Gravel leaching ammonia?

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ldymcbeth6

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Jan 21, 2008
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Hi...I assume gravel is a "product" so I hope this is the right place...

My tank had 0 ammonia for several days. I had glass marbles and wanted an ADF and was worried he'd get stuck in when one rolled, so I switched to a course sand or fine gravel, whichever. I got it at the LFS and I rinsed it very well until there was no cloud in the water.

Now, every time I test the water the ammonia is over 1ppm. Even if it's three hours after a 75% change. I didn't believe my one little betta and ADF are making that much ammonia! So I took some of the sand in a glass cup and poured on some bottled water, which I had tested for ammonia beforehand. Half a day later--ammonia is off the chart.

The test kit is API master kit and it's good--I have another tank and it's testing that one fine. So, it's the gravel right? I haven't missed something?

2 1/2 gal Hex tank. 1 betta, 1 adf. course sand substrate, one fake plant and one little cave for the frog to hide is all that's in there. Has an internal filter for 1-3 gal and a heater at 78.

THanks!!
 

msjinkzd

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Feb 11, 2007
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Rachel O'Leary
When you tested the sand in the cup, was the sand taken from the bag or the tank? What brand sand/fine gravel is it? Do you notice much leftover food sitting on the bottom of your tank?
 

ldymcbeth6

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Jan 21, 2008
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Weeeelll, I wish I knew what brand...I wasn't expecting this issue and the garbage service came that day....

I always use a turkey baster to suck up any uneated food in the a.m. and as long as I've been in there sucking out water, I've just been sucking up whatever I see--the sand isn't white, but it's very light and everything shows up on it. I've been changing out water twice a day for three days now. I just got the bright idea it might be the sand/gravel last afternoon.
 

Cory Keeper

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Aug 7, 2007
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could be a mini-cycle, and if your water is treated with a high amount of chlorimines, that would account for the high ammonia. With an internal filter I would be willing to bet the largest portion of your bacteria bed was in your gravel.... I would hold on the PWC since they seem to have no effect. Sand can't leach ammonia since sand doesn't have ammonia. If ammonia reaches above 1.5 PPM, then do a WC.
 

ldymcbeth6

AC Members
Jan 21, 2008
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Illinois
Yes, I soaked it a few minutes in some primed water before I put it in the tank. I'll keep trying the water changes. I know it's a small tank and things get out of control quickly. I just really didn't think glass marbles would hold much bacteria. The fish and frog aren't showing any signs of stress, though.
 

Zaphod414

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Aug 2, 2020
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I know this is an old thread, but it still features prominently in google, so I just wanted to add my input here for anyone else that gets directed here. I currently have something leaching out of the sand I use as substrate that my ammonia test kit is reading as ammonia. I have made my own post in this forum that contains much more detail if anyone wants to have a look at it - forums/threads/false-ammonia-readings-caused-by-something-leaching-from-my-sand-substrate.291057
 
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