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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 46G bowfront that I cycled for approx 4 weeks with 13 zebra danios. During cycling I lost 4 of these, but at the time i put in my cichlids I had no ammonia, nitrite, and very little nitrate. I picked up a total of 12 mbuna's from my lfs, per the clerks recommendation. He seems very knowledgeable and helpful, so I trust the info he gave me. fish range in size from one inch to about 2 inches.

Approx 24 hours after introducing these fish I did an ammonia test and it came in between 1-2 ppm, nitrites still measure 0. I immediately did a 10g water change. All fish seem very healthy with the exception of one that passed this evening. I believe he may have just not been a healthy fish because all the others show no sign of stress. I used AmQuel tonight and did another 10g change.

I know all about the nitrogen cycle and have had reef tanks for the last 10 years, so I am not new to the hobby, but I am confused by this. Was my tank not fully cycled, even though ammonia had gone away, or was it too many fish based on the number I used to cycle? I know the amquel makes it hard to continue tests going forward as both the NH3 and NH4 will register on the test. Should I continue to use it daily for a while? Bottle and website say it will not hinder cycling or hurt beneficial bacteria. I plan to keep up water changes for a while as well.

So bottom line is, are my fish going to be in trouble? Any suggestions?
 

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It sounds like you overloaded your bacteria as you suggested.
I would test daily and keep ammonia, nitrite under 1ppm with water changes, eventually they'll catch up with the current bio load. Careful not to overfeed and vacuum when doing any water changes.
 

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Agree with GTZ, you just temporarily overwhelmed the nitrifying bacteria. You should pull out of it soon. I'd probably not feed at all for a couple of days and you may see ammonia zero out again that quickly.

Don't worry about the amquel and ammonia test readings. Most test kit measure total ammonia, so whichever you have in your tank and percent of each doesn't matter. The test result should be the same. Keep using it and doing the water changes. And don't touch the filters for at least another 30 days. With a light fish load and careful feeding, there's no reason to. It can only disrupt the bacteria.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the input everyone, tonight all the fish look great and are swimming around very strong. They seem a little upset with me for not feeding them, but I guess they'll just have to get over that...lol. Levels appear to be dropping off nicely, ammonia is down to .25-.5 range. I will be testing nitrite shortly, but expect it to be in line.

One question about not disturbing the filter. I have an eheim ecco 90g filter, I currently have a carbon pad in there, and I've heard you should not leave them in for more than 10 days. If I go 30 days without opening it up to take that out...will it cause problems?

Also, should I keep adding amquel to the entire tank (5 teaspoons) or should i just add to the new water for pwc's?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wanted to give an update on my tank. I've continued water changes and using amquel. I still show some ammonia, but I am hoping this is not free ammonia and could still be present because of the amquel. The fish are great, showing no signs of stress. I feed one-two very small amounts per day. They eat everything in about 15 seconds. A couple of days ago my water started clouding up. It was crystal clear up til this point. Is this something to worry about or should I just wait and let things run their course? Also I have a carbon filter in my canister, it has been in about two weeks. Is that too long? I've been heeding the advice of not touching the filter as recommended, so I'm nervous about opening it up to take that out.
 

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The ammonia should drop to 0 real soon. I'm surprised it hasn't already. As long as you're adding Amquel, they'll be fine.

Leave the carbon in the filter for now. Don't mess with the filter.

What's your nitrite been testing?

If it were me, I wouldn't be feeding twice per day with ammonia in the tank.

Amquel does not cause ammonia to be present. Not sure what you mean by that. If you have chloramine in your tap, you could get an ammonia reading right after a water change when using Amquel, but it would quickly go to 0.

I'd double check your test kit as someone suggested earlier also. What does it test exactly, and is it the same all the time, or change after a water change?
 

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the cloudiness is a sign of the bacteria adjusting to the bio-load, it can be a bloom, or a die-off. Your tank may not have been fully cycled to start, but you should be ok with amquel and water changes
 

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I'm not sure the cloudiness is bacteria, although that's often been said in lots of literature out there, but it's not the issue, and not necessarily a danger to fish. It certainly signals some change going on, and let's hope it's a good change. :) I'd test ammonia and nitrite and focus on that.

Somebody's sig once said, "Nothing good happens quickly in an aquarium". :) Can't remember where I saw that, but it's very true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just went down and ran some tests. Ammonia is 1ppm, I am hoping that even though this is high the amquel is taking care of it. I'm going to dose the tank again as I haven't in several days. Nitrites are between 0-.25 and nitrates are 20ppm. Also, my ph is testing 8.0, but my tapwater is 8.2. As I've mentioned I use Amquel but they state that it won't affect ph. The tank is well aerated and I also have about 15lbs of limestone to help buffer the ph. Any thoughts on what could be could be causing this to drop?
 

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I wouldn't pay any mind to a difference of 8.2 and 8. But, pH drops as a result of the nitrogen cycle going on in the tank, very normal. The limestone will do little to affect pH or KH in a tank. It just doesn't dissolve fast enough.

Your ammonia and nitrite readings at this point are a concern. Keep testing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I believe the presence of nitrates is a good sign though, right? That means that the tank is cycling...just not cycled enough for the current bio-load?
 

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Keep in mind that the nitrate tests are actually giving a total of nitrite+nitrate. Not a huge deal if your nitrite is so low. A series of tests over a few days is the best way to tell what direction things are going.
 

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Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I read somewhere that some water conditioners (dechlorinators) can cause a positive ammonia test result
 

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Do you have chloramine in your tap, and is this ammonia level always present or only after water changes?

Have you checked the kit against a known 0 ammonia source like bottled water?
 
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