Help needed! Persistent ammonia spike

Heymikki

Feeder Fish
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Jan 3, 2021
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I have a tank that has been established and cycled for about a year and a half. 3 weeks ago I added a few new fish, my ammonia spiked up to 2. I have been using fritz complete, and daily large (50%+ water changes) and have slowly brought the tank down to where the ammonia reading is most mornings when I test around .5, some days has crept back up to 1. I’m at my wits end, I’ve continued to dose with fritz complete, added a second fx6 filter to a tank that I thought was already over filtered, added ammonia pads to the existing and new filter, added additional bio media to each filter, vacuumed the substrate really good, skipped days of feeding and I can still not get the ammonia to test below 0.5. I’ve tested my tap water and that tests as 0 ammonia. My nitrites have remained at 0 and nitrates low for the entirety of this ordeal. What gives? And what else can I possibly do to get the ammonia back to 0?
 

Deadeye

Goliath Tigerfish
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Aug 31, 2020
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What’s the stocking in the tank and its size?
The test does measure nontoxic and toxic ammonia, so you may be seeing a bit of that in there.
 

Heymikki

Feeder Fish
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Jan 3, 2021
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What’s the stocking in the tank and its size?
The test does measure nontoxic and toxic ammonia, so you may be seeing a bit of that in there.
It’s a 210 gallon tank with 6 zebra cichlids, and a trio of frontosas
 

duanes

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What’s the stocking in the tank and its size?
The test does measure nontoxic and toxic ammonia, so you may be seeing a bit of that in there.
Th is would be my question.
What was, the tank stocked with, how many, and "what size" fish? Then ...
How many, and "what size" new fish were added that caused the spike?
 

Heymikki

Feeder Fish
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Jan 3, 2021
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Th

is would be my question.
What was, the tank stocked with, how many and what size fish? Then ...
How many, and what size new fish were added that caused the spike?
The tank had 6 silver dollars, those were moved to a different tank and 6 zebra cichlids and 3 frontosas were added. It’s a 210 gallon tank.
 

duanes

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You have still not mentioned fish size? Were the new fish much larger or smaller than the removed silver dollars?
Different size fish put out different amounts of ammonia?
A 210 can be overwhelmed if the fish are large just as any tank can be.
And over filtered is usually an oxymoron (especially with a can).
Unless the new filter had seasoned media, it will not be processing ammonia immediately.
And just to be clear, what species do you mean by zebra cichlid, there are a number of cichlids known as "zebra"?
It could be any of the striped Mayandia, or Heterotilapia buttifoferi, among others
 

Heymikki

Feeder Fish
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Jan 3, 2021
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You have still not mentioned fish size? Were the new fish much larger or smaller than the removed silver dollars?
Different size fish put out different amounts of ammonia?
A 210 can be overwhelmed if the fish are large just as any tank can be.
And over filtered is usually an oxymoron (especially with a can).
Unless the new filter had seasoned media, it will not be processing ammonia immediately.
And just to be clear, what species do you mean by zebra cichlid, there are a number of cichlids known as "zebra"?
It could be any of the striped Mayandia, or Heterotilapia buttifoferi, among others
The silver dollars that were moved were grown out in that tank, they were full grown at time of moving. I am talking about striped mayandia when I say zebras, those are about 5”. The frontosas are big, 8-10”
 

duanes

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Doesn't sound like those maylandia would overwhelm the system, if it went immediately from the SDs to the zebras.
If there was a lag of some time between, it is possible though, the bacteria that process ammonia rise and fall with food supply in a well filtered, appropriate volume of media tank. And although the population of beneficial bacteria can increase rapidly, it may not be overnight.
 
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Rocksor

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Do a large 50%+ water change and don't feed the fish for a week. Check the TOTAL ammonia reading (which is more likely what your test is reading) after that week. Total ammonia = toxic ammonia + non-toxic ammonium. What's the PH of the tank?

I would say that 6 silver dollars is roughly about the same bioload as the 6 SDs. An additional 3 x 8-10" frontosa is a huge jump in bioload though.

Ammonia pads (and ammonia media) bind toxic ammonia (NH3-). It won't bind non-toxic ammonium.
 

Heymikki

Feeder Fish
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Jan 3, 2021
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Do a large 50%+ water change and don't feed the fish for a week. Check the TOTAL ammonia reading (which is more likely what your test is reading) after that week. Total ammonia = toxic ammonia + non-toxic ammonium.

I would say that 6 silver dollars is roughly about the same bioload as the 6 SDs. An additional 3 x 8-10" frontosa is a huge jump in bioload though
I’ve been doing daily 50% water changes and testing everyday with a liquid api test kit. Is there a different test kit that I should be using?
 
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