Cycling my fish less IBC system (175 gal) for 5 day now and added 1/8 cup of pure ammonia at the beginning of the cycle.  Got an 8.0 reading to start off with and have not added any ammonia, 5 day now and still unable to bring my ammonia backdown down from 8.0  Emptied 25% (40 gal) of the water and still got an 8.0 ammonia reading.   Should I emptied a higher percentage or dump the the tank completely?  Any thoughts 

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Comment by Richard Kowalski on April 13, 2014 at 11:41am


I am in the same boat as you are. I have a 500 gallon system. The water temp. is 60 F. Bacteria growth at that temperature is slowed down.I added 1/2 cup of ammonia and used the API test kit to take a reading. I failed to follow the instructions which states that you need to wait 5 minutes for the reading to be valid. I waited 1 minute and read .25 PPM. Proceeded to add another 1/2 cup of ammonia. The next reading after 5 minutes was off the charts! I removed 400 gallons of water and rinsed my growbeds with fresh water. My new reading is 4 PPM. 

I would recommend dumping the tank completely because the grow media will still have ammonia in it. Even if you rinse the grow media with water by flooding the beds with fresh water. Keep in mind that the water temperature plays a large part in how long it will take for the bacteria to grow. I think optimal temperatures are between 75 F - 80 F.

Comment by Alex Veidel on April 11, 2014 at 6:21am

Do more water changes, or dump the water completely. You're only really supposed to add ammonia a couple teaspoons at a time. I think it took two or three tablespoons for me to get a 4ppm reading in a 400 gallons system.

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