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High ammonia help!!

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish Emergencies' started by Jennifer Deleon, Jul 14, 2019 at 4:48 AM.

  1. Jennifer Deleon

    Jennifer Deleon New Member

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    Hi guys! I am new to the fish keeping. I recently started. I have a 20 gallon tank long. I have a whisper 40i filter and a preset tank heater 100wt. I have 3 Cory's, 1 beta, 3 balloon rams, 2 mollies, 8 cardinal tetras, 6 platies. I have tested the water I have gotten everything good but the ammonia. I tested it earlier (I got a master test kit) which is how i found out my ammonia was pretty high And got 1ppm which is super high. I then 20190714_021209.jpg 20190714_020409.jpg 20190714_020424.jpg 20190714_020621.jpg 20190714_020317.jpg added an ammonia blocker. Came back nothing and I noticed one dead tetra. I did a 50 percent water change added the water conditioner and some more ammonia blocker. Now my platies are showing red gills, and one of my rams to. My beta is hiding under a log. And now my platies on top of red gills are having clamp fins.
    *also, this is maybe a week and a couple days that I have had this new tank. I got 2 fish 2 days after I set it up due to the pet store saying to wait a couple days and test the water to make sure it's good. It was "good" after 2 days and got the 2 mollies. Then 2 days later I got more fish. And two days later I got more fish. Ending up with the amount mentioned earlier.
    Am I experiencing new tank syndrome?
    How can I help them survive?!
    . Any advice and help will be appreciated!!
     
  2. essjay

    essjay Moderator
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    The first thing is to test for ammonia and nitrite at least once a day, and do a big water change whenever you see either of them above zero.

    Fish excrete ammonia, and uneaten food, fish poo etc break down to make ammonia. In a mature tank there are bacteria which use ammonia as food, but there are none in a brand new tank; you have to wait for them to grow, and they are slow growing bacteria. Once the ammonia eaters start to grow they turn ammonia into nitrite. There is another set of bacteria that uses nitrite as food, and they turn it into nitrate. Again, there are no nitrite eaters in a new tank and they can't start to grow until the ammonia eaters have started making nitrite. The process of growing the bacteria is called cycling.
    The only way to keep the fish safe is by doing water changes to dilute ammonia and nitrite until enough bacteria have grown. The levels could get quite high without water changes because you have so many fish.


    There are several things you can do to help.

    Cut down feeding the fish to once every other day. The less food, the less ammonia
    Use a 'bottled bacteria'. If you are in the USA, look for Dr Tim's One & Only; the other good one available almost everywhere is Tetra Safe Start. Neither of these will cycle the tank instantly but they should speed it up.
    Get some live plants. Plants use ammonia as fertiliser and they don't turn it into nitrite. Floating plants are particularly good for this, especially water sprite.





    Longer term, you need to look at the fish you have. There are both hard water fish and soft water fish in the tank at the moment, and depending how hard your water is, one or other group will not be happy. Look on your water provider's website for your hardness. You need a number and the unit rather that some vague words. The nit is important as there are about half a dozen different ones they could use.
    Bettas are not community fish; he will be very stressed by having other fish in 'his' territory.
    Three rams is not a good number, unless they happen to be all females, but even then is it not advisable. If you have two males, they will fight. If you have one male & two females, a pair could form which would then kill the 'spare' female.

    But get the ammonia and nitrite under control and find out your water hardness, then we can talk fish types.
     
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  3. FishFinatic77

    FishFinatic77 Fish Fanatic

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    Your problem is that you did not cycle your tank.
    When fish produce waste, that turns into ammonia. You need to grow beneficial bacteria to eat the ammonia and turn it into nitrites. Then you need to grow other beneficial bacteria to eat the nitrites and turn it into nitrates.
    Running your tank for a few days does absolutely nothing because there is no ammonia in the water to start the process.

    Test your water every day and do frequent water changes. Do not clean the gravel or exchange the filter cartridge because you will lose any bacteria you have grown.
    Once you see nitrites in the water you will be half way through. Keep monitoring the water and make sure the nitrite and ammonia doesn't get too high. They should always be under 1ppm.
    Wait about two weeks and then start testing for nitrates. Once the nitrates appear you have to continue doing water changes until the ammonia and nitrites are at a constant zero. Then you're done!

    Good luck!
     
  4. seangee

    seangee Member

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    What is your water hardness (we need to know the number and units). @essjay is right about your stocking. As an example water that is good for Corys will kill Mollies, and water that is good for Mollies will cause the Corys to have a very short life. That is just one example - there are other issues.

    Unfortunately the pet store gave you some really bad advice!
     
  5. Jennifer Deleon

    Jennifer Deleon New Member

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    According to the test strips I have very hard water hardness. They said it's ok because its California water. Yeah see, I didn't know nor did they tell me about the hardness of the water of fish. I gave them all the info about my tank and my goals and those are the fish they told me were good as community fish. So just to recap. DO NOT clean the gravel? I was told to do it because that's where the decomposing food and poop is at. And therefore need to do it. So that's what I have been doing. But I'll try the suggestion of just the water. I also added a "log" (plastic half pipe with multiple java fern on it) and a tall java fern. I heard its good to help with the process of cycling and cleaning the bad chemicals in the water. I also got a plant that looks like seaweed and it came in chunks in a tiny sauce looking cup. And I add the water conditioner and ammonia blocker appropriate for the tank size. I also will start the only one feeding every other day to lessen the bio load
    So now what do I do that I have different type of needs fish! I can't return them.
     
  6. essjay

    essjay Moderator
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    Fish shops are the worst places for giving advice. Yes there are some good workers but most of them don't know or don't care and will make up any rubbish to get a sale. It is always better to research any fish for yourself before buying, and Seriously Fish http://www.seriouslyfish.com/knowledge-base/ is the best website for accurate information. It's a lesson we've all had to learn.


    Yes, do clean the gravel to remove all that stuff which is adding to the ammonia level. You do this at the same time as a water change by pushing the water change siphon into the gravel, watching all the mess go up the tube, then when there's no more move on to another section.

    Java fern is better than nothing but it is a slow growing plant so it won't take up much ammonia. Floating plants are best because they are fast growing and have their other two requirements (carbon dioxide and light) in plentiful supply being at the top of the tank in contact with air. I know that some states won't allow water sprite, but I don't know if California is one of them. If it's allowed, water sprite is one of the best floaters.


    With very hard water, the fish at risk are the rams, cardinal tetras, cories and the betta. The mollies and platies will love your water. I don't suppose you could find room for a second tank? If this is possible, you can mix your hard tap water with a source of pure water (eg rainwater, reverse osmosis water) to reduce the hardness and move the soft water fish into that.
     
  7. FishFinatic77

    FishFinatic77 Fish Fanatic

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    I meant that you should not clean the gravel while you are cycling your tank. You can hold the syphon right above the gravel to pick up any waste at the top, but, like I said in my previous post, if you actually clean the gravel you will lose some bacteria. That is no big deal to an established tank, but while you are cycling you need to preserve any bacteria you have.
    After the cycle is finished you absolutely have to clean the gravel. For right now though, I would try to preserve the bacteria.
     

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