High Ammonia Levels In African Dwarf Frog Tank

kimglenn
  • #1
HI this is my first time posting on the site. I am at such a loss on how to get the ammonia to go down in my sons African dwarf frog tank. Unfortunately we didn’t know anything about cycling the tank and just set it up and put the 2 frogs in. That was August 6th. Thought everything was great until one of the frogs started to float at the top for long periods of time. I took a water sample to Petsmart and the Ammonia was the last green color on the chart. I added ammo lock and did a 10%water change (also added quick start and stress coat) unfortunately we lost one poor froggy. Since then, I did another 10%water change continue to use ammo lock and the Ammonia kept climbing. Yesterday I did a 50% water change treating the water (bottled spring water) with stress, coat quick start and added some Ammonia remover media to the filter. All of this on advice of a petsmart associate. Tested water today and the Ammonia is even higher. I’m at a loss at what to do. Talked to a different associate at Petsmart today who told me to leave the tank alone and not do anymore water changes . She told me only to add water conditioner. She sold me Too Fin Water Conditioner. So worried we will lose our other frog.
 
jacob thompson
  • #2
So first thing, don’t listen to pet smart employees they typically don’t know much about fish period. I’ve heard so much bad advice from them it’s not funny. Do daily 40% water changes for the next week minimum to get the ammonia to a safe level. I also recommend investing in the API freshwater test kit. It is $24 I believe on amazon so not a giant expense. Your job right now is damage control. Get a bottle of the water conditioner seachem prime this will bind up to 1 ppm ammonia for 24 hours. It works by transforming ammonia to ammonium which is much less dangerous to your frogs. Stress coat is good but it only removes the small amount of ammonia created during the breakdown of chloramine molecules. I haven’t heard good product reviews on ammonia lock I assume this binds the ammonia similar to prime by transforming it to ammonia for a short period of time but an not completely sure. Last but no where least, I assume you’ve learned about the nitrogen cycle. The only bacteria addition that I’ve heard that works is tetra safe start others have very mixed reviews about the effectiveness. But I wouldn’t get it until you ge the ammonia under control because I don’t believe that you can do water changes when dosing with it.
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
So first thing, don’t listen to pet smart employees they typically don’t know much about fish period. I’ve heard so much bad advice from them it’s not funny. Do daily 40% water changes for the next week minimum to get the ammonia to a safe level. I also recommend investing in the API freshwater test kit. It is $24 I believe on amazon so not a giant expense. Your job right now is damage control. Get a bottle of the water conditioner seachem prime this will bind up to 1 ppm ammonia for 24 hours. It works by transforming ammonia to ammonium which is much less dangerous to your frogs. Stress coat is good but it only removes the small amount of ammonia created during the breakdown of chloramine molecules. I haven’t heard good product reviews on ammonia lock I assume this binds the ammonia similar to prime by transforming it to ammonia for a short period of time but an not completely sure. Last but no where least, I assume you’ve learned about the nitrogen cycle. The only bacteria addition that I’ve heard that works is tetra safe start others have very mixed reviews about the effectiveness. But I wouldn’t get it until you ge the ammonia under control because I don’t believe that you can do water changes when dosing with it.
Thanks so much Jacob! I will pick up some prime tonight! Will the large water changes mess with the cycle? Do you know how much Prine I should add to a 3.5 gallon tank? We will eventually get a larger tank but for now, I just want to get this one safe
 
bitseriously
  • #4
You also NEED to confirm your new water is free of ammonia. If you’re using spring water, it mostly likely will be, but since it’s an unregulated industry, better safe than sorry.
Also, don’t be afraid of daily water changes in the 50% range until ammonia is under control. As long as the water is temperature matched you should be good.
Finally, why are you feeding the frog(s)? Are they eating it all, or is Amy going to waste? Any other creatures in the tanks with them?
 
mattgirl
  • #5
Stop adding ammo-lock and do large water changes daily. I am happy to hear that you are going to get some Prime. It can be used daily to keep the ammonia safer for your frogs. I would add about 3/4ml to your 3.5 gallon tank each day but the very most important thing you can do is stop adding the ammo-lock and get the ammonia level down below 1 with water changes. Zero would be better but is hard to accomplish until the tank completes its cycle. Prime will neutralize low amounts of ammonia so your frog will be protected.

Once you get it down below 1 let your tests be your guide as to how often you need to do water changes. As long as the ammonia is below 1 just add Prime. If it gets to 1 or above do a water change to get it back below 1 and then add prime to neutralize what is left.

I agree with Jacob about the importance of having your own API Master Test Kit. You can only guess as to what is going on in your tank without it.
 
jacob thompson
  • #6
Right now the cycle is the least of your worries. Ammonia is toxic to all aquatic life and can cause burns that are like what would result from acidic chemicals. First he trhe ammonia to low levels then use the tetra safe start + to finish the cycle quickly. Make sure you are feeding appropriate food and not over feeding. Overfeeding is a fast way to increase your ammonia. If any food is not eaten within the first few minutes just take it out. And the prime is 5ml per 50 gallons so you dose. So dose approximately 0.35 ml to your entire tank after treating the new take water you can just dose .5 to be safe. And you will notice a sulfur smell with the conditioner this is normal. I believe this is the result of the binding agents.
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
You also NEED to confirm your new water is free of ammonia. If you’re using spring water, it mostly likely will be, but since it’s an unregulated industry, better safe than sorry.
Also, don’t be afraid of daily water changes in the 50% range until ammonia is under control. As long as the water is temperature matched you should be good.
Finally, why are you feeding the frog(s)? Are they eating it all, or is Amy going to waste? Any other creatures in the tanks with them?
Hi, we were feeding the pellets that sink to the bottom but I feel like that was contributing to the high Ammonia. I bought some frozen blood worms today to see if that works better. No other fish in the aquarium. We started with two African Dwarf Drogs but are down to one
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Hi, we were feeding the pellets that sink to the bottom but I feel like that was contributing to the high Ammonia. I bought some frozen blood worms today to see if that works better. No other fish in the aquarium. We started with two African Dwarf Drogs but are down to one
Right now the cycle is the least of your worries. Ammonia is toxic to all aquatic life and can cause burns that are like what would result from acidic chemicals. First he trhe ammonia to low levels then use the tetra safe start + to finish the cycle quickly. Make sure you are feeding appropriate food and not over feeding. Overfeeding is a fast way to increase your ammonia. If any food is not eaten within the first few minutes just take it out. And the prime is 5ml per 50 gallons so you dose. So dose approximately 0.35 ml to your entire tank after treating the new take water you can just dose .5 to be safe. And you will notice a sulfur smell with the conditioner this is normal. I believe this is the result of the binding agents.
Omg we just did a 40%water change and I️ removed her little fake tree and there was so much allover it and in the gravel. No wonder the Ammonia is so highhow do you properly use the gravel vac? It sucks up all of the rocks in it and gets clogged. Then when I release the rocks there is tons of stuff floating in the water.
 
jacob thompson
  • #9
Omg we just did a 40%water change and I️ removed her little fake tree and there was so much allover it and in the gravel. No wonder the Ammonia is so highhow do you properly use the gravel vac? It sucks up all of the rocks in it and gets clogged. Then when I release the rocks there is tons of stuff floating in the water.
You may need a larger gravel vacum. It sounds like it’s only a few inches long. One other option is stirring up the gravel then doing the partial water change so you get a small amount of the waste out that way.
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
This is so frustrating! Did the 40% water change last night, Just checked the Ammonia level with my API kit and it’s an 8.0water hardness is 8.0 carbonate hardness is between 80 and 120 PH 8.0 Nitrates and Nitites 0. I put prime in last night. What am I️ doing wrong? Out of all the animals we have this is the hardest I’ve ever taken care of! We had these frogs before but they came in a little cube biosphere that was sold at a toy store. We hardly did anything with them and they lived forever so I thought they’d be a good fir
 
Inactive User
  • #11
What am I️ doing wrong?

There's probably quite a high accumulation of ammonia in the tank, so even with a water change or two it's still reading quite high. You just need to keep doing water changes to dilute ammonia. Larger (60-75%) and more frequent (daily).
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
There's probably quite a high accumulation of ammonia in the tank, so even with a water change or two it's still reading quite high. You just need to keep doing water changes to dilute ammonia. Larger (60-75%) and more frequent (daily).
Thanks! I’m just so worried about our frog in the mean time. Does the Prime help protect her? I used it last night, should I add more today and if so should I wait until I do a water change later today?
 
Fizzfrog
  • #13
Wait - to clarify, your tank water has an ammonia level of 8.0 ppm or your water source has an ammonia level of 8.0 ppm? If it's the source water, water changes are just going to make things worse by adding ammonia to the tank. I'd get a new source of water asap. If you mean it's your tank water, really try your best to get that ammonia level down. If it's at 8.0 I might even take the frog out, do a thorough cleaning of the substrate to get all the detritus out, refill the tank, and reacclimate the frog. Frogs are more sensitive to poor water conditions because they have no scales and absorb everything through their skin. The frog (or its food) is going to keep producing ammonia once you put it back in so the cycling process will be able to continue much more easily. I've heard high ammonia will stall the cycle.

Thanks! I’m just so worried about our frog in the mean time. Does the Prime help protect her? I used it last night, should I add more today and if so should I wait until I do a water change later today?

Prime protects against ammonia and nitrite under 1 ppm for 24 hours. You only need to add it that often. Adding more won't really do anything, nor will adding it more frequently than every 24 hours. You only need to add it more frequently if you're doing water changes that often, in which case I'd just dose with every daily water change and not worry about dosing the tank again separately later.
 
midna
  • #14
hey there, are you using the apI master liquid test kit? if it's the strips you're using, it might be inaccurate. if it's the liquid test kit, make sure you've followed the instructions carefully.

fill the test tube up to the line with tank or tap water, depending on what you're testing. shake the ammonia bottle #1 (make sure it's #1 and not #2!), add 8 drops. then shake ammonia bottle #2 and add 8 drops. cap the test tube and shake it for at least 5 seconds. let it sit for 5 minutes, then check the colour results.

if your tap water really has 8ppm of ammonia, what I would do is buy some spring water and just use that. my adfs lived solely on spring water all their lives, I never used tap water. you can get a gallon of generic brand spring water for a buck at walmart. put your frog in a small container with spring water while you clean the tank. rinse all the gravel and scrub the decorations. then fill the tank back up with spring water. add a few drops of prime to dechlorinate any residual tap water leftover from cleaning. then put your frog back in the tank. you can then start cycling your tank.

I will say that african dwarf frogs were definitely hardier back in the day. nowadays they're usually very ill straight out of the petstore, or contract illnesses once in your tank at the drop of a hat.
 
Fizzfrog
  • #15
I definitely can attest to the illnesses, unfortunately :/ I've lost a few frogs to chytrid while in quarantine, and a few more to just general weakness while in or just after the treatment for chytrid. It really sucks, they're all cute little guys.

I'd just say to make sure parameters in your tank are the same as the spring water re: pH, hardness, etc. Othewise even just taking him out of the tank and plopping him in his temporary container with spring water might give him a shock, and seeing as he's probably already pretty weak you don't want to stress him out further. Maybe put him in a container with a 1:1 ratio of old tank water to new spring water? Then at least the ammonia will be diluted, but the parameter shock would be less dramatic. Once you've cleaned and refilled the tank with fresh dechlorinatef water, reacclimate him and put him back in.
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
hey there, are you using the apI master liquid test kit? if it's the strips you're using, it might be inaccurate. if it's the liquid test kit, make sure you've followed the instructions carefully.

fill the test tube up to the line with tank or tap water, depending on what you're testing. shake the ammonia bottle #1 (make sure it's #1 and not #2!), add 8 drops. then shake ammonia bottle #2 and add 8 drops. cap the test tube and shake it for at least 5 seconds. let it sit for 5 minutes, then check the colour results.

if your tap water really has 8ppm of ammonia, what I would do is buy some spring water and just use that. my adfs lived solely on spring water all their lives, I never used tap water. you can get a gallon of generic brand spring water for a buck at walmart. put your frog in a small container with spring water while you clean the tank. rinse all the gravel and scrub the decorations. then fill the tank back up with spring water. add a few drops of prime to dechlorinate any residual tap water leftover from cleaning. then put your frog back in the tank. you can then start cycling your tank.

I will say that african dwarf frogs were definitely hardier back in the day. nowadays they're usually very ill straight out of the petstore, or contract illnesses once in your tank at the drop of a hat.
Wait - to clarify, your tank water has an ammonia level of 8.0 ppm or your water source has an ammonia level of 8.0 ppm? If it's the source water, water changes are just going to make things worse by adding ammonia to the tank. I'd get a new source of water asap. If you mean it's your tank water, really try your best to get that ammonia level down. If it's at 8.0 I might even take the frog out, do a thorough cleaning of the substrate to get all the detritus out, refill the tank, and reacclimate the frog. Frogs are more sensitive to poor water conditions because they have no scales and absorb everything through their skin. The frog (or its food) is going to keep producing ammonia once you put it back in so the cycling process will be able to continue much more easily. I've heard high ammonia will stall the cycle.

Hi, our tank water is 8.0 we use bottled spring water since our tap water is horrible here. For the API test kit, we have the liquid one for the ammonia test and the 5 in 1 strips for the other tests. If I remove the gravel to clean it will it mess up the cycle?
 
Fizzfrog
  • #17
There is minimal bacteria in the substrate. BB need moving water in order to survive, and that happens in the filter. The cycle may experience a small bump, but honestly with ammonia at 8.0 ppm I doubt the cycle is really able to progress atm anyway and would greatly benefit from a good tank clean. Also, if you don't get that ammonia down, the frog will die. IMO it's better to clean everything to get ammonia down, save the frog, and maybe set the cycle back a week or two at most, than to leave things as they are. I don't mean to be harsh, but I'm really worried you'll lose your remaining frog.
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
I’m about ready to throw in the towel I’m so frustrated. I’ve spent hours and tons of $trying to balance this darn thing and the lowest I’ve gotten the ammonia is 1.0 onkybto shoot straight back up to 4.0 or higher by morningI really wish I never would’ve bought my kids these as pets
 
Fizzfrog
  • #19
As frustrating as it is, you did get these frogs, and therefore they are your responsibility. I think it would be terribly inhumane to just give up now and let the frog die, and it isn't the frogs themselves that are so difficult to care for. They aren't inherently messy, nor do they produce significantly more waste than fish; honestly, I think most of the waste comes from their food. It can't really be helped (frozen foods really are best for them), but it does mean one has to feed carefully and to clean up afterwards. They can make wonderful pets, but like all aquatic animals, they do need clean water to thrive.

Did you have a chance to test your bottled water for ammonia? I think someone said above something along the lines of that it's an unregulated industry and therefore it's best to test just in case. Especially with an uncycled tank, only a water source with ammonia of 0 ppm is safe. (A cycled tank could build up enough BB to safely process small amounts of ammonia in source water, but that's not the case here.) I also ask because I suggested doing a full tank clean and essentially start the tank over, except for the filter media. If you haven't done so already, this is what I would do:

1. Take the frog out of the tank and put it in a container filled up halfway with its old tank water. This is temporary, so don't worry about filtration/heating for now.
2. Take the filter media and swish it around in tank water. This will get any gunk out, which will help the filter run better and could get rid of any detritus/other rotting material that is contributing to the high ammonia levels in the tank. Put it back into the filter.
3. Thoroughly clean the tank - rinse out substrate, decorations, etc. but make sure not to get any untreated water (anything that hasn't been dechlorinated) onto the filter media, as chlorine will kill your benenficial bacteria and thus kill any cycle that you had. Turn off filters and heaters before emptying the tank of water.
4. Re-fill the tank with dechlorinated water. Every 4-5 minutes, add half a cup of water from the tank to the frog's container. This is the start of the reacclimation process.
5. Once the frog's container is full, discard half of the water (NOT into the tank! Down the drain or something) and once again, every 4-5 minutes add half a cup of water from the tank to the frog's container.
6. Once the frog's container is full a second time, you can safely transfer the frog from the container back into the tank. You might need to add a little bit more water into the tank, since you took water out of it to put into the frog's container. Discard the water in the temporary container down the drain - do not put it into the tank. The entire reacclimation process should take about 45 minutes.

Assuming your source water has 0 ppm ammonia, this should get ammonia back down to 0. What is your current feeding schedule? I would do only a little bit every three days for now, until you get ammonia back under control. Less feeding = less waste = less ammonia. I would still also do a 25-30% water change with Seachem Prime every day, or up to 50% daily if the 25-30% isn't enough to keep ammonia down. If at all possible, I would also get a bigger tank, as bigger tanks are more forgiving in terms of water parameters. If you do, simply transfer the filter media from your current tank to the new tank.

I understand it's frustrating. However, the frog is still a living thing relying on you to take care of it and keep it alive. I would encourage you to keep trying, and we'll do our best to guide you through it. Once the tank is cycled and established, frogs are such cute little things to have in it, and so fun to watch.
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
So sorry, I didn’t mean I was going to give up on the frog and let it die. That’s why I’ve been trying everything to get rid of the ammonia. It was very sad when the other one died. I just wish I could give up on this whole cycling thing and just do weekly full water changes instead of trying to keep this tank balanced. It’s been such a frustrating experience
 
adagona
  • #21
Adding some fast growing live plants will help too. Just make sure they get enough light and remove any rotting plant in the water.
 
midna
  • #22
So sorry, I didn’t mean I was going to give up on the frog and let it die. That’s why I’ve been trying everything to get rid of the ammonia. It was very sad when the other one died. I just wish I could give up on this whole cycling thing and just do weekly full water changes instead of trying to keep this tank balanced. It’s been such a frustrating experience

you know, you can. it works for some. I mean, that's what people do when they don't know about the nitrogen cycle or don't care to go through with it. i'm not trying to be the devil's advocate or anything, and people here aren't keen on ignoring the nitrogen cycle and might crucify me for suggesting otherwise lol, but that's what I did with my frog tank before. and all my fish tanks before that.

I honestly think it's a real pain to do a 100% cleaning every week, but my frog lasted 5 years doing that. i'd never do it again now that I know about the cycle, but yeah. you do what works best for you. good luck!!
 
Fizzfrog
  • #23
So sorry, I didn’t mean I was going to give up on the frog and let it die. That’s why I’ve been trying everything to get rid of the ammonia. It was very sad when the other one died. I just wish I could give up on this whole cycling thing and just do weekly full water changes instead of trying to keep this tank balanced. It’s been such a frustrating experience

So glad to hear!! Sorry for the misinterpretation; nuances are hard over the internet

Yes, daily water changes are definitely much harder than the usual weekly changes, and like midna said above, that's what I was doing with my tanks before I learned about the cycle. It's possible, but I do think it hurts the fish/frogs to ever let ammonia or nitrite get above 1 ppm (because then Prime can't neutralize all of it). But whatever ends up working best for you is what you should do. I suggested doing the full tank clean to get ammonia down as much as you can, and to get any detritus out of the tank. I really think it's the detritus/other rotting material that are contributing to the ammonia, and perhaps by cleaning it all out you will be able to keep ammonia below 1 ppm much more easily. By no means was I suggesting doing this every day or every week! It's just to give you a bit more of a fresh start, since it seems that you're kind of stuck in a hole right now.
 
kimglenn
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
Knock on wood but I think we may finally be getting somewhere. His ammonia level is about a 1.0 today! Maybe a little higher but holding steady. Should I do another water change?
 
Fizzfrog
  • #25
That's great news! Yes, I would do another water change just to keep it below 1.0 ppm, since Prime will take care of ammonia below 1.0 ppm as long as it's dosed every day. I would start testing nitrite soon too, since as time progresses hopefully the cycle is also progressing, which means that you'll start seeing some nitrite. Usually you'll see this happening around the time ammonia starts to go down by itself even without water changes.
 

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