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1. Size of aquarium (# of gallons) 20 gallons
2. Is your aquarium set up freshwater or saltwater? freswater
3. How long the aquarium has been setup 2-3 weeks
4. What fish and how many are in the aquarium (species are important to know) 4 at the moment...there is an angelfish, blue gourami, a pictus catfish and a bala shark
5. Are there live plants in the aquarium? no
6. What make/model filter are you using? undergravel
7. Are you using a CO2 unit? no
8. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day? no
9. When did you perform your last water exchange, and how much water was changed? tank set up
10.How often and what foods do you feed your fish? did feed freeze dried bloodworms and flakes 2 a day, now just flakes once
11.Is your aquarium light incandescent or fluorescent and how often is it kept on?fluorescent most of the day the till we go to bed
12.What specific concerns bring you here at this time? high ammonia level
13. Water are your water test results for:
pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? ph 7.2 and ammonia is off the chart dark green

is it the undergravel filter causing this? i read they can cause problems. i only use to use a power filter off the side but the guy that went with us to get fish is like oh use one of these so we bought it. now our ammonia levels are off the chart. we have a seperate tank set up with the 2 discus i just got today in it. how long is it going to take for it to cycle through? i have to wait 2 weeks anyway to add the discus. the fish in the main tank now are fine. the guy at our fish store said they built up an immunity to it since they were in when it started. any help or advice would be great, thanks!
 

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Nicole said:
1. Size of aquarium (# of gallons) 20 gallons
2. Is your aquarium set up freshwater or saltwater? freswater
3. How long the aquarium has been setup 2-3 weeks
4. What fish and how many are in the aquarium (species are important to know) 4 at the moment...there is an angelfish, blue gourami, a pictus catfish and a bala shark
5. Are there live plants in the aquarium? no
6. What make/model filter are you using? undergravel
7. Are you using a CO2 unit? no
8. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day? no
9. When did you perform your last water exchange, and how much water was changed? tank set up
10.How often and what foods do you feed your fish? did feed freeze dried bloodworms and flakes 2 a day, now just flakes once
11.Is your aquarium light incandescent or fluorescent and how often is it kept on?fluorescent most of the day the till we go to bed
12.What specific concerns bring you here at this time? high ammonia level
13. Water are your water test results for:
pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? ph 7.2 and ammonia is off the chart dark green

is it the undergravel filter causing this? i read they can cause problems. i only use to use a power filter off the side but the guy that went with us to get fish is like oh use one of these so we bought it. now our ammonia levels are off the chart. we have a seperate tank set up with the 2 discus i just got today in it. how long is it going to take for it to cycle through? i have to wait 2 weeks anyway to add the discus. the fish in the main tank now are fine. the guy at our fish store said they built up an immunity to it since they were in when it started. any help or advice would be great, thanks!
20 Gallons is way too small for Angels and Discus, both can get upwards of 8 inches, you need at least a 55G to keep them. No fish can build up immunity to Ammonia or Nitrites, the higher the level of each the more toxic it is to the fish.

First do a 25% water change, which will help get the ammonia down. You should then be doing a 25% change daily to help keep the ammonia down. I used Bio-Spira to help get my little 2.5g tank to cycle, you may want to try that.

You said you had a hang on back type filter, do you still have that in the tank? What were your levels prior to changing to the undergravel filter?

That's about all I can offer since I am still new at this. But there are others you will give you a lot of advice as well.
 

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angelfish need at least 30 gallon high aquarium, discus 35 gallon aquarium, bala shark 75 gallon aquarium 20 gallons is not enough, that is why there is so much ammonia.

No need to resort on all caps and exclamation points when making a statement. All of us do commit mistakes.
Blue


Also angelfish and bala sharks are extremly sensitive to water conditions and since your ammonia reading is off the chart (probably more than 5.0) you probably cant save them since they are affected enough. But for now, do massive water changes, maybe even 50-60% water changes DAILY. A reading of .25 can kill angels and sharks, this is 20 times more stronger than that, your fish dont stand much of a chance im sorry to say. Please not that bala sharks get up to a foot long, sometimes more, whcih means they wont even be able to turn around in a 20 gallon aquarium. Angel fish get to tall to fit in a 20 gallon aquarium, and discus can die from even .05 ammonia level. Take ALL your fish back to the fish store and guy some fish suitable for a 20 gallon like danios.

Fish dont grow immunities from ammonia, they grow immune to nitrate but not ammonia, they will die in it.

Remember, discus are expensive, if you put them in your tank now, they will die and you would have lost all that money for them, return them while you can.
 

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the discus are also extremely sensitive to water conditions and require very clean water. I would never reccomend adding them to a tank that is not already well established. while i love the fish and keep one myself (soon to be more) I would also suggest returning them. They are very unlikely to survive the stress of a cycling tank as changes in the water parameters are extremely stressful to them. I'd stay away from buying them unless the tank has been set up for a period of months and is very stable. They aren't cheap fish and they simply won't handle that kind of stress.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
ttiger72 said:
20 Gallons is way too small for Angels and Discus, both can get upwards of 8 inches, you need at least a 55G to keep them. No fish can build up immunity to Ammonia or Nitrites, the higher the level of each the more toxic it is to the fish.

First do a 25% water change, which will help get the ammonia down. You should then be doing a 25% change daily to help keep the ammonia down. I used Bio-Spira to help get my little 2.5g tank to cycle, you may want to try that.

You said you had a hang on back type filter, do you still have that in the tank? What were your levels prior to changing to the undergravel filter?

That's about all I can offer since I am still new at this. But there are others you will give you a lot of advice as well.
The guy at the pet store said the thing about the immunity..all the fish are still very small they are all around the size of the gourami and hes not very big. we are getting a new larger tank 55-75 gallon probably income tax time. the discus are in another tank by themselves because the guy we got them from said to quarantine them for 2 months anyway.
we never had the filter on the back on this tank because its too small its for only up to a 15 gal.
 

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Heres a very important bit of information never listen to profit organizations about fish. they dont know much about fish, all they care about is money, how big is the quarantine tank for the disucs is it cycled??? Discus are very fragile and expensive fish, as i said return them.

Cap letters have been revised.
Blue
 

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Undergravel filters are not meant to keep the water 'clean'; they merely provide aeration and are supposed to enhance the biological filtration of a tank by preventing 'dead' spots in the gravel (that is what I was told, and what I read in books when I used an undergravel filter years ago). I never had a problem using the undergravel filter, although I did not care for the amount of debris which collected under the plates in the aquarium and found that I had to do a thorough cleaning of the tank about twice a year, which always removed lots of mucky water (yuck!)

Undergravel filters do not take the place of mechanical filters. If you use an undergravel filter you still need a 'hang on back' or other type of filtration system. I think your ammonia level is high because your tank is so 'new'. Try to get some established 'media' from someone you know that has a healthy aquarium (i.e. substrate and/or ornaments from an established aquarium). This will help 'seed' the beneficial bacteria which break-down the harmful levels of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Until your biological filter is established, frequent water changes are both helpful and necessary to keep the harmful levels of these toxins down. Overcrowding is an issue, also, when the tank set-up is so new, but if you keep your water safe you should be okay with your fish until you are able to get a larger tank for them.

Good luck and happy fish-keeping. :)
 

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well they might survive but they certainly wont be happy. Also the discus are sensitive to water hardness and alkalinity so if you don't have test kits for that you might be keeping them at a proper pH but killing them with a high gH or kH. There's a reason discus are usually only reccomended for experienced fish keepers.
 

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Nicole:

You have received tons of good information in this thread but

1) Yes:
The high ammonia concentration is due to the lack of adequate biological filtration.
Underground filters are difficult to cause to function properly and
are typically utilized to maintain tank temperatures in the substrate for plant growth.
As Tracy partially indicated you may now have decaying matter in the UGF which is partially causing the high ammonia concentration.
I have a wet/dry system, am not familiar with cannister or HOB filters and therefore cannot recommend a filter for adequate filtration.

2) Water Changes
You indicated that you had not performed a water change.
Typically during cycling a 25% weekly WC IMHO would be appropriate based on the fish in and volume of your tank.
Refer to 3) for WC recommendations.

3) High Ammonia Concentration
As previously set forth fish will not adapt to a high ammonia concentration.
In the worst condition they will die.
In the best condition they will suffer permanent gill damage as well as damage to internal organs.
IMHO I would perform a 50% water change today and a 50% water change on Tuesday: then return to a typical tank cycling* subsequent to installing adequate biological and mechanical filtration (hopefully tomorrow).

4) Nitrates
Previously set forth in this thread was the concept that fish will become accustomed to high nitrate concentrations.
IMHO this is incorrect.
Nitrate concentrations should be maintained at 20 and preferably 15 or less.

TR

*Please search this forum for utilizing media, gravel, etc. which is currently in a cycled tank in order to accelerate the cycling process in your tank.
 

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My angelfish is in 8.2 pH and he has been doing really well for a long time. Discus are more sensitive though, they need exact water conditions, I would take them back. I'm sorry about the bad news--it's a shame what people at pet stores will tell you to make a sale, better luck in the future.
 

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I'm in some disagreement with the previous statement on nitrates. I've seen fish adapted to extraordinarily high nitrate concentrations (180ppm +) in someone else's tank. The fish all appeared healthy that had lived in the tank for a long period of time but any new fish that were added quickly died. Since I couldn't immediately figure out why that would be happening I took over my test kits and ran through everything. Everything was looking good except for the nitrates which were through the roof. Yet all the fish that had slowly grown accustomed to the escalating level of nitrate seemed unfazed by it. While I would always reccomend keeping nitrates low (my main tank is down to 5ppm) for a variety of reasons I'm rather confident that fish can indeed adapt to high nitrate levels if the change happens gradually over time.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The discus are in a different tank, the water and everything is fine in that one. I cant take them back because they were ordered online and shipped to our house. So far hes healthy and swimming around the tank. The ammonia seems to be going down but very slowly. We plan on getting a power filter sometime this week. I used the power filter off the other tank for about a day and it cleared it up some..not much but some.
 

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You should always look into the requirements for a particular fish BEFORE you bring it home or have it shipped to you. Same with thinking about tank sizing. If you don't have the proper sized tank already you shouldn't buy a fish and then say oh well you'll get a bigger tank for it later. I'd like to get more discus too but I don't have the proper tank set up for additional fish yet...so I dont have them yet. You wouldn't see me tossing a discus in a bare 10 gallon tank and saying oh well I'm gonna get him a bigger tank later. You're asking for nothing but trouble with those discus in the tank you've described.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The guy said the discus needed to be quarantined anyway for 2 weeks, hes an itty bitty only a baby.
 

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i dont think you understand us. No matter what you do the discus will not be alright in either the 10 gallon quarantine or the 20 gallon. Im guessing BOTH tanks are uncycled which will kill the discus, and just because they are babies, doesnt mean they wont grow or doesnt mean they wont poop and create ammonia by waste. Another fact, discus are very very hard fish to keep and are deffinaltly not reccomended for the begginer. If you cant give back the discus, give him away to someone who can properly take care of them, even if they dont pay you. Either way you are going to have to lose the discus, whether it be inhumanly letting ammonia or nitrite or space needs kill it, or humanly give it away
 

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The fact that its a baby is all the more reason that it won't make it. They are much more vulnerable to these sorts of things when young.
 

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Hey everyone, Try being a bit more kind to people that want to keep fish and do good for the fish, but don't have all the money for big tanks and expensive filtration systems.

I acknowledge that small aquariums and lack of 'improper cycling' are a problem for those who are uninformed or mis-informed, but the glorious hobby of fishkeeping shouldn't be for just the 'well-off' or wealthy. Yes, fish do grow, but it does not happen overnight.

If the water is safe for the fish, don't worry about the tank size providing the FISH ARE THRIVING, the water perameters are safe, and the tank is not overpopulated. You can upgrade your tank system when you can afford to do so.

Personally, I have never fussed with PH levels and the majority of my fish have been long-lived, active, and have grown well.

Let's not give the impression that unless you have a tank that is 55+ gallons you cannot have anything but danios, guppies & tetras.
 

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I am speaking directly on discus. Discus will never thrive in a 10 gallon tank and they are extremely sensitive to pH, gh, kH, and other water parameters. While a lot of fish can survive at less than ideal conditions there is a reason discus are only recommended for advanced fish keepers. While I agree that a 55 gallon tank is not necessary for everyone there are certain species of fish that cannot survive in small and or improperly maintained tanks. I agree that many different kinds of fish can be kept at "sub-optimal" conditions for a long period of time, discus in particular are relatively expensive to be losing due to poor care. Its not like losing a 2 dollar tetra after all.
 
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