Ammonia levels out of control - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-27-2008, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Ammonia levels out of control

Ok I started a 55 gal tank about 5 weeks ago. I have 11 small fish in it. But the ammonia levels keep spiking. I even did a 25% water change 4 days ago and still it keeps going up. Does anyone got any ideas?
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post #2 of 23 Old 09-27-2008, 05:39 PM
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Can you post the readings for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? You'll need to do water changes more often, maybe even every day, to keep your fish comfortable. What kind of fish are in the tank?

150 Gallon - Mostly American Cichlids
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post #3 of 23 Old 09-27-2008, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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5 diamond tetras
1 serpae tetra
1 tiger barb
1 blue gourami
2 gold barbs
1 striped raphael cat
1 spotted raphael cat

We had the ammonia tested today at the fish store and it was really green. I'm not sure what the percent was. We put some chemicals in it to bring it down but we have been doing that for a while and it still continues to rise. I dont get it.
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post #4 of 23 Old 09-27-2008, 07:20 PM
Your tank is cycling, and I suggest that you read up about it. Basically, the bacteria that break down ammonia into nitrite then nitrate are not present right now, but will begin to colonize. Chemicals will not help this, and may actually hinder the cycle because the bacteria will not have anything to feed on. What you can do, is do water changes as often as is necassary to keep ammonia levels, and later nitrite levels, at or below .5 ppm. This could be every 3 days, or every day. You will need to purchase an ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate test kit, test daily, and do water changes as necessary. When you have 0 ammonia and nitrite, and a reading for nitrate, the cycle is complete. Nitrate is removed when you do regular water changes, and is not toxic to fish in low levels. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask.
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post #5 of 23 Old 09-27-2008, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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Wow I never thought the cycling would of ever taken this long. I'm going to start to do water changes every couple of days and get a kit to test the water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Thanks Kim and Jeaninel.
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-27-2008, 11:19 PM
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If you haven't bought the kit by the time you read this (or even if you have): I strongly suggest a liquid test kit instead of the paper test strips. The initial cost may be a bit higher but it gives much more accurate results and will last you a lot longer because it will perform more tests than the strips. I use the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. It goes for about $30 in most stores but sells for about half that price at online aquarium supply stores like Aquariumguys and Drs. Foster and Smith.

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post #7 of 23 Old 09-29-2008, 05:01 AM
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You've got a lot of fish for a cycling tank so don't be surprised if you have to do a change daily to keep the ammonia down, you don't want it back at 0 however. Make sure you get your own test kid (liquid like batman said) so you can test daily. Can you transfer some of the occupants elsewhere temporarily to take the stress off of them?

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post #8 of 23 Old 09-29-2008, 06:02 AM
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you might also consider cutting down on feeding the fish.Any food that is not eaten will contribute to elevated ammonia levels. While tank is maturing or cycling once a day feeding will help keep ammonia from getting too high and thus reduce the number of water changes necessary.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #9 of 23 Old 09-29-2008, 08:01 AM
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Reducing the temperature two or three degrees will also help reduce the toxicity of the ammonia. Don't move it out of the fish's comfort range, but maybe move it towards the low end if you're up at the high.

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post #10 of 23 Old 10-02-2008, 06:53 PM
if your tank is cycling and your ammonia is high, you really need to do daily changes. and to be honest, you probably should have looked into doing a fishless cycle and spared the fish the stress. i also assume that your tank is not planted. planted would take up some of the slack but you can't rely on it completely. also it take 3-6 weeks or longer to cycle a tank. i reset up my 55 gal on 08/31/08 and its still cycling and i am on the fishless cycle. so tanks cycling can vary.
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