Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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ambria 05-17-2009 08:29 AM

Ammonia!
 
This is an established tank. Everything was fine and then I added 2 small corys, 3 small long-finned barbs, and 2 small upside down catfish. Then the cloudiness started. I did a 20% water change and added Amquel Plus (removes ammonia, nitrates, nitrites etc.). Seemed to get worse. My ammonia tests were about 2.0. Nitrites 0, nitrates 5.0-20, PH 8.0

I waited the next day to let it cycle (Marineland 350 Bio-wheel, plus have airstonel) and tested it the next morning - ammonia levels still the same. Tested supply water - ammonia 0. retreated with the Amquel Plus, waited next day, no change. Ammonia still at 2.0.

Fish shows NO signs of distress at all. Swimming happily and no fish loss.

Did 50% water change, waited a day, same results. 2.0 waited another day, tested still at 2.0 so I cleaned and moved items in tank to suck up debris, removed 20-30% water. Again, next day, no change.

Added filter insert of ammonia remover into my filter - (2 - 50 gallon bags). Daily water changes have been going on now for 1 week or so.

I stopped using Amquel and did water changes each day of 20% (no gravel cleaning, just water change) Aquarium appeared to be clearing up. Look straight on and it was clear; looked through the sides, still somewhat cloudy.

I did another water change this morning. Waiting until morning to test. Still no signs of disteess or anything to fish. They are still happy. Before adding the new fish, I had trace amount of ammonia but did weekly 20% water changes.

Before I had chiclids and had NO ammonia problems with tank. tank has been up and running for 8 months. Also, will be finding new home for pleco when it outgrows tank so it won't be overcrowded.

Any ideas? Suggestions?

Byron 05-17-2009 08:54 AM

The cloudiness and the ammonia are probably not the same problem, and may not even be related.

Your ammonia test kit may not be accurate. If the fish are showing no signs of stress, this seems likely at a pH of 8. At a pH of 8 and a temperature of 77F, any ammonia reading above 0.5 is deemed deadly. If it really was 2.0 before you took any action, I wouldn't expect the fish to be alive. Amquel neutralizes ammonia's toxicity, it does not remove it, asnd I understand that it can cause test kits to give false readings.

When did you last clean the filter media (not suggesting you should now, just asking when as this sometimes leads to cloudiness)?

Byron.

ambria 05-17-2009 10:52 AM

Thanks Bryon,

I cleaned the filter media a week ago when all of this started. it was cleaned after the cloudiness. Right now, it is looking nice and clean - that is why I could not figure out about the ammonia levels and they were staying the same each time. I am working on bringing down the PH levels now. I even told my husband that something was not right with the reading. it was giving the same reading each time which I thought was odd.

So, I'll keep an eye on the PH level and bring it down slowly over time. Thanks for your help! it is much appreciated.

Byron 05-17-2009 01:56 PM

On the ammonia, you might want to take a tank water sample to your lfs and ask them to test for ammonia. Most stores will if you are a regular customer. If your test kit is not accurate it pays to know. Although, frankly, once my tanks are cycled I never test for ammonia, in 12+ years; once the biological equilibrium is established you should never have ammonia or nitrite above "0" unless something drastic occurs (excessive dead fish/plant material, filter bacteria wiped out, etc). Still, it is useful to ahve a reliable test kit on hand just in case.

Except for being unsightly to look at, cloudiness (minimal) is not a problem for the fish usually. And it does frequently occur following filter cleaning/rinsing. However, as it has cleared up for you, no longer an issue.

Re the pH, I don't know what you may be intending but if I may offer a suggestion, don't use chemicals to lower (or raise) pH. The water has a natural buffer and chemicals will lower pH at first but as the buffering agent in the water works the pH will rise again, often within a day or two; in other words, the chemicals are not long-term solutions unless you have distilled or pure water. And fish cannot tolerate fluctuations in pH that are excessive or quick. Stable pH, even if not the "preferred" range for the fish, is better than fluctuating pH. But having said that, if you want lower pH, you can do it safely with peat in the filter. Or with a RO unit. It also depends upon the fish you are keeping; livebearers and rift lake cichlids would be OK, but with those you list I would agree the pH should be a bit lower. There are several on this forum with experience in peat and RO units should you have questions.

Byron.

aunt kymmie 05-17-2009 02:17 PM

[quote=Byron;196348]On the ammonia, you might want to take a tank water sample to your lfs and ask them to test for ammonia. Most stores will if you are a regular customer. If your test kit is not accurate it pays to know. Although, frankly, once my tanks are cycled I never test for ammonia, in 12+ years; once the biological equilibrium is established you should never have ammonia or nitrite above "0" unless something drastic occurs (excessive dead fish/plant material, filter bacteria wiped out, etc). Still, it is useful to ahve a reliable test kit on hand just in case. quote]

An estabished tank should never test for ammonia? I thought it was possible that a very slight reading for ammonia can occur due to a dead fish, overfeeding, and then the ammonia is cleared up as the biological gets it back under control??

ambria 05-17-2009 06:01 PM

Bryon, I was reading about the peat and then I read about adding driftwood to my tank. I had already done this today and will be adding other pieces as soon as I finish preparing it (soaking).

I owned several different tanks in the past and never worried about testing it and all my fish turned out fine with no losses (other than old age). I had a lot of problems with this tank when i was cycling it with ammonia levels then it was fine until last week. I even had a black shark for 9 years that broke his heater (all they had was glass heaters at that time) and he bellied up on me and I swam him for 3 hours holding him upright until he could swim right. Had a very crooked body but no ammonia of any kind.

So hopefully the driftwood will bring it down cause I really hate all those chemicals in there. thanks!!!

1077 05-18-2009 03:17 AM

I am with Byron in regards to ammonia and possibly getting second opinion. I find it odd that the test kit that renders 0 ammonia in tapwater,,Registers 2ppm in tank water despite the fact that you have changed nearly 100percent of the water over a period of days. What test kit are you using and how old is the kit? When you say you cleaned the filter recently, Describe how you cleaned it. I am near certain that given you have kept fish for some time,, that you are aware of the effects of chlorine in tapwater on beneficial bacteria found on filter material but I'm just throwwing things out for you to consider.Is this filter new ? have you replaced any gravel recently? Was this the tank cichlids were kept in? Has the tank been allowed to sit for any length of time with no fish in it?
I was confused by previous post in regards to ammonia reducing product. You mentioned.. (Two 50 gal..bags) Thats alot of product.:shock:
Some driftwood is safe after soaking to remove tannins ,and other pieces should be boiled to remove any unwanted organics or proteins that it may have absorbed depending on it's source.
In any event the effects on pH are often negligible due to volume and frequency of water changes. If this tank was home for cichlids,,perhaps the substrate was comprised of minerals that would suit them. If not , then I would agree with peat as possible way to SLOWLY lower the pH with weekly water changes. The peat can be messy ,and the use of some type of pouch to place it in would help in that regard. Others boil the peat ,and use that water combined with their tapwater to lower the ph, This is done in a separate container and water is stored for use at water changes. In this way you can measure the effects of the peat on the water without risking harm to the fish. Keep the mixture of peat and tapwater aerated and heated in a small rubbermaid tub, and you will always have the water available, Hope some of this helps.

Byron 05-18-2009 12:53 PM

[quote=aunt kymmie;196354]
Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron (Post 196348)
On the ammonia, you might want to take a tank water sample to your lfs and ask them to test for ammonia. Most stores will if you are a regular customer. If your test kit is not accurate it pays to know. Although, frankly, once my tanks are cycled I never test for ammonia, in 12+ years; once the biological equilibrium is established you should never have ammonia or nitrite above "0" unless something drastic occurs (excessive dead fish/plant material, filter bacteria wiped out, etc). Still, it is useful to ahve a reliable test kit on hand just in case. quote]

An estabished tank should never test for ammonia? I thought it was possible that a very slight reading for ammonia can occur due to a dead fish, overfeeding, and then the ammonia is cleared up as the biological gets it back under control??

Kym, in a biologically established aquarium, you will never have ammonia and nitrite testing above "0" unless something goes wrong. Nitrosomonas and nitrobacter bacteria multiply by fission (dividing into two new bacterium) very rapidly as soon as more "food" (ammonia or nitrite respectively) is available, and provided the colony is well established. In a biologically balanced aquarium the addition of a few new fish, a dead fish or some decaying plant leaves will not be detectable by most of the standard test kits we use. I'm not a chemist or biologist, but I suspect that the ammonia and nitrite rises just a trifle until the bacteria have multiplied but not enought to be detected without convoluted fancy equipment, and certainly not sufficient to cause stress to the fish in the aquarium. This is what I have read from several authors on the subject, so I'm assuming it is reliable.

By "something goes wrong" I mean if half the fish were to suddenly expire, and the can of fish food got dumped in the tank, especially in a smaller setup, this could trigger a problem with rising ammonia and then nitrite. But under normal operation, I think it is safe to say you would never detect ammonia or nitrite above "0". And biologically established implies that the fish load is balanced with the water volume, filtration, plants, etc.

aunt kymmie 05-18-2009 01:57 PM

Thanks for the info, Byron!

ambria 05-18-2009 02:25 PM

1077,

I meant to say that I put in 2 bags (small bags) that are made for 50 gallon tank, not 50 gallon bags of it. I have taken one of them out. After I gave away my cichlids tank fish, i waited 1-2 weeks, doing a cleaning in that time with cleaning gravel and water change before I put these fish into it.

I was going to go to the lfs today but it has been non stop raining here. My tank is as clear as glass right now with the exceptions of some tannins from the driftwood I placed in there yesterday (yes, it was cleaned and soaked, but not boiled). I'm beginning to even wonder abut the PH kit now because it still shows high PH level.

My fish are all swimming and eating and content. I just bought both PH and ammonia kits (liquid test) so I have no clue how old it is. Non of my fish are in distress of any kind, so I am taking it the tank is fine now. I cannot even see any cloudiness anymore.

I just rinsed the filter and the filter is about 2 weeks or so old. I always use something for the chlorine etc. in my tap water. i treat the tap water before it enters my tank.

After I gave away my cichlids tank fish, i waited 1-2 weeks, doing a cleaning in that time with cleaning gravel and water change before I put these fish into it.

But yes, I was also puzzled over the ammonia reading 0 from my tap and then it being 2 in my tank. that was weird and still is. But I will be sure to take it to the lps soon to see what they come up with. if the ammonia levels are that high, these are some healthy tough fish.


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