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Recently we have begun noticing rising ammonia and nitrite levels and we cannot get them to go down. We have a fair number of established plants working away at filtering and the bacteria seem to be doing their job however the ammonia is at 4.0 ppm  and the nitrite is a .25 ppm. We can't figure out how to reduce the ammonia without harming the fish with chemicals. Any one have any ideas?

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It sounds like your bacteria are not doing their  jobs. Or you have a dead fish somewhere.  Stop feeding till you find the problem.

 

Good Luck Dan

Thanks Richard, any ideas on where to get the nitrobacter?

 

They will come Dan, but if you really want some I am tearing down my system today. You could get some of my gravel to help them.  I live in Aurora.

What is the pH?

If this is a previously cycled up system that you have let the pH crash, that can cause a renewed ammonia spike because the bacteria can quit working as the pH drops too low for them.

Hi Dan,

I see that your system is new. Can you provide some more information on your system? How did you cycle and what were your readings from then to now?. FT, Fish and GB ratios? Temperature, PH , any additives etc?

Hi Richard, we can talk about the gravel but why are you tearing your system down?
Hi TCLynx, no this is a new system just trying to establish.

TCLynx said:

What is the pH?

If this is a previously cycled up system that you have let the pH crash, that can cause a renewed ammonia spike because the bacteria can quit working as the pH drops too low for them.

Stop feeding!!!!

Take all readings need to know the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH numbers as well as temperature.

How much grow bed do you have (and what kind?) and how big is the fish tank?  And how many fish, what size?

 

How long have you been running?  What was the source water?  City, treated, untreated, well?  Did you neutralize the chlorine or chloramine?

 

You might need to do some partial water changes if you have some water prepped (don't add chlorinated water to a new system with ammonia in it though or it may never get going.)

 

Time is what you need most, cycling up with fish generally takes at least six weeks.  The pH and temperature will help determine how dangerous the ammonia level is and you may want to salt the system to 1 ppt to help the fish past the nitrite spike as well.  Lots of extra aeration and pumping can help in initial system cycle up but it still takes time.  Even if you get some nice mature gravel to help kick start things, it still takes time.  This will probably be hard on your fish and stressful to you and this is why I like fishless cycling.

Hi Harold,


We have 6 fish in the lower tank and an IBC top style grow bed. The pH has been running between 7.4 and 8 with the 8 being consistant over 5 days. the temps are consistant between 78F and 82F. The only additive is the anti-chlorine water treatment normally used. We have been doing water changes over the last several days to try an control the Ammonia levels. We do see a spike in the nitrides but that's minimal seeing as it gone from 0 to .25ppm. We added some established bacteria from another system into the grow bed today and will take the levels later this evening to see if there has been any change.
Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi Dan,

I see that your system is new. Can you provide some more information on your system? How did you cycle and what were your readings from then to now?. FT, Fish and GB ratios? Temperature, PH , any additives etc?

Hi Richard,

 

I goofed on the reply thing so I'm re-posting it.

Thanks for the offer of the gravel. I do appreciate it. I do have a question though if it's not too personal, but why are you tearing down the system?

 

Richard Wyman said:

They will come Dan, but if you really want some I am tearing down my system today. You could get some of my gravel to help them.  I live in Aurora.

Well Dan,

I would say,

1-no feeding (till ammonia levels are coming down below 1 without water changes.)  fish can go without food for a while.

2-is it a timed flood and drain type system?  If so, I might suggest you run constant flood for a bit or run the pump for longer or more often until you get cycled up as this can aid in faster system cycle up.  If it's a siphon system see if you can add more aeration as that can help too.

 

3-nitrite spike will be next and it is often harder so salt may be in order.  Salt for fish health

 

If you can avoid having to do water changes, it can help things establish faster so you are better off NOT feeding the fish to keep the ammonia/nitrite lower so you can avoid the water changes and let the bacteria establish.  This is part of the uneasy balance of cycling up a system with fish and part of why it can take so much longer to cycle with fish.  Ya slow things down every time you have to do a water change.

 

 

Thanks TCLynx,

Actually this problem is NOT my fault. (LOL) My wife wanted to start the fish in first to "invigorate" the water for the plants but I wanted to do a fishless cycle up. But you know how it is...if Momma ain't happy...NOBODY is happy... but it appears I was right after all...just won't say anything to her...well maybe a little. I know this is going to take time but she's worried about the fish... the fish will be fine. I thank you for your info and help...it makes this a lot easier.

TCLynx said:

Well Dan,

I would say,

1-no feeding (till ammonia levels are coming down below 1 without water changes.)  fish can go without food for a while.

2-is it a timed flood and drain type system?  If so, I might suggest you run constant flood for a bit or run the pump for longer or more often until you get cycled up as this can aid in faster system cycle up.  If it's a siphon system see if you can add more aeration as that can help too.

 

3-nitrite spike will be next and it is often harder so salt may be in order.  Salt for fish health

 

If you can avoid having to do water changes, it can help things establish faster so you are better off NOT feeding the fish to keep the ammonia/nitrite lower so you can avoid the water changes and let the bacteria establish.  This is part of the uneasy balance of cycling up a system with fish and part of why it can take so much longer to cycle with fish.  Ya slow things down every time you have to do a water change.

 

 

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