Bringing Ammonia Levels Down

Nightshadethebetta

Member
I just invested in my first API master test kit and got these results. My ammonia levels aren’t high, but I know it’s not good to have any at all. What’s the best way to bring it down?
 

Kiks

Member
You need to cycle your tank. That's the only way to have consistent 0 readings of ammonia and nitrite, that is unless you're carrying out 100% water changes daily for some reason, which I assume you won't be doing.
A tank should be cycled before adding any fish. Some people use fish to cycle their tanks, but I'll advise you not to do this. Especially if you aren't very experienced.
Since your ammonia is above 0 I assume you have fish in your tank already. Do water changes until ammonia is as close to 0 as possible to fix the problem briefly, but you will need to cycle in order to address the issue properly.
 

Jenoli42

Member
Nightshadethebetta said:
I just invested in my first API master test kit and got these results. My ammonia levels aren’t high, but I know it’s not good to have any at all. What’s the best way to bring it down?
congrats!!! now you can track your cycle progress!

you have a betta in your tank, right?

do you also have SeaChem prime on hand?

the other poster is correct: if you have fish then you'll need to do water changes until your bacteria colonies grow and bring toxins down to 0.

prime keeps your fish safer as long as levels aren't above 1ppm total combined of ammonia + nitrite. I'm seeing ammonia at around .75. that's means you could just dose with prime. but if it goes up or your nitrites appear, you'll need to do water changes and use prime.

I hope this makes sense & helps?
 
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Nightshadethebetta

Member
Jenoli42 said:
congrats!!! now you can track your cycle progress!

you have a betta in your tank, right?

do you also have SeaChem prime on hand?

the other poster is correct: if you have fish then you'll need to do water changes until your bacteria colonies grow and bring toxins down to 0.

prime keeps your fish safer as long as levels aren't above 1ppm total combined of ammonia + nitrite. I'm seeing ammonia at around .75. that's means you could just dose with prime. but if it goes up or your nitrites appear, you'll need to do water changes and use prime.

I hope this makes sense & helps?
Yes, thanks so much! I’m so glad I got the test, cause now I know my issue. I also just put a filter in, so I’m hoping that helps. This is my first betta, so I’m definitely a beginner! But I’m learning a lot I’m not familiar SeaChem.
 

Jenoli42

Member
Nightshadethebetta said:
Yes, thanks so much! I’m so glad I got the test, cause now I know my issue. I also just put a filter in, so I’m hoping that helps. This is my first betta, so I’m definitely a beginner! But I’m learning a lot I’m not familiar SeaChem.
you're on the right track. any level of ammonia can harm fish. your level without a detoxifier like prime can hurt your betta. if you don't want to buy prime or any other detoxifier, then you'll need to do daily 25% partial water changes or more if your levels get above 1ppm to keep them below that total level.

what water conditioner are you using? stress coat?

your beneficial bacteria live in your filter media so it's excellent you now have one so they can grow and eventually cycle your tank
 

Sarah73

Member
What do you have in your tank? Meaning fish. What kind of fish do you have?
 
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Nightshadethebetta

Member
Jenoli42 said:
you're on the right track. any level of ammonia can harm fish. your level without a detoxifier like prime can hurt your betta. if you don't want to buy prime or any other detoxifier, then you'll need to do daily 25% partial water changes or more if your levels get above 1ppm to keep them below that total level.

what water conditioner are you using? stress coat?

your beneficial bacteria live in your filter media so it's excellent you now have one so they can grow and eventually cycle your tank
I use API water conditioner and I add a little touch of stress zyme each water change to help things clean and to help his previously ripped fin (which is now healed). I plan to do another water change Monday. My poor betta has early stages of popeye, so I’m doing everything I can

Sarah73 said:
What do you have in your tank? Meaning fish. What kind of fish do you have?
I have only one male betta fish in his own 2.5 gallon tank.
 

Jenoli42

Member
Nightshadethebetta said:
I use API water conditioner and I add a little touch of stress zyme each water change to help things clean and to help his previously ripped fin (which is now healed). I plan to do another water change Monday. My poor betta has early stages of popeye, so I’m doing everything I can
I would urge you to consider daily water changes. Popeye is most commonly caused by your fish being in consistently poor water conditions. your ammonia level is unhealthy, so that's the most likely cause. until your bacteria grow in your new filter media, the only way to bring down ammonia is water changes & feeding only lightly once a day. good luck!
 
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Nightshadethebetta

Member
Jenoli42 said:
I would urge you to consider daily water changes. Popeye is most commonly caused by your fish being in consistently poor water conditions. your ammonia level is unhealthy, so that's the most likely cause. until your bacteria grow in your new filter media, the only way to bring down ammonia is water changes & feeding only lightly once a day. good luck!
Thanks for all of your advice! He unfortunately won’t eat, so I’m not sure how to entice him. After how long could I expect to see some improvement? Sorry for so many questions, I’m new at this!!
 

varmint

Member
I would suggest getting a bottle of Stability and dose as per instructions on the bottle. It will speed up the cycling process. Good luck.
 

Jenoli42

Member
Nightshadethebetta said:
Thanks for all of your advice! He unfortunately won’t eat, so I’m not sure how to entice him. After how long could I expect to see some improvement? Sorry for so many questions, I’m new at this!!
You won't see improvements sadly until the ammonia is down. that's why he has Popeye & why he's not eating.

sorry if you already understand this, but here's how the cycle works and impacts on your fish:

put simply, your fish poo. that poo breaks down into ammonia which is toxic to fish. imagine breathing your own poo.

one type of bacteria eat the ammonia. those bacteria then poo and create nitrite. nitrite is also very toxic to fish.

a second type of bacteria (nitrobacter) start growing. these guys grow more slowly but they eat nitrite. when nitrobacter poo, they produce nitrate. nitrate is less toxic & perfectly safe for fish until it gets higher than 20-40 ppm. you remove nitrates when you do weekly water changes. most of us keep nitrates below 20ppm.

I hope that makes sense?

getting seachem prime will keep your fish safe as long as the levels of ammonia plus nitrite combined add up to less than 1ppm. (edit: example. ammonia at .5 + nitrite .25 = .75 total toxins = safe with prime)

when your levels are higher, you need to do partial water changes (usually daily) to remove the toxins back down to a safer level. you do this until your bacteria grow and can do it themselves.

so the problem is that your lovely betta is breathing his own poo
 
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Nightshadethebetta

Member
Jenoli42 said:
You won't see improvements sadly until the ammonia is down. that's why he has Popeye & why he's not eating.

sorry if you already understand this, but here's how the cycle works and impacts on your fish:

put simply, your fish poo. that poo breaks down into ammonia which is toxic to fish. imagine breathing your own poo.

one type of bacteria eat the ammonia. those bacteria then poo and create nitrite. nitrite is also very toxic to fish.

a second type of bacteria (nitrobacter) start growing. these guys grow more slowly but they eat nitrite. when nitrobacter poo, they produce nitrate. nitrate is less toxic & perfectly safe for fish until it gets higher than 20-40 ppm. you remove nitrates when you do weekly water changes. most of us keep nitrates below 20ppm.

I hope that makes sense?

getting seachem prime will keep your fish safe as long as the levels of ammonia plus nitrite combined add up to less than 1ppm. (edit: example. ammonia at .5 + nitrite .25 = .75 total toxins = safe with prime)

when your levels are higher, you need to do partial water changes (usually daily) to remove the toxins back down to a safer level. you do this until your bacteria grow and can do it themselves.

so the problem is that your lovely betta is breathing his own poo
Ahh, that makes a lot more sense now. Thanks again for all your help! I’m going to purchase some prime and stability to help my little guy out! Hopefully things will improve soon!
 

varmint

Member
Give us an update when you get a chance.
 

Jenoli42

Member
Nightshadethebetta said:
Ahh, that makes a lot more sense now. Thanks again for all your help! I’m going to purchase some prime and stability to help my little guy out! Hopefully things will improve soon!
I'm so glad!! Do let us know how it goes!
 

Andy S

Member
If you only have 2.5 gallons of water to deal with I would recommend frequent water changes. Even a 40% water change is only a gallon and will improve things considerably. I would do that daily or even twice daily until you get the ammonia level under control.
 

Hunter1

Member
I agree. Prime will stabilize you ammonia/nitrites if they are below 1ppm.

So will a water change.

I personally use Prime and think it’s a great product but if you want to save the lil guy, do a 50% water change, then 25% a couple of days running. He should start eating and your ammonia should be at or below.25.

Stability will speed up the cycle.

Bettas don’t have much of a bioload. That’s why people can keep them for years in tank tanks with just water changes and no filter.
 
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Nightshadethebetta

Member
So I did another 50% water change and added prime. I tested my ammonia again afterwards, and it’s still the same Should I wait longer before testing?

Sorry, I’m so new at this, so I want make sure I’m doing things correctly.

I should also add that my betta is losing his beautiful blue color
 

GreekGills

Member
Have you tested your tap for ammonia?
 
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Nightshadethebetta

Member
GreekGills said:
Have you tested your tap for ammonia?
I should have thought of that before because yep, our tap water has ammonia! Can’t believe that’s the issue. Now I know!

What can I do about this??
 

GreekGills

Member
Use the dechlorinator and keep up with the water changes. I've had a slight ammonia increase in my tap recently(.5ppm) but a combination of a strong bacteria colony, understocking, and heavy planting all help in keeping my ammonia down.
 
  • Thread Starter

Nightshadethebetta

Member
GreekGills said:
Use the dechlorinator and keep up with the water changes. I've had a slight ammonia increase in my tap recently(.5ppm) but a combination of a strong bacteria colony, understocking, and heavy planting all help in keeping my ammonia down.
Thank you! I just tested my nitrates and nitrates as well since doing a water change and adding prime. My results now show 5ppm nitrates and nitrites still at 0 and ammonia still the same. Is that normal?
 

GreekGills

Member
5ppm ammonia, 0 nitrates and 0 nitrites?
 
  • Thread Starter

Nightshadethebetta

Member
GreekGills said:
5ppm ammonia, 0 nitrates and 0 nitrites?
.5ppm ammonia
0 nitrite
5ppm nitrate

I attached a photo of my results! My tap water has 1ppm of ammonia in it.
 

GreekGills

Member
So your bacteria is taking care of some of the ammonia, that's good. Keep up the water changes with prime and you'll be in good shape. Having 0 nitrites and 5 nitrates means you're progressing nicely, just needs more time for the 2nd bacteria to get strong enough to take care of that ammonia.
 
  • Thread Starter

Nightshadethebetta

Member
GreekGills said:
So your bacteria is taking care of some of the ammonia, that's good. Keep up the water changes with prime and you'll be in good shape. Having 0 nitrites and 5 nitrates means you're progressing nicely, just needs more time for the 2nd bacteria to get strong enough to take care of that ammonia.
I’m glad to hear that! Thank you! Last question if you don’t mind.. My betta is constantly hanging out at the top of the tank and breathing rapidly. Does this have to do with the ammonia present? He also hasn’t eaten in 2 days.
 

GreekGills

Member
It's most likely from the poor water conditions. I don't have any experience with popeye or any other disease for that matter, so I can't give any treatment advice. I've mostly read that pristine water is key for treatment. Also most medications and salt water treatments aren't recommended for bettas, as they can affect the labyrinth organ.

They can go a while without food, so a couple days is nothing to worry about. Stress can cause lethargy, loss of appetite and all kinds of weird behaviors. Once the water improves, so will your little guy
 

Hunter1

Member
I know you are using Prime as your declorinator but I would dose for the amount for the entire tank. This will bond the ammonia to protect the fish but the ammonia will still show up on tests.

I think your cycle is just getting started. Do you also have nitrates in your tap?

You should see a big nitrite spike once your bacteria begin to convert ammonia and you haven’t seen that yet.
 
  • Thread Starter

Nightshadethebetta

Member
Hunter1 said:
I know you are using Prime as your declorinator but I would dose for the amount for the entire tank. This will bond the ammonia to protect the fish but the ammonia will still show up on tests.

I think your cycle is just getting started. Do you also have nitrates in your tap?

You should see a big nitrite spike once your bacteria begin to convert ammonia and you haven’t seen that yet.
I haven’t yet tested my tap for nitrates, but will update when I do. How long would it take before seeing some improvement with the ammonia? I’m worried for my fish at this point.
 
  • Thread Starter

Nightshadethebetta

Member
Ok, so I tested my tap and it has no nitrates in it. Also, I just re tested it in my tank, and nitrates are back to 0 with ammonia still at .50. I’m kinda confused with this cycling process. My fish isn’t getting worse or better.
 

Hunter1

Member
I w ent back and looked and didn’t see where you used “bottled bacteria?”

If not, with a fish in cycle, I would add TetraSafeStart +. Squirt it into the back of the filter so it runs through the filter.

It will speed up your cycle, which will protect your fish in the long run.
 

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