PH low, Ammonia high

Kenna

Member
I’ve had my betta for awhile and have been trying to fix my tank water situation. I’ve been testing the water regularly and no matter what I do the pH levels have been below 7.0 and my ammonia levels have been around 2.0 to 4.0. I have done regular water changes every week, I started to do 50% water changes but when that wasn’t fixing the situation I did 75% water changes. It’s a 5.5 gallon tank and I use API Stress coat, API Quick start, API ammo lock, and API proper pH 7.0 every water change except I use the API proper pH 7.0 and API ammo lock more often cause I thought they would help remedy my situation if I use them more. Please help me!
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
I’ve had my betta for awhile and have been trying to fix my tank water situation. I’ve been testing the water regularly and no matter what I do the pH levels have been below 7.0 and my ammonia levels have been around 2.0 to 4.0. I have done regular water changes every week, I started to do 50% water changes but when that wasn’t fixing the situation I did 75% water changes. It’s a 5.5 gallon tank and I use API Stress coat, API Quick start, API ammo lock, and API proper pH 7.0 every water change except I use the API proper pH 7.0 and API ammo lock more often cause I thought they would help remedy my situation if I use them more. Please help me!
In my opinion, you’re putting too many chemicals in your tank and the AmmoLock will prevent your tank from cycling.

You’re also not doing enough water changes, which will be important when you start an effective fish-in cycle.

How long has this tank been running? What are you using to test and what exactly is your ammonia and pH levels? And what kind of filter is on the tank?
 
  • Thread Starter

Kenna

Member
What would you suggest I do chemical wise, which ones to cut I mean.
How many water changes do you suggest then?
The tank has been running for a month with a brand new sponge filter. I’ve had my tank with my current betta running for a year and a half maybe, but I thought the old sponge filter was the problem so I replaced it and all the water with it.
I’m using an API freshwater master test kit, the pH has been around 6.4
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
What would you suggest I do chemical wise, which ones to cut I mean.
How many water changes do you suggest then?
The tank has been running for a month with a brand new sponge filter. I’ve had my tank with my current betta running for a year and a half maybe, but I thought the old sponge filter was the problem so I replaced it and all the water with it.
I’m using an API freshwater master test kit, the pH has been around 6.4
Here are my suggestions. . . .
1. Keep using your current dechlorinator and AmmoLock but get Seachem Prime ASAP. Prime is a dechlorinator and will also help protect your fish while the tank cycles. Your cycle won’t start until you stop using AmmoLock, but your fish need protected until you get Prime and your ammonia level down.
2. Do a 50% water change immediately.
3. Do another 50% water change tomorrow. The goal is to get the ammonia level below 0.50 ppm and preferably 0.25 ppm. Once you accomplish that, stop using AmmoLock.
4. Stop using chemicals to alter your pH. Instead, get some crushed coral, rinse it very well, place it in a fine media bag and place it in your tank. This will buffer and stabilize your pH in a more natural way.
5. Test your water parameters daily and do water changes (maybe daily) to keep ammonia levels below 0.50 ppm. Dose Prime at each water change.

Did I miss anything? What exactly is the ammonia level now?
 
  • Thread Starter

Kenna

Member
Ammonia level is an 4.0 at the moment. Wow I wasn’t aware that ammo lock prevented my tank from cycling, good to know. Is it bad to use ammo lock period?
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
Ammonia level is an 4.0 at the moment. Wow I wasn’t aware that ammo lock prevented my tank from cycling, good to know. Is it bad to use ammo lock period?
You definitely need a couple large water changes to get the ammonia level down.

I suppose AmmoLock has some benefits (I prefer water changes to control ammonia), but not in a tank that you’re attempting to cycle.

Did my previous post make sense? Come back here with updates and questions.
 
  • Thread Starter

Kenna

Member
I understand your post completely. I will be getting the seachem prime tomorrow at petsmart. However, they seem to be out of crushed coral and there are no other pet stores near me so do you suggest another method to regulate pH or should I order some online?
Also, when I get the prime do I use it in conjunction with ammo lock until the ammonia levels go down or just use the prime?
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
I understand your post completely. I will be getting the seachem prime tomorrow at petsmart. However, they seem to be out of crushed coral and there are no other pet stores near me so do you suggest another method to regulate pH or should I order some online?
Also, when I get the prime do I use it in conjunction with ammo lock until the ammonia levels go down or just use the prime?
If PetSmart doesn’t have any crushed coral or an alternative (oyster shells), I’d order it online.

I’d start using Prime and stop using AmmoLock once you get the ammonia below 0.50 ppm. You should be there after 2 large water changes.

Prime is effective up to a combined level of ammonia and nitrites (once you start seeing nitrites) of 1.0 ppm. But don’t use it in lieu of water changes.
 
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Kenna

Member
How many mL of seachem prime should I be using?
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
How many mL of seachem prime should I be using?
1 ml per 10 gallon. So a little over 0.50 ml for your 5.5.

How’s the ammonia level?
 
  • Thread Starter

Kenna

Member
The ammonia levels are 2.0 today. I usually went with the flow when it came to cycling my tank before, are there any indicators that I should be looking for to make sure my tank is properly cycled? I’m not really a hardcore betta keeper, I got my first betta in high school and when he died I missed the sound of the tank running in my room so I got another one. I just want to make sure I’m learning and doing everything I can to keep him healthy.
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
The ammonia levels are 2.0 today. I usually went with the flow when it came to cycling my tank before, are there any indicators that I should be looking for to make sure my tank is properly cycled? I’m not really a hardcore betta keeper, I got my first betta in high school and when he died I missed the sound of the tank running in my room so I got another one. I just want to make sure I’m learning and doing everything I can to keep him healthy.
I’d suggest another water change. As I said in an earlier post, Prime is only effective up to a combined level of ammonia and nitrites of 1 ppm.

Now that you’ve stopped using AmmoLock, the ammonia will eventually convert to nitrites and then the nitrites will convert to nitrates. A full cycle can take between 4 - 6 weeks. You’ll know you’re fully cycled when ammonia and nitrites are 0 and you have some level of nitrates.
 
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Kenna

Member
Do another water change today or tomorrow?
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
Do another water change today or tomorrow?
I’d do it today. Your ammonia level is still too high.
 
  • Thread Starter

Kenna

Member
I did another water change and it went down to 1.0.
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
I did another water change and it went down to 1.0.
Is that the first or second water change today?
 
  • Thread Starter

Kenna

Member
It is the second water change today.
 

Dunk2

Member
I‘ve never suggested this before, but I’d add another 0.50 ml of Prime to your tank now. I don’t like the fact that your ammonia level is right at the effectiveness limit for a single dose of Prime.

I’d also suggest another water change early tomorrow. As I said earlier, your goal should be to keep ammonia below 0.50 ppm and preferably at 0.25 ppm.
 
  • Thread Starter

Kenna

Member
I got the ammonia down to between 0.25 and 0.50 and I got the crushed coral in today and put that in there as well.
 

Dunk2

Member
Kenna said:
I got the ammonia down to between 0.25 and 0.50 and I got the crushed coral in today and put that in there as well.
Fish doing ok?
 
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Kenna

Member
His energy never went down during the whole process, even when I was having persistent problems for weeks.
 

Pfrozen

Member
I'm gonna jump in here. If your pH is dropping during a cycle your water is likely too soft, meaning that your KH is below 4. Crushed coral is a good long term fix for larger tanks but it DOES NOT make sense to put a bag of crushed coral in a 5.5g filter. You are much better off remineralizing your water to KH 4 at every water change instead. With the size of your tank any KH booster will last years. The issue with crushed coral is that it slowly dissolves into your water, raising KH over time. In larger tanks it will establish an equilibrium and eventually your parameters wont change much if at all. However, you're playing with fire by using it in a 5.5g tank. It takes a few second to remineralize your tap water to the right KH every water change, honestly.

The only chemical you ever need for your tank aside from that is Prime. And no, it does not "detoxify" ammonia. Ammonia is non-toxic below pH 7.4 regardless. The issue is that it still contributes to poor water quality, and fish still suffer if its there. Think of it like nitrogen in air- its non toxic, but if humans only breathe nitrogen then they suffocate. It's the same thing with water- too many dissolved organic compounds are bad for your fish, period. There is a big debate around nitrates as well, which I won't get into, but all I can say is that I run all my tanks at 0,0,0
 
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Kenna

Member
What would you suggest I do then to get my pH to 7.0? Do I use another chemical or other way to get my pH up?
 

mattgirl

Member
Kenna said:
What would you suggest I do then to get my pH to 7.0? Do I use another chemical or other way to get my pH up?
What is the pH straight out of your tap? If it is 7 or above The crushed coral should hold it up to that level in your tank. I actually run it in all of my tanks including my 2.5 gallon shrimp bowl. It holds my pH up to a constant 7.2. I have very soft water almost devoid of minerals.

I keep an eye on my pH level. When I see it drop to 7 I know it is time to add a bit more CC
 
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Kenna

Member
I have well water so it’s running between 6.0 and 6.4. I’ve never heard of using crushed coral to raise pH so I don’t really know what I’m doing, how much should I put in the bag? I was having a hard time trying to position the coral so it didn’t stand out as much in my tank.
 

mattgirl

Member
Kenna said:
I have well water so it’s running between 6.0 and 6.4. I’ve never heard of using crushed coral to raise pH so I don’t really know what I’m doing, how much should I put in the bag? I was having a hard time trying to position the coral so it didn’t stand out as much in my tank.
In your case adding something like Equilibrium to your water along with the CC may be the best option. What are your thoughts on this suggestion Pfrozen ?

Since you are running a sponge filter in this tank it might be better to just scatter the crushed coral below your filter instead of in a media bag. It will still have water circulating around it. I would start with half a cup. Unlike some bottled products you aren't going to be adding too much. It is only going to raise the pH so much and no more. I can't tell you what that number is going to be since it depends on the chemistry of your water.

Since my tap water is so low in minerals I both run crushed coral and add Equilibrium. I use it to raise my number from the 21 out of my tap to at least 100 in my tanks. I hate spending other peoples money but I will recommend you get a TDS (total dissolved solids) meter if you decide to use Equilibrium. With the meter it is simple to add the correct amount each time. If you have live plants in your tank you may find better growth when adding the Equilibrium too.
 
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Kenna

Member
I think I’ll stick with the crushed coral for now, unless another problem arises which I hope it does not. Glad I didn’t have to waste my money buying the crushed coral and then not even use it. I was thinking about getting live plants for my tank, wanted to look more into it tho before I did anything.
 

mattgirl

Member
Kenna said:
I think I’ll stick with the crushed coral for now, unless another problem arises which I hope it does not. Glad I didn’t have to waste my money buying the crushed coral and then not even use it. I was thinking about getting live plants for my tank, wanted to look more into it tho before I did anything.
Please let us know how it is working. Unlike bottled products it isn't going to raise the pH immediately. It is going to take a few days as it very slowly dissolves.
 

Pfrozen

Member
Equilibrium is only for GH, do we have a measurement for that? Separate issue

And you already know how I feel about running crushed coral in a small tank... like throwing a hand grenade at a mosquito

If you think it's the best option though then go for it, I don't have a PhD in Fishology or anything
 

Dunk2

Member
Pfrozen said:
Equilibrium is only for GH, do we have a measurement for that? Separate issue

And you already know how I feel about running crushed coral in a small tank... like throwing a hand grenade at a mosquito

If you think it's the best option though then go for it, I don't have a PhD in Fishology or anything
So you’ve used crushed coral in a small tank and had a bad outcome?

I have used it in both large and small tanks, with no issues whatsoever.
 

Pfrozen

Member
Dunk2 said:
So you’ve used crushed coral in a small tank and had a bad outcome?

I have used it in both large and small tanks, with no issues whatsoever.
I already explained why lol, we are all free to do what we think is best
 

CidProQuo

Member
interested in a side question about this thread. i have crushed coral AND replenish. neither seem to change my KH or GH. my tap water is literally yellow on the 2nd drop (for KH) and if I'm lucky the color change is 3 drops on GH. since my tank is new (not cycled) I've been doing water changes every 3 days to keep ammonia below 1.0.

what I dont get about replenish is that it says for my 20g tank, i should use less than a capful. in my 5 gallon bucket (with 4 gallons of tap water), FOUR capfuls does not change the GH or KH at all of my tap water. ****?

i am using the API GH/KH test kit.

I also have the crushed coral (about a third of a cup) in a mesh bag in my HOB filter, literally it seems nothing is changing about my GH/KH using replenish and even the coral after almost 2 weeks is doing nothing. kind of stumped on next steps.
 

Cherryshrimp420

Member
CidProQuo said:
interested in a side question about this thread. i have crushed coral AND replenish. neither seem to change my KH or GH. my tap water is literally yellow on the 2nd drop (for KH) and if I'm lucky the color change is 3 drops on GH. since my tank is new (not cycled) I've been doing water changes every 3 days to keep ammonia below 1.0.

what I dont get about replenish is that it says for my 20g tank, i should use less than a capful. in my 5 gallon bucket (with 4 gallons of tap water), FOUR capfuls does not change the GH or KH at all of my tap water. ****?

i am using the API GH/KH test kit.

I also have the crushed coral (about a third of a cup) in a mesh bag in my HOB filter, literally it seems nothing is changing about my GH/KH using replenish and even the coral after almost 2 weeks is doing nothing. kind of stumped on next steps.
Looking at Seachem's website seems like Replenish only affects GH. You want some KH which is usually bicarbonates. Crushed coal will provide it very slowly by dissolving in the water until an equilibrium is reached. You can just buy some KH buffers or use baking soda if you want to raise it immediately.

I would not mess with water parameters though, easy to mess up and often does more harm than good. Bettas generally like soft acidic waters so there's no need to aim for pH 7.0
 

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