Skip to Content

Can Fluval Stratum Spike Ammonia Levels In Your Tank?

Fluval stratum is one of the most popular substrate products used within the fish keeping hobby and although it already has a huge user base, its popularity just keeps on increasing.

As we covered in our article on how to clean fluval stratum, this is due to its fair price relative to its performance, wide availability, ease of use, and excellent performance as a substrate.

Still, even though fluval stratum has one of the best reputations out there, we still see a large number of people reaching out and asking questions about using fluval stratum in their tanks.

One question that we have been seeing more frequently over the last couple of days is based around fluval stratum causing ammonia spikes. Due to seeing such a spike in people asking this, we wanted to publish our own dedicated article on the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible.

Can Fluval Stratum Spike Ammonia Levels In Your Tank?

There is no reason that fluval stratum should be able to spike the ammonia levels in your tank and the vast majority of people who use fluval stratum as their substrate of choice have no issues with ammonia spikes due to the substrate.

Due to the natural ammonia cycle in a tank, all tanks will have natural ammonia spikes at various times and this may randomly line up with your adding fluval stratum to your aquarium tank.

Correlation with putting the fluval stratum into your tank does not always mean causation though.

The natural ammonia creation cycle in your aquarium may have been due a spike at that time anyway even without your fluval stratum being added.

This is one of the main reasons behind the people having issues with an “ammonia spike due to using fluval stratum”. The spike in the tank’s ammonia levels are highly likely to have happened anyway even without the fluval stratum being added to the tank.

What Causes Ammonia Spikes In Aquariums?

If you are struggling with ammonia spikes in your aquarium and want to get to the root cause of the issue, then there are a few potential causes that you will want to check out.

Overcrowding is one of the main causes of ammonia related issues in tanks as too many fish in too small of an area can quickly create an ammonia problem.

Overfeeding your fish is another potential cause as uneaten food rots away and releases ammonia into the water which can quickly lead to problems, especially in smaller tanks.

Underperforming filtration is also a common problem that can cause issues as the filter is not able to cope with the bio-load in the tank leading to an ammonia buildup.

Poor tank maintenance is another big cause of ammonia related issues as things such as not regularly changing the water or cleaning the filter media can lead to a buildup of ammonia in the tank.

A lack of nitrifying bacteria in your tank is an overlooked cause of ammonia spikes. In fact, it’s so overlooked that we actually have a dedicated article going over ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite spikes after a water change.

The short version is that a water change may kill a large amount of the nitrifying bacteria in your aquarium that naturally breaks the ammonia down resulting in a spike in ammonia levels in your tank.

Many people who add fluval stratum to their aquarium will do it as a part of their regular tank maintenance that can also include a water change for their tank too.

As you can see, there are a few different potential causes of an ammonia spike in your aquarium and it is important to try and identify the root cause so that you can put a stop to it.

Why Your Ammonia Levels Are Probably Spiking!

  • Overcrowding.
  • Overfeeding.
  • Underperforming filtration.
  • Poor tank maintenance.
  • A lack of nitrifying bacteria.

Due to so much happening in the average aquarium tank at any given time, there are a number of reasons that can cause your tanks ammonia levels to spike up.

This can randomly line up with your adding fluval stratum to your tank but as we covered above, correlation is not causation.

How Can I Prevent Ammonia Spikes In My Tank?

The best way to prevent ammonia spikes in your tank is to be on top of your tanks maintenance and to keep a close eye on your fish.

As we covered in the article, some of the main causes of ammonia related issues are things such as overcrowding, overfeeding, and poor tank maintenance.

If you can avoid these things then you will go a long way to preventing ammonia spikes in your aquarium.

Another thing that you can do to help prevent ammonia related issues is to regularly test your tanks water quality and to keep an eye on your fish for any signs of stress.

If you see anything out of the ordinary then it is important to take action quickly as this can help to prevent a small issue from turning into a big problem.

Advantages Of Fluval Stratum

  • Fair Price Relative to Its Performance.
  • Wide Availability.
  • Ease of Use.
  • Excellent Performance as A Substrate.

Disadvantages Of Fluval Stratum

  • Is often not needed in many tank setups.
  • Can take a little getting use to.
  • May take time to settle in the tank.