Really high ammonia

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by Jon25, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. Jon25Valued MemberMember

    I have a 10 gallon tank in which has had fish for almost 3 months now, but my ammonia levels now are extremely high. I've done several water changes and vacuumed the gravel. I have also used Prime to treat the new water, but nothing seems to change the levels of ammonia. My nitrites and nitrates are both at zero, and my ph is it 7.3. Any suggestions as to how to lower the ammonia levels?
  2. EiennaFishlore VIPMember

    Exactly how high (numbers?)?

    Did you just change the filter media? Never change more than half the media at a time. If you have, as big of a water change as you can without uncovering your fish and a hefty dose of Tetra Safe Start is in order. You may wish to do this even if you haven't, because a high level of ammonia signals that you have a deficit of ammonia-consuming (nitrifying) bacteria.

  3. Jon25Valued MemberMember

    My reading have been around 8 ppm which is horrible. I haven't changed my bio filter, but have changed the disposable carbon filter. All the fish seem fine, i try to check them everyday for any signs of of sickness. It drives me nuts that its spiked this high out of nowhere.

  4. EiennaFishlore VIPMember

    Holy -
    Do an almost complete water change RIGHT NOW. Keep changing as much as possible daily until the water's down to under 2ppm. Then use TSS.

    Add TSS ASAP (though it has to be 24 hours after a water change.)

    Add more than the 10g bottle in this case. You really can't OD it and you need as much BB as you can get right now. I'd get the next size up from what's supposed to treat 10g.

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  5. Jon25Valued MemberMember

    its only a 10 gallon and i just got done doing a HUGE water change when i posted. Hoping it helps
  6. klutz10154Valued MemberMember

    it sounds like you set yourself into another cycle. I'd do what was suggested above and get it started back. when you change the media in the filter you're taking out the bacteria thats needed to keep in the tank to keep the ammonia and nitrites down. they have reusable media bags you can use if you'd like. that way when you feel like changing the carbon you can just pull the bag add new carbon and put the bag back in. (rinse in tank water if it looks dirty) that way the media always stays in the tank.

    also remember not to test the water until 24hrs after the water change. Prime will effect the results. and that a major water change can tank out the bacteria too...
  7. EiennaFishlore VIPMember

  8. Jon25Valued MemberMember

    My carbon is in a disposable cartridge. I have an aqueon 20-30 filter. So insted of changing the disposable cartridge I just need to rinse it? I haven't touched the bio filter at all.
  9. Mrs.PriceValued MemberMember

    Actually, Beneficial Bacteria live on ALL surfaces of your aquarium ,the majority of your bacteria resides in your filter, I have removed ALL of my decor, and gravel without causing a cycle, I have also removed my carbon filter just recently without causing a cycle, however, my tank is more established than Jon's.

    You shouldn't throw away your filter until it's falling apart, and when you rinse it, don't do it too well and do it in tank water. When you DO change it, you will need to place a new filter in the tank (alongside your old one) for about a month to insure that your beneficial bacteria colonizes on the new filter before the old one is removed, or it will MOST CERTAINLY re-cycle your tank.
  10. fishaddictionValued MemberMember

    I would use ammo lock just to real it in also I would use bacteria (like to start the nitrogen cycle) because that will help to. How did you get it that high?
  11. EiennaFishlore VIPMember

    No ammo-lock, especially when using TSS. Using Seachem Prime to detox the ammonia between changes until you can get the TSS would be a great idea, though. Main thing is to keep changing until you get it down so you can safely use the Safe Start.

    Mrs. Price is basically correct. :) Don't replace the media until it's falling apart - only rinse gently in old tank water (to get the worst of the gunk off - DON'T overclean!) from changes about once per week until then, and place the new cartridge in for at least a month while the old one is still there. If your filter only holds one cartridge, this may involve a second filter. If your filter holds two, then replace one at a time, at least a month between. You did good not to touch the biomedia, but it sounds like your cycle bacteria colony was not well-enough-established and removing the carbon cartridge took way too much for your situation. If you want to change the carbon as recommended, cut a slit in the cartridge, dump the carbon, and refill it.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  12. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    Once you have added Prime, wait 24 hours to test for more accurate results. Testing too soon after using Prime can give you a false Positive.

  13. LyleBWell Known MemberMember

    One other thing besides what's already been said:

    Is it possible your test kit has gone bad? How old is it? Are you using the API kit listed in your profile?

    Might be worthwhile to get a second Ammonia test kit to double check. Your Nitrates may be staying at virtually 0 due to the frequent water changes. Especially since no fish seem to be affected. I would think you would have some noticeable stress at 8ppm. Just a thought.
  14. Jon25Valued MemberMember

    Currently i only have 3 platy and 2 otocinclus in my tank, could this possibly not be a big enough bio load to build up enough BB in my tank too?
  15. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    I agree. 8 ppm would kill all your fish...

    I didn't know the ammonia test went that high.
  16. EiennaFishlore VIPMember

    This is absolutely plenty of a bioload.
  17. Jon25Valued MemberMember

    After a 90% water change and the addition of TSS my ammonia read .5 ppm last night. Hopefully it stays that way. I checked my tap water to see if the test kit might be bad and it read 0 ppm. Hopefully it was just because I followed the stupid filter instructions instead of coming here first.
  18. LyleBWell Known MemberMember

    Good. I'm not experienced with TSS, so won't comment on how you should proceed, except to say that from my reading here on the forum, you are not to do any water changes for two weeks with TSS. Also, my understanding is that your test results are invalid while using TSS - so don't do any testing or you will be tempted to do water changes - which you shouldn't. :)

    Best of luck.
  19. EiennaFishlore VIPMember

    Correct. Do no water changes and add no additives for 14 days. Just lightly feed. :)
  20. Jon25Valued MemberMember


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