What else can I do for high ammonia? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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What else can I do for high ammonia?

My tank is 3.5 weeks old and my ammonia levels in my 55 gal have been high for the past few days - it went from .25 to .50. Yikes. However the Nitrates haven't come up. Grrr.

I have ten fish - tetras, barbs and platys, I also have 7 live plants (two swords, two pennyworths, an onion plant and something I can't remember the name of, but the fish seem to like it, I find leaves on the surface every morning. I have aquarium gravel, one artificial plant and three large resin tree stump decorations.

The fish look fine, they play and chase each other, they eat greedily, their colors are good. I feed them twice a day and try very hard not to over feed them.

I have not changed the filters because I know they are important to the cycling process, I had a look at them, they are brown and having stringy things growing on them. So, in my opinion that's a good sign.

I did a 50% water change today (I did vacuum it, I was worried that there might be too much garbage on the bottom) and put in a cap full of Prime and two and a half cap fulls of Stability.
I tested my water afterwords with the API test kit and my readings are PH 6.8, Ammonia .50, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0.

Advice? It seems the advice I get at the LPS is always different than the advice I get here. I only have one big box store (Petsmart) to shop at, and they're always dismissive of the advice I tell I've read about. All the other pet stores cater to salt water.
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post #2 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 03:25 PM
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My best advice would be to continue to watch and test your water parameters. If this was me (and it's not) as soon as I saw an elevated reading for ammonia I would do a 50% pwc. I'd cut back feedings to once a day only, and make it a small feeding. Fish can go along time without food and once a day, while your tank is still cycling, is plenty. Continue to use your Prime and follow the instructions on the Stability. It states to use daily, for a week, right? In a 55gl with the plant list you gave, isn't enough in my opinion to instantly cycle this tank. You'll have to be patient, cut back on feedings and stay on top of the water changes until the bio-bed can get up to speed. Good luck, don't worry, it'll eventually cycle. 4 to 6 weeks isn't uncommon.

If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything...
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post #3 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 03:41 PM
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The one thing that sucks up the Ammonia that I have noticed is the live plants. Will you be planting more in your tank? I think if you intend to do that anyhow, maybe you could add a few more now to help with the Ammonia. When I was cycling my tank, I was doing daily 50% water changes then it started to drop and I did 3 days a week then 2 now I am down to 1 time each week and I change about 50% each time. Maybe a little less. Keeps the water nice and clear, the fish happy and the bottom looking good.
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Kymmie, thanks for your advice. I will cut back on the feedings to once a day.

The instructions on the Prime indicate that I can use more of it for higher levels of ammonia. Should I add more in the following days? I'll be adding the Stability for the next 7 days as per bottle instructions.

I'm wondering if I should do a daily 50% water change again tomorrow if my ammonia levels still read .50?
I will be wanting to add more plants, should I wait until the tank is cycled, or would adding more this weekend be acceptable?

Last edited by oceans; 09-10-2010 at 03:45 PM.
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Inga,
I'd like to add more, I love the look of them. But, I'm wondering if I should add them now or sit it out until after the tank has cycled.
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 04:07 PM
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Plants? You can add as many plants as you want now. The plants won't be adversely effected by the cycle process. Quite the opposite really. They will help it along a lot and the fish will be happy for it. Keeping that Ammonia low is essential for the over all long term health of your fish. Even if they live through the cycle, you want them to live a nice long healthy life. Damage can be done even in low Ammonia levels like .25 ppm. Keep the water changes happening and get some more plants.

Are you fertilizing your plants? Lights for about 10-12 hours and what is recommended for fertilizer is Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive NOT to be confused for Excel. I am a person that is in the "more plants the better" camp. They look beautiful and they keep your water healthier. I wish I had started out with real plants right away myself. I spent $$75.00 on crappy silk plants first. I was so disappointed with how they looked in the tank, I pulled them and went with real. NEVER been happier with how the tank looks.
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Well that's fabulous news, I'll be buying more real plants asap. I wish my Petsmart had a larger selection, they seem to have about eight plants and the last time I was there a few of them looked awful. I would love to buy something that's lush and full and fun for them to hide in.

I have liquid fertilizer 'Plant Zone', but I'll be buying some Flourish as I've heard it's better. And, I believe I won't need any bottom feeder type fish if I have plants correct?

I spent about the same on the artificial plants and felt the same when I saw them underwater. I replaced them with live and one of the young girls from the pet store bought them from me. I like the amazon sword but wished it grew a little faster, however it looks great. I love the onion plant nice and tall in the corner, I want to get a bunch more of them.

I only have one artificial plant left and I'm reluctant to remove it as one of the male cherry barb's has claimed it as his home and chases away any of the other fish that come near, cute really, go little guy! I love to see him giving the boots to the tetras as they're a nippy bunch.

My aquarium is set up in a corner next to a south facing window, so it gets plenty of indirect light. Plus I leave the tank lights on whenever I'm home in the morning or during the day or in the evening. I'll keep my eye on them and if I need to upgrade to the artificial lights then I will definitely upgrade.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 04:42 PM
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The problem with actual sunlight is that it causes algae much more then the "fake light" from the bulbs. It becomes a balancing act between the light and fertilizers (How am I doing, Byron? lol )

As far as bottom feeders, like Pleco's I wouldn't recommend them unless you actually just enjoy the fish. I have 4 Otocinclus in a 60 gallon tank and I love them. They eat algae and keep the tank super clean but I like to watch them also. I wouldn't recommend them until your tank is fully cycled and you have a bit of algae for them to eat or they will starve to death. You could also go with snails if you chose to for algae. The best way to combat algae however, is to balance the need for light and fertilizer, don't over feed your fish and do sufficient water changes. I do mine weekly, as I said.

I too love the Sword plants and I have quite a few. I am debating getting another small tank for my guppies that were gifted to me. They are in with Tiger Barbs, Gourami and a Rainbow shark all of which are listed as not good options with Guppies. They are doing quite well in there though so... we shall see.

I felt bad making changes when my fish were in the fake plants too but they were much happier with the real plants... or at least that is how I saw it. lol They just claimed different areas. Mine love the Mopani wood.
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 04:49 PM
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Agree w/ Inga. The sooner you can stuff some more plants in there the better!
We'll have to get your light situation squared away so your plants will flourish.
There are "stickys" that Byron has done as far as having and maintaining a planted tank so if you have some time, read them as they are very informative!

If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything...
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-10-2010, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Girls! I'm going shopping after work tomorrow night, and in the meantime I'll give Bryon's stickys a read.
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