Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

  1. click here!
    FishForums.net Vote Pet of the Month
    Dismiss Notice

BIG problem with Ammonia

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by Jan Cavalieri, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. seangee

    seangee Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,432
    Likes Received:
    169
    Location:
    Berks
    Jan, I don't have any prime at the moment so can't test this for you. But from memory Prime did cause a low ammonia reading when I used to use it. It doesn't actually contain ammonia so you should be fine.

    Now that you know everything is clean I would just keep to the weekly water changes and make sure I am not overfeeding. Use 0.5 as your "baseline" ammonia reading and only take action if your ammonia goes up from this. From recent posts in this thread the fish seem healthy and behaving normally.

    If you have seen the recent thread on the dwarf chain loach I had to re-home on the weekend I am following this exact advice from @Byron. In summary last night I had an unexplained 0.25 reading. My other tanks have 0 and so does my source water. So last night I fed my fish (only a little) and tested again this morning and the reading is still 0.25. So I am going to keep monitoring and do nothing else. With 6 fish in a 20G, and the fact that I fed them last night the ammonia would definitely have gone up if the filter was not dealing with it. I am in exactly the same boat as you as the tank itself is sterile as the tank and substrate are brand new and have no bacteria on the surfaces. So I am relying on the sponge filter that I moved from my community tank and the fact that I have a lot of floating plants. Because it was an emergency move I have no plants in the substrate yet apart from one tiny amazon sword.

    You don't want to strip down and scrub the whole tank regularly as a lot of beneficial bacteria will eventually form on the glass and substrate.
     
    #31 seangee, Aug 19, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  2. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fish Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2019
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    20
    Sounds like a hell of a lot of work after what I've been through but I think you're right - that's the only way to determine where the source of the ammonia is coming from. I think I'll take a couple days off to recover first - I feel like I was hit by a train after tearing that aquarium down - can't imagine doing a 100 gal tank.

    What's frustrating is that all the ornaments, wood and stone have been there from day one - but perhaps something had degraded so that now it's dangerous (such as the resin type ornaments - I mean, slate is slate and untreated wood is wood. So most likely would be one of the few resin ornaments or the plants.

    Thanks for the suggestion - will give it a try when I can walk again LOL.
     
  3. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Messages:
    15,691
    Likes Received:
    867
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    resin ornaments don't normally break down.
    wood can rot and leach ammonia into the water.
    most gravel doesn't normally cause ammonia but some plant substrates will.
     
  4. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fish Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2019
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    20
    Not sure what to test - they all have the same substrate - Seachem - it's kind of clay/gravel (feels like gravel to me) but is supposed to be softer on Cory's mouths.

    Tank C - where the highest counts have been has only 1 large resin ornaments - no wood, no rock.

    Tank A, which has been the most irregular in ammonia values has 40lbs of slate and a couple of resin ornaments, and a fair amount of wood.

    Tank B - which has been most stable - has no rock but all wood, several resin ornaments.

    They all three have virtually the exact same plants as far as I tell - I divide new plants between the three tanks with the exception of two plants - one of which is the one with the small leaves and little pink flowers (it grows like a weed and covers part of the top of the tank and the other are some spears (In tank A and B) These plants are not in tank C (the highest ammonia) due to their height, but there are some in both tank B (lowest ammonia) and a lot in tank A (the most irregular ammonia.)

    Rock (slate) is unique to tank A but again, none in tank C (the highest ammonia), but there also isn't any in tank B (which has the lowest ammonia).

    So looking at this - my slate rock is the only item unique and it is in Tank A. But it's Tank C that has the highest ammonia. Tank A has the most irregular readings but other than trapping a lot of debris (which we have now removed when we cleaned tank A completely) I can't imagine Slate causing irregular ammonia readings.

    All three tanks have a large amount of plants given the size of each Tank. Tank A has the highest volume of plantings since it is the oldest tank
     
  5. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Messages:
    15,691
    Likes Received:
    867
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    test everything.
     
  6. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fish Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2019
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    20
    Well, change in plans - for 2 days in a row Tank A has suddenly shown zero ammonia. This is the tank we tore down and cleaned everything and it still had ammonia. Well suddenly (or after 2 days use of AmGuard) Tank A is down to zero ammonia.

    Bad news is that both Tank B and C are now showing ammonia levels of 2.0 and 4.0. - this is with Prime and AmGuard being added daily. No fish deaths as far as I can tell - can't locate one of my two pleco's in Tank B but this one is particularly shy and I rarely see her anyway so I'm not worried yet.

    I think I'm going to do a big water change in tank B and C - both tanks look very clean with no excess food laying around or anything. Other than having some super big poopers I can't find any reason for the huge increase in ammonia. I'd really rather not tear down the tanks like I did with Tank A but it may be my only solution.

    Tank A has wood, rock, plants and a couple of resin ornaments and one plastic ornament. As I added more items to Tank A I moved wood and plants and some resin ornaments (no rock) to tanks B and C - so they have all the same items so I think a major water change will be my first step - then if that doesn't work, I'll tear down each tank like I did with Tank A and see if that gets rid of the ammonia issue. - when I did this with Tank A it took me and a friend over 6 hours to remove everything and clean it all then set up. It took a few days later before the Ammonia dropped significantly. So I really would rather not have to go through that again,
     
  7. Naughts

    Naughts Fish Crazy

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2019
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    UK
  8. Mongo75

    Mongo75 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2019
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    9
    Skip ahead over several unread posts...

    You mention cloudy water several times. If this is a milky looking cloudiness, that's a good sign usually. It's a bacteria bloom, meaning the bacteria are exploding in growth which is good.

    As for all the ammonia additives, I would go easy on those. If you go overboard, you will starve your bacteria, and ultimately, get nowhere fast.

    I realize having a disability can make things more difficult, but you really need to do up to 75% water changes daily, as long as you're seeing ammonia. Once your ammonia drops below 1ppm, I would recommend 50% water changes as a minimum, but 75% would be better.

    Since you're using Prime, I would stop using all the other ammonia blocking, locking additives completely. Prime will not only make your water chlorine safe, but it will also lock the ammonia and nitrates into a safe form for 24 to 48 hours which will give you more time to do a water change. Also, you need to dose the Prime to the capacity of your tanks, not the amount of water your changing.

    I'm not an expert. Just my $.02 :confused:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Messages:
    15,691
    Likes Received:
    867
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    Just test the gravel, wood, ornaments and rocks in separate buckets of water. It will be the easiest thing to do and should confirm one way or another if they are causing the ammonia. If they aren't, then we look at stripping down tanks.
     
  10. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fish Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2019
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    20
    Well I discovered the problem. It's not good. The source of the ammonia is the tap water. I tore down tank C since it's the smallest (after adding rock and wood for a couple of days. The first thing I did was test the plain tap water - and it came back with Ammonia levels of 1.0 ppm. I have tested the tap water multiple times over the last few months - this is the FIRST time I've had a positive test reading. So I'm fighting a losing battle every time I do a water change. I tested water w/substrate- 1.0. I tested water with Prime added and it dropped to .50 ppm. It stayed at this level as I added wood, stone, and plants. I finally got it down to .25 ppm by adding AmGuard. Probably too much - but really what am I supposed to do? AmGuard is NOT supposed to destroy any bacteria, change PH or do anything but remove the ammonia. Since I had added plenty of AmGuard for such a small tank, I left it at that. I also adjusted the Ph before returning the fish (we have very high PH levels in Topeka and now it looks like very high ammonia levels).

    I checked Topeka's water report for 2019 and they don't even test for Ammonia - I just know a couple of months ago when I tested the water there was NO ammonia - now there is a considerable amount.

    I sent an email to the person responsible for doing the report annually to see if they have any unpublished results on Ammonia and if they've noted the Ammonia increase and, if so, what do they believe the source is? Waiting for a response.

    So NOW WHAT DO I DO? This would affect every aquarium in Topeka but nobody has mentioned it to me - so perhaps it's just a local (to my part of town) problem. So many of you say not to overdose with chemicals yet I've got to get the ammonia down quickly somehow - and no, I'm not interested in using the tannin from driftwood, or some strange leaves - plus I don't have days to get the ammonia down - and AmGuard is the only thing that will work - again, it's not supposed to harm your biological filters or change your Ph as some similar products do.

    After all my testing - I ran a full test on the water: Ammonia-.25 ppm, Nitrites- 0 ppm, Nitrates - 0 ppm, PH 7.0. Topeka does actually test for Nitrates and found a very minimal amount in our tap water - it does not show up on my tests.

    Now my fish have arrived so I'll test again and try to decide which tank is the safest to put them in. I have to also think about fish size and how many "bullies" I have in each tank since they don't need the stress. Interestingly, I paid the company for 2-3 day shipping for $18 rather than "overnight" shipping (which always took 2-3 days) for $48. The arrived today - 2 days after shipping. You lose your fish guarantee for the cheaper shipping but none of these fish are particularly expensive and all they'll do is give you a store credit and I don't need more fish. or have to pay more to ship them than I would get with a store credit.
     
  11. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Messages:
    15,691
    Likes Received:
    867
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    If you have ammonia in the tap water, someone might have screwed up at the water dosing stations and put too much ammonia in when they were making chloramine. Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia and some people are halfwits that screw up the dose rates and put too much ammonia in.

    You can remove ammonia from water with Ammogon or Zeolite, both of which can be recharged by soaking in salt water for a couple of days, and then re-used.

    If you set up a large plastic container and fill it with tap water, dechlorinate it, then put an air operated filter or power filter full of Ammogon/ Zeolite in the container and let it run for a few days, the ammonia will be removed and you can use it.

    You can put floating plants into a plastic container full of tap water and dechlorinator, and the plants will use the ammonia. When there is no ammonia left in the water, you can use it in the tank.
     
  12. seangee

    seangee Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,432
    Likes Received:
    169
    Location:
    Berks
    I guess this is the one time I would recommend smaller water changes. If its 1ppm and you do a 25% change you are making your tank up to 0.25ppm. The filter should deal with that fairly quickly so won't cause a problem. You do have to be careful about overfeeding though because smaller changes won't clear the nitrates as fast.

    Don't know about where you are but in the EU the maximum permissible nitrate level for drinking (tap) water is 50ppm. Go on have a guess at what comes out of my tap :mad:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fish Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2019
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    20
    I'm in Topeka Kansas - I don't think our water is that different than in EU LOL. I spent most of my life here with RED water. Certain parts of the city had old iron pipes and you'd pour a glass of water and it would be brownish red - "nothing to worry about" the city said. Wish they had taken a look at my white clothes in the washing machine that were now dyed reddish brown. (If you washed them again quickly it would rinse out the red/brown but if you waited you were doomed.) To this day I primarily wear black even though they finally got all the iron pipes removed. Funny thing - there was no big out-cry like there would be today - we just dealt with it. Can't imagine what aquariums looked like. I guess with all that iron in our systems none of us were anemic.

    But that's the reason I don't expect the water department to come clean (that's a joke) with what they do and don't monitor and what they do and don't allow. I finally started using a Brita filter on my drinking water - can't taste any difference but it sure looks cleaner - if I could produce as many gallons as I need from my Brita I'd be using it for my fish tank. I've been looking into Reverse Osmosis systems but besides being too complicated I'm currently renting and not sure how my landlord would feel about it.

    Smaller water changes are fine with me but - assuming I've currently got my ammonia down to 0ppm, ANY water change will add more ammonia back into the tank. But while Tank A has 0 ppm Ammonia thanks to AmmoGuard, it now has high levels of nitrites - so it appears the ammonia is cycling through - luckily Prime "deactivates" ammonia and nitrites but I still see them on my tests which drives me nuts. But thankfully few fish have died since I've had this problem and it may or may not be due to ammonia. or nitrites.
     
  14. Byron

    Byron Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    9,697
    Likes Received:
    1,228
    Location:
    CA
    This is now the situation where a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia is beneficial. Prime does this, as does Ultimate. Do the 50% water change using one of these. They instantly detoxify the ammonia in the source water by changing it into ammonium which is basically harmless. Seachem says Prime's effectiveness is 24-36 hours; I don't know if Ultimate is similar. But by that time, the ammonia now ammonium will easily be taken up by plants and bacteria. Plants are the fastest at this, especially floating plants.

    And just so you know, if you test the water for "ammonia" and ammonium is present, it will show as ammonia, so there is no cause for alarm over that.
     
  15. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fish Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2019
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    20
    Yes I did use Prime for quite a while (before I got AmGuard) and was aware that it would still show up as ammonia on the tests. NONE of the Plants, filter bacteria or anything was picking up the Ammonia - it just stayed at the same rate as always. I keep a log on each tank and everything I do so I was administering prime as often or more as needed. Once I started using ArmGuard I suddenly had a huge drop in ammonia as well as a huge jump in Nitrites - just as if the tank was cycling. Luckily Prime takes care of Nitrites as well as ammonia so I'll just keep adding prime.

    This is getting old - I had lovely tanks, good numbers and a schedule of cleaning I could manage - if this was something the City did I am really angry. I don't have time to do 3 water changes a day and it takes me about 6 hours to get it done so I've been staying up until 4 am or so to get it all done as well as make it to all my dr's appts, tests, infusions etc. the next day and keep up my house.w It's not unusual for me to have 4 doctors appointments a week all starting at 1 or 2 pm.
     

Share This Page