High ammonia

Txgirl86

Member
Hello. I have a 55G established tank with 9 small african cichlids. I have a 75G Aqueon filter and a 55G Marineland Filter with a bio wheel. My ammonia never seems like it's at a normal level. It was at 4ppm the other day..... i did a 50% water change and got it down to 2ppm. I checked it again this morning and it was back up to 4ppm. I did another 50% water change and got it down to 1ppm. Can anyone tell me why my ammonia says so high and why it seems like my filtration system isn't working even though its over filtered? Fish don't seem stressed....
 

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StarGirl

Member
Check your ammonia in the tap water would be my first suggestion. Then we can build from there.
 

leftswerve

Member
If there's not ammonia in your source, then your math is off.
 
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Txgirl86

Member
StarGirl said:
Check your ammonia in the tap water would be my first suggestion. Then we can build from there.
No ammonia in my tap water.

leftswerve said:
If there's not ammonia in your source, then your math is off.
My test kit always says its high. I do a water change and it brings it down a little. Is my test kit wrong? I also used seachem amguard to help neutralize it a little but it didn't seem to touch it. This is from just now after adding the amguard.
 

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RomanNoodles96

Member
It shouldn't be this high, especially if the tank is cycled. Is your test kit expired? Do you know the ph, gh, and kh?
 
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Txgirl86

Member
My ammonia test kit expires in 2025
Gh is a high around 120-180
Kh says its at 0?
Ph is around 6.5
And nitrates and nitrites are both at 0
 
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smee82

Moderator
Member
Id say you've lost your cycle with readings like that.
 
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Txgirl86

Member
smee82 said:
Id say you've lost your cycle with readings like that.
Sounds like it. How do you lose a cycle?
 

AvalancheDave

Member
Running out of kH is one way.
 
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Txgirl86

Member

RomanNoodles96

Member
You need a buffer, crushed coral may work, some rocks raise kh, etc. Someone more knowledgeable will tell you better
 

Utar

Member
You need to read this website about . With a ph of 6.5 your ammonia is not as deadly to fish as ammonia in higher ph water.
 

KartoKartofel

Member
Txgirl86 said:
How do I fix that? I use tap water with stress coat

Crushed coral helps increase KH.
 
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Txgirl86

Member
So after I get my kh back up, does that mean I have to cycle my tank again with all these fish in it? Is it going to cause a bacterial bloom?
 
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jdhef

Moderator
Member
Welcome to FishLore!

At a pH of 7.0 and below, ammonia starts turning into ammonium, and by the time your pH reached 6.0, all ammonia has turned into ammonium.

The good thing abouty ammonium is that it is far less toxic than ammonia (some claim ammonium is not toxic at all). The bad thing about ammonium is that it's a poor food source for your bacteria and your ammonia converting bacteria don't want to convert it into nitrites. Since ammonia is the food source for the ammonia converting bacteria, the lack of ammonia will make some of your ammonia converting bacteria become dormant (due to lack of food). If this continues long enough, ammonia converting bacteria will start to die off.

So if you do something to raise your pH (I use crushed coral) as your pH starts to increase the not so toxic ammonium starts turning into very toxic ammonia. If your ammonia converting bacteria is dormant, the extra food that is suddenly available will cause the dormant bacteria to wake up and start eating. In this case your ammonia spike should be very short lived. If a lot of your bacteria starved off, it will take longer for the colony to grow large enough to handle the extra ammonia. But since you do have some ammonia converting bacteria consuming the ammonia (not ammonium) in the tank, it shouldn't take too, too long to get the tank cycled.

But one thing to look out for. Nitrite converting bacteria starves off a lot faster than ammonia converting bacteria. So if you raise your pH, the ammonium turns into ammonia, the bacteria converts all that ammonia into nitrites, but your nitrite converting bacteria has died off. So now your nitrites get really high and you wake up in the morning to find that all but two of your fish have suffocated (the effect of niotrite posioning). Don't ask how I know this.

BTW, from what I understand, African Cichlids prefer a high pH (I believe in the 8+ range)

Best of luck!
 

leftswerve

Member
are you running a high ph test or just the ph ? How much different is the ph from tap to tank?
 
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Txgirl86

Member
leftswerve said:
are you running a high ph test or just the ph ? How much different is the ph from tap to tank?
It's the 5 in 1 test kit. The tap ph is between 7 and 7.5. I have a couple pieces of driftwood in there too. I heard that can cause low ph?
 
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jdhef

Moderator
Member
Yes, drift wood will lower kh and pH
 
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