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KuhliLoach 08-07-2011 06:00 AM

Terrible Ammonia Problem!
 
Aloha, about three weeks ago I started a 55 gallon aquarium. Currently there is a baby oscar, two small tinfoil barbs, a syndontis catfish, a few small loaches and a yellow lab. I've got a terrible ammonia problem where it goes from 1ppm to 8ppm in a matter of 6 hours. I have a 110gal Aquaclear and a 70gal aquaclear powerhead with a water polisher attachment. I've been dosing with ammo lock and stress zyme heavily and performing 80% water changes twice daily to control the problem.

My only idea of what might be the problem is the coarse sand I used for substrate. I live in Hawaii where sand is plentiful. So I went to the beach and got some for use. I thoroughly washed it over a day until the water was clear. But recently after having this ammonia problem I talked to my friend at the local pet store and he said that the sand I used probably had a bunch of microorganisms that are now dying and releasing ammonia.

It is now 12AM HST and I'm going to perform another water change, I am seriously considering removing the fish and replacing the sand with store bought substrate.

Can anyone second this before I proceed?

GwenInNM 08-07-2011 09:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KuhliLoach (Post 770486)
Aloha, about three weeks ago I started a 55 gallon aquarium. Currently there is a baby oscar, two small tinfoil barbs, a syndontis catfish, a few small loaches and a yellow lab. I've got a terrible ammonia problem where it goes from 1ppm to 8ppm in a matter of 6 hours. I have a 110gal Aquaclear and a 70gal aquaclear powerhead with a water polisher attachment. I've been dosing with ammo lock and stress zyme heavily and performing 80% water changes twice daily to control the problem.

My only idea of what might be the problem is the coarse sand I used for substrate. I live in Hawaii where sand is plentiful. So I went to the beach and got some for use. I thoroughly washed it over a day until the water was clear. But recently after having this ammonia problem I talked to my friend at the local pet store and he said that the sand I used probably had a bunch of microorganisms that are now dying and releasing ammonia.

It is now 12AM HST and I'm going to perform another water change, I am seriously considering removing the fish and replacing the sand with store bought substrate.

Can anyone second this before I proceed?

Well, I'd hate to remove all that sand and get store bought. Nice, living in Hawaii - don't feel too sorry for you. LOL! Why don't you go buy Prime, because that does detoxify ammonia to safe levels, and continue with frequent water changes. You could get some live plants to help eat up that ammonia. Eventually you should get enough of the good bacteria to take care of what is going on in the tank. Makes sense what your petstore told you. You also may want to look for that bacteria stuff in a bottle (some are better than others) to speed up that process of good bacteria. Best of luck

Gwen

Byron 08-07-2011 01:34 PM

The pet store person may be correct. Using substances from nature, be it sand, gravel, wood or rock, is always a risk, as it may contain organisms that even thorough cleaning willnot handle. AQnd without boiling I doubt all organisms can be "washed out." And marine organisms would die in freshwater. I can't say this is the case here, but it is certainly a possibility.

Plus there is likely salt in the sand, that is bad for freshwater fish. I would replace the substrate. And clean the tank very well if you do before adding new.

On another aspect, have you tested your tap water for ammonia (and nitrite and nitrate while you're at it)? This can be another source of any of these.

Byron.

KuhliLoach 08-07-2011 05:47 PM

LOL, yeah in Hawaii the tap water is 7.6pH, 0.0 ammonia, 0.0 Nitrite, and about 5.0 Nitrate. But yes I have been using Prime to condition the water and Stress Zyme to help boost the Biological.

Well after last night's 80% water change, the ammonia read 1ppm, did a test this morning and to my surprise only :shock: 2ppm :shock: (still bad) a lot better than in previous days. Also Nitrites is at zero. I won't bother with the humbug Nitrates test because of my frequent water changes.

Thanks for the quick responses, I think I'll stick with it a few days before deciding whether to do the dirty!

KuhliLoach 08-07-2011 08:41 PM

Did another big water change and siphon cleaned the sand heavily. I tested the water shortly after and I got 0.0 for ammonia and 0.0 for Nitrite :-D I will do another water test in 6 hours to see how it holds up but getting better!

GwenInNM 08-08-2011 06:27 PM

Good to know!

Gwen

KuhliLoach 08-08-2011 10:58 PM

Getting Better! 6 hours after that big workup I got a reading of 0.25 Ammonia. This morning at 8:00AM HST I got a reading of 1.0 Ammonia. Then just now (4:48PM HST) I got a reading of 1.0 Ammonia, Nitrite 0.0. So YAY this problem seems to be leveling off, my only worry is the 0.0 for nitrite, I would assume that the ammonia is being converted but surly I'd get a Nitrite reading. Or perhaps the Nitrites are already being converted to Nitrates.

Still dosing 55mL Stress Zyme and 5.5mL Seachem Prime after each water change. Tetra Ammonia Detox is being dosed on an as needed basis with each dose at least 48 hours after the previous.

I'll keep on posting, this thread may be of use to other interested in DIY Sand substrate for the aquarium.


-Mike

1077 08-09-2011 02:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KuhliLoach (Post 770486)
Aloha, about three weeks ago I started a 55 gallon aquarium. Currently there is a baby oscar, two small tinfoil barbs, a syndontis catfish, a few small loaches and a yellow lab. I've got a terrible ammonia problem where it goes from 1ppm to 8ppm in a matter of 6 hours. I have a 110gal Aquaclear and a 70gal aquaclear powerhead with a water polisher attachment. I've been dosing with ammo lock and stress zyme heavily and performing 80% water changes twice daily to control the problem.

My only idea of what might be the problem is the coarse sand I used for substrate. I live in Hawaii where sand is plentiful. So I went to the beach and got some for use. I thoroughly washed it over a day until the water was clear. But recently after having this ammonia problem I talked to my friend at the local pet store and he said that the sand I used probably had a bunch of microorganisms that are now dying and releasing ammonia.

It is now 12AM HST and I'm going to perform another water change, I am seriously considering removing the fish and replacing the sand with store bought substrate.

Can anyone second this before I proceed?

While there may have been organics in the sand contributing to the ammonia level's , It could also be that the tank holding fishes has not developed biological filter to the degree needed to deal with ammonia from fishes ,foods,and or waste.
Tanks can take three to eight weeks to cycle and could be this tank is still in the process.IMHO

KuhliLoach 08-09-2011 02:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1077 (Post 774394)
While there may have been organics in the sand contributing to the ammonia level's , It could also be that the tank holding fishes has not developed biological filter to the degree needed to deal with ammonia from fishes ,foods,and or waste.
Tanks can take three to eight weeks to cycle and could be this tank is still in the process.IMHO

I was thinking that too. But a 55gal with such small fish shouldn't have such a large spike from 1ppm to 8ppm, maybe in a smaller tank, but the sheer volume of water would prevent this. I've put fish in a premature tank once before and got readings up to 2ppm but never up to 8ppm especially in a 6 hour period.

I don't think that the fish (in a responsibly & Reasonably stocked tank) are even capable of producing 7ppm in a 6 hour period.

I will perform another water test in the next hour, will post findings.

Mike

1077 08-09-2011 04:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KuhliLoach (Post 774408)
I was thinking that too. But a 55gal with such small fish shouldn't have such a large spike from 1ppm to 8ppm, maybe in a smaller tank, but the sheer volume of water would prevent this. I've put fish in a premature tank once before and got readings up to 2ppm but never up to 8ppm especially in a 6 hour period.

I don't think that the fish (in a responsibly & Reasonably stocked tank) are even capable of producing 7ppm in a 6 hour period.

I will perform another water test in the next hour, will post findings.

Mike

I doubt that ammonia reading is accurate.Product's like ammolock and zeolite turn toxic ammonia into less toxic ammonium. Test kit's (most) measure total ammonia whether it be toxic form or less toxic form. Combine this with possible decaying organic's in beach sand,and elevated ammonia level's could be realized but at unknown true level's.
In a reasonably stocked ,newly established 55 gal tank,you would be talking about seven or eight small active tetra size fish to help establish the biological filter with once every other day feedings and tiny amounts assuming using fish for the process is the way chosen. Filter material would be left alone for four to six weeks to prevent lions share of newly established bacteria from being disturbed/lost.with evry other day small feedings the filter material should not get dirty enough to restrict flow .
Beach sand,besides possibly containing unknown decayed or decaying organic's,or microorganisim's unsuited for fresh water, couls also contain salt.and or crushed coral or sea shells which could increase hardness and pH which int turn could influence toxicity of ammonia.
You may be able to vaccum out or dilute the afore mentioned but I would place the fish in a large plastic tote with filters and heater and switch out the substrate rather than deal with possible unknown factor's .
Would also do away with ammolock and use water conditioner such as PRIME for water changes and nothing else but that's just me.


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