Help removing ammonia from our tank

  • #1
I have seen this in a couple post but nothing I could reply on. We are having trouble with ammonia in our 37gallon tank. We've been doing partial water changes (30%-50%) every 2 or 3 days. It seems to be holding at 1ppm will occasionally drop to .5ppm but will usually jump back to 1ppm. We've been dosing API ammo lock and even tried fluval ammonia removal (bag). What can/should we do? The fish in the tank seem to be doing fine, however we added a few fish and they died before we started treating for ammonia. All other levels are checking good nitrates, pH, etc. Thanks in advance.
  • #2
Do you have starting ammonia in your source water? Good to get a baseline. If you want to get it lower you can double up on your water changes. Daily or twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening). From there, you can start doing your 20-30% daily water changes while you go through this fish in cycling. You actually want some ammonia to keep the process going while your filter and BB is trying to establish itself.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
No I tested our tap water because I saw that in other post. The water from the tap tested at zero.
  • #4
No I tested our tap water because I saw that in other post. The water from the tap tested at zero.
Cut back on your feedings also if you find it too difficult to control.
  • #5
If you could fill out the emergency template please it may help get to the bottom of what’s going on faster. As the health of the fish are at stake time is important. Going back and forth with multiple questions takes time . It may seem obvious but do you have an electric filter running 24 hours a day?

To answer your question.
In the short term water changes are the answer to lowering ammonia. It’s recommended not to change more than 50% at one time for risk of shocking the fish with slightly different parameters. If needed you can change another 50% four hours later.

cjcummings makes a good point. Future to that hind the food from ALL other people in the house. Feeding is a one person job.

As you have ammonia the tank does not have a full working nitrogen cycle ( not enough bacteria) .
  • #6
Welcome! :)

When you do another water change dont add the ammo lock. Just change water only. Ammo lock will mess with your tank cycling and test results. The ammo lock doesnt remove the ammonia it just binds it. So in essence the ammonia is still there to read on the test kit.

I believe water changes are better when not using any chemical besides dechlor. Not as many variables to get messed up. Just a little more work. Its not forever though. ;)

If you are getting a ammonia reading I would do more than 20-30%. Try to keep it as close to zero as possible. How long has the tank been running?
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
What is the water volume of the tank? 37gal
How long has the tank been running? 3 months
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 77F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 3 angelfish 3 black neons 3 blue neons 5 corys

How often do you change the water? 2-3 days
How much of the water do you change? 30%-50%
What do you use to treat your water? Usually just tetra water conditioner unless an issue arises
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Vacuum every other water change.

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes about a month
What do you use to test the water? API 5 in one test strip and API ammonia test kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 1ppm
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7-8 depending how close I test to water change

How often do you feed your fish? 2 times a day 1 in the morning 1 in the evening
How much do you feed your fish? Small pinch of
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Tetra tetramin also 3 or 4 sinking wafers morning only for the corys. All food with the exception of the wafers is consumed in about 30 seconds. Wafers are finished daily
Do you feed frozen? No
Do you feed freeze-dried foods? No

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 2 months
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? 2-3weeks ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? 3 fish died
Have you started any treatment for the illness? Ammo lock
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? None of the other fish have been effected. It was new fish that died and made me aware of the issue.
  • #8
If you have 0 nitrates, it's not cycled. You are doing a fish-in cycle, so you need to test daily and do water changes to get ammonia (and nitrite when it appears) to 0.5 or bellow. That can mean daily water changes or not, depending on your daily test results.

Stop adding the ammo lock etc. Just use conditioner. Use water changes to reduce ammonia.

If your tank was cycled, it shouldn't take long to recover. What was your ammonia source when you cycled?

Stop vacuuming and don't clean you filter or anything else until your cycle is done. You want to give the bacteria every advantage.

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