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Ammonia and nitrite levels question / minispike???

1867 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  prov356
I just added some fish to my new tank. I was given bacteria beads from a previously established filter which I added to my filter. The bacteria beads were handling a bioload that was bigger than what was added to my tank. I added 7 1-2" cobalt blues and 9 .5-1" yellow labs. My water readings are: 1ppm ammonia, .25ppm nitrite, and 10ppm nitrate. My fish do not seem to be suffering or having any ill effects at all. All are very active, eating well, and the cobalts even tried to spawn.

I was just wondering how the experts here think I should proceed (ie water change, add prime to remove some ammonia and nitrites, do nothing and wait, add bio spira, etc). Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks for your help.
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I was given bacteria beads from a previously established filter which I added to my filter.
Agreed, I've found that using media from another filter speeds things up, but rarely instant cycles.

I'd do water changes and use a detox product like Prime, Ammolock, Amquel+ or similar. Worry more about the fish health than the cycle and do the detoxing because the cycling will still happen just fine IME. Some fish are more tolerant of ammonia/nitrite levels than others, but all have their limits.

Also agree you should feed lightly once per day until you get past this. Wait until ammonia and nitrite levels have been 0 for a few days before adding more fish.
Thanks guys. So is it possible that the levels are harming the fish even though they are not showing any outward symptoms? Any other suggestions?
That's hard to say for sure if the fish are being harmed unless there's visible distress. I'd guess nothing serious at this point, but that's only a guess.

The fact that you have some nitrites shows the process has been jump started a bit since ammonia is being converted to nitrite.

Reduced feedings, water changes, and detox are about the only way to really deal with this. If you keep a close eye on it, it's manageable. You could add more filter media and even bacteria starter products, but instant cycling is still rare.
Any recommendation on the bio starter products? I have read and heard that bio spira is the only one that is any good. What are your thoughts? Also are false readings a possibility? The readings I am getting are only one "step" or level up from 0 ppm on the card you compare the color too.

I'd hold off on spending the money at this point. Filter media does just as good of a job IME. Adding a bacteria starter may not expedite things at all.

I don't think you're getting false readings. What you're seeing is pretty typical of what I've seen. I usually add filter media and then do a fishless cycle. Has almost always taken about 7-10 days every time regardless of how much media and how certain I am of it's being colonized by beneficial bacteria. Ask me why and I couldn't say. It's just a numbers thing, I guess.

Daily testing for a few days will tell us how it's progressing.

I'd plan to change out 25% or so each evening. Test right before the water change. Avoid doing a massive water change. A couple of smaller ones would be better if needed.

Once you use the detox product, you'll still test positive for ammonia, but it will be 'bound' ammonia and not toxic to fish. Most ammonia test kits measure total ammonia, not just free ammonia. It's the free ammonia that's toxic.
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I think you're doing exactly the right things. I'd continue with the water changes. I don't think they're false readings at all. Also keep adding the Prime, low feedings, and don' t mess with the filters at all during this time. That can disrupt the beneficial bacteria at this stage. Stay diligent in monitoring this, as you seem to be doing.

As for what levels are harmful, temp and pH comes into it and different fish can be more sensitive than others. Any level above 0 is potentially harmful and should be cause for concern. See this site and this one and this one. Lots of good info there.
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