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Ammonia Frustration

Posted by aqua_jerry 9 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 19, 06 at 15:38

I am at my wits end. I have reduced my population in my 16gal tank as of a week ago. I now have 2 platies, 2 mollies, 1 clown loach (still small), and a rubber lip pleco (pink & small). I have added live plants as well and have been continuing water changes every 2 - 3 days (cut back from 3 - 5 gal per change to 2 - 3 gal per change), changed my filter cartridge, added ammonia removing media to the media cartridge (Emperor 280 PF) and the ammonia levels are still through the roof. All other water conditions (PH, Nitrite, Nitrate) are excellent. Vacuuming gravel every water change. I have even added API Beneficial Bacteria conditioner. Outside of draining the tank completely not sure what else to do. The clown will be moved to the 29g with the angels in a couple of weeks, but I find it hard to believe that this will make a significant difference. I continue to use API Ammo Lock to trap the toxicity. Any ideas?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Ammonia Frustration

You are vaccuming the gravels too much. There are important bacterias in the gravels that eats up the toxic ammonia. AmmoLock sucks and I dont use that brand.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Stop changing the filter cartridge. Good bacteria also establish residence in the filter cartridge as well. If the filter cartridge is gunked up (and with the number of fish you have, this shouldn't happen) - swish and rinse in water you've removed from the tank. Don't rinse under the faucet in case your tap water is highly chlorinated (which will kill the good bacteria).

You just need to be patient. You can't really rush the tank cycling process. Reducing the number of fish is good - because the remaining fish will have a better chance of survival (as the tank is cycling - not all fish always survive the stress of tank cycling).


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

If you don't already know about it, read this page on the nitrogen cycle. It sounds a little complicated at first (at least, it did to me), but it's really quite simple once you're familiar with it. Sorta like addition, I guess.

http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-cycling.html


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

skygee gives good advice, and when you go to set up your 29, use water from the 16 to jump start it.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Regardless of what you say you are massivly over loaded for that small tank.

Water changes once per week 30%
Filter clean weekly in the water you remove from the tank this is a must if not you are killing all the good bacteria and hence continually going through a mini starting up cycle.
Vacume gravel weekly is sufficient yes there is good bacteria there but no where near the amount as in the filter.

When you change the water certainly add a measured amount of Cycle or a similar named good product.

Now what to do immediatly remove as many fish as possible especially the CL and the pleco at the moment you are slowly killing them.

Feed very sparingly every third day it will not kill them what you are doing is killing them

Add as much airation as possible.

Go out and buy some good books about fish keeping. I would be looking for a good LFS as the one you go to now is apprently no help at all.

If those live bearers are breeding pairs your tank will be very over loaded very very soon.

Keith


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Lots of advise and some is conflicting so it makes it confusing. With that said I will add to it.
1) You are definately overstocked for cycling with fish. With your sized tank 2 platy's would be the limit.
2) The amount of water you remove and frequency should be dictated by your daily ammonia level. Cycling with fish keep the ammonia level .5ppm, definately under 1ppm, but some where in between is alright, but as close to .5ppm is best.
3) Things to keep ammonia levels down or less toxic. a) reduce feeding to once every 3 days (less food = less poop = less ammonia) b) When replacing water use a double dose of a water conditioner like "Prime" to detoxify the ammonia. c) keep water temp on the low side like 74F. Ammonia is more toxic the higher the water temp. d) Frequent water changes and proper ammount. You can change up to 85% of the water to keep ammonia levels at target .5ppm daily. The water itself has little to no benificial bacteria, the gravel and decoras well as filter media hosts the bacterias.
4) DON'T add cycle, long story short this stuff ends up defeating its purpose in the end if you don't know what to look for. Cycle is a waste of money, money is better spent on a quality API or similar 2-part reagent ammonia test.
5)The Emporer 280 has a bio-wheel, you can change the filter cartridge as needed with little impact on bacterial growth. The bio-wheel never is cleaned or replaced unless damaged or it cruds up too much to spin. Bio-wheels aren't the best thing for a planted tank though. The added aeration drives off CO2 that plants utilize. But as stated extra aeration is needed to ensure good oxygen levels in the toxic ammonia environment. Fish first, plants second.
6)I agree, don't gravel vacuum as you would in an established tank. Just hoover to pick up any uneaten food, fish poop or debris.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

******When you change the water certainly add a measured amount of Cycle or a similar named good product.*****

I am going to back up this statement by saying first I have had 35+ years experience in fish keeping, and I am very close to double that age.

That infomation has come from several reliable sourses including one of the worlds biggest aquarium suppliers.
Not be scientificly minded this is how it basically works.

The origional good bacteria in your tank does not have a very long life span and mutates its self each time.
Here lies the concern at each mutation it is not exactly the same as the parent. In a short period of time the bacteria which is in your tank is nothing like the origional bacteria desigened to do a particular job that is remove all the bad bacteria.

There is a lot of controvercy about removing water during a cycle period. I know for a fact if I had not done a small water change in my 5ft tank every second day and added a double strength of live bacteria (after a major problem caused by my water supply which killed all my good bacteria) I would have lost all of my fish including all of large Clown Loaches 15+ years old.

Keith


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

First, thanks to everyone for the advice, I have learned allot with my hands on experience and all the replies. Regarding an LFS, one assumes this is readily available, for those that have them, great, for others, that option is not always available. So here's my current status. My 2 Mollies passed, I felt bad as I have been tending to this tank daily. I now have the 2 Platies, the Clown Loach and the Rubber Lip. I changed out 10 gal on Sunday, today Ammonia has significantly improved, very close to 0. PH, good. Nitrate, good, Nitrite, a little high. I have added some aquarium salt (2 tsps) to work this issue.

The 29 gal is doing very well. The 2 Angels are very healthy and happy, as well as the Pleco (I do need to find a new home for him as I repeatedly hear he will reach 24", and I am not ready to obtain a larger tank. Checked with a few stores on returning him, but no resolve. Outside of taking him too a pond when he gets bigger, well not sure).

And then there's Bob, my Blue Pearl Gourami in the 5 gal hex I bought that got me hooked, he is very content and greets us every morning.

So that's where I am at. I would like to move the CL to the 29 gal, but feel the 16 is good for now as he is buds with the platies. Still not sure on friends for the Angels, it's kind of nice not worrying about everything being out of whack.

Thanks again to all. I will keep you posted on my adventure with this wonderful hobby.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Is the 29G and/or the 5G established/cycled?


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

don't move the clown loach into the 29 until you are certain that it has cycled through.

With mollies - I've only had luck keeping mollies in a tank with a high salinity. Especially sailfin type mollies. In the beginning, I went through many many mollies before I learned that they do better in brackish water type settings.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

The 5 gal is cycled, finally. Seems very stable with just the Gourami. The 29 gal is going on week 3, so not sure it has cycled completely. The bio wheels do not appear to be fully cultured as of yet, I could be wrong though.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Sorry to tell you the 29G is still far too small for a CL
I have got to the point of wishing I had bought a 6ft rather than the 5ft for my CLs

Keith


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Keith. Thank you for the feedback. Nothing more would be better than to have the biggest and best tank available. Unfortunately, I have additional responsibilities and a Family to care for as well. With that said, I have been a responsible pet owner for 25+ years. I am new to fish, and I am learning. All of my fish are cared for and tended to as they're a part of the Family. If my loach gets too big, so be it, I will cross that bridge when I get to it. You apparently have been doing this awhile, and, based on your responses have options not available to all. Please keep that in mind when responding to questions for advice, as that is what I came here for, not to be told how I have done everything wrong and, as you put it "slowly killing my fish". I can only imagine how nice your aquatic environments are, that is great. I am doing the best with what I have, my fish are happy, and I tend to their needs.

Regards,

Jerry


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Jerry sorry if my answer offended you, all I was doing was telling you the truth. A question for you if you had my knowledge how would have you answered your concern.

I am in another aquarium site and have answered close to 4000 concerns. Many have said to me that they would prefer the truth rather than an answer which only covered part of the problem.

It looks like I was the only one answering your concern to put it that way, others went around the subject of what would happen to your tank.

In future I will not answer any of your concerns just incase I tell you the truth again.

Keith


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Keith. Your advice has been invaluable, why do you think I went and acquired a 29g tank? I am not asking you to not be truthful, that is the benefit of being an expert in the hobby. Pointing out the issues is what has me where I am now, which is much better than 3 weeks ago. Thank you again.

Still Learning,

Jerry


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

I'm glad to here your ammo level has gone down. When the nitrite gets high and drops to 0 your cycle is done. It takes a long time for water changes to change water parameters. In my 150 gal I neglected water changes for awhile and my ph dropped even though ammo was 0. It must of took 400 gallons of water changes to get it back. Remember your mixing a small precentage of the total volumn with each change. Good luck.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

"******When you change the water certainly add a measured amount of Cycle or a similar named good product.*****
I am going to back up this statement by saying first I have had 35+ years experience in fish keeping, and I am very close to double that age."

Allthough I respect your experience and age I disagree with your opinion about "Cycle". I think....
There is no doubt that it contains bacteria that will "eat" ammonia. The bacteria that is in the product is hetertrophic bacteria. This bacteria will not encorage growth of any other aerobic or anaerobic bacterias. "Cycle" will aid in establishing a complete nitrogen cycle in the aquarium/filter. Most people that need to combat ammonia detoxification when doing a fishless cycle allready have a water conditioner or dechlorinator that detoxifies ammonia. The price of "Cycle" is way more then a quality water dechlorinator and only does one function. I have done my own experimentation with "Cycle". It has never helped with the establishing a nitrogen cycle, in fact it has actually delayed one.
I'm confused about the statement reguarding the bacteria having a short life span. If the aquarium bacteria dies quickly in an aquarium wouldn't you think it would die quicker in a bottle with no food source on a shelf for who knows how long. Actually the only time the beneficial bacterias die is if the are robbed of a crucial element. Like how a fire is extinguished, remove either oxygen supply, fuel or ignition source and it will go out. The aerobic bacterias need oxygen, water flow, darkness and "food" or ammonia. The anaerobic bacterias the same except oxygen, very little to none. There is always hetertrophic bacteria in an established aquarium. If you loose balance of the necessary bacterias it can cause death of one or more types. The unbalance can crash pH or severly damage the bio-filter itself and may take a while to right itself. This usually results in a cloudy tank and fish illness or death.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Oohhhh kay. I really don't understand why so many people on this forum use ammonia-absorbing chemicals like zeo-lite. THIS IS VERY BAD! When you put this in your tank, it will suck up the ammonia, but it will starve any beneficial bacteria in your filter cartridge and you will either have a faulty cycle or none at all. As soon as the ammonia absorbing media becomes full, it will not suck up anymore and ammonia will intoxicate your aquarium. One more draw back is that if there is any salt in the water, the ammonia absorbing media will release ALL of the ammonia back into the water. This is probably another reason why you are experiencing poor water quality.

You guys should not use these things in your aquariums. The traditional nitrogen cycle is much more stable and safe if you treat it right. The only reasons anyone should be using it is if A) it is a tank is under 5 gallons and is having trouble cycling (sometimes small tanks are like that) and it is very lightly stocked, or B) it is only a temporary set up like a quarentine tank or hospital tank and you do not have extra media to start a cycle.

Sorry if this sounds rude, but I feel like I'm talking to a wall every time I try and explain the dangers of these products. Do people not believe me or what?


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

littlehippygirl.....I am curious as to how long you have been in the fish hobby and what your OWN experiences are.........and where you are getting your information from.

Many of the products mentioned, have their uses. Using zeolite is not bad......it has its uses and is a useful product when used for what its supposed to be used for. Read the labels and use them for what they are intended for.

Quote "Sorry if this sounds rude, but I feel like I'm talking to a wall every time I try and explain the dangers of these products. Do people not believe me or what?" end Quote

Ohhhhh weeeeeeeeeeeee hear ya loud and clear!!!...and I have to say I don't agree with many of the posts that I have read of yours.

Here is another quote from your post that I don't agree with.

Quote "it is a tank is under 5 gallons and is having trouble cycling (sometimes small tanks are like that)"

Why would you think a small tank has more trouble cycling than a large one? If the cycling is done properly, it won't matter the size of the tank.

An easy way to cycle a tank quickly is to do a regular water change in your existing tank and put that old water into the new tank.

Sierra


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Zeolite is fine to remove ammonia. When used to remove ammonia, such as like establishing the nitrogen cycle, It should be changed or "regenerated" at the time of PWCs. While it is true that salt will "release" the ammonia zeolite traps, it won't happen as long as the salt isn't added after the zeolite has been allowed to absorb the ammonia. It is questionable about the ammount needed to remove the ammonia. Usually a very salty brine is used to regenerate the zeolite. For example, house hold water softeners. The water softener is filled with a resin that removes calcium and magnessium, usually the resin is zeolite. Every so often the water softener needs to be regenerated, thats why people add water softener salt. The salt removes the calcium and magnessium from the zeolite. Anyway, if the zeolite is new or has been regenerated adding it to already "salty" water will not release any ammonia because the zeolite doesn't contain any, yet. It will still absorb ammonia to a certain point, depending on the salinity of the water. In most freshwater cases, and even brakish and marine, there is no harm of releaseing ammonia as long as the salt is already there in the water before the zeolite. Besides the use of removing ammonia (and some calcium and magnessium) it is a great supplement for plants, zeolite is an aluminum silicate. Aquatic plants need a source of aluminum.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Woe, how is that plant tank doing? Any new pics for us?

Sierra


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Fine, I'm outta here. I'm a moderator on another forum and I've got a couple other forums that I'm much more apreciated at. There are awards going on right now on one of them, and I've been nominated by many for Tropical Knowlege, Betta Knowlege and even the Member of the Year award, and that forum has more than 6,500 members. I won't waste my time any longer because clearly, people do not know how to accept or even acknowlage good advise when it is given. Best wishes to your fish.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Sierra, the plant tank is doing fine, a little over grown at the moment. I had a bad outbreak of Blue Green Algae and green hair algae in a plant only. I think I may have double dosed the iron after doing a water change. I got real busy after the change and didn't even look at the tank for a month until the wife complained the my "stinky fish" really stunk. I was horrified to see a tank full of plants smothered by the stuff. Some actually survived after cleaning them off. It ends up I am moving to a different state. I am down to just the 29G again. I think I will sell or give away the plants except for a huge java fern that is growing on driftwood. The fish I'll give away also. Maybe this week I'll take a new pic after I give the tank a good pruning and clean some spot algae off the inside of the glass.
Little hippy girl, I am truly sorry you feel that way. The way I look at it, if I firmly believe something to be fact, I research the crap out of it to find the facts. Sometimes we are mislead by partial facts from otherwise reliable sources. This has happened to me way too often, so I go the extra mile to get other information and ideas. I do appreciate your thoughts, even if I disagree sometimes. It's just discussion to learn from each other and firm up what you have learned. Disagreements are inevitable with discussion. Experience, age and other credentials are useful, but can't change fact. If I am wrong about this matter (zeolite)and have been misinformed, or I misunderstood, any help in clearing it up would be beneficial to me. In that case I like my crow with garlic and a side of fries.

Here is a link that might be useful: One of many


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

Woe, your right about the zeolite.

Opps blue green algae really is stinky stuff. LOL. So do you plan on setting up tanks again once you are settled? I moved my whole fishroom once....don't think I would ever do that again. LOL! Post the pic if you have a chance....if not keep us posted when you are settled and have a look at the fish stores in your new area. Maybe a chance to get some different plants and fish...you never know.

littlehippygirl...I don't get why you didn't answer the questions.....if you are right, stand by your beliefs and show us the facts and source of info. Being a moderator on a forum or having beginning fish keepers listen to you....doesn't tell us how much experience you have and where you collect the info you give. Beginners don't know what is right and what is wrong...so they just listen. Advanced aquarist, will always question, something that doesn't sound right.

I don't like crow and ain't about to eat any with or without garlic and fries. ;-)

Sierra


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

"Advanced aquarist, will always question"

Darned right. The day I can't question conventional wisdom or learn something new, I'm getting rid of my fish.

I'm an advanced horsekeeper too, and have no memory of not being on, under, cleaning or emergency doctoring them, for 65 years.

But every day, there is something new to learn, either because of advancements in medicine or technology, or, the most usual teacher: the horse.

Nothing will make a liar out of you faster than an animal you think you understand, including fish.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

There are a lot of things that I don't necessarily agree with - but primarily because this is advice that I've found does not work for me. I think that it's not always that easy to simply say do this or don't do that and if someone else comes along and says - hey wait, but doing that worked for me... or not doing that was definitely not what worked for me - or whatever the combination. I usually rack it up to different water perameters - and that some things will work for one person because their natural water source is different from mine.

It's also just not worth it getting frustrated over people who ask for advice, but then clearly don't follow it. What's offered here is advice and suggestions from wisdom garnered from either research or experience or usually a mix of both. But none of us here can force feed wisdom into those that post here brains. Sometimes there are people who just will always choose the hard road. One can only hope that at some point, they do learn the lessons along the way.


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

"Sometimes there are people who just will always choose the hard road. One can only hope that at some point, they do learn the lessons along the way."

What I have found over the years....is that these type of people don't stay in the hobby very long. Mostly because they just want the pretty colour fish tank as a decoration or worse yet.....a novelty for a short while. They don't want to work at it and learn .....that takes time and effort and they don't want to be bothered. Wisdom, comes from learning and making mistakes along the way...and research, research and more research.

Some good advice might be....If it ain't broke, don't fix it. ;-)

Sierra :-))


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RE: Ammonia Frustration

yeah - I hear what you're saying.

I will admit, I don't go water testing all the time. And I definitely don't use chemicals in the pond unless absolutely necessary (which has only been once in all the time I've been ponding!!) I have various other wildlife that uses the pond for a drinking source, so I have to think good and long before I'll actually use any sort of product in the pond. It'll usually get one algae bloom in the late spring - which clears up with a water change. Ponds are not supposed to be a sterile environment is how I see it - if you got the balance going - why ruin it with chemicals?

With my indoor tanks, I use the power of close observation. Again - really hate using any sort of antibiotics if I don't have to. It's a b*tch to try and get the filter back in balance after antibiotics or other meds. I've found that as long as I'm regular on maintenance, my fish are happy.

:)


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