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After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

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Thread: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

  1. #1
    Tunicate
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    After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    HI everyone I need some help

    Started cycling my 29/30g tank last week with 20kg uncured live rock. Now here's the problem: I failed to preclean the rock!!! There has been a lot of die off, causing the tank to becomes cloudy since day 2. Ammonia has been off the roof 8+ppm (8 was the highest my test kit can detect), no nitrite or nitrate readings. The water stinks like hell because of the excessive die offs, so I have done a few water changes lately, it reduces the smell but not the ammonia. I also have been using "bacteria in a bottle" - Seachem Stability after every water change to help with the cycling process. I'm using a cannister filter with a wave-maker to circulate the water. I also left the actinic light on 6hrs a day to keep the hitchhiker hard corals alive.

    My question is why my ammonia so high? Is that normal? Can I take out the LR and give it a scrub or clean now? And how long do I have to wait till nitrite kicks in? Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks all.

  2. #2
    aqueus Typicus Alloticus nanoreefing4fun's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate


    to ReefSanctuary, a real Sanctuary of reef forums, with lots of very nice members

    All is fine - imo great - now just wait... I choose to cycle my tanks with uncured live rock, all the die-off is good imo, this is why the ammonia is so high, just let it run it's course now and in something like 6-8 week you will have a beautiful cycled tank.
    ~ Red Sea Max 130D and RSM 250 ~

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  3. #3
    aqueus Typicus Alloticus nanoreefing4fun's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    oh while it cycles... here a great post to start with

    The Mature Aquarium

    All the Best !
    ~ Red Sea Max 130D and RSM 250 ~

    Glenn's Reef 130 Glenn's Reef 250

    ><((((>`..`..`...><((((>
    `.. , . .`.. ><((((>

  4. #4
    aqueus Typicus Alloticus nanoreefing4fun's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    one more good read...

    Just exactly what is a 'cycled' tank
    ~ Red Sea Max 130D and RSM 250 ~

    Glenn's Reef 130 Glenn's Reef 250

    ><((((>`..`..`...><((((>
    `.. , . .`.. ><((((>

  5. #5
    Neon dottyback
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    patience grasshopper. this is the most crucial time in setting up a successful reef tank imo. Be patient and it will pay off big time in a few months. trust me!

  6. #6
    Tunicate
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    Thanks for the fast reply and advice guys. I will be patience and wait for another week.

  7. #7
    Administrator BigAl07's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    As above it sounds like it's going in the right direction. Uncured Live Rock might take a while before it stabilized and the tank settles down. Just ride it out and keep testing. I don't think you need to keep adding chemicals right now because everything you need is "In There" already.

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  8. #8
    Star Polyps OHmariner's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    When I use to raise discus fish it was common to run bare bottom tanks and with the fresh water it wasn't as 'easy' to cycle a tank. I use to do 'fish-less' cycling with my freshwater, I would use raw ammonia to cycle the tank. That was a real test of patience but it was neat to test the water the 'see' the cycle progress through the stages of raw ammonia, then a little ammonia with nitrite and no nitrate then to see nitrite and nitrate with almost no ammonia to finally seeing only nitrate. Neat stuff! just like the other fellas said, patience is key and it is very rewarding
    14 Gallon JBJ nano cube(Approx 20gal volume with sump);Hydor Nano PH, approx.15lb live rock; Corals:Candy cane, leather, frog-spawn, ricordia, zoas,purple mushroom, GSP, large 'curly-Q' anemone thats taking up too much space...Marineland stealth heater.UPDATE: Now running DIY 10gal sump/fuge w/RIO1400 pump and Odyssea PS75 skimmer. Running Chemi-Pure&Phos-Ban;Chaeto in sump compartment; weekly water-changes(Reef Crystals salt&RO/DI water)

  9. #9
    NaClH2O Addicted Reefmack's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    The ammonia is generated by the die-off on the rock decomposing. As your bacteria increase and populate the rock and substrate they will begin to first convert the ammonia to nitrites. Then another type of bacteria will convert the nitrites to nitrates. You'll see a peak in the ammonia, and it will start to decrease as nitrites rise and peak. When the cycle is done you should see only nitrates, and those can be reduced with water changes. As to how long this will take is a guess - a couple weeks or longer. This is where that very difficult thing called "patience" is needed.

    If the rock is that covered with die-off you could speed things up a bit by pulling out the rock and using a brush to remove some of the die-off in a bucket of saltwater. It'll be stinky though.
    aka Terry
    Excellence in reefkeeping is achieved by mastering the fundamentals, and learning from mistakes.
    34g Red Sea Max 130 (April 07), ~50-60 lbs. live rock. Lighting: Sol Super Blue LED with AI controller. Vortech MP10ES & battery backup, LifeReef Siphon, Sump, SWC Extreme 120 cone skimmer, Tunze Osmolator ATO, ReefKeeper Lite L3 controller

    Reefmack's RSM 130 and...Red Sea Max Owners Club

  10. #10
    Tunicate
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    OK my cloudy water has clear up significantly, probably around 80% and also the rotten smell has gone. I tested for ammonia and nitrite/nitrate and the readings didn't change at all Still high ammonia and no nitrite. Can I still do water changes, take the rock out and give it a good scrub or just leave it as it is?

  11. #11
    Scopas Tang JandR's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    Have you added any type of stablizer or some stuff to help lower ammonia and nitrite? Like Prime? I use it in all my tanks when I add anything new and it has worked great for me! Maybe it just needs a little push to go into Nitrates...

  12. #12
    Tunicate
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    I use Safe - a concentrated version of Prime when mixing my water. Err are we on the same page here? I thought it suppose to be from ammonia -> nitrite -> nitrate. I could try to lower my ammonia level down but I thought I need ammonia for the bacteria to turn it into nitrite.

  13. #13
    aqueus Typicus Alloticus nanoreefing4fun's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    My ammonia in my 6 day old new tank is getting very high, no nitrites, no nitrates yet and I could not be happier. The Key... is patience, let the Nitrogen Cycle run it course, this can take 2 to 8 weeks or so... my best advise... is wait and keep reading while your tank "cycles" all is well...

    sidebar - imo (in my opinion) don't add any (more) chemical additives.

    Beginner FAQ: The Nitrogen Cycle
    ~ Red Sea Max 130D and RSM 250 ~

    Glenn's Reef 130 Glenn's Reef 250

    ><((((>`..`..`...><((((>
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  14. #14
    Tunicate
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    Ok i'll be patience and wait. Thanks nanoreefing4fun. I'll take your advice and stop adding any chemicals.

  15. #15
    NaClH2O Addicted Reefmack's Avatar
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    Re: After 1 Wk: High Ammonia.. No Nitrite/Nitrate

    My opinion - I'd suggest not adding any Prime or ammonia killers during a cycle. They tie up the ammonia into an ammonia complex compound that isn't harmful, but will still show up in almost all ammonia tests. Almost all ammonia tests give you a total ammonia level, not a free (toxic) ammonia level. The use of Prime or similar can make the ammonia test result very misleading. The only test kit I'm aware of that will allow you to test for both free ammonia and complexed ammonia is a SeaChem test. I'm not sure, but I think the complexed ammonia is also harder to consume by bacteria, and may be the reason you haven't seen nitrites or nitrates yet.

    No need to use an ammonia killer during a cycle - you want that ammonia to be the free form, so that the bacteria can use it for food to multiply.
    aka Terry
    Excellence in reefkeeping is achieved by mastering the fundamentals, and learning from mistakes.
    34g Red Sea Max 130 (April 07), ~50-60 lbs. live rock. Lighting: Sol Super Blue LED with AI controller. Vortech MP10ES & battery backup, LifeReef Siphon, Sump, SWC Extreme 120 cone skimmer, Tunze Osmolator ATO, ReefKeeper Lite L3 controller

    Reefmack's RSM 130 and...Red Sea Max Owners Club

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