Ammonia won't go away, help!!!! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 29 Old 03-01-2012, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Ammonia won't go away, help!!!!

I am new to this forum so first and foremost, hi everyone. I'm sorry if this has been addresses before but no amount of google answers have worked for me to date.

A little background, I have a 35 gallon warm freshwater tropical aquarium. It was my husbands as a child but we scrubbed it with vinegar and water for days before setting it up and replace all the substrate and decorations. After about two weeks of having it up and running with filter and all we started to add some fish. At first I only added 2 baby mollys(my fish at work had babies so I brought the survivors home when I found them do I did not overcrowd my 10 gallon at work). At this point everything is still crystal clear ( I filled it with water from the hose initially because after testing my home water everything was fine; we have a well, not city water) an the levels were perfect. We added fish slowly, a Molly here a play there a few glass catfish, until i was comfortable with the fish we had knowing we had purchased livebearers that will likely reproduce. Everything was well for about a month until I tested the water one day and the ammonia had spiked drastically. It was at about 5.0! I was afraid for my fish so I immediately went to the pet store and bought ammo lock and a bacteria supplement. The levels never came down so I did a 25% water change, there was a small drop but nothing as significant as I needed. My fish slowly started dying off which broke my heart. I got another tank to move them to while I scrubbed my tank clean. Rinsed the rocks, replaced the filter with a bio wheel, and filled the tank with water I had purchased from the store. Everything was perfect, by this time I only had 4 fish left. I only fed 2 flakes each once a day for weeks and the levels spiked again! They are at 8.0 now, I've done daily water changes 10% for a week and nothing helps!! Help me! I had 1 platy, 1 glass catfish and 1 corycat left and fear they will soon die as well! I've tried everything!!! I don't know what to do anymore, I have even started over from scratch and it spikes each and every time within a few days.
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post #2 of 29 Old 03-01-2012, 05:49 PM
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Okay i think you may need to get your local petstore to give you the best items that will remove ammonia, it may be a ph kit any minor changes may make the ammonia go away. It could be that some fish will create more ammonia than others.
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post #3 of 29 Old 03-01-2012, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dmuddle View Post
Okay i think you may need to get your local petstore to give you the best items that will remove ammonia, it may be a ph kit any minor changes may make the ammonia go away. It could be that some fish will create more ammonia than others.
I have been to 2 different pet stores and gotten 5 different suggestions. After reading earlier posts I am thinking I should get some fast growing plants to help, what I any explain is why it keeps happening. I have a bio wheel fit for 55 gal and only a 35 gallon tank. I have tried ammo lock, prime, bacteria supplement(ha to add after getting a filter that I thought would be more adequate.)
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post #4 of 29 Old 03-01-2012, 06:34 PM
hello and welcome to TFK! I recommend you reading about cycling here
then after
and third stop scrubbing everything clean :) because that is where bacteria grow.
and fourth! be patient :) an aquarium cycle take from 2 to 8 weeks to complete depending on a lot of different things
meanwhile the only way to save your fish is drastic water change each day or 2 with a good water conditioner to remove chlorine(wich would kill your starting bacteria) like if you have that high ammonia right now I would do a 80% water change wait an hour and do a second one
never vaccume your substrate during cycling
and yes live plants do help but you will need a lot of them to be able to not notice any cycle
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post #5 of 29 Old 03-01-2012, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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I have decided not to use the water from my tap, we don't even drink it. I will have to do the water change tomorrow when I can get to the store tomorrow to fill my 5 gallon bottles
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post #6 of 29 Old 03-01-2012, 06:43 PM
what is wrong with your tap water?
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post #7 of 29 Old 03-01-2012, 07:43 PM
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I'm fairly certain this is the cycling. Read that cycle article that Maxillus linked, it will explain it. It takes time. And unfortunately Molly are highly susceptible to ammonia so they cannot survive this.

Live plants will help, and are the easiest method for new tanks. Especially floating plants or fast-growing stem plant as they use lots of nutrients including ammonia. Water Sprite, Hornwort, Brazilian Pennywort, these will work fast.

Test your well water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate though, this is worth knowing in case any of these are present.

And welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #8 of 29 Old 03-02-2012, 06:09 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Maxillius View Post
what is wrong with your tap water?
It's well water, there is a lot of iron in it
Posted via Mobile Device
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post #9 of 29 Old 03-02-2012, 06:54 AM
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Hi Holly,

I agree with Byron,

This is to do with the cycle. Please read his intructions on how to to this. A tank will spike with ammonia no matter what you do, it is part of the cycling process. (unless you have a heavily planted tank from the outset)

Ammonia spike
Nitrite spike ammonia goes down
Nitrate spike Nitrite goes down

Again see the link for the full explanation of this. Without plants this cycle can take up to 6 weeks or more. Patience is the key and if you dont have a lot of it, look into having a planted tank. (plants eat ammonia)

I urge you to read the post by Byron, i reckon if you follow that, you should have no more problems as bad as the one you have with your Ammonia presently.

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post #10 of 29 Old 03-02-2012, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your responses. I'm not an incredibly patient person so this must be my problem. I did read both links, thanks for that! I'm gong today to get the water i need to do water changes and try to save the 3 fish i have left though I doubt they will make it through. If nothing else, my tank has been running for 2 months; it seems as though i will have to change the water and let the cycle continue as it seems as my efforts are setting everything back. I am going to get a few plants as well because I really enjoy the look of them but I understand they will not fully fix my problem.
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ammonia , fish distress , need help

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