29 Gallon Tank Ammonia Burn?

Bruce Barrera

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HI all

Got home today and found another dead fish. This time a blue gouramI I had.
Had 2 rainbows die on me over the weekend.
One was introduced a day before.
My nitrate was high and I did a 50% water change on Monday.

Some fish are looking darker and one of my Mollies who used to be totally Silver now has some yellowish streaks along its body and other fish coloration looks darker or with dark spots. They're acting fine though.

Could this be the so called ammonia burn? Never experienced this before so I don't know how it looks like.

I attached some pics to help.

Water parameters:

Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 40-60ppm
Gh: 120
Kh: 80
pH: 7.5

Water changes every 10 days of about 30% (will try to do earlier now)
20190417_194234.jpg
20190417_194145.jpg
20190417_095922.jpg
 

Momgoose56

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Bruce Barrera said:
HI all

Got home today and found another dead fish. This time a blue gouramI I had.
Had 2 rainbows die on me over the weekend.
One was introduced a day before.
My nitrate was high and I did a 50% water change on Monday.

Some fish are looking darker and one of my Mollies who used to be totally Silver now has some yellowish streaks along its body and other fish coloration looks darker or with dark spots. They're acting fine though.

Could this be the so called ammonia burn? Never experienced this before so I don't know how it looks like.

I attached some pics to help.

Water parameters:

Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 40-60ppm
Gh: 120
Kh: 80
pH: 7.5

Water changes every 10 days of about 30% (will try to do earlier now)
20190417_194234.jpg
20190417_194145.jpg
20190417_095922.jpg
Your Ammonia is 0 so not ammonia burns. If your Nitrates were 80-120, i'd say your fish died from nitrate poisoning. High nitrates are a result of inadequate water changes, over feeding, general tank neglect. Your 3 fish pictured look normal to me. Do another 50% water change to get your Nitrates closer to where they should be, 20 - 30 ppm max. Do at5 least 25-30% water change every week (7 days) to keep nitrates down.
 

AvalancheDave

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Eighty to 120 ppm nitrate isn't going to kill fish. Studies have consistently found that levels need to be well into the thousands before they're acutely toxic.
 

Momgoose56

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AvalancheDave said:
Eighty to 120 ppm nitrate isn't going to kill fish. Studies have consistently found that levels need to be well into the thousands before they're acutely toxic.
This is not factual. No studies state that nitrate levels have to be in the thousands to be acutely toxic. Nitrate levels over 100mg/l or ppm are usually toxic over time, even to cold water fish. Now, acutely toxic? AvalancheDave does have that right, if you throw any fish into a septic tank, where nitrate levels ARE in the thousands, you will see devastating, acute toxicity symptoms, probably within minutes!
 

AvalancheDave

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Momgoose56 said:
This is not factual. No studies state that nitrate levels have to be in the thousands to be acutely toxic. Nitrate levels over 100mg/l or ppm are usually toxic over time, even to cold water fish.




These don't even consider newer studies such as Davidson 2017 where Atlantic salmon raised at 443 ppm nitrate for 8 months were just as healthy as those raised at 44.3 ppm nitrate. The rapid growth phase to market size is where any toxicity should have shown up. And this is with salmonids who are much more sensitive to water quality.
 

AvalancheDave

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Momgoose56 said:
You do realize that what you just said is totally false? Show me ONE single scientific research study on tropical fish that says that nitrates have to be in the thousands (or even hundreds) to kill them. That's septic tank toxic....it IS acutely toxic at those levels though...to anything, even cattle....
High levels of nitrates, over time, stress tropical fish, reduce their ability to resist disease (immune system), and can result in death.



Cold water fish to a lesser extent-carp (goldfish), trout, minnows etc

I'm going to disregard the first 3 links and only use scientific articles.

The Camargo 2005 review lists various salmonids as the most sensitive to nitrate. There are several problems with this:
  1. Nitrate tolerance increases dramatically from the egg/fry to fingerling stage and few people here are breeding rainbow trout
  2. The units are nitrate-nitrogen. Multiply by 4.43 to convert to nitrate. That means that even guppy fry (which I believe are the only tropical species mentioned in this paper) have a 24-hr LC50 of 1,182 ppm nitrate. And this is fry. Adult fish will tolerate much more.
  3. The Kincheloe study has been discredited.
Comparison with the study of Kincheloe et al.

The NOEC and LOEC for embryo to fry survival in the chronic tests reported in the present study were two to three orders of magnitude greater than those reported by Kincheloe et al. [7]. Similar findings were reported by Nordin and Pommen [16] ( ), who found that NOECs for rainbow trout and coho salmon embryos were greater than 40 mg NO3-N/L and that the NOEC for trout fry was at least 80 mg NO3-N/L. Collectively, these findings support the decision by the CCME [1,2] to exclude the study by Kincheloe et al. [7] from the data set used to set the CCME guideline.
McGurk 2005
Notably, the rainbow trout data (Kincheloe et al. 1979) is among the most sensitive species (NOEC 2.2 mg NO3-N/L), and may therefore be required to be retained as a “key” species. However, this publication is graded as “low-reliability” and therefore does not provide suitable assurance as the basis of a guideline.
Hickey 2009

If you look at the numbers for rainbow trout fingerlings, the 96-hr LC50 is 1,355 mg/L NO3-N or 5,998 ppm nitrate.For Chinook salmon it's 5,780 ppm nitrate.

The second article you cite is Davidson 2014. Problems with drawing conclusions on nitrate toxicity include:
  1. 80-100 mg/L nitrate-nitrogen is 350-443 mg/L (or ppm) nitrate
  2. Salmonids are more sensitive to water quality than warm water fish
  3. The authors state that both potassium and nitrate were high and couldn't definitively attribute the issue to one or the other
  4. Davidson followed up this study with another in 2017 using Atlantic salmon kept at 100 mg/L nitrate-nitrogen (443 ppm nitrate), had lower potassium levels, ran for 8 months instead of 3, found the fish were as healthy as the control group kept at 10 mg/L nitrate-nitrogen (44.3 ppm nitrate), and found the fish had none of the abnormal swimming or other issues.
 

Momgoose56

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Sorry, AD I won't discuss this on a members thread. It is not helpful to the OP. IF you have more to direct at me, please PM me. I'd be happy to discuss your beliefs and interpretations there.
 

AvalancheDave

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Momgoose56 said:
Neither one of these is a study, and the links within these links either don't work or are to inaccessible documents.
The McGurk paper is definitely a study:



The Hickey paper is a review just like the Camargo paper you cited.



So, what about those Camargo LC50 numbers for salmonid fingerlings that are around 6,000 ppm nitrate?
 

AvalancheDave

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Also need an explanation why we should disregard the opinions of two respected aquarists who are also scientists and have reviewed the scientific literature on nitrate toxicity?
 
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Bruce Barrera

Bruce Barrera

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Momgoose56 said:
Sorry, AD I won't discuss this on a members thread. It is not helpful to the OP. IF you have more to direct at me, please PM me. I'd be happy to discuss your beliefs and interpretations there.
Oh no, by all means you can keep going, this is VERY interesting.

So if my Nitrates were not out of this world why my fish died? After I made a massive 50% water change all look good no more deaths.
 

AvalancheDave

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Bruce Barrera said:
Oh no, by all means you can keep going, this is VERY interesting.

So if my Nitrates were not out of this world why my fish died? After I made a massive 50% water change all look good no more deaths.
What was your pH before the water change? Does it ever get low? Fake plants, right? A lot of things can kill fish--things most people don't even test or know about. Your water is on the soft side so you may have had a pH crash. Alkalinity and pH are things that would be restored by a large water change.

Did their coloration return to normal after the water change?
 
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Bruce Barrera

Bruce Barrera

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I can't tell you how was the pH...I don't test it on a regular basis, I'm usually more worried about ammonia/nitrates but it seems I have to worry now.

Yeah silk plants. I just don't have time and money for a planted tank this size. I have another small planted tank and I can tel its much more easy to keep...plants do a wonderful job keeping water parameters in check in my opinion.

Fish are acting normal now and looking better except for that Male Molly with the gold streaks...it still has it. But he looks pretty ok behaviour-wise if you ask me.

I'm planning on doing another water change today. Probably around 40%.
 

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