Water Changes To Lower Ammonia

  • #1
currently doing an fish in cycle with a goldfish. I do daily water changes of about 50 percent. I have been doing two daily for the last two days trying to get the ammonia level down. it is at 1.0 then I do the water change in the morning and then it’s at about .5 but by bedtime it is back up to 1.0

My question is can I do two water changes in a row to get it down to .25?
  • #2
It's good to try to get the ammonia down, but don't forget that water changes are stressful to fish as well. Two 50% water changes is pretty drastic. I'd back off on the feeding, and personally I wouldn't do more than one water change every other day unless your ammonia was off the charts.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
If I skip a day it gets to 2.0 isn’t that to high? Like could kill the fish
  • #4
You can do back to back water changes it won't harm your fish and You can do a bigger water change too your not limited to 50%
  • #5
I have managed tanks that I did 75-90% water changes twice weekly to maintain parameters. The Ammonia is not only stressful but harmful as well.

I personally would do 75% water and another 75% in the evening to get Ammonia down. Be sure you are vacuuming the substrate well and that your filter isn't full of crud. If either the substrate or filter are holding a bunch of mulm and other detritus it may be compounding your Ammonia problem.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Thanks everyone for the replies!

I have been doing two water changes daily of a little more then 50 % I leave my fish in while I’m changing the water so I can’t really do more then like 60 %

I am vacuuming the top layer of some of the gravel the best I can not sure if I’m even doing it right though.
  • #7
Meantime use Prime. It will neutralize ammonia and nitrites for about 48 hours.
  • #8

50% water changes seem pretty drastic to me. You’re basically changing half of the water - which means adding new Ph (unless the ph from your tank is the same from your tap), and this can be very stressful for your fish.

What I would do - daily 25% water changes, no more, and I would feed your fish a very small amount per day (it’ll be just fine). And if the Ammonia is still really high, use Prime to reduce the negative effect. Careful though as it will impact your reading of Ammonia.

If you HAVE to do 50% water changes, I would NOT do two 25% changes, but rather do one change of 50%, pour half of the water in the tank, wait 30 min so your fish gets used to the new water, and then pour the other half.

Hope this works for you.
  • #9
I am vacuuming the top layer of some of the gravel the best I can not sure if I’m even doing it right though.

Just dig the end of the syphon down into the substrate if it's gravel, if it's sand then if you scrape the syphon across the top layer it should kick up the detritus and you can syphon it from the water column. But with gravel you can push the syphon all the way down to the glass to get all that muck out.

As for water change pH issues if your pH is changing dramatically enough to require adjustment in less than 24 hours you should rethink your decor or remineralize your water to a stable kH. Large water changes are not dangerous to the fish (maybe a bit stressful if not your normal deal) if you maintain the tank and water in a stable manner.

Regular large water changes have been a part of my routine in several tanks over the years, and have never lost a fish, even sick fish due to the volume of water being changed. I'm always vigilant about parameters and where necessary make the adjustments needed in addition to temp matching to meet the current parameters in the tank keeping it stable for the fish. Believe it or not I've yet to keep a fish that stressed over large changes when I did them regularly as their routine. And realistically they don't stress much when an occasional large change is required either so long as the water change is done with clean water with the same parameters.
  • #10
hmmm. some very helpful & smart people have given the OP conflicting advice.

for the OP, there are certainly several schools of thought on the volume of water changes.

1. small: more frequent small changes of up to 25% up to twice a day. .. or even less frequently for sensitive species.

2. big: big water changes of 50-75% daily or every other day.

3. medium: water changes between 25-50% daily or every other day.

I'm a big water change advocate myself for ammonia & nitrite problems.

here's a video explaining

that's because ime pH swings of up to .5 have shocked but haven't killed my fish, but ammonia & nitrite have. (also I'm careful to pH & temperature match for water changes.)

but some fish are very sensitive to pH & temperature so I defer to species experts to decide for each fish in cycle. my understanding is that goldfish are pretty robust but I don't keep them myself.

I hope this helps you understand why awesomely good advice can conflict with other excellent advice
  • #11
Love that video Jenoli42, the best video example I've ever see why large is better than multiple in a toxic situation. Keeping in mind of course you must match your parameters.
  • #12
Love that video Jenoli42, the best video example I've ever see why large is better than multiple in a toxic situation. Keeping in mind of course you must match your parameters.
I'm almost sure you're the one who showed it to me?... if not you're certainly the one who taught me most of what I know about fish in cycle problems & kH/pH stuff
  • #13
I'm trying to be educated here.

I guess I'm not ready to be all in on the assumption that some food coloring in water equates to the effects of large water changes on fish. I question the relevance to non- commercial fishkeepers.

If you look a bit at the details, even the video itself is contradictory. The video shows a 50% water change. There is very little effect on the visual properties of the food coloring, Even the video itself say the color represents "a very small change." Then it contradicts itself soon afterward by explaining that the 50% water change would drop ammonia from a 4.0 level to a 2.0 level. Which is it? A very small change? Or a very significant change? IMO the contradiction proves that food coloring does not accurately represent what's happening to water in an aquarium, and certainly doesn't prove anything about the effects of such a water change on fish using conditioned tap water. I believe the reality is that a 50% water change drops ammonia in half. That is not in any way accurately represented by the appearance of the food coloring.

Even when the fish farm does a 100% water change (fascinating by the way), the caption says (paraphrase) "Not for beginners. The replacement water is aged, treated and temperature matched."

Sure, if you have a 60-gallon holding tank in a room upstairs that matches exactly the water parameters and you have a staff of trained experts to efficiently carry out the 100% water change procedure, I have no doubt that a massive water change would be effective.

I don't claim this proves that large water changes are not good. I'm simply questioning whether the video accurately represents what's going on in most home aquariums.

I would suggest that very large water changes done as part of a normal routine would be done only if there are issues that dictate that method, such as high stocking levels (I'm assuming it's not constant water quality issues). I would agree that if it's part of a normal routine the large scale water changes would not stress the fish like they would for most home hobbyists. However, for most people, conditioned tap water is going to have wide enough variation in parameters that too many large scale water changes will stress fish.

I don't dispute that someone with over 1 ppm ammonia needs to address the issue pronto. But I have yet to be convinced that back-to-back water changes of more than 50% are harmless to fish.
  • #14
But I have yet to be convinced that back-to-back water changes of more than 50% are harmless to fish.

To keep from further derailing the question of the OP whole addressing your... Statement...

Large water changes immediately reduce toxins by tremendous amounts. While if not routine (which I'm entirely home aquaria and do them regularly on some tanks, not all) may stress the fish toxins KILL the fish... Pick your poison?

Food coloring video put into perspective. If my son poured say acetone nail polish remover into my tank I'm not going to do 50% back to back water changes. I'm putting tap in a bucket and catching fish... I'm not even going to worry about temps to be honest. That acetone dosed tank? I'm doing the largest possible water change I can. Then I'm doing it again and again and likely gutting the tank depending on size and then I'm putting my now likely been bucketed a couple days washed out stressed out fish back in yet another completely new situation with entirely new water and temps and everything else. Do I expect to see them cruising happily around for a few days? Probably not but they're alive and they will recover from that insane amount of stress way faster than they'll recover from the illness caused by the toxins in the tank had they been allowed to wallow in them.

That food coloring could well have been dyed Ammonia, straight Ammonia, which is the current problem of the OP the coloring allows you to see in a visual form how dispersed it is and how much water it takes to actually made a significant reduction in toxins. 8 ppm of Ammonia and a 50% reduction, not a significant change. 1ppm Ammonia and a 50% water change IS a significant reduction as it brings it to less toxic levels. 8ppm Ammonia I'd absolutely be doing back to back 75% water changes to get my Ammonia down to a manageable level.
  • #15
Acetone nail polish remover? Ok.

I have had ammonia spikes, in excess of 2 ppm. It did not instantly kill my fish. I did a 50% water change, then 25% for three days, and the fish made it through just fine. I'm not disputing that ammonia is toxic to fish, and that if it gets too high you have an emergency situation. Yes, if I had 8 ppm I'd panic too. But the OP was talking about 2 ppm.

I guess I wasn't ever talking about someone adding acetone or having 8 ppm ammonia. Yes, I'd probably tear down my fishroom and start over if that happened. I'd probably find another hobby. I'm just talking about what most people are going to face in a home aquarium.

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