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gilfish 04-08-2011 11:10 PM

Ammonia hell
 
Hi all! Wanted to let you in on the uber-frustration I have been dealing with in my 55G. About 8 weeks ago, I traveled all week 2 weeks in a row, and I gave my fish way too much food before I left each time. My bad. I developed an ammonia issue and my tank when cloudy after 5 years of crystal clear water. I went to my LFS and got some advice. I have been feeding my fish (1 large cichlid, 7 medium cichlids, 1 gourami and a med pleco) once a week, and when I do, I put in about 10 flakes - about 1 flake for each fish - once a week. I also changed the foam pads in my Fluval 404. No change. About a week later, I changed SOME of the media in my 404 to include Fluval Ammonia reducers. Nothing. Every 5 days or so, I have been changing about 30% of the water giving a good vacuum. I have been careful to not do too much at once with the cleaning or the filter to not mess up my beneficial bacteria. Did I mention that my pH, alkalinity, hardness, nitrate AND NITRITES were giving perfect readings throughout this whole affair? After another 7 days, I tried TetraAqua's "Ammonia Detox" from the LFS. After an entire bottle and the 30% water changes weekly that the instructions say to do, nothing. Still "danger" readings on my ammonia sticks and an aquarium that looks like a London morning 24/7. I have lost no fish and they seem happy and healthy and VERY hungry through all of this. Don't know what else to do. It's been two months now of ultra cloudy water. Even after water changes it looks a little clearer for a few hours and then the fog rolls in. I've tried a couple of 80% water changes, too, where I stuff the vacuum down deep to the bottom of the substrate and stir everything up. No change. Over the course of the last 8 weeks, but only little bits at a time, I have cleaned all of the media in my 404. I bring my water to the LFS and the ammonia levels they tell me are deadly. Still, perfectly healthy fish but one very ugly looking aquarium. (There is no algae in the tank either.) Thanks for any advice!!! :shock:

TwinDad 04-09-2011 04:28 PM

I had a cloudy tank too, I read through LasColinasChica cloudy thread and bought the agua clear 50 for a 29 gallon tank. WHat is the capacity of the filter? I have read that 3-4 times the volume of water per hour should be circulated.

If you have a petsmart near you head there and pickup a bottle of the seachem prime water conditioner. It might seem expensive but 5ml conditions about 50 gallons.

Also while you are there invest in a fresh water mater test kit from API. It's $30 but it lasts forever. It's accurate unlike the strips. When I went to a store to check it they said I had stress levels the API kit told me I had .25, which is higher than the 0 it should be. BUt far less then the 1-2 they told me it was.

Basically you need to vaccum the gravel/floor to get rid of the excess food left over. I would consider investing in either a UV filter or a small micron sponge filter to help if the filter is capable of filter about 150 GPH. I have seen many posts of people who have cloudy water and get either filter and it clears the issue up in a few days.

Byron 04-09-2011 04:33 PM

I'm a bit confused on a few things in your post, so let me ask first for some more detail.

When you post issues, it is good to give us the numbers for any tests. For instance, what are the pH, hardness and nitrate numbers? The pH is especially significant with respect to ammonia.

Also, what is the tank size?

And i assume you are using test strips for the tests? A liquid test kit is more reliable. API make a good combo kit that has pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. A good investment.

When we know the above we should be able to offer some advice.

Byron.

InvertPlanet 04-09-2011 04:36 PM

It does seem strange. Test strips are terribly unreliable and the liquid kits are much better. If you had that much ammonia in the tank then you'd also be showing Nitrites and Nitrates.

Adding 3rd party products to the water locks the harmful ammonia into a harmless ammonium, but the test can't tell the difference so you'll still get a reading.

Other than a bacterial bloom I don't know what else it could be. Have you tried a tank blackout? No lights and cover the tank with a blanket for 24 hours and see what it looks like after that?

gilfish 04-09-2011 10:37 PM

OK I went to PetSmart and got the liquid testing kit and the Seachem Prime. Here are the results:

Ammonia: .5 ppm
Nitrite: 0.0 ppm
Nitrate: 10 ppm
pH: 7.4

According to the pamphlet that came with the tests, I have a healthy tank, no? Ammonia should be 0 and apparently my pH (for my cichlids) should be higher at 8.2 so it's not perfect, but that makes my foggy tank that much more of a mystery.

What say you?

(As I said in my post, I have a 55G FRESH. 6 larger cichlids, a large moonlight guorami, and a medium pleco.)

Bigguy71 04-09-2011 11:44 PM

Ammonia is hellish!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gilfish (Post 643148)
Hi all! Wanted to let you in on the uber-frustration I have been dealing with in my 55G. About 8 weeks ago, I traveled all week 2 weeks in a row, and I gave my fish way too much food before I left each time. My bad. I developed an ammonia issue and my tank when cloudy after 5 years of crystal clear water. I went to my LFS and got some advice. I have been feeding my fish (1 large cichlid, 7 medium cichlids, 1 gourami and a med pleco) once a week, and when I do, I put in about 10 flakes - about 1 flake for each fish - once a week. I also changed the foam pads in my Fluval 404. No change. About a week later, I changed SOME of the media in my 404 to include Fluval Ammonia reducers. Nothing. Every 5 days or so, I have been changing about 30% of the water giving a good vacuum. I have been careful to not do too much at once with the cleaning or the filter to not mess up my beneficial bacteria. Did I mention that my pH, alkalinity, hardness, nitrate AND NITRITES were giving perfect readings throughout this whole affair? After another 7 days, I tried TetraAqua's "Ammonia Detox" from the LFS. After an entire bottle and the 30% water changes weekly that the instructions say to do, nothing. Still "danger" readings on my ammonia sticks and an aquarium that looks like a London morning 24/7. I have lost no fish and they seem happy and healthy and VERY hungry through all of this. Don't know what else to do. It's been two months now of ultra cloudy water. Even after water changes it looks a little clearer for a few hours and then the fog rolls in. I've tried a couple of 80% water changes, too, where I stuff the vacuum down deep to the bottom of the substrate and stir everything up. No change. Over the course of the last 8 weeks, but only little bits at a time, I have cleaned all of the media in my 404. I bring my water to the LFS and the ammonia levels they tell me are deadly. Still, perfectly healthy fish but one very ugly looking aquarium. (There is no algae in the tank either.) Thanks for any advice!!! :shock:

Here's something you may try, in my 29 I run a whisper 30 with carbon only then I also have a whisper 10 with filter media but with ammonia absorbing stones in it. Also, you said with your water change your giving a good vacuum , just do a water change then the next time do both (alternate) and dont do them so close together. Give it about 2 weeks in between. Good Luck !

InvertPlanet 04-09-2011 11:53 PM

a steady ph is more important than the actual value. If your Ph is going up and down because of additives that WILL have a direct effect on your biobed and you're fish's over-all health. A fish can adjust to a "slightly different" Ph level but swings are a no-no. Keep that Ph as close to your tap as can be and adjust slowly accordingly to accommodate the tap.

Byron 04-10-2011 10:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gilfish (Post 643898)
OK I went to PetSmart and got the liquid testing kit and the Seachem Prime. Here are the results:

Ammonia: .5 ppm
Nitrite: 0.0 ppm
Nitrate: 10 ppm
pH: 7.4

According to the pamphlet that came with the tests, I have a healthy tank, no? Ammonia should be 0 and apparently my pH (for my cichlids) should be higher at 8.2 so it's not perfect, but that makes my foggy tank that much more of a mystery.

What say you?

(As I said in my post, I have a 55G FRESH. 6 larger cichlids, a large moonlight guorami, and a medium pleco.)

On the whole, good numbers. The cloudiness can be caused by many things, so there is really no mystery. From what you've told us, I would suspect it is due to having fairly "large" fish in a relatively small tank. You don't mention the cichlid species but you call one of them "large" and 7 "medium", and then there is the pleco--all of these are large waste producers. Filtration needs to be strong in such a tank, and the larger the water volume the easier to achieve healthier conditions. The 2 weeks neglect you mentioned probably upset the previous balance; plus the fish are all larger now than they previously were, so this will only increase.

The ammonia is probably due to the above; have you checked your tap water for ammonia (and nitrite and nitrate--it is good to know if any of these are present so appropriate steps can be taken if necessary)?

Short-term I would increase your water changes. In a tank like this, a 70% water change every week is minimal. Provided the water parameters of tap and tank water are reasonably close, this will not be any problem. Larger weekly water changes are much more effective than smaller more frequent changes. I won't go into the science now, but I can provide the references if asked.

Without knowing the fish species, I can't suggest if any should be considered as needing removal/re-homing. I would probably suggest removing the pleco, assuming it is one of the "common" plecostomus as this species is much too large for such a small tank as a 55g. And the longer it is in there, the worse things (including its health) will get.

On the pH, assuming these cichlids are Central American types, it is fine. If they are rift lake species, then I would look at raising hardness and corresponding pH, but there are safe natural ways to do this if needed. Again assuming these are CA or SA species, this is not necessary. But larger water changes as recommended will result in more stable parameters (less acidifying) to keep things steady. For one thing, if the pH in the tank drops below 7 as it can with such a large bioload, the ammonia changes to harmless ammonium. Then when you come along with a water change and it rises back over 7, the ammonium changes back into ammonia and bang go the fish. Which is one reason why large regular water changes are advisable, they maintain stability better.

Byron.


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