Ridiculously high ammonia levels?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Water' started by katielee, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. katielee

    katieleeNew MemberMember

    Hi everyone, yesterday I bought an ammonia test kit for the first time, so last night I decided to give my tank a good clean and then test the ammonia.

    I cleaned out the guppy trap that sits in the big tank, and the guppy trap is home to 12 fry. I scrubbed the sides of the tank to remove the little dots of green algae. I picked out clumps of grey algae growths in the substrate. I then did a 40% water change, treating the new water with Aqua Master A.C.E. Ammonia Chlorine Eliminator.

    The tank is 143L and about 2 months old. I don't really understand the whole concept of cycling, but I've got a VitaPet Marine Master Aquarium Filter 700, which cycles 700L per hour and is suitable for tanks up to 200L. I have 3 different types of live plant - a rush clump, some aluminium and the last plant is moneywort or something that looks very similar to moneywort. I also have two fake plants, and two ornaments - a castle ruin and a small no fishing sign.

    Live creatures I stock:
    - 3 adult mystery snails
    - 50-100 baby mystery snails
    - 2 rainbow sharks
    - 2 dwarf gouramis
    - 8 neon tetras
    - 5 coloured skirt tetras
    - 2 white clouds
    - 1 young guppy
    - 2 male adult guppies
    - 3 female adult guppies
    - 1 clown loach
    - 12 baby guppies in seperate guppy trap

    My question is why is my ammonia levels so high!?
    Here are my readings as of right now:
    Temperature: 26C / 78F
    pH: Between 7.0 and 7.3
    Ammonia: 4.0 or 5.0 mg/L

    I understand that Ammonia is supposed to be at 0 at all times, but even after my water change last night, the level was still really high.

    Please help me out. My fish seem perfectly happy, the only sign of high ammonia is the red gills on some of the adult guppies.

    Is there anything I can do to lower the ammonia right now, and keep it down in the future? Thankyou so much in advance

  2. slimeneo

    slimeneoValued MemberMember

    Your ammonia is high because your tank is not cycled. Take a look at this: https://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/freshwater-beginners/113036-easy-first-tank-setup-guide.html

    basically, there are good bacteria that makes ammonia into nitrite and other bacteria that converts nitrite to nitrate. Ammonia and nitrite are both lethal/harmful to your fish at any level above 0. Nitrate is only harmful in very, very high amounts (which is partially why it's important to do consistent water changes).

    Change as much water as you can, only leave enough water for your fish to swim upright. If you can, ask your LFS if you can have some mature filter media to cycle your tank much faster. The high amounts of ammonia will harm your fish in the long run, if not kill them. :(
  3. OP

    katieleeNew MemberMember

    Should I remove all of the fish a stir up the gravel and then do the water change? Would the excess waste build up in the substrate be badly affecting the ammonia?
  4. slimeneo

    slimeneoValued MemberMember

    yes, do you have a gravel vac? If not, that would probably be one reason why. you can easily get one at your LFS. If you don't have one yet, I wouldn't move the fish as they are already stressed. You can stir up the gravel a little as long as you try to remove all of the gunk (though it would be much more effective with a gravel vac)
  5. Junne

    JunneFishlore LegendMember

    If you can get to the pets store and get some Seachem Prime, that would really be good. This will dechlorinate your water, as well as detoxify your ammonia levels for 24 hours - meantime, you will need to do at least a 50% water change every day and dose with Prime.
    Make sure you clean the gravel thoroughly EACH time. Then wait 24 hours and retest your waters.

    Also I noticed you have quite a lot of inhabitants in that tank. That will definitely cause ammonia levels to sky rocket. Especially the snails because of the amount of waste they produce. I would look at at least moving the snails if you can or rehoming them.