Can’t Get Ammonia Down

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DawnL

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Hello Everyone. I’m very new to this hobby, have only had my 13 gallon Aqueon tank set up for about 6 weeks. I originally intended on having a Betta, a few decorations, nothing fancy. But of course, YouTube and various websites peaked my obsession, so I went and got myself some fancy male guppies (5 of them), 2 Cory Catfish, and 3 red cherry shrimp. I even got shipped 2 mystery snails on accident (is order some narrow leaf sword plants, but they told me to just keep the snails). The ammonia has been high for a few weeks now. I’ve done water changes, and I’ve started adding more plants. The fish seem fine, but I just lost the final shrimp today. Originally had 3 Cory cats, 1 died the day after I got them. The ammonia always tests high with the API test kit (dark green). I use Prime and API water conditioner when doing water changes. And started using AMMO LOCK. The ammonia just won’t come down. Suggestions? I don’t want to kill anything else!
 

mattgirl

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How often have you been doing water changes and how much are you changing each time?

It seems to me everyone sees dark green in their test tube when adding ammo-lock. You may want to consider not adding it and just sticking to Prime and water changes meaning no less than 50% each time.
 
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DawnL

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I do water changes every 2 days. About 20-25%. I panicked when my shrimp started dying and did a 50% change. But I hear mixed reviews on that, some people swear by it, and others say that removes too much good bacteria so I’m basically starting my cycle over. I should’ve added Nitrites have always tested 0 so that’s discouraging as well.
 

Johnnybelfastboy

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H
DawnL said:
Hello Everyone. I’m very new to this hobby, have only had my 13 gallon Aqueon tank set up for about 6 weeks. I originally intended on having a Betta, a few decorations, nothing fancy. But of course, YouTube and various websites peaked my obsession, so I went and got myself some fancy male guppies (5 of them), 2 Cory Catfish, and 3 red cherry shrimp. I even got shipped 2 mystery snails on accident (is order some narrow leaf sword plants, but they told me to just keep the snails). The ammonia has been high for a few weeks now. I’ve done water changes, and I’ve started adding more plants. The fish seem fine, but I just lost the final shrimp today. Originally had 3 Cory cats, 1 died the day after I got them. The ammonia always tests high with the API test kit (dark green). I use Prime and API water conditioner when doing water changes. And started using AMMO LOCK. The ammonia just won’t come down. Suggestions? I don’t want to kill anything else!
Hi dawn. Defo stop using the ammo lock it will defo give u false reading. What ppm is ur ammo reading? Just stick with the water conditioner and do water change then take a reading of ur ammonia Depending on the reading whether high or low will depend on how much water changes will need to b done. Hope this helps a bit
 

Momgoose56

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Johnnybelfastboy said:
H

Hi dawn. Defo stop using the ammo lock it will defo give u false reading. What ppm is ur ammo reading? Just stick with the water conditioner and do water change then take a reading of ur ammonia Depending on the reading whether high or low will depend on how much water changes will need to b done. Hope this helps a bit
Dawnl, What type of filter do you have in your tank and how long has our been set up with fish in it?
 

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DawnL said:
I do water changes every 2 days. About 20-25%. I panicked when my shrimp started dying and did a 50% change. But I hear mixed reviews on that, some people swear by it, and others say that removes too much good bacteria so I’m basically starting my cycle over. I should’ve added Nitrites have always tested 0 so that’s discouraging as well.
Did you add any kind of bottled bacteria? Lots of folks report never seeing nitrites after using some brands of it.

Since you are basically doing a fish in cycle you probably want to be doing bigger water changes until you get your ammonia levels down to no more than .5

You should also stop adding anything other than Prime to this tank after a water change. Both Prime and the API water conditioner are both water conditioners so there is no need to add both. Be sure to add enough Prime to the water you are replacing to treat the full 13 gallons.

Once the cycle is complete and you are no longer getting a reading for ammonia you can just add enough Prime to treat the water you are replacing.

The bacteria does not live in the water so doing water changes will not be removing it. The bacteria is growing on your filter media and on all the surfaces in the tank.

Do your water changes to keep the ammonia down below one. 0 is best but is often hard to achieve. You may need to do daily 50% water changes to get the ammo-lock back out of there and bring your ammonia levels down to below one.

Are you seeing any nitrates yet?
 
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Momgoose56 said:
Dawnl, What type of filter do you have in your tank and how long has our been set up with fish in it?
I have the Aqueon Quiet Flow filter, I put the fish in about 5 weeks ago, the Cory cats 4 weeks ago

mattgirl said:
Did you add any kind of bottled bacteria? Lots of folks report never seeing nitrites after using some brands of it.

Since you are basically doing a fish in cycle you probably want to be doing bigger water changes until you get your ammonia levels down to no more than .5

You should also stop adding anything other than Prime to this tank after a water change. Both Prime and the API water conditioner are both water conditioners so there is no need to add both. Be sure to add enough Prime to the water you are replacing to treat the full 13 gallons.

Once the cycle is complete and you are no longer getting a reading for ammonia you can just add enough Prime to treat the water you are replacing.

The bacteria does not live in the water so doing water changes will not be removing it. The bacteria is growing on your filter media and on all the surfaces in the tank.

Do your water changes to keep the ammonia down below one. 0 is best but is often hard to achieve. You may need to do daily 50% water changes to get the ammo-lock back out of there and bring your ammonia levels down to below one.

Are you seeing any nitrates yet?
Ok I will stop using the other conditioner should I stop with the Ammo lock as well? I just did a water change today and only added prime. No bottled bacteria was used, and it’s always read 0 nitrates.

Johnnybelfastboy said:
H

Hi dawn. Defo stop using the ammo lock it will defo give u false reading. What ppm is ur ammo reading? Just stick with the water conditioner and do water change then take a reading of ur ammonia Depending on the reading whether high or low will depend on how much water changes will need to b done. Hope this helps a bit
Oh ok, I will stop using ammo lock I just didn’t want the fish to get ammonia burns or poisoning while I figure this thing out..here’s what the tube looks like I’ll post a pic after testing ammonia from yesterday.
 

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DawnL said:
Ok I will stop using the other conditioner should I stop with the Ammo lock as well? I just did a water change today and only added prime. No bottled bacteria was used, and it’s always read 0 nitrates.


Oh ok, I will stop using ammo lock I just didn’t want the fish to get ammonia burns or poisoning while I figure this thing out..here’s what the tube looks like I’ll post a pic after testing ammonia from yesterday.
Test your source water for PH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. I have to think you will see 0 nitrites and nitrates since you aren't seeing them in your tank but it is good to have a baseline reading on the water you are using to do water changes.

If you've not done so run the PH test on the tank. A low PH can cause a cycle to slow down. If it is down to 6.5 or less we need to get it up to at least 7. I will wait until I see what your readings are before getting into how to naturally raise it.

If you will do the big water changes to get the ammonia down (unless you have a high ammonia reading in your source water) your fish shouldn't get ammonia burns. If you don't have ammonia in your source water just keep doing daily 50% water changes until the ammonia is down to less than one. The only product you want to add is Prime.
 

Johnnybelfastboy

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DawnL said:
I have the Aqueon Quiet Flow filter, I put the fish in about 5 weeks ago, the Cory cats 4 weeks ago


Ok I will stop using the other conditioner should I stop with the Ammo lock as well? I just did a water change today and only added prime. No bottled bacteria was used, and it’s always read 0 nitrates.


Oh ok, I will stop using ammo lock I just didn’t want the fish to get ammonia burns or poisoning while I figure this thing out..here’s what the tube looks like I’ll post a pic after testing ammonia from yesterday.
Looking at the api test kit u look to have roughly 1ppm ammonia... which isnt off the scale As others have stated i would check ur ph... but personally depending how much water change u have done today I would do a 50% water change in the morning then do a 25-30% bout 7-8pm then bout 20-30% twice daily should sharp bring ur ammonia down to 0. Any problems i have had which hasnt been many or to severe have been totall sorted with water changes. I refuse to put different chemicals in my tank unlesd absolutely necessary ☺
 

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DawnL said:
I do water changes every 2 days. About 20-25%. I panicked when my shrimp started dying and did a 50% change. But I hear mixed reviews on that, some people swear by it, and others say that removes too much good bacteria so I’m basically starting my cycle over. I should’ve added Nitrites have always tested 0 so that’s discouraging as well.
There's not much bacteria in the water column. The bacteria colonies reside on surfaces, like filter media, substrate, decorations, etc. You won't deplete the bacteria colony by changing water.

However, water changes can produce stress for the fish. I try to avoid doing water changes of more than 50% for that reason, although I've done larger water changes to deal with ammonia spikes and haven't had any problem.

A cycle should be complete or at least close after six weeks no matter what method you're using. Are you leaving the filter media alone during this process?

The ammonia is coming from somewhere. A common source of high ammonia is overfeeding. Keep an eye on that.
 
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I see your getting pleanty of help, so all I want to say is...Welcome to FishLore! I hope you find the site helpful and enjoyable.
 
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Johnnybelfastboy said:
Looking at the api test kit u look to have roughly 1ppm ammonia... which isnt off the scale As others have stated i would check ur ph... but personally depending how much water change u have done today I would do a 50% water change in the morning then do a 25-30% bout 7-8pm then bout 20-30% twice daily should sharp bring ur ammonia down to 0. Any problems i have had which hasnt been many or to severe have been totall sorted with water changes. I refuse to put different chemicals in my tank unlesd absolutely necessary ☺
Ok will definitely try! Thank you! I hate putting a bunch of stuff in the tank as far as chemicals, the internet has so much conflicting information it makes my head spin!

GuppyDazzle said:
There's not much bacteria in the water column. The bacteria colonies reside on surfaces, like filter media, substrate, decorations, etc. You won't deplete the bacteria colony by changing water.

However, water changes can produce stress for the fish. I try to avoid doing water changes of more than 50% for that reason, although I've done larger water changes to deal with ammonia spikes and haven't had any problem.

A cycle should be complete or at least close after six weeks no matter what method you're using. Are you leaving the filter media alone during this process?

The ammonia is coming from somewhere. A common source of high ammonia is overfeeding. Keep an eye on that.
I did change the carbon filter because water began backing up and overflowing it as if it was clogged even when I tried to just rinse it with tank water.
 
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Tested again today. The tube on the right is directly from source water (tap). The left is from tank.
 

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Yeah ur water source looks fine Just keep up with the big water changes for couple of days n i think you should see it starting to drop... tho a product i used many moons ago for a large ammonia spike was AmQuel plus... which is a ammonia detoxifier n think on the first dose it cuts ammonia by 50% or something like that n i tem it did work wonders the times i used it but cant rem exactly how it worked as was long time ago How much water change have u done today

Hey dawn went tooting about n found a bottle of that AmQuel plus it says it detoxifies ammonia nitrite and nitrate as well as chloramines n chlorine. Just lookin at ur posts again Have u been thru the nitrogen cycle.. as i did a fishless cycle which took 10-12weeks so just wondering if ur tank is still cycling?
 

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Amquel, AmmoLock and Prime all do exactly the same thing, they temporarily convert ammonia to ammonium. Your ammonia will still test positive with the API Master test kit. Just stick with the Prime since you already have that. What is your pH (tap and tank) I think mattgirl already asked that. It is an important parameter for you to know.
 

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To keep it simple, I would stick with prime, Change water according to your test kit, stay below one ppm of combined ammonia and nitritr, I was recently in the same situation as you and seachem prime and stability carried me out. Good luck!
 

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DawnL said:
Ok will definitely try! Thank you! I hate putting a bunch of stuff in the tank as far as chemicals, the internet has so much conflicting information it makes my head spin!
I did change the carbon filter because water began backing up and overflowing it as if it was clogged even when I tried to just rinse it with tank water.
Instead of changing the filter, remove the carbon by cutting a slit in the filter floss and shake it out. That will make rinsing it out easier.Every time you throw the old floss/cartridge away, you throw away much of the beneficial bacteria you are trying to grow. I suggest getting some Fluval biomax ceramic media (pictured) and add as much as will fit, into your filter overflow either behind or in front of the mesh cartridge you have in there. That will add surface area for bacteria to attach to and will augment the mesh cartridge you already have in place. You can place the rings in a mesh media bag (your lfs should have those in an appropriate size). That will keep them contained and easier to move for filter maintenance.
 

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