High Nh3, 0 Nitrate?

Discussion in 'More Freshwater Aquarium Topics' started by shookyjr, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. shookyjrValued MemberMember


    Hi! My mom's 5 gal tank suddenly took a turn for the worst! It started getting brown sides a few days ago and now the water is white and cloudy and stinky. It's cycled - it's been established for 6 months now. Gravel, planted, temp 76F, Aqueon QF10 filter, hood with light 8hours a day. She changes 25% water weekly and did so a few hours ago. She adds API water conditioner when she changes the water and feeds the fish Tetracolor flakes. She has 3 guppies, a betta and a mystery snail. I just tested the water: pH 7.4 (our standard), NH3 8.0, Nitrite and Nitrate 0. It's usually NH3 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 7.5. Any suggestions about what to do? I've never dealt with an ammonia spike before. TIA!
  2. KinsKicksFishlore VIPMember


    Unfortunately, what your seeing is a bacterial bloom. Fortunately, something can be done! This is indicated by the cloudiness (those are the ammonia-fixing bacteria your seeing) as well as the algae growth (brown) that you've had. Without going into an interrogation, your aquarium most likely went into a mini cycle of some sort from the addition of too much organic matter (as signified by a HIGH nitrate in your "normal" readings). What your normal readings told me is that you normally have a lot of ammonia and subsequently a large bacterial colony working against it, hence the high nitrates. Water changes will help keep this down and hopefully the with-fish cycle will finish very soon. If needed, you can add a bit of API bacterial starter that has the right bacteria to get the cycle going, but hold off on doing that just yet.

    Are you sure that your mom hasn't cleaned the filter media itself when doing water changes?This can ruin the bacterial colonies that are there and start a cycle. Also, organic matter can be a problem. Make sure you aren't over feeding, any uneaten food will definetly add to the ammonia in the tank. Especially with small bellies, any uneaten food can be turkey basteres out since your tank is small and can accumulate toxins much faster. Additionally, have you added anything recently in terms of fish, plants, etc?

    Hope this helps and best of luck!
  3. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    If the ammonia really is 8, I would do a few large water changes in a row to get it much lower (below 0.5 ppm until the cycle catches up).

    7.5 ppm nitrates is actually very low, and you don't have a high bioload in the tank resulting in high weekly nitrates (though obviously something happened to the bacteria, and the bioload is too big for the bacterial colony at this point). I would increase the water changes to 50% weekly, personally (and the tank is overstocked with guppies and a betta in this size tank).

    If you are going to use a bacterial supplement, I would use something other than API. It doesn't have the right kind of bacteria, and many people have had issues with it. I would look into Seachem Stability instead.
  4. KinsKicksFishlore VIPMember

    Oh shoot your right about the nitrates. Sorry! My phone doesn't show the periods...it looked like 75 ppm! On my laptop, it said 7.5. So then, I agree with the above...the bioload is too big for your bacteria army to handle! Water changes will be good
  5. shookyjrValued MemberMember

    Thank you for your response! She says her filter media was clogged but she just rinsed it in tank water. Nothing new has been added. Can she safely do a daily water change?
  6. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

  7. shookyjrValued MemberMember

    Thank you! I'll look into the Seachem. She is going to get a bigger tank ASAP. The LFS told her she was fine but that is a full little tank! In the meantime, do we just change the water often and wait it out?
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2017
  8. shookyjrValued MemberMember

    All righty then! Thanks. :)

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice