11-05-2012, 03:33 PM
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'Toxic' levels of ammonia, fish are fine?
After cycling my 35 gallon tank, adding Eco Complete substrate, and some live plants I added fish. Everything looked to be good, I was using an old test kit (I don't even remember the brand, it came with the tank (used purchase), and had blocks for the water, and packets of powder) and the readings showed everything was good. Well my sister (doesn't live with me) recently bought a tank and I gave her the old test kit and got the API Master test kit. It shows my ammonia levels as off the charts, but my fish are fine and dandy and happy. I was very shocked and honestly panicked. I did a 50% water change and vacuumed my gravel (no high amounts of fish waste, and just a bit a plant debris floating around). I tested the water again and it still read as very high ammonia. I don't want to just say 'oh, the kit is wrong', but what is going on?
I have 4 pearl gourami, 1 male, 3 females. 4 flame tetras (I know the number is low, I've been slowly adding them so as not to overload the system) and 3 kuhli loaches (again, I know I need a few more :/...) Any advice as to what I should do? I'm really worried but my fish are just dandy. I only feed what they can eat in a few seconds, 2 or 3 times a day.
11-05-2012, 06:34 PM
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Yes, the "ammonia" you are seeing in the API test is obviously ammonium which is basically harmless to fish. In acidic water, ammonia converts into ammonium automatically. As long as the pH does not rise above 7 this will cause no trouble. However, that does not mean we should ignore it, as it shouldn't be there.
You have named some fast growing plants, which I would have expected to keep ammonia at zero and nitrates low (5-10 is fine). May be time to ask more questions. Which water conditioner? Any substances other than the conditioner being added to the tank? Before this became noticed, how often were water changes done and what volume of the tank?
I would cut back on the feeding. Once a day is more than sufficient (except for fry that need more). And missing a day or two each week won't hurt. I never feed on water change day (shouldn't feed before any disturbance inside the tank), and normally one other day is missed too. I'm really not suggesting this is the cause, but it may contribute and the additional food isn't necessary. Hungry fish are healthier.
11-06-2012, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by jentralala
Oh and the Ammonia was showing up at the 5 marker...It was a pretty dark green. I'm still pretty panicked about it.
As I understand it you have low ph, high ammonia and yet fish seem to be doing fine.
Dechlorinators and ammonia locks can result in those conditions.
The api ammonia test kit measures total ammonia not just the dangerous free ammonia.
Seachem (I think) has an ammonia multitest kit that measures both free and total.
What happens one adds the ammonia lock, locks up the ammonia, panics and adds more ammonia lock and still measures ammonia. All the while the ammonia lock is also locking up oxygen and can suffocate the fish. Which you luckily have not reached.
High carbon dioxide also results in low pH.
If you're worried about the ammonia I would get the multitest kit just for piece of mind. From what you say I'll bet a poped pop corn kernal the ammonia is all locked up and safe.
With the4 anacharis in the any free dangerous ammonia should be consumed rapidily.
So I would basically do nothing. Stop the water changes and just top off what evaporates. Cut down a little on feeding and see what happens. I think you will find the ammonia will drop down in less than a week, pH will rise, the fish will be more active, and the plants will grow faster.
But that's jut my.
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