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Help! Ammonia Problem

This is a discussion on Help! Ammonia Problem within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by Byron All of this back and forth about plants and ammonia is fine, but some of you have forgotten the initial ...

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Help! Ammonia Problem
Old 01-09-2013, 08:50 PM   #31
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
All of this back and forth about plants and ammonia is fine, but some of you have forgotten the initial issue. The OP's fish are dying from ammonia poisoning. Tossing a bunch of plants in the tank is not going to save them. First, he/she probably doesn't have the plants and has to go and buy them (hopefully) from a fish store. Second, the fish are dying now, they are not going to sit there waiting for relief from a bunch of stem plants.

Please be sensible. The OP asked for help in an emergency. The answer is not to speculate on plants' abilities and how long.

There is absolutely no other option for this situation except massive water changes to get the ammonia to zero now. The fish will die otherwise.

As for Prime doing what they claim it does, with all the experience world-wide on using this I think we can safely assume it does what it claims or we would all have heard differently long before now.
Thanks for all the comments.. I am new to this, so everything that I read was pretty confusing. I did a 75% water change yesterday and did a 50% water change today because the ammonia was still testing at 2ppm. I didn't put prime in this water change. and i did add live plants just for long term sakes... I have already lost four fishes due to this. The other fishes seem to be fine, but I know that they are affected in some sort of way. I was wondering what are ways to prevent this from happening again. While reading some of the comments, one said that i should get a bottle of bacteria... Is that necessary? And also another comment said that they use sand as a substrate. While changing my water, I use a gravel vaccum, and a lot of the times there is a lot of left over food that is stuck on the bottom, and I feel like this is a huge cause in why i can't maintain the ammonia. is it a good idea to use sand, and if so how would I go about it with changing my gravel to sand without killing the bacteria?
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Old 01-10-2013, 05:06 AM   #32
 
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With sand,or gravel,if you are seeing a bunch of food on the bottom as you report,,this is a sign that your feeding too much food, and deceasing the amount of food's offered,and frequency, will help with the ammonia problem.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:19 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beccayu90 View Post
is it a good idea to use sand, and if so how would I go about it with changing my gravel to sand without killing the bacteria?
Well, with your ammonia problem I wonder about the state of your bacteria now anyway... only being setup for four weeks perhaps the cycle wasnt complete....but others with some cycling experience would be better to comment further.

I went with sand and plants right away, lots of plants. I think I am about two weeks now, 13 fish, no sign of ammonia, ,no cycle. I know this doesn't fix your immediate problem but it is worth migrating to at least lots of plants. I have somewhere north of 40 individual plants in a 37 gallon tank with some driftwood. Check out "the shotgun approach" in the plant section, that is my plant thread to see what I've done.

If your gravel is quite deep it could aggravate the problem by hiding more food deeper. The sand keeps the food on top where it is easy to suck up and see.

If you wanted to change it out you could do it in stages, it will be a mess and not something that you want to do right now... Unless you were willing to start over.

Bacteria in a bottle, no experience with that either but I have heard that it is a hit and miss thing... again, others can comment.

Good luck.

Jeff.

Last edited by JDM; 01-10-2013 at 06:24 AM..
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:12 AM   #34
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beccayu90 View Post
Thanks for all the comments.. I am new to this, so everything that I read was pretty confusing. I did a 75% water change yesterday and did a 50% water change today because the ammonia was still testing at 2ppm. I didn't put prime in this water change.
I may have missed it somewhere, but if you are using municipal supplied water with chlorine or chloramine, then you are harming your fish as well. The water must be treated to remove these chemicals. If you changed 50% of the water, you may have more injured fish on your hands.
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:17 AM   #35
 
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I suggest clearing up the ammonia first, before thinking of changing substrates.

Ammonia is always present; fish expel it with every breath they take. without going into the science, the act of respiration in the fish's gills causes ammonia to be expelled along with CO2, so it is constantly being added to the water. We use live plants to take it up, and bacteria will establish to use it as their food source. The latter takes time in a new tank.

Ammonia also occurs from any decaying organic matter, as 1077 mentioned about your overfeeding. Feed sparingly, once a day, very little. Fish should always appear hungry, so don't think they are starving, they are not. Of course, they are not likely eating at all now, so don't add any food until this is resolved.

Continue with daily water changes. Why aren't you using Prime? If you have it, use it as it will help. If you don't have it, any conditioner that says it will detoxify ammonia will also be as good.

Do you have a pH test kit, and if yes, what is the pH of your tank water? I'm assuming it is basic (above 7).

Byron.
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:16 PM   #36
 
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
I suggest clearing up the ammonia first, before thinking of changing substrates.

Ammonia is always present; fish expel it with every breath they take. without going into the science, the act of respiration in the fish's gills causes ammonia to be expelled along with CO2, so it is constantly being added to the water. We use live plants to take it up, and bacteria will establish to use it as their food source. The latter takes time in a new tank.

Ammonia also occurs from any decaying organic matter, as 1077 mentioned about your overfeeding. Feed sparingly, once a day, very little. Fish should always appear hungry, so don't think they are starving, they are not. Of course, they are not likely eating at all now, so don't add any food until this is resolved.

Continue with daily water changes. Why aren't you using Prime? If you have it, use it as it will help. If you don't have it, any conditioner that says it will detoxify ammonia will also be as good.

Do you have a pH test kit, and if yes, what is the pH of your tank water? I'm assuming it is basic (above 7).

Byron.
I am still doing water changes... The ammonia is still at 2ppm.. I fed them today, but only a little tiny pinch. I will stop feeding until the ammonia goes down, and start using prime again.

The ph of the tank is 7.6
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:02 AM   #37
 
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I am still doing water changes... The ammonia is still at 2ppm.. I fed them today, but only a little tiny pinch. I will stop feeding until the ammonia goes down, and start using prime again.

The ph of the tank is 7.6
Before you treat the tank with prime again I highly highly recommend you first test using a test kit that either 1) tests for just the dangerous free ammonia (like the ammonia dots), or 2) use a test that measures both the free and locked or total ammonia (like the seachem multitest kit).

The usuall ammonia test kits like the api test only measre the sum of both the free and locked ammonia.

With a tank that has been treated with Prime and Prime has done its job then all the ammonia is locked and not dangerous to the fish. By adding more Prime you further depress the oxygen levels and can suffocate the fish.



my .02
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:09 AM   #38
 
multitest, ammonia alert, Prime

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Originally Posted by JDM View Post
There you go, I didn't know that a test kit was out there that could differentiate between ammonia and ammonium.

Jeff

I didn't either until in the one extreme emergency tank crash due to my stupidity I used prime.

My stupidity was what caused the tank crash. Not that I was stupid for using prime. (just reread and wanted to clarify) It did work as advertized using the multitest kit. But the tank went into a very deep cycle with a massive ph drop and nitrIte spike then nitrate spike finally recovering weeks later. The ammonia finally dropped down a week later 2 days after I rinsed my filter media. So I highly suspect I added some toxin the media had in it. Prior to the ammonia dropping down it totally pegged the api test kit for 8ppm++++++++. Wierdist darkest color I have ever seen on the ammonia test kit. Meanwhile the multitest kit free ammonia was the lowest level like .25ppm and the totall pegged that kit at 5ppm++++++. If I had kept adding prime based solely on the api test kit I would have killed everything in the tank.

See:
Seachem. MultiTest: Ammonia

Quote:
Originally Posted by link above
This kit measures total (NH3 and NH4+) and free ammonia (NH3 only) down to less than 0.05 mg/L and is virtually interference free in marine and fresh water. Free ammonia is the toxic form of ammonia (vs. ionized Ammonia NH4+ which is non-toxic) and thus it is much more important to keep an eye on the level of free ammonia in your system. This kit is based on the same gas exchange technology that is used in the Ammonia Alert™ and thus is the only kit on the market that can read levels of free ammonia while using ammonia removal products such as Prime®, Safe™, AmGuard™ and any similar competing products. The other kits (salicylate or Nessler based) determine the total ammonia by raising the pH of the test solution to 12 or greater. At this high pH all ammonia removal products will breakdown and rerelease the ammonia, thus giving you a false ammonia reading.
And that is from the makers of Prime.

My concern to the OP is the health of the fish.

my .02

Last edited by beaslbob; 01-11-2013 at 09:19 AM..
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:17 AM   #39
 
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Originally Posted by beccayu90 View Post
I am still doing water changes... The ammonia is still at 2ppm.. I fed them today, but only a little tiny pinch. I will stop feeding until the ammonia goes down, and start using prime again.

The ph of the tank is 7.6
When you say you didnt use prime before - does this mean you used no water conditioner or an alternative?

Putting non-treated water containing chlorine and or chloramine into a new tank (3months is still new) will certainly damage any bacteria withing the filter/substrate.
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:10 AM   #40
 
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When you say you didnt use prime before - does this mean you used no water conditioner or an alternative?

Putting non-treated water containing chlorine and or chloramine into a new tank (3months is still new) will certainly damage any bacteria withing the filter/substrate.

I recently read it's vice versal also in that the bacteria actually break down the chloramines.

So much so that water companies have to flush out the pipes because of the nitrates being generated by bacterialbreaking down chloramines.

All I do is just top off (5%max) evaporative water plus an initial 1 week of no fish with thriving plants. I never see any signs of stress on the fish. In 1/2 cities in the use including my current location that does use chloramines.

my .02
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