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High Ammonia!


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#1 PermanentXHate

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 02:30 AM

I tested my water in my 32 Gallon Tank today around noon and it read like this:

  • Ammonia: 8.0 ppm
  • Nitrate: 5 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • pH: 7.6

I went to my lfs and got some Top Fin Ammonia Remover and added 5 mL for every 10 gallons as the instructions told me to do to get rid of ammonia. I also got pH Correct Fizz Tabs and added 1 tab for every 10 gallons.

I retested the pH and ammonia two hours later and they read like this.

  • Ammonia: 8.0 ppm
  • pH: 7.0

The pH corrected. The ammonia didn't. I know this can cause major stress and even some deaths in fish. I haven't had any deaths yet. How can I prevent that and lower my ammonia?!

#2 dzsigmond217

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 02:51 AM

I had a problem with the ammonia in my 29 gallon tank today as well. Not as high as yours but..I did a massive water change 50% and added some ammonia remover. 2 hours later I checked and the ammonia was almost all gone.. I think I'm going to do another 40% water change now. I would think that the first problem is to find out why your ammonia is so high. Is your tank overstocked? Have you done your weekly water changes? Good luck and let us know! :good:

#3 PermanentXHate

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 05:04 AM

I'm not sure why it is so high. I heard over feeding and over stocking can lead to it. But I don't over feed them, in fact I've recently cut down on the feeding and that was BEFORE it spiked. Then I set up my ten gallon tank and took some fish OUT of my 32 gallon tank to make sure it wasn't overstocking. It didn't fix. I'll try the water change and the remover and then let you guys know.

#4 Amunet

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 05:16 AM

Is the tank cycled? Might be a silly question but... 8ppm of ammonia is pretty dern high and I just had to ask.

Also... don't mess with your pH. 7.6 is absolutely fine for your fish. They'll adjust to it on their own.
Those fizzy tabs and all of that other mess to make it the 'perfect' reading of 7.0 will only cause you to waste money on it and will stress your fish out due to the pH swinging all over the place.

I don't know if I would use the ammonia removing stuff anymore. I would just keep doing water changes until the ammonia reading is eithr 0 or close to 0. Maybe try something like Prime. It's supposed to make ammonia less toxic or something, but still useable by the beneficial bacteria.

#5 PermanentXHate

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 05:48 AM

Is the tank cycled? Might be a silly question but... 8ppm of ammonia is pretty dern high and I just had to ask.

Also... don't mess with your pH. 7.6 is absolutely fine for your fish. They'll adjust to it on their own.
Those fizzy tabs and all of that other mess to make it the 'perfect' reading of 7.0 will only cause you to waste money on it and will stress your fish out due to the pH swinging all over the place.

I don't know if I would use the ammonia removing stuff anymore. I would just keep doing water changes until the ammonia reading is eithr 0 or close to 0. Maybe try something like Prime. It's supposed to make ammonia less toxic or something, but still useable by the beneficial bacteria.


It should be cycled by now. If it isn't then we have more of a problem then just high ammonia lol.
Thanks about the pH, I'll leave it be from now on.

The tank has been set up for about three months, about three weeks ago I had to do a 100% water change though to get rid of some aquarium salt, I decided I didn't want a brackish tank. I only lost 3 small zebra fish to that but I'm not sure why, it was sudden, they kinda spazzed as soon as they hit the watter. Stress probably. But the tank has some algae growth in it and keeps clear and I assumed it to be cycled again.

I have only had my 10 gallon tank running for a week and its ammonia is only 2 ppm. But that's normal for JUST starting out. I don't understand my 32 gallon though. 8 ppm worries me.

Edited by PermanentXHate, 24 February 2008 - 05:49 AM.


#6 Colin_T

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 07:09 AM

if you ever get a high ammonia reading the first thing you do is stop feeding. The next thing you do is a 75-90% water change using dechlorinate water with a simliar temp & PH to the tank.
The water change will remove most of the ammonia and give you a chance to work out what happened.

You might want to check the test kit. If you actually did have an ammonia reading of 8 your fish should be dead, especially with a PH of 7.6

#7 st24rsap

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 09:39 AM

You might want to check the test kit. If you actually did have an ammonia reading of 8 your fish should be dead, especially with a PH of 7.6


i second that!
is it a liquid test kit you are using?
whatever you are using to test the ammonia it may be worth geting it tested somewhere else as well as 8ppm is very high and im amazed the fish are still alive

#8 PermanentXHate

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 05:47 PM

You might want to check the test kit. If you actually did have an ammonia reading of 8 your fish should be dead, especially with a PH of 7.6


i second that!
is it a liquid test kit you are using?
whatever you are using to test the ammonia it may be worth geting it tested somewhere else as well as 8ppm is very high and im amazed the fish are still alive


it is a liquid test kit. i'll check it again to be positive. although i have tested it like three times.

#9 st24rsap

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 05:50 PM

what are the latest readings?

have you lost any fish as yet or are they acting strange in any way?

#10 PermanentXHate

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 10:52 PM

OK, so far I've just been replying to you guys. But here is a full update.

After checking with you guys here is what I did.

I tested the water again and the reading was still 8ppm. I did a 50% water change, tested the water again: still 8 ppm. Added 15mL of Top Fin Ammonia Remover (5mL/10gal as directed). Retested again in 2 hrs.

Results: 4ppm

We're making progress. Tomorrow I will do another 50% water change and repeat the above steps.

No, there has been no weird behaviors or deaths in ANY of my fish. This is why I'm confused because everyone says at 8ppm they shouldn't be alive. Maybe I have special fish :lol: Who knows but I'm glad they are still alive!

Yes I am using a liquid test kit.

Just tested my tap water, the reading was: 1 ppm.

I'm thinking bad test kit? I'm about to test some distilled water to make sure.

Distilled Water Results: .50 ppm

Def. a bad test kit. DANG!

I'm going to exchange it right now then test our water again. Be back later.

Edited by PermanentXHate, 24 February 2008 - 11:14 PM.


#11 PermanentXHate

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 12:00 AM

PHEW! :rolleyes:

I went to my lfs and got a new test kit and here were my readings:

  • 32 gallon: 2 ppm
  • tap water: .5 ppm
  • distilled water: 0 ppm

MUCH better!

I think I just got a bad test kit. But there is still ammonia in the tank so I'll be doing a water change.

But 2 is way way way better than 8.

#12 Colin_T

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 05:17 AM

The ammonia you have in the tap water would indicate you have chloramine in your mains drinking water.
You shuld look for a dechlorinator that is suited to treating chloramine and not just chlorine.

#13 PermanentXHate

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 12:47 PM

The ammonia you have in the tap water would indicate you have chloramine in your mains drinking water.
You shuld look for a dechlorinator that is suited to treating chloramine and not just chlorine.


any suggestions of what some of those are named?

#14 st24rsap

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 01:22 PM

Stress coat is 1

#15 pastabake

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 01:43 PM

I use Tap conditioner by API, its 3 drops per 3.8l for chlorine removal and something like 9 for chloramine. Its the same people that make Stress coat but unlike stress coat it has no Aloe extract in it - I use it whenever I add a new fish or do a big water change, but some people claim it can clog gills.

You should contact your local water supplier as they will tell you what they put in the water to treat it, no point in dosing for chloramine if it isn't there.

#16 Colin_T

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 02:04 PM

You should contact your local water supplier as they will tell you what they put in the water to treat it, no point in dosing for chloramine if it isn't there.

PermanentXHate has ammonia in their tap water. that is usually a pretty good indication chloramine is being used.

#17 PermanentXHate

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 04:07 PM

You should contact your local water supplier as they will tell you what they put in the water to treat it, no point in dosing for chloramine if it isn't there.

PermanentXHate has ammonia in their tap water. that is usually a pretty good indication chloramine is being used.


I found a tiny bottle that I had of stress coat in the back of my storage closet for my fish tank from when i set it up and was adding new fish. I did a 50% water change and added some and when I retested it was 1 ppm. That's way better than 8 ppm lol. But I'm out of stress coat so I will probably get some more and continue the daily water changes until it's gone.

#18 st24rsap

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 04:45 PM

id get quite a large bottle as youl be doing quite a few changes, but your test results are looking much better now :good:

keep up the good work and keep us informed

#19 PermanentXHate

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 05:04 AM

id get quite a large bottle as youl be doing quite a few changes, but your test results are looking much better now :good:

keep up the good work and keep us informed


no prob will do!

#20 PermanentXHate

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 12:08 AM

my angel fish started laying eggs this morning and now i cant do water changes for a few days :[

#21 Colin_T

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 03:41 AM

you can still do a water change just don't drop the water level below the eggs. And make sure the new water has a similar temperature & PH to the tank.

#22 PermanentXHate

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 04:49 AM

you can still do a water change just don't drop the water level below the eggs. And make sure the new water has a similar temperature & PH to the tank.


that's what i figured but it wouldn't even be a 20% water change. she laid her eggs way towards the top of the tank on a roman column i have

#23 st24rsap

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 07:39 AM

nothing stopping you from doing 2 or 3 water changes a day if needed :good:

#24 PermanentXHate

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 02:55 AM

WOO HOO! I figured it out!

This saturday when I tested my water my ammonia in both of my tanks had spiked again to 8 ppm. I got fed up and went to my lfs in search of an answer.

She told me that it had never really cycled the right way. Provided me with some mature media from their tanks there and directed me to some stress zyme that produces bacteria.

She also told me that even though my ammonia was 8 ppm it hadn't phased my fish because I had added filtration and LOTS of bubbles so there was no oxygen taken away. Becuase the reason the ammonia is poison to them is because it takes away what they breathe but my bubbles gave back twice as much as it was taking so it didnt affect them.

But now I have extra bubbles, extra filtration, AND stuff to rid my tank of ammonia!

SAWEET!

Thanks for your help guys!

#25 Colin_T

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 05:11 AM

Lots of oxygen in the water does not stop ammonia from killing fish. High oxygen levels do help the beneficial bacteria to grow faster. It also gives the fish more oxygen to live on assuming the levels were low to begin with. But in an average aquarium it doesn't make much difference. Water can only hold so much oxygen and all the aeration in the world will only put a certain amount into the water.

Getting some mature media from their tanks might help but if it was out of the tank for more than an hour or two then it is probably not going to do much.
The beneficial bacteria is unable to process ammonia at extremely high levels. You might find because the level is 8 or there abouts, the bacteria won't do anything about it. Normally for filter development 5ppm is as high as you want it to get. Quite often when the level gets higher the cycling process stalls. If you have fish in the tank then you want to keep the ammonia as low as possible.

Bacterial supplements can help get things going a bit quicker.

What filter materials do you have in the filter?
Is there any small white granulated substance called ammonia remover in the filter? If so remove it because it will hinder the growth of the filter bacteria.
Ceramic beads, noodles, foam blocks and filter pads should all be fine to use.

Chances are the 3 zebra fish you lost when you changed the tank from brackish to freshwater were killed by osmotic shock. Basically the fish absorb salt from the brackish water and when you dumped them into freshwater all the salts leached out of their bodies and they filled up with freshwater and drowned.
You would have been better off doing 10% daily water changes for a couple of weeks and that would have diluted the salt slowly enough for the fish and filter bacteria to adapt to the freshwater. Then once the salt levels were gone you could start doing bigger water changes.

Try to keep the ammonia levels below 5ppm and make sure the filters are run continuously. Monitor them daily and see how the level goes. It should not take more than about 2 weeks for the ammonia eating bacteria to develop in a tropical tank. A couple more weeks and the nitrite eating bacteria should be sufficiently developed as well.

Edited by Colin_T, 03 March 2008 - 05:13 AM.


#26 PermanentXHate

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:53 PM

will dooo! :good:




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