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I caused my two tanks to crash!

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I caused my two tanks to crash!
Old 03-04-2013, 08:33 PM   #21
JDM
 
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Two options.

If you want to test the test, cut the tank water agian witha 50% change. Retest. keep changing 50% until you get into measureable and much lower levels.

Or

Just go big and change 80% or more right off. I did that once for a nitrite spike... long story. The levels weren't as high as you are seeing but it made me feel better starting with a sunddenly way lower level.

Something does sound off with the amount of ammonia that you seem to be seeing. Any chance the testing is off... number of drops, 5ml of water, cleaning and drying the tubes between tests?

Jeff.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:06 PM   #22
 
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Yes, this is just not making sense. Sorry we keep asking questions, but we have no other way to pin this down.

Exactly what additives/substances are you adding, and how much and how often? Water conditioner, etc.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:34 PM   #23
 
Before I bought the ammonia test kit, I wasn't adding anything but declorinator (API Stress Coat), and I occasionally added API Stress Zyme when I did a weekly water change.

Then I added more fish, stupidly, I know, until I had one tank fully stocked (10 guppies + a couple of plants) and had set up the other tank for mommas to have their babies in, with a couple of plants as well. Had several groups of three or four babies in that tank over a period of a few weeks.

After six weeks and what had been happy fish, I changed the filter media and bought a ammonia test kit. It showed mildly high ammonia at .5. Then after stirring up all my gravel in a cleaning that didn't go well, I ended up with ammonia at 4.0, then to 8.0 after a couple of days and a couple of 25% water changes. I added Ammo Lock at full strength during the water changes, on days 1,2, 4, and 6 and 8. (Today is day 10) I also began to add bacteria in the form of API Quick Start, at full strength with each water change, and I used Accu Clear two different times in each tank after water changes.

Tonight I changed 50% of the water in tank #2, added Prime at about 3 ml for my tank, which is higher than the basic dose of 1 ml, but I have such high ammonia, it says you can add up to 5 ml for my tank. I also added Quick Start (bacteria) one more time to that tank. Then the ammonia was still at 7 or 8, when it was perhaps twice that before, I don't know, the test doesn't go that high.

I haven't done anything tonight to tank #1 yet.

Does this help you?
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:45 PM   #24
 
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I'm also really puzzled. I think you're a bit overstocked but nothing crazy. I'm thinking of just doing a massive huge water change, like 90%, as low as you can get with the fish still being in. Also, you don't need to remove the decorations/plants when you gravel vac, the bacteria lives on the decorations and the plants can get hurt by drying out. Just vac around them. Do you have the proper lights for plants? (I can't remember, I might have asked this, sorry, it's late).

When you tested the tap water, did you shake the water before testing? Shake it for like 30 seconds vigorously to ensure proper test results.
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:04 PM   #25
 
Yes, I have been doing the tests correctly, correct ml, drops, shaking.

Lastly tonight I did a complete 100% water change in tank #1, to see what happened and because I am practically losing my mind about this ammonia. I took the six fish out first, along with the ornaments and plants. I kept the things from the tank in a large bowl, and they didn't dry out. The fish went in a separate container with some tank water. I vacuumed the gravel, then swished it around in the remaining water before dumping all the water, but not the gravel. I didn't use clorinated water on anything, and quickly refilled it with water treated with Prime.

I replaced the plants and the fish, and added back the 1 tablespoon of salt that guppies like, and I did replace one of the two filter pads in the tank because it looked so brown and gross I thought it might be a source of ammonia, somehow. I did keep the other filter pad in the second filter and didn't touch it.

At this point I worried about there not being enough good bacteria and added a full dose of API Quick Start bacteria. I wasn't going to, but I did, can't remove it now.

Then I did an ammonia test. It read .5. Not sure why it wasn't 0, but it's a heck of a lot better than over 8! Is it possible that the Quick Start contains some ammonia as a 'start' for the backteria?????

I think as an experiment I will also empty the second tank tomorrow, not add the Quick Start and measure the ammonia after the water change. If it is 0, then I can't help but to think it is coming from the Quick Start, although maybe I am crazy.

Do you all think I am crazy?? HA! I swear, I was happier before I bought the test kits and was ignorant!
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:08 AM   #26
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That's the first that you mention salt. Guppies might be said to "like it" by some but they are listed as being able to "tolerate" it and "are best kept in freshwater", a far cry from liking it. 1 tablespoon is a lot of salt. Someone else can comment on how that might affect your tanks, I don't know.

The prime breaks the chloramine into ammonia and chlorine so it is normal that treated water will result in a small level of ammonia.

Jeff.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:01 AM   #27
 
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Originally Posted by JDM View Post
That's the first that you mention salt. Guppies might be said to "like it" by some but they are listed as being able to "tolerate" it and "are best kept in freshwater", a far cry from liking it. 1 tablespoon is a lot of salt. Someone else can comment on how that might affect your tanks, I don't know.

The prime breaks the chloramine into ammonia and chlorine so it is normal that treated water will result in a small level of ammonia.

Jeff.
Yes, I forgot to mention that one of the fish stores recommended salt for the guppies from the beginning. The bag of aquarium salt says to use 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons for freshwater fish, so that is what I put in. Somewhere about guppies I read that they like up to 2 tablespoons per 10 gallons actually....they are still freshwater fish, but salt is said to help stressed fish who like somewhat brackish water--guppies. Am I wrong about this??

This morning the tank I emptied and refilled is doing great. All fish slept lower down in the tank, near the bottom, which is normal, I believe. When the ammonia was high, they were up at the top of the tank at night.

Today I am set to empty tank #2, but this is my tank of my best six fish and what now seems like even more babies than before....geez, there must be a total of nearly 20 now. I will have to try to net them all and remove them before emptying that tank and refilling it. Does anyone think that completely draining this tank is too drastic a measure before I do it? This tank #2 is showing normal levels of nitrite and nitrate in it now, but the ammonia is still off the charts, and now and then one or two of the fish hang around near the top, not moving around a whole lot, but not near death, either.

I know you all must think I am pretty boring just doing guppies, but I really think they are very active and pretty fish, and watching the males court the females, shimmying their big tails in front of them, is really an entertaining sight!

I hope I can get these tanks back in order! Please volunteer any further ideas or instructions you might have, I really appreciate all the input. I feel like I jumped into what I thought was a not too complicated hobby here, but boy was I wrong about that! I like Byron's message at the bottom of his page about being an aquarist...how true!
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:24 AM   #28
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Big change in #2 can't hurt.

Keep in mind that nitrites are harmful to fish just as ammonia is so the same attention to keeping them as close to zero should be given. Prime will render these non-toxic for a day or two as well but you will rely on the bacteria cycle to consume them... plants won't look after this as much as they will for ammonia.

Once things are settled down, you should aim for a maximum 10ppm for nitrates and this is mainly managed through water changes... although I am having good luck with plants to some degree.

I don't think you should add the salt BUT I will defer that opinion to someone who perhaps has experience with guppies. You do want hard water though, you are around 8-9dGH. Perhaps if it isn't high enough salt is recommended if you don't keep other fish with them.

Jeff.

Last edited by JDM; 03-05-2013 at 09:27 AM.. Reason: added salt comment
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:24 PM   #29
 
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The problem with additives to the water is that many will interact with others in ways that we can't always understand, not being chemists. The less added, the better.

You have live plants, including fast growing ones (floating) so ammonia should never be an issue. Thus, something is causing it.

Bacterial supplements will increase ammonia, so I would stop with those. While salt should not cause ammonia, as far as I know, it is another additive that is not necessary so stop using it. I have an article in the Freshwater Articles section that explains the problems caused by salt with all freshwater fish. While livebearers are better able to cope with it, they don't need it.

Add only the conditioner at each water change, and only sufficient for the volume of water changed (I would do half the tank). Remember that conditioners and additives that detoxify ammonia do so by changing it to ammonium which will still show in "ammonia" tests but be harmless.

Let us know what results from the above. And monitor the fish; even if ammonia shows in tests, use the fish as the guide. If they are behaving normally, don't worry about it.

Byron.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:07 PM   #30
 
Things improving

Quick update...

I did an 75% change in tank #2, didn't want to try to net all the fry, so couldn't do a 100% change like I did in tank #1. Ammonia levels in tank #2 now below 2.0. In tank #1 they are still at .5. At least I am getting down to some numbers that make sense. For the tank with the 2.0 level, I will do another 60% water change tomorrow, hoping to get below 1.0 as well. Am just adding Prime now instead of the API water conditioners.

All fish are doing well...amazingly. If I can get a picture of one of my male guppies I will post it. He's extremely striking...navy blue metallic body with huge reddish orange tail with black mosiac design highlighted by yellow.

Thanks for all the help! And if someone could answer the question about guppies needing some aquarium salt in the water, and how much, that would be greatly appreciated!
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