Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
-   Beginner Freshwater Aquarium (
-   -   I need advice about ammonia - Help (

FishRCool 02-16-2008 10:51 PM

I need advice about ammonia - Help
Some people say to do partial water changes everyday and some say to leave it alone b/c it needs to do its thing and others say to add chemicals. I am so confused. I'm hoping to get some good info. My ammonia is constantly high. The ph is alkaline but not too bad and my water is very soft and all the other stuff is safe. I know that I'm not supposed to clean the gravel or decorations but how often can I do a water change? I don't want to use chemicals. I don't know what else to do. This is really starting to stress me out. I did a partial water 4 days ago and then again last night. Thanks to all.

Also, I'm about to buy some Bio-Spira or Stability. I don't even know if this will help with the ammonia. As I understood it in another thread it speads the good bacteria up.

cedricb 02-16-2008 11:25 PM

describe your tank if you need help

how many gallons
what and how much fish in it
what kind of filtration etc



Oldman47 02-17-2008 08:52 AM

Hi fishRcool. I'm glad you care enough to ask. Partial water changes are the only good answer to what to do when your chemistry is out of whack. Anything more than 0.25 ppm of ammonia or nitrites needs to be dealt with. At those levels it starts to hurt your fish, I am assuming that you have fish. The bacteria you are probably trying to establish to deal with nitrogen in your tank will come along a little slower in low concentrations of ammonia but your fish will be able to live through it. If you cycle without fish, you can let your ammonia get as high as 4 ppm with no harm to the cycle and it will move along a little faster.The bacteria you are trying to encourage do not live in the water, they live on things like filter media, aquarium gravel, plants, decorations, rocks, etc. You do not disturb the bacteria by removing only water but you might save your fish a lot of discomfort.

FishRCool 02-17-2008 09:43 AM


40 gallon
2 south american cichlids
2 african cichlids
gravel couple decorations

I know I know. I'm taking 2 of the fish back to the lfs because I found out you're not supposed to mix them. :)

If I don't want an algae eater AFTER the tank is cycled, can I just remove it manually? or how do you go about this?

cedricb 02-17-2008 11:28 AM

If your tank is not cycled it could be kind of normal that your ammonia levels vary a lot. 10% water change per week should be enough.

you are right for the fish. I think that if they do not have an aggressive comportment you can mix african and american cichlids.
one likes acidic water the other basic water. If you put them in a ph 7 water everybody will be happy. The only thing you will have to forget about is the breeding because most of the south american cichlids breed in even more acidic phs like 5,5 or around.

does anybody exactly know (real scientific study) how the life time of a cichlids is affected if it is not kept in its original ph conditions ???
example: american cichlids kept at ph7 instead of ph 6 ???


herefishy 02-17-2008 01:18 PM

Well, where to start? I guess the beginning is a good place, huh? This is going to be a long post, I see.

The cycling of any aquarium is a basic necessity. It occurs naturally. The conditions of any living area, aquatic, terrassic, or atmospheric, is a delicate balance. All living creatures, or plant, need certain conditions in which to survive. One condition is a clean environment, at least relatively speaking. What may be "clean" to one species, however, may be deadly to another.

The relationship of aroebic bacteria and aquatic life is an example of the coexistence of two life forms that benefit each other. Fish provide a material, wastes, that need to break down, the job of the bacteria. And the bacteria break down the poisonous elements into those that will not harm the fish and are beneficial to plant growth. An imbalance of any one contributor to this ecologic biosphere will have negative results. Over feeding, for example, can over load the capacity of the bio bed and cause a spike in ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. Bad for fish. Having an insufficient bio-load can lead to a drop in beneficial bacteria. So, as you can see the balance is delicate. The great thing about nature is that it seems to be able to balance itself, if given time.

There are basically two cycling methods, fishless and with fish. The terms are basically self explanatory. With fish, you add a small group of hardy fish to provide a supply of waste to start the bio loading of the tank. This provides the "food" for your bacteria. It will speed up the process but does have draw backs. One, it does stress the fish. You will have spikes in ammonia, nitrates and nitrates during the process. It is faster that some fishless cycles.

Now comes the complicated subject, fishless cycles. With fishless cycles, there are basically three categories, normal, accelerated, and forced. Normal, you set your tank up and let nature take its course. This process takes the longest. Some tanks can take as long as 12 weeks to cycle, especially the larger ones. Fish may be added gradually, emphasize gradually, as the process winds down. That will be explained later.

Accelerated cycling is using "seasoned equipment, substrate, or decorations. This method uses a pre-colonized method that already has bacteria present. Thus, hastening the establishment of a bacteria bed. This can also be used with the first method mentioned.

Forced is using chemicals, which I do not recommended to the beginner. I do use this method when taking fish to large, multi-day shows and conventions. I am not proficient at this method. I have some very good friends that aid my in this. They use ammonia. That's right the same ammonia that kills fish. They inoculate the tank with ammonia. I do use seasoned equipment and gravel. Some of my tanks will cycle in 24 hours. This is an exception and not the rule. I do know that a small capful goes a long way. But these folks use syringes to determine the amount of ammonia to use. Too complicated for this old fishkeeper. Again, using seasoned equipment and gravel to seed the bio-bed definitely speeds up the process.

As far as water changes, during the cycling period, I change 25% daily. After the tank establises itself, I change 25% minimum weekly.

One thing I cannot over stress is the virtue of patience. Do not assume anything. Let nature take its course. In fact, tattoo this on your forehead, "BE PATIENT".

Now, to finish this off. No matter which method you use, taking samples and testing the water is a must. When setting up a tank, I take a water sample right after adding the water to use as a benchmark. Samples are taken daily for 2-3 days. After that, twice a day until the tank has cycled. The readings will let you know. Expect ammonia spikes during the process. Get a good test kit, not a strip kit. A good quality "liquid" kit will run about $25-$70.

Now that I've totally confused you, good luck and happy fish keeping.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:16 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome