Ammonia Spike - 5 Week Old Tank

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by AlexnBen, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. AlexnBen

    AlexnBenNew MemberMember

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    Purchased a 29 gallon freshwater tank 5 weeks ago. Currently have 4 platies and 1 molly along with 5 or so newly born fish. Noticed an ammonia spike yesterday to about 3.0ppm so did 25% water change with API quick start and stress coat. Re-checked today and ammonia is at about 1.0ppm. We have lost 2 platies since the start of the tank for an unknown reason. Tank appears healthy but we also have another fish now spending a lot of time sitting at the rock on the bottom. Not sure what’s going on or how to stop/resolve the ammonia issue.
     

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  2. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

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    Sounds like you are in the midst of a fish in cycle. You need to keep the ammonia down as low as possible with water changes. I also recommend you get a bottle of Prime if you don't already have it. It is first and foremost a water conditioner but has the added benefit of detoxing low amounts of ammonia. It will protect your fish as the tank completes its cycle.

    What are your other numbers? PH, nitrites and nitrates
     
  3. OP
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    AlexnBen

    AlexnBenNew MemberMember

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    Hey @mattgirl thank you for your help! How often should we be doing water changes in your opinion? Everything I read varies. I’ll definitely pick up some Prime. Should I only add it to new water when doing changes or to the existing tank water as well?

    PH - 7.0
    Nitrites - 0.0
    Nitrates - 0.0
     
  4. fjh

    fjhWell Known MemberMember

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    Hello and welcome to the forum!

    I see your profile says you know about the nitrogen cycle - did you cycle your tank before adding the fish?

    It sounds like you are doing a fish-in cycle. First of all, test your water daily and do water changes as needed to keep ammonia under 1ppm. I also recommend buying a bottle of prime, because it is not only a dechlorinator but also can also detoxify ammonia for up to 24hrs (once you have completed your cycle, you can go back to your regular dechlorinator).
     
  5. OP
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    AlexnBen

    AlexnBenNew MemberMember

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    Hey @fjh unfortunately we listened to our local pet store rep and didn’t let the tank cycle. We put API quick start & stress coat in the water and waited 3 days to add fish. We have since done some additional research ourselves.

    That makes sense! Should I only treat the new water going in or the existing water as well with the prime? Thanks for your help!
     
  6. fjh

    fjhWell Known MemberMember

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    No problem! A lot of people don't cycle their tank before adding fish. It means more work for you, but it is not the end of the world.

    All new water going in should be treated with dechlorinator. If you are showing ammonia, then add as much prime to detoxify the ammonia (for instance, if you have .5ppm ammonia, then the new water going in needs at least enough prime to treat half the tank, or equal to the ammount of new water; whichever is greater. Or lest say you have 2ppm ammonia even right after a water change, then put twice as much prime in than you would need to treat the entire tank.).

    Ideally you would be able to keep ammonia below 1ppm and use prime until you finish your cycle, but realistically I am not sure how much time you have or are willing to spend on the tank. Your fish would love if you could do daily 50% water changes, but if that is too much work then just make sure to test the water every other day and pull the ammonia+nitrite readings below 1ppm (ie, if you are showing 4ppm ammonia -ouch- then do a 75% WC. or is you have 1ppm ammonia and 1ppm nitrite, then do at least a 50%WC.).
     
  7. GuppyDazzle

    GuppyDazzleWell Known MemberMember

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    If you add the conditioner to the replacement water container (such as a bucket), treat for the volume in the bucket. If you add the conditioner to the tank, treat for the full volume of the tank.

    I use a pond pump to drain water from my tanks to a floor drain. I follow along with a hose to fill back up. I use Prime, and dose the tank, which is one eyedropper full for 10 gallons.
     
  8. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

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    Personally I wouldn't allow the ammonia to get over .25ppm but let your test be your guide. If the ammonia is less than one you can just add enough prime to treat the full volume of your tank. If it is one or above change enough water to get it back below one and again add prime to detox what is left.

    Once your cycle is complete you will only have to add enough Prime to treat the water your are replacing if using buckets. If using a python type system you will add enough for the full volume of your tank before adding water.

    You may want to read through this post for doing a fish in cycle

    PH is good but keep an eye on it. It has been know to drop during the cycling process but as long as you are doing the water changes as needed for ammonia it should stay fairly stable.

    zero on both nitrites and nitrates but seeing some ammonia is telling us that your cycle is right at the beginning.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  9. oldsalt777

    oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

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    Hello Alex...

    What is your water change routine? If you're not already, work up to the point you're removing and replacing at least half the water weekly. Large, regular water changes will prevent sudden changes in the tank water chemistry.

    Old
     
  10. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

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    I agree. This is what he needs to do once this tank is cycled.
     
  11. oldsalt777

    oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

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    Hello matt...

    Actually, even if the tank isn't cycled, a large water change routine done weekly would allow the water chemistry to stay in a safe range for a hardy fish species like Platies (not for Mollies) and still grow the bacteria colony.

    Old
     
  12. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

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    I could agree with that if a big water change once a week would keep the ammonia down to a negligible level during the cycling process. Personally I would never allow the ammonia to go over .25 when fishes lives are at stake but that may just be me.
     
  13. oldsalt777

    oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

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    matt...

    A hardy fish species like most of the live bearing species and many of the egg layers are fine with a trace of nitrogen in their tank water for the short period it takes to establish a tank. I always recommend adding a bit of standard aquarium salt to the water. It eases any stress on the fish. Of course, you have to be selective when you cycle a tank with fish, but in the end you have a tank with a healthy, steady water chemistry.

    Old
     
  14. Momgoose56

    Momgoose56Fishlore VIPMember

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    There is a Molly in the tank and fry. I agree w/Matt girl that ammonia levels need to be kept under 1 ppm-low enough to be controlled w/Prime with frequent enough and large enough water changes to do that. Once a week especially when there is the eventual nitrite spike may not be enough. In addition, one large water replacement -in a week may be enough to get ammonia/ nitrites down to <1.0 one time, but not the next. The best course is regular testing and water changes tailored each time to prevent problems and control water chemistry.
     
  15. oldsalt777

    oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

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    Hello Mom...

    The tank is large enough to support a few fish. If the fish are fed sparingly, which is recommended for fish in tank cycling, then changing out half the water weekly will keep the fish healthy and still grow the bacteria colony. Back in the days before testing, you introduced a few hardy fish and fed them a little every couple of days to maintain a steady ammonia source and changed one quarter of the water daily for the first two weeks and then half weekly for the life of the tank. The Molly isn't a hardy fish, so it may experience a little stress, but the Platys should be fine. Adding a teaspoon or two of standard aquarium salt to every 5 gallons of replacement water should keep the fish comfortable.

    Old
     
  16. Momgoose56

    Momgoose56Fishlore VIPMember

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    In the modern age Old, we have test kits and can better regulate tank chemistry with them. I believe in doing it the modern way where you don't have to stress any of the fish while cycling. The jury is out about using salt in a tank as a routine so I don't ever advise adding salt just for the heck of it because it might help something. Unless of course is in a fw tank full of only brackish fish...
     
  17. oldsalt777

    oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

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    Hi Mom...

    Good one. I liked the part about using salt for the heck of it. If you want to, go back to your older books on fish keeping. Salt has been used for decades, so it really isn't used for the heck of it. There's really research behind its use, especially with live bearing fish. But, if you're the doctor, you can make your own diagnosis.

    Old
     
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