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Persistant ammonia (9 months). I've tried everything.

This is a discussion on Persistant ammonia (9 months). I've tried everything. within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by Mikaila31 Any chance you can get a water quality report for your county? Sometime they are available online. I'm interested in ...

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Persistant ammonia (9 months). I've tried everything.
Old 06-06-2011, 03:40 PM   #11
 
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Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
Any chance you can get a water quality report for your county? Sometime they are available online. I'm interested in what water hardness is GH or KH. It almost looks like you are dealing with soft tap water that does not have enough buffering capacity to hold its pH.
I'm still looking a bit for water hardness levels, but unsuccessfully so far. All of my searches come up with irrelevant things like "middlesex county EPA estuary water quality reports", or links to companies selling water filters.

The pH for convict cichlids is a bit different than most cichlids, which prefer 8.0. Convicts are often cited as having a wide preference range between 6 - 8 pH. I chose a 7.0 buffer in hopes of holding in right in the middle of that range so that it wouldn't gradually become to acidic as wastes accumulate. It obviously doesn't work very well. I'll stop using it for now.

I can do more frequent water changes like I used to (daily). I eventually settled on weekly for fear of changing the water so frequently that a stable balance (or cycle) can't be established. Its been nine months. The fact that the tank hasn't begun to cycle is just absurd, especially considering the fact that I've also seeded the tank with a variety of commercially available beneficial bacteria cultures. I was unable to find the ideal pH range for the beneficial bacteria, but I've wondered if this low 6.0 pH is retarding their growth.

I could switch to a strategy whereby I eliminate the use of Ammo-Lock and buffer as you suggest and rely instead on more frequent water changes.
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:25 PM   #12
 
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It is important to focus on one issue and resolve it first, and obviously the most critical now is the ammonia. The pH can remain where ever and the fish will not be overly affected as opposed to fluctuating pH which can cause permanent issues and even death. Once the ammonia is resolved, consideration can be given to pH adjustment. Knowing the hardness is crucial for this, otherwise we are stumbling in the dark.

We need to collectively find the ammonia cause and resolve it. I am with Mikaila on this, something is likely affecting the test.
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:55 PM   #13
 
I have noticed you did not mention anything about your substrates and how old are the filters. if you are assuming the filters are changed periodically, disreguard the filters but a long term over-used active carbon cartridge will leak materials and chemicals back into the water.

Noticing that you have done alot to your tank, I prefer to do a 100% water change, with no chemicals other than Prime water conditioner. This would allow your tank to be free of all that chemical you added previously (well most of it, trace will be there since you have used it). and possibly start the cycle over.

if tap is comming out 7 and ur tank is comming out 6.4 there must be something acidic in your tank. do you use any driftwood or stones acidic stones(most stones are basic but there are some that are acidic)? And I believe that the ammonia does contribute to the lowering of the pH but I believe that the ammonia cannot cause a drop of .6 on the pH scale because i believe that your ammonia cannot be giving a 6x10^-8 molar solution to cause this drop.
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:10 PM   #14
 
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I have noticed you did not mention anything about your substrates and how old are the filters. if you are assuming the filters are changed periodically, disreguard the filters but a long term over-used active carbon cartridge will leak materials and chemicals back into the water.

Noticing that you have done alot to your tank, I prefer to do a 100% water change, with no chemicals other than Prime water conditioner. This would allow your tank to be free of all that chemical you added previously (well most of it, trace will be there since you have used it). and possibly start the cycle over.

if tap is comming out 7 and ur tank is comming out 6.4 there must be something acidic in your tank. do you use any driftwood or stones acidic stones(most stones are basic but there are some that are acidic)? And I believe that the ammonia does contribute to the lowering of the pH but I believe that the ammonia cannot cause a drop of .6 on the pH scale because i believe that your ammonia cannot be giving a 6x10^-8 molar solution to cause this drop.
I am currently changing the carbon on a monthly basis.

Well, the water comes out of the tap at about 7.2 and after I add the chemicals it is 6.8 (as of today I am doing water changes without the chemicals, only the water conditioner). Then at some point the pH gets even lower to 6.4 or its current value of 6.0. My assumption has been that the 6.0 is due to accumulation of uric acid and other waste products. I would be interested in placing some of my gravel in some tap water for a day and see if it has an effect on pH. There isn't much else in the tank other than that.
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:34 PM   #15
 
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Originally Posted by toxictank View Post
I am currently changing the carbon on a monthly basis.

Well, the water comes out of the tap at about 7.2 and after I add the chemicals it is 6.8 (as of today I am doing water changes without the chemicals, only the water conditioner). Then at some point the pH gets even lower to 6.4 or its current value of 6.0. My assumption has been that the 6.0 is due to accumulation of uric acid and other waste products. I would be interested in placing some of my gravel in some tap water for a day and see if it has an effect on pH. There isn't much else in the tank other than that.
It is completely normal and natural for the pH in an aquarium to lower over time. The creation of CO2 by fish, plants and bacteria [most CO2 occurs from the bacteria breaking down organics] adds carbonic acid to the water and the pH naturally drops; the same thing would happen if you were to diffuse CO2 into the water. The rate it does this depends upon several factors, primarily the hardness of the source water--which is why we have asked for these numbers--along with the number of plants if any, number of fish and their size, amount of feeding, any wood or leaves in the tank, water change schedule, etc. Each of these has an effect, but the latter may be countered largely by the hardness.

My tap water pH is 7 or 7.2, and my tanks run at 5 or 6 depending upon the specific tank. My fish are all wild-caught soft acidic water fish. Livebearers would die within days in my tanks.

What is occurring is not necessarily bad, but this we won;t know for certain until we know the hardness, both GH and KH.
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Old 06-07-2011, 12:57 AM   #16
 
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Have read through this thread and considering all of the products that have been, or are being used,,(Ammolock,bacterial additives,ph buffer's, I would have zero confidence in ANY test result's and would wonder if all of this was necessary in the old ten gallon?
Were it me,(and it ain't) I would use only a water conditioner such as PRIME and tapwater in the tank.
I would change the water once each week at amount of 50 percent.
If fish survived in old ten gallon tank without all of the measures being taken in this tank, I would consider that and act accordingly.
The only test kit I would use is API freshwater master kit.
If ammonia levels posted are accurate,,the fish would have died long ago.It is possible that gunk under the undergravel filter could be contributing to ammonia levels and if undergravel filtration is still in operation, then cleaning under the plate by using gravel vaccum inserted in lift tube, or suction hose from canister should be done regularly or,,,you could employ reverse flow undergravel filtration by purchasing a powerhead or two capable of reverse flow which will prevent gunk from building up under the filter plate by forcing water down the lift tube and up through the gravel where the canister or HOB filter can clean the water.
If you managed to keep this fish in ten gallons you can keep it in 30 gallons by replicating what you did before.
There is nothing wrong with the pH from your tap or tank in my view. If it were otherwise,,fish would have expired year's ago.

Last edited by 1077; 06-07-2011 at 12:59 AM..
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Old 06-08-2011, 01:34 AM   #17
 
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It is completely normal and natural for the pH in an aquarium to lower over time. The creation of CO2 by fish, plants and bacteria [most CO2 occurs from the bacteria breaking down organics] adds carbonic acid to the water and the pH naturally drops; the same thing would happen if you were to diffuse CO2 into the water. The rate it does this depends upon several factors, primarily the hardness of the source water--which is why we have asked for these numbers--along with the number of plants if any, number of fish and their size, amount of feeding, any wood or leaves in the tank, water change schedule, etc. Each of these has an effect, but the latter may be countered largely by the hardness.

My tap water pH is 7 or 7.2, and my tanks run at 5 or 6 depending upon the specific tank. My fish are all wild-caught soft acidic water fish. Livebearers would die within days in my tanks.

What is occurring is not necessarily bad, but this we won;t know for certain until we know the hardness, both GH and KH.
I use the API master kit for all of my tests. Although my fish (it is just one fish in the tank) has been quite ill, the reason he has not died is because the values of 8 ppm are for the total levels of ammonia, but do not indicate how much of that is in toxic form. I have an in-dwelling test strip that indicates the amount of toxic ammonia varies between "safe" and "caution" ranges. Although not particularly precise, these do at least let me know that most of the ammonia is currently in its non-toxic form. I attribute this to the temperature and lower pH value in the tank (if the temperature and pH were higher, more of the non-toxic ammonia would convert to its toxic form).

After searching for quite some time (town municipalities websites are not the most organized or content-driven out there), the closest I've been able to determine for water hardness values are the following:

Ca: 15.8 mg/L
Mg: 5 mg/L
Total: 20.8 mg/L

So the water here is quite soft.
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:31 AM   #18
 
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Question

Did you add a chemical that changes ammonia into a safe substance for fish to live with? If so, your tests will still see that there is ammonia present, but wont tell you it's toxic or non-toxic. To fully remove ammonia from your tank, I would get some kind of resin...
-Me.. I've learned my lesson the first time from setting up a new tank.. went and bought ammo chips/carbon right away to put into my filter inserts... Not only will this clear my water.. but will also clear my tank of any ammonia for up to 4 weeks. I made sure to get a slightly larger (40oz) container of this substance for only $13.00.. versus buying 20oz for $7.00. Anyways.. I lost fish to ammonia before when I setup my first tank... I wont lose fish to ammonia ever again. :P

The resin I got is called API's "Ammo-Carb". Really, you can get just the Ammo chips for cheaper, but because it was a new tank, and my water was rather foggy.. I got the carbon with it too. This is sold at Petco, and other LFS.

I hope this helped...
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:33 AM   #19
 
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oops O_O sorry... didnt read all the posts..
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:44 AM   #20
 
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I know what the green slime is.

In one of my ten gallon tanks several months ago, I was holding 10 green terror fry. Ammonia went through the roof, and blue green algae took over (Cyano). As far as I can tell, Even Cyano struggles with extremely high ammonia levels, since eventually it turned this horrible brown-orange color and peel off in sheets. Shortly after that, my fish all commited suicide.

I agree that your ammonia is the main problem, since ammonia is toxic to everything- even bacteria.
I doubt that the bacterial blooms were from the beneficials... Beneficials live on surfaces, not in the water column. (A lot of old books got that fact wrong.)

I also agree with 1077's comment, that the tank has suffered through a lot of chemicals. At high ph, ammonia converts to ammonium. I would throw away the buffer first. Go to a farming supply store, and get some powdered dolomite limestone. Add it in a filter sock, or simply dump in. Normally you want to be able to remove it, but the ph won't go over 8.2-8.5 in a worst case scenario, and your cichlid won't mind.

It might also work to get some duckweed if you can get it cheaply... Plants will basically turn ammonia into growth. Ammo-chips or ammo-carb is also a good idea.

Have you tested your water directly from the tap? (for ammonia)
I doubt your gravel lowers PH- it's probably the bacterial and algal actions.
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