View Full Version : Where is my ammonia?

08/28/2013, 09:01 AM

Newly set up 200 (wet and salty 8/10)
Caribsea Fiji-pink (not expired)
Aquatecture man-made rock w/ one softball sized piece of LR from my 28.

Added frozen silverside to sump sock ~1 week ago.
Have been "ghost feeding" the tank pretty much since day 1 with pellets and frozen cubes (no rinsing).

New test kit. Checked with my current tank as a "control".

Problem: I can't get any detectable amount of ammonia but, not only that, the test kit won't even show the color that tells me there is no ammonia. When I test my 28, it comes up as light green which is zero for that kit. When I test the 200, it just stays cloudy and only gets a slight greenish hue when you hold it up to a light source.

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to "rush my cycle". In fact, I hope it takes a while since I'm still gathering equipment.

My gut tells me that the cycle hasn't started but I've been told that it's possibly done. I'm not so sure but I am going to test nitrates this afternoon and see what's what.

Notable: I DO have brittle stars and pods that came in on the piece of live rock that I transferred and, from what I've seen, they're still alive. I would imagine they wouldn't survive any high amounts of ammonia so it either didn't start at all or was finished before I transferred the rock. The rock wasn't moved over until about a week ago if that long.

Thoughts, ideas or "shut up, keep throwing food in and wait it out"?

08/28/2013, 09:18 AM
Seeding a new tank with established live rock (or filter material) will certainly speed up the cycling process. if you can, test for both nitrites and nitrates. If you have the former then the cycle is not complete; if you have the latter than it is complete - at lest for the current 'stocking' level. You may also want to be a bit more aggressive in ghost feeding.

08/28/2013, 09:34 AM
Is this an API test kit? I noticed when I used API for ammonia, it was always cloudy and my ammonia always seemed to be about .25 even after 1 year of an established tank. Check your nitrites and nitrates. If you have no nitrites and you do have noticeable nitrates, you are more than likely cycled and can probably add a a fish or two.

08/28/2013, 09:37 AM
Yea I plan on testing for nitrite and nitrate this afternoon. I'm not sure if my nitrite kit is still good but my nitrate kit is still brand new. I've been "feeding" the tank but it's not what I would consider "heavy".

08/28/2013, 09:41 AM
I have a Nutrafin kit (probably crappy but it was better than my expired kit) but it was all my LFS had at the time. I do know it works since it worked fine on my 3 year old 28g.

08/28/2013, 02:30 PM
Feedback from anyone else or is the general concensus to test for nitrates and go from there?

08/28/2013, 03:02 PM
has the man made rock turned color ?

08/28/2013, 04:09 PM

Aquatecture puts a light purplish color on their rocks but...no...as far as I can tell, the rocks have not changed colors. My other tank started off with BRS Reefsaver and that rock didn't change color either so I'm not really sure what you're getting at.

08/28/2013, 08:19 PM
Ok, reallllllllllly dumb suggestion here but:

The first day I couldn't figure out why I was getting 0 reading on ammonia. I gave in and read the directions and realized the "Ammonia 2" bottle in the test kit wasn't a second one for use when the first ran out as I had idiotically assumed but was put in after the drops from the ammonia 1 bottle and their reaction with the water /and/ each other gave the resulting color change.

Dumb suggestion, I'm aware, but hey, you never know.

08/28/2013, 11:16 PM
You could check for ammonia with a different kit, but I suspect the system is okay. I'd check the nitrate level, and go from there.

08/29/2013, 06:39 AM
Tarrant, I never put it passed myself to make dumb mistakes. I make them plenty enough but this isn't one of them (this time!). Thanks for the suggestion though...anything and everything is possible.

OK...I tested nitrates with a brand new Red Sea nitrate test kit. It fell somewhere in the middle of 0.25 and 0.5ppm as best I could tell.

Should I try adding one small fish and see how it goes or should I continue to feed the tank without fish?

08/29/2013, 07:25 AM
yep you could add a fish...just be sure its a fish you want in the tank. I have made the mistake of starting tanks with 'test fish' (damsels) and later down the road I regret it.

It still would be best to double check ammonia against another kit and test for nitrite. If either of these is present you aren't ready. I rarely test during cycling and just wait for ample time after setup. This is because setting up a tank is so few and far between that my ammonia kits always expire and I cant justify buying a new kit for one or two tests

08/29/2013, 09:27 AM
I've got a blue/green chromis that is pretty docile that won't bother much of anything that I used as a canary on my other tank. Sounds like he's on deck to do it again.

08/29/2013, 10:11 PM
I think adding a fish should be fine. :)

08/30/2013, 04:06 PM
If you used "live" sand it is sprayed with dormant bacteria (the type they use in water treatment plants from what I understand). They should "wake up" pretty fast so this might be why you have 0 ammonia.

09/05/2013, 11:05 AM
Just as a closer, I ended up adding my single blue/green chromis to the tank about 5 days ago and all is well. I'm still feeding the tank like it's fully stocked but the chromis is eating well and took to the tank as you would expect.

Thanks for everyone's help.

09/05/2013, 10:19 PM
You're welcome! I think the tank should be fine.

09/06/2013, 10:28 AM
All is well so far. I'll be moving over some of the LR from my 28 and the remainder of my fish (not many and all small) probably next week some time. I'm continuing to feed like the tank is fully stocked though to keep the process growing in case it isn't completely cycled even though nothing has indicated such.

10/14/2013, 10:45 AM
My API test kit for ammonia always reads 0-.25 (some where around there.) and I still have not got any spike in my nitrites (note: today is day 14 on my 20gal long build. with about 15lbs of LR and 20lbs of live sand I got from my lfs.)

My filter:
penguin 150 bio wheel.
with 2 carbon pads

earlier today I decided to just remove the bio wheel.
Still no diatoms, well, one rock has a lot of mini, white feather looking things that are moving with the flow in my water. some retract themselves, whilst others seem happy and alive.
so I really don't know the deal here...Am I safe to add 1 fish? and see where I go from there? most of the rock was already live, as well as the sand.

ammonia:0-.25 (seems closer to 0ppm, when I'm in perfect lighting which is my bathroom lol)
nitrite:0ppm (always has been)
specific gravity: .023

And I am buying the red sea multi pro reef test kit so I can do a more into depth testing with cal, mag, and alk/KH this friday. But I do not plan on adding corals anytime soon.

10/14/2013, 09:42 PM
The ammonia kit should read zero at some point, more or less. I would wait another week, but I'm the patient type. You might want to get a second opinion on the test kit. They tend to fail over time and read low levels of ammonia in everything.

10/15/2013, 01:28 PM
The ammonia kit should read zero at some point, more or less. I would wait another week, but I'm the patient type. You might want to get a second opinion on the test kit. They tend to fail over time and read low levels of ammonia in everything.

after getting this all set up...my patience has gone way up :P haha. I'm going to buy another test kit that tests for ammonia...cause it seems the API is a problem for almost anyone who falls into using it. :thumbdown