High ammonia levels

iowabucks(5)April 8, 2010

Hey everyone, A friend and i have recently started a minnow tank to try and stay stocked up for the spring and summer. We have run across alot of high ammonia levels and cloudy water. Many minnows have died off. Do we just basicly have to wait out the cycle?

We started with a 55 gallon blue barrel that we cleaned thouroghly and filled with tap water. I have an Auquascape Pond Aeriator 2 adding air. It's rated for a 500 gallon pond but it doesn't seem all that great. I also have a 500 gph pump with a homemade PVC filter on the inlet, housing filter material and some ammo carb to help with ammonia.

We had bought 2 lbs of rosey reds and had a bunch die of after about 2 days. Then the water gets cloudy. We didn't have to add a declorinator because the filtered water sat for 5 days before we added minnows. We are losing about 20 minnows a day. We are planning frequent 5 gallon water changes once a week. Water temp hasn't been over 60 degrees.

After testing the ammonia, it's always high. 6.0 right now. I did buy something to lower the ammonia but only put it in yesterday. Nitrates are good but it says the water is pretty hard. Alkaline is high which has brought the PH up to 6.4.

I have a link to a picture of the filter i built in case anyone wants to see it. It's in my photobucket account. Just copy/paste.


How long would it take a 55 gallon tank with 3 dozen minnows to cycle at 60 degrees?

Anyone see anything out of the normal here that i am doing wrong?

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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Sounds like classic "New tank syndrome" Meaning that the tank has not completed the nitrogen cycle There are many aquarium sites with lots of info on the cycle and how to get it established. gary

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 4:51AM
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I was reading another similar thread last night and that is what i guessed too.

If i was to use pond or stream water, would this speed up the process any faster?

I would guess the stream or pond water itself would already be at this stage, but would the filter need to get the bacteria colonies going before the cycle would be complete?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 1:07PM
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Also found out our city puts flouride into the water. Would that affect the fish at all?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 4:33PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

What you need is for the bacteria level to catch up with the ammonia supply. This takes time lol.
The bacteria you're interested in attach to solid surfaces so changing the water will have no effect.
My advice would be to remove all the fish . Run the system normally and when the ammonia level drops to zero add no more than 6 fish. Check for ammonia and for nitrite. and finally for nitrate . When nitrate shows up it means that the bacteria have expanded enough to keep up with the supply of ammonia. Slowly add more fish keep checing because obviously the bacteria will need to expand to keep up with the expanding ammonia supply.
This process usually takes about 6 weeks . It can be sped up by adding solid objects from cycled water such as gravel,filter material because the approprite bacteria will be attached but in limited numbers .
Ideal readings for most fish are Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0
Nitrate 20 PPM.
Please do some reading on the "Nitrogen cycle" It is simple works without fail but obviously has limits and takes time to develop and equalize.
As to floride I'm not sure but I would guess it is harmless but that might depend on concentration ,species etc. etc. More reaading lol good luck gary

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 5:26AM
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I have done some reading on that since i started this thread. Definately sounds like what is going on.

I realize this all takes time, but would there be any advantage starting out with pond water in the first place? Probably be a fresh filter in it.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 2:44PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

it depend on the water of course and whats in it. Water being a univeral solvent there is no such thing as "pure water.lol So besides all the things that could be disolved in it there are various pathogens by the gazillion.
So without extensive tests it's almost impossible to qualify one water over another.
It will not help speed up the nitrogen cycle in a closed system if that's your thinking??
While the appropriate bacteria are free swimming there are not enough to continue the cycle.
I would start with the cleanest water source to eliminate as many of the nasties as possible to get the cycle going. Another consideration would be pH. What is the preference of the fish you want to keep.??. Most freshwater fish are highly adaptable but it must be done slowly. So it's a good idea to choose a water source that is close to the range your fish prefer. This will save you a ton of work when making water changes.
I'm not familiar with the species you're trying to keep but suspect they would be quite adaptable.
For most people TAP water is the best choice bear i9n mind that they put chemicla in the water to KILL bacteria ,
Usually chlorine but some use chlormines as well as ammonia because chlorine evaporates rapidly. Water conditioners will eliminate these and also lessen the other problem with new water . Heavy metals , not only toxic to fish but to bacteria. be sure to use a water conditioner with both properties especially when starting a new setup.
There are soooo many things that could be in water it's almost impossible to say.
Your pond water may be fine but I guarantee it is brimming with a mutitude of bacteria . gary

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 7:07AM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Surface agitation also helps with ammonia content. If it's not already, rig your pump outlet above the water level.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 11:32AM
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