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Swapped out 3 year old amazonia for Fluval stratum - huge ammonia spike


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Hey all, been a while since I posted,

 I recently rescaped my 3 year old 10g cube tank cause I was having algae issues. All I did was swap out the old amazonia substrate for some fresh fluval stratum, added a whole bunch of plants and added some root tabs. just over a week later and I just noticed a cherry shrimp getting picked on by the CPDs. they only do this when the shrimp are weak or dying, so i decided to test the water and to my surprise discovered that the ammonia is at 4ppm.

Dosed some prime and am going to the a big water change ofcourse but I was wondering if fluval stratum can cause a ammonia spike? I got it because i thought it didnt. Otherwise what else could've caused it? My tank is a waterbox cube which uses a sump system, so when I did the rescape, all the filter media and everything in the sump remained submerged with the same water. While the main part of the tank saw probably about a 90% water change.

Did I crash my cycle somehow? This is the first time im getting ammonia problems with this tank. Prior to the rescape, the tank was cycled for the 3 year period, I could leave it unmaintained for 2-3 weeks with 0 Ammonia and Nitrites. I've done big water changes in the past with no issues as well.

16 CPDs
A bunch of cherry shrimp

Thankfully fish all seem fine and other cherrys seem ok

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Sorry to hear about your issue and hopefully you can just get on top of it with some time and large water changes (if needed). I would imagine it to be down to the plants as they will need time to 'establish' themselves before they get back to normal and parts may well be dying whilst the plants aren't absorbing as much yet. It sounds as though the bacteria should have been ok in the filter system but something may have happened there as well but there is no real way of knowing that!

Just keep checking the ammonia and changing water if it needs it but I imagine it wil be fine in a week or so if it is just everything settling down to create a balanced cycle!

I don't think it would be down to Fluval Stratum in any way?


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Yeah true, i'm also thinking that maybe ive underestimated the influence of beneficial bacteria in the old substrate which i removed. 
Im being told different things regarding the fluval stratum, some have said it does others say it doesnt ?
Additionally I also just realised that I forgot that I had also added fresh ADA Powersand (replaced the old one) before adding the fluval stratum. Cant find anything on ADA Powersand releasing ammonia but now I would assume it makes sense?  

Before the water change yesterday I tested the rest of the params and found 0 nitrites but superhigh nitrates (atleast 30ppm but i think its 50+ppm, hard to tell). Today ammonia is sitting at ~1ppm but yea going to do daily waterchanges until 0 ammonia present. Thanks!

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Hopefully it will settle quite quickly now and it was just everything sorting itself out, and at least you caught it before it caused problems with the fish and shrimps. As you also say, it will take a bit of time for the neneficial bacteria to spread in the new sunstrate as well!

The  packaging of the substrate should tell you if there is any routine you should carry out when first using it because of mineral build-up or ammonia, so if the packaging didn't say anything I think it is safe to assume it was not the substrate (Fluval stratum is volcanic soil), and other people may have just assumed it was the substrate without considering anything else if they had a similar episode to yours?


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