High ammonia - what else to do?

gabrielgalhano

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Hi everyone!

After all the trouble I've been trough with my tank, when I finally thought it was all going to be okay for a while, this happened in my 120L tank and I've run out of ideas of what I can do to solve it. I had a read of 5 ppm (probably more) of ammonia so I instantly searched in the forum about what I could do about it.

I did a 75% water change for 3 days in a row and kept doing about 30-40% water changes every other day. I manage to decrease the reading to 0,25 ppm, but it then stagnated there. And today it raised again to 0,5ppm. I don't know what else I can do to bring the read to 0 ppm.

I already tested the water I use for the changes and it's 0ppm on ammonia before I add it to the tank, so the problem isn't there.
In this tank I have 5 guppies, 5 swordtails, 8 corys and 1 pleco and I normaly do a 25-30% water change once a week, am I having and overstoking problem anyways?
I also have 6 natural plants, 2 pieces of wood, 2 plastic plants, a decorative ship and some rocks (I'll leave some pictures down below). I read that some decoration could also be the source of ammonia, specially the wood, but I bought it from a fish store and I also have another piece in other tank and it doesn't have this ammonia problem. Could it be from another piece of decoration?

Also, today when I was doing the water change I noticed that some green algae was starting to grow in some of the rocks (as you can see in one of the pictures). Can it be related? What should I do?

Todays reading before I did the water change were:
Ammonia - 0,5 ppm
NitrIte - 0,05 ppm
NitrAte - 2 ppm

I really need some help to try to solve this. I didn't have any deaths so far, but some of my fish already have really pink gills and I'm afraid some will actually die. What else can I do to solve this? I'm kind of desperate and I really don't know what I'm missing here...

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Bruce Leyland-Jones

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I don't believe your tank is overstocked.
The ammonia comes from the fish.
I'm guessing you didn't cycle your tank before adding the fish, so there is not enough beneficial bacteria grown, to use up the ammonia and nitrites in the tank.

To reduce pain/stress in the fish;
  • Keep going with the water changes.

To increase growth of beneficial bacteria;
  • When you change the water, be sure to use a water conditioner every time.
  • Add some bottled bacteria. I use Microbe-Lift products, but others are available. I don't know what you have in Spain.
To reduce ammonia in the water;
  • Water changes.
  • Put more live plants in.
  • Make sure that some of those live plants are floating plants.
 

Slaphppy7

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What kind of test kit are you using?
How long has the tank been set up?
What kind of water conditioner are you using?
Have you tested your source water for ammonia?
 

Ch4rlie

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First question would be is to ask did you cycle this tank before adding any livestock?

 

Chrenobeno

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Also what is the ph of your water? Ammonia in test kits usually read total ammonia which is ammonia and ammonium. The lower ph the lower the amount of actual ammmonia (harmful stuff), giving misleading results. The best way Is to check total
ammonia and ph on a chart as you might be worrying about nothing. That being said go on your instincts with fish signs: distress, hill colour, gulping etc. and follow good advice as above if tank wasn’t cycled properly.
 

Jan Cavalieri

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You do have a lot of decorative items in the tank - I'm sure it looks really pretty (my fish like to pull it all out of the water). Before your next water change, remove all the decorative items (leave the ones that are growing if there aren't too many) Look closely at the sand or gravel for a dead fish or fishes - they will cause huge ammonia rises until they are removed. I would guess it would be a small fish like one of the guppies (always keep an inventory of your fish just so you know what's in there, especially if you have multiple tanks. It kind of makes sense based on what you describe - you do a large water change and the amount of ammonia goes way down, the next time you do a water change ammonia is present just not as much. If you wait a few days and do another water change, your high ammonia might be back again. If it's a dead fish you'll have changing levels of ammonia after every water change, but until the fish is removed, the ammonia change will come back.

I don't think you are over stocked but I wouldn't add any more fish. Add a bottle of bacteria like somebody already suggested, but while that may lower the ammonia it won't eliminate the dead fish. but they might keep the ammonia under control - of course eventually the dead fish will decay completely and no more ammonia. But that could take a while.

- If you do have a wild amount of plants growing you may have to remove them temporarily since they may block any view you have of a small dead fish. EVERY time I've had an ammonia increase its's been due to a dead fish.

Good luck and let us know what you find.
 
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gabrielgalhano

gabrielgalhano

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I'm guessing you didn't cycle your tank before adding the fish, so there is not enough beneficial bacteria grown, to use up the ammonia and nitrites in the tank.
Thank you so much for your answer. My tank has been running for about 6months now. I recentely changed the filter to a better one, though.

  • Add some bottled bacteria. I use Microbe-Lift products, but others are available. I don't know what you have in Spain.
I'm from Portugal, actually. I've never seen Microbe-Lift in the stores here, but I can get it online easily. I usually use Sera Bio-Nitrivec.

  • Put more live plants in.
  • Make sure that some of those live plants are floating plants.
I'm in the process of getting some of those floating plants, but it hasn't been easy, I don't think they're very commum around here.
 
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gabrielgalhano

gabrielgalhano

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What kind of test kit are you using?
I'm using the JBL pro aquatest.

How long has the tank been set up?
For about 6 months. But I recentely upgraded the filter.

What kind of water conditioner are you using?
Sera Aquatan, the most commum in my area.

Have you tested your source water for ammonia?
Yes I did, and I mentioned it in the original thread. It has 0ppm on ammonia
 
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gabrielgalhano

gabrielgalhano

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First question would be is to ask did you cycle this tank before adding any livestock?

I did, it had been running for about 3weeks to a month before I added these fish. But I recentely upgraded the filter. I kept the old filter in simultaneously with the new for a week. Maybe I should've keep it longer?
 

Myraan

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I'm in the process of getting some of those floating plants, but it hasn't been easy, I don't think they're very commum around here.

Search the Tropica we or other tissue culture plant website for what looks like the plant you want. Then use that product name for an amazon or similar search. A waste of plastic packaging, but those sort of products are designed for hanging up in petstores for days, so can easily survive shipping.
 
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gabrielgalhano

gabrielgalhano

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Also what is the ph of your water? Ammonia in test kits usually read total ammonia which is ammonia and ammonium. The lower ph the lower the amount of actual ammmonia (harmful stuff), giving misleading results. The best way Is to check total
ammonia and ph on a chart as you might be worrying about nothing. That being said go on your instincts with fish signs: distress, hill colour, gulping etc. and follow good advice as above if tank wasn’t cycled properly.
The pH is always around 6-7. Currently at 6.

What's worrying me the most is their gills, who looks a little too pink/red
 
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gabrielgalhano

gabrielgalhano

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Look closely at the sand or gravel for a dead fish or fishes - they will cause huge ammonia rises until they are removed. I would guess it would be a small fish like one of the guppies (always keep an inventory of your fish just so you know what's in there, especially if you have multiple tanks. It kind of makes sense based on what you describe - you do a large water change and the amount of ammonia goes way down, the next time you do a water change ammonia is present just not as much. If you wait a few days and do another water change, your high ammonia might be back again. If it's a dead fish you'll have changing levels of ammonia after every water change, but until the fish is removed, the ammonia change will come back.
I don't think is a dead fish. I keep a close count of the fish in my 2 tanks and all of them are (still) alive.
 
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gabrielgalhano

gabrielgalhano

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Search the Tropica we or other tissue culture plant website for what looks like the plant you want. Then use that product name for an amazon or similar search. A waste of plastic packaging, but those sort of products are designed for hanging up in petstores for days, so can easily survive shipping.
Thanks for the tip. I'll be away from home for the weekend. I'll try to search for them in some new stores where I'm going and if I don't find anything I'll do what you suggested.
The plastic wasting really bothers me but oh well, if there's no other option...
 

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Thank you so much for your answer. My tank has been running for about 6months now. I recentely changed the filter to a better one, though.
Changing your filter will have removed some beneficial bacteria, so you will need to check your ammonia/nirite/nitrate levels, just to be sure the bacteria that's left is still able to do its job of waste management. ;)
I'm from Portugal, actually.
Sorry...should've said Iberian peninsular! :oops:

I'll second the Tropica plant recommendation. They are expensive but are really excellent value, in that they're very healthy plants to begin with and are totally free from parasites and snail eggs, etc..
 

Ch4rlie

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Just to add to Bruce’s response about the filter.

When you changed your filter, did you put the media from you old filter into the new filter?

The old filter media would be full of good beneficial bacteria and it’s fairly important you put the old media into the new filter so that you don’t lose too much of the beneficial bacteria and these will recolonise quickly into the new filter housing to bring up bacteria to the right level once again.

If you did not do this then this may well explain why you are having ammonia issues as there may not be enough beneficial bacteria to deal with the ammonia that’s in the water column.
 

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