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[APD] Ammonia (was Vaccuming the gravel for planted tanks)

At 11:29 AM 9/7/2004 -0400, WC wrote:

On a slightly different topic, I've been having very
high ammonia reading for about 2 months now. Do you
think this may have been caused by me not vaccuming
the gravel? I've tried everything to get rid of the
ammonia. 40% water changes every other day, but the
ammonia just won't drop? What's going on? Why isn't my
beneficial bacteria growing? Do I have to change the
sponge in my filter (AquaClear 200 on a 20 gallon

The two most common sources of ammonia in fish tanks are:

    1. Fish waste. If the biological filter is established, and not
        destroyed by exposure to untreated tap water, ammonia
        from fish waste should be negligible, whether you
        vacuum deeply or not. It is possible, however, to
        cause an ammonia spike if you massively disturb
        really filthy gravel.

    2. Chloramines. Many water systems now use chloramines
        instead of chlorine. If you use a simple dechlorinator,
        it will release ammonia when it neutralizes the chlorine.
        The two best known products which bind both the
        ammonia and the chlorine are Prime and Amquel, there
        may be others. Read the label carefully.

Both the biological filter and the plants eat ammonia, so whatever the source, it should go away in a few days if those are healthy.

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