Ammonia 8.0 ppm 0 nitrite 0 nitrate

  • #1
Plz help I started my 55g tank 2 weeks ago, I’ve been using prime & stability every day & I also have 7 tetra 1 pleco & 3 red belly piranha in the tank. All have been there since about the third day in & all seem to be doing fine & happy. But I’m still having to use prime & stability because every time I check my water ammonia is at atleast 8ppm & nitrite & nitrates are at 0

  • #2
if you want the quickest / easiest solution possible.... Go find someone who is willing to give you some established media that can cover your bioload, and integrate it into your filtration. Make sure you trust the source and that their setup is disease free.

In the meantime, have you checked your source water just to see what the levels are? It may have chloramine in it which after using conditioner would also contribute to some ammonia level readings.

I'm suspecting your kit is reading high levels of ammonium, probably from the prime. If it was regular ammonia, your fish would probably... not be so happy.

Find out what your source water readings are and you can go from there. Do a 50% water change and test again to see how much ammonia level drops. If you do see a drop then daily water changes in conjunction with your prime and stability can get you through this fish in cycle if you can't get any established media.

  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Thank you. I’ll do a water change & check my water source parameters.
  • #4
Thank you. I’ll do a water change & check my water source parameters.
If also very important that if you do a large water change, it is perfectly fine provided that you try to keep parameters the similar. Temperature and PH would be the main factors atm. Test your source water first. Then when you test your aquarium water, you'll know how much water you can change without having any huge PH change. Keep in mind the lower the PH, the less toxic ammonia is. I wouldn't want you to raise it too high after the water change where any ammonia in the tank starts becoming a problem. But since you are using prime, you should be able to offset that problem. Keeping the water at similar temps will also allow you to do bigger water changes.
  • #5
You are in the very beginning of the cycling process. That's why Nitrite and nitrate are zero. Cyclinbg a tank with fish is more work. Cycling a tank with too many fish, as you are, is even more work. It will take a few weeks and you are going to be busiy trying to keep your fish alive and prevent further injury.

You need to do water changes to get your ammonia below 0.5ppm. You are injuring your fish at the moment. Their short term and long term health is at risk.

8ppm: Do a 75% water change NOW! That will bring it down to 2ppm. DO a second change of 50% the same day to bring it down to 1ppm. Next morning, start again. Keep it up until you get it below 0.5ppm and keep it there. Test daily and your test results will tell you what needs to be done. Until ammonia starts to decrease there is no need to test for nitrite and nitrate.

As the cycle progresses you will start to see nitrites appear. They too are very toxic and must be kept below 0.5ppm as well with water changes.

You didn't mention what the pH is. Ammonia gets less and less toxic as the pH drops below 7. Above pH 7, the toxicity increases rapidly as the pH rises.
  • #6
emergency template

we need more information than what was provided. pH is needed for instance. what is used for filtration is needed. what are you feeding and are you clearing out uneaten food or cleaning at all or water changing? What tests do you use for water testing?

it's 11 fish in a 55g, And I'm assuming they are all small still and not full grown? BUT thats a LOT of Ammonia.

I have to assume all of it is bound as ammonium, but don't know that for sure. I'd assume you have to be below pH 7.0 maybe down near pH 6.0.

At 8.0ppm there should be a pretty strong ammonia smell coming from the aquarium regardless of the form the ammonia is in, you really shouldn't be able to not notice it.
I think it's possible the test is either being fouled by something, or is just inaccurate and a bad quality test, or an operator error happening.
8.0ppm is a lot, I mean it's like 20 milliliters or 420 drops of pure ammonia (about 1/3rd of a 2 oz bottle of dr. tims) to reach that level if you were dosing it and fishless cycling. it seems more than a bit extreme even if it is 11 fish in a 55g after 2 weeks and doing nothing but feeding.

Just fish in cycling without the stability, you should be half cycled by now and seeing some level of nitrite and nitrate conversion.

it all don't add up.

  • #7
8 ppm is a LOT. I suspect that your tap water has chloramine in it and this is messing with your results. Nonetheless like stated above, fill out the emergency template :)
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
55g tank
•Been running for 2 weeks
•Has a heater & stays between about 75-80f
3 redbelly ps, 4 black skirt tetras, 2 cardinal tetra, 1 red fin tetra, 1 pleco

•I’ve only done 1 50%water change as I assumed if I did too many it would disrupt the bacteria & cycle.
•Water treatment: prime & stability once a day, stress zyme once a week, api tap conditioner when Changed water, I’ve used quick start when adding the new fish as well. & i got nervous the first time seeing huge ammonia levels so I went out & bought ammo lock, stopped using it after the 2nd dose because I read that I shouldn’t use it while cycling.
•I have not vacuumed the substrate yet, everything looks pretty clean.

*Parameters - Very Important
•fish in cycle
api freshwater master test kit being used
What are your parameters?
•Ammonia:atleast 8.0ppm

•I feed my piranha about 2 jumbo shrimp a day & the tetra eat left overs & get tetra flakes once a day.
Brand of food, tetra pro & winco jumbo shrimp.
•I thaw them before feeding
•no freeze dried food
Illness & Symptoms
•have had for 2 weeks
•no bad symptoms that I can see, if anything they’re eating more & coming out more than when I first got them(RBp’s)

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
I’m just so confused on why the ammonia is reading so high. I haven’t used ammo lock in about a week so that shouldn’t sway the readings anymore. Based on my test right now what signs should I look for that would indicate I’m moving in the right direction
  • #9
You can use this product for cycling.

I definitely helped my reef tank at like 1.025 sg and if can cycle that salinity, def could help you. Its one of those products that has what you need (nitrifiers).

You should also increase your temp to like 80.0 F - 84.0 F. The warmer it is, the more bacteria will proliferate as long as you keep circulation going.
Also, don't use any ammonia removing chemicals, they system should be able to do it itself.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
& I make sure to clean out as much left over food as I can see.
& for filters I have a marineland magniflow canister & 1 medium sized & one small sized sponge filter
okay, I will buy that product right now & raise my water temp. Thank you
Also doing 75% water change right now & another 50% later today. Thank you
  • #11
Test your tap water to check for chloramines
  • #12
I would say to check the expiration on the test kit to rule that out, then check the instructions for the ammonia test again, and follow it to a "t" just in case it was operator error and a step was missed.

your pH and temp should keep you fine and then the prime as a safety net on top of it all is why you don't have issues from the ammonia, it's mostly all locked up in the ionized form if not all of it, as ammonium and the fish can't absorb it like ammonia.

That said, if the ammonia is really that high, and you've ruled out a bad test, or a bad testing method. maybe test some tap water and the results should be different, or a bottle water. might be chloramines in the water, you'd test it from the tap first for the baseline of chlorine and ammonia, then dechlorinate and test again, the ammonia reading is the "chloramine level " if it's in your tap water.

There is nothing wrong with water changing it will not stop the cycle or slow it down. the places with the highest oxygenation have the majority of your bacteria colony, the filter, the filter sponges. in the tank and on all hard surfaces come much later when there's millions and millions of nitrifying bacteria. You won't lose any by water changing.
You can water change, 20%-25%-50% daily, or even a couple times a day to keep the ammonia lower and give you more breathing room and a little more security.

The ammolock doesn't remove ammonia, it just binds it as ammonium, same thing the Prime is doing, same thing your pH is doing also.

I mean, just rule out that the test is good and working right. and do some water changes to bring the ammonia level down.

I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd bet the piranha are messy eaters that have some sort of scrap flying off of it. I'd also bet that two jumbo shrimp a day being digested is going to create a lot of ammonia.
The "dead jumbo shrimp" method of fishless cycling produces a WHOLE LOT of ammonia. like huge amounts if it's not pulled from the aquarium after it hits 2 ppm ammonia, even a small amount of shrip decaying in there will crank out ammonia.

So of there isn't any problem with the test kit or the testing, the problem is actually going to be the two jumbo shrimp a day, and not enough water changes and vacuums to take out the waste from the feedings.

You can water change and vacuum safely without interfering with the cycle at all, and it will probably progress faster if you bring down the ammonia level in the water, if you are going to keep that 6.4-6.6 pH and use the prime, I don't see why maintaining 1 ppm ammonia or less with fish in would be a problem and just do a water change as it comes to 1ppm each time probably even 2ppm is safe since the 8ppm is safe but if that pH comes up into the 7s, it changes the math considerably. and if the pH were to drop below pH6 it would slow down cycling a lot.

Best of luck, that's all I know.

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