established aquarium problems?

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tom914

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hello all,
I have been having a problem with very high ammonia all the time in the 8ppm range. i have done 50% water changes every other day for 2 weeks and I cannot get the levels to get past about 6ppm. I don't have any dying plants or fish. fish are acting normal and plants are thriving. i have cut down on feeding to no avail. I tested my tap water and the ammonia is very low. here is some info about the tank:
I have a 2year old established 75 gal freshwater planted tank.i keep the temp around 80F and the PH at 7. I have 3 angels 2 rams and 4 botia loaches. sand bottom with drift wood and java ferns. I use an air stone and uv filter in addition to the hang on the back duel filters. I use only seachem products (Florish for the plants and root tabs). any help would be great-thanks
 

Byron

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My first thought is that something may be wrong with your test(s). This could be the test regent, amount you are using, or something. If ammonia really was 8 ppm, or even 6 ppm, the fish would be dead, if the pH is basic (7 or above). However, if the pH remains acidic (below 7) the ammonia changes to ammonium which is relatively harmless; most test kits including the API will show "ammonia" if it is either form. But still a concern as ammonia should always be zero regardless.

Do you have chloramine in your tap water in addition to or in place of chlorine?

Which conditioner are you using?

Are you dosing only the recommended amount of Flourish, or more?

What is the nitrate reading? And presumably no nitrite or you would have mentioned it.
 

Colin_T

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Hi and welcome to the forum :)

If your ammonia level is actually 8ppm, then it is too high for the filter bacteria to live in. Beneficial filter bacteria cannot function when the ammonia levels are above 4-5ppm. So if it is 8ppm, the filters won't be doing anything.

As mentioned by Byron, the kit could be faulty or expired. Check the date on the packaging and make sure test kits are kept in a cool dry place. Wash your hands with soapy water after using them. And keep them away from children and animals because they are poisonous.

The quickest way to reduce any chemicals in the water is with a massive water change. Try doing a 90% water change each day for a week and see if the ammonia level comes down.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

You can test the kit by getting some distilled water from a shop and do an ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & ph test on the distilled water. There should be no ammonia, nitrite or nitrate and the pH should be 7.0. If you have a GH and KH test kit you can check the distilled water with them too and they should both be 0.

Make sure the filters are working correctly and give them a clean if they haven't been done in the last 2 weeks. :)
 
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tom914

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I use seachem water conditioner and API tests. It is not a new kit it just does not make sense that the tap water reads ok and the tank water is crazy high in ammonia. The nitrates and nitrites read normal. Filter are working fine. I have noticed that after water changes when I turn the filters back on I see alot of little white worms. I have read they can appear when there is alot of uneaten food but are generally not harmful.
 

Colin_T

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If the tap water has no ammonia and the tank has high ammonia then the filters are not doing their job or there is a dead fish or something rotting (possibly uneaten fish pellets/ food) in the tank.

Small white worms are either planaria (have an arrow shaped head) or detritus worms (small thin white worm) that feed on rotting organic matter in the tank. If you see these, then there is a problem with the tank and you need to gravel clean the substrate and clean the filters.

How often do you clean the filters and how do you clean them?

Try to do bigger water changes and gravel clean the substrate. However, you don't have to pull the plants up, just gravel clean around them. Lift all the ornaments out and rinse them and check the tank for gunk, dead fish or dead/ rotting plant leaves.

Have you treated the tank with any medication during the last month?
Some medications (especially anti-biotics) will kill filter bacteria.
 
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tom914

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I have changed filters multiple times and cleaned the sand multiple times.
 

Colin_T

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What do you mean by changed filters?
Have you been replacing filter materials with new material?
 

Byron

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Tom, you will have to be more specific in your answers. We cannot offer advice without knowing all the factors.

In post #4 you mention nitrite and nitrate being "normal" but we've no idea what you consider "normal." I agree with Colin on the worms...this is not normal and shows a real organics issue.
 

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