Ammonia Spike in Tank with Goldfish:

  • #1
I've had my current tank sent up for a few weeks. It's a little three gallon, since I'm going to be going to school in about a month, I didn't want to set up my 10.
I've kept tropical fish before, but within the last year have been strictly sticking with goldfish. I figure if I learn enough about them, I can keep them better.
Anyway, I usually cycle without fish, but this time, it was sort of a snap of the moment decision, and I wanted to get the gravel all cycled for when I go to school, so it started.
I set up the tank, let it go for a few days, waited for the water to go cloudy, went clear, I checked the ammonia; it was right in between 0-.25, closer to .1 according to the color chart on my test kit. I went to my pet store, but they didn't have any of the feeder goldfish that I usually get, so I had to travel about 25-30 minutes to the next town's.
I got two, brought them home, set them (still bagged) in the tank for a few hours and then let them out. They were obviously stressed from the transport, but looked like they were adjusting nicely. They weren't at the top, weren't lethargic, they were just hanging out. I know, goldfish need 10-15 gallon per fish, but I was afraid one was going to die, because it seems I always get the sick ones since I get the feeders that the stores aren't too concerned about. So I was planning on keeping 1 in a 3 gallon and doing more water changes, and taking him back if/when he got to large because I have to go to school (5 hours away), and I am not going to try to transport a whole tank anyway, this was more just to start it so it'll be easier when I get it set up at my house in my college town. Alas, they're both still living, so more water changes all the time until I got back.
I was nervous that I hadn't let it cycling enough, so I was doing periodic water changes and checking the ammonia frequently. Everything stayed stable. Ammonia stayed right in the 0-.15 range, and my pH was just a smidgen higher than goldfish like (about 7.6, I like to keep it on the higher side because I wanted to introduce some Apple snails). The temperature was a little high one day, so I put some icecubes in a bag and floated it right on top, it went down and has been staying right around 70-75.
Everything stayed stable for about 5 days, so I went and got an apple snail. The snail hung out for about 3 days before coming out, but is now moving around doing snail things.
I got home this afternoon, decided to check the ammonia and pH, and do a small water change... Well, the small water change turned into a larger one when I realized the ammonia had spiked to almost 1-1.5 over night. I have been doing partial water changes (with stable, tested water, not tap, obviously) almost every other day, just because of the amount of waste the goldfish produce. The pH jumped a little, but it's still around 7.6-7.7.
I'm just nervous about the ammonia. I think I caught it quick, and I'm hoping it's just the water adjusting to the recently added waste from the fish, but I'd like some feedback. I'm probably going to go down to my pet store and get some ammonia lock or something similar just to be on the safe side.
The fish don't seem stressed, yet. They're not gasping, their gills look a good color, no burn marks, no red streaks, no sitting at the top, neither are lethargic.

Also, I've done a lot of research with my boyfriend's dad, who kept amazing tanks (150+ gallons). He's the fish guy, but he's getting remarried today, and I already called him about the snails the other night, so I think I'll get a wider range of feedback and let him enjoy his day!

Thanks for any help you can give.
  • #2
It is really not advised to cycle any tank with fish however it can be done.. I'm not saying it should but it can. I assume that you are feeding the fish????? If so cut the amount of feeding right down to literally the bare minimum The ammonia spike is probably being caused by the fact you have 2 high waste producing fish, the bacteria in the filter aren't anywhere near ready (as ammonia is still present) so they can not cope with such a high waste load.arky so my advice is to cut the feeding right down as in right right down... Maybe to a couple of times a week (more qualified fishkeeper will need to advise) other than that you could try removing at least 1 of the fish depending on the circumstances obviously hope that didnt seem too lecture like
  • #3
I would recommend upping the water changes to every day with Prime, at least 30%. Prime is great at detoxifying the ammonia.
  • #4
I second the using Prime for in the water changes.

Sounds like the addition of the apple snail helped increase the ammonia as well as the fish... definitely recommend increasing amount of water changes and trying to keep the ammonia down while going through the cycling due to the fish.

*edit* And welcome!!
  • #5
in-fish cycling.............. = pain in the butt indeed
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I went out and bought a fuller test kit. I previously only had one for pH and ammonia. The ammonia had risen slightly, it's now at 1.5 (just tested minutes ago). The pH is up a bit too, but it's still within range. Nitrites are at 0. Nitrate is greater than zero, but less than five, so that's normal too. I did a 50% water change, with the ammonia lock I have, but I'll probably go ahead and get the Prime since everyone on here talks so highly of it.

The fish get fed once in the evening just a few flakes. I might take it down to every other day since goldfish really don't need feedings everyday.

Also, I have an old filter that was cycled and in a stable 10 gallon tank, and I was going to put that one in there, but the current was just way too strong.

Cycling with fish is a pain, but this is just to get gravel and hopefully the filter a little more stable so when I move, I can be a little more at ease when I cycle it and another tank I'm taking.

The fish still aren't showing any kind of stress, which I'm thankful for. I've been trying to check them for burns and looking at their gills, and they all check out for now.
  • #7
With the old filter that was cycled, could you take some of the media and put it on/in a filter for the goldfish tank?
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
I hadn't thought about that, but I should be able to. I'll go ahead and do that, and hope it can at least help balance a bit.

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