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High Ammonia Levels - Stressing me out more than it is the fish!

This is a discussion on High Ammonia Levels - Stressing me out more than it is the fish! within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Yeah I've got the water change system down flat :P Feel like thats all I've been doing lately! Hopefully the safe start will let ...

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High Ammonia Levels - Stressing me out more than it is the fish!
Old 11-14-2009, 10:54 PM   #21
Yeah I've got the water change system down flat :P Feel like thats all I've been doing lately! Hopefully the safe start will let me downgrade to once a week changes here soon :P
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Old 11-15-2009, 12:54 PM   #22
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I'm posting more to keep this as a subscribed thread; this way I'll be certain to see it regularly.

After three months your tank should be cycled. Ammonia and nitrite should always read zero, and nitrates anywhere from 1 to 20 ppm depending upon fish, plants (I know you have none), bacteria, feeding, etc. Ammonia will only show above zero if something happens (fish/plants dying, bacteria dying off, overfeeding...) or it enters via tap water during the partial water change. An ammonia-detoxifying water conditioner will handle the latter. If it is due to the former issues, the source must be found and rectified.

Keep us posted as to ammonia readings.

I looked at that Seachem link, and am not sure exactly how much I would trust such a device. I've no personal experience with it, so won't comment further on something I don't know about.

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Old 11-15-2009, 02:00 PM   #23
Yeah I'm not sure what the cause could really be for the issue. I know that of course waste from the wish will add ammonia to the water, but im not finding any real waste in the gravel when I clean it, and I've made sure to clean it all. I've literally left no stone unturned! And just to rule out overfeeding, I've been feeding them sparingly once every 3 days.

My thought was that it was the tap water, but I checked with my city and they do not use chloramine, only chlorine and fluoride in the water, and I tested it pre conditioned and it was a solid 0 for ammonia.

As for the Seachem product, I never purchased it to be my #1, definitive ammonia reader. It was more as a gauge to alert me on a daily basis that something might be up so that I can rectify it, especially with a newer tank. I too have my doubts about how a product such as that could really be all that accurate.

I did a 50% water change yesterday, and just tested the water again with the API Freshwater liquid testing kit. here are my readings:

pH - 7.6
Ammonia - Just shy of 4
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 0

I'm also going to make the drive to get some Safe Start or similar unless someone tells me otherwise! :P
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:35 AM   #24
Keep in mind that if your filter has not truly cycled then any water changes will only slow the process down.

If your Nitrate is trully 0 then I would say you have never cycled, but more likely your test kit is bad or your doing the test wrong. Almost all people I have talked to have small amounts of nitrate in their tap water. Maybe take some of your water to a LFS to have it tested.

If you are sure your tanks filter is cycled you can do this. Get a bucket fill it with tank water put the filter in the bucket. Then take out all the gravel or sand you have, and clean it with tank water and never let it dry.

Then empty the water out of the tank and refill it with water that is the correct temp, put in Dechlorinater wait about 2 minutes then put your gravel and filter and fish back in. If your filter is truly cycled and your tap water truly has 0 readings then you should have a fresh start, and you should have 0 readings on everything. This will also get rid of anything hidden in the substrate that could cause the problem. Then keep an eye on it for a couple days if the ammonia creeps back up you know you have not cycled your filter.
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Old 11-16-2009, 08:13 AM   #25
I did not test the tap water for nitrates, only the tank water.

And when I first started the tank, the ammonia went up, and then it went down to zero. It was at 0 until last week when this all started, about a month after my new fish were added. I did see a small ammonia increase, but it went back down within 2 weeks of their introduction. I did not have a nitrite/nitrate testing kit at that time, but I assumed that this meant I was cycled since something had to be eating the ammonia!

I made sure that my test kit is not expired, according to the lot code on the API bottles it says it is only a few months old, and they should have a shelf life of a couple years, if I'm not mistaken.

I still have to get to the LFS because by local I mean 30 minute drive, but I'll take some water with me to have it tested.
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Old 11-16-2009, 09:38 AM   #26
i have had great success using the aquaclear ammonia remover insert. they are like 1-4 bucks depending on the size and they are in a mesh bag so you can probably use them in many different filters.

check them out. like i said i have had a lot of success using these in my tank

here is a link to them at petsmart

AquaClear Ammonia Remover Filter Insert - Filter Media - Fish - PetSmart
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Old 11-16-2009, 08:14 PM   #27
Well, just got back from PetSmart...they tested my water, and had all the same readings I did. So now we can rule out me testing wrong, or my kit being bad.

Of course they aren't generally fish experts, but when I work till 5:30, a half hour drive one way to Petsmart for some supplies is better than the 1 hour one way drive to my favored fish store (not to mention my fave is closed at 6 lol). And they came to the same conclusion that I've been headed towards - my tank is cycling again for some reason.

So, they don't have Tetra Safe Start but I went with SeaChem's Stability which is supposed to be essentially the same thing.

Last edited by mikaboshi; 11-16-2009 at 08:23 PM..
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:50 AM   #28
Well you have a miracle filter that is worth millions. If you have no NitRates and the fiter was at one time cycled. It sounds like something has happened and you have lost your cycle and are starting all over again if you have possitive ammonia and negative nitrite and nitrate. The reason I mentioned nitrate in the tap water was because I assumed you used tap water for the water changes, so there for would be putting nitrate in the tank. It is possible that your tap water is nitrate free and your changing the water so often that its keeping the levels down.

If your tank has lost its cycle water changes only slow down the process, you are better off stocking up on prime and detoxifying the ammonia until the tank cycles again. It is important that you don't use ammonia removing products as suggest above or you will never cycle, you must use product that detoxify the ammonia while still leaving it for the BB to eat.
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Old 11-17-2009, 06:54 AM   #29
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If there are fish in the tank, You really have no choice but to perform water changes in my opinion. With that said, Unless you have been changing water daily,the ammonia levels being posted should have killed these fish. Originally, the tank had matured or cycled. Something destroyed the bacteria colony or it was removed. As long as API test indicates ammonia, and no other ammonia reducing chemicals and or powders are being used or have been used,,then I would assume that the filter is once again maturing. Any chemiclas other than dechlorinator should in my view be avoided. The tank and filter will once again mature. All bets are off if other ammonia reducing pads,powders, or potions that can skew test results are being used. Something in my view is Hincky, the ammonia levels reported would kill fish in hours. Possibly before a water change could be performed. I would feed these fish once every three days and no more than a dime size amount of food once.
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Old 11-17-2009, 08:26 AM   #30
I am changing the water daily.

I used Ammonia Clear the 3rd day I had the spike, to provide temp relief to the fish. It has been now a week since I've used that. However, never have they exhibited any signs of ammonia poisoning.

The only chemicals I am now using is Prime for conditioning the new water, and Stability, which is supposed to expedite my bio filter.

I already am feeding them once every 3 days, and sparsely.

Last edited by mikaboshi; 11-17-2009 at 08:29 AM..
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