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groovy bacterial bloom


Chuckie
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As some of you may have noticed, I am not so much breeding bettas these days (argh, the jarring! harvesting bbs at 5.30am! dealing with awful, awful couriers! no local shows to make it worthwhile, and no time to organise shows myself!).

Anyway - I have decided to let Phil's randy discus pair live at my place for a while and see how I go breeding discus. Phil has kindly agreed to let me borrow his proven pair, and I have 3 x 80L bare bottom tanks with sponge filters set up. The plan is to keep the fish in one, and use the other 2 for water ageing and water changes.

Anyway I cleaned the tanks out the other day (removed previous inhabitants and substrate) and filled them with tap water, used ammolock (I was out of dechlor, and apparently ammolock neutralises chlorine anyway), added strong ketapang tea and then the whole leaves themselves. After 24 hours I added sponge filters that had been holidaying in my 4' tank with a few kribs, a bristlenose, a caucatoide and a couple of rasboras (last of a school I had a while ago) which is where I keep filters I'm not using, with the hope of some bacteria surviving.

I had some vague idea about cycling the main tank, when I could be bothered, lol.

Anyway, today I came home from seeing the X Files Movie and behold, the tank intended to accomodate the discus was way cloudy! I suspected bacterial bloom so I tested for ammonia and found 5ppm ammonia! very dark yellow on the scale. Now WHERE did the ammonia come from?!?!

Fascinating. All that's in there is a sponge filter and a couple of ketapang leaves. very weird - especially cos it is just the one tank, when the other 2 are the same size, in the same room, the same temp and were set up exactly the same way, on the same day!

the disks obviously won't be able to come live here til the cycle's finished. I of course don't have a nitrIte kit atm - I last did a fishless cycle about 12 years ago and always just transferred old filter media from tank to tank after that - but I have a nitrAte kit. unsurprisingly, there's no nitrAte yet, so I'll just keep an eye on it and see what happens.

Anyway, just wanted to share!

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Phil I think you get your water from Prospect wheres I get mine form Warragamba? Mine hasn't done this before, but also thisis the first time I have attempted bare bottomed tanks, which might be a factor as well.

I am happy that the tanks are cycling - by themselves! - so I won't be chucking the water and starting again (not unless the cycle takes something other than the path it's supposed to take).

They were all filled with tap water, not water from the 4'. The only filters in them are the sponge filters, not enough organic matter to create that much ammonia, I would have thought.

I'll keep you posted!

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Thanks for that. I prefer not to subject any fish to living in ammonia, though. Plus what do I do with the goldies after I'm finished? Also the room keeps the tanks at around 85F, so the poor little dudes would have the double whammy of ammonia (then nitrite) plus very high temperatures. I am bit sensitive on the issue of ammonia exposure after years of campaigning for the rights of LFS bettas in little jars AKA tiny toilets :(. If anything, I was going to use bottled ammonia to cycle the tanks, but it now seems I won't have to.

BTW tank no 3 now has high ammonia and cloudy water, and tank 1 is clearing up but still has high ammonia levels.

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Hi lilli,

Thought I'd jump in and comment on your ammonia problem on the 1 day old tank. I have a very young 4 foot tank (3 months) and when I was cycling it I found that even a 50% water change to keep the ammonia levels down would have no effect. This didn't make sense! Imagine my surprise when I tested the tap water for ammonia and found some! :( No wonder the levels wouldn't come down. I was taking ammonia out and putting it back in with the tap water.

I did some research on the internet and found a government document which talks about all the chemicals they're allowed to put in the water supply. It's pretty scary! One of these chemicals is chloramine which I'm sure most of us have heard of, but what I didn't know is that it is a chlorine and ammonia compound.

As for the ammlock, keep in mind that even though it cancels the toxic effects of the ammonia, it will still register on your test kit. I don't know there's a way to differentiate between the toxic and non-toxic ammonia on a test kit.

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Hi Jaime. I was confounded by the appearance of Ammonia in the tanks as my tap water tests negative for it, but the breaking of the chlorine/ammonia bond when chloramine is broken down by dechlorinator might just be something. But then again, I topped-up a cycled planted tank and had no hint of cloudiness, using the same dechlor... :(

I did know that Ammolock changes ammonia to ammonium and that still tests positive as ammonia. These new tanks are running at a pH of 6 which may, if memory serves me, be too low a pH for the bacteria needed for the tank to cycle, in which case i assume I'll just have tanks that est positive for 'ammonia' forever. Not such a problem as ammonium is not toxic the way ammonia is, but still there's no way I'm putting discus in that.

Anyway - it's an interesting experiment!

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Interesting that your tap water tested negative for ammonia as I'm not too far away from you. But I suppose what they put in the water now could be different to 3 months ago. Makes me curious though so I think I'll test my tap water tonight and see. Anyway, good luck with it all. It's always seems to boil down to waiting doesn't it! Someone should invent "hi-speed tank cycling". :anyone:

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Hey Lilli,

Just thought I'd update you on my tap water. I tested it for ammonia last night and got a reading somewhere between 0.25 and 0.50 ppm. Definitely on the green side of the scale. My filtered drinking water tests 0. I can only deduce that even though we are relatively close we must be getting our tap water from different sources. :notsure:

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don't dechlorinators treat for ammonia? (can't be bothered going upstairs to check). If so I'd assume it's not unusual to have some ammonia in tap water.

Maybe it's actually ammonium - what's you pH, Jaime?

Also, my experience is that the tap water is pretty inconsistent in its quality, so you may have ammonia one day and not another, and we just tested on different days :Drunk_Buddies2:

ANYWAY! Still a lot of ammonia in there. I will try and get a nitrIte kit this weekend at some stage so I can check to see if the cycle is progressing. If not I'll try a 50% water change on one of the tanks and see what difference if any it makes.

Hey, can someone remind me what that 'bacteria in a bottle' product (that I have never been convinced by) is called? Would be interested to use one of the 3 tanks to test the usefulness of that, too.

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Hey Lilli, my water comes from warragamba too and i havent had this problem, i tend to do 50% waterchanges on my discus tank with tap water (dechlor in bucket as filling up) and never had this problem. Also dont seem to get it on tanks when i do full changes, but then i have my tanks overly filtered with cannisters that have been running for years. Could be something to do with it.

The bacteria you are after is called Cycle. I think the other brand calls theirs Stress zyme. Alot of people dont seem convinced by them, but i seem to have good results with it ( i assume, i dont test water quality other than pH)

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Most dechloriminators treat ammonia to take care of the ammonia that is released when they change the chloramine into chlorine + ammonia, but I'm not sure how much extra they can control on top of that. The thing with using those though, is that the nitrite comes and bites you in the bum in a rather spectacular way.

Of all the things they could have in the water for the chlorine to bind with, ammonia probably isn't too bad. I believe they actually add it intentionally, something to do with avoiding carcinogens. There should be something or other in the document that Jaime was reading that might explain it better.

You can get test kits that will show free ammonia or total ammonia, check the labels to see which one you have (and some are specific to what process you use to form ammonium, it gets complicated.)

Bacteria in a bottle is a bit hit and miss. I used to use Cycle on the betta jars, but have moved on to Seachem Stability when I had that pea soup outbreak with Mr Marron (a whopping $30 a bottle, but totally worth it, all levels 0 within 24hrs) and am currently trying Nitravec as this is supposedly in the same league. If you absolutely *need* it to work, get Stability, but if you have time to trial something different, I've heard that the Tetra brand and the Sera brand are very good also.

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Hey Lilli, my water comes from warragamba too and i havent had this problem,

Me either, in anything other than these 3 'new' tanks, ever! And I changed the blue eyes' tank and the 4' the same week, and they are fine. Maybe I just added the water to the 2' s on a bad day for warragamba :)

I may try Cycle in one and Stability in the other and see if either - or both - works.

Cheers guys!

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I went to a new aquarium in Narellan today called the Fish Cage (well, it was new to me) and bought a nitrite test kit and a bottle of bacteria called Nitradac, both by Prodac, a brand I hadn't heard of.

I tested the tank on the left of the shelf and it tested negative for nitrite, and still 6 - 7 ppm ammonia. I added the recommended dose of bacteria and will keep track of the results.

I'm going to do a 50% water change on one of the tanks, to see if that kick-starts the cycle, and the third tank is my control tank.

Phil, have those skanky discus been at it again while I am getting their tanks sorted? :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

so, it is October and those damn tanks that tested positive for ammonia in July still had ammonia (and zero nitrite) in them. So I abandoned the "keep discus in a bare bottom tank" idea and set up these 2 instead:

one is a sand bottom/driftwood brackish tank for monos and maybe some burrowing loaches (yes, I know monos will outgrow a 2' tank. Don't care :lol: ).

Other is a tank heavily plated with Val for striped angels. I hope to start with juvies and end up with a pair.

Would you believe the brackish tank - which I increased the pH of to 7 - now has nitrite in it? The other has a pH of 6 so may never cycle. I am going to add some shell grit to see if that does anything to buffer the pH us slightly to get the cycle happening.

Before anyone asks - no, there are no fish in these tanks yet.

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