Cat pee in fish tank, help please.

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by MattyDaddy, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. MattyDaddyNew MemberMember

    I am new and found this forum while trying to find and answer to my problem. So I figured since I can't find one I would join and see if someone can help me.
    My daughter and I started her tank about 9 weeks ago, it was just finishing cycling when my kitten (he has been around sine day one but this is the first time for this) decided he wanted to pee in the aquarium.
    I quickly added some ammonia neutralizer (sp?) to help with the fast rise in ammonia. All seemed ok and the 5 fish survived. well apparently last night he did it again, and not knowing it happened 3/5 fish died throughout the day today. I moved the 2 remaining fish to a temporary home and did a 75% water change and cleaned d├ęcor. Once I let the water get to temp I tested it and ammonia was lower at 8ppm (still high but that's about what our small aquarium runs) I tried to reintroduce the fish to the aquarium and both immediately started floating like they were dying (they were doing this before being moved to the temp tank) So I moved them back to the temp and the perked back up in a minute or two.
    I retested and all tests came back normal for the aquarium. I check temp and it was 79, right where it always is.
    The fish are also the fish that went through the cycle and are hearty. one is a zebra dyno and one is a algae eater. both were perfectly fine throughout the entire cycling of the tank, but now it seems toxic without testing toxic.
    Any ideas what I can do short of restarting the tank?

  2. Marie1Well Known MemberMember

    Put a lid on the tank is what I would do first. You are saying the ammonia levels in your tank are 8ppm? And that's what your small tank runs? I don't know what that means. And you think this is from cat pee?

  3. MattyDaddyNew MemberMember

    No since we started it, it has always had 8ppm ammonia, and up until today the fish were active and decently healthy. My test only goes to 10ppm for ammonia and when the cat peed in it the second time the test got way darker so I would guess it got to 20 -25 ppm.

  4. DaniosRockValued MemberMember

    Ammonia at 8ppm is toxic, it needs to be under .25 do a 90% water change and check again, if still above .25 do another 90%. Find something to cover the tank until you can order a cover. Your tank isn't cycled yet, read the stickies at the top of the page to learn how to cycle your tank safely and welcome to Fishlore!
  5. renthusWell Known MemberMember

    ...Okay, the thread title cracked me up.


    If your tank is at 8ppm ammonia, then it's not cycled. Your tank should consistently be at 0ppm ammonia and nitrite, and <40ppm nitrate. Keep in mind, any ammonia over .5 is HIGHLY toxic to your fish. In other words, I think you're either reading the test wrong, the test kit itself is busted (you aren't using paper, are you? >_>), or you did something horribly wrong.

    Anyway, two things you should do about the cat. First, get a lid for the tank so he can't get into the tank in the first place. Then, to keep it away from the tank in general, any time the cat goes near the tank, make a little hiss sound. Better yet, have a tape player or remote for some speakers or something that cause the hiss sound. If it comes from a source other than you, then it's almost as if god, or the universe, is the one negatively reinforcing.
  6. MattyDaddyNew MemberMember

    The tanks was finishing it cycle, wasn't completely cycled. Nitrate dropped to 0 and stayed night before last. As for test yes I am using paper strips, but the I got individual one instead of single test since it is all LFS carries. And we have a "cover" for it, just its a mesh cover for housing a rodent. before we started this tank it sat for almost a decade in my garage and before that I think the tank was a rodent cage (that's why the rodent cover). I cleaned it with bleach like 3 times before filling and dechlorinating, the rinsing after that. and I was told the 8ppm was part of the cycling process and would be the last to drop to 0, and I think it was on its way there until the cat.
    And as for him he gets disciplined with a spry bottle when we see it happen, but just like a kids he learned to just do what he wants when no one is looking. so even the making hissing sounds or recording wouldn't work because he sneaks to do it. I will try a couple more water changes, and hope the ammonia comes down, I just don't want to remove all the BB doing that big of changes.
  7. DolfanFishlore VIPMember

    A few things...

    Get a covered hood that is not a mesh screen. It will help a lot, and they are somewhat cheap.

    Don't buy stuff at the LFS, its twice as expensive as online prices and they will ship it straight to your door. Check out,, or even

    Get a decent test kit like API master test kit. The paper test are very inaccurate.

    Your ammonia was high because your weren't cycled yet, but also your tank size/stocking could be hurting the situation too. What size tank and how many fish do you have? You want to keep your tank very understocked during cycling process. Once it achieves cycle you can add 1 or 2 fish at a time depending on your tank size.

    You may want to invest in some Seachem Prime, it neutralizes ammonia for 24 hours making it not toxic to fish, and doesn't hurt your cycling process.
  8. KurtyValued MemberMember

    Hi and welcome how did your cat manage to pee in your tank,if I was you I'd make a video and put it on you tube ,you have to admit it's just so funny.Anyway my wife has a 5 month old kitten and she constantly hangs around my 10G that also has no cover at the moment ,she tried a couple of times to grab my betta so I splashed a little tank water on her had to do it a couple of times but now she knows paws off ,it's worth a go or you could just buy your cat a litter box ,LOL.
  9. TeishokueWell Known MemberMember

    seems like your cat issue is resolved: put a lid on it.

    as for your tank issues, how did you clean your decor?
  10. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    it does not make much sense, how can a cat pee in a tank? you mean it was on top of the mesh/screen and peed through the lid? if that's true that is absolutely awful! please purchase an appropriate lid or put the tank somewhere the cat cant go.

    I can not imagine how the fish would survive 20-25ppm!?!?! and you say you added ammonia neutralizer?!? like really?? ...but I cant even go any further, I think I lost it when you said you cleaned the tank with bleach and rinsed with dechlorinator? please just buy a new tank...


    I have 2 cats who love staring at my tank, they do not climb on the tank and I still make sure my lid is tight and secure... I cant imagine what I would do if my cats peed near my tank, let alone in it :(
  11. TeishokueWell Known MemberMember

    fish are hardier than you think. some fish which have been living in 120+ nitrates have adjusted. although not good but will live a poor life.

    bleach is a good cleaning agent for fish tanks. it is safe to bleach your tank... no need to buy a new tank. although i would soak in a tub of water/5x dechlorinator solution with a smell test.
  12. plecostomuchValued MemberMember

    That cat has issues if its marking the tank like that instead of using the litter box. Sounds like you have a lot going on with all of your pets. I would focus on retraining that cat because if it doesn't use the litter its marking other areas of the house which is very unsanitary and needs to be corrected otherwise it's not going to stop. Try to research cat behavior to get to the root of the cause.
  13. tmillsNew MemberMember

    Get rid of the cat, or some intense kitty training, this conversation is just crazy the visual of a cat squating on top of a tank CrAZy!!!

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
  14. DelaneywWell Known MemberMember

    I've heard of pets peeing in the bathtub but not on/in a fish tank. I sincerely think kitty needs to see a vet. That could be a sign of an UTI. From there, the vet can you suggestions if it's behavioral and not medical.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
  15. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Lol... Guys, cats pee in tanks. So do dogs on occasion. The only solution is a glass lid.

    As for the tank issues, a few things. First, your tank will not cycle with ammonia at 8ppm. However if the ammonia was that high, I'm sure the fish would be dead. Something is clearly going on there.

    First step is to stop listening to advice from your lfs. Their job is to sell you stuff, not to get your tank set up well. Most of us here have received terrible advice from more than one fish store when we started out, so don't feel bad. Read up on the nitrogen cycle for yourself and research methods by which to cycle. Then make sure you have stock appropriate to your tank. Feel free to ask questions on fishlore about anything you don't understand. There's a lot of knowledge here.
  16. Sarcasm IncludedWell Known MemberMember

    This is a funny story.
    I use these , they are cheap and I like the glass hoods better than standard hoods. You can find API master test kit on this site   or amazon for a little less. You should also pick up Seachem prime for conditioning water and neutralizing ammonia and nitrites. These are the minimums we recommend for keeping a healthy tank.

    As for bad kitty, go to Walmart and pick up velcro strips and attach the hook side around the top edge of the tank. Remove the top and drop the water level to about an inch and half to two inches below the border. This will force him to stand on the edge of the tank and cats hate the feeling of velcro on their feet. After about a week he will stop trying to get on top of the tank.

    Welcome to Fishlore we will do everything we can to help you out. Hopefully you will become a regular member and will someday give back to others. You will though probably become infected with MTS the longer you stay :)
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  17. TJBenderWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to FL! If I may offer some thoughts:

    If your tank was really running 8ppm, your fish would all be dead. Anything above 0.25 is less than ideal, above 0.5 is toxic, and above 2 is usually fatal in my experience. Your test strips are, apparently, as accurate and reliable as most test strips are. I highly recommend the API Master Kit, which is actually much cheaper as you'll get dozens of tests out of it before buying new solution, as opposed to the four tests in a typical strip kit.

    Anyone who suggests giving away your cat is just being silly. The only sure-fire way to keep the cat from urinating in the tank is a glass lid, but a plastic lid, preferably a raised CFL lid (you can get one for $10 online) will minimize that. junebug, I don't know what kind of dogs you have, but if either of my Bostons managed to climb up onto a shelf and get themself positioned high enough to hit water, I'd probably be too busy congratulating them to be angry.

    I do recommend you break down the tank and thoroughly rinse it with water only. You don't have to throw anything away, and as I suspect you're using gravel, you can clean that in a strainer to get all the ammonia out--but you'll have to spend a lot of time swishing it around, turning it, etc. to do so. Decorations are generally easy enough to rinse and scrub with a paper towel, then rinse again. You don't have to restart anything, and you can keep the same fish. Make sure to rinse the filter and filter media thoroughly as well, maybe even replace the filter cartridge, as ammonia can "hide" in there.

    Once you have refilled the tank and added water conditioner and fish, wait 24 hours and then consider adding a product called Tetra SafeStart or SafeStart Plus. TSS is bacteria in a bottle, designed to be a set-it-and-forget-it quick cycle for your tank. Make sure your water is pristine with 0.25 ppm ammonia or less (ideally 0), then dump in an entire bottle of the appropriate size for your tank. Make sure you wait at least 24 hours after adding any water conditioner, as conditioner like AquaSafe, AmQuel or Prime will kill the TSS bacteria. Once the TSS is added, step back and do nothing except feeding for two full weeks. When the two weeks are up, test the tank again, and you should see 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and the presence of nitrates. You can begin your weekly water changes at that point. Again, I recommend the API Master Kit, as it's the most accurate test kit out there.

    Cats do pee in tanks. You're not the first person it's happened to, nor will you be the last. Don't kick yourself too hard over it, just clean up the kitty's mess and move on, and consider a solid lid to keep the kitty from repeating the dirty deed.
  18. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    TJBender, tanks on coffee tables are easily peed on. Fortunately my dogs only happen to pee on the ones outside drying lol.
  19. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    The only way I could see you having 8ppm of ammonia and fish that are still alive is if your pH is at 6.0 or less. At that low of a pH all ammonia in the tank is actually ammonium (but most test kits can not tell the difference). Ammonium is far less toxic (some say it is not toxic at all) than ammonia.
  20. MamajinWell Known MemberMember

    Urine is not harmful while it's sitting in the bladder, but once it passes through the tube and out of the opening it becomes riddled with extremely nasty and potentially harmful bacteria. Redo the tank. Put the fish in another container, tear down the tank and disinfect everything. Start over with Tetra Safe Start.

    Put a lid on the tank. This prevents fish from jumping out, helps trap water that evaporates (you cannot prevent evap) because it collects on the lid and drips back down into the tank, and prevents none aquatic pets from harming or eating the inhabitants inside.

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