Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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3dimentia 11-03-2008 09:38 PM

more or less unexplainable ammonia
I'm new here! I love my lil fish and I want to do the right thing and take care of them unlike so many people that get an aquarium, and just leave it and feed the fish.....My father for example....I feel so bad for his fish.

Ok so here is what I've got :D
10 gallon tank
2plant/rock structures (fake)
white gravel
1 bubbler stone in the back
filter of course
tropical fish heater
seashells on the floor (thoroughly cleaned)

the fish:
2 guppies, and 1 live bearer fish that is orange colored with black fins (the name escapes me ATM)

So i cycled the tank a month and half or so ago, and I had 2 more guppies than I do right now. Well, we moved and I set the tank back up. Two days later, I lost a guppy. About a weak after that, I lost another one. Both would go to the top, breath pretty vigorously and then go sit at the bottom. They wouldn't eat or anything.

After I noticed their behavior, I immediately started water changes and checked the water for ammonia. Sure enough, it was pretty high...around 2. 25% change every day. Cleaned out the rocks a bit....Didn't help. I lost them both.

Now I still have the 2 guppies and the one orange one and the three of them seem ok, but oddly enough, the ammonia level will NOT drop down below .5. they seem to be ok in this water, but I want it down to 0. I want them to have a healthy home, not one that burns them.

So the question is, what aside from water changes can I do to get that bacteria to start breaking down that ammonia better? I only have 3 small fish, I'm surprised that the three of them can keep the levels that high specially since before the move, 5 fish were just fine and had a PPM of 0.

I have a feeling I killed off the bacteria in the filter during the move (and probably elsewhere) so my tank is recycling but its been about a month now.
What do you think I can do? I'm kind of out of ideas at this point....

Thanks everyone for reading, and your help!

iamntbatman 11-04-2008 12:14 AM

The orange fish with black fins sounds to me like a platy. Two guppies and a platy certainly shouldn't be producing enough ammonia that your bacteria wouldn't be able to process it. I'm thinking there's something else going on here. Have you tested your tap water for ammonia? Did you remove the dead guppies from the tank? How much do you feed the fish? Overfeeding can also lead to high ammonia. Guppies and platies are both pretty voracious eaters, so you should be able to feed them a small pinch of food twice a day and see them eat every last bit of it within a minute or two.

Depending on the outcome of that ammonia test on your tapwater, I would do a water change to try to get the levels down a bit. When you do the water change, use your gravel vacuum to really dig deep down into the gravel to suck out as much waste as you can over roughly 1/3 of the floor space of the tank. There could be rotting food and waste down in the gravel that's keeping your ammonia high.

1077 11-04-2008 05:18 AM

I would agree for the number of fish you have ammonia should not be a problem unless you are over feeding or replaced the filter that harbors the beneficial bacteria that is needed to break down the ammonia. Leave the filter alone for the next three or four weeks, cut feeding to once a day and only a small amount so that none or very little falls to the bottom and use a good dechlorinator for new water that you add such as PRIME or AMQUEL+. Not all water conditioners detoxify ammonia, chlorine,AND chloramines which is chlorine/ammonia.The two mentioned are very good at detoxifying all three. Always treat the new water BEFORE you add it to your tank.:-)

3dimentia 11-04-2008 09:48 AM

Hello again. Thank you all for the replys. yes, platy is what she is.

Ok so I feed them a small pinch once a day anyway because I read that that may help. When I changed out a good 25-30% of the water last night (beacuse it was at 1) i did the turky baster method into the rocks to get some of the junk up into the water to suck up. I've noticed that my gravel vacuum doesn't really suck all that well.....

I have tested my tap water for ammonia, and it is at 0 ppm on its own. I do use a water conditioner when I replace the water, though I'm really not sure how much to use because I don't feel the instructions are very clear. The conditioner I have is stress coat+ and it says it removed chlorine, chloramines and ammonia in tap water. The instructions say put in 5ml per 10 gallons, but I don't know if they are saying I should do that every water change because its a 10 gallon tank or if I should only do 1ml total for the 25% water change. Thats what i've been doing.

When I squirted the rocks, quite a bit of garbage did come up out of the rocks, but I was under the impression that I don't want to vacuum the heck out of the rocks so I don't kill off the bacteria. Did I get bad information? Also, would it be a bad idea to put some of that "tank starter" bacteria in there to help jump start it again? It just doens't seem like its working...

On the good side, my guppys yellow fin, which used to be dark black on the tips is now going back to yellow, so I must be doing SOMETHING right. I tested the water for ammonia again this morning and this time it was about .75, so lower than last night, but still kinda high....

Thanks again!

1077 11-04-2008 11:01 AM

No you did not get bad info. aggressive vaccuming of new tank can destroy beneficial bacteria which gathers there as well as your filter. Have you replaced the filter recently? As stated before I would leave it alone unless it becomes clogged to the point that it slows the water returning to your tank. In this case You can simply swish it around in aquarium water that you take out at water change and then stick it back in. I am not a fan of stresscoat but if that is what you insist on then I would maybe use it each time as though I were treating 10 gal as opposed to the two gal or three that you are removing. I have used that product and all it did for me was gum up the filters with the aloe vera much sooner than later. I would do water changes of two gal each day until ammonia and nitrites stay at zero for a week. I would try and vaccum a small area of the tank at each water change , a different area each time until You get all the gunk you described out of the tank. It is no doubt uneaten food that is contributing to your ammonia readings. What test kit did you say you were using? API liquid freshwater master kit is what most use. Keep us posted on your efforts and were it me I would not add anything to the water other than dechlorinator. Some products can affect test results stresscoat may be one of them which is why I would look at the two I mentioned earlier. GOOD LUCK.

3dimentia 11-04-2008 12:18 PM

Yup I'll be taking a look into the amquel when I get a chance. I tested some water with the stress coat in it to see if it throws off the test, and it does not. I think I'll be grabbing another test kit next time I'm at the pet store as well.

Thanks for the info, I'll elt you know how it turns out after I change it out again tonight.

iamntbatman 11-05-2008 01:27 AM

Just a heads up:

The test kit 1077 mentioned (which is the same one I use and is a great kit in terms of a good balance between accuracy and user-friendliness) can be bought much cheaper online than in pet stores. I've seen it at Petsmart for $30, Petco for around $33, and up to $35 at smaller fish stores. Online aquarium supply stores (Drs. Foster and Smith, Aquariumguys, Big Al's) generally sell it for around $15, and they can sometimes be bought on eBay for even cheaper.

NeonDetra 11-05-2008 10:53 PM

Whoa buddy, let me tell you about an experience i had with out of control nemonia. SEA SHELLS IS A NO. it turns your chemistry crazy regardless of a thourough wash. almost all my fish were taken and all because my mom said " hey sea shells are pretty" " here you go" DUMP............ i tried tea bags , water changes everything. fish were still dropping like flys. it turned out the only way i solved the problem was crude and totally stupid, but hey, it worked. ( my first chemistry problem, give me a break. i took all my fish, put them in a jar, and completely changed the water. no fish died in this proccess surprisingly, and my nemonia rage was gone. now i'm not tellling you to do this, only in and extreme emergency, attempt this. bye all meens neccesary avoid this. try everything before you go to this, because it is stupid and unsafe for your fish. try a 75 percent water change max. i really dont know any other working working methods...

3dimentia 11-09-2008 01:29 PM

Update: So I have been changing out the water every other day, 25% and vacuumed some of the gravel out to get the poo and old food out. I just did a 50% change because it was back up over 1ppm last night and it dropped it to .5.....I am at a loss at this point...should I just yank the shells and hope that helps? Im really lost at what to do at this point :|

Kim 11-10-2008 02:13 PM

Shells will probably raise your pH undesirably anyway, so yeah I would take them out. See if it helps, who knows. Yes, you don't want to overly vaccuum the gravel, but do make sure that you are getting to the bottom of the section that you are cleaning. Leaving gunk on the very bottom could be the cause of ammonia. Good luck.

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