Ammonia Problems

  1. g

    goldfish101 Initiate Member

    I have a 10 gallon aquarium with 2 common goldfish. This tank went through a fishless cycle about 3 months ago, the parameters were:
    0ppm ammonia
    0ppm nitrite
    10ppm nitrate

    i did a gravel vac and a 50% water change 3 days ago, however my water parameters just suddenly went out of wack. idk why:
    .25ppm ammonia
    0ppm nitrite
    10ppm nitrate

    i know that's not bad, but that .25ppm ammonia concerns me. i'd expect ammonia to pop up after a week of no cleaning, but it's only been 3 days... whats wrong? is this ammonia caused by something gone wrong with my beneficial bacteria, or because goldfish just produce a lot of waste? also, is .25ppm ammonia harmful to my fish to any extent?

    P.S., i realize 10 gallons is too small for my goldies. i'm currently (fishless) cycling my 75 gallon tank and they should be moved by the end of the month hopefully..
    P.P.S. when i said "This tank went through a fishless cycle about 3 months ago", i meant that it was fully cycled 3 months ago, and my goldies have been in it since then. the tank did not take 3 months to cycle. just some clarification.
  2. Jaysee

    Jaysee Fishlore Legend Member

    Welcome to the forum

    The ammonia should never creep up. In a cycled tank, it should always be 0, even after a month of not cleaning. In fact, cleaning too much is a problem.

    Goldfish are different than every other fish, in that they can actively excrete ammonia directly into the water. All other fish use passive diffusion. Because of this, they can still rid their bodies of ammonia even with a concentration in the water. With normal fish, the ammonia concentration in the fish is whatever it is in the water. So if it's zero, then the fish has zero ammonia built up in it's system - ideal :) . If it's 0.5, then the fish has 0.5 ppm ammonia in it's body. So it's not the ammonia in the water that poisons them, per se, but the ammonia in the fish. So to answer your question, no it is not as harmful as it would otherwise be. But it is still a bad thing that needs to be corrected as soon as possible. Just because the fish are better suited to substandard water quality doesn't mean they should be subjected to it.

    First thing to do is a water change to lower the ammonia levels. I would change out at least 50%. Vacuum the substrate to remove all the gunk that's in the gravel. But DON'T touch the filter. Also, stop feeding the fish. The last thing you need is to increase the bioload. The fish will be fine fasting for a few days while you figure out what's causing the ammonia spike.

    Actually........The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to move the fish to the 75 and move all of the filter media from the 10 gallon filter to the 75 gallon filter. Transferring what bacteria you have in the 10 gallon filter to the 75 gallon filter will get the new filter up and running very quickly. The established bacteria will colonize the new media faster than it would otherwise take. It might not be a perfect cycle yet, but all the extra water in the 75 will dilute the ammonia in the water.