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Old 03-16-2012, 05:10 PM   #1 
chanliteheart
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small ammonia problem

hey all,

Our new 15g, heavily-planted community tank (1 male betta, 10 neons, 5 RCS) is having ammonia spikes.

6 days ago the betta had a shrimp snack. :( He only got one. I saw the head and a bit of spine or something. I got the head out but the tiny piece of spine got lost in the substrate. I tried to find it but since it was no more than 1/4 inch, I couldn't. I figured it wouldn't be much of a problem and completely forgot about it.

2 days later we had ammonia at .25. After 2 separate 50% pwc's, we're still getting around .13. Could that tiny pc of decaying shrimp be doing this? Any advice on what I can do?

Full disclosure, here are some other (possible) contributing factors: 1) We *were* overfeeding slightly. That's corrected and we vac'd the substrate in yesterday's pwc. 2) Our Crypts and Vals are having a hard time in the transition. I prune daily since the Bronze Wendtii is melting bad.
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Old 03-17-2012, 10:07 PM   #2 
thekoimaiden
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Interesting problem. Overfeeding is probably contributing to it. The dying leaves aren't helping either. It is probably a combination of the two problems. Now about the plants: what kind and how many? Not enough fast-growing plants could be contributing to the spike.
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:16 PM   #3 
chanliteheart
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Here's the tank:


Here's the plant rundown:
5 vallisneria (very thin now since most yellowed when transplanted)
6 amazon sword (all short since older leaves were pruned)
thicket of java fern
java moss wall and carpet (still thin but growing in)
1 pot each of lutea, red wendtii & bronze wendtii (separated and scattered)
1 pot water wisteria
3 micro lily pads floating
moss ball

Rechecked water param's today:
amm: nearly 0
nitrITE: nearly 0
natrATE: 20
pH:7.2
(my API master kit didn't include the other tests)

I was happily surprised by those numbers since both ammonia and nitrITE lowered without another pwc. I'm hoping the water is stabilizing - that whatever caused the spike is now being handled by the biofilter.
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:57 PM   #4 
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You have a beautiful tank! Sometimes it is best to just let nature take its course. Glad everything seems to be working out.
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Old 03-18-2012, 11:03 PM   #5 
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The tank might be finishing a cycle, with the ammonia spikes. But dead plant matter and such will spike it a bit. Interesting!
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Old 03-19-2012, 09:26 PM   #6 
chanliteheart
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@izzy- thanks! it's pretty thin right now but once everything grows back in, it'll be much more full.

unfortunately, my ammonia spiked to .25 again. i did a 75% pwc b/c the tetras were crashing - they lost color, were gasping and hiding.

after the pwc the tetras regained some color but were still hiding. that's when i realized the betta was being aggressive. i had to move him- he was bullying the tetras, stealing their food, chasing the shrimp.

do stressed fish (breathing faster, swimming faster) give off more ammonia? maybe moving the betta will stabilize things. within 15 minutes of moving him the tetras came out. and they were happy to eat.
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:18 PM   #7 
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Ammonia is a byproduct of protein breakdown. So being stressed won't up ammonia concentration but moving around a lot will because you use more energy when you run around. But I don't think it would be enough to cause a spike like that. Lowering the bioload by removing the betta will certainly help things.

Have you considered getting a fast-growing floating plant? It will make the tetra (naturally a forest fish and feel best/look best under a canopy) more happy and also aid in snatching up ammonia. Water sprite is both beautiful and functional.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:20 AM   #8 
chanliteheart
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i wanted water sprite! unfortunately, getting good fish and plants requires quite a drive for me.

when we made our pilgrimage to "the good store," the water sprite they had was massive, close to 2ft tall. way WAY too big for our 15 gallon. i was crushed. and it was so beautiful.

i may be losing the tetras. another complication is that we're treating for ich. we're on day 9. so the salt and temp stress, on top of the ich stress, on top of the water quality fluctuations, ON TOP of the bully stress... they may have been too damaged from the ich when i got them. they're so stressed. i lowered the temp 2 degrees this morning and switched out 1 gallon of water to reduce the salinity.

(i know, foolish me, noob mistake: i TRUSTED the source of my fish and since they were already reserved and bagged when i went to pick them up, i didn't get a good look at them. never again. it wasn't "the good store" btw.)

Last edited by chanliteheart; 03-20-2012 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:43 PM   #9 
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I think I might know where your ammonia spike is coming from: salting a tank can sometimes cause a spike as the salt will kill off some of the bacteria.

I'm so sorry about your tetra, but I think you might be right. All that stress sounds like it could kill them. Neon tetra don't do well at temps above 78F. They actually like the temp around 75F. I would try lowering the temp to there if the betta is out.

Don't worry. We've all been there. Most of us learned the hard way, too. Let's just hope your little guys pull through. Do you have any fake plants that you could float? It won't look great but the shade will make the neons feel a little better.
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Old 03-20-2012, 03:09 PM   #10 
chanliteheart
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i did another 40-50% pwc. and didn't resalt. i wanted to continue the treatment a little longer but the salt/temp is what's killing them now. so i have to cut it short. i also threw in the fake plant from the 2 gallon. it was pretty big so i think it might help.

i also can't locate one of the RCS. hopefully, she's just a great hider & not off somewhere decomposing.

like you said, hopefully the tetra make it.

thanks.
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