Ammonia Problems-frustrated

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by BryanSOFLA, Dec 29, 2018.

  1. BryanSOFLA

    BryanSOFLAValued MemberMember

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    Hi- I bought a new 60g Marineland tank on around thanksgiving and it’s been **** keeping the ammonia levels under control. I started by going with a fishless tank and treating the water with api QuickStart. Then after 2 weeks I put 10 whiteshirt tetras in and they dropped dead in 30 min. I went back to the LFS and they testing my ammonia at 4.0ppm, so they suggested using Prime, which seems to work when I reintroduced a new batch of WS tetras, so then a week goes by and levels seems “just ok”, so I added 2 Cory catch and some neon tetras. Those were good, so I added 2 Bosami Rainbows and those latest a week and dropped. Everything else has survived, but the ammonia levels just keep staying a 0.5-1. The pH seems stable most of the time, but the nitrites go from 0.25 to the highest as of today at 5ppm. I also bought an ammonia pad to add to my Marineland penguin 350 and put those seachem alert cards inside the tank, which vary a bit from my api master test kit. I happen to think my water source just sucks. The following reading are as of today:


    pH= 7.6 (+/-)

    HR pH =8.0 (+/-)

    Ammonia= 0.5

    Nitrites= 5.0

    Nitrates= 0


    I keep reading about water changes, but my fear is that in taking 1 step forward and 2 back bc I am adding water that is not under any better control with the ammonia even treated with prime. I did a test in a 5g bucket and it took 17ml of prime to get the ammonia to 0, which seems unsafe and excessive to add to the tank, but I was curious. I'm in a holding pattern. My LFS thinks I should consider a) buying purified water from them or b) treating the water with a buffer to lower the pH a bit more to help it convert the the ammonia-nitrite-nitrate process. Looking for some suggestions. I think the best course is changing the water, as I haven't done a change since 12/9, which was 20g out of 60. I'm just afraid to add watemention that may be more toxic than what's already in the tank as mentioned. Thanks for any input! B
     
  2. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

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    Prime doesn't remove the ammonia. It just turns it into ammonium. Ammonium is less harmful. Your test kit doesn't know the difference between ammonia and ammonium so it will still show up if it is there. I am not sure I would trust anything the good folks at the store told me if they didn't give you this very important piece of information.

    Have you run the tests on your source water? If it has less ammonia than your tank then you need to do water changes to keep the ammonia as low as possible. If your test shows that you have less than 1 ppm ammonia just add enough prime to treat the full volume of your tank.

    If it goes up to one or above do a water change to get it back below one and again add enough Prime to treat the tank.

    water changes might slow your cycle a tiny bit but with fish in there you need to keep the ammonia and nitrites as low as possible with water changes. The bacteria you are trying to grow doesn't live in the water so water changes are not going to be a problem. Your nitrites are at a dangerous level right now and need to be lowered with water changes.

    Your PH is fine so just let it be. stable is much better than chasing a specific number.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
  3. McRib

    McRibValued MemberMember

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    Having no Nitrates seems to indicate that your cycle isn’t completed. Daily water changes, Prime, and time are your best bet at this point.
     
  4. Cichlidude

    CichlidudeWell Known MemberMember

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    You need to cycle your tank and that will take 3-8 weeks. Please no more fish.
     
  5. AquaticJ

    AquaticJFishlore VIPMember

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    Lowering your PH makes ammonia less toxic, but if it goes too low, nitrification stops. You need to keep ammonia and nitrite under 1ppm and treated with Prime every 48 hours. If your tap water has 1 ppm ammonia or under, treat with Prime before adding it and the fish will be safe. Ammonia and nitrites are constantly beig produced, so water changes will not hurt your cycle, you’re just removing the excess that the bacteria can’t use yet. The ammonia reducing pads really don’t do much.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
  6. OP
    OP
    BryanSOFLA

    BryanSOFLAValued MemberMember

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    Wow thanks all for the swift replies! It sounds like the general consensus is to perform water changes and use prime. However, question...when using the prime on water changes should I just be treating the new water I’m putting in ( i.e. if do 25g water changes do I follow the rule of 1ML per 10g as indicated on the bottle...2.5ML??) or do I treat the whole 60g tank (6ML)? It seems that when I put 9ML in the first time it lowered it for a while. Also, the LFS said not to vaccum the gravel for now and let it be. True? Also, is it wise to fill the water 5g drinking water containers treat with prime and cap off overnight before adding. Sorry I have 1000 question. This really helps though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2018
  7. david1978

    david1978Fishlore LegendMember

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    If you use buckets treat the water in the bucket for its amount. If you fill with a hose dose for full tank amount and then fill with hose. Gravel vacing pulls up the gunk so its a good idea. The bacteria is stuck fast so you won't vac that out. Water conditioner works immidatly so you don't have to let the water sit before adding it to your tank.
     
  8. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

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    As long as you have an ammonia reading in the tank you need to add enough prime for the full 60 gallons each time.

    I would go ahead and vacuum the gravel. It should help keep the ammonia down while the tank completes its cycle.

    Prime works pretty much instantly so no need to fill the buckets and wait.
     
  9. Charlie’s Dad

    Charlie’s DadValued MemberMember

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    I second the no more fish. Your tank is midstream of being cycled. Continue checking the water values and doing the water changes. You will probably need to do daily’s since you have fish. I promise you just when you think not......Bam!!!!! Your tank will have 0 and 0 and nitrates for sure.

    Hangin and hang on......you can do this!!!!!!

    ;););):)
     
  10. OP
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    BryanSOFLA

    BryanSOFLAValued MemberMember

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    Thanks all. This is such a great forum! So, for reference here’s were I’m at on the ammonia. Just retested the tank and my source water. 1st pic is the source water from my tap. I would put that I guess at about 1...maybe on the edge of 0.5. The 2nd pic is the tank water, so it actually came down a bit from this morning without doing anything to it to about 0.25. The nitrites are still dark purple so I will do the water change tonight. Do you guys think changing out 20g is enough or should I do more??
     

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  11. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

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    When I was going through the nitrite phase of my last cycle in a 55 gallon tank I was doing a 30% water change daily. Fortunately I only had to do that 5 straight days before they dropped to zero. They didn't go down gradually .... They were showing that rich royal purple even after each daily water change until the 5th day and I was doing a happy dance when I saw that beautiful sky blue in the test tube.
     
  12. AquaticJ

    AquaticJFishlore VIPMember

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    What your test is probably measuring is actually chloramines, which is a combination of ammonia and chlorine. Why is this in your water? Because it lasts much longer than just chlorine, which keeps out water safe. Regular Chlorine is usually used up by the time it gets to the end of the pipes, thus allowing bad bacteria to grow. Chloramine also has less of the “chlorine-like” smell and taste. Your Prime will take care of this safely, so long as it stays at 1 ppm or below. When deciding how much water to change, simply think of like so. If you do a 50% water change on 5ppm of nitrite, it cuts it in half to 2.5ppm. So you want to lower it to at least 1ppm, which would be 80% of 5 ppm. So you’d want to do 80%. If you want, you could do 50% now, and wait a few hours before doing the other 20%.
     
  13. aae0130

    aae0130Well Known MemberMember

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    I love the way the stores answer is to send him home with more fish. I do not understand the employees or the people who put them to work without training.
     
  14. AquaticJ

    AquaticJFishlore VIPMember

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    Next thing I’m gunna hear is that the store told someone to do a rain dance, flush their toilet 3 times, and then count backwards from 10 to cycle your tank.

    Thankfully, the smart ones like @BryanSOFLA seek out additional help!
     
  15. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

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    your cycle is in the nitrite phase, usually takes 3 weeks. just keep doing 50% water changes and dosing Prime up to 5X the dosage.

    and don't add any more fish until after the cycle is complete.
     
  16. aae0130

    aae0130Well Known MemberMember

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    Oh yeah....this is no reflection on the OP. It’s the supposed “professionals” that make me shake my head. The customer is looking to them for guidance. What the customer gets is wasted funds and dead animals.
     
  17. !poogs!

    !poogs!Valued MemberMember

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    Sounds like you have all the answers you need.

    Tank isn’t cycled.

    Dose prime and stability to the water you are replacing. Pretty hard to OD stability.

    Stop adding fish, you haven’t established enough beneficial bacteria to handle a spike in bio load.

    With regard to water parameters, I wouldn’t go to overboard. Consistency is better that perfection with the exception of ammonia.

    Good luck.
     
  18. McRib

    McRibValued MemberMember

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    I forgot to mention that the other option is to get some Tetra Safe Start. That can save your fish and save you from the grind of daily water changes.
     
  19. Logan.t.Foster

    Logan.t.FosterWell Known MemberMember

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    I agree that you shouldn't have fish. But having no nitrates is not a sure sign of not being cycled. I have lots of plants in an under-stocked tank, and do tri-weekly water changes (I am helping some of my fish through fin rot), and I have no nitrates.
    You will test no ammonia, no nitrites, and some nitrates, if your tank is cycled at this stage. I am just saying no nitrates does not mean no cycle in every tank.
    Good Luck! :)
     
  20. OP
    OP
    BryanSOFLA

    BryanSOFLAValued MemberMember

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    You guys are awesome...really. I did a 30% change tonight. I’ll do another 20-30 tomorrow. I love this ongoing support. Makes me feel better that I’m on the right track!
     
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