New balloon ram died Help

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Cableguy9872, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. Cableguy9872New MemberMember

    I have had my tank up for 3 months now, it cycled a while ago with 2 zebra danios and 2 black skirt tetras. I was told about 1 1/2 months ago it was ok to add more fish, i decided neon tetras, i got 4 of them acclimated them put them in my tank, and with in a week they were all dead. I let my tank recover(for 1 month) added a rubberlip pleco into my tank, and he is doing fine. After another 2 weeks, i got 2 balloon rams(2 days ago) and today, 1 of the 2 has died, the other one is still sitting on the bottom of my tank(resting on the rocks) breathing fairly fast(i dunno if this is normal for them) They both showed great color(LOTS more than when in transit from the store). I fed them Brine shirmp today(they ate a little bit, what made it to the bottom of the tank) I am concerned for my other ram, is this normal behavior for them almost 3 days of being in the tank?(it took my pleco a week before he is out and eating the algea off my tank)

    My water levels are as follows:(with API FRESHWATER MASTERKIT)
    Temp 81 degrees
    PH 8.2

    Tap water-
    PH 8.2

    I also have the seachem ammonia alert, and that shows .02ppm of ammonia

    my water conditioner is Prime, I have added some Stability when introducing new fish, did not use it to cycle my tank.

    My other fish all seem to be doing fine, when my light is off the zebras are always swimming about, and when its on, they are more lathargic relaxed.

    Could this be caused by stress from one of the black skirts? He has always been the mean one in my tank, he chases every other fish around(except my pleco) and when I added these rams, he chased them right away, then let them be. I did notice the next day, my smaller tetra has part of his dorsal fin missing(like someone took a bite out of it) and hes the nice one, he has been the one that just sits with my other fish when i have introduced them(almost like a pet does if something is wrong)

    Please give me any ideas as to why I still have ammonia in my tank(or could it be a false reading caused by prime?) I have also tried the Aquaclear ammonia remover(that didn't do anything)

    Any ideas as to why there is ammonia in my tank and/or why my balloon ram died and should i be worried about my other guy?

  2. callichma

    callichmaWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to fishlore.

    If there's ammonia in your tap water, that's where it's coming from. If you used Prime, it changed the ammonia to ammonium which is nontoxic to your fish, but it only last 24 hours. The API Ammonia test does not discriminate between ammonia and nontoxic ammonium. The bacteria should increase to handle the extra ammonia load. Be careful using Stability. The bacteria it contains does not reproduce under water and will consume the ammonia that your natural bacteria need to stay alive. You are better off just introducing a few fish at a time and not adding Stability.

    I would test daily and add Prime when ammonia is present. With ammonia in your tap water, I think I'd get some Tetra Safe Start (natural bacteria) and add it with water changes. This will not compete with the natural biofilter in your tank. TSS can be hard to find, but you can order it online. Blessings for your tank.
  3. OP

    Cableguy9872New MemberMember

    I have read that the API freshwater master kit is a salicylate based kit, which measures total ammonia, I do like i said have a kit that only measures free ammonia and that sits at 0-.02ppm mg/L of ammonia. I have not seen it go higher than that. The free ammonia if im not mistaken is whats harmful to the fish. Could my prime be causing a false reading as to my ammonia level?

    I will go to my LFS tomorrow to see if he has any TSS.

    I did forget to say this but I have let my tank sit(for 2 weeks after my neons died) with out any water change) and NEVER saw a change in my ammonia levels. To my understanding I should have seen a change. I really am becoming to believe that I am getting false tests however, I don't believe that because i have had 3 other places test my water and they all get .5ppm ammonia as well.

    Am I overlooking something(I wish I had a kit when i cycled my tank :/)

  4. callichma

    callichmaWell Known MemberMember

    You are right that the salicylate based ammonia test detects ammonia and ammonium.

    I think your problem is your tap water. I don't know how common it is for tap water to have ammonia, but common or not, it is a problem for your fish. Don't let your LFS talk you into a different bacterial product (like one of mine did). Unless the product has the patented bio-spira bacteria, it will compromise your cycle.
  5. OP

    Cableguy9872New MemberMember

    What do you recommend I do about my tap water? I am using soft water right now, but could/am willing to try what ever. I would prefer not to go with R/O water mainly because i can't get it cheap anywhere, and it would be another expense(but i'm willing to do it if its the only way) Would the kit possibly be giving me a false ammonia reading?(higher than what it is) like I said i have the seachem ammonia alert which only measures free ammonia, and thats at nothing right now

  6. Tony G.

    Tony G.Fishlore VIPMember

    Hello Cableguy and welcome to Fishlore.
    Sorry for your loss.

    The prime should be taking care of the ammonia in your tap. On the test kit, it has a number. the last 4 digits of it are the date when it was made. I dont use the API, i use the Nutrafin's and it has the last 4 digits on the cerial number, so you might want to check it out.

    Instead of using RO water, you could use Distilled water. You can buy it in gallon jars at most grocery stores.
  7. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore :)
    I'm sorry about your fish. I can't keep rams alive so I'm no help with that.
    According to Seachem's website, if you test the water right after adding Prime you can get a false ammonia reading. They advise to wait 24hrs after adding Prime to test and get an accurate reading.

    However, like callichma said you know where the ammonia is coming from. If your tank is properly cycling the bacteria should process it.

    Best of luck!
  8. OP

    Cableguy9872New MemberMember

    yeah I was hoping i could just stick to my tap water(since its the cheapest) My kits are all in date(i made sure and checked that out.

    Is it normal for my other ram(thats still alive) to just be hiding on the bottom in the corner of my tank breathing fairly fast while resting on the gravel? or is it just the new home for him?

    (I can get R/O water cheaper than Distilled water anyway)

    Ok so, we will say my tank is not properly cycling because I have had this ammonia problem for a LONG time(according to my tests) What is there that I can do to get it to properly cycle?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2009
  9. callichma

    callichmaWell Known MemberMember

    If there's ammonia in your tap water, and you add prime, it will inactivate the ammonia for 24 hours. If your tank is cycled, the bacteria should handle the ammonia after the first 24 hours.

    If you use RO or distilled water, you have to add conditioner to make the water safe for your fish. I'd use tap water, condition with Prime to control the ammonia, and watch the ammonia level closely. If ammonia continues to be a problem (any level above 0) I'd consider supplementing with TSS bacteria (it says you can do that on the bottle). You might also get an ammonia test that only tests free ammonia as ammonium is nontoxic to fish.
  10. OP

    Cableguy9872New MemberMember

    I do have a test that measures only free ammonia, and the highest i have seen it is .05ppm. However, I just noticed that one of my tetras has what looks to be a "bite" out of his dorsil fin and it is slightly frayed. None of my other fish have anything like this, and the edges are turning black(where it is gone) I read that they turn black due to ammonia in the water. I will get a bottle of TSS tomorrow(im fairly sure i saw it at my LFS) and see what happens.
  11. callichma

    callichmaWell Known MemberMember

    Do you think your black skirt is picking on your other fish? If there's fin damage, you might need to address that problem in addition to dealing with persistent ammonia levels. Good luck, and I'd really like to know how it all turns out.
  12. peacemaker92

    peacemaker92Well Known MemberMember

    Welcome to Fishlore!

    Sorry you lost your rams. Great advice above. Hope everything goes well. Good luck! :;hf
  13. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    From what I understand Rams are pretty sensitive to ph, and a ph of 8.2 is really out of their ideal ph range. Most fish will adapt to a ph outside of their ideal range, but the Rams may be one of the fish who do not adapt very well. Hopefully someone who knows more about Rams will chime in.
  14. TedsTank

    TedsTankWell Known MemberMember

    Yes use RO or distilled water to lower your Ph. 8.2 is way high for South American Dwarf cichlids. RAMS are included in the Dwarf cichlid group although they are not apistogramma species. Some folks have a little luck at a Ph that high and some don't...but don't count on happy, acclimated breeding colored RAMs, with a 3 to four year lifespan at that Ph.

    Neons and other tetras will also greatly benefit!!! and your Pleco!
    Most of the fish you have are South American species except the danio.

    Get some RO water and add a cup or two at a time to a gallon or 2 of tap water and test it until you get a lower PH. Then slowly add that mix with your tank...small water changes is best. And will will always have to do this, whenever you add water.

    You won't need exact SA parameters but the lower the Ph the better. If possible I would recommend a Ph in the area of 7.0 + or -.
  15. Elvishswimmer

    ElvishswimmerValued MemberMember

    Remember not to get Tetra Aqua Safe, because that is just a water conditioner. You need to have Tetra Safe Start!
  16. OP

    Cableguy9872New MemberMember

    alright, today my other ram is still doing fine, he has started to swim out of his hiding spot and ate food when fed today! :D, I Have added TSS(not TAS) will test my water tomorrow. I also called seachem today, asking about my ammonia(since i use prime and ammonia alert, yes it works) They were not sure as to why there is still a reading of ammonia in my tank, but questioned there is something in my water that could be causing a reading of .5ppm ammonia(ammonia alert shows 0ppm of free ammonia) I am trying to find their test kit for ammonia which measures free ammonia and a total ammonia(I know that API does, im just wondering if the results will be different).
    My tank IS cycled(or is mostly cycled) I do know that much. I was going to consider getting some more bio material(possibly another filter) such as a canister filter to set underneath my tank. What do you guys think about the Marineland c-160 canister filter? or should i upgrade and get the 220?

    If I get R/O water, is it a lot more work to make sure hte PH stays around the same area? (this is my first tank and want it to be fairly simple) because to my understanding i mix tap water and R/O water til i get a desired PH, possibly have to heat this water to my tank temp, and slowly start using it in my tank? How many cups do you think it would take of R/O water to get my PH down to around 7(for 1.5 gallons of water) I just don't want it to be a big expense on me.

    Thanks for all the help guys! ill try to keep you posted

    I have been testing my ammonia every day, it dropped to undectable by the API test kit(basically 0) still registered .05ppm on my ammonia alert, i added another ram(to replace the one, and 6 Harlequin Rasbora, ammonia is at .25(understandable for more fish load) and all fish seem to be doing fine. The one that was getting picked on has healed, and they just swim around now, he is still scared i believe just due to he is not as active as he has been.
    Any ideas as to how I can make him feel more comfortable? should I get a few more black skirts when my ammonia settles back down? should I get a bigger fish than my one tetra(like a dwarf Gourami?) or possibly get rid of my mean tetra(I don't want to, ive had him since i set up my tank, and grown to like all my fish!) Also, what would a good fish be to throw in as a "center" fish, one that does great on his own and would be fine with the fish i currently have? I thought of an angel fish, but they get fairly big, and my tetras are fin nibblers(right now anyway)

    Thanks for all your help guys!
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2009
  17. Jack SchifferNew MemberMember

    Female flag fish do well in a community tank the male is more territorial

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