Ammonia levels will not go down

EAfish

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Hi there,

I am new to this forum and fish keeping in general and have run into a problem that i need advice on fixing.

About 2 weeks ago i purchased an Aquaduo 20 gallon tank that came with the tank, a filter, filter media, hydrocorn, and a heater. Initially i started cycling my freshwater tank 5 days before adding fish. i put the correct dosage of stress coat when putting water in the tank.

fast forward to the day i got my fish. I got 3 Cichlids, maybe not the best starter fish but is a hardy fish. Anyways a week after getting my tank a very good friend and very advanced fish keeper told me to get a water testing kit so i did. I have the API master testing kit, after the first test the ammonia level was at 0.50ppm which is not goos whatsoever. i immediately did a 75% water change and stopped feeding them for the next three days but did 50% water changes daily for the next three days. I tested ammonia levels everyday and it slowly went down to 0.25ppm. Now 4-26-17, my ammonia levels are still at 0.25ppm, i test daily and the ammonia level is still at 0.25ppm. I do not know what to do please help!!!!!
 
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EAfish

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Forgot to add that i added Ammo-Carb, and Ammo-Chips to my filter via a filter media bag, as well as added 10ml of stress zyme to help try encourage healthy bacteria growth.
 

Demeter32

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The tank isn't cycled and simply adding the stress zyme/coat and any other thing isn't going to insta-cycle the tank. You need to let the ammonia build up (preferably w/o fish in the tank) and then the bacteria that breaks down the ammonia needs to become established in order to constantly control the ammonia produced by the fish. The cycling process can last from 3 weeks to 2 months depending on the situation.

Ideally a cycle will occur with high ammonia, then high nitrites, then nitrates in order as the ammonia is broken down. Once there is no more ammonia and nitrites but nitrates are present then they cycle would be considered complete. I think you should do some reading on the Nitrogen Cycle.

Since you already have fish you will need to do a fish-in cycle, so keep up on the daily water changes and feed only a little bit. If you can get some established filter media from your friend then that will help speed things up.

What are the nitrites and nitrates in the tank?
What type of cichlid did you get? Only a few species come to mind that do well in a 20gal.
 

ThePlecoGuy

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The best thing to do in this situation is not to panic. I would recommend doing a 10-20% water change ever 2-3 days until the ammonia levels are lower. Doing to big of a water change at once can will kill a lot of bacteria on your filter sponge and it will force your tank to go through a new cycle bringing u back to square one. Your fish can survive some ammonia for a week or so. As ammonia can only be diluted. I would recommend the water changes. Don't forget to use your tap safe though.
 

Toney

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I would do at least 30% a day or more if you want your fish to live.
 

DutchMuch

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cycling my freshwater tank 5 days before adding fish. i put the correct dosage of stress coat when putting water in the tank.

Your tank is not cycled, your currently doing a painful fish in cycle. Which is like me throwing you in a burning fire. ouch.
3 Cichlids, maybe not the best starter fish but is a hardy fish.
What kinds, not all are hardy. Some are VERY delicate ex: gbr, angelfish, etc
 

DutchMuch

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I would recommend doing a 10-20% water change ever 2-3 days until the ammonia levels are lower. Doing to big of a water change at once can will kill a lot of bacteria on your filter sponge and it will force your tank to go through a new cycle bringing u back to square one.
I'd say step this up to fifty percent a day, it wont kill bacteria already in/on the filter.
 

betta fish

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Can your fish keeper friend let you have some of their mature media too?
 

ThePlecoGuy

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I'd say step this up to fifty percent a day, it wont kill bacteria already in/on the filter.

I honestly do thing anything more then 20% change per day is too much. Especially if the ammonia is as high as he says it is. If he's doing a 50% water change once a day that would mean he is changing his whole tank water every two days. That's more than enough to start a fresh cycle again. I'm not trying to cause arguments here but I'm my experience (and learning from other people's mistakes too) 10-20% water change is enough to deal with the ammonia, without effecting any other water parameters such as Nitrite.
 

Essjay

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It comes down to a choice between slowing the cycle by doing large water changes or harming the fish by doing small ones. I know which I would choose.

There is a guide to successfully doing a fish-in cycle written up here http://www.fishforums.net/threads/rescuing-a-fish-in-cycle-gone-wild-part-il.433778/
Coping with ammonia is the easy part, all you have to do it type your tank data into the calculator given in the link to see if the amount of NH3 is safe or not. Our test kits measure NH3 and NH4 combined which is why the calculator is needed to work out how much of the reading is NH3. You can then tailor water changes to keep the calculated NH3 level in the safe area.
Nitrite is a bit more tricky and involves adding salt to the tank, which prevents the fish's blood from taking up nitrite. The calculation is a bit more complicated but it will keep your fish safe.
 

Gruntle

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I honestly do thing anything more then 20% change per day is too much. Especially if the ammonia is as high as he says it is. If he's doing a 50% water change once a day that would mean he is changing his whole tank water every two days. That's more than enough to start a fresh cycle again. I'm not trying to cause arguments here but I'm my experience (and learning from other people's mistakes too) 10-20% water change is enough to deal with the ammonia, without effecting any other water parameters such as Nitrite.

I do not want to start an argument either, but there are very few bacteria in the water, they colonise hard surfaces (such as substrate, tank walls, ornaments, plants and the media in the filter - which is where the vast majority of the bacteria should be). Changing the water should not affect the bacteria and should help out the poor fish.
 

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