I Give Up! Ammonia Issue

Algonquin

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Also questioning the test kit... although if it was faulty in some way, would it show a 0 on the tap water and 8 on the tank...? Maybe tell us all the details of the test kit and how you perform the test? I know that may seem silly at this point, but it's possible someone here can pinpoint something that seems off. Looks like pretty much everything else other than the gravel has been ruled out.
 

Momgoose56

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I suggest doing all of the following:
1. scrub your test tubes AND the caps with hot soapy water with a tube brush, rinse thoroughly with distilled water and air dry.
2. Pitch your ammonia testing solution in the trash and buy a new bottle (they're sold separately as well as in the kit)
3. Have someone else do the ammonia test on your tank water.
That would eliminate the most probable reasons you are getting erroneous ammonia readings in your tank.
 
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Trice said:
Exactly. I only have one bucket so I’ve got one deco in it w fresh tap water that I’ll be testing for ammonia tomorrow after it sits in the fresh water overnight. If that passes the test, the next thing is the gravel. The gravel has been the only component remaining in the tank thru all these water changes w still high ammonia. I got the gravel from Amazon, 20 lbs of it. This brand comes in several colors & no reviews mention it holding ammonia. I’ll post a pic.


Exactly. The Ammo Lock should be gone at this point.


This is my gravel
I started w one of the large decorations I got from PetSmart bc I’m sure it’s not the others as I had the exact same deco before in my old tank & never had issue with it. That’s a big barrel w holes in it. This is the result this morning of the haunted house. It’s obviously got some ammonia on it but should not have caused my entire tank to shoot up to 8!

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SeanyBaggs123 said:
IF the fish is still acting normally, eating, and has no visual signs of stress I have to agree with jdhef and @Skavatar.

I still stand behind ammolock or something in your beneficial bacteria as the cause of your odd test results. Your test kit doesn't distinguish between ammonia and ammonium. If the fish is fine..... trust your eyeballs and ignore the color chart.

Most of these bottled bacterias recommend that you DON'T test your water for this very reason. The results will be all over the place. Just my opinion.

Edit: The only other thing I can think of is that maybe the reagents in your test kit are expired. Have you checked the bottles for an expiration date?
Yes. The test doesn’t expire until 2024

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mattgirl said:
I am probably reaching for straws here but do any of y'all think the acrylic coating on the gravel could have anything to do with what is happening here? Like maybe a bad batch of acrylic paint used or the acrylic on the gravel absorbed the ammo-lock and is now releasing it.. I don't know if anything like that is possible but if it isn't the gravel I am totally out of ideas.

I have to think the testing solution is alright since it will register 0 ammonia when testing tap water.

@Trice Do you still have some of the gravel that hasn't been added to the tank. This experiment would be better on fresh gravel but if it is all in the tank just scoop some of it out. Put it in a container of fresh dechlorinated water. Run your ammonia test on it immediately and than again in 24 hours. This will either prove or disprove the gravel being the problem.

I was reading the reviews on this product and from what I am reading the pebbles used to make this are fairly soft. They recommend washing really really well to get all the rock dust off of it. Some of the reviewers say a lot of their pebbles were crushed into dust. I have used a lot of different aquarium gravel through the years and all it has ever taken is a quick rinse and it is ready to use. Also, I would be hard pressed to be able to crush any of it.
Yes, I read some reviews like that also & had no issue w the four bags I got. There were no broken pieces & it was barely dusty when I rinsed it before putting it in the tank. Seems ppl were having issues w the turquoise for some reason & I got light blue. But, yes, I’m going to remove a bunch of the gravel, put it in a bucket of fresh water, let it sit, then run the ammonia test on it. Scooping it out today & testing tomorrow. Something in that tank is full of ammonia. This has been at least the 4th WC & every time I get ammonia of 8! This is nuts & I'm losing my mind.
 

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mattgirl

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Trice said:
I started w one of the large decorations I got from PetSmart bc I’m sure it’s not the others as I had the exact same deco before in my old tank & never had issue with it. That’s a big barrel w holes in it. This is the result this morning of the haunted house. It’s obviously got some ammonia on it but should not have caused my entire tank to shoot up to 8!

Yes

Yes. The test doesn’t expire until 2024

Yes

Yes, I read some reviews like that also & had no issue w the four bags I got. There were no broken pieces & it was barely dusty when I rinsed it before putting it in the tank. Seems ppl were having issues w the turquoise for some reason & I got light blue. But, yes, I’m going to remove a bunch of the gravel, put it in a bucket of fresh water, let it sit, then run the ammonia test on it. Scooping it out today & testing tomorrow. Something in that tank is full of ammonia. This has been at least the 4th WC & every time I get ammonia of 8! This is nuts & I'm losing my mind.
I actually hope you get an ammonia reading from the gravel test. At least it will let us know where this ammonia reading is coming from. If there is no ammonia then I have to admit defeat.

I am actually wondering if it isn't actually ammonia but maybe something else that causes the ammonia test to go totally bonkers. I hadn't noticed the ammonia alert you have attached to your tank. Has it stayed in the safe level all this time?
 

Momgoose56

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Trice said:
I started w one of the large decorations I got from PetSmart bc I’m sure it’s not the others as I had the exact same deco before in my old tank & never had issue with it. That’s a big barrel w holes in it. This is the result this morning of the haunted house. It’s obviously got some ammonia on it but should not have caused my entire tank to shoot up to 8!

Yes

Yes. The test doesn’t expire until 2024

Yes

Yes, I read some reviews like that also & had no issue w the four bags I got. There were no broken pieces & it was barely dusty when I rinsed it before putting it in the tank. Seems ppl were having issues w the turquoise for some reason & I got light blue. But, yes, I’m going to remove a bunch of the gravel, put it in a bucket of fresh water, let it sit, then run the ammonia test on it. Scooping it out today & testing tomorrow. Something in that tank is full of ammonia. This has been at least the 4th WC & every time I get ammonia of 8! This is nuts & I'm losing my mind.
That most current test looks more like 1 ppm to me. Definitely NOT 8. Do another 80% water change.
 

JessicaSwanlake

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Skavatar said:
she just did a 75-80% water change yesterday. if it was really 8ppm ammonia and not mostly ammonium, the fish would show severe signs of ammonia poisoning and probably be dead by now.
Yes, I wasn't saying that she had 250ppm of free, toxic ammonia since she was using ammo-lock. I was suggesting that since her test doesn't go past 8ppm and it tests for both toxic and non-toxic forms of ammonia that perhaps her non-toxic form could have been over 100ppm and she wouldn't know since the test doesn't go up that high and it would take more than a water change or 3 to get it below the 8ppm on her test. And it now it looks like since she has done a bunch of water changes it looks like it is finally lower than 8ppm.
 

Algonquin

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mattgirl said:
I am actually wondering if it isn't actually ammonia but maybe something else that causes the ammonia test to go totally bonkers.
I was thinking this as well... the fact that your barrel decoration caused the bucket water to go to 1.0 Ammonia overnight is concerning... but there's no stress showing in the fish and the ammonia alert says all is well... is it possible that the test is reacting with something else in the water that's giving a high ammonia reading? Chemistry folks please chime in!!!
Sorry, your haunted house decoration is the one i think you said is causing the ammonia to go to 1.0 ppm overnight.
 

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Momgoose56 said:
That most current test looks more like 1 ppm to me. Definitely NOT 8. Do another 80% water change.
That test was done on the water the barrel was in.

oops, it was the haunted house :
 

JessicaSwanlake

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Algonquin said:
I was thinking this as well... the fact that your barrel decoration caused the bucket water to go to 1.0 Ammonia overnight is concerning... but there's no stress showing in the fish and the ammonia alert says all is well... is it possible that the test is reacting with something else in the water that's giving a high ammonia reading? Chemistry folks please chime in!!!
Hi, yes, those hanging tests check only for toxic, free ammonia. Since I am guessing based on reading this that with the use of ammo-lock all of her ammonia was in the non-toxic form (and probably in the dozens of ppms of the non-toxic form when this thread started) that her API test was so high mostly because she was seeing all of the non-toxic variety as that test shows both the toxic and non-toxic forms.
 

mattgirl

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JessicaSwanlake said:
Hi, yes, those handing tests check only for toxic, free ammonia. Since I am guessing based on reading this that with the use of ammo-lock all of her ammonia was in the non-toxic form (and probably in the dozens of ppms of the non-toxic form when this thread started) that her API test was based mostly because she was seeing all of the non-toxic variety because that test shows both the toxic and non-toxic forms.
The main question is "where is the ammonia coming from" toxic or not toxic isn't the main thing. the amount is the problem One little fish could not be producing this amount of ammonia. It has to be coming from somewhere.

The test on the haunted house produced a reading of ammonia. At this point I am thinking it isn't ammonia at all but something else causing the ammonia test to go totally bonkers.
 

Algonquin

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How much ammo does ammo-lock lock? That is an actual question, not just a fishkeeping version of the woodchuck thing...
Never used ammo lock, so I'm just wondering how much in ppm it converts to ammonium?
I'm asking, because I'm thinking it must top out at some point... and with readings off the chart here, is it really converting that much? How much ammo-lock was dosed? Just wondering... still doesn't confirm the ammonia source.
 

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Couple other thoughts....

Did you buy the Marine or Freshwater version of ATM Colony?
I've read that it doesn't work as well in water with high alkalinity. Have you tested your KH?
Have you reached out to Acrylic Tank Manufacturing directly?
 

Momgoose56

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I just read on the seachem support forum that their seachem support forum that the Seachem ammonia alert (what's stuck to the side of your tank) only registers true ammonia NOT ammonium. So that's probably why your fish is still alive. What your API kit is measuring is high ammonium levels (harmless to fish), that test doesn't differentiate between the two. I am confused as to why that ammonium is remaining completely in that form with your pH at 7.2. Are YOU SURE that ammonium, in some way, isn't making its way into your aquarium? It's not in your tap water, but at this point, I'd be calling my water company and asking them if they are treating your tank with something that might be breaking down to ammonium over time once it's exposed to atmospheric air. Do you perchance live near any polluting industries? A steel mill? Textile Mill? Significant amounts of microscopic pollutants in air can be absorbed into water...
 

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Q and A with ATM about Colony

Not sure is this will be helpful or not, but I can't get the atm support website to load... another red flag

Edit: I'll also add that this Q and A supports my claim that the bottled bacteria is the cause of the skewed results. While they don't directly say that the use of prime and colony can skew test results, they do elude to it at the end by recommending other forms of water conditioning and stating that with these forms there are "no oxygen or test kit problems...ever"
 

JessicaSwanlake

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mattgirl said:
The main question is "where is the ammonia coming from" toxic or not toxic isn't the main thing. the amount is the problem One little fish could not be producing this amount of ammonia. It has to be coming from somewhere.

The test on the haunted house produced a reading of ammonia. At this point I am thinking it isn't ammonia at all but something else causing the ammonia test to go totally bonkers.
It very well could be something that isn't ammonia setting of the reagent (I believe API's kit relies on a salicylate reagent which is why it still shows positive for ammonia after adding Prime or Ammo-lock). But I don't know of anything that the test would have a false positive for at 8ppm that consistantly and after that many WCs. I checked a few articles and for salicylate tests the false postive from unidentified chemical leaching is usually 1ppm or less (often from bottled bacteria, it seems).
 

Momgoose56

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At this point, I can only say what I would do if it were my tank. I'd gut the tank, toss everything in it except my filter, media, thermometer and heater. Scrub the tank with clean water, rinse everything else in clean dechlorinated water, replace the gravel with an inert, uncoated, uncolored sand or gravel, refill with dechlorinated water, put only some live plants in it as decoration and start over. Something is either in the tank already, or getting into the tank that is causing the problem. That's just what I'd do... when my cake falls, I pitch it and start over, I don't try to fix it lol!
 

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Ok... so we've established that the haunted house caused clean water in a bucket to go from 0 ammonia to 1 overnight... if this ornament was in your tank from the start (if i'm reading this right, it's been more than 2 weeks now) is it possible that it's leached enough to get more than an 8 reading of ammonia in that time? If the actually ammonia reading was let's say, 100, even with 80% water changes, that leaves 20 ammonia, and it's going to read 8 or higher on your test. Was this a brand new ornament? I wasn't sure when I read back thru the thread that these are the same as ornaments in an older tank - do you mean the same brand/store, or that they are the actual ornaments from an older tank?
 
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Trice

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Momgoose56 said:
That most current test looks more like 1 ppm to me. Definitely NOT 8. Do another 80% water change.
This test was NOT from my tank. It’s from one of the decorations.

Algonquin said:
Ok... so we've established that the haunted house caused clean water in a bucket to go from 0 ammonia to 1 overnight... if this ornament was in your tank from the start (if i'm reading this right, it's been more than 2 weeks now) is it possible that it's leached enough to get more than an 8 reading of ammonia in that time? If the actually ammonia reading was let's say, 100, even with 80% water changes, that leaves 20 ammonia, and it's going to read 8 or higher on your test. Was this a brand new ornament? I wasn't sure when I read back thru the thread that these are the same as ornaments in an older tank - do you mean the same brand/store, or that they are the actual ornaments from an older tank?
All are brand new ornaments. Just meant that I used to have one of the exact same ones in the past that didn’t cause any ammonia problems so I’m sure it’s not the other ornament. Checking the gravel next.
 

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Trice

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Momgoose56 said:
I just read on the seachem support forum that their seachem support forum that the Seachem ammonia alert (what's stuck to the side of your tank) only registers true ammonia NOT ammonium. So that's probably why your fish is still alive. What your API kit is measuring is high ammonium levels (harmless to fish), that test doesn't differentiate between the two. I am confused as to why that ammonium is remaining completely in that form with your pH at 7.2. Are YOU SURE that ammonium, in some way, isn't making its way into your aquarium? It's not in your tap water, but at this point, I'd be calling my water company and asking them if they are treating your tank with something that might be breaking down to ammonium over time once it's exposed to atmospheric air. Do you perchance live near any polluting industries? A steel mill? Textile Mill? Significant amounts of microscopic pollutants in air can be absorbed into water...
No, I don’t live anywhere near like that. Not even in a city but in suburbs.
 
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