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FAQs on Marine Water Quality involving Ammonia 3

Related Articles: Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites, Establishing Cycling, BioFiltrationPhosphate, Silicates, Phosphate

Related FAQs: Ammonia 1Marine Systems Ammonia 2, Ammonia 4, Importance, Science, Measure, Control, Chemical Filtrants, Troubleshooting, Nitrates, NitritesPhosphate, Silicates, Test Kits for Marine Systems, Chemical FiltrantsMarine Systems,

Celleporaria sibogae... like most invertebrates, more sensitive to ammonia presence than fishes.

Ammonia  12/20/2005 I have another question for you regarding ammonia in my aquarium its currently at 0.25 I was going to get some carbon to remove it but I heard that the carbon removes and strips the water of good bacteria and trace elements. Could you please tell me if this is true and what I can do  about it. <Carbon isn't going to do much for removing ammonia.  If 10% water changes are made on a weekly basis to replenish lost trace elements then no need to worry.  Personally I don't think anyone has proven just how and how much of any trace elements are removed by the use of carbon.  An experiment like this would require high tech lab equipment along with a high tech person to do it.  Much too costly for a zero return investment.  So, do your required 10% weekly water changes and all will be fine.  James (Salty Dog)>

Ammonia in anemone tank  12/16/05 Hi guys, I have 29 gallon tank that I recently added a green bubble tip anemone to. <Smaller systems are fraught with much more potential problems...> The tank has been established a little over a year now and is doing wonderfully.  Before I purchased him, my tank levels were perfect even though the tank was pretty heavily stocked.  I had a pair of true Percs, a rock blenny, a spotted mandarin, a tiger sleeper goby and a royal Gramma.   Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite 0 and pH around 8.2.  After having him for about 3 weeks I have no problems, but my ammonia has risen to almost 1.0 ppm <Yikes...> (I just checked it about 5 min. ago).  My anemone isn't showing any signs of problems from the ammonia, but I did decided to get rid of a few of a couple of the fish.  The Gramma and blenny were sold to the LFS the other day.  I have also been doing water changes with what seems like absolutely no results. <Good, clear descriptions>   My question is could it be possible that with all the water changes I've done recently, have my beneficial bacteria levels dropped low enough that they can't keep up with the ammonia? <Possibly... but more likely the anemone is producing more ammonia... metabolic, stress... than the present circumstances, bacteria can accommodate> And is there anything else I can do to lower the ammonia levels?  Thank you guys so much for your help, I'll keep you posted on my progress. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nh3marfaqs.htm and the other Related FAQs linked above, the sections on Anemone Systems, Biological Cycling... basically, continuing water quality monitoring, changing, scant feeding, leaving the biological filtration be... should solve this in time. Bob Fenner> Ammonia toxicity and pH 12/4/05 Heya. I apologize if my questions have been answered already in your FAQs. I've been reading (and enjoying) them for many months and haven't found quite what I'm looking for. On 11/25 in the Daily Q&A Adam provided a very interesting answer about which I'd like more information. He said, "DON'T do water changes while the ammonia is high!! The high pH of newly mixed saltwater makes the ammonia more toxic."  What I'd like to know is how this makes ammonia more toxic, and in this particular circumstance, exactly how new "newly mixed" is because I know that it's supposed to be aged before being added. This has piqued my interest because I think it explains why I had a second round of die-offs while curing my 30 pounds of live rock. <Ammonia becomes more toxic at higher pH because it becomes more highly ionized and it is the ionized form that is most toxic. When first mixed, most commercial salt mixes will have a higher pH than most aquariums (some are as high as 9.0+!). Usually, the pH can be corrected to something closer to normal aquarium pH through heavy aeration, which adds enough CO2 to bring the pH down a bit. I didn't (and rarely do) offer this explanation to beginners for several reasons. First, high ammonia is usually the result of an underlying problem that won't be solved by water changes. Second, I don't trust hobby level test kits to be accurate enough to safely match the pH's. Last but not least, if other parameters aren't well matched (temp, salinity, etc.), water changes can add more stress.> And a spin-off question: how long should newly mixed saltwater be allowed to age before being added to the aquarium? I've been letting mine age 4-7 days.  <This is plenty, but more importantly, it should be well aerated. I often use water that has been mixed up only over night, but that has been vigorously aerated the entire time.> I have one last question, if you don't mind: I've been having a Cyano issue and I haven't found the answer in any Daily Q&As or FAQs. I've sent this question in twice before but I never saw it answered, so I apologize if it's a repeat. My 35-gallon has been up since May and I know it's normal for newly established aquaria to have episodes of Cyano or algae imbalances, and I know the conditions in which Cyano thrives. I've already gone through a nasty bout of the blue-green variety, and about three weeks after that ended I started seeing red/maroon Cyano, which has persisted for about three weeks. It has a different texture and grows more slowly but it is definitely Cyano judging by its consistency and persistence. There is absolutely no blue-green Cyano.  Do different Cyano flourish in different water conditions? My tank was stable with no variation in water parameters and no changes to inhabitants or lighting, so I can't think of anything that would cause it but then, that's why I'm the newbie and I'm asking the seasoned pros. <Different types of Cyano and dinoflagellates can bloom and crash during the first couple of months a tank is set up. Most come and go as the nutrients and conditions that favor their growth come and go. Aggressive manual removal helps export the nutrients they need and speeds up the process. Maintaining strong water movement and pH and alkalinity in the high end of normal also helps a lot.> Thank you for your assistance and your wonderful web site. It's made a world of difference for me and my critters. --Jessica <Glad to hear! Best Regards. AdamC.> 

The Deadliest Waters since the last Jaws movie  12/10/05 I presently have a high amount of ammonia, 4.0. <Wow, very toxic. How old is this tank?> This happened all within three days. No nitrate or nitrite. All readings normal except ph. I can never maintain it above 7.8. <You really need to determine the root problem here, do you have any natural buffering devices like live rock or a sand bed?> I am planning to do a 50% water change today and do 25% each day until tank is in a safe area. <I would do several consecutive 50% water changes.> I have a Yellow Tang, a Blue Tang, Two Clownfish, a Pajama Cardinal, Two Royal Gammas, a Dragonet, a convict goby, two skunk cleaner shrimp, a sand sifting star, and snails and crabs in an 80 gal tank. <A very heavy load with the tangs, not the best long term arrangement.> Also have three corals green star, polyps and finger coral along with live rock with sand substrate. Filtration system is a Fluval 404 and two Aqua Clear powerheads w/quick filter for flow and filtration. <The canister needs to be cleaned out weekly and if you don't have one please add a protein skimmer.> The fish are hiding but will eat and the corals are closed and will not open. Feed once daily in a.m. Please advise. <I would find the root cause of this ammonia. Water source? Overfeeding? Decay from a dead organism? A canister filter that has not been cleaned in a while? Until then continue with the large water changes, ammonia needs to be zero.> Steve <Adam J.>

High Ammonia and Nitrite 11/25/05 Hi guys, unfortunately my ammonia levels spiked after I put some Blade Brush plants in my tank. I had poly filters in for two days, and the ammonia level is still high, so is the nitrite levels. I ran out of poly filters, and I don't know what else I can do. I replaced them with  regular sponge filters. any advice? I'm a little stuck. ~Sam   <You could use Amquel to drop the ammonia in this emergency, but you must also figure out why your biological filtration did not handle these wastes.  Please see these two links for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm > P.S. I have a Picasso and a tusk, and they both seem to be more inactive since the spike in ammonia. <No doubt!  In the short term, I would suggest using Amquel to reduce the ammonia and then performing a couple of large water changes.  DON'T do water changes while the ammonia is high!!  The high pH of newly mixed saltwater makes the ammonia more toxic.  You don't provide much information about your system (age, filtration, live rock, etc.), so I can't make specific recommendations, but the two links above should provide you with plenty of good info to be sure that you are providing the basics for marine aquarium filtration.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> <If one keeps pre-mixed, aerated/circulated saltwater on hand, one ought to do water changes.  It's only newly mixed saltwater that is the major concern, here.  -SCF>

High Ammonia and Nitrite part 2  12/04/05 Hi, I emailed you guys on my high ammonia levels. I was told to use AmQuel. Someone said I needed to be more specific about what's in my tank, so I wanted to let you know. I have a 90 gallon with about 75 LBS of live rock. I have a wet dry filter, Fluval 304, two powerheads, and a Aquawheel filter. <The live rock and wet/dry should each be able to handle quite a bit of ammonia on their own, and it is hard to imagine what is producing so much ammonia that they are both overwhelmed. I would suggest verifying your ammonia reading with another test kit (preferably new and a different brand).> I don't have any carbon in right now as a matter of fact because I have been treating for ich. A crazy strain of it. It's been in my tank for about a month. I treated for 3 weeks with SeaCure copper treatment. I then got a UV sterilizer, I think I might of recently got rid of it. Anyway, yes a Picasso, and a tusk are the fish I have in my tank right now. <Copper should never be used in a display, especially with live rock. It can harm the critters living in the rock as well as reduce the population of bacteria that process ammonia. It is possible that these treatments damaged your biological filtration and caused the ammonia to rise, but it is also possible that the copper itself (which is easily overdosed) is causing your fish to look bad. Any drug treatment should be carried out in a hospital tank, and the instructions for copper must be followed carefully.> Will carbon help me lower my high ammonia levels that I have. should I just stock up on more PolyFilters? thanks, Sam <Carbon will only reduce ammonia in so much as it acts as a place for bacteria to colonize. Poly filters are probably only slightly more effective. I would suggest using AmQuel and feeding very lightly in the short term (a few days), while your biological filtration catches up. Best Regards. AdamC.> Ammonia spike  11/24/05 Hi, <Hello> Yesterday morning I noticed a fish was missing, after searching I found it dead, and then I removed it. It was not the ammonia that killed it, most likely it died from being harassed by a larger fish. However, after testing for ammonia I found it to be at 0.5 ppm. <Likely from the dead fish decomposing...> I did a water change yesterday, only 5% that's all the water I had pre made. This morning I tested again and the ammonia is about 1.0 ppm. Why is it still climbing? <The ongoing result...> I did another water change this morning about 20%. So far nothing has died because of this. All that is in the tank is a 4-stripe damsel, a yellow tang, and several crabs and snails. the tank is 50 gallons, and has 45 pounds of live rock. Is there anything I can do other than keep up with the fast water changes? <Relax... likely this spike will solve itself shortly... Do skip feeding till the ammonia is below 1.0 ppm> Will the bacteria in the tank eventually take care of this excess of ammonia? And if so how long should it take? <Yes, and a few days at most> Please help and thank you, Jed <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Turning White, Fish Choking on Their Own Waste - 11/22/2005 Hi, <Hello.> I'm new. I have bought a 50g Uniquarium for a FOWLR system. The tank is cycling now with three damsels. <Please read up on fishless cycling in the future.> Ammonia is at about 2. <Poor fish.> I have added about 15 lbs of LR over the last few days. Today I noticed that the LR is losing much of the color and turning white. Am I killing the LR and will it be lost forever? <Yes and no. Some die off to be expected, again POOR fish.> Is there anything I can do to help? I'm buying a venturi skimmer in the morning. I have 1 50/50 fluorescent tube. Do you think it is the poor light or ammonia turning the LR white? <Lighting is weak but the initial cycle is at work here. The skimmer will help, but water changes and optimal conditions must also be maintained. All should be fine (except those POOR FISH).> What can I do? <Wait.> Thanks <Welcome.>   <<Who are you, you who answered this query?  Marina>>

Inexpensive Ammonia test kit, Nessler's Rgt formula  11/11/05 Hi, Good Fish Folks I have been using your website from India for 6 months now, and it has helped me a lot. I have come across a very simple & inexpensive test for ammonia and I am giving it below for folks like me living in places where regular test kits are hard/ every expensive to obtain.   Ammonia in water can be tested by buying a solution called "Nessler’s reagent. It is a cheap reagent and is available at all shops selling laboratory chemicals. The procedure is simple. Take about 5ml or one teaspoon of aquarium water in a glass test-tube; put 3, 4 drops of reagent. Observe for 5 minutes if water remains clear it means no ammonia. If water turns any shade of yellow, ammonia is there. I have link to a website which has a color chart, in case anybody is interested.  A small bottle costs Rs. 80/- only, has no expiry date and can be used for a long time.  I have been using this for last four months and the results are satisfactory.  I am looking for similar tests for nitrite & nitrate. Hope this helps Sandeep R India <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Overstocked + Under-Filtered = Poor, Poor Fish - 11-07-05 Hi guys! I have a 45 gallon with one of those filters that hang on the side of the tank with the three medias. <<Hopefully cleaned weekly and NOT your only source of biological filtration.>> It's cycled for a month and has had fish for another month. I have a Lion, Picasso, and Niger. <<You are overstocked my friend.>> I have two questions. - My Niger is sick Very pale, sits at the bottom of the tank. <<Not surprised>> Fins look like they are rotting started with the rear fin and has spread to the rest, he does come out to eat though. LFS says parasites. <<I disagree>> And sold me Cupramine which I have used for the last few days according to their instructions and no major change. Niger still looks really bad. <<Stop dosing the tank and perform a couple large water changes.>> - My tank gets dirty very quick including ornaments just days after scrubbing walls and ornaments. LFS says not enough biological filtration and suggested to add an under gravel filter. <<Mmm...I would go for some live rock instead, and/or a fluidized-bed filter.>> That would keep my tank cleaner and allow me to add more fish  <<NO!>>  and stabilize Ammonia levels which at the moment constantly fluctuate because feeding my fish daily makes it rise, therefore I must feed every other day. <<No again, having your tank grossly overstocked with insufficient biological filtration is causing your ammonia problem. Find another home for the triggers and have a good read here and at the indices in blue at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishinvsetup.htm>>  Any advice is greatly appreciated. <<Regards, EricR>> Trouble in FOWLRville 8/18/05 WWM Crew!  Always my first stop for advice.... and I'm badly in need of some sound advice... I've read through the Ammonia FAQ's, but I can't seem to find anything that exactly matches my problem. I have an established 45G FOWLR/w DSB which has been operating now for over 2 years. I have an extensive maintenance routine, and I keep a detailed log book. On June 18th of this year, (Exactly two months ago) I began to record elevated ammonia levels in my tank. <Yikes...> I use FasTest ammonia test kits, which I read with a handheld colorimeter. Most of the last two years my ammonia readings have been 0.0ppm for Total Ammonia-Nitrogen. Since 6/18 my TAN readings are averaging 0.16. I can find no significant events in my log which would cause an ammonia spike. <It's your substrate mon!> You're probably going to tell me that something has died or is dying, but all of my creatures are present, accounted for, and seemingly healthy. Here are some of the actions that I've taken to mitigate the problem. (To no avail). With the exception of #1, All of these actions are performed as part of a rigid maintenance routine. 1. Bought a different test kit, which only confirmed the FasTest results which show elevated ammonia. <Good, bad... well, you know what I mean> 2. Thoroughly cleaned the LR and substrate to remove detritus. <Good...> 3. Cleaned filters, hoses, intake and exhaust strainers, skimmer, and powerheads. 4. Restricted feeding to twice daily, the portion is equivalent in size to a Tylenol Gelcap. 5. Replaced activated carbon. 6. Performed 20% water change, using Distilled water and Reef Crystals. (Or sometimes "Real Ocean" packaged NSW). <Mmm, be certain here... these are two different products... the first a good, very consistent one, the second... junk> 7. My top off water is RO/DI. 8. My only additives are: 7.5 ml Marine Trace elements added once weekly. 5ml Iodide twice weekly for Invertebrate molting. 1/2 TSP Reef Builder (to maintain carbonate alkalinity). These additives have been used since the tank has been setup. I have 5 small 1-1 1/2 inch fish and one small Coral Banded Shrimp. There have been no deaths. My Current tank parameters and equipment are as follows: (read with a colorimeter). PH: 8.12  Temp:77.6 SG: 1.025  Alk: 4.25 Meq/l NH3/NH4: 0.18ppm NO2: 0.03ppm NO3: 0.0ppm D.O.:7.1ppm SiO2: 0.0ppm PO4: 0.0ppm 45G FOWLR, 30+ LBS LR,  6"DSB for NNR,  2 Magnum 350 Canisters.  One for Mechanical filtration, the other for Chemical. (1/2 cup GAC, and Phosphate/Silicate Magnate in a media bag) 2 Hagen 301 Powerheads for water flow around the LR.      The WWM crew: CSI detectives for your fishtank.... Please help me.... <My first guess (there are subsequent ones... as usual), is that the easily-soluble, useful parts of your substrate have been lost... I would replace a good part of the "gravel"... per the writings re here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm and the linked files above... And see if this eliminates the mystery ammonia in a week or two. Bob Fenner> Quarantine Tank with Ammonia problem    8/16/05 I have a 20 gal (Cycled) QT and have added a Coral Beauty Angelfish to it. We are now showing signs of Ammonia.<<A problem. Did you medicate the QT tank?>> Salinity 1.021 Temp 78 degrees Ph 8.3 Ammonia between .25 - .50ppm Nitrite 0 Nitrate 10ppm Penguin bio filter 200 Penguin powerhead 550 small airstone I have been cleaning out all food he is not eating and only have him and a PVC pipe in there. We did a 10% water change last night and a 25% water change today. Is there anything else I can do? No change to ammonia levels. (Using RO water for changes).<<Good>> At what point will the ammonia become toxic or harmful to the Coral Beauty Angel?<<How old is the test kit? Test the ammonia in your main tank and see what the values are. Unless you did something to disturb the beneficial bacteria in the QT tank (like adding an anti-biotic), I would wonder why a cycled tank has measurable ammonia. The level at which ammonia is toxic depends on the individual specimen. Keep cleaning up the excess food and doing the water changes while monitoring the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The goal is to keep the ammonia (values below .25) while the fish is in quarantine and the nitrifying cycle is reestablished.>> If I added the BioWheel & filters from my main tank would that help?<<Potentially but do not do anything that would disturb the nitrification capacity of the main tank. Add a sponge filter to the main tank and use that in the quarantine tank in the future.>> My main tank is in excellent shape and worst case scenario I transfer him early. He has been at our LFS for 3 weeks and eating fine there with no signs of problems. Our LFS quarantine fish when they get them so I am not too worried if I need to transfer him. <<I would add the Coral beauty to the main tank only as a last resort (meaning you are unable to do daily water changes to keep the ammonia level down). Keep monitoring the ammonia, change the water daily and keep the feedings light. If the fish is healthy, he will pull through this.>> Any advice is appreciated. <<Good luck - Ted>>

Ammonia Spike! 8/3/05 Hello WWM Crew, <TJ> Great site. Very, very helpful. I'm on your site almost everyday, it's amazing how much can be learned here. Now, on to why I'm writing to you. I have a 55 Gallon FOWLR. Emperor 400, Tetra Whisper Power Filter 60 and a counter current skimmer. Tank mates are 2 Ocellaris Clowns, 1 Purple Tang and 1 Yellow Tang. A couple of hermits and 2 Lysmata shrimp. Approx 50lbs of live rock and 35lbs of live sand. Sorry to go on but I want to provide you as much info as possible. I do a 5 gallon water change EVERY week. In 3 years this has never happened. My ammonia level is HUGE 8.0ppm?? PH 8.2, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20ppm. I have been doing daily water changes of 10 gallons for 2 days trying to bring it down. This morning I changed 25 gallons and tested about 6 hours later and still a very high ammonia level. At this point I collected up tank mates and moved them into the quarantine tank where it's safer. I did another 10 gallon water change on main tank, removed all live rock looking for something....anything dead or dying and found nothing. Any suggestions? Am I missing something?? Any comments / suggestions are most welcomed. Thank you TJ Ontario <Some event may well have killed off your nitrifying (biological filter) bacteria... But first off, I would "check the checker" here. Have your ammonia test kit checked out... You might be best advised to switch out or add a good deal more live rock... to re-set, re-establish nitrification here. There are instances, trends toward "microbial wars" in older systems... that result in your experience. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ammonia Spike! 8/4/05 Mr. Fenner, Thank you for your response. By the way, great book! I think my ammonia test kit is ok. I get acceptable levels when testing my quarantine tank. All the same I will have it checked.  I will as well switch out some of my older live rock for some new.... <This is the best long-term solution here> I assume that I now play the waiting game. Isn't it strange that it is so hard to look at a tank with nothing in it? <Perhaps... for some> Thank you very much for all that you (and the rest of the gang) do here. Regards, TJ <Welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Caulerpa racemosa raising ammonia? Indirectly 7/18/05 Hey guys, <And gals> I bought a handful of racemosa Caulerpa last week and placed it in my sump.  When I got home that night, all my racemosa skipped over my baffles and got sucked into my pump. <Oh oh> I saw racemosa floating everywhere.  I know that this type of Caulerpa releases back several compounds.  I immediately checked my water parameters and  ammonia levels spiked up to 1ppm from 0!  I did a large water change ( about 40%), checked my ammonia afterwards and it fell to 0ppm.  I also tried to remove as much of the Caulerpa as possible.  My  fish and corals are ok.  This week, the levels jumped up again but to .5 ppm.  I've never had an ammonia problem.  I did another water change and now the level is down to .25.  I also cleaned my prefilters thinking that there maybe some decaying Caulerpa hanging around.  What else to do you guys suggest I do?  For how long?  I hope that this ammonia problem levels out soon. Nilesh <Keep monitoring your water quality, watching your livestock for signs of overt stress... I would place activated carbon, a pad of Polyfilter in your filter flow path... Likely the Caulerpa stressed the livestock, which produced extra ammonia... Bob Fenner> Ammonia... from a cat litter box... possibly 7/14/05 I was wondering if you could help me with my 125 gallon tank.  I've  had the tank for 2 years and ever since it has been giving me problems.   I've had fish grow large and then die. <...> This year alone, it has been disastrous.  All my fish die and there seem to be a fungus in the water  that would not go away.   No matter what medication I would use or how many  times I'd do a water change, nothing would help.  In fact, the water changes would shock the fish and they would ultimately die.   <Bingo> One  day, a friend suggested that perhaps the cat's litter box may be causing the  problem, seeing that it's right next to the tank. <Interesting... a possibility... ammonia can be introduced in this fashion... best to move these apart> I have another 46 gallon  tank across the room away from the litter box that has never given me any  problems.  As she explained it, cat urine contains ammonia and the large  tank may be absorbing it. <Yes> I moved the litter box to another room and  bought new fish.  They seem to be doing ok, but it's too soon to  tell.  Could this be my problem??? <Yes indeed. Bob Fenner> Thank you, George Ammonia Issues / Moving Tanks - 07/06/05 First off with the specifics: 45 gallon tank 40lbs. of Aragamax Sand 50 lbs. of live rock BakPak 2 skimmer/filter Bio Wheel 200 filter (added recently) 3 power heads for water movement Heater Dual compact fluorescent lamps <<Okey Dokey>> The tank has been set up and running for 7 months, but recently I have had a massive spike in my ammonia levels and the inhabitants are dying off. <<Uh oh>> We recently moved the tank from it's prior space (like 50 feet across the room). <<Hmmm...>> Before the move, all the water properties were fine, but now it's like the tank has started defending itself and killing everything inside.  First some snails, then a starfish, then a few crabs, a couple of fish, and now all that is left are 2 snails, 3 crabs, and a damsel. <<Did you remove/replace the rock and substrate when you moved the tank?>> I have read many of the postings, but not sure what I should do at this point.  So far I have tried: removing all the dead creatures, routine 25% water changes, adding stress zyme, adding a second filter (bio wheel 200), bacteria cultures, raising the temperature in the tank.  I am trying to use as little chemical additives to let the tank right itself naturally.  I have tried everything short of removing all the substrate and starting over. Nitrate is 0 Nitrite is 0 pH is 8.4 Ammonia is 2.0ppm Alkalinity is 300 Where should I go from here?  What should I try to get this tank back on it's feet? <<I think your tank is cycling.  If you pulled the substrate to move the tank and then put it back in the tank you are experiencing a huge bacterial dye-off which is spiking your ammonia.  Your best option is to remove the livestock and let the tank go through/complete its cycle again.>> Thanks so much for your input Jay <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Ammonia Issues (Maybe Not The Substrate) - 07/07/05 Thanks Eric for the response.  When we moved the tank all we did was; laid the live rock flat on the tank, removed 75% of the water, moved the tank, replaced 50% of the water, re-stacked the live rock, then added the remaining 25% of the water.  All the time replacing the water with a pre-mixed salt water solution (not the same water that was originally from the tank).  Now, I guess it would be possible that when adding the replacement water we possibly stirred something bad that was settled under the sand (kind of like a red tide scenario). <<Possibly...but not likely unless you really "dumped" the water in creating a large disturbance of the sand bed...and if this sand bed is sugar-fine and had proper water flow over it I doubt you had/have anything "bad" in it anyway.  Besides, most "bad" substances disturbed in a sand bed are hydrogen sulphide which actually dissipates rather quickly in a good flow...often with no more harm than a bad smell.>> After reading through more of the FAQ it looks like the best plan of action may be as follows (please correct me if I am on the wrong track). 1) Add more live cured rock to re-activate the cycle and introduce more NATURAL bacteria to the system. <<This will likely only extend the cycle at this point, very little "cured" live rock actually is...there's no profit in "holding" rock, if you get my point.  You can do this...just be prepared for the cycle to start over.>> 2) Increase the water temp to about 83 degrees 3) Longer light cycles 4) Continue with water changes to bring the ammonia levels down <<I wouldn't bother with the water changes until the cycle completes, may even extend the cycle...but the livestock needs to come out.>> Please let me know if I am on the right track with these suggestions.  I do not have a quarantine tank, so I cannot move the livestock.  Not that losing a damsel, a few snails, and crabs is a big deal but death is still death and I would feel bad for tormenting an animal like that. <<Then remove them and give them away/back to the store.>> Thanks again for suggestions Jay <<Jay...I can't say for sure what caused your ammonia spike (maybe simply disturbing the live rock), but the deaths and ammonia readings indicate something is definitely amiss.  Give the tank a while to cycle/process the ammonia (minus livestock) and see if things improve...write in again if things don't start to get better in a few weeks.>> BTW: Your website truly rocks for answering many difficult scenarios that us hobbyists come across. <<From one hobbyist to another...Regards, Eric R.>>

Now I REALLY Need Help! - 06/17/05 Thanks for the help, but my situation has gone from bad to extreme! <<Uh oh!>> The one clown that was struggling has died, and I couldn't find the body for a couple of days.  Later, I did find part of its corpse stuck to the sponge element on the hang-on overflow. But, during this time the ammonia level went from 0.25 to 8.0+ (the color test card doesn't go higher)! <<Mmm...am suspicious of your test kit, that little clown shouldn't have caused this kind of spike.>> I did a partial water change, added two bottles of Ammo Lock, and 17oz of AquaScience Ultimate (the LFS said this worked the best for ammonia). <<Not saying some of these products don't have a purpose...but depend more on large water changes (dilution) and good husbandry practices to reduce pollutants rather than on "magic in a bottle.">> All of this only reduced the ammonia level to 4.0. <<Try another and/or different brand test kit.>> I don't have a quarantine tank (I know I should though). <<Yes>> So, I have the remaining clown floating in a plastic bag with freshly made saltwater, and an air pump blowing air into it. I'm trying everything that I can think of to save its life. I'll change the water everyday in the bag, until the tank becomes safe again. <<Do this fish a favor and give it to someone or take it back to the store.>> The owner at the LFS said he's never heard of ammonia levels that high. <<Me either.>> Again, he said to add $500 worth of live rock, but I don't have that kind of money right now. <<You don't need to add ANYTHING to this tank until you determine what is going on and correct this problem.>> Then he suggested turning my sump into a wet/dry system, and that this would also solve the problem. Do wet/dry systems work that well? <<For FO/FOWLR systems a wet-dry can be quite useful...not recommended for reef systems.>> Also, how could the ammonia level go so high, so quickly? <<That's the $64,000 question.  Do try a different test kit to confirm.>> Sorry for the extra questions, but I'm feeling quite disillusioned marine tanks at the moment, and desperately need some guidance to keep my favorite hobby going. <<If new tests determine your previous measurements were correct, Then maybe changing out the rock is the best thing.  But I find it hard to believe that after three months the rock would suddenly cause this kind of problem.  Get another test kit (I like Seachem) and see what it tells you.  The we can go from there.>> Like I said before, you guys are the only people a trust with my fish. Thanks again! Derek. <<Will try to live up to that trust <G>.  Regards, Eric R.>>

Ammonia and Nitrite Emergency 6/6/05 Hi Crew, my name is Justin and I am having a bit of a problem on the action I should take with the screw-up I just made. I have a 55 gallon salt water tank with a moray eel in it. Since I am a beginner I decided it would be a really good idea to clean my filter (you guys probably know where I am going with this). So I rinsed my Eheim 2028, and all of the media of course, in tap water. From reading on this really helpful website (and lack of common since), I realized I just sent all of my beneficial microbes down the drain. <Hmm... this can be a problem.  More because of the chlorine rather than the rinsing itself.> So everything seemed fine for 2 days then BOOM ammonia that was 0 is 1.5 and nitrite that was less than .3 is now .9. I am terrified for my eel, he seems fine, but I'm worried my microbes will not come back fast enough. I have 40 lbs of live sand and 20lbs of live rock I am hoping that they will help. I am sorry if some one has asked a similar question but I could not find it after an hour of searching. Well I hope you can get back to me soon and help me with my problem. Thanks Justin  <Your live rock and sand should easily meet the filtration needs of your tank.  I would consider removing the canister filter for a more thorough cleaning and monitoring the water chemistry closely.   If the ammonia or nitrite get any higher, I would institute a couple of large water changes, but otherwise, let them come down naturally.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Kent Salt vs. Coralife Hi, Thanks for your quick reply.  I will do the 24 hour fresh/24 hour salt aeration.  Though I have to say, the other way has saved my butt, since I have had an ammonia jump .4 (dead snail...found it) having lower PH has probably saved the fish's life!  Would you agree? <It sure helps> I was told AmQuel + was a bad product for saltwater, but to me neutralizing ammonia and nitrates seem paramount!  What do you think? <In an established system without overstocking and good maintenance, ammonia should never be a problem.> I have been doing several partial water changes with no real affect on ammonia, except when I neut. it with AmQuel, it does come back the next day.  I have taken out all the live rock and swished it around, dug through my 1 - 1 1/2" sandbed (where I found a Nass. snail chowing the remnants of something...took it away from him, I mean...ewww!)  I did a 50% water change and added AmQuel + but my ammonia is back to .4.  What is the deal?  I am using fastest ammonia test and it has worked right in the past few weeks.  I figured because this is a powder it would read right, and it did, just to have the ammonia come back.  WHAT IS GOING ON????? <Adding AmQuel prevents the bio system from readjusting to the levels it needs to be at since it quells the ammonia, and that's why I believe it is coming back.  I don't believe in using this stuff as a routine.> Should I just move everyone to a QT and let the tank "cycle"???  It is about 8 weeks old and the contents are: 3" Yellow Tang "bubbles" 2' Spotted Snake Eel "spot" 2" White Molly..... "molly" (4) 3/4" Neon gobies 8 little hermits 2 Nassarius. snails 4 left of the "turbo" really small 3 BIG Turbos "Larry, curly and Moe" 1 sandsifter "Patrick"  PS: Do they eat leftover food....shrimp, silverside slivers? 1 3" BTA Would they be okay in a 20 gallon??? <No> I think I may have to leave the BTA snake eel, star, snails and crabs in tank as the QT has the treatment for tail rot.  Need advise!! <Your tank is overstocked with the two foot eel in there, that is just adding to the ammonia problem.  I have a rule of thumb....one cubic inch of fish per five gallons, that is cubic not just length.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks! <You're welcome> Carrie :)

Please help--ammonia big problem... help yourself on WWM... inadequate filtration, false-positives induced... I have a 72 gallon saltwater tank...I've been having trouble with my nitrates being up and the ammonia.  I've been doing water changes more frequently and still they are elevated.  I recently added fish and they have been doing fine. I did a water change a few days ago.  I have recently added AmmoLock.. It said to use once every 2 days until no more ammonia is seen.  I have an ammonia alert thingie that is suctioned to the tank and through all of my troubles it has never changed to any color except normal.  Well I have put 2 doses of AmmoLock in my tank, the second being yesterday...today my ammonia must be really high because the ammonia alert is now on alert...2 levels up from normal and the tank is cloudy and the skimmer is in overdrive with more bubbles than I've ever seen...the yellow tang and the angelfish seems a lil on edge and hiding...the other fish, clowns, a  goby, cleaner shrimp are acting just fine....do I do water change? or do I leave it and see if it clears up with the filter?   it looks real bad and I don't know if they'll make it over night...please help....is there anything I can try to get rid of the ammonia and nitrates. maybe I even need a new filter. I have a Skilter.. the bigger one but its probably not the best for a 72 gallon tank.....thanks for your help Jen <Jen... use the search tool on WWM... re ammonia, marine set-up, where the linked files lead you... Bob Fenner> Ammonia Hello, <Hello Julie> Thank you in advance for your help.  My set up is a 90 gallon reef tank which previously had CC and about 50 lbs of LR.  A couple of days ago I changed over the CC to LS and added another 45 lbs of LR.  In the mean time I put all live stock in a QT with water from the old tank.  I added back about 60 gallons of my old water and 30 gallons of new water to the main tank.  After one day the room smelled like a rotten old shoe, even with the windows in the room wide open.  I checked the ammonia level and it was through the roof.  The highest my chart reads is 8 ppm and it looked darker than that.  I didn't even bother with dilution to further check the ammonia but did a 25% water change because I just couldn't stand the smell.  My nitrites were about .25.  My question is if it is normal for the ammonia to go so high?  Is it doing this because the tank was already previously established (approximately 6 months with the prior set up) and so the bacteria is already there to work on the cycling? <Julie, I'm fairly certain the additional 45 lbs of live rock you added was not fully cured. The symptoms you give sure relate to that.>   I've read through the FAQs and the numbers I'm seeing are in the .5-2 range.  Is it ok for me to be doing water changes?  Will this hurt the cycling?  I'm assuming since I kept the majority of my old water that I still have a fair amount of the beneficial bacteria present. <The bacteria would be on your live rock and sand more than anywhere else.> I scrubbed dead stuff off the LR before placing in the tank.  I have a Nautilus skimmer running.  Can I continue to do water changes if the ammonia continues to run this high?  Thanks so much for your help. <I would probably do a 30% change weekly until the beneficial bacteria adjust to the excess nutrients.  This could take three weeks before it clears up.  In the meantime do not light the aquarium as the excess waste will certainly lead to an algae bloom.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Ammonia Ok, thanks.  My question is actually, can I do a water change more often than weekly.<Yes> I seriously can't stand the smell and it's in a home office where I need to work.  I  know the 45 lbs of live rock wasn't cured which is why I moved all the livestock to the QT as I mentioned prior to introducing the new LR and live sand.  The purpose was to cure it in the aquarium.  My LFS said to cure it in the aquarium as long as I had a place for my livestock so I could have the benefit of the skimmer.    I asked if the ammonia level of >8ppm was significantly abnormal.<Not abnormal, all depends on the amount of die off on the rock.> My prior ammonia levels during the previous curing were measurable and these are not.  It is way off the charts and the smell is really unbearable.  In multiple tests it turns dark blue on a chart that has shades of green for measurements. I did a 30% water change today and still unable to measure it's so high.  Will changing the water more often delay the curing for some reason? <No, the curing process will be the same regardless of how many water changes you do. During water changes you should siphon off any debris from the live rock. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks

Ammonia Fight! >We have been fighting ammonia elevation since starting our tank 2 months ago. We have done a 25% water change. >>Just one? That's alright, really, assuming you haven't any live animals in there. >pH nitrate and nitrite are normal. >>"Normal" doesn't mean a *thing*. Specific readings, please. >The ammonia was at 0.50 and after the water change is at 0.25. >>When? >We tested our water before we put it in and it was of course at 0. We added Prime to our new water from SeaChem. Any ideas? Thanks >>It's difficult, you haven't given much to work with here. I'm simply going to suggest first searching our site regarding saltwater/marine cycling, and use Bio-Spira ONLY. Marina 

Ammonia Fight! More Info, Doesn't Change the Story, Though.. >Ok more info. >>Cool, thanks. >The tank is a 36 gallon with a 20 gal. sump. We use live rock in the sump as well as the main tank. We have done 5 water changes in two months. We have 30 crabs and 20 snails. 3 fish and one feather duster. Also 9 coral frags. The Nitrite is 0 and the nitrate is 0. The ammonia is now 0.25 after the water change. The question again is how to get the ammonia levels down to 0. Thanks >>Ok, first, you should know that certain dechlorinators actually give false POSITIVE ammonia readings! What a pain, huh? Second, at this point, I'm questioning the accuracy of your test kit, this just isn't right, as chronic ammonia readings, if true, *should* have killed off your inverts, or at least trimmed their numbers. I'm going to suggest testing with another kit, I happen to like SeaChem and Salifert test kits (and remember, these things do get old/expire, check the dates on the reagents), good combination of relative accuracy/dependability and price. The better kits are from Hach and LaMotte - more money, but OH so much more accurate. Beyond that, Bio-Spira is the STUFF. If you decide to dose with that and still have trouble with ammonia readings I'd be very surprised. However, also know that cycling marine systems can take a surprisingly long time. Also, if the live rock isn't fully cured it may take a little while longer for the bacteria that oxidize/consume ammonia to grow to sufficient populations - but this is where the Bio-Spira comes in. There you have my final opinion, I do hope it helps. Marina >>P.S. Good on you for having such a large sump, too! 

Saltwater ammonia test I am new to the saltwater scene. I recently bought a 24 gallon nano-cube. It is now in the 4 week of cycling. The LFS tested our water and said the ammonia was a little on the high side, but said it would not be harmful to add one fish at this time. We have 14 pounds of live rock that is doing well, also. I bought a Saltwater Master Liquid Test Kit today and everything checked out great.. I think. When I added drops of ammonia testing chemical into the test tube of water and checked it five minutes later, the water was still milky. It did not change in color, so therefore, I could not compare it to the color chart for a result. What does this milky appearance mean?  <It's just the reagent doing this>  Is this what is called a "0" result?  <Yes>  Thank you so much.  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog) >

Ammonia... killing off one's biofilter Mr. Fenner, Thanks for all your help in the past. <Welcome> I have been battling ammonia the past couple weeks, and I lost a lot of fish.  <Mmm... what are fishes doing in such water?> I seem to have gotten it under control today. I have had my tank setup for about 6 months. I suddenly got a tremendous (off the scale) ammonia spike that I could do nothing to fix immediately.  <From?> I don't understand. I'm thinking I might have somehow caused new tank syndrome. I did replace my CPR BakPak skimmer with an ETSS reef devil, but the downward spiral started a couple days before that. I did keep my biomedia from the old skimmer and put it in a ventilated container and floated it in my sump. I don't know if that would do any good anyway. <Should have> Somehow, I think I killed off all the beneficial bacteria. <I agree... or overwhelmed the system with proteinaceous material... did someone toss in a bunch of food... might an animal have died and you not caught it?> I was reading all the posts and I think it was from excessive vacuuming of the DSB. it was so dirty though. I wanted your opinion on this observation: Immediately after 2 ammonia spikes settled down, the deep sand bed was covered in a rusty brown substance. That's what I vacuumed away. Is there any correlation between this "stuff" and the ammonia level going back to zero?  <Yes... the brown stuff are likely diatoms, other algae... that need the ammonia to be gone, nitrate (product) to flourish> It's just odd that the sand is white, and my ammonia is through the roof, and then finally the ammonia is gone, and instantly the sand is brown. Well, I still have 1 dogface puffer and 1 striped damsel left, and I don't want to go vacuuming if its gonna finish them off too. I'm really surprised they made it. My ammonia scale only goes to 2, and it was definitely way over that! <Yikes> Also, what do you think about Chemi-clean?  It's supposed "removes disease causing red Cyano bacteria, oxidizes trapped organic sludge and sediment. Chemi Clean also clarifies aquarium water to crystal clear and promotes ideal enzyme balance."  <... not a good idea... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgcidefaqs.htm> I started having the troubles when I added this in conjunction with B-ionic Calcium Buffer, and Ruby Reef Kick Ich. <Oooohhhh... This is the source of your trouble... you actually killed off your nitrifiers...> I think maybe it all had some unknown effect. <Yes, for sure> I read something on your site about one of these effecting pH, which might affect ammonia? Thanks for your time, I read your posts daily. B. Robinson <The "Clean" product... kills microbes... including your beneficial bacteria... the "kick" product does nothing (but flavor food), the B-ionic is a fine product (for pH, alkalinity). More study, less chemicals my friend. Bob Fenner> 

Help with ammonia Hi, thanks for your great site it has helped me so much. I just needed some info for my new tank I have had running for about 6 weeks. It is 35 gallon with a Berlin airlift 60 protein skimmer and a Jebo 838 external canister filter. It's about 10 litres. My problem is since I have got fish, two 3 stripe damsels and 1 ocellaris clown the ammonia level has been up to about 2.0 and it won't go down. I have had the fish for about two weeks and its really frustrating.  <Sounds like you never had a developed bio filter. In a tank your size, you should have added just one fish to start the cycle, then when ammonia levels went to zero, then add another fish. I would do a 50% water change to reduce the ammonia level in the system.>  I was also wondering if it would be possible to get two pajama cardinals and 1 more ocellaris if it's not too many, <obviously you don't want to add anything right now, but when the ammonia level drops to zero, you could add another clown or the two pajamas. The three striped damsels you have do get quite large as far as damsels go, so five fish would be about the limit for your tank.>  and I also have 2 kilos of live rock (hope to get more).  Again, thanks for your great site. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Ammonia... Hi Crew, <Mario> I have had my new system running since Jan. 16, 2005. <Just a few weeks back> I have been testing the water for the past week and the ammonia is at .25 to .50, the nitrite is at zero and the nitrate at 0 to 5.  Because the ammonia is above zero I would do a 25% water change each time. <Mmmm, I would wait on water changes... till the ammonia, nitrite are past 1.0 ppm... hopefully you don't have livestock present> My question is should I continue to change the water at these levels or let the cycle process continue? <Uhh, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm and the linked files above> If I do not continue to change the water will the ammonia over time go down to zero and then the nitrite will begin to rise? <See the above> If this will be the case (ammonia = 0 & nitrite > 0), only then should I start doing the 25% water changes again, until the nitrite drops to zero?  <See the above> Is siphoning the waste from the bottom during each water change a good idea, will it slow down the cycle proceed? <See the...> Do you recommend I only siphon the waste when the tank is cycled or during each water change? <See...> Your insight on what I should do next is greatly appreciated.  Thanks, Mario D. <Your diligence in studying is likewise thanked. Bob Fenner>

How to deal with Ammonia in a Quarantine Tank (1-12-05) Hi guys, <Hi Ted, Leslie here this morning standing in for the guys.> I have a serious problem.  Over the last two months I have lost two dwarf lions and a clownfish (in three separate cases) during quarantine, apparently to ammonia poisoning.  My quarantine tank is ten gallons, filled half with water from the main tank and half with synthetic water (made with oceanic salt).  The tank has a piece of PVC pipe for shelter, and a sponge filter attached to a Rio 50 powerhead for filtering.  I perform 2-3 gallon water changes on the quarantine tank every 2-3 days, using water from the main tank.  I also test for ammonia and nitrites every day.  The tank is also dosed with copper.  Here is what happened.  The fish were all visibly healthy when introduced to the quarantine tank (after a freshwater bath), actively swam around, and readily accepted food. <Copper is a pretty harsh medication and should be reserved for sick fish. I am not a believer in medicating prophylactically. Hyposalinity is a good option for quarantine. > Ammonia and nitrite levels showed about zero for the first few four or five days.  Then, after the second feeding of both lionfish (the fifth day), and after about ten days for the clown, ammonia levels spiked to .25.  In each case, I performed a 3 gallon water change to try to lower these levels.  But to my dismay the ammonia increased to .5 when I tested the next day.  I performed emergency 5 gallon water changes from the main tank, and switched my power filter (with the carbon taken out) from the main tank to the quarantine to try to provide more biological filtration and lower the ammonia.  The next mornings when I tested, the ammonia levels were back down to .25, but had again increased to .5 by those nights.  All three fish died soon after.  None of them showed any signs of disease.  What can I do to help lower ammonia levels in the quarantine tank?  Is there any other quarantine procedure that I should take? <Yes, live rock works very well and also provides the fish with a more natural environment as well as places to seek cover. > I cannot afford to lose any more livestock, and money.  Thank you very much for your assistance. Ted <You're most welcome and best of luck with your tank, Leslie> (Oh, I thought you might want this information.  The main tank is 40 or 50 gallons, 36x16x18, with an emperor 280 with carbon and an aqua c skimmer for filtration.  Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels have been zero for over six months, the ph is 8.2, and the salinity is 1.023.  Due to logistics, I have no sump.) Ammonia Questions ?? Hi Bob <John> I have the following problem, please help! Sorry for the long email but giving some history. I have a 3 foot tank that I set up as a quarantine tank. I took some media (ceramic balls) from the trickle filter, some media (ceramic balls) from the sump and 100 litres water from my display tank (Running for 10 Months) and placed it in the quarantine tank canister filter. Also added an AquaClear 200 filter on the tank with only a new sponge for media  to build up some bacteria. I put a piece of live rock (as big as two fists together) in the tank as well. I put a clown trigger which I bought in the QT tank for a week. I checked the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate twice daily. For 7 days everything was fine within acceptable limits. The fish also looked good with no signs of any disease. I put it into my display tank. (I know this is a bit soon but needed the QT for other fish). I bought 3 regal tangs of about 50 - 60 mm each. (These are scarce in my town so I had to get them!) <Not an easy species to keep alive... do check into Pablo Tepoot's food line "Spectrum"... about the only thing I've seen that works to get this species going in captivity... especially when small as yours are> They where flicking in the shop before I got them so I put them in the QT. The salinity at the LFS was 1.018 so I lowered my QT salinity to 1.018. PH is at 9.5 <9.5? This is WAY too high. Please read re and adjust slowly down to 8.2-8.4> and temp at 27.5 to 28 C. On day 2 of putting the new fish in QT I dosed Red sea Paracure (copper) at 0.3 as recommended to clear the infection on the fish (they had "white-ish" marks on them and still flicking, not sure if ich or Oodinium). On day 3 started to see ammonia 0.25 ppm on the card. On day 4 ammonia was at 0.5 ppm on the card (Red sea copper test kit) so I did a 25% water change with water from my display tank. Ammonia down to 0.25. Added Paracure to get back to 0.3 (Nitrite and nitrate is near to 0) On day 5 ammonia was back at 0.5 ppm so I did a 25% water change again with water from my display tank. Ammonia down to 0.25 again. Added Paracure to get back to 0.3 (Nitrite and nitrate is near to 0). The fish seem fine now and are not flicking any more but still have small "white-ish" patches on them. Here are the questions now as I need advice on what to do next: 1. The Paracure label said that it does not affect the bacteria in the filter. Is this correct? <Doesn't appear so, but...> If so why do I have the ammonia problem? <Likely the copper or lowered spg killed off or induced a physiological check in your nitrifiers> 2. Technically the tank should be cycled as it has all the water from the display tank as well as the filter material. Is this correct? <Was likely, but as stated one or both of the medicants and altered spg bumped off or stalled the process, processors> 2. Does the lower salinity have an impact on a) the biological filter, <Yes... will kill most microbes> b) copper dosing and c) ammonia? <Yes> 3. According to the Red sea ammonia test kit NH4+ is less harmful. This it the 0.25 to 0.5 that is measured on the card. How bad is this for fish and how long can fish handle this amount of ammonia. How does it affect the fish? <Mmm, hard to state... weakened fish livestock may die as consequence in hours, days at this concentration. 1.0 ppm is almost always toxic within hours, days> 4. According to the Red sea ammonia test kit NH3 is toxic ammonia. This value is about 0.016 when calculated at 0.25 NH4+ and 0.032 at 0.5 NH4+. How bad is this for fish and how long can fish handle this amount of ammonia. How does it affect the fish? <Good question... once again, not a black/white scenario, but as an added source of "stress", any detectable ammonia/ammonium is bad news> What I thought of the problem is that the biological filter is failing and therefore the ammonia spikes. How can I fix this problem (Would it helped if I put in some Hagen Cycle? <This product might help... as might adding some more filter media from your established system, but the best move is to change out good percentages of the water with used as you've been doing... and possibly risk dipping the Regal/Clown/Lineatus tangs and moving them to the display> Any recommendations please of what to do next as I would like to keep the fish in QT for at least another 2 weeks. Thanks for the help and excellent web site.   Regards John Squier <The "call" is up to you. I would dip/bath these fish and move them. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ammonia Questions ?? Hi Bob <John> Thanks for the info. I made a typing error - PH not at 9.5 its at 7.95 sorry. <Ahh, much better... as you're likely aware, ammonia/ium is much, MUCH more toxic at higher pHs> One more thing, after reading about lowered salinity I could not find anything on the topic that it would effect the biological filter. <Does so my friend... think about osmotic shock... for instance... the simple use of "salt" mouthwashes, astringents to kill... single-celled organisms of pathogenic nature... the nitrifying bacteria are... single-celled organisms... Too much, too soon change in specific gravity stalls them physiologically, kills them> Could it be the combination of lowered salinity and copper that caused my filter to crash? <Yes, easily> Do you perhaps have any links where I could find more info on this please. <More on what? Please use the Google search tool on the homepage... www.WetWebMedia.com with key terms that describe what you're looking for> Your recommendation <The "call" is up to you. I would dip/bath these fish and move them. Bob Fenner> Would you do this because of the negative effect of the ammonia? Do you think 9 days of copper treatment is enough? Thanks John <Yes to both... the advantages/risks of moving the stock are shifted greatly to the former. Bob Fenner> Ammonia and biological problems Hi there, I'm new to marine aquarium and I have many queries to ask for your expert advice... Last week I bought a pack of frozen brine shrimps for my marine fishes, the shop assistant ask me to feed them twice a day with the brine shrimp. but I only feed them once a day with the brine shrimp and I also ensure that they finish everything that I drop in. But few days later, the water starts to turn brownish in color, so I return to the shop assistant and ask him why the color change. He told me that  it is the producing of ammonia in my marine water that's why it changes color, he then recommended me to buy a bottle of NUTRAFIN Biological Aquarium Supplement. << I'm not familiar with that product but I think a protein skimmer or deep sand bed would be a good option here. >> On the bottle states it will provide beneficial bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite to prevent fish loss, quickly creates a safe and healthy environment, one small dose contains enough beneficial bacteria to rapidly consume ammonia and nitrite, safe for both plants and animals and it is impossible to overdose your aquarium. The next day, my cleaner shrimp died. I'm shocked and afraid that my other fishes will follow suit, so I changes the water immediately. << I would also think that this bacteria could be obtained in a much better way.  I would buy a good amount of live rock (at least 10 kg) and some live sand. >> What was the real cause why my color change? Could the water color change due to protein in my water? Or was it really ammonia in it? << I would think protein and dinoflagellates, but not ammonia. >> What causes ammonia and nitrite in my water? Is it harmful to the fishes and aquarium? << very harmful. It comes from fish waste and excess food.  You can't prevent it, so you need to get rid of it with a protein skimmer or deep sand bed, or buy growing macro algae. >> Was it really the NUTRAFIN killed my cleaner shrimp? << I don't think so. >> Is it safe to carry on putting the NUTRAFIN Biological Aquarium Supplement? << Probably safe, but I wouldn't use it. >> Is NUTRAFIN Biological Aquarium Supplement safe with shrimps and snails? << Probably safe. >> Is it really necessary to wash my filter with marine salt water only? << No. >> Is it alright to change portion of the marine water once a month? << Yes, a good idea. >> Can you also recommend to me what else do I need other than hydrometer and protein skimmer? << Hydrometer is very important for a new tank to make sure you are where you need to be.  Also consider live rock to be the most important item you put in a reef tank. >> Many Thanks, Dan <<  Blundell  >>

Ammonia/ammonium so VERY VERY confused... Hi! <Hello there> I am very confused about ammonia and ammonium..   <Let's see if we can un-confuse you> I have a 55gal Fish Only Salt Water tank that has been running for about 3 months..  Last complete test results were: nh3/nh4 - .15ppm (.018 toxic), no2 - 0 , no3 - 5, Alk - "high", sg - 1.023, ph - 7.4   Temp 78. <Stop! Your pH is too low... should be at least 7.8... if not in the low 8's... Do you use natural seawater?... and you have detectable ammonia? After three months running? Something is awry here... perhaps your test kit/s are bunk... perhaps you have inadequate filtration, dying live rock, some dead animal....?> This was with 2 damsel fishes, and two hermit crabs. The test was done 4 days ago.  That day added a med. Yellow Tang, a small Clown, and a small Blenny (probably too much at one time, right?). <... you should not add anything while your water chemistry is this far out of whack> I figured this was safe because "toxic ammonia - nh3" was so low.   <Mmm, should be zip, nada, zilch> I tested total ammonia last night and came up with about .3ppm total ammonia.  All the fish seem to be very happy, and I am not feeding them very much.   <... I'd have your water tested elsewhere, or try another test kit> Now, my confusion.  I know that ammonia is harmful to fish and ammonium is not harmful. <Well, not nearly as toxic let's say> I have read in some places to do a water change if ammonia reaches 1ppm..  Is this nh3/nh4  above 1ppm or just nh3?   <Actually either... the state of ammonia is largely pH dependent... at higher pH, most exists as ammonia... more toxic, at lower pH, as ammonium, less toxic> Now then, I have also read that over .1ppm ammonia is toxic to fish. <Can be...> Does this mean just nh3 or is this nh3/nh4? <Ammonia, not ammonium... all else being equal (pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration... other co-factors>   If I do the calculation, my total "toxic" (NH3 I am assuming) is .037ppm (.3 x .122)(ph 7.4). Am I doing this correctly or??  Also, should I lower the temp of my tank so that ammonia is not as toxic?  (Ahhhhhh!!  So many variables!!) :-) <None of them important. Now, what IS important is to have none of either ammonia OR ammonium, as in making sure your system is completely cycled and has a sustainable biological filtration function per the bioload and feeding of the tank.> I guess really what I need to know is, at what point (biased on ammonia tests) do I really need to worry? And at what point biased on the ammonia test do I need to do water changes?   And is it nh3/nh4 I need to worry about or just the ammonia calculation? <You need to worry at the point of ANY detectable ammonia... whether it is NH3 or NH4OH... it IS trouble> One other quick question.  Last night, I also started to notice Cyanobacteria growing..  A quick google search returned all the ways to treat it,  It is not necessarily a bad thing is it?  All the descriptions I have read about it sounds like it is a good thing (oxygenates the water, removes nitrates...) but everybody wants to get rid of it..  Why? <Blue Green Algae are indicative of less desirable circumstances in a system... not toxic of by themselves in moderation... think of your system as a system... this is what you need to address, correct. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm> And last quick question related to Cyanobacteria,  is it really important to test for po4?  Would a high level be dangerous to the fish? <Not especially important to measure soluble phosphate... but useful as a tool for detection of whether this is a source of water quality troubles... Put another way, do you want, need to test for things that are of no particular consequence... unless they become possibly important?> As you may can tell, I am very new at this (marine life that is) and have always wanted to try.  Your site has answered many many of my questions and I would not have been able to keep my first two fish (the Damsels) alive with out it! Thanks! Jared <You obviously have a good (curious, systematic, open) mind... Keep studying here, cut way back on feeding, look for sources, reasons why your system has not cycled completely... Do NOT add any more life till you've corrected the ammonia source issue. Bob Fenner> Magic Ammonia Hello to all;<Hi, MikeD here>     I have a problem that seems to have just started happening although I have not changed my routine recently. I have almost .5 Ammonia in my freshly mixed H20. I use RO/DI water, and mix it in a 30 gallon trash can. The RO/DI water measures 0 Ammonia before I add the salt (Instant Ocean).  Typically I let the fresh water circulate and heat for  3 or 4 days before adding the salt.<Is this in the dark, and, without meaning to sound mean, why?> After I mix the salt in the Ammonia measures .5! Very frustrating and annoying. My first thought was my test kit was bad (Salt Water Master), it was about a year old. So I got a new kit (Marine Labs) and I still get the .5 reading after  I add the salt.<Instant Ocean was tested and found to be less consistent than some of the higher cost brands, so it may just be a bad batch> The trash can sits in a room that is rarely used. I can't think of anything that would be causing the Ammonia to accumulate.  I am at a loss as to what could be the culprit.<My only guess would be either bacteria or algae, maybe both, that's growing in the extended aeration period you're using, and when the salt is added it's dying off, with the resulting ammonia you're encountering> Any ideas? Thanks. Bill

AIRBORNE AMMONIA ENTERING TANK SYSTEM Hello all, firstly, I would like to extend a thanks for all of the work done by the crew.  Secondly, this is not a question so much as a warning.  I had a disturbing situation arise in my 'fish room'.  I am in the process of placing a few corals in a DIY acrylic grow out system.  I had been testing perimeters regularly.  The other day, while testing the ammonia level hit 1.0ppm.  I couldn't understand how this could have happened.  There are no fish, just 6 small photosynthetic coral pieces in roughly 120 gallons, none were in any state of decay.  I then tested a tank that has had several pieces of live rock for several months, this had 0.5ppm.  I then tested my make up and top off water, that hit 1.0.  I proceeded to test the water out of the DI unit, 0.0ppm, then the tap, 0.0.  I also cross checked using 3 different test kits.  At that point I concluded it had to be coming in from the air.  After some thought, I recalled that two days earlier I had noticed, through a nasty aroma, that my grand daughter had neglected the cat litter pan.  The pan is down the hall from my fish room.  I put two and two together, I was injecting the air borne ammonia into all of my water.  Since water changes were out, I immediately put an ionizer/air cleaner in the room, loaded the tanks with carbon, and placed the filter pads I had been culturing in a well established  aquarium into the tanks.  I have not lost anything as of yet, some things are not looking great, but time will tell.   The moral is if it is in the air, it will find its way into the tank. << Wow, what a story.  Here is another example.  You can set up a salt water tank in your backyard.  Wait a couple weeks, and you'll have algae growing in it.  The question many people have is where did that algae come from?  And, how can a marine strain find its way to wherever you are.  Well the answer is that tiny little spores from the ocean are actually carried all the way across the continents in rain clouds and the like.  So I guess just about anything is possible. >> Enjoy the 4th, God bless America. Ed   <<  Adam B.  >>

Ammo lock for FOWLR? 6/15/04 Hey, I was at my LFS yesterday picking up some more turbo snails and I saw ammo lock. Is it okay to use in a FOWLR tank? I had a very very slight ammonia level, and I like to keep it at zero so this was a bummer. Assistance please? Jeffery <there is no need to use this product here my friend... first confirm the accuracy of your test kit. Lingering ammonia after the break in period is uncommon and indicates a more serious problem than a little bit of ammo lock can/should cure. Address the problem, not the symptom. If the ammonia is there (as determined by testing your water on another brand or type test kit than what you are using - see your LFS or a friend in the local aquarium club), then look at your feeding practices and the efficiency of your filtration. Best of luck! Anthony>

Ammonia spike caused by gravel vac? <Hey Richard, Mac here> My FOWLR tank has been running for over 8 months, with the ammonia cycle long since completed.  Tank is a 125 gal with dual overflows, sump, 50-micron filter bags attached to overflow hoses going into sump, AquaC EV120 skimmer, Mag Drive 1200gph return pump, 2 powerheads in tank (300gph each), 130lbs LR, aragonite substrate about 1-2" deep. <Nice> Livestock includes yellow tang, royal gramma, six line wrasse, chalk bass, green Chromis, dragon goby, and Foureye butterfly. A note on the Foureye:  your site shows that it is a poor choice for an aquarium.  The store had it labeled as an Atlantic Reef Butterfly.  It looked cool, was not expensive, and they said it would get along with my other fish, so I bought it.  I then looked it up on your site, found a picture, and realized the exact species.  While I never would have bought it had I read your site first, I must say that the fish was doing quite well during the two weeks before the sudden death.  There was no indication that he would not survive.  He did not eat what I was feeding, but was constantly picking at the rocks.  Looking healthy after two weeks, I assumed he was getting whatever food he needed. <Just a note, he probably was, the problem with them in a reef tank is that eventually he will start eating things you don't want him to eat. Like corals, feather dusters, etc.>   Back to the problem.  My testing has always shown zero ammonia and nitrite, nitrates about 20.  <Tad high on the nitrates, you really should try to take them down a bit more> On my LFS advice, I have kept the salinity very low (1.017 SG) to prevent parasite infection. The store keeps their tanks at 1.015 and the fish look great, even the ones that have been there for months. Last weekend, my Foureye butterfly and dragon goby both died a day apart. LFS said the butterfly had what looked like ammonia burn.  He had reddish patches under the skin, with no other signs of abuse.  He looked and acted perfect the day before. The store tested my water and did find ammonia to be about .25. <hmmm, just a note here too.  It might be a wise idea for you to invest in some test kits at some point.> Both of these deaths came after I did a water change and vacuuming of the entire substrate. LFS now thinks that my vacuuming released an ammonia spike into the tank.  Looking back through my logbook, <very important you are to be commended> I do find that a number of my fish deaths (unfortunately there have been many) did happen within a day or two of a cleaning.  They now tell me not to vacuum the substrate, that it interferes with the biocycle going on underneath. <The filtration system you are using is the live rock system with a bacterial bed in the sand.>  Is this true?  <This is a wonderful system and is working for a lot of people.  Your fish store is correct in saying that when you vacuum out the sand you are pulling out both the bacteria and probably lots of wonderful creatures and animals that make your sand bed both fascinating and functioning.> What do you recommend as a cleaning regimen to go along with water changes?  <Definitely keep up the water changes.  If you think you are seeing a lot of detritus on the sand there are creatures that you can use to clean them that will not disturb your bacterial bed.  Narcissus snails, fighting conchs, even several of the serpent stars will do a wonderful job with that.  Most fish will not bother a serpent star either.  You could always do some gentle vacuuming of just the very tip top of the sand.  In fact, I have been known to get my net and grab something off the sand.>  If my vacuuming didn't kill the fish, any ideas on what did?  <Technically its not the vacuuming but the ammonia rise that did the killing.  But your disturbing the sand bed could have caused the levels to rise.  Its good that you are jumping on this and trying to figure out what could have gone wrong.  Butterflies are more sensitive to ammonia levels and that's probably why he was the first to go.  Since your tank is fish only, I really would recommend getting an ammonia test kit.  You can make the ammonia level go up by massively over feeding the fish and then their waste products. Ask me how I know this?  Been there done that!  Seriously we all probably have. Having the kits at home will help you to get a jump on this and do a water change before there is a big problem.  Good luck with this.>

Help! Ammonia spike! Hi Bob! <Michael here today, glad to be off work...>  I have an emergency that only you or any of your colleagues can answer! <Shall try>    have had a fully cycled 46 gallon tank for about 4 months. I have 2 clowns and a royal Gramma with around 30-40 snails, 20-30 hermits, 2 brittle stars, a cleaner shrimp, and 2 coral banded shrimp. There are 40 lbs. of live sand and about 10 lbs. of live rock in the system up until last Saturday. I had gotten a shipment of around 100 lbs. of Walt Smith LR and did the unthinkable of not curing it myself first. I hosed it off and tried to pick off as much dead or dying organisms on it before adding it to my tank. As I expected, there was a major ammonia spike. I added 3 ounces of Bio-Spira a couple of days ago and turned off my protein skimmer (the instructions said to turn off for 48 hours). I have only my Emperor 280 and 2 powerheads running. <Definitely turn the skimmer back on - it will remove enough waste to run the risk of removing some bacteria from the bio Spira>  The clowns don't look too good right now and I am getting ammonia & nitrite readings that are off the chart. <Definitely dose with Amquel+ and throw in a Poly-Filter or two - you need to lower that ammonia quickly!>  I don't have another tank available to house the fish and I added about ? a teaspoon each of prime and Stress-guard (after reading some of the FAQs, I guess I shouldn't have. But I was getting really scared for the lives of my fish. I should've thought of that first before adding that much LR to the system all at once). <Yes, you are adding a massive bio-load to the system, and your tanks' bacteria colonies will have to multiply to compensate, which could take weeks>  What should I do? The instructions for the bio-Spira said not to change water for 2 weeks. <This is an unusual circumstance, however, not an ordinary tank cycling. I would do 25% water changes daily, at least until the ammonia and nitrites are lowered> I usually do weekly 10% water changes with water that is pre-treated for a week (like the instructions on your website). Have I pretty much sealed the fate for everything in my tank? <Possibly, but not if you can lower the ammonia fast enough>  I read somewhere that LR can quickly turn into dead rock. Is this true as well? <Yes, but as your tank is established, you shouldn't have as much of a problem>  I feed my fish prepared seafood that I freeze. Should I stop feeding altogether? And if so, for how long? <I would hold off on feeding for a few days>  Should I perform a water change? <See above>  Or would it throw off the cycling time of the tank? <You're going to need to lower the ammonia & nitrite levels if you want your fish to survive> Thank you in advance for all of your help! <No problem, good luck>

Ammonia Spikes (4/13/04)  Hi Michael, <That's me, and this is some good pizza!>  Thanks for the response. <Anytime> Before I had gotten your response, the 48 hour waiting period ended and I turned back on the skimmer. <Keep it on! It will help greatly with DOC removal> I have been feeding less than normal, but did not totally stop. <I would stop for 2 or 3 days if I were you> The next day after I had sent the email, the ammonia level dropped down to .25, but has been there since. However, the nitrites are still at around 1.0. <You'll probably have ammonia\nitrite problems for at least a week> I had planned on doing my first water change tomorrow, which is the normal routine, but instead will do a water change tonight. I only have a 5 gallon bucket that I have prepared salt water in and the size of my condo pretty much limits having a bigger bucket lying around the living room (wife not too happy with the 5 gallon already!) <I know how that is - I want a billion dollars and my own planet: tons of room!> Since the ammonia has dropped from over 1.0 to .25, should I still continue doing my 10% weekly, or should I do the 25% (again, this is hard to have prepared water in this volume. <Stay with your normal routine, .25 is stressful, but not directly lethal. Find some saltwater bio-Spira from Marineland if you can, it will help get your nitrifying bacteria levels up to par> is it ok to have water that is mixed same day?) daily until everything reads 0? <Water that is mixed the same day should be fine as long as it reaches the appropriate temperature before adding it to the tank> Luckily nothing perished, but my black brittle star somehow detached all of its arms from itself and I am guessing that it is growing a new set. Are the tank inhabitants still in danger because of the nitrite level being still at 1.0? <Any detectable level of ammonia\nitrites will be stressful to all inhabitants...try adding the bio Spira, and just wait> Do I still need to dose with Amquel + and get poly filters? Thanks for all of your help! <With ammonia and nitrites at their current level, you would probably only delay the time it would take for the bacteria to compensate. Unless it gets any higher; hold off on the Amquel, but I would throw in the poly filter>  Jeff  <M. Maddox>

- Ammonia Levels - I recently setup my 90 gallon fish only tank with a wet/dry filter, protein skimmer and UV sterilizer. I filled the tank with tap water and treated it with Kent Ammonia Detox to remove the ammonia, chlorine and chloramine. The pH, temp and salinity all stabilized and I added 8 damsels after a few days. They have been in the tank for 8 days now and my test kit registers 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites. All the fish are eating and show no effects of bad water quality. Some brown algae has started to form on the glass, which I have read is a good sign. I read that the Ammonia Detox "neutralizes" the ammonia but does not remove it. <Safer to say that it is bound up into a non-toxic form.>  Does this mean that it also will not show up on my test kit? <Depends on the test kit, some do, some don't.>  Some things I have read say that these types of products actually cause your test kit to show falsely high readings. <Yes... again, depends on the reagents in the test.>  Will it be impossible to know the status of my cycling? <No... I'd suggest you stop using the Detox for now until you've cycled the tank.>  What is going on in my tank? There MUST be some ammonia in the water after 8 days right? <Yes, although the Detox is clouding the results. I'd stop using it for now.> Thanks, Shawn <Cheers, J -- >

- Ammonia Levels, Follow-up - Thanks for the reply. Just to clarify, I have not used the Detox at all since the initial filling of the tank. It has now been 17 days since I added the fish. All fish are alive and well and there is no ammonia or nitrite in my tank. Any clue what is going on in my tank? <I would just wait - don't run the skimmer or the UV until you've seen the tank cycle. These things take time. Cheers, J -- >

Mysterious Ammonia (4/2/2004) Dear Crew <Michael here> I have a 210 marine fish only tank with two Tidepool II's on it with an established BioWheel and mech/chem filter media from an 80 gal (now reef tank). My fish were in the 80 gal for over a year seemed to be well established.  <What species of fish?  how large?> I never had any ammonia or Nitrite levels in over a year. when I transferred my fish to the 210 I took the old bio wheel and media out of the filter on the established tank.  <What kind of chemical media, and how often is it changed?> I added another Tidepool two to the big tank. The 210 has been up and running for about 4 months now and I haven't added any fish to the tank. For the last 4 months I haven't had any readings at all to speak of and all of a sudden my water started to get a little hazy so I started to test my water and discovered high ammonia and nitrite. I have been doing about 10% to 25% water changes every week. <Might want to make that every other day or daily until we get to the bottom of this> What would make my bio bed die off and re cycle?  <Are all organisms accounted for?  Any chance something has died out of sight and is polluting the water?  Have you treated for any diseases?  Had any power outages? What is your salinity and pH?  More information about your tank inhabitants would lead to a more detailed answer.  From what I see, my best guess is something either died or something is killing your bacteria - i.e.. low pH, low salinity, or antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections> Would love your thoughts <Get back to me> Kirt   <M. Maddox>

The batfish alone gets 2 feet! (4/3/2004)  In response to your questions my collection consists of a 7" imperator, 4" Asfur, 6" Maculosus, Flame, 5" Grey, 2" Annularis, 6" Koran, 6" Navarchus, The Navarchus is not doing well it is eating but it looks like areas around its head are sunken in? I have a 7 " tall Orbic Bat and a cleaner shrimp oh and I have a 4" Passer angel, 4" Queen 3 Damsels, 2 3" Raccoon butterflies. <*Gape* your tank is massively overstocked. You really should read our FAQS regarding your fish and the stocking FAQ archives as well. The overstocking alone probably explains your recurring ammonia problems> There has been no deaths or MIA's Filtration: besides the two tidepool II's I use a Ocean Clear for main Mechanical filtration but the Tidepools have that 3 tray system for media and I have blue pad in the top trays then 2 bags of Chemipure <I highly recommend using Poly-Filter until you conquer the ammonia> in each filter and finally seeded Bio Stars in the bottom trays I have a 35 watt UV and a Berlin hang on the back Skimmer with the Turbo pump and it is in my sump. the best I can do is change water weekly because my RO unit only makes enough water to do that. <Distilled water can be purchased from your local grocery store> chemically my PH is 8 my Amm. is .25 ppm and the nitrite is at 10.0ppm. <Possibly deadly, most definitely in the long term. 25% water changed daily or every other day, consider dosing the tank with Amquel+ from Kordon, see below> I was treating a fungus with Maroxy about a month ago. I did do a Maracyn treatment about 2 to 3 months ago <another possible cause, especially coupled with the overstocking> and I keep a low level of Coppersafe in the tank <Hmm...not sure if I would recommend this for long term use. I'll get others' opinions and get back to you> I did use a large bio wheel from my over a year old 80 gal with these exact fish in it and I feel that bio wheel was fully seeded with the good stuff. <Amazing they survived in a tank of that size> The tank has a great development of brown and green algae and the fish are showing no signs of stress all are eating like pigs <another source of ammonia>. Any help would be great!!!  <Find new homes for most of your fish or triple your tank size. In the meantime, 25% water changes daily or every other day, dose Amquel+ for a quick removal of the ammonia and nitrites (do half the recommended dose, wait a day, and do the other half. Rapid water chemistry changes of any type is stressful for all inhabitants). Do purchase a Poly Filter (or several) and use them to help control the ammonia. The Poly Filters will absorb your copper, as well (which I personally wouldn't maintain, additional stress on the biological filter among other things). Start feeding less: temporarily, I recommend only every other day. Again: find new homes for your current inhabitants quickly.>  thanks  Kirt <Anytime>  Ammonia levels high 4/1/04 Hi,  I am a little confused. We have a 90 gallon tank with 75 pounds of uncured live rock.  We have it in our tank curing right now for about 2-1/2 weeks.  We have a Mag 1200, a venturi protein skimmer, and a 802 powerhead.  We have done 2 partial water changes, 18 gallons and 25 gallons.  The problem I am having is that I can't get the ammonia level to drop.  The nitrite is 0.3 and the nitrate is 10., but the ammonia is staying at 3.7 and ph is 7.9.  We have 2 blue damsels and one hermit crab living in the water.  We were told that the nitrite and the ammonia should come down together.  Are we doing something wrong.   <There is still likely die off occurring on/in the live rock creating the ammonia.  You could also be over feeding.  Although your pH is a bit low, I would not treat it until the ammonia is gone.  Higher pH causes ammonia to be much more toxic.  In the mean time, keep up with weekly water changes of 20 gallons or so.  I would also suggest testing your water with a different test kit to verify the results you are getting.> Also there is a slimy whitish growth on the new rocks. Is this normal and should we turkey baste this off. If so should we be changing the pre filters. <I am not sure what this is, but I would suggest siphoning it out when you do water changes so that it gets removed from the system.  If you turkey baste it from the rocks it will simply end up elsewhere in the system (some may be caught by your mechanical filters, but not much).  Especially during cycling, mechanical filters should be cleaned or replaced every other day or even every day.> Should we be adding ph plus or something to bring down the ammonia.  We also recently bought a bottle of Chemi- pure and put the bag of carbon in the sump.  Thanks, Cindy <pH plus will not lower the ammonia, but as mentioned above, it will make it more toxic.  When the ammonia is gone, you should treat alkalinity and pH with buffers designed for marine aquaria.  I am not a fan of chemical "quick fixes" and recommend that you avoid their use.  Natural processes take time, and the patience to allow them to work will be rewarded soon enough!  Best Regards.  Adam>

- High Ammonia or Something Else? - Hi, is it normal to have ammonia levels at around .50?  I have been cycling my tank for over a month w/ live rock and sand.  I am not using live stock to cycle but rather I used dead squid as well as uncured live rock.  I also have a canister filter running (Fluval 404).  All my other levels are down but my ammonia levels never seem to go lower than .50 - .25.  I checked my established tank and the ammonia levels .25 - .50 as well.  Even after water changes (well a few days after water changes).  Is this normal? <Well, sort of... I think you have a bad test kit. I would take a water sample down to the local fish store and get a second opinion on those test results.> I know it's not high enough to be toxic to the fish but will this be a problem in a reef situation? <Yes... Cheers, J -- >

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