Ammonia Emergency!! Please help!

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by khloem, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. khloemValued MemberMember

    PLEASE READ: i noticed my two guppies in my 10 gallon tank clamped and gasping at the top. not like them at all. i tested my water, and my ammonia is at 0.5-1.0ppm!!! i think it's because i just found two dead tetras that had mysteriously disappeared a few days ago. i did a water change though. it might be stuff under the gravel, i noticed a lot of stuff but some of it wont go up the syphon. and i was already at like 50% when i finally had to stop, but i know i didnt get all of it, probably not even most of it. i'm so scared, i'm afraid i'll lose the guppies! i just did a water change a few hours ago! should i do another one right now? i really don't want to lose my guppies. should i take them out of the tank or something? i have eight tetras in there too. :( please help!
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
  2. BluestreakflWell Known MemberMember

    The first thing you need to do is another water change. If its still a bit high, wait about 30 minutes, and do another. Secondly, Your tank is overstocked, unless those are ember tetras and even still that would be fully stocked. Id suggest rehoming the Tetras after you get your ammonia under control, and maybe just add another guppy ore two once things have settled out.
  3. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Sorry you're going through this. :(

    What are your ammonia readings after the water change? Can you move the fish into a heated, filtered, cycled, tank without stressing them out?

    As for the gravel, I personally would try stirring up whatever is in it into the water and then sucking it out with the siphon, but that is just an idea of mine and I have no idea what the effects would be so please get other opinions.

    Do you have Prime water conditioner?
  4. mommy1New MemberMember

    Don't stir up the gravel, you will just release all the mulm into the water column and the water quality will go down even further. Just stick the siphon straight in and leave it until the water runs clear, then pull it straight out and put it in another spot. Continue doing this until you get the gravel clean, even if it takes several water changes to get it all done.
    Remember, if you use Prime water conditioner, it will bind ammonia into a non-toxic state for at least 24 hours, which should be enough time for your bio-filter(bacteria) to catch up to the added ammonia.
    Keep testing the ammonia daily and doing big enough water changes to keep it around .25ppm or less and it shouldn't take to long for the beneficial bacteria to catch up.
  5. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    My thought with stirring it up is because OP seemed not to be able to vacuum it up like it's supposed to be, but I suppose you're right haha! :D Good advice! :)
  6. GekcoWell Known MemberMember

    Keep up your water changes and this is NOT a permanent fix but if you have Prime use it and it will detoxify your ammonia for 24 hours.
  7. khloemValued MemberMember

    they are ember tetras. this stock was suggested to me on this forum :) thanks for the help
  8. BluestreakflWell Known MemberMember

    Well that's some good news then! As long as you keep up with water changes you should be good to go. Just don't do too large of one all at once. Usually 40% is the max I'd suggest, making extra sure to match temp and such. If you have to do back to back, wait 30 mins to an hour inbetween so it doesn't shock the fish. The time buffer allows them to adjust to the fresher water.

    Water parameters can get wacky in smaller tanks, when I set up my first tank right when I got into the hobby, ammonia basically wiped out my entire stock. Turns out in my case the source was my tap water. In your case I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that it was the dead tetras that caused the spike. If you don't have any live plants yet, I'd like to suggest you try water sprite. It's super easy to grow, mine grows like fire with just a plain ol fluorescent bulb fixture. It also soaks up and devours ammonia as well. Plants provide a good safety net for things like this, and the fish will love them too.

    Also to clarify, with ember tetras, no need to rehome them, that was only suggesting if you had a larger species of tetra.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  9. khloemValued MemberMember

    thank you so much! i am heading to get Prime today. the ammonia is between 0.25ppm-0.50ppm, but my guppies are really really not looking good. i'm so so worried. one of my guppies like flipped upside down and stuff, he can't even swim upright. they just gasp and try to get air at the top of the water. i have an air stone running and the filter, i just don't know what to do. i did a water change an hour and a half ago, so i should probably do a small one right now.

    i don't have that type of tank on me :( my ammonia is between 0.25-0.50ppm right now. i'm going to do another small water change in a few minutes, mainly i'm focusing on the gravel. thanks for the help!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2015
  10. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    No problem! Also, I'd do what mommy1 said and just be really patient with sucking up the stuff out of the gravel.

    Good luck! :)
  11. BluestreakflWell Known MemberMember

    Yep you gotta get deep down in the gravel and just hold the siphon there until the water runs clear, then move to another spot. Also the larger the water change you do, the faster you'll get your ammonia down. I'd say 30-40% at a time to effectively get it down, as smaller like 25% or lower will only reduce the existing ammonia by that same %. If your at .50ppm, it would take a 50% change to bring it down to .25

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  12. khloemValued MemberMember

    i just did close to 50%, but i really do not think my one guppy Percy is going to make it. he's like upside down at the surface of the water, just gasping. i'm trying so hard :( my other guppy Blaze seems yo be a little better, he's not at the surface at all, just slowly swimming around with the tetras. i just want to cry, my poor Percy :( i feel so so bad. i really really want him to pull through, if he could only last throughout today i could have the ammonia under 0.25ppm i'm sure, but he looks like he's not gonna make it. i'm so upset. i'm gonna test the ammonia now and see what it is, hopefully now it will be at 0.25

    i just tested the ammonia, it looks to be at 0.25ppm, a huge decrease from 1.0ppm. next step is to get Prime water conditioner from my lfs. i'm praying that Percy makes it. Blaze seems okay, but he's still acting funny and wiggling around a lot. the tetras seem normal. i'll keep updated, huge thanks to everyone for the help :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2015
  13. BluestreakflWell Known MemberMember

    Another thing you might try for more oxygen in the water is leaving the water line a hair lower so the filter flow makes a bit more splash. Might not be a huge help, but worth a try might relieve the gasping some. Hope your little guy pulls through!

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  14. khloemValued MemberMember

    thanks for the suggestion, i did that as well. i just did another wc this morning adding Prime. the guppies seem to have switched places, now Percy actually looks a bit better than Blaze. they both look terrible though. i don't know why, but Blaze seems worse now that the ammonia is lower..??? he practically jumps out of the water to get oxygen and keeps darting around. he just gasps at the top of the water. the ammonia reads at about 0.25ppm right now. (maybe a little higher, depends on the lighting; natural light makes it look like 0.25) i don't know what else to do. how long will this last until the beneficial bacteria can get a handle on it? will i ever get it down to zero?

    i have another question: i have an empty 5 gallon tank that should be nearing the end of its cycle. if the tank is cycled very soon and the guppies still are in poor health, should i move them to that tank?
  15. BluestreakflWell Known MemberMember

    You could move them, might be an ok temporary fix. your beneficial bacteria will catch up. Also regarding the .25 reading, alot of folks sometimes get a false reading when its actually 0 it sometimes appears at .25ppm. Im not sure why theyre still gasping though, ammonia that low doesnt usually cause gasping however if it was higher for a while they may still be recovering from it. Just keep up with the water changes and things *should* work themselves out. Have you tested your tap water for ammonia?
  16. f2002Valued MemberMember

    Other than water changes, you should also stop feeding your fish for a couple of days (so they stop producing waste) during this time of emergency.

    In general, Purigen is really great tool for lowering ammonia. It also keep your tank water crystal clear.
  17. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    I could be wrong but, isnt Purigen used to reduce nitrates not ammonia? I dont think it would really help in the OP's case with an ammonia spike...Yes it does act like carbon but it's more selective in what it eliminates from my understanding.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  18. Et tuValued MemberMember

    I think it would be prudent to test for nitrite. Usually nitrite will spike after a ammonia spike.
  19. maracalesValued MemberMember

    just a small side suggestion for when you get the ammonia and other levels fixed, you might want to try cutting the gravel level in the tank. I am a over feeder ( I know I am) so i cut the gravel level down to make it easier to vacuum. You have to work the vacuum all the way to the bottom of the gravel or that stuff just stays there and rots.
  20. f2002Valued MemberMember

    I think Purigen doesn't actually remove any ammonia, nitrate, or nitrites directly. What it does is it removes organic compounds that breaks down into those things:

    So Purigen won't help lower the current ammonia, but it will help keep the levels down in the future.