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Old 01-16-2012, 12:26 AM   #1 
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What to do if tap water has ammonia in it??

So...I have a problem..
I just did a second weekly water test and everything is fine...except for ammonia.
It's consistently read around 0.25ppm (light green...could be up to 0.5ppm) on the API water test kit, which I understand is very accurate.
I had just done a water change this time, so I was wondering why it was still high...and then I checked my tap water.
According to the kit, my tap water has about 0.25ppm ammonia...even with the water conditioner added.
Just to confirm, I checked a bottle of distilled water I had, which read pretty close to 0ppm (yellow).
So, it seems that my tap water has ammonia...which means water changes won't really help my betta with his ammonia level.
What's the best way to address this kind of problem?

I have one male veiltail in a 15qt plastic storage drawer (low student...but the plastic is number 5, so safe...)
i have sand that i washed very thoroughly (including sanitizing by boiling) and a fake plant in the tank
is it possible that the tank will cycle?
it's been about a month since i put him in the tank...

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Old 01-16-2012, 12:53 AM   #2 
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Location: Seattle, WA
Use a conditioner that works against ammonia, like Prime.
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:55 AM   #3 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Do you have a filter in the tub with him? It may cycle eventually but I think the tub is too small for stable cycling. I think most people agree the minimum tank size is 5g for a stable cycle. But regardless of actual cycling, you'll get beneficial bacteria if you have a filter.

Since you have ammonia straight out of the tap, I would suggest using a water conditioner like Prime that neutralizes ammonia. Use a little extra when doing water changes. Also, if your filter will allow it, using zeolite instead of carbon can also help control ammonia.
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Old 01-16-2012, 10:29 AM   #4 
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why is it hard to cycle a small tank?
do not enough bacteria grow or something?
thank you!
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:21 AM   #5 
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Location: Bay Shore, NY
A cycled tank isn't as simple as getting good bacteria to grow. A tank isn't cycled until enough good bacteria grows to keep the ammonia down to zero for you. So when a cycle first starts, there will be a huge ammonia spike that can go well over 8ppm if you don't do anything to the tank. The ammonia will eventually breakdown into nitrITEs. These nitrITEs feed nitrATEs to make the bacteria colony. However, if there is too much ammonia making too much nitrITEs the nitrATEs will be over powered and die. The cycle is done when the levels read 5-10ppm nitrATE, 0ppm ammonia, and 0ppm nitrITE.

Therefore, I don't consider a tank cycled until the bacteria can keep ammonia at 0ppm and nitrITEs at 0ppm without any help from my water changes. If my water changes are doing more than removing poop, algae, that annoying protein layer that always forms on the water surface, and random physical debris then the tank is mini-cycled. So, I'm extremely picky about what I call a "cycled" tank but very liberal about what I call a "mini-cycled" tank. ^_^

From my experience, my 5 gallon set up has enough room to hold the amount of nitrATEs that would give a positive reading of 5-10ppm and keeps ammonia and nitrITEs at 0ppm without aid. All I did was clean off algae and refreash the water condictioner with weekly water changes so my filter cartridge wouldn't be overtaxed. My 1 gallon set up did have nitrATE levels that were detected at 1-2ppm (just barely orange) but that isn't enough bacteria to control ammonia without help. The nitrATEs would be alive in my filter, but the ammonia and nitrITEs were removed with 2 50% water changes and 1 100% water changes a week (yes, I know that schedule is a bit OCD ^_^;).

If you want to ensure that your tank is cycled, then I would suggest upgrading to a 5 gallon or higher. However, you can try to cycle your 3 gallon if you want to since the result will be a super clean fish tank with excellent water parameters whether you succeed or fail. Either way, your fish will be happy. :)
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