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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; --> 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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Help! Ammonia Problem
Old 01-13-2013, 12:05 PM   #41
 
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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.
Quote:
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.
This is really two very different things you two are mentioning.

Nilet is basically correct although it goes farther than this. If you do a water change of significant volume (as opposed to topping-up) and the water contains chlorine (with or without chloramine) the fish may very well die within minutes. The chlorine burns their gills. Bacteria will be killed too, depending upon the volume, but the far more urgent issue is the fish. Top-up water is unlikely to cause trouble since the volume is so small and it quickly dissipates.

As for the bacteria in the water lines, that is very different issue. Chlorine dissipates out of water if it is agitated, and water moving through the water lines does this so the chlorine lessens and lessens the farther the water travels. Chloramine is now added by many municipalities as a means of countering this, since chloramine does not dissipate out. As to what degree any bacteria may break down chloramine, I don't know, but that is not a concern for aquarists provided a suitable dechlorinator (that also handles chloramine) is used at water changes.

Byron.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:48 PM   #42
 
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
This is really two very different things you two are mentioning.

Nilet is basically correct although it goes farther than this. If you do a water change of significant volume (as opposed to topping-up) and the water contains chlorine (with or without chloramine) the fish may very well die within minutes. The chlorine burns their gills. Bacteria will be killed too, depending upon the volume, but the far more urgent issue is the fish. Top-up water is unlikely to cause trouble since the volume is so small and it quickly dissipates.

As for the bacteria in the water lines, that is very different issue. Chlorine dissipates out of water if it is agitated, and water moving through the water lines does this so the chlorine lessens and lessens the farther the water travels. Chloramine is now added by many municipalities as a means of countering this, since chloramine does not dissipate out. As to what degree any bacteria may break down chloramine, I don't know, but that is not a concern for aquarists provided a suitable dechlorinator (that also handles chloramine) is used at water changes.

Byron.
Agree. The small amount of top off is the key.

Doing a google search:

"chloramine bacterial breakdown tap water"





http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/ava.../AZ_Thesis.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-06262006-211548/unrestricted/AZ_Thesis.pdf

Several utilities that have witnessed nitrification in their systems and integrated measures
to correct problems and prevent future growth have shared their experiences. When the Tampa
Bay Water Authority switched to chloramines in 2002 in order to comply with the D/DBPR, they
experienced myriad water quality problems related to biological growth in the system (Powell,
2004). In an effort to understand and remediate these issues, the Authority implemented an
extensive water quality-monitoring program and initiated changes to the management of the
distribution system. Operations and maintenance changes included drawing down storage tanks
at least 50% on a daily basis and reconfiguring tanks to ďfirst in-first outĒ to facilitate better
mixing, adding booster chlorination to tanks to recombine excess ammonia and increase
disinfectant residual levels, routine unidirectional flushing of pipelines, and replacement of
galvanized pipe lines. Despite the significant expenditure of money and increase in staff
associated with implementing this program, biological water quality did not substantially
improve as observed through HPC, coliform and mycobacteria levels, chemical indicators of
nitrification, and customer odor complaints (Powell, 2004). The Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California reported similar problems with nitrification, particularly in reservoirs
throughout their system, after switching from free chlorine to chloramines (Wolfe et al., 1988;
Wolfe et al., 1990). When episodes were first observed, they responded by removing the
affected reservoirs from service and applying breakpoint chlorination.

While I didn't do an indeapth reading it does appear that bacteria do interact with chloramines and things are not just chloramines will remain in tap water and by extension our tanks forever.

but then all I know is I have done this for decades and my current tap water has chloramine with not even a hint of stress to the fish.

but as you stated you do not fill a tank and just drop the fish in. I heavily plant it, wait a week, add 1 fish, then a week later add more fish. And only top off. With straight untreated tap water.

if the aerobic bacteria are 100% killed by that, the plants consume the resulting ammonia and carbon dioxide and retrun oxygen. So no stress to fish.

If the bacteria is only aver small amount killed off then that is even better.

My thoughts are the perhaps the bacteria being killed are also breaking down the chloramines.

I guess in the water distribution systems the resulting ammonia is creating some problems.


my .02
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:58 AM   #43
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hello:
your assessment above is quite harsh but sadly it is true. If a fish exhibits a specific behavior that indicates poor water quality I want to recognize these signs.
As far as api test kit goes yesterday is the first time I have tested for ammonia in my life and to my surprise the aquarium showed 0 ppm ammonia, I truly thought I would test a least .25 ppm. This leaves me very concerned with api testing bein viable and correct.

pop
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:30 AM   #44
 
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Originally Posted by pop View Post
hello:
your assessment above is quite harsh but sadly it is true. If a fish exhibits a specific behavior that indicates poor water quality I want to recognize these signs.
As far as api test kit goes yesterday is the first time I have tested for ammonia in my life and to my surprise the aquarium showed 0 ppm ammonia, I truly thought I would test a least .25 ppm. This leaves me very concerned with api testing bein viable and correct.

pop
While it is entirely possible the 0 reading is incorrect, the usual "error" is high not low.

IMHO if you have a 0 reading and fish are still showing stress (slow moving, rapid breathing, etc) then you have other problems not an ammonia problem.

But that's just my .02
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Old 01-14-2013, 01:05 PM   #45
 
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Originally Posted by pop View Post
hello:
your assessment above is quite harsh but sadly it is true. If a fish exhibits a specific behavior that indicates poor water quality I want to recognize these signs.
As far as api test kit goes yesterday is the first time I have tested for ammonia in my life and to my surprise the aquarium showed 0 ppm ammonia, I truly thought I would test a least .25 ppm. This leaves me very concerned with api testing bein viable and correct.

pop
This is coming out of the blue, so I've no idea of the background; but why would you expect to see ammonia? If this test is in a cycled fish tank, you should never see ammonia above zero if you have live plants, and without plants never see ammonia above zero unless something goes way off such as overfeeding, too many fish, dying fish. And the API test is reliable as far as aquarium use goes.

Byron.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:10 AM   #46
pop
 
Hello Byron:
I have been gone for about two weeks and left two week long feeders in the tank and have not changed the water for about three weeks.

According to moderators I did not cycle the used tank I just filled it up with water and let it go at that. No live plants only plastic, over feed the 11 fish in the 55 gal aquarium and many other cardinal sins according to what I have read here at this site. I donít experience many fish deaths nor do they appear to be stressed.

I see myself as muddling toward some semblance of tropical fish keeping. In this muddling process I have done everything wrong as laid down by those from the house of knowledge. Itís only natural for a muddled fish keeper to expect the worst of the gloom and doom predictions.

Pop
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:30 AM   #47
 
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Originally Posted by pop View Post
Hello Byron:
I have been gone for about two weeks and left two week long feeders in the tank and have not changed the water for about three weeks.

According to moderators I did not cycle the used tank I just filled it up with water and let it go at that. No live plants only plastic, over feed the 11 fish in the 55 gal aquarium and many other cardinal sins according to what I have read here at this site. I donít experience many fish deaths nor do they appear to be stressed.

I see myself as muddling toward some semblance of tropical fish keeping. In this muddling process I have done everything wrong as laid down by those from the house of knowledge. Itís only natural for a muddled fish keeper to expect the worst of the gloom and doom predictions.

Pop

Pink Floyd,,"Their lip's move ,but we can't hear what they say"
Speak's also of the fishes, and those who must find their own way.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:44 AM   #48
 
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Originally Posted by pop View Post
Hello Byron:
I have been gone for about two weeks and left two week long feeders in the tank and have not changed the water for about three weeks.

According to moderators I did not cycle the used tank I just filled it up with water and let it go at that. No live plants only plastic, over feed the 11 fish in the 55 gal aquarium and many other cardinal sins according to what I have read here at this site. I donít experience many fish deaths nor do they appear to be stressed.

I see myself as muddling toward some semblance of tropical fish keeping. In this muddling process I have done everything wrong as laid down by those from the house of knowledge. Itís only natural for a muddled fish keeper to expect the worst of the gloom and doom predictions.

Pop
sound to me like you're muddling along pretty well.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:24 PM   #49
 
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Originally Posted by pop View Post
Hello Byron:
I have been gone for about two weeks and left two week long feeders in the tank and have not changed the water for about three weeks.

According to moderators I did not cycle the used tank I just filled it up with water and let it go at that. No live plants only plastic, over feed the 11 fish in the 55 gal aquarium and many other cardinal sins according to what I have read here at this site. I donít experience many fish deaths nor do they appear to be stressed.

I see myself as muddling toward some semblance of tropical fish keeping. In this muddling process I have done everything wrong as laid down by those from the house of knowledge. Itís only natural for a muddled fish keeper to expect the worst of the gloom and doom predictions.

Pop
If I may be permitted some observations on why this may appear to work.

The numbers are playing in your favour, or rather in your fishes' favour. Eleven (presumably smallish) fish in a 55g does give you some margin for error, as the initial ammonia is dissipated in the larger water volume so there is more time available before fish will begin to show symptoms, and the bacteria will establish and multiply. By contrast 11 fish in a 10g tank might well all be dead by the time you returned. Also, other issues remedied by water changes will be less, so again there is more room for error, so to speak.

The downside though is the toll this may have taken on the fish, something we normally cannot see. The fish's physiology is affected by this, particularly the nitrates most likely, and you haven't indicated their level upon return but I would expect it to be highish and this we know impacts the physiology of fish. One has to carefully monitor these fish over the entire course of their lives in order to gain a sense of what may have occurred. It may be as simple as a shorter lifespan, caused by this one 2 or 3-week period. This sort of test is difficult as every possible factor has to be considered in the evaluation.

It is safer to assume the probable, and prevent it. And since the fish will certainly be no worse, and in my view will be far better, who would logically argue to the contrary?

Byron.
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