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8 ppm ammonia readings with fish alive?

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8 ppm ammonia readings with fish alive?
Old 04-12-2011, 03:24 PM   #11
 
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We need to take a step back. If the ammonia really was 8, no fish would be alive. And corydoras and BGK fish are highly sensitive to ammonia (and most everything else).

First, so we know what is occurring in the tank, could you please post the pH of the tap water and the tank water [not sure which the 7.4 refers to]?

Tap water has 1 ppm ammonia, correct? This is not a real problem, just something that has to be handled at water changes. And a water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia is the way to do it. Several will do this, just make sure it says so on the label. You need a conditioner that detoxifies chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. Which are you using now?

Have you tested the tap water for nitrite and nitrate? This is good to know, just in case.

Do you want live plants? They are not difficult, and they will help you with the ammonia in the tap water. We can discuss more about this later.

Byron.
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Old 04-12-2011, 06:58 PM   #12
 
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
We need to take a step back. If the ammonia really was 8, no fish would be alive. And corydoras and BGK fish are highly sensitive to ammonia (and most everything else).

First, so we know what is occurring in the tank, could you please post the pH of the tap water and the tank water [not sure which the 7.4 refers to]?

Tap water has 1 ppm ammonia, correct? This is not a real problem, just something that has to be handled at water changes. And a water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia is the way to do it. Several will do this, just make sure it says so on the label. You need a conditioner that detoxifies chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. Which are you using now?

Have you tested the tap water for nitrite and nitrate? This is good to know, just in case.

Do you want live plants? They are not difficult, and they will help you with the ammonia in the tap water. We can discuss more about this later.

Byron.
Ph pf tank water is 7.4 and ph of tap water is 7.8 and yes my tap water has 1 ppm ammonia.
The water conditioner we are currently using is aqueon water conditioner trial packets ( have like 50 packets) but we are thinking of buying prime water conditioner.

I have not tested the tap water for nitrite and nitrate but i will do so tonight

We had a live plant in our aquarium but it died because someone at a pet store advised us to use a ph chemical (which we arent doing agian) and when we removed the plant to use it, we put it in pure tap water..so we think thats how it died
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:28 PM   #13
 
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Originally Posted by moomoofish View Post
Ph pf tank water is 7.4 and ph of tap water is 7.8 and yes my tap water has 1 ppm ammonia.
The water conditioner we are currently using is aqueon water conditioner trial packets ( have like 50 packets) but we are thinking of buying prime water conditioner.

I have not tested the tap water for nitrite and nitrate but i will do so tonight

We had a live plant in our aquarium but it died because someone at a pet store advised us to use a ph chemical (which we arent doing agian) and when we removed the plant to use it, we put it in pure tap water..so we think thats how it died
According to the info on their website, the Aqueon water conditioner detoxifies chlorine and chloramine. There is no mention of ammonia. Prime (or another conditioner that detoxifies ammonia) is a good idea.

You may be correct that the ammonia reading on test kits has to do with the chloramines. Chloramine releases chlorine over time, and ammonia is involved. This is just my surmise, I am not a chemist. But true ammonia at 8 would as I said earlier mean dead fish, so I have to think the test results are not "true" in the sense that the "ammonia" may be ammonium due to the conditioner or ammo-lock.

On the plant, tap water is unlikely to kill a plant. Several factors could be involved, we would need to know the plant species. I would suggest live plants, and I will explain that now.

Ammonia in the tap water can be detoxified by a suitable conditioner. But conditioners, including Prime, are only active for 24 hours or so, and as they detoxify ammonia by changing it to the harmless ammonium, once they are no longer effective the ammonium can change back into ammonia. And in basic water (pH above 7) this occurs automatically. In acidic water, pH below 7, ammonia remains ammonium period. The value of live plants is that the ammonium will be grabbed by the plants as their preferred form of nitrogen, and with enough plants you would never have an issue from the ammonia in the tap water. Plants as simple as stem plants work effectively because they grow fast, thus using nutrients faster, and ammonium is one nutrient they need.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 04-13-2011 at 12:33 PM..
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Old 04-13-2011, 02:29 PM   #14
 
Thank you very much for your help, and yeah i think the fish would be dead if it was just ammonia..they are still alive, eating and doing just fine. Bought some prime yesterday so we will be using that now. One question though, if we were to buy more live plants for the tank do you think it wise to buy some and put into the tank now? We always were planning on adding more but we were waiting till we sorted out the 8 ppm ammonia readings.

Also an unrelated question regarding our cycling 55 galon if anyone has information: we are doing a fishless cycle using pure ammonia..do you think plants could survive being added now or should we wait untill the cycle has finished to add plants to our large tank? I heard that it would speed up the process but someone else told me the plants wouldnt make it through the cycle. Also would adding something like stress zyme speed up the process as well? Sorry for all of the questions but we are trying to learn :) Thanks!!
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Old 04-13-2011, 04:47 PM   #15
 
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Originally Posted by moomoofish View Post
Thank you very much for your help, and yeah i think the fish would be dead if it was just ammonia..they are still alive, eating and doing just fine. Bought some prime yesterday so we will be using that now. One question though, if we were to buy more live plants for the tank do you think it wise to buy some and put into the tank now? We always were planning on adding more but we were waiting till we sorted out the 8 ppm ammonia readings.

Also an unrelated question regarding our cycling 55 galon if anyone has information: we are doing a fishless cycle using pure ammonia..do you think plants could survive being added now or should we wait untill the cycle has finished to add plants to our large tank? I heard that it would speed up the process but someone else told me the plants wouldnt make it through the cycle. Also would adding something like stress zyme speed up the process as well? Sorry for all of the questions but we are trying to learn :) Thanks!!
Yes, add more plants now. They can only help if there is ammonia present. Aside from using ammonia/ammonium as a nutrient, they can also "take up" ammonia and detoxify it. Of course there is a limit to this, but it can't be any worse than the present.

As for cycling, I only cycle using live plants. Which means, never "cycling." Planting a new tank well (meaning a good number of plants, not just a couple) allows you to add some fish on day one and you will never see a cycle. The bacteria still establish themselves, but because the plants grab so much ammonia/ammonium the bacteria will be fewer, and you will never see ammonia or nitrite above zero because there is so little the test kits can't even detect it. All this provided there are lots of plants, and few fish so as not to overload things. "New tank syndrome" simply does not exist with live plants.

As for adding them once you have added ammonia, I would do a major water change to get rid of most of the "artificial" ammonia. As explained above, you don't need this anyway.

I can explain further if asked. I have set up I don't know how many tanks over the years this way and never had problems or stressed fish.

Byron.
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:40 AM   #16
 
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Yes, add more plants now. They can only help if there is ammonia present. Aside from using ammonia/ammonium as a nutrient, they can also "take up" ammonia and detoxify it. Of course there is a limit to this, but it can't be any worse than the present.

As for cycling, I only cycle using live plants. Which means, never "cycling." Planting a new tank well (meaning a good number of plants, not just a couple) allows you to add some fish on day one and you will never see a cycle. The bacteria still establish themselves, but because the plants grab so much ammonia/ammonium the bacteria will be fewer, and you will never see ammonia or nitrite above zero because there is so little the test kits can't even detect it. All this provided there are lots of plants, and few fish so as not to overload things. "New tank syndrome" simply does not exist with live plants.

As for adding them once you have added ammonia, I would do a major water change to get rid of most of the "artificial" ammonia. As explained above, you don't need this anyway.

I can explain further if asked. I have set up I don't know how many tanks over the years this way and never had problems or stressed fish.

Byron.
I would love to learn more about your advice on using plants to "cycle". ABout how many would you recommend for our 55 gallon tank? It sounded like a good way so i'd like to know your input on it.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:58 AM   #17
 
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I would love to learn more about your advice on using plants to "cycle". ABout how many would you recommend for our 55 gallon tank? It sounded like a good way so i'd like to know your input on it.
First, decide what the 55g is going to be in terms of display. In other words, know the type of habitat and the fish. Then research suitable plants. Most plants are adaptable to most situations, but not always. As an obvious example, if you decide on a rift lake cichlid display, your plant choices will be very limited. If you decide on a South American display of tetra and catfish, you would look into swords (Echinodorus species) and such. If you want an Asian theme with loaches, rasbora, gourami, or whatever, different plants again. Or a community can be a mix, but again the fish may influence the plant choice.

Once you know the type of tank you want to build, find the plants. Some people have good selection in local stores--I am lucky to have a couple of stores here that regularly get huge shipments of plants. Some members have better luck online; if you live in the USA there are a couple of places with good reputations, and they have `packages`of plants suitable for various habitats.

The main thing is to get as many of the plants at once as you can. As for number, basically fill the tank. Recognize that most plants will grow larger within a few weeks, a few don't, so plan for that. But plant reasonably well. Stem plants and floating plants (some stem plants do very well left floating too) are very good at first even if only `temporary`plants, since they grow fast (using lots of ammonia). As the other plants grow in, these can be thinned out. And stem plants are usually quite inexpensive.

Once you have a good assortment of plants, so the tank can be considered well planted, you can add some fish. Having decided what fish are going in the tank, select some of the smaller and hardier ones to start with. This is not so much because of any `cycling`issues, but more because some fish will be much better at settling down if the tank is established. Established means it has been running for a several weeks. For example, I would never introduce cardinal tetra to a tank until it has been running for 6 or more weeks. Once you start adding fish, you can add more within a few days.

The plants will assimilate all of the ammonia produced by the fish. Just don`t overwhelm the system on day one. Though having said that, I can set up a 115g tank and introduce 100 or more fish in one day. But the fish and plants are those I have in other tanks, and I almost always use wood from another tank, so I am getting the benefits of thriving plants and some bacteria. I have never had problems doing this. Ammonia and nitrite in a new tank, with new substrate and new filter media, is zero from day one.

Byron.
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Old 04-14-2011, 09:27 PM   #18
 
This isn't very common, but some conditioners can interfere with test kit readings and report a wrong result. It depends on specific conditioners and what reagents the test kit use. I had it happen to me once. Byron is certainly right, that something is amiss here. NH3/NH4+ can't be 8ppm. Its similar to what I experienced. High ammonia and normal fish. When you do a 50% ammonia levels should cut in half if its really ammonia, if they don't budge its a clear sign something else is going on. I forget if it was my API nitrite or ammonia test that was effected. One was reporting 5ppm, immediate 80% WC, refill, retest, got a reading of 5ppm right away. You can never completely trust test results. If what its reporting makes no sense then suspect the test kit or some combination of products that you are adding to the tank. Since your test kit tested your tap okay and the bottled water and was backed up by another test result, I'm going to suspect your conditioner.

You can't have only ammonium, which is less toxic, but not non-toxic! Ammonium and ammonia normally exist in equilibrium with each other. The exact equilibrium depends on many factors, low pH for example will often favor ammonium, but not completely unless it is really low. This is why its often said ammonia is less toxic at low pH... When you add something like Prime all it does to "detoxify" ammonia is to bind it and force it into a ammonium like state. Ammonium though is still an issue and is still toxic. If ammonia really is spiking, nitrite will follow. Ammonium gets converted to nitrite just as quickly as ammonia. Unfortunately the lower toxicity of ammonium does not transfer to nitrite lol.

I agree to getting some prime as others have suggested. Then what I suggest is once you have prime change 50% of the water daily for 3 days straight. Use the prime as recommend, don't use the doses for actually dealing with high ammonia. Just use the basic water change dose. The point here is to remove all the previous products you added to the tank. After the 3 days I feel things should improve dramatically.
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Old 04-15-2011, 12:57 AM   #19
 
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Oh ho! Looky here

Ah I see you are having the same issue I had a week ago... My Ammonia was VERY high.. and killed 3 of my fish in my 10 gallon... including a baby.. Was a sad day. So, I instantly went out and got my water tested, got a chemical that doesnt remove ammonia, but changes it into a safe form for fish to live with.. until the filter cleans it out. So, as for the readings, the ammonia is STILL THERE, but is "harmless". After that, I am unsure.. it would seem like you'd be treating your tank in the dark without accurate tests.. Really, what I did was used a chemical to convert the ammonia into something safe, then got something to put in my filter that would remove ammonia. :) That way my tank is instantly safe, and time will gradually remove the safe ammonia, and the future new and harmful ammonia.
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Old 04-16-2011, 10:43 AM   #20
 
thanks everyone for your input and help! Our fish are still alive and doing good so we are in the process of changing water conditioners and we have gotten many live plants as well! things are looking better :)
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