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Ammonia through the roof

jtrggerj

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I am having trouble cycling my tank. I know I've made a lot of mistakes, I'm just trying to get it back on track.
Any help is sincerely appreciated. I have a 20 gallon tank, had 4 glo tetras, 1 betta, 3 dwarf frogs, and 2 snails. Everything was fine except ammonia. Got a liquid organic starter by Prime, and water stabilizer by prime. Used distilled water to set up initially. I had a wrap on my filter to keep the frogs from getting sucked up. I took that off, on the advice of the person at the pet store, trying to increase filtration. I now realize that had my organic bacteria in it. I also mistakenly rinsed the filter in tap water. So I think I killed all my bacteria. By betta's fins rotted off and he died. I've been doing 25% water changes daily for four days, added ammonia reducer, and been adding the prime stability organic started, still no change in ammonia, off the charts. I know it takes a while to cycle and now I have to effectively cycle again. My 4 tetras seem okay, as do my frogs. Yesterday one snail died, today the other did. I also have a bunch of ghost shrimp, cause I was of the mistaken impression that they reduce ammonia. I was thinking of sticking a sponge in the filter to try and help the bacteria grow. Should I reduce the number of fish or shrimp at this point. They are alive but I don't want anything else to die, particularly the frogs. I don't have a spare tank to pull anything out accept a small betta bowl with 1 betta. I don't know if the frogs could survive in there for a while or not. I was considering pulling everything out and replacing all the water with distilled and treated water except not rinsing the filter. Or, like I said, sticking a sponge in and leaving it alone. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 

fluttermoth

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I'm so sorry to hear of all the problems you've had :(

What's in your filter at the moment?

You don't want to be using distilled water for your tank; all animals and plants need some minerals in the water, distilled water is too pure.

The best course of action I can recommend right now is to increase the size of your water changes; as long as the new water is warmed and dechlorinated, you can change pretty much as much as you want; 75, 80 or even 90% changes are fine (do make sure you switch your filter/heater off, if you're doing very large water changes; you don't want them running dry!).

Do you have test kits of your own? Can you post the actual numbers from all the the most recent tests, please? It would help if we know exactly what sort of levels we're dealing with :)
 

Colin_T

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Do a 75% water change and complete gravel clean each day until the ammonia is 0 and has been 0 for a few days.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine / chloramine before it is added to the tank.

Stop adding things. The only stuff you want to add is a dechlorinator, and that should be added to new water in a separate bucket, mixed thoroughly for 30minutes or more, then that water can be added to the tank.

Stop feeding the tank. Only offer a bit of food every couple of days.

Bigger water changes will dilute ammonia much more effectively than small water changes.
Reducing the food will reduce the ammonia produced by the inhabitants.
 
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jtrggerj

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My filter is the stock one that came with the tank. I added a sponge to it to give the bacteria more room to grow. I did a huge water change and took out and rinsed the gravel with treated water and I'm back to 0 ammonia. I've been testing with API liquid testing. It was up between 4 and 8, dark green. I used treated tap water this time. As of the moment everything is testing good, I also use the api test strips to check everything else. I was able to keep the temperature stable for the fish, so crossing my fingers! I will test daily.
 

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