My tap water has ammonia???
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My tap water has ammonia???

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My tap water has ammonia???
Old 09-08-2013, 07:30 PM   #1
 
My tap water has ammonia???

Hi all,

For some reason I am unable to get my 10 gallon tank (2 mollys only) down to zero ammonia level. The best I have gotten it is 0.25 to 0.5.
I cycled the tank without fish (using fish food and adding store-bought bacteria - ammonia went from 8 down to 0.25, but never zero. Nitrites zero, Nitrates 20, pH 7.2).

I was considering that my reagents might be off, so I tested my city tap water (not well water) 3 times and it came back positive at 0.25 each time.

Is this a problem?

Are my reagents off?

Does any of this explain why the ammonia level is always just below 0.5 with my mollys?

Do I need to add ammonia lock to the water I add to the tank or will the bacteria take care of it?

I am sort of confused because I thought I was doing water changes to help keep the ammonia level down...but now I see I might be adding it with the new water...

Thanks!
Juggernaut
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:39 PM   #2
 
Do you have live plants?
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:50 PM   #3
 
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Established tanks should be able to handle the extra ammonia in time. How soon after a water change are you testing the tank water? What are you using for water conditioner?? i would not use ammonia lock too many chemicals in a tank can be bad even if its with good intentions. Do you have any live plants?
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:15 PM   #4
 
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In a tank with an established bacterial colony, the ammonia should read 0. Because you're adding it with the tap water during each water change, and if your tap is at 0.25ppm, then you could expect to see some level of ammonia directly after - though it should drop back to 0 fairly quickly. . . If you're conditioning the tap water with a dechlorination product like Prime, it will detoxify the ammonia until it can be dealt with by the beneficial bacteria. . . and, again - the numbers should fall back to 0 within a day or so.

Instead, you're seeing it RISE to 0.5 - which to me indicates that your tank is not fully cycled yet, or is overstocked. Mollies grow too large, are too active, and have too high of a bioload for a 10g tank - unless they are very young. This might have something to do with your problem. . . but the ammonia still should have fallen back to 0 when you were cycling, before adding fish!

It is possible your reagent is off, but more likely that you have some chemical residue from the last testing left over in your vial. Try washing the vials out with soap and water, rinse them very well, and test again. I've gotten false ammonia readings from dirty vials in the past. . .

How long has this tank been set up now with fish-in?
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:46 PM   #5
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chesh View Post
In a tank with an established bacterial colony, the ammonia should read 0. Because you're adding it with the tap water during each water change, and if your tap is at 0.25ppm, then you could expect to see some level of ammonia directly after - though it should drop back to 0 fairly quickly. . . If you're conditioning the tap water with a dechlorination product like Prime, it will detoxify the ammonia until it can be dealt with by the beneficial bacteria. . . and, again - the numbers should fall back to 0 within a day or so.

Instead, you're seeing it RISE to 0.5 - which to me indicates that your tank is not fully cycled yet, or is overstocked. Mollies grow too large, are too active, and have too high of a bioload for a 10g tank - unless they are very young. This might have something to do with your problem. . . but the ammonia still should have fallen back to 0 when you were cycling, before adding fish!

It is possible your reagent is off, but more likely that you have some chemical residue from the last testing left over in your vial. Try washing the vials out with soap and water, rinse them very well, and test again. I've gotten false ammonia readings from dirty vials in the past. . .

How long has this tank been set up now with fish-in?
Hi,

Thanks for the information.

Before the fish - I think the tank got to below 0.25 but I would still not have called it zero. It was like that for a few weeks so I figured that was the best it would get.

The mollys have been in the tank for 3 weeks now - seem to be doing well.

I was going by the 1 inch of fish per gallon - the fish are about 3 inches each. I know people debate about his approach.

We did just add 4 danios which I was told would only be about 1 inch when fully grown...which would make the 10 inches for 10 gallons.

I will wash the vials out - I was just rinsing them.

I did add more starter bacteria today to see if that would help, so I think I have to wait a few more days before retesting...

Thanks!
Juggernaut
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:47 PM   #6
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boredomb View Post
Established tanks should be able to handle the extra ammonia in time. How soon after a water change are you testing the tank water? What are you using for water conditioner?? i would not use ammonia lock too many chemicals in a tank can be bad even if its with good intentions. Do you have any live plants?
Hi,

No live plants.

I think we have been testing the water nearly a week after a water change.

We are using a water conditioner.

Thanks!
Juggernaut
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Old 09-08-2013, 09:29 PM   #7
 
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Overstocking is one very common mistake that will lead to ammonia in a tank.

The inch-per-gallon rule is debated because it is not accurate. In reality, regardless of size, fish have vastly different requirements. Mollies have a very high bioload per inch when compared with many other fish (they're messy and poop a lot!), and are also very active. The size of a 10g tank doesn't offer a 3" fish very much space to swim around in for their entire lives. :(

Danio are another very active species, grow to around 2 inches, I believe - and will take full advantage of all the tank space they can get. They also should be kept in a shoal of at least 6, or they may become nippy/aggressive. . .

If you haven't read them yet, I'd like to recommend that you take a look in our fish profiles for more information regarding the fish you have, neither one is going to do very well long-term in a tank that size (sorry to be the bearer of bad news!) Here is the link to TFK's Danio profile. And here is the link to the Common Molly profile. Give them a read, and you'll come to a better understanding of what your fish need to thrive.

You also may find AQAdvisor.com helpful. This is a site designed to help aquarists with stocking, just type in your tank stats and it'll give you a good idea of where your tank stands, stocking-wise, as well as if there are any compatibility issues among the fish you wish to keep.

Hope this helps you out - happy tanking!
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Last edited by Chesh; 09-08-2013 at 10:06 PM..
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Old 09-08-2013, 09:52 PM   #8
 
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Are you using the API LIQUID water test? It won't show 0 ammonia completely. Mine never totally matches 0.
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Old 09-08-2013, 11:08 PM   #9
 
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Grab a bottle of water if it's handy, test that. The ammonia test goes for around $5 online, costs maybe a buck to make it. It isn't lab grade, 0.25ppm is well within the margin of error.
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:36 AM   #10
 
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Originally Posted by marshallsea View Post
Are you using the API LIQUID water test? It won't show 0 ammonia completely. Mine never totally matches 0.
Yes, that is what I am using.

It never went down completely to the yellow - figured with no fish and everything else completely normal, that it must be a little mismatched...

I will keep checking the tank - any way to work with the current fish if the tank is overstocked or is the only option to reduce the number of fish?

Thanks!
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