Absolutely Intense Ammonia/ammonium, Small Nitrites, Okay Nitrates, But Fish Seem Happy And Normal?

MrRyan2582
  • #1
So I just started getting into fishtanks (yes, I am aware of the nitrogen cycle, which at the time of getting fish, seemed finished) and I got me a little Top Fin 10 gallon kit (but their 30 gallon rated filter). I have 2 emerald corys, 2 male guppies, 1 dalmatian molly, and 1 swordtail. I just got a liquid water test kit, and tested out everything. Well, I've got around 20 ppm of nitrate, the pH is around 6.4, I think around 0.3 ppm of nitrites, and HOOOOO WEEEE ammonia off the charts (highest is a lovely forest green, mine is dark teal). I have been using API's Ammo Lock (so it could be ammonium) and at the same time, Seachem Prime. Are my fish going to be fine? They seem perfectly normal and fine. I don't want a fish genocide. Please help me fix this.

EDIT: You don't have to worry about the ammonia now, but my nitrites and nitrates are high.

IMG_20180717_165708866.jpg
 
Rtessy
  • #2
Can you please retest the water? The color of the tube looks like there was an error in tesying, it's likely not that high.
The test stops at 8, so at most it should show up as 8, not more
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Can you please retest the water? The color of the tube looks like there was an error in tesying, it's likely not that high.
The test stops at 8, so at most it should show up as 8, not more
Done. Still turns up as dark teal. Maybe even blue.
IMG_20180717_182705627.jpg
 
Rtessy
  • #4
8 drops of solution one and 8 drops of solution two?
If you're doing everything correctly, the test is wrong. I've only seen that color on tests with the proportions messed up (not trying to blame you, I'm really not), like 8 drops of solution one and 6 drops of solution two will give that same color.
Try contacting API, or getting a refund perhaps.
How long have you had that test kit?
 
Tol
  • #5
That is the Ammonia test and not PH? I haven't seen an Ammonia test that color before, even high levels.

Edit, I see you listed PH above. Still, never have seen that color on Ammonia. I would do a big water change and see where I was at. I have never used AmmoLock, not sure about that affecting it.
 
Keith83
  • #6
Yeah, something is wrong. Test your tap water. 8 drops ammonia bottle number 1 the 8 drops bottle number 2. Post the results. Then do your tank again and post the results.
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
8 drops of solution one and 8 drops of solution two?
If you're doing everything correctly, the test is wrong. I've only seen that color on tests with the proportions messed up (not trying to blame you, I'm really not), like 8 drops of solution one and 6 drops of solution two will give that same color.
Try contacting API, or getting a refund perhaps.
How long have you had that test kit?
I just got it in the mail today. Thing is, before I got this (maybe like 2 days ago) the ammonia test strips I also had showed an extremely high reading too (stated as Danger, no ppm rating) so I'm not sure if it's this test kit too.

P.S. about a week ago (I think a day before I got that massive spike with the strips) I poured twice the amount recommended for my tank size of Tetra SafeStart Plus on accident. Could that be why it's spiking. I think it's been 8-9 weeks since I bought it, btw

That is the Ammonia test and not PH? I haven't seen an Ammonia test that color before, even high levels.

Edit, I see you listed PH above. Still, never have seen that color on Ammonia. I would do a big water change and see where I was at. I have never used AmmoLock, not sure about that affecting it.
Yes, that is ammonia, pH was nice at 6.4. I did read though that Ammo Lock turns ammonia into ammonium, which is safe for the fish, and it stays as ammonium at low pH levels, like mine at 6.4.
Yeah, something is wrong. Test your tap water. 8 drops ammonia bottle number 1 the 8 drops bottle number 2. Post the results. Then do your tank again and post the results.
I used some Walmart spring water instead of straight up tap water, so I'll do a change now and test it then.
 
mattgirl
  • #8
It is very possible that the mix of TSS plus ammo-lock is causing your test to read like this. You can check the validity of your test kit solutions by running the test on some of your source water.

Like everyone else, I've never seen an ammonia test with this color before. If it were me I would be doing a big water change even though the fish seem fine.
 
luckdown
  • #9
I've had mine turn that color when one of my livebearer tanks crashed. It took 2 85% water changes to get it down to test at 8ppm

I'd do daily large water changes until it's fixed. That's what I did. Took about 2 weeks to completely fix it.

It's not that it's done incorrectly its your ammonia is just so bad it can't do. Least that's what it was in my case.
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
After testing the spring water I used, I got o ppm. It has to be some weird ammonium concoction with the SafeStartPlus and the Ammo Lock.
After changing 2 gallons out, still got a teal result.
 
mattgirl
  • #11
After testing the spring water I used, I got o ppm. It has to be some weird ammonium concoction with the SafeStartPlus and the Ammo Lock.
After changing 2 gallons out, still got a teal result.
It is probably going to take a much larger water change to get it down to even readable levels. You can get a better idea as to what it actually is by adding 1ml of tank water to 4mls of spring water in your test tube and running the test on that. That will give you an idea as to how much water needs to be changed.

I think this is the reason folks recommend not testing the tank water after adding TSS because one will get unexpected readings but i've never seen them this extreme before.
 
Tol
  • #12
After testing the spring water I used, I got o ppm. It has to be some weird ammonium concoction with the SafeStartPlus and the Ammo Lock.
After changing 2 gallons out, still got a teal result.
It may take a bit, but yeah I would do daily water changes until it comes back down using just the prime to remove the chlorine
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Alright, I did around half spring water, half aquarium water. I've got a dark greenish-teal now. Maybe a 9 ppm. I'll try even smaller.
I did 1/8th aquarium water, 7/8s spring water (I also used some Ozarka sometimes, which could also be a factor) and I got around 2 to 2.5 ppm. I'll do straight up Ozarka to see if anything was happening there. And no, also 0 ppm. So I guess I'll keep doing intense water changes.
 
midna
  • #14
i'm gonna be That Guy and say that your stocking issues could be causing such an ammonia spike. adding that many fish at once for such a small tank (especially an uncycled one) means the filter can't keep up. the cories need something like 30 gallons and should be kept in a shoal of at least 6. mollies also get big and have a high bioload and do best in 30 gallons. swordtails can make it in a 10 gallon but I see a lot of recommendations for bigger. the guppies are fine.

have you tested just your tap water to see how much ammonia's in it?
 
jdhef
  • #15
One of our members AngelTheGypsy has claimed that Ammolock will give you really odd ammonia readings with the API ammonia test kit. But with a pH of 6.4, a lot of the ammonia in your tank will actually be far less toxic ammonium.
 
Keith83
  • #16
Keep in mind that the prime will kill the bb in the SSP so you'll have to keep up with the water changes and cycle the long way
 
Jellibeen
  • #17
Keep in mind that the prime will kill the bb in the SSP so you'll have to keep up with the water changes and cycle the long way
Prime kills beneficial bacteria?
 
midna
  • #18
Prime kills beneficial bacteria?

some say that it kills the bb in bottled bb starters like tetra safestart plus, or screws with the stabilized ammonia that's in the bottles so the bb starves. i'm not 100% sure if that's true or not, but it's recommend to wait 24-48 hours after using prime to use bottled bacteria starters.
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
i'm gonna be That Guy and say that your stocking issues could be causing such an ammonia spike. adding that many fish at once for such a small tank (especially an uncycled one) means the filter can't keep up. the cories need something like 30 gallons and should be kept in a shoal of at least 6. mollies also get big and have a high bioload and do best in 30 gallons. swordtails can make it in a 10 gallon but I see a lot of recommendations for bigger. the guppies are fine.

have you tested just your tap water to see how much ammonia's in it?
It's cool, the Top Fin kit for this originally came with a filter rated for 5-10 gallons. I went and bought one of their filters rated for 20-30 gallons, so it should be able to keep up, I assume. Also, I didn't use tap water in my water changes, I used Walmart spring water. It came up as 0 ppm.
One of our members AngelTheGypsy has claimed that Ammolock will give you really odd ammonia readings with the API ammonia test kit. But with a pH of 6.4, a lot of the ammonia in your tank will actually be far less toxic ammonium.
That's what I was hoping. I just need to get rid of that ammonium now, I'm thinking just more and more and more water changes daily.
Keep in mind that the prime will kill the bb in the SSP so you'll have to keep up with the water changes and cycle the long way
I think I was adding in Prime every once in a while when I had a small nitrite spike (which has now gone down) so I might've killed that Tetra SafeStartPlus already. I'll add some more once the Prime finishes.
 
Discus-Tang
  • #20
At a low pH like yours, all ammonia becomes ammonium, which is far less toxic than ammonia.
 
Gypsy13
  • #21
I had to buy the Seachem free ammonia test kit. Mine was exactly like yours. Every time. Now my little yellow discs stay yellow. Knew it was ammonium but nice to have a test to prove it.
 
jdhef
  • #22
At a low pH like yours, all ammonia becomes ammonium, which is far less toxic than ammonia.

Well maybe not all ammonia has turned into ammonium, but more than 50% for sure has turned into ammonium. And while ammonium is far less toxic, it is a terrible food source for the ammonia converting bacteria. And since it is a poor food source the TSS bacteria may starve off.
 
Pescado_Verde
  • #23
I had to buy the Seachem free ammonia test kit. Mine was exactly like yours. Every time. Now my little yellow discs stay yellow. Knew it was ammonium but nice to have a test to prove it.
Thanks for posting this. Reminds me of my pool keeping and chlorine. Same sort of a situation. Total vs available, kinda similar.
 
Tol
  • #24
I don't know if you need prime with spring water? I have always used tap water and conditioner to remove chlorine. Never really had too many issues. Personally I try to add a little as possible to water. Too many things added to the water makes parameters go goofy and hard to get back in line. This is fixable it will just take some time to come back to normal.

I started with the same 10 gallon TopFin kit and somehow managed not to kill everything despite having no knowledge of cycles or anything like that. The only reason I can think of was weekly 40-50% water changes, very low bio-load (2 ADF for a long time before adding fish), live plants, and I also got rid of the junk HOB they gave with it and replaced it with a Hydro Sponge 2 run off an air pump. (I learned about BB and cycles around that time).
 
AngelTheGypsy
  • #25
One of our members AngelTheGypsy has claimed that Ammolock will give you really odd ammonia readings with the API ammonia test kit. But with a pH of 6.4, a lot of the ammonia in your tank will actually be far less toxic ammonium.

Yes, using Ammolock will make any positive ammonia test read 8 ppm. I have come across several threads lately with this same issue; I experienced it a couple years ago.
Ammolock does change ammonia into Ammonium, making it safe(r) for your fish, but it is in a form that does not feed your BB, so I would immediately stop using it. Do several large water changes until ammonia reads 0. Then throw the ammolock away, and use other products. I use prime for a water conditioner. If your cycle is no longer intact, you can use daily water changes, Seachem Stability, TSS, Dr Tim’s One and Only, among others. Ammolock is literally the only aquarium product I say without a doubt has zero use in the aquarium hobby!
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
Yes, using Ammolock will make any positive ammonia test read 8 ppm. I have come across several threads lately with this same issue; I experienced it a couple years ago.
Ammolock does change ammonia into Ammonium, making it safe(r) for your fish, but it is in a form that does not feed your BB, so I would immediately stop using it. Do several large water changes until ammonia reads 0. Then throw the ammolock away, and use other products. I use prime for a water conditioner. If your cycle is no longer intact, you can use daily water changes, Seachem Stability, TSS, Dr Tim’s One and Only, among others. Ammolock is literally the only aquarium product I say without a doubt has zero use in the aquarium hobby!
Oh great. Well, time to keep changing my water until this disaster goes down. I might buy some Seachem Stability or some more SafeStartPlus.
 
Hunter1
  • #27
It's cool, the Top Fin kit for this originally came with a filter rated for 5-10 gallons. I went and bought one of their filters rated for 20-30 gallons, so it should be able to keep up, I assume. Also, I didn't use tap water in my water changes, I used Walmart spring water. It came up as 0 ppm.

That's what I was hoping. I just need to get rid of that ammonium now, I'm thinking just more and more and more water changes daily.

I think I was adding in Prime every once in a while when I had a small nitrite spike (which has now gone down) so I might've killed that Tetra SafeStartPlus already. I'll add some more once the Prime finishes.

More filteration doesn’t allow more fish.

I thought that when I started.

More filteration helps convert ammonia to nitrites and nitrites to nitrates but only large, frequent water changes will keep nitrates down, once you’re cycled.
 
Ravenahra
  • #28
Prime doesn't kill bb. Like ammo lock, it changes the ammonia into ammonium which the bb can't process. So you have to wait 24 hours on new tanks and large water changes before adding the tss for enough of the ammonium to change back to ammonia for it to feed on. You, also, need to get the ammonia under 3 ppm or the ammonia level will kill the tss+

I had the same problem with my molly tank. So I took 2 days and did repeated water changes of 35% every 1 to 2 hours until my ammonia was under 2 ppm. Then I waited 24 hours and dosed it with tss. My ammonia cleared up to 0 in 1 week and my tank is now completely cycled. So, now when I do 35% water changes with a conditioner, I don't have to add tss because there's still enough free ammonia in my tank to keep my bacteria happy until the new water releases the ammonium back into ammonia.
 
Pescado_Verde
  • #29
What's your pH? Is your water soft?
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
What's your pH? Is your water soft?
The pH WAS 6.4, and the last time I checked, it was hard water. Now I'm freaking out a bit.
After I changed the water earlier this morning, I woke up a few hours later, and my swordtail was dead. I just checked the pH, and now it's 7.2 meaning all of that insane ammonium has just turned into ammonia. Should I add more Prime or some more TSS?
RIP Drake
 
Ravenahra
  • #31
If you add the tss, it will die. Tss can not survive if the ammonia (corrected, I mistyped ph earlier) is over 3. You need to start changing your water immediately and repeat every hour until you get the pH to 2 then wait 24 hours then add tss
 
Rtessy
  • #32
If you add the tss, it will die. Tss can not survive if the ph is over 3. You need to start changing your water immediately and repeat every hour until you get the pH to 2 then wait 24 hours then add tss
What??
A pH of two is literally stomach acid, that would kill everything in it.
Drinking wster varies from 6-8pH on average.
TSS does not die off unless there is no ammonia or prime/dechlor is used.
I'll edit my post with what I think a solution is, but I don't want you waiting and freaking out about pH being over 3
Edit: Okay, do you mind answering a few more questions (sorry)
So, my tap is similar to yours, it sits at about 6.6 after being aged. That being said, it comes out of the tap above seven.
Can you please test the pH of your tap water right out of the tap and left out for 24 hours? It will likely be higher than the tank water.
I'm so sorry about the loss of your fish, I hope we can figure this out for you.
Personally, I would say do a 50% water change and dose with Prime, but check your tap pH first.
 
Ravenahra
  • #33
What??
A pH of two is literally stomach acid, that would kill everything in it.
Drinking wster varies from 6-8pH on average.
TSS does not die off unless there is no ammonia or prime/dechlor is used.
I'll edit my post with what I think a solution is, but I don't want you waiting and freaking out about pH being over 3
Edit: Okay, do you mind answering a few more questions (sorry)
So, my tap is similar to yours, it sits at about 6.6 after being aged. That being said, it comes out of the tap above seven.
Can you please test the pH of your tap water right out of the tap and left out for 24 hours? It will likely be higher than the tank water.
I'm so sorry about the loss of your fish, I hope we can figure this out for you.
Personally, I would say do a 50% water change and dose with Prime, but check your tap pH first.
I mistyped, I meant that tss can't survive in ammonia above 4 and most will die if the ammonia is 3. If you use tss the ammonia has to be under 3 and 24 hours after using ammo lock or water conditioners.

All I'm saying is the same thing tetra said when it answered a letter from a member of this forum. I found the posted answer on this forum. I followed the instructions did enough water changes to get the ammonia down to 2, waited 24 hours and tss did what it's made to do.

I'm almost 3 weeks after adding it with an ammonia still at 0

Q & A With Tetra about Tetra SafeStart

Use it according to the info in that link and it works.
 
Rtessy
  • #34
I mistyped, I meant that tss can't survive in ammonia above 4 and most will die if the ammonia is 3. If you use tss the ammonia has to be under 3 and 24 hours after using ammo lock or water conditioners.
Ohh, okay that makes so much more sense. I was really just wondering where you got a pH kit that tests down to 2 and 3, lol.
 
TheCrazyFishGuy
  • #35
Sorry if this is too late or if someone has already covered this or something, but I saw this filter media (I think) at PetSmart and on Amazon the other day.
MarineLand Ammonia neutralizing zeolite blend aquarium carbon mixture

Again, sorry if this isn't helpful or if I seem incoherent, I'm tired and can't quite remember what I read
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #36
I did around a 30% water change earlier, and then after seeing strong ammonia levels still, I did a 50% right after. So far, it appears that the ammonia of the tank is FINALLY around 8 ppm (happy over something bad) and isn't a horrifying teal. I'll make sure to keep on changing the water until I get it down to around 4 ppm or lower, and then add a massive load of TSS.
 
Ravenahra
  • #37
I did around a 30% water change earlier, and then after seeing strong ammonia levels still, I did a 50% right after. So far, it appears that the ammonia of the tank is FINALLY around 8 ppm (happy over something bad) and isn't a horrifying teal. I'll make sure to keep on changing the water until I get it down to around 4 ppm or lower, and then add a massive load of TSS.
Good idea and I'm glad your ammonia is coming down. Try to get it down to 2 ppm and wait 24 hours to add the tss. That will give your tss the best chance of actually working and not getting killed off by high ammonia. It's hard work I know, trust me I feel your pain since mine was up at 8 ppm with a bunch if ammo lock before I found the q and a worth tetra on this site and started my weekend of water changes. But it's worth it when it actually takes effect and you have 0 ammonia with weekly water changes.

One last warning, though, once the tss starts working, you will end up with a spike I'm the nitrates about 3 or 4 days after you dose it because the bacteria is working overtime o. All the extra ammonia new and old, trying to get ahead of not. But, by that time, you should be able to do a 34% water change without keeping the new water waiting 24 hours for the purity to release the ammonium back to ammonia since the bacteria will still have plenty of ammonia to eat in the water.
 
MrRyan2582
  • Thread Starter
  • #38
Well, here's an update. Good news and bad news. After getting my ammonia down really well, it's now around .3 ppm. No more evil teal, and a nice pale yellow green. The bad news is, now BOTH the nitrites and the nitrates are through the roof. The nitrites are around maybe 2-5 ppm. The nitrates are a very bright red which is more than 80 ppm, but maybe less than 160 ppm (both of them are hard to tell). I ordered some Seachem Stability from amazon, but I am not sure if it has even shipped yet. What now? pH is around 6.8 now.
IMG_20180722_062037710.jpg
 
AngelTheGypsy
  • #39
Nitrites are just as toxic as ammonia. Do more water changes to get that down as close to 0 as possible. Nitrates are toxic at high levels, so you want to keep those at 40 or less.
 
Ravenahra
  • #40
I agree with Angelthegypsy. Your nitrites and nitrates are so high because nitrite is the waste product of the ammonia eating bacteria and nitrates are the waste product of nitrite eating products. So, since your ammonia was really high when you started the cycle, the waste products are now high.

Only way to remove nitrates is water changes. The nitrates should even out once you remove the excess through water changes and then your tank will equalize with only having enough bacteria for how much ammonia there is and the nitrates will be produced slower.
 

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