ammonia is at 0.75 ppm

    I tested for ammonia and pH the next day, and received the same readings (0.75, 7.6)

    That brings us to today.

    While I'm unable to take nitrite/nitrate readings until I purchase a test kit for them (and it's snowing like gangbusters outside right now), I did decide to go against my friend's wishes and do a half tank water change with double-dose of Prime added to the tap water. I took another ammonia reading right after the change, and it's still at 0.75.

    How do I get rid of the ammonia in my tap water? Is this what's raising my pH and carbonate hardness levels? The guppies seem just fine, although their color obviously dulls on occasion (I haven't been able to pinpoint the reason yet).

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Saskatchewan, Canada

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    0 Not allowed!
    higher levels of ammonia can cause some pH swings, as you continue your cycle this should become less and less of a problem.

    I used to live in a city with just around 0.5ppm of ammonia in the tap water. I cycled all my tanks with fish back then, but the only difference that I noticed is that it took me a little longer to complete the cycle. When done, I had grown enough bacteria to handle all the ammonia within just a few hours (maybe quicker) after a very large water change.

    It;s a good idea to use double doses of prime as that will help to make the water safer for your fish while still having the ammonia avaliable to grow bacteria. As long as you have a good amount of biological filter media in your filter you should be OK.
    If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
    "Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
    Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info [URL=""]

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2013

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    0 Not allowed!
    Ammonia in tap water. I know it's only 1ppm, but that's kinda scary. Ammonia is a serious toxin in the blood, although your liver will turn it into urea. It also reacts with chlorine to produce chlorine gas, another serious toxin.

    Having said that, I tested my water a day after filling and while is open to debate as to how accurate my judging of the colour of the test solution was, I'd swear it wasn't perfectly yellow (0 ppm), but very slightly green, leaning towards 0.25ppm.

    I'm also fairly certain the water is getting slightly cloudier again.

    Maybe I too have trace amounts of ammonia in my tap water. I suppose if anything gets into the reservoir and decays it could yield ammonia and maybe trace amounts aren't filtered/reacted out. I know they often stock the reservoirs with trout to clean up some of the organics and insects and trout obviously produce ammonia.

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