High levels of ammonia - Could it be food? Uncycled tank?

  • #1
Hello everyone!

I am completely new to this forum, my most sincere apologies if I'm posting in the wrong section :;pirate

So long story short (still gonna be very long), my landlords have this ~100 gallon fish tank and every summer they transfer all their fish in the pond in the backyard. This year, there was 2 very lonely common goldfish that were left behind cause they were hiding during the transfer. Lucky for them, I saw them within the same day, all alone and thinking about life.

So my landlord asked me if I would like to keep them! I named them Phred and Raoul. So my landlord gave me a 10 gallon tank, filled it in with about 30%ish of tank water from theirs and tapped it with tap water that she let sit on the counter overnight. Everything was fine, they were adjusting to their new filter media and their new environment, and them BAM I tested the ammonia and within 1-2 day it spiked up to 2ppm. I know this is a lethal number, so scared me headed to the store and bought Prime along with a drop of ammonia detoxifier. For two days now I have been changing the water (30% water changes) and I just cleaned the filter with tank water of course (there was a lot of food!!).

Unfortunately the ammonia today is still at 2ppm, but my fish are still looking super happy and all. Brenda (landlady) thinks I might have been overfeeding them since there was a LOOOOT of uneaten food in the bottom of the tank (that I cleaned) and in the filter.

What do you guys think I should do? Should I not feed them for 1 day and then reduce the amount of food I give them? The ammonia is scaring the heck out of me! Crazy how we grow attached to these little creatures.

Thank you so much!

image.jpgMeet Phred the camera shy one

image.jpgAnd Raoul the cranky one
  • #2
Hello and welcome to Fishlore!

Established tank water holds little beneficial bacteria to jumpstart a tank cycle. What you're looking for is some filter media, like filter pads, that have a good colony of bacteria that will instantly start processing ammonia into nitrites then nitrates.

Just a bit of reading to better understand the cycle

The ammonia can definitely be caused by excess food and the fact that goldfish are messy and produce a ton of ammonia themselves. Goldfish grow pretty fast and will soon outgrow the ten gallon, they are more suited for ponds. I suggest also moving them to the pond unless they are to small and something may eat them in there.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Thank you for your quick reply!

I think I forgot to mention; I already have filter media that were new when placed in the filter. I recently replaced the middle one with some new ammonia neutralizer. Both of them are quite small and I think they've reached their maximum size (about 2" and a half).

However, I was planning on acquiring a new tank that would be around 16-20 gallon, but it may be a while before it actually happens since I live in a tiny tiny apartment
  • #4
I believe common goldfish can reach up to 18 inches in the right conditions.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Alright guys so I thought I would update you all. I put back Phred and Raoul in the pond as they were starting to outgrow the tank (already!!?) and the ammonia wouldn't go down even after 4 days of 30% water changes. So I replaced all the water with the water from the pond (with perfect conditions/parameters!!), washed the filter with some of that water and kept about 10% of the gravel for good bacteria. I bought 5 beautiful male guppies and after 5 days the water conditions are still perfect! (Ammonia: 0, Chlorine: 0, Nitrites: 0, Nitrates: <10, pH: 7.4).

They seem to all get along and after two days they started recognizing my face and following me when I would move around the aquarium, haha!


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  • #7
I'm sure Phred and Raoul will be much happier in the pond. And beautiful guppies you got there!

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