Ammonia Levels Won't Go Down!

GoldieMomma

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I didn't see my original thread post so here it goes again..

I am new here and looking for help!

I have a 45gallon freshwater tank with 4 small goldfish. I've had the tank for about 4-5 months and do biweekly partial water changes. The fish *seem* to be doing very well but the ammonia levels are sky high! I don't remember the measurements but it's the darkest green on the water test kit. I use Ammolock now to help and quick start when o change the wayerwater but nothing is helping!! I don't want my fish to die :( please help!
 

Ronniethewitch

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It seems to me that we first need to find the source of the ammonia. Have you tested your water from the tap? Is there anything dead in the tank? How much are you feeding your fish? Have you vacuumed your substrate? Water changes once a week is better than bI weekly. Also, how much are you actually changing? Until your ammonia reading goes down I would recommend 50% changes daily and then slowly moving up to once a week.
 
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GoldieMomma

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I have not tested the tap water but will do that now. Nothing dead in the tank, no plants. Vacuumed the substrate 1 week ago with 50% water change. I feed them sinking pellets 2x/day just a pinch - they eat it all within a couple minutes.

Thank you so much for your response! I'll let you know if there's ammonia in tap water.
 

smee82

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45g is too small for 4 goldfish they produce a tonne of waste which is why your getting ammonia. The only way you can deal with it in a small tank is by increasing your filtration and doing more larger water changes.
 
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GoldieMomma

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GoldieMomma said:
I have not tested the tap water but will do that now. Nothing dead in the tank, no plants. Vacuumed the substrate 1 week ago with 50% water change. I feed them sinking pellets 2x/day just a pinch - they eat it all within a couple minutes.

Thank you so much for your response! I'll let you know if there's ammonia in tap water.
I have zero ammonia in my tap water.. any other suggestions?

smee82 said:
45g is too small for 4 goldfish they produce a tonne of waste which is why your getting ammonia. The only way you can deal with it in a small tank is by increasing your filtration and doing more larger water changes.
Thank you for the response! Any suggestions on how to increase filtration until I can get a larger tank?

GoldieMomma said:
Thank you for the response! Any suggestions on how to increase filtration until I can get a larger tank?
I feel so silly - it looks like they have so much room - see picture. I feel awful that I did this to them
 

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smee82

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GoldieMomma said:
Thank you for the response! Any suggestions on how to increase filtration until I can get a larger tank?
Add another filter. What are you using niw and what media do you have in it
 

Ronniethewitch

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Yup, if it's not your tap water and there's nothing dead in the tank the only conclusion you can draw is that it's food and poop. So big water changes more often is the only thing you can do right now. Better filtration when you can and bigger tanks come anyway because multI tank syndrome is a thing. :)
 

Donthemon

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GoldieMomma said:
I have not tested the tap water but will do that now. Nothing dead in the tank, no plants. Vacuumed the substrate 1 week ago with 50% water change. I feed them sinking pellets 2x/day just a pinch - they eat it all within a couple minutes.

Thank you so much for your response! I'll let you know if there's ammonia in tap water.
What test kit are you using? Is it old, the chemicals can go bad and the test strips are inaccurate
 

girlwithmanyeyes

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Is that picture above the ammonia level for your tank or your tap? If it's your tank and you're using the API Master test kit then I personally wouldn't call that "sky high" ammonia level - looks more like a 0.25ppm level. Which may not necessarily be harming your fish.

The API Master test kit measures ammonia AND ammonium as a whole. Ammonium is not toxic to fish - only free ammonia is toxic. Ammonia is naturally converted to ammonium in a low pH (less than 7) and warm environment. Do you know the pH of your tank? If you go here: or just google for ammonia calculator to determine how much actual free ammonia you have. Then once you have your actual FREE ammonia number as long as it is <0.02ppm it's not incredibly toxic.

For an example - if my API Master test kit gives me a 0.5ppm ammonia (it's actually giving you the sum of NH3 and NH4+) and my pH is 7 with a temperature of 27'C then my free ammonia is only 0.00325 which is super low.
 

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GoldieMomma said:
I have zero ammonia in my tap water.. any other suggestions?



Thank you for the response! Any suggestions on how to increase filtration until I can get a larger tank?


I feel so silly - it looks like they have so much room - see picture. I feel awful that I did this to them
If that’s your ammonia in the test tube then that looks yellow to me which is fine
 

mattgirl

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Stop adding ammo-lock. Do several 50% water changes to remove all that you have added up to this point. Instead of ammo-lock just use your normal water conditioner in the water you are replacing. I feel sure you will find that once the ammo-lock is out of there you will see a much lower ammonia reading if the tank is cycling or 0 ammonia if it is cycled. I recommend you replace you ammo-lock with Seachem Prime if this tank is still cycling. It will detox low amounts of ammonia but will still leave it available for your bacteria. If there is ammonia in there your test will still register it but it will be in a safer form.

I don't know the science behind it but I see this situation almost daily. The one thing each report has in common is the addition of ammo-lock. I have to think it actually locks up the ammonia. It is still there but is locked up so the bacteria is unable to remove it. It just keeps building up until it pegs out the ammonia chart.
Anthony1976 said:
If that’s your ammonia in the test tube then that looks yellow to me which is fine
If I understand correctly, What we are seeing is the test on the tap water.
GoldieMomma said:
I feel so silly - it looks like they have so much room - see picture. I feel awful that I did this to them
You may have to eventually upgrade them to a bigger tank but please don't feel bad. You are not mistreating your fish. Sadly anytime folks read about goldfish the first reaction is they grow into very big fish. Yours are not there yet. Personally I feel like folks go overboard on the tank size recommendations but only because they are concerned about your fish. As long as you keep on top of your water changes and filtration you have time to research what size tank they will need in the future.

I do recommend you change out no less than 50% of the water each week. The water can look perfectly clean but there are things we can't see. Weekly water changes should keep your fish safe and healthy.
 
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GoldieMomma

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girlwithmanyeyes said:
Is that picture above the ammonia level for your tank or your tap? If it's your tank and you're using the API Master test kit then I personally wouldn't call that "sky high" ammonia level - looks more like a 0.25ppm level. Which may not necessarily be harming your fish.

The API Master test kit measures ammonia AND ammonium as a whole. Ammonium is not toxic to fish - only free ammonia is toxic. Ammonia is naturally converted to ammonium in a low pH (less than 7) and warm environment. Do you know the pH of your tank? If you go here: or just google for ammonia calculator to determine how much actual free ammonia you have. Then once you have your actual FREE ammonia number as long as it is <0.02ppm it's not incredibly toxic.

For an example - if my API Master test kit gives me a 0.5ppm ammonia (it's actually giving you the sum of NH3 and NH4+) and my pH is 7 with a temperature of 27'C then my free ammonia is only 0.00325 which is super low.
That picture is tap. My tank water is the darkest green... The highest level. Thank you for the suggestion! I'll definitely try the ammonia calculator! I appreciate you!
 

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GoldieMomma said:
I didn't see my original thread post so here it goes again..

I am new here and looking for help!

I have a 45gallon freshwater tank with 4 small goldfish. I've had the tank for about 4-5 months and do biweekly partial water changes. The fish *seem* to be doing very well but the ammonia levels are sky high! I don't remember the measurements but it's the darkest green on the water test kit. I use Ammolock now to help and quick start when o change the wayerwater but nothing is helping!! I don't want my fish to die :( please help!
After 4-5 months I’m assuming your tank was cycled. Something happened to cause another ammonia spike.
It is possible that as the fish are growing and feeding, the tank may have gone into a minI cycle.
Biweekly partial water changes may not be enough for the bio load.
How are you cleaning your filter material? Are you keeping it and cleaning it, or are you replacing the material?

I would follow Mattgir’s advice, except at least this time do a 75% or more water change to get that ammonia down. Then go to a 50%
Use Prime as a water conditioner.
Test daily and do water changes daily if needed until the ammonia reading is at least.25
Another tip I learned here.... shake bottle 1 of the ammonia solution for 30 seconds.
 
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GoldieMomma

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Thank you so much! I change the filters rather than cleaning. I post photos of the filters I use. I also use a Nitrazorb bag in there as well. Until I can get a bigger tank to help with the waste, I took the advice to get a 2nd filter so now I have 2 40-50 gallon filters.

Thank you soooo much!!!
 

Fljoe

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GoldieMomma said:
Thank you so much! I change the filters rather than cleaning. I post photos of the filters I use. I also use a Nitrazorb bag in there as well. Until I can get a bigger tank to help with the waste, I took the advice to get a 2nd filter so now I have 2 40-50 gallon filters.

Thank you soooo much!!!
That could be part of your problem. Your beneficial bacteria builds up in your filter. If you change it, you are throwing away your BB and your tank never fully cycles. All you need to do is rinse the filter with tank water you are taking out. You don’t need to be buying filters that often. Once the filter does become old enough to replace. You cut the old one up and place it in the the overflow chamber so the BB attaches to the new filter.
Note: always clean filter material with tank water. Tap water had chlorine and will kill the BB.
 
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GoldieMomma

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Thank you so much! Everyone has been so helpful! I truly appreciate it. :)
 

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