Puzzling Ammonia Levels - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 05-27-2011, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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Puzzling Ammonia Levels

I've had a 10 gallon aquarium for about a year now. I did a fishless cycle, and have some guppies, and tetras. In the beginning when I first set things up, I would test daily, then every other day, then once a week. Whenever I tested, ammonia levels were at 0. 2 weeks ago, the water got a bit cloudy suddenly, so I tested the water and my ammonia levels were off the charts. I use an API master test kit. When I say ammonia levels were off the chart, I mean the water I tested turned dark, dark green. It almost looked black. So I did a partial water change, and tested the next day and ammonia was still off the charts. Kept doing partial water changes, and the ammonia level has remained high. None of the fish have died, but the ammonia tests continue to be very high. Any ideas what could be causing this?

As a side note, after I did the initial water change, a few days later, the water cleared up.

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post #2 of 4 Old 05-27-2011, 11:26 PM
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Have you tested anything besides ammonia? Ammonia is only 1 part of the equation, and by itself is a small portion of what is happening in your water chemistry. Can you list test results for nitrite, nitrate, and pH also please?

Also, a list of fish species and how many of each in the tank, live plants, anything living thats in the tank... any changes you may have made in the past few wks, water temp, type of filtration & type of media in it, water change/maintenance schedule (how much and how often), and anything else you can think to tell us. Nothing is trivial. A clear photo of the tank would also help.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #3 of 4 Old 05-28-2011, 06:44 AM
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I had the same thing happen to me in two tanks. All other numbers were perfect except the ammonia, so I started doing water changes and vacuumed the gravel every time. Then I added prime(faithfully), the water is clear again and oddly enough my fish never showed any signs of stress or poisoning.
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post #4 of 4 Old 05-28-2011, 01:15 PM
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Also... have you tested your tap water before it goes into the tank? Some tap water sources can be quite heavy in ammonia, nitrite, and/or nitrate.

Before using a chemical treatment to detoxify or eliminate the ammonia it is best to figure out where its coming from so you can avoid this from happening again. I'm also wondering if the guppies are breeding? Spawning livebearers will alter water chemistry in a small tank rather quickly. How many fish are in this tank?

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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