Persisting ammonia with Amazonia

KAB28

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Hello all. I am new to the hobby, and like many am a little overwhelmed at times by all the information available, but I do my best to try and research valid information to help.

My tank was set up, moderately planted with ADA Amazonia substrate, on April 1st. Rightly or wrongly I decided after reading that I did not want to use ammonia, fish food or a rotting prawn to cycle the system. Instead I followed what I think some call a "silent cycle" with the plants as per helpful advice from others in this forum & from a video by Cory McIlroy (Aquarium Co-op) on Youtube

My tank seems to be thriving. The plants are growing well, my first fish seem very well & active, the water chemistry seem stable with zero nitrites & near zero nitrates, pH 7.4.

What frustrates & puzzles me is the persistent low level ammonia in the tank. I measure this with API liquid reagents, NT Labs and also Seachem Ammonia test. I am water changing 25% twice weekly. The Free ammonia level registers a nil most days using the Seachem test and the calculated free ammonia is also within safe limits. But total ammonia is 0.5-1 ppm. I keep the temperature at 23 degrees.

I assume the tank is cycled, there was a small peak in nitrite & nitrates in the second week. I assume the low levels of nitrite/ nitrate, despite the persisting ammonia, is because the plants are utilising it?

Thoughts on why the ammonia persists are welcome. Do I need to do anything other than wait?

I should add I dose with Seachem Prime, for peace of mind if nothing else, daily but want to stop this when I can.

I understand that Amazonia leaches ammonia. Does this persist long term?

TIA
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Instead I followed what I think some call a "silent cycle" with the plants as per helpful advice from others in this forum & from a video by Cory McIlroy (Aquarium Co-op) on Youtube
My tank seems to be thriving. The plants are growing well, my first fish seem very well & active.......
Good, that sounds really promising. <"Looking at plant growth"> is just a lot easier than picking your way through test kits etc.
the water chemistry seem stable with zero nitrites & near zero nitrates, pH 7.4.
You will have some nitrate (NO3-), I'm not anti-testing, but there are some <"issues with testing">.
But total ammonia is 0.5-1 ppm.
I should add I dose with Seachem Prime, for peace of mind if nothing else, daily but want to stop this when I can.
Don't worry it is the "Prime" that <"gives you an ammonia reading">. "Seachem" won't tell you exactly how "Prime" work, but we think it <"complexes the ammonia into a sulfonate compound">.

cheers Darrel
 

KAB28

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Thank Darrel,

Don't worry it is the "Prime" that "gives you an ammonia reading".

So are you saying if I stop using Prime, the ammonia levels should fall? I thought stopping the addition of Prime would just change the "locked" ammonia in to "free" (toxic) ammonia?
 

alto

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Hi

Did you read the Seachem discussion in the provided link?
(unfortunately it’s no longer possible to quote relevant points)

Prime by itself can cause a false positive if ammonia test kit is Nessler based - this reaction usually only occurs for 24 h after dosing Prime re Prime slowly dissipates from aquarium water (though I understand you are dosing daily)

When you use Seachem ammonia test kit, this should give you actual ammonia values irrespective of any Prime dosed
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
So are you saying if I stop using Prime, the ammonia levels should fall?
If it goes to 0 ppm it would show that your tank was fully "cycled". I'm not a great fan of the not cycled/cycled concept, have a look at <"Planted Aquarium query"> for a fuller explanation.
I thought stopping the addition of Prime would just change the "locked" ammonia in to "free" (toxic) ammonia?
Yes, that is the potential danger.

Can we have a photo of the tank? It will give us a bit more idea about plant growth and biomass.

cheers Darrel
 

alto

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When using ADA Amazonia, there is sufficient ammonia released to “cycle” an aquarium - even by the older style of “fishless cycling”
Note that current understanding of bacteria etc involved in the “aquarium cycle” is much different than previously held (Darrel has provided more detailed information/articles in the linked topic)

You may find that using a Seachem Ammonia Alert beneficial, it will constantly monitor ammonia for ~3 months - oops - Seachem has updated this to ~1 year!

BUT

No care is required beyond removing algae with a clean, soft material. Avoid touching the sensor with fingers, since skin oils can damage it. Do not use bleach, soap, detergents or hard objects to clean the sensor. Some dye medications may discolor the sensor.
Sensitivity improves with age, provided the unit is not allowed to dry out, however, drying does not permanently impair the unit.
For maximum sensitivity, the unit should be read under natural daylight or daylight simulating light.
Red enhancing light minimizes green and blue hues, decreasing the apparent sensitivity of the unit.
The response of the unit may be checked by holding it briefly over the mouth of an ammonia bottle: color should develop rapidly.
When using the in-tank Alert, it’s easy to determine when a water change is recommended, I would do this rather than daily dosing with Prime

Depending on what’s happening with your Amazonia, you may find that using Seachem Stability (there is more information on the Discussion Board in addition to the product profile page) is more useful than daily Prime
 

KAB28

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Thank you both, much appreciated.

I have a Seachem Alert. Mine seems to remain on the cusp between safe & alert, never noticed any real changes in colour. My Seachem Multitest records no free ammonia. I have used Seachem Stability, coming to the end of the first bottle.

I shall read through the articles, I have much to learn. Here is a photo of my tank.


1590183191154.png
 

alto

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Livestock list?

It’s not easy to grow plants in that particular Flex - it’s the lowest light/volume ( & tank height) in the series so you’ll need some trial and error to find plants that do well with stock lighting
What’s the plant at the left front - it looks less “happy” (but that’s just an impression)

I suspect that Amazonia performs more consistently when covered with carpet plants (which is typical ADA style)
You shouldn’t need the airstone for filtration - obviously fine if you like the look
(though if you’re adding CO2, somewhat counterproductive as the agitation will drive off CO2)

A plant list would be nice too :)
(just saw from your previous thread that you’ve upgraded the stock lighting with a second bar) - do you feel this gives good consistent light across the tank?
 
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alto

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In terms of what’s possible in these Flex tanks, it’s certainly not as bleak as some have stated - though Fluval/Hagen seem rather optimistic

George Farmer has a video series on Tropica now for his recently rescape Flex 54 - this should give you a good idea of what can be easily done in a non-CO2, hard water system

The setup tutorial is on George Farmers YouTube


Tropica YouTube
- unfortunately there hasn’t been a separate Playlist created for this tank, so you’ll have to select the videos
 

KAB28

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Thanks for the video link alto. My setup was not as meticulously planned.. Maybe it is not the things to say on the UKAPS forum, but the fish are more important to me than the plants :) But I cannot imagine having a tank with artificial plants, or sparse open spaces. The random planting is fine with me, and did try to follow a background, midground, foreground arrangement.

Plants

Vallisneria asiatica
Marsilea hirsuta
Sagittaria subulata
Bacopa caroliniana
Hygrophila 'Siamensis
Ludwigia repens
Ludwigia palustris
Limnophila heterophylla

The first two on the list are doing less well compared with the others. I have ordered:

Vallisneria Torta (Twisted Vallis)
Anubias Golden Nana
Eleocharis acicularis Mini

Livestock

12 Amano Shrimp
6 Zebra Danio
3 Crossocheilus reticulatus (Silver Flying Fox Siamese Algae Eater)

<What’s the plant at the left front - it looks less “happy”>
Hygrophila 'Siamensis 53B

<do you feel this gives good consistent light across the tank?>
To my novice eye, yes

many thanks,
 
Last edited:
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