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New Member
Mar 12, 2018
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Washington state
I am new to fish keeping so bear with me. I was gifted 2 common plecostomus, 5 fruit tetra and a 20 gallon tank. I went to the store and got what I thought was everything to go with. Soon found out this tank is way too small so am in the process of getting a 180 gallon tank. YES, IM SURE. Before I set that up though I want to get this water situation stable. My ph is right around 7.0 so that is fine, but my ammonia test strips say danger/harmful levels. I have a good filter fit for 20-40 gallons in it. Products I have are as listed: auquasafe water conditioner(I have hard well water), safe start healthy filter bacteria(says on the bottle lowers ammonia), correct ph fizz tabs, and I use simple test strips for ph and ammonia levels. Yesterday when I tested and had high ammonia levels I did a 30% water change and added aquasafe, and safe start. Its still in the danger zone today. Does it take a while to work? Am I using ok products, or is there something better I should be using? Or maybe I am missing something completely. Any advice will be appreciated.
Taking some water samples to petco to have them do some testing and get advice. I'm very worried about my fish at this point.
, correct ph fizz tabs,
Stuff is rubbish and thats where it belongs., Do not mess with the PH unless somebody like Byron gives you instructions. Changing PH is a lot more complex than adding xxx amount of magic product to yyy gallons of water.

I use simple test strips for ph and ammonia levels. Yesterday when I tested and had high ammonia levels I did a 30% water change

All you did was lower the ammonia by 30%, Let me explain.

If your Ammonia level is 1 and you change 30% of the water the ammonia will drop down to .7, If you change 50% of the water your Ammonia drops to .5, but if you change 75% your Ammonia drops to .25.

This formula applies to Nitrite and Nitrate.

Thanks to Foo the Flowerhorn for this demonstration.

This is a simulation of how much "stuff" gets removed when you do a water change. It is an extreme simulation. Your aquarium probably doesn't have that much ammonia. Ammonia is invisible.
Thank you both. I will be tossing the ph tabs. Petco tested my water and said my ammonia levels are actually quite low but to go ahead and do another 25% water change. They said all my levels are ok. They explained to me that I am in fact a dummy who doesn't know how to read a test strip, haha my words not theirs. I thought I had to wait for it to stop changing color to check the strip but only supposed to wait 30 seconds. I guess it was never really as high as I thought it was.
What brand of strips are they?
I agree with NickAu about the pH, and not trying to adjust...missed that previously, sorry.

Advice from fish store employees is not always reliable or can be misleading, depending. But when they test your water, always insist they give you the number, and write it down. Ammonia levels "quite low" means nothing to us, nor does all levels being OK. Ammonia must always be zero so knowing exactly what it was here is critical to advising you. Same for other tests.

The link I posted to our article on cycling is still important.
Ammonia was .25 he said to do a 25% water change and keep checking it. My ph was 7.0. I'm not sure what the other tests were. They were not written down so I can't really remember. I'm doing a fishless cycle on my new tank right now, thank you for that article. They are still in the 20 gallon I have been talking about. My test strips are jungle brand. The chart on the side has no numbers, just colors labeled from ideal to danger.
His quite low comment was because I was kinda freaking out that my fish are going to die and my strip says danger. He was expecting it to be much higher.
Going to take some water in again in a day or so to be tested and I will write down the numbers. You guys seem to know a lot more info then I can get in store.
I did another 25% water change yesterday and doing another today to be safe and retest tomorrow. Also he recommended I test my well water so I may just bring in a sample of that too.
Just got this today, hopefully its a little more accurate.


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Hi Cassi, great job getting the test kit. Watch this video on how to use it.

You are most welcome.

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