15 Gallon Tank, High Ammonia & Nitrates, Please Help!!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by twardd, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. twardd

    twarddNew MemberMember

    Hi, I’m new to posting on a website like this but I need advice with my 15 gallon fish tank. I have 5 glow fish & my ammonia, nitrate, and pH levels are all very high. (ammonia: 8ppm, nitrate: between 80 & 160 ppm, & pH 7.6) However my nitrites are at 0. I tried to do water changes to help fix it, but the last one I did seemed to have made the water worse. I’ve cut back feeding to once every other day. I believe I messed up the water when I cleaned the filter (I swished it all in tank water) & did a water change. All my fish are still alive currently but one seems to be acting strange. Please help, I don’t know what else to do. I’m very worried for my fish.
  2. Gdpierce79

    Gdpierce79Valued MemberMember

    Welcome to fishlore! These questions will help me help you:
    When was this tank set up?
    What fish are In it?
    Can you test your tap water?
    Do you know about cycling?
    Is this your 1st and/or only tank?
    What and how much do you feed?
    Did you add fish slowly?
  3. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    I would do a 75% water change, which in theory would bring ammonia to 2ppm and nitrates to 20-40. But test your tap to see what you are introducing into your tank.
  4. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to fishlore. You have come to the right place.

    Both the nitrates and ammonia can be lowered with water changes.

    You say you swished your filter media in tank water. This may seem like a strange question but did you do it in the tank before you did your water change or did you remove the water first and then swish it in that water?

    Either way you need to do big water changes to get those numbers down. Your water change didn't cause the spike in the ammonia and nitrates so don't be afraid of doing it again.

    edited to add: unless you have high ammonia and/or nitrates in your tap water. Please run your tests on that water to confirm if that is/isn't the case.
  5. OP

    twarddNew MemberMember

    The tank has been set up for about 3 or 4 months now. I added 2 fish about 3 weeks after setting it up, my water tested fine. then about a month after that I added 3 more. They’re all tetra glowfish. I tested my tap water last week and I believe it tested around .25ppm. This is the first tank I’ve had in two years. I was definitely over feeding before but i’ve cut back now. I feed them glowfish flakes.

    I swished the filter in the water I removed from the tank, so it was in a clean bucket.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2018
  6. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I really figured you did but you would be surprised to know that not everyone figures it out the first time. :)

    Do you normally do weekly water changes? If so, is this the first time something like this has happened? Is this the first time you have cleaned your filter media?
  7. OP

    twarddNew MemberMember

    I just tested the tap and there’s almost no nitrates in the tap but the ammonia level is between .25 and .50ppm

    I was doing water changes probably every 2 weeks & it was the first time i had cleaned the filter
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2018
  8. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Do you normally vacuum the substrate? You say you have been overfeeding so it is possible that food has built up in the bottom of the tank and the water change stirred it up. Rinsing the filter media shouldn't have caused the ammonia spike but stirring up the bottom could have.

    The very best thing you can do for your little water pets right now is do several water changes to get those numbers down. I would be doing at least 50 or 60 % water changes each day over the next few days and if you aren't doing it already vacuum the gravel during the water changes.
  9. OP

    twarddNew MemberMember

    I vacuumed during the last water change, so that may be what caused it. I’ll do that. Thank you!!!
  10. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    You are very welcome. I know how scary it can be when something like this happens so am happy to be able to help.

    I will suggest at least a 30% water change every week after you get past this emergency and that will hopefully keep this from happening again.

    edited to add: I kept forgetting to say. Your PH is fine so no need to worry about that unless it is vastly different than your tap water.
  11. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    Like mattgirl said, water changes are your friend. My first would be 75% to get numbers down to semi-safe levels. Then 50% daily until your ammonia and nitrites are below 1 combined and nitrates are below 20ppm.
  12. pugletfan

    pugletfanWell Known MemberMember

    You may know this, but when you vacuum your gravel you need to push the gravel vacuum deep in the gravel. It will suck up a lot of debris from the gravel. You can vacuum 1/4 or 1/3 of the gravel with each water change. Hope that helps! Welcome to Fishlore!