Emergency Ammonia Spike!

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Bee1

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My worst nightmare! I left on a work trip for a week and my pet sitter messed up. This is why I hate going places. I have a 70gal with two orandas, one black moor, and two dojo (weather) loaches. I have several tanks (and the rest are ok, thank goodness) but she mixed up the sinking pellets for the goldfish and the shrimp pellets for the Corys. She's been feeding thirty shrimp pellets to my gold fish every day. To make matters worse, the black moor, Boo, that I've had for about four years, had some pretty bad congenital defects. I've kinda been nursing him along, but I always knew his time was limited. Anyway, I don't know if he died from natural causes or if it was because of an ammonia spike from all the food, but at some point he died and she didn't see him because he was under a big ball of java moss. So his extremely rotted corpse has been adding to the problem. That's all probably more than y'all need to know, but that's how we got to where we are now.
Worst off are the loaches. Swollen gills, lethargic. I've moved them to my 40 gal hospital tank, but I haven't added any meds. Should I? They're already perking up a bit, but I worry about them. Sam and Dean are two of my favorite fish. They're like water puppies.
I've done a 75% water change with prime on the two orandas (Lumpy and Cheeks Magee) but they both have red spots around their pectoral fins and whitish patches, which I think indicates an increased production of slime coat. They also have what looks like the beginning of fin rot on the edges of their tails.
Is there anything I should do besides keeping the water really clean? I love these guys and I want to help them. Already the test readings have gone from 200 ammonia ppm to 10 ppm. Should I do more than one water change tomorrow? Add meds? I generally try to rely on really clean water to fix most things, but this is a more extreme case than I have dealt with before. Sorry to write a novel, just need some advice and y'all are always so knowledgeable and helpful. TIA!
 

Jenoli42

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I'm so sorry for your loss and stress! it sounds like you're off to a great start fixing things. the key is getting that ammonia down below 1ppm. what test kit are you using (eg, mine doesn't test beyond 8ppm ammonia and your post said 200?)

i would do another water change tomorrow if your test results mean 1ppm on the API test of about 50%. you might want to add bottled bacteria to help your bacteria process the ammonia. and watch for a nitrite spike in the next week.
 

Bee1

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Omg! I use API, but I didn't mean 200! It was supposed to be 2.0 and 1.0 ppm! In all honesty, I didn't test it before I did the first water change. I walked in and saw what was going on and immediately started changing water and vacuuming gravel. The 2.0 reading was after the first 75% water change and the 1.0 after the second. Lord knows what it was before that. Testing was not as important as fixing the problem. I will definitely watch out for nitrite spikes. And keep changing water. Do you think I need to medicate anyone? I don't have any bottled bacteria, but I do have some cycled media I could add to the filter.
 

GuppyDazzle

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I'd recommend against bottled bacteria. That doesn't seem to be the problem.
 

Bee1

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Would you agree with the cycled media addition? Or meds?
 

sfsamm

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I wouldn't medicate at this point, it may cause unnecessary stress. Water changes and watch all the parameters, if the Ammonia got to high it could have done a number on the cycle also. Hopefully everything lines out in the next couple days.
IF you feel the need to add a bottled bacteria use something like stability that is dosed daily and you can watch parameters accurately and still provide water changes when necessary. Don't use a bottle that has a food source in it like quick start they can skew your readings and don't allow necessary maintenance without potential disruption if your cycle. Stability will not harm anything or ads anything other than the good stuff.
 

GuppyDazzle

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Would you agree with the cycled media addition? Or meds?
If you have cycled media you can add, yes. That will jump start the process.

Meds? Not unless you have a real good idea of what's wrong with your fish.

It seems to me that your biggest problem is toxin buildup. I'd keep with the water changes, frequent, but not too much at once since water changes are stressful for fish. I think you were right to do a large water change when you saw ammonia poisoning. I'd back off a bit and try 25% a day, until levels are under control.
 

Jenoli42

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Omg! I use API, but I didn't mean 200! It was supposed to be 2.0 and 1.0 ppm! In all honesty, I didn't test it before I did the first water change. I walked in and saw what was going on and immediately started changing water and vacuuming gravel. The 2.0 reading was after the first 75% water change and the 1.0 after the second. Lord knows what it was before that. Testing was not as important as fixing the problem. I will definitely watch out for nitrite spikes. And keep changing water. Do you think I need to medicate anyone? I don't have any bottled bacteria, but I do have some cycled media I could add to the filter.
ah! PHEW! thanks for clarifying. i totally get what you were doing - the first instinct to do a big water change in my opinion was absolutely spot on

i agree with other posters. don't medicate yet. there's nothing like pristine water to help fish heal and help their immune systems.

do the cycled media thing - if you can get that to add to the filter, that's nothing but excellent
 

Bee1

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Thank y'all so much! I'll keep you updated. I added the media to the big tank. I'll do another partial water change tomorrow. Sam and Dean seem to be doing much better. Y'all rest my mind at ease that I'm doing the right thing.
 

Bee1

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Thanks to everyone who helped me out last night. Lumpy and Cheeks Magee are doing fine. Ammonia is down below 1.0 ppm and holding steady. Will continue to monitor parameters. Super worried about Samantha and Dean (my dojo loaches) though. Y'all, they look terrible. It looks like their skin is just sloughing off and they are super lethargic. More than once I've thought they were dead only to see them start breathing again. I'm so sad about it. These guys are my babies. They eat from my hand and always come to greet me when I come home. I feel like I have failed them. They're always so full of life and now they're just sad and terrible. Part of me feels like I should put them down and part of me is hoping for the best. Any advice, y'all? I don't know how to help them except making sure they have clean water. Y'all, they're so pitiful. They've been buddies for years and have grown up together and now they're just huddling in a corner.
 
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