Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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GeeReg 04-15-2007 01:38 PM

Tap and water levels question
Sorry this is long, but:

Right now I have a 10g tank with one parrot fish that I've had for over a year. I will admit that I didn't know what I do now, so I have never changed the water or even cleaned the gravel properly. I now know why all of the other fish I tried to keep eventually died, but the parrot has been fine.

Now recently I decided to give the tank a good cleaning. I cleaned out the filter under tap water (I know) and started what I thought was a good way to clean the neglected gravel. I had a crude gravel cleaner which was just a small tube tied to something rigid. I would stir up the gravel and try to get as much gunk to go up the tube. I have since bought a real gravel cleaner which works amazingly better.

During the course of all of this the water was basically murky and FILLED with particles. Later that day the parrot started acting very stressed and I really expected him to not make it. He was on his side on the bottom and looked very bad. But he got better and in a few days he was back to normal. Was this just stress or did I dig up some harmful stuff that was stuck under the gravel and change the water levels?

So now I bought a proper gravel cleaner, have read all about water levels and cycling and have a much better idea of what to do. I bought an API liquid test set for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. The levels were:

Ammonia: 1.0
Nitrite: 0.25
Nitrate: 40

After 2, 20% water changes, the levels were the same the next day, which I thought was strange. So I tested my tap water and found:

Ammonia: 1.0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5

Is it common to have ammonia in tap water? I didn't think it was. How does this effect the tank? I am not sure where the cycle is, whether I started a mini cycle with the cleaning or what. I have started a chart and I guess I need to track the changes and see what happens. The whole point to this is that I want to add other fish, and even though I know the parrot is fine, I don't want others to die if the levels are not right.

Sorry this was so long and if I forgot any information and thanks in advance.

joeshmoe 04-15-2007 01:59 PM

that is wayyyyyyyyy to small for hybrid fish like that. he could be stressed because of the close corders, i would move him to a least a 55 gallon or larger. but to get the nh3 aka ammonia down i would doing w/c every 2 or so days till it gos down.

joeshmoe 04-15-2007 02:00 PM

srry for double post but i think its very uncommon to anu nh3 in tap.

jones57742 04-15-2007 02:06 PM

It is not normal to observe detectable (by a fish keeper) concentrations in tap water.

I am 98% certain that your potable water is disinfected via a chloramine.

Chloramines are chlorine-ammonia compounds.

Having said that it is possible to have that concentration in your tap water.

Do you live on a street which has a dead end water line or which is a cul-de-sac (and therefore probably has a dead end water line)
has your community recently had a major water system line break (a portion of the town would have been without water)?
(Please note that other water treatment or distribution conditions could cause the production of the ammonia).

Having said all of that I recommend that you call the authority responsible for supplying your tap water and advise the authority of your observation.
This authority will typically be a municipality and listed in the phone book as
Public Works Department,
Department of Water Utilities or
Department of Utilities.


joeshmoe 04-15-2007 02:12 PM

i live on a cul-de-sac but my water normal

GeeReg 04-15-2007 02:42 PM

I know the tank is too small but the fish was given to me and he has nowhere else to go except a slightly bigger hexagon tank with 2 semi-large fish in it.

I don't live on a cul-de-sac but I have no idea if it is the end of the line. There haven't been any water system breaks as far as I know.

What are my options if the ammonia level is just how it is? What can I do?

jones57742 04-15-2007 02:53 PM


Originally Posted by joeshmoe
i live on a cul-de-sac but my water normal

You may a have a fire hydrant at the end of the cul-de-sac and/or the utility is diligent about flushing the line.


Originally Posted by GeeReg
What are my options if the ammonia level is just how it is? What can I do?

1st thing that I would do is make the phone call(s) in the morning.


GeeReg 04-15-2007 03:57 PM

Ok, thanks. I will call them tomorrow.

GeeReg 04-16-2007 09:34 AM

I checked the water company's website and it seems that they do in fact add ammonia during treatment. So, how will this affect my tank?

fish_4_all 04-16-2007 11:13 AM

To address what might have happened with the gravel cleaning and the parrot reacting the way did. Since it had been so long since freshw ater had been added to the tank after a descent water change what likely happened was the pH, KH and GH were changed drastically and stressed the fish out. The levels could have been extremely high and when you did the water change you basically cut them in half. If you have the tests, check what your KH and GH are. If they are really high and your tap water is really low then you might have to add some to the water for water changes. Not enough that you bring it back to the high levels but just enough that you only lower them by about 10%. This is really a guess because I have never read anything on how to lower levels that are high but 10% seems to me like a safe change for them. If the levels are normal, GH 3-12, KH 3-10 then I am not sure what might have caused the stress except the sudden ammonia readings.

Email or call them and tell them that you are getting readings for ammonia from your tap. It doesn't matter if they use it to treat the water you should not have it in your drinking water!

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