Water Readings and Possible Concerns

Tumbleweed

Member
I changed my water today about 40% trying to get rid of a high nitrate level. It has been around the 40ppm range and now it is at the 20-30ppm range "Hard to tell using glass tube test kit but color is between index card". The exact readings of the tank are Ph 7.4 Ammonia 12.5 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 20-30ppm. My 2 concerns are
1. How long should it take with weekly to biweekly water changes to get the Nitrate level to go down?
2. My ammonia level. I tested my tap water and found that it has a reading of 20ppm, straight from the faucet.
 

Isabella

Member
Wow, tap water containing 20 ppm ammonia?! This is very scary. I don't have a lot of experience with chemicals altering water parameters, but from what I hear Prime by Seachem is a great dechlorinator that ALSO removes ammonia from water. If you want to use prime, please wait for someone to confirm my information, or ask about it those who know about this product better. I presume your tank is cycled and that the ammonia entirely comes from the tap, correct?

As for lowering the nitrate level, it depends on how stocked your tank is. If it is very stocked, it will be hard to lower it fast and it will take longer to lower it. If the tank is very lightly stocked, you usually have little nitrate even with small and rare water changes. In my 10 gallon tank, I only have 9 neon tetras and I perform 25-30% weekly water changes in this tank. Nitrate ALWAYS = 0 there. I once or twice didn't perform a water change in this tank for 2 weeks, and even after that time nitrate was at zero.

If your tank is very overstocked and you want to keep nitrate very low, you may have to perform water changes even twice a week. In my 30 gallon tank that is temporarily overstocked, I perform 50% water changes TWICE a week to keep nitrate at 5 - 10 ppm.
 
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Mike

Moderator
Member
Did you use any type of dechlorinator such as Aquasafe or StartRight to remove chlorine and chloramine from the tap water? Chloramine contains both chlorine and ammonia which may be the source of your high reading on the ammonia.  The amount of fish in your tank is also contributing to the high ammonia reading. The elephant nose can get to be about 9 inches or more as adults.

Do you know the scientific name of your "dolphin fish"?  The only freshwater fish that I could find was Krobia itanyI or the Dolphin cichlid.  Is that what it is?  

Also, the blue tang is a large saltwater fish (12 inches as adults) that needs a lot of swimming room and a tank of at least 75 gallons  to keep them healthy. Even keeping 2 clownfish in a 6 gallon will prove to be difficult.  You'll experience high nutrient loads which will lead to algae heaven and unstable water parameters.    

Mike
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
Yes I used a a dechlorinate on the water before I used it. I know that my tank is very highly stocked for the moment, I am in the process of getting a new 100-125 gal tank to move all of them into. Same goes for my salt water fish looking for a new 125-150 gal salt water tank. I am not sure of the scientific name for the dolphin fish but I will find out and let you know.
 
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Mike

Moderator
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Tumbleweed

Member
generic brand made for my LFS that I got it from. says to add 1 tsp per 10 gal of water. My main concern is the ammonia level in the tank especially since I tested my water out of the tap and found a reading of 20ppm out of the tap. I am going to retest it to make sure but maybe I need to use more of the dechlorinator
 
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Mike

Moderator
Member
Ok. That's why I was asking for the brand name so I could look it up to see if it actually removed both chlorine and chlorAMine. If the dechlorinator is not eliminating the chloramine then that could be the source of your high ammonia levels and eventually high nitrate levels. I would suggest getting a brand name such as Aquasafe, Amquel or StartRight since these products do in fact neutralize these chemicals. You might also want to tank a sample of your tap water to the pet store and ask them to test it for you to see what kind of readings they get and compare results.
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
Will the mixing of dechlorinator cause any problems or just doing a normal water change and using a different decholornator might help the ammonia level.  If it does not what would be the next step to try and get the ammonia level down?
 
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Mike

Moderator
Member
What I would do:

Get a brand name dechlorinator/dechloraminator, fill a clean, aquarium only bucket with about a gallon of tap water, add the new dechlorinator/dechlorminator and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then test the water in the bucket for ammonia and see what you get. If no ammonia, use this new dechloraminator for a water changes.

If you still get high ammonia readings then you may want to:

filter the water through zeolite before adding the water to your aquarium - . This is not a very practical solution.

OR

Better solution:
Get one of those PUR water filters that mount to your faucet. I think they cost about $30 bucks at walmart or target and they will remove chlorine and chloramine and many other contaminants found in drinking water. I use one of these filters on my faucet and use it for drinking water and for water changes in my saltwater tanks. My tap water has a slight fishy smell and this filter eliminates that smell and makes the water taste better too. This option may be a little more expensive than using just the dechloraminator because the replacement filters are about $12 each and they last me about 3 months.
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
Thanks Mike.

But if I remember right ammonia is converted in to nitrite. If this is true what could cause a elevated level of ammonia and a 0 reading of nitrite?
 
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Mike

Moderator
Member
Your tap water could be high in both ammonia (chloramine) and nitrates. The ammonia just hasn't been converted yet to nitrItes in your tank. Did you test your tap water for nitrAtes too?
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
yes I tested for nitrates in the tap and found it at 0. For now I guess I will just do 30% water changes every other day and I will try a different dechlorinator and test the water from the tap and see what happens.
 

pauliface

Member
I just want to note that I highly recommend Prime. Our 30 gallon tank was having a huge nitrate problem and when we went to find something that would help, the guy at the fish shop tested a sample of our water (which we brought with us of course) in front of us with Prime and it changed within minutes. Also, you don't even have to use that much of it so it last a long time, we only use about a half a capfull every water change. So now that's what we use every water change and have absolutely no problems with nitrate anymore. Hope that helps if you haven't already corrected the problem 
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
I need to try something. I think the Nitrate level will be OK and will go down with more water changes. I was changing the water every other week but now I think if I change it once or twice a week it will be OK. My main concern is the ammonia. here is a pic of my ammonia test of the water right from the tap at my house. I am going to try what Mike said a try a different conidtioner maybe I have chloramine I the water and my current conditioner doesn't' clear it.
 

sasha

Member
OMG I hope yoy don't drink that stuff yuk! if that's what its like out the tap you will probably have a rough time trying to stable the tank,
Hope you can get something sorted out though goodluck!
 

Bugeyed

Member
I'm well into the "inexperienced" category here BUT I do have a PUR filter on my faucet and it takes out a lot of that stuff.
 

Isabella

Member
Mike is absolutely right about something I forgot to mention. There is a large difference between a dechlorinator that removes only chlorine and the one that removes chlorine + chloramine. If your tap water contains chloramine, and your dechlorinator removes only chlorine, it won't do you any good because chloramine will stay in your water and break down into ammonia and chlorine. What you should do is to make a 100% sure which one (chlorine or chloramine) your dechlorinator removes. One question though: Did you test the tap water (that contained 20 ppm ammonia) BEFORE or AFTER dechlorinating it?
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
I tested the tap water with out any dechlorinate in it. I think Mike is right though and my conditioner doesn't say what it actually removes. I just went on my lunch break and bought a bottle of aqua plus conditioner, it says it removes chlorine and chloramine, and I will test it out when I get home and if that works I will be doing a 50% water change tonight as well.
 

Isabella

Member
I use this dechlorinator all the time, and so far it's been working great for me (but my tap water has 0 ammonia, so that's why, lol). It removes chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals. But it doesn't remove ammonia. Now, I'm not sure if it'll remove your ammonia just because it removes chloramine, because as I have said before, chloramine must first break down into chlorine and ammonia before that ammonia can be removed. But if you already have ammonia coming from your tap water, I don't know if Aqua Plus (or any other conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramine) will remove the ammonia. From the products that I've heard about, Prime removes ammonia from the water right away, as well as it removes chlorine and chloramine. There are probably other products too that remove ammonia, but I don't know much about them. Normally, I wouldn't recommend using any commercial products to alter water chemistry (except the basic dechlorinator), but your situation is different as you have ammonia in your tap water.
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
Well the aqua plus does not appear to have any effect of the ammonia in the water.  I am not sure what else to do.  Is the ammonia level high enough that I should worry that it is toxic for them?  I guess that I will go and buy a bottle of Prime and give that a try.  Thanks isabella
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
After I put the prime in the water how long should I wait to test it to see if it had any effect? An immediate test shows no change.
 

Isabella

Member
In my opinion, an ammonia level of 20 ppm is VERY toxic. I say this because ammonia is generally considered dangerous even in very small amounts, so 20 ppm of ammonia has to be very dangerous. As for Prime, I've never used it, so you may want to ask that question someone who has experience with it. The reason I recommended this product is because others (who are much more experienced and knowledgeable than I am) have told me it's very good. I learned about it on plant geek when I was looking for the right dechlorinator for my planted tank. They told me to use it. And by the way, I've learned it not only removes chlorine and chloramine, but also ammonia. You may want to ask about Prime on plant geek - I am sure someone will know about it there. But as with most of the testing, I think it would be best for you to wait 24 hours (after you've added Prime to your water) to test the water for ammonia. But as I have said before, you may ask this on plant geek to be 100% sure. Good luck.
 
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Tumbleweed

Member
OK I just retested the water in my tank and found:

Ph 7.4
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 40ppm

I guess that it must be chloromine in the tap water and it takes 24 hours for the conditioner to take care of it. My nitrate level is still high but I am less consurned about it as I am the ammonia. I plan on doing 30-50% water changes every day for the next week or 2 to get the nitrate levels to go down.
 

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