Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate problems

Diorite

New Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
UK
Hello, I've had my tank about 2 months, 100 litre. Slowly built up to 4 mollies, 8 neon tetras 2 honey gourami, 1 bristlenose plec, 6 harlequins. All went well till about 2 weeks ago when suddenly two of my mollies died and I found the ammonia was very high. Did a 65% water change, added prime and stabiliser and have done every day since, plus more big water changes every 5-7 days but I can't stabilise the tank. My honey gouramis are now looking ill. My ammonia levels are much better, but nitrite and Nitrate still high. I've used Tetra Nitrate Minus two days ago when I did another 50% water change. I think this was all caused by me inadvertently rinsing the filter in tap water after a water change just over two weeks ago. I don't know how to stabilise it and more fish getting sick is just upsetting for my son. The rest of the fish seem okay apart from gourami. Attached is the current readings on the test kit. Any help appreciated.
 

Attachments

  • 20211207_164147.jpg
    20211207_164147.jpg
    269.3 KB · Views: 22

Rocky998

Gudgeon Man/Fry Lord
Joined
Jun 25, 2021
Messages
8,631
Reaction score
4,809
Location
NC, U.S.A
Hello, I've had my tank about 2 months, 100 litre. Slowly built up to 4 mollies, 8 neon tetras 2 honey gourami, 1 bristlenose plec, 6 harlequins. All went well till about 2 weeks ago when suddenly two of my mollies died and I found the ammonia was very high. Did a 65% water change, added prime and stabiliser and have done every day since, plus more big water changes every 5-7 days but I can't stabilise the tank. My honey gouramis are now looking ill. My ammonia levels are much better, but nitrite and Nitrate still high. I've used Tetra Nitrate Minus two days ago when I did another 50% water change. I think this was all caused by me inadvertently rinsing the filter in tap water after a water change just over two weeks ago. I don't know how to stabilise it and more fish getting sick is just upsetting for my son. The rest of the fish seem okay apart from gourami. Attached is the current readings on the test kit. Any help appreciated.
You most likely did not cycle the tank and your tank has something called "new tank syndrome". This is deadly and what you need to do every day is 75% water changes until the ammonia starts to get " eaten" by the nitrites and the nitrites produce nitrates and then the nitrates can "eat" the nitrites. Those nitrites I see in the photo WILL kill your fish if left there. There may be other members who know more so I will leave it at that.
 

Colin_T

Fish Guru
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
34,969
Reaction score
18,538
Location
Perth, WA
Hi and welcome to the forum :)

Reduce feeding to 2-3 times a week until the filter settles down and you have a steady 0ppm for ammonia and nitrite. Then you can feed once a day for a few weeks and then increase it after that if you want to.

Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding. And do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

Don't bother testing for nitrates until the nitrite is 0ppm. Nitrate test kits read nitrite as nitrate and give you a false reading.

If you post some pictures of the fish, it might offer more information on any diseases they might have.
 
OP
OP
D

Diorite

New Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
UK
Thanks, I did everything it said to do in terms of cycling tank and readings were all okay until 2 weeks ago. So I should be doing 75% change every day? When you say gravel clean, do you just mean moving the syphon tube round like a vacuum cleaner?
 

Byron

Supporting Member
Tank of the Month!
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
18,003
Reaction score
9,526
Location
CA
This may or may not be a cycling issue, but I would have expected that after two months, and assuming you did introduce fish gradually, it is not the initial "cycle." I concur with Colin's advice.

Ammonia and nitrite are the two nitrogen fixes that are critical, and these must be zero, so the water changes, etc. should achieve this. Mollies are highly, highly sensitive to any form of nitrogen, so their demise with ammonia and nitrite levels as they seem to be here is not unexpected.

Rinsing the filter under the tap once the tank is well established will not be a problem. But two months is not sufficient time for the system to establish, so that may have been involved.

Do not mess with nitrates (the Tetra nitrate minus should not be used, additives add more stress which will only make things worse here, and nitrate is not the primary concern.

A word on the tests after using Prime. Prime somehow binds ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, making them non-toxic, but the substances are still present (if they show up in tests). The binding action lasts roughly 36 hours, after which the substances, if still present, will again become toxic. Use Prime at the daily water changes until this is resolved.

Stabilizer...is this Seachem's Stability? This is OK to use to quick-start the nitrifying bacteria. Once things are resolved, it is not needed.
 

Colin_T

Fish Guru
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
34,969
Reaction score
18,538
Location
Perth, WA
Thanks, I did everything it said to do in terms of cycling tank and readings were all okay until 2 weeks ago. So I should be doing 75% change every day?
Do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm.

When you say gravel clean, do you just mean moving the syphon tube round like a vacuum cleaner?
Yes. It's to suck up any uneaten food and fish poop that can cause ammonia.
 
OP
OP
D

Diorite

New Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
UK
Thank you all so much. I'm just back from doing a 75% water change. I imagine I'm too late to save my honey gourami? I'm going to do daily readings and changes where needed. I will probably be back with more questions as the days go on!
 
OP
OP
D

Diorite

New Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
UK
@Byron Yes I meant Seachem stability - should I use it until nitrites are consistently 0?
 

Byron

Supporting Member
Tank of the Month!
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
18,003
Reaction score
9,526
Location
CA
@Byron Yes I meant Seachem stability - should I use it until nitrites are consistently 0?

Use it according to directions until the bottle is gone (it does not keep once opened). I have differing opinions on the effectiveness of most of these so-called bacterial supplements, but they have been shown to speed up the establishment of the nitrifying bacteria a bit, by a few days maybe.
 
OP
OP
D

Diorite

New Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
UK
Today's colours. Just done another 75% change. I would appreciate some reassurance - will this definitely get better eventually?
 

Attachments

  • 20211208_151110.jpg
    20211208_151110.jpg
    202.5 KB · Views: 15

Essjay

Moderator
Staff member
Global Moderator
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Messages
17,581
Reaction score
13,394
Location
Teesside, UK
It will get better :) It just needs patience until then. If you did accidentally kill the bacteria, they need to regrow. Until then you will need to do water changes to keep the fish safe.
 
OP
OP
D

Diorite

New Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
UK
Thank you! It's so demoralising, y'know? And I feel so bad for the fish we haven't saved.
 
OP
OP
D

Diorite

New Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
UK
Hello kind people, I've attached this afternoon's readings. I fed them a small amount this morning then I did a 75% water change this aft after those readings. I have a few questions if you don't mind:
1) am I still doing the right thing/is this how you would expect the readings to look at this point?
2) can anyone offer an estimate on how long I'll be doing almost daily changes for?
3) long shot but is there any chance bogwood is causing these problems? I bought bogwood from pets at home, boiled it and added it. All this started a few days later. I haven't taken it out because I haven't read anything to suggest it could cause a problem and because the pleco lives under it. But i obviously will if it will help.

Thank you again
 

Attachments

  • 20211208_151110.jpg
    20211208_151110.jpg
    202.5 KB · Views: 11

TwoTankAmin

Fish Aficionado
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
4,796
Reaction score
432
Location
USA- NY
There are two good articles on this site that deal with fish in cycles gone wild. I would suggest you read them. I am biased as I know the author. ;)

https://www.fishforums.net/threads/rescuing-a-fish-in-cycle-gone-wild-part-i.433769/
https://www.fishforums.net/threads/rescuing-a-fish-in-cycle-gone-wild-part-il.433778/

I will give you my opinion here and it may not jibe with some of what has been suggested. Basically the goal is to get the tank cycled as fast as possible while protecting the fish.

1. It looks as if you now have 0 ammonia and that means you should not need to deal with it from the point of protecting fish frmm it doing harm. However, ammonia is what causes nitrite. So the fact that the ammonia is being handled but the nitrite is still not means this is what you should deal with rather than ammonia. However, you want to minimize excess ammonia. Also, not any total ammonia reading is cause for a big water change. (This is explained in the Part II article on dealing with fish in cyylies gone wild.)

2. In general water changes slow cycling. Therefore they should only be done when really needed. Using prime to protect the fish also means the cycle will be slowed. As noted, this chemical reaction will be gone in 24 hours. The below is from the SeaChem site. (The italics are added by me to emphasize the info.)
I am using PrimeĀ® to control ammonia but my test kit says it is not doing anything, in fact it looks like it added ammonia! What is going on?

A: A Nessler based kit will not read ammonia properly if you are using PrimeĀ®... it will look "off scale", sort of a muddy brown (incidentally a Nessler kit will not work with any other products similar to PrimeĀ®). A salicylate based kit can be used, but with caution. Under the conditions of a salicylate kit the ammonia-PrimeĀ® complex will be broken down eventually giving a false reading of ammonia (same as with other products like PrimeĀ®), so the key with a salicylate kit is to take the reading right away. However, the best solution ;-) is to use our MultiTestā„¢ Ammonia kit; it uses a gas exchange sensor system which is not affected by the presence of PrimeĀ® or other similar products. It also has the added advantage that it can detect the more dangerous free ammonia and distinguish it from total ammonia (total ammonia is both free ammonia and non-toxic ionized forms of ammonia).
I tested my tap water after using PrimeĀ® and came up with an ammonia reading. Is this because of chloramine? Could you explain how this works in removing chloramine?

A: PrimeĀ® works by removing chlorine from the water and then binds with ammonia until it can be consumed by your biological filtration (chloramine minus chlorine = ammonia). The bond is not reversible and ammonia is still available for your bacteria to consume. PrimeĀ® will not halt your cycling process.

I am going to assume that you were using a liquid based reagent test kit (Nessler based, silica). Any type of reducing agent or ammonia binder (dechlorinators, etc) will give you a false positive. You can avoid this by using our MultiTestā„¢ Ammonia kit (not affected by reducing agents) or you can wait to test, PrimeĀ® dissipates from your system within 24 hours.
from the FAQ section here https://www.seachem.com/prime.php

The above is partly correct. The bacteria can still use the ammonia but they cannot do so with the same efficiency as when the ammonia is in toxic form. So it does not stop the cycle, but it does slow it. What it can do is to make test results inaccurate.

3. The best way to deal with nitrite when fish are present is by adding chloride and this is done by adding small amounts of salt. (See the Rescuing article Part II)

4. Stability does not contain the bacteria you actually need. I would not use it. The nitrifycing bacteria do not form spores and Stability is a bottle of spores. If you want the proper bacteria use either Dr. Tim's One and Only or Tetra Safe Start. (They are essentially the same product in terms the of the nirtifyers they contain.)

5. Unless they are fairly young, most fish can go days without food and be OK. Reduce feeding to every other day or every 3rd day until the problem is fixed. Light feeding means less waste in terms of fish poop and uneaten food.

6. Do not over vacuum the substrate, surface cleaning is fine but the bacteria live in the top inch of substrate in an unplanted bottom. The bacteria or photosensitive so they will be just below the surface. They can also be on the undersides of decor and even on plants where they are shaded.

7. Stress weakens fish and their ability to mount immune defenses, This opens them to attack from infections, parasites etc. Water changes tend to stress fish. The newer they are to the tank, the more true this is, So this also argues for minimizing water changes that may not yet be needed.

I still believe your best bet is to read the two Rescue articles
 
OP
OP
D

Diorite

New Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Location
UK
There are two good articles on this site that deal with fish in cycles gone wild. I would suggest you read them. I am biased as I know the author. ;)

https://www.fishforums.net/threads/rescuing-a-fish-in-cycle-gone-wild-part-i.433769/
https://www.fishforums.net/threads/rescuing-a-fish-in-cycle-gone-wild-part-il.433778/

I will give you my opinion here and it may not jibe with some of what has been suggested. Basically the goal is to get the tank cycled as fast as possible while protecting the fish.

1. It looks as if you now have 0 ammonia and that means you should not need to deal with it from the point of protecting fish frmm it doing harm. However, ammonia is what causes nitrite. So the fact that the ammonia is being handled but the nitrite is still not means this is what you should deal with rather than ammonia. However, you want to minimize excess ammonia. Also, not any total ammonia reading is cause for a big water change. (This is explained in the Part II article on dealing with fish in cyylies gone wild.)

2. In general water changes slow cycling. Therefore they should only be done when really needed. Using prime to protect the fish also means the cycle will be slowed. As noted, this chemical reaction will be gone in 24 hours. The below is from the SeaChem site. (The italics are added by me to emphasize the info.)


from the FAQ section here https://www.seachem.com/prime.php

The above is partly correct. The bacteria can still use the ammonia but they cannot do so with the same efficiency as when the ammonia is in toxic form. So it does not stop the cycle, but it does slow it. What it can do is to make test results inaccurate.

3. The best way to deal with nitrite when fish are present is by adding chloride and this is done by adding small amounts of salt. (See the Rescuing article Part II)

4. Stability does not contain the bacteria you actually need. I would not use it. The nitrifycing bacteria do not form spores and Stability is a bottle of spores. If you want the proper bacteria use either Dr. Tim's One and Only or Tetra Safe Start. (They are essentially the same product in terms the of the nirtifyers they contain.)

5. Unless they are fairly young, most fish can go days without food and be OK. Reduce feeding to every other day or every 3rd day until the problem is fixed. Light feeding means less waste in terms of fish poop and uneaten food.

6. Do not over vacuum the substrate, surface cleaning is fine but the bacteria live in the top inch of substrate in an unplanted bottom. The bacteria or photosensitive so they will be just below the surface. They can also be on the undersides of decor and even on plants where they are shaded.

7. Stress weakens fish and their ability to mount immune defenses, This opens them to attack from infections, parasites etc. Water changes tend to stress fish. The newer they are to the tank, the more true this is, So this also argues for minimizing water changes that may not yet be needed.

I still believe your best bet is to read the two Rescue articles
Thank you so much for this
 

Most reactions

Top