oh no....whats happened? - help asap please!

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tan.b

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having a crisis!! sorry for the long thread, but more info is better than an edited version?! :-\ and i'm panicing!  :'(

small tank. . . . .

did usual....checked readings, this morn:
ammonia: 0
nitrite: 0.25
nitrate: between 0-5
fish ok, do didnt panic, did 30% water change  to sort nitrite

checked again,

ammonia: 0
nitrite: 0
nitrate: 5

went out for the day, came back. one tetra dead, loach with red gills not moving much (usually very active). guessed ammonia poisoning. checked readings and did 50% water change

before water change ammonia: 0, nitrite: 0, nitrate: between 5-10

so why the poorly loach and dead tetra? thought nitrate can be as high as 20 before lethal?

havent checked after water change as they seemed ok to me anyway. did water change as a panic option as fish not well
tetras never did look ill, so they're not much to go on, but loach perked up a bit. i've never seen him eat though (got him yesterday - but fish can go ages without food anyway, so that doesnt concern me too much just now - the red gills worries me)

AND..big tank crisis.......

did usual check this morn, ammonia:0, nitrate 0.25, nitrate 5. did 20% water change, fish all seemed ok. wasnt worried.

went out for day, came back, fish all have red gills (even the danios which i thought were meant to be tough) but they're all active and eating. checked water - ammonia: 0.25 nitrite: 0.25 nitrate: 10
so....did 50% water change. re-checked ammonia = 0.25, nitrite: 0, nitrate: 5

what do i do now? why didnt the ammonia come down?

can you do successive water changes straight away, or will this just make the cycle even worse? or should i wait til morning and do one in morning, one in afternoon and one in evening? how many 50% changes can you do in a day before that stresses out fish and upsets the bacteria. i dont even know what triggered this cycle. all was well! either its the new fish i got yesterday, or me cleaning the filters yesterday, but usually when i get new fish or clean filter (in used tank water) nothing like this happens.

once i get ammonia and nitrite to 0 (being optimistic....?!) how long til my fish recover? what is the maximum ammonia and nitrite they can tolerate before it's fatal? i know 0 is ideal, but what is the lethal dose? was mine high enough to kill, or did they die of something else and i'm barking up the wrong tree? sorry for all the questions, but i'm in a state of panic of not wanting to kill all my fish. i cant even move them from one tank to another as both tanks are doomed with troubles.

please help as soon as you can. many many many thanks 
a stressed out Tan.
 
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tan.b

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bought some ammo lock today. whats the verdict on this stuff? any good?
 

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Sorry I don't have much advice, only about the Ammo-Lock. When you stop using it, it causes the ammonia to spike up.
 

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Ammo-Lock is fairly dangerous to use as you usually get unstable readings. It only temporarily neutralizes the ammonia doesn't get rid of it. You also have to increase the aeration of the tank significantly while you use it.

You can do two 50% water changes in a day without much damage to anything as far as I know. I have done it when I had to and did not have any lasting problems. Much better to do a water change than to have bad parameters in the tank.

What are you using to test the tank? Liquid tests or test strips? If you are using test strips, the results you are getting may be inaccurate and then you have no idea what the actual readings are.

The general idea is that a water change never hurts.

Rose
 
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tan.b

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thanks rose! i'm at my wits end here!!!! i've got an air line in the filter so that blows loads of bubbles and an air stone which is about a foot long and that blows loads of bubbles, so i'm hoping that this extra airation will help the fish get enough oxygen while their gills are suffering. glad to hear the x2 50% water changes are a good idea! it doesnt seem it when i'm tired and aching from hauling buckets of water about!! i'd do once a day if the gills werent so red. be glad to get back to once a week!!!! - dread to think what my water bill will be!!! and i've even bought a 5 litre bottle of de-chlor as the 250mL ones were only lasting a few days!!!!!!!! i should get shares in the water company and nutrafin!!!

i couldn't get online yesterday to read the replies (internet refused to work!!) so i did use the ammo lock when the gills looked really red (kill or cure i figured.) anyway, no deaths so far, and my ammonia is remaining predictable.

i'm checking the levels every morning, then doing a 50% water change (back-breaking with jug and bucket!), then re-testing to reassure myself it was worth it!!!
then the same on an evening, so 12 hourly tests and 50% water changes each time.
the ammonia is between 0.25 and 1. usually 0.5 then drops to 0.25 after the water change and the nitrate is remaining at 5, sometimes nearly 10, but i've heard anything up t0 20 is acceptable, so its just the ammonia that worries me as that is affecting the fish. they are still swimming about and very active and eating well so thats good i guess. its just the red gills that worry me. i read earlier that they can have permanent gill damage after ammonia poisoning, so thats a worry. they're not hovering at the surface or anything either, so they must have enough oxygen getting into them i guess? they look fine really other than the red gills (purple on the danios?!) but how long do you think they can tolerate these conditions?

this is the same in both tanks. i'm still not sure what triggered it! i cleaned the filters on sunday before the readings went strange but used the old tank water to do it and wasnt too thorough with the cleaning cos of the bacteria. just got the sludge off!!

i'm using the aquarium pharmaceuticals inc master test kit. liquid and test tubes. it was the cheapest option when looking at the options in the lfs!! 700 tests  i guessed would last forever (well maybe not when i'm doing so many tests at the mo!!!)

by the way the nitrite is zero. why would the ammonia be high, the nitrite be zero and the nitrate be up at about 5? how can i get nitrate without the nitrite? i just dont get it? i had 0.25 nitrite on 18th and 19th feb, but nothing since the morning of 19th feb.

so..........my tank was cycled last week with zero ammonia and nitrite and 5 for the nitrate. sunday all went odd and ammonia shot up to 0.25-1 and has remained there since. however the nitrite has remained at zero (couple of readings at 0.25, but none since 19th feb) and the nitrate between 5-10. the fish all have red gills so the ammonia is having an adverse effect. the pH is constant at 7.2 (same as the tap). is there anyway of naturally lowering the pH below 7 to reduce the effects of ammonia ? i usually dont agree with messing with pH, but i read earlier that below pH 7, results in ammonium rather than ammonia which isn't as toxic to the fish.

i am doing 50% water changes to both tanks every morning and every evening (which is no fun.....but only idea i have for reducing the ammonia and keeping my fish alive). hopefully it wont slow down the cycle too much? i'm not touching the gravel and only doing the filter on a weekend as per usual. so the bacteria shoudl have every chance to thrive one would think!!!!!!!!!!!!!

any more ideas on what i can do? i am at my wits end and very stressed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (my fish are too!) 

thanks for your help. it is much appreciated!

Tan

off i go for another hour of shifting water about!! i'll have muscles like pop-eye the sailor at this rate!!!! its becoming a full time job is this fish thing!!
 
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bbfeckawitts said:
Sorry I don't have much advice, only about the Ammo-Lock. When you stop using it, it causes the ammonia to spike up.
no worries! thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings!!
 

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You guys (and gals) DO worry yourselves TOO much with all your testing. I don't test my water, ever!
 

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I'm not keen on the ammo lock. Like Chickadee stated, it makes the ammonia level unpredictable. I have better luck with amquel plus. I'm glad you used the ammo lock though when you couldn't get online. Anything to help reduce the stress on your fish is a good thing. Continue with the water changes to keep the ammonia level down. My guess would be that eventhough you cleaned your filters in old tank water, it still disturbed the bacteria enough to create a mini cycle. My suggestion in the future is to clean only 1 filter at a time, and only when the water flow is sluggish.
 

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tan.b ,  I have been reading your posts today and have a suggestion.     I have a fairly crowded tank, after the first cycle was complete never have had spikes of ammonia, which I attribute to using Stress Zyme and/or Cycle EVERY TIME I change water.  I only change 25 - 50 % every couple of days.  Ammonia is always at 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 10. My fish are happy.  When I put new one in I always attempt to have just changed water so the new fish is not stressed, (haven't had new for quite awhile).  I vacuum the gravel once a week, and spray my back filters every week also, but like I said with the addition of the  bacteria culture at every water change, the cycle seems to be continuing to handle the load.   My tank is set up with undergravel filter, with extra pump to draw more water through it, and a back of the tank filter.  Hope you don't get discouraged.   8)   

From the Frozen North.  -5F last night!
 
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tan.b

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bbfeckawitts said:
You guys (and gals) DO worry yourselves TOO much with all your testing. I don't test my water, ever!
i wish i didnt!!! i do it reassure myself that all is ok, but when i get scary results it almost becomes obsessive!! i was just doing weekly, but when i added more fish i thought i better keep an eye on things, then when the gills were reddening, i could figure out why! hopefully when things settle down (which wil happen one day i hope!!) i can test much less. dont know if i can give it up altogether though! i'll need therapy first!!!!!! to be honest i dont know anyone else who tests! my sister just gets tanks, throws fish in and all is good!! as do my husbands family. i dont know what their death rates are though! :
 
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Gunnie said:
I'm not keen on the ammo lock.  Like Chickadee stated, it makes the ammonia level unpredictable.  I have better luck with amquel plus.  I'm glad you used the ammo lock though when you couldn't get online.  Anything to help reduce the stress on your fish is a good thing.  Continue with the water changes to keep the ammonia level down.  My guess would be that eventhough you cleaned your filters in old tank water, it still disturbed the bacteria enough to create a mini cycle.  My suggestion in the future is to clean only 1 filter at a time, and only when the water flow is sluggish.   
i've stopped using the ammo lock. it was just when readings got to 1 and the fish gills were looking really red i panicked!! i dont think i can have used enough to have thrown things though as it hasnt spiked up to 1 again since, this morn the small tank was 0-0.25, so did a 50% water change anyway, then tonight the small tank was at 0-0.25 so i'm leaving that one tonight and will do the 50% change in morning. i'm hoping that tank might be a once a day thing now :-\. i'm guessing 0.25 is less critical. big tank was 0.25-0.5 (the 0.25 and 0.5 colours are so similar!!!!!!) so that got a 50% change tonight and no doubt will again in the morn. unfortunately i had to clean the filter in the big tank today too. very gently mind, but it was getting clogged up and noisy. all the water changes are upsetting the plants and they're falling apart (they're new and not got established roots yet), no matter how gently i try and pour the water in, so all the debris (bits of leaves etc) is getting sucked into the filter . cant win no matter what i do!! : hopefully that filter clean hasnt made things worse, but poor water flow cant be good either. fish are like kids.....no matter which decision you make with their best interests at heart, you still wonder if its the right one!!!

didnt see any amquel plus....i dont recall the name anyway. the only other product available at the lfs were zeolite tablets. whats the opinion on those? i'd never heard of them, so i went for the ammolock....i was in a rush with 2 kids in tow nagging to see the other animals etc, so didnt have time to read all the labels etc so made a hasty decision!

do mini cycles take as long as normal ones....is there a chance i could be doing 2 water changes a day for the next 3 months? please tell me its not that bad and there is light somewhere near!!!! as i said the small tank showed a very slight improvement today. ;D

fingers crossed........at least things arent getting worse?! and all fish are still alive and well, feeding, chasing etc. just got red gills still.
 
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susitna-flower said:
tan.b ,  I have been reading your posts today and have a suggestion.     I have a fairly crowded tank, after the first cycle was complete never have had spikes of ammonia, which I attribute to using Stress Zyme and/or Cycle EVERY TIME I change water.  I only change 25 - 50 % every couple of days.  Ammonia is always at 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 10. My fish are happy.  When I put new one in I always attempt to have just changed water so the new fish is not stressed, (haven't had new for quite awhile).  I vacuum the gravel once a week, and spray my back filters every week also, but like I said with the addition of the  bacteria culture at every water change, the cycle seems to be continuing to handle the load.   My tank is set up with undergravel filter, with extra pump to draw more water through it, and a back of the tank filter.  Hope you don't get discouraged.   8)   

From the Frozen North.  -5F last night!
thanks for your reply and taking the time to read my novel.......its getting a bit long! i used nutrafin cycle to start with in my small tank, but was advised by alot of people not to use it, so once the bottle was half empty i started using less and less (weaning tank off it), and then when bottle was empty i never replaced it. so i really dont want to start using that again. i try and use as little in the way of additives etc as poss. only when times get desperate do i throw in things like melafix, or on this occasion my choice of chemical was ammolock which i have now stopped using as again, it seems it can cause more probems than you had to start with! but when you think death is getting close, you do desperate things when it seems you've nothing to lose! (i do anyway)! i'm not sure if my tank is overstocked. it maybe about right. not sure how big the rainbow fish will get, i think its about 18 months old and about 3" long. however, my tank has been stocked much quicker than i anticipated. the guppies went in first (wanted danios in first, but couldnt catch them from samller tank. too fast!!), levels remained good (amm=0, nitri=0, nitra=5), then the danios went in a few days later. same readings. then the plec. levels were same. then after a couple of days started rising. at which point no more fish should've gone in, but i was given the tetras and rainbow from my sister as the fish were homeless! so i couldnt refuse really!

good idea doing the water change just before getting new fish, so not stressing them soon after their move with water changes. my poor fish moved into their new residence and have had constant water changes! not a minutes peace for them! will remember that for nxt time tho! thanks

also i darent do anything with the gravel yet if thats where the bacteria are trying to colonise. i need every good bug i can get in there! dont want to take any away! it looks immaculate still as quite new, so i'm not worried about that for now.

how cold does it get up there? is it canada or alaska you're from? i vaguely remember seeing your flag on the map a while ago when i was having a look. other than dino claus(!) i think you were the most northern person on there!!!! far too chilly for me!!! its about 8 deg celcius here in the uk (not sure what that is in deg F) at the mo and thats cold enough!!!! i hate it when it freezes. hope you and the fishes keep warm enough! do you get problems with burst/frozen water pipes there? when i was younger and winters were much colder pipes would freeze and burst. we used to lag them with insulation to help (still burst mind!!). anyway, i digress and ramble!!!
 

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at least things arent getting worse?! and all fish are still alive and well, feeding, chasing etc. just got red gills still.

Tan.b, I don't know why you were told not to use Nutrafin Cycle, it is bacteria that help establish and re-establish your nitrogen cycle.  If you add more fish it helps boost the colony, if you change water or mess with your filters it helps to add some to jump start the bacteria growth. 

About the red gills, it is always possible that is not due to water conditions.  There are several diseases mentioned in the Disease Chart section that have red gills as a symptom.  Even Ich can do this without any other visable symptom.     Don't fret.   Every fish experience is building that bank of knowledge which will let you eventually have just the tank you dream of!     lol!!

I live on a 160 ac. homestead.  No electricity lines (run on a generator), with Mount McKinley out the front window. (see the picture in my profile).  The most worrysome thing for me was having the tank off 8 - 10 hrs a day when the generator is off.   Well I have lots of rocks and a good layer of gravel which gives me lots of mass to retain heat.  The temp. usually doesn't go down more than 4 degrees over night.  Our home is well insulated, and we usually don't have frozen pipes.   We do heat with wood, so are tied down to home in the winter keeping things warm.  Most I can leave is overnight if I have to go to town,  (nearest town and LFS is 80 miles away).  It makes getting my little friends home an interesting affair.  The folks at the fish store are really good about boxing them up for me.  Well.........good luck!
 
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in a desperate bid today i have given in to chemicals once again. i've got some cycle then i'll wean my tank off it again once ammonia is down. i used it when setting up my first tank and it did no harm. just costly if i use it long term! (especially with 45 gal tank having 2 50% water changes a day!) i dont know what more i can do. i used ammolock yesterday as the gills were getting really red again in desperation. i'm doing two 50% water changes a day to physically remove ammonia. as both tanks have exactly the same readings i can't use gravel from one to cycle the other or re-arrange fish to reduce bioload then gradually re-introduce them.

the arguements against "cycle" i think were ammonia spikes when you stop using it and doubts of its scientific basis as bacteria cant remain in a static state at room temp. i used to work in a bacteriology lab and i also cant understand how it can work as bacteria would multiply and run out of resources if its live. if refridgerated bacteria growth is extremely slow and if frozen they "hibernate" and will reproduce once thawed. but i cant see how a live culture can be bottled and kept at room temp. also which bacteria is it? the nitrosomonas or the nitrobacter? as the bottle claims to remove ammonia AND nitrite. i think if they were bottled together they would either have different nutrient requirements and that just wouldnt work, or they'd compete and you could end up with more of one than the other. anyway, i decided today to give it a go anyway. throw some more money away?!!

i am quite confident that it is the ammonia causing the gill prob as it seems to get worse when the level is higher and eases off when i use ammo-lock or when levels are lower. i dont understand how low levels are causing such an effect. i'd be interested to hear how other peoples fish have reacted to ammonia and at what level. a guy on here had levels of 4 and from what it seemed his fish had no effects (none that i recall him giving us anyway), buthis pH was very low, so from what i understand that results in ammonium which is less toxic to fish than ammonia so that could be why?

yeah....i cant wait for 6 months or so down the line when i'll be an expert and got through all the scrapes of tank husbandry!! as it is i'm still learning alot! in fact pretty much when ever my temperamental internet works i'm googling ammonia poisoning etc etc!!!

your view is fantastic. i cant imagine waking up to that every morning. i couldnt cope with the cold though! i'm far too soft!!!! i'm the first to complain here when it gets to freezing! and 80miles to the shops! my word! long way to go for a pint of milk!!!...or more fish!! i worry about my fish and their 20mins journey in a car at 20C (68F) and 9C outside!!! you must really take care of your fish t keep them alive and well in those conditions! tropical fish and extreme cold climate must be a challenge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

welll tank update today is much the same. ammonia 0.25-0.5 in both tanks before AND after the two 50% water changes today. still no nitrite in either tank and didnt bother with the nitrate as thats usually 5-10 and is fairly irrelevant at the moment. what i'm looking for is ammonia to come down and nitrite to go up! that aint what i'm seeing tho!!!!!! one day..................... ??? :-\
 
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tan.b

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well...progress in the big tank.....i'm getting 0.25 nitrite! so that's gotta be progress!! nitrate STILL 5-10, ammonia 0.5-1.0. why is the ammonia not going down? still doing 2x 50% water changes a day (occasionally only one if its at 0.25 - not very often tho!) why no nitrite in the small tank tho?! they both entered the ammonia blip at the same time?!
 

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Just my two cents...My understanding is even with the ammolock, you will still get reading on the amonia test, so it may not be as bad as you think.
 
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tan.b

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Hazcop said:
Just my two cents...My understanding is even with the ammolock, you will still get reading on the amonia test, so it may not be as bad as you think.
thanks. i'm not sure to be honest! it didnt make any dif to my readings anyway!! i only used one dose tho! if it remained above 1.0 after 50% water change i may be tempted to use again out of desperation and concern for my fish! at the mo i'm just doing 2 water changes a day of 50% each time. thats about 9 buckets twice a day! i'll have strong muscles at the end of it! kitchen at opposite side of house to lounge too!! stubbed my toes many a time on coffee table and kids toys while heaving bucket about!! that bit of fish keeping is certainly no fun!!! the water changes seem to be keeping it at about 0.5 , so i suppose its worth it!
A fed up and shattered Tan!..when does it end?!
 

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I feel your pain Tan, I also have to use a bucket and lug it up from the basement to replace a few gallons at a time. And all this while dodging 8 dogs
 
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Hazcop said:
I feel your pain Tan, I also have to use a bucket and lug it up from the basement to replace a few gallons at a time.  And all this while dodging 8 dogs
i should quit whinging then really!!!! lol! at least i dont have stairs between tap and tank!! and at least the back door is nr the tank for chucking the old tank water onto garden!! i dont have dogs either, but do have 2 little people to dodge. one is 2, the other is 4 and they both ignore my screams of "move.....quick......NOW!!!! :". i do one w/change when the 4yr old at school (unless weekend or school hol obviously!), the other i do when they're both in bed  ;D. but the water pressure is rubbish in the kitchen, so takes ages to fill the bucket! watching it fill is obviously tedius, so i go off and do summat else.....completely forget about it, then we have a nr flood situation!! aaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!

this water changing is such a chore ! anyway......its time for an ammonia etc check.....which inevitably leads to YET another w/change!!!....what joy....cant wait!!!  at least i'm not the only person in the world doing it!  :-\ :
 
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well, progress i think?!
the small tank is now reading zero for ammonia and nitrite and 5-10 for nitrate. wierd thing is, although it had the ammonia blip where that got up to 1.0 at times, the nitrite always remained zero! very odd. anyway, i'll be keeping an eye on it just in case anything else wierd happens!!

the big tank is 1.0 ammonia, 1.0 nitrite and 5-10 nitrate. very colourful test tubes! its getting 2 x 50% water changes a day to keep the levels down. fish still doing ok. red gills but other than that as active and hungry as ever! why is the ammonia not going down when the nitrite is going up? does this usualy happen. in the literiture i've printed off that seems to be whats expected.
 
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