Ammonia problem!

Discussion in 'Aquarium Water' started by audtopia, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. audtopiaNew MemberMember

    All right so here's the situation:
    I have never owned a fish before except for when I was so little I couldn't pronounce the name of the fish. A month or two ago my friend and I started a science project to test the intelligence of fish by placing it in a maze when feeding it, the project was cancelled and I ended up keeping a single Black Kuhli Loach named Que Mango (don't ask). All I had was a tiny little container (pretty sure it was supposed to be used to keep very small lizards), some flake food,and a little decoration for him to hide in. A few weeks after the project I was finally able to purchase a proper aquarium and just in time because QM was literally dying when I put him in the new aquarium, like if I kept him in the old containers 5 minutes longer he would have been belly up.

    Upon purchasing my first 10 gallon aquarium, I also bought some fake plants, a sunken pirate ship, gravel, and (this was a mistake) four tetras, two "glofish", and three other black kuhli loaches (I am now aware of why it was horribly wrong to do this).

    The first few days were excellent. QM made a full recovery and is currently healthy. I even got a video of one of my loaches Brute, doing loopdy loops.

    On about the fourth day one of my tetras died, he kept chasing and being aggressive towards the other tetras so I figured they might have exacted their revenge on him. So I got a replacement tetra and all was well.

    Until a week and a half later. The water slowly got cloudy and a tetra went missing. It took me a couple of days to find his body caught in the ship. At this point I started seeing white spots that, after reading many forum posts, I diagnosed as ICH on the Glofish. My mother and I went back to PetSmart and a kind, old, gent helped us pick out ph and ammonia teting kits, as well as ICH medication safe for my loaches. He also instructed me that if my ammonia levels are anything above 0 then I shouldn't feed my fish for a few days.

    I got home and tested the ammonia and ph and the ph was 7.6 and the ammonia was 8 (OH MY GOD HOW ARE THESE FISH ALIVE?!?!). I immediately did a 10% water change (a gallon pitcher was the biggest container in my house) and poured in a bit of medication.The next morning I awoke to two dead Glofish. I removed the bodies and flushed them. After I got home from school I did another water change.

    The next day I woke up and all the fish were fine, and I gave them the medication. The next day they were all well until I got home from school and another tetra had died. I removed the body and did an immediate water change, using up the rest of my water conditioner sample (I'm going to buy more tomorrow).

    It has been a couple of days and I only have two tetras left (who appear fine) and all four kuhlis (which none have behaved like QM did when he was dying). I have read that I should wait and let the ammonia cycle on through and let nature take its course with the addition of water changes, but I really don't want to see any more of my fish die. Two of my kuhlis used to do the happy dance all around my aquarium (one featured in the video above) and now I see all four draping themselves over the suction cups attaching the heater to the tank. I've read that they often do this but it worries me because they often look like they have perished when they are just laying there. I tested my tap water for ammonia, which had none, and I retested the aquarium water and the ammonia is still at 8. Should I buy ammonia remover even though the aquarium is only a little over two weeks old? Should I wait and continue doing water changes like a mad woman? Should I stop adding ICH medication every other day? Is there anything I can fix at this point?

  2. apple429Well Known MemberMember

    I'm sorry to ask questions, but how long has the tank been setup for, and what kind of filter/ circulation do you have?

    My advice as of now... do daily 25% water changes.. this will keep the ammonia down. Go to Ace Hardware and six feet of 1/4 inch tubing, and a five gallon bucket (for siphoning and water changes).

  3. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember


    Your milky water was an indication of ammonia/cycling tank. It happens when you add too many fish at one time; bacterial bloom.

    Advice you received from your fish store is bad advice. You need to do a 80% water change with that high ammonia reading. Pickup a bottle of Sechem Prime water conditioner. that is the best for a cycling tank with fish as it detoxes the toxins for 24 hrs until next 50% water change. So daily water changes are in order.

    ICH treatment can be done naturally with raising the temp up slowly to 86 for 2-weeks or more and 50% daily water changes with gravel vac every 2 days to pickup spores. Addition of an airstone is needed as warmer water has less oxygen.

  4. Meeps83Well Known MemberMember

    To start I'd do a 50% water change and then turn around immediately and do another 50% change. Make sure you dose with prime and do daily 50% changes. 8 ammonia is very bad and the fish will continue to do bad until you can get it down. That's where the water changes help. It'll bring the ammonia down and make the tank more tolerable for your fish so that "hopefully" you don't have any more deaths!
  5. CichlidSWAGAWell Known MemberMember

  6. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to Fishlore.

    I agree that drastic action needs to be taken now to get the ammonia levels down to a manageable level. After the initial 10% water change, the ammonia was still over 7PPM which is too high for the fish to live long. I recommend doing as many water changes as necessary to get the ammonia level down to 1PPM. I believe 3 or 4 50% changes will be in order. Then, every day do 50% water changes and closely monitor your water parameters.

    May I ask what medication you are using? Many meds destroy the cycle that you are trying to establish.

    Hopefully you don't lose any more fish!
  7. audtopiaNew MemberMember

    Hey guys! Thanks for the advice. To answer some questions, the filter is a 10 gallon filter that came with my Top Fin aquarium, the medicine, which I have stopped giving them as I have seen no more white spots, is Maracide for Ick, Velvet, and other external parasites. I just got back from Petsmart and bought some Top Fin water conditioner and did a 50% water change. As for the casualty count no other fish have died and they seem very excited about the fresh water. I retested the ammonia and it has gone down to about a 6 so I will do one or two more water changes tonight and more tomorrow until the ammonia gets nice and low.
  8. ucdcrewValued MemberMember

  9. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Continue with the largest possible water change you can manage; even doing back to back changes to get that ammonia level down! Your fish will not tolerate such an excessive level for much longer.

    Did you add carbon to remove the remaining medicine in the water? If not, I suggest doing so. Being exposed to decaying meds will not help the situation.

    I recommend a quality detoxing water conditioner. Seachem Prime of Kordon AmQuel with NovAqua are excellent products. Not only will they do everything your current water conditioner does, but they also help the slime coat and detox nitrogen waste. This is important for the fish health until your tank is cycled.

    Keep up with the daily water changes and closely monitor your tank and fish.
  10. audtopiaNew MemberMember

    My fish are still behaving healthy being the tough lil' guys they are. I just finished a water change and the ammonia is down to about a 2. I have ceased giving them medication and I'm just raising the temp to 86. I may do a couple more changes today and then proceed with daily changes based on the ammonia readings.
  11. pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to fish lore first off, glad you found us and have been following the advice.

    Very good sir, down to 2 from 7 is a much better situation, if the fish look at all stressed I might take a break for a good few hours, let them relax again.

    Prime will help greatly in the mean time.

    Tetra Safe Start is great but I would also recommend getting that ammonia down to closer to 0.5 to give it the best chance, if you haven't, I highly recommend reading this article.
    That should give you some good pointers on the product.
  12. Wendy LubianetskyWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to Fishlore, and Keep those water changes up!!!! You have gotten great advise from some of the best people, so follow it. One thing you need to watch out for is the reoccurance of Ick. Once those spots are gone does not mean the ick is gone. Sometimes two or three weeks later, it can come back with a vengeance. Keep that temperature up and vaccuum your substrate often. If you need help learning how, let us know.
  13. audtopiaNew MemberMember

    Hey guys! The ammonia is down to .25 and there have been no more casualties. So I pretty much almost have to ammonia problem fixed but the ph is still kind of high and the water is a little cloudy. I know its a new tank and all but is there anything else I need to do? Is there impending doom? Just want to make sure all my fish are still safe.
  14. JoannaBWell Known MemberMember

    Your ammonia is down - good. But what about your Nitrites? Keep up the water changes until both ammonia and nitrites are 0. Is your pH still 7.6 like in your first post? Mine is also 7.4 or 7.6 (I can't tell the color difference in the test kit. With the kinds of fish that I am keeping and planning to keep this pH is quite acceptable. I am not sure though whether or not it is with your kinds of fish. If it is within their acceptable range of pH, you might want to not even try to change it, because it is really easy to make things worse when trying to change pH from what I read. All the best, may your fish stay alive and well! My understanding is that aside from the frequent water changes, you mainly need to remain patient, and hope for the best. Good luck!
  15. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Glad to hear your ammonia is down. What are your nitrite and nitrate levels? These results will tell us where the cycle is at.

    While your tank is cycling keep up on water changes, test often and ignore the pH as it will bounce around until the tank stabilizes.

    The cloudy water is a sign the bacteria is growing. It will clear up on its own. Don't use clarifiers or any bacterial additives. The fewer chemicals the better.
  16. audtopiaNew MemberMember

    My test kit didn't come with nitrite and nitrate testing stuff, is there any other way to know what point of the cycle I'm in? By the way the loaches are back to doing the loach happy dance around the aquarium, good sign!
  17. JoannaBWell Known MemberMember

    I suggest that you buy an API Freshwater Master Test Kit. Nitrites are as dangerous to fish as Ammonia or maybe even more so, and when Ammonia goes down during cycling, Nitrites go up and stay up for a while, so if all you can measure is Ammonia, you might think that water is safer for your fish than it actually is because you cannot measure the Nitrites. even when Ammonia is 0, you need to keep up with daily water changes as long as your Nitrites are not 0. Only once both Ammonia and Nitrites are 0 then your tank will be cycled, and then you can reduce the frequency of water changes. Nitrates while not as dangerous to fish as Ammonia and Nitrites, are also important to monitor because too many Nitrates are also harmful. Measuring Nitrates will tell you even once your tank is cycled already whether your water is clean enough between water changes, or whether you need to do water changes more often or do larger water changes to improve water quality. Clean freshwater is essential to fish, and while carefully observing the fish I am sure a fish expert could tell whether the water quality is good or not without a test kit, but those of us who are not experts yet really need good test kits, since if we are wrong in assessment of whether our fish are happy or distressed, a test kit can assist us in ensuring that we keep the water clean enough and don't miss danger signs. the API Master Test Kit is good for many water tests, and it is a really good investment.
  18. audtopiaNew MemberMember

    Hey guys! Just an update, no more fish have died, the water is clear, and even though the ammonia still flectuates around zero, everything is going swimmingly! However I do have another question (as I am an amatuer). My filter appears to be releasing this white filmly stuff into the tank. I've looked this stuff up and people have talked about this film on the top of the water but mine appears to be able to sink. I'm not sure what to do here, should I clean out the filter?
  19. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Glad things are improving!

    When was the last time you rinsed your filter media? Use dirty tank water and shake the media to release the trapped debris.

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