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rocmills

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Well, son of a gun!

I stopped on the way home from work today to buy more zeolite and lots of filter floss, as recommended. But when I got home, Ricki hasn't a single mark on him! Hurray! I can't believe it. At least I am now prepared for the next time this happens.

Thank you to everyone for the concern and support and encouragement; I couldn't a done it without you folks cheering me on.

--Roc

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... and the really weird part is that the water is still testing at 1-2 ppm with the new API drop kit. So I guess I will continue to treat the water and add that zeolite I bought today (and stuff the filters with foam). I'm just glad Ricki is doing so much better and that the others don't show signs of distress, either.

--Roc

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I'm glad your fish is feeling better. The ammonia level is troubling, though: Perhaps you should re-test the tap water, see how much ammonia, nitrite, etc you are adding when you do a water change. How are the nitrites and nitrates in your tank? You haven't mentioned them in a while...

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Penguin,

I was thinking of ditching the Red Sea kit entirely and going out to buy a nice full range API kit (i only bought the ammonia kit the other day). So I will be running a full battery of tests on tank, tap, and hospital tank later today after I've had a chance to get out to the store.

Ricki seems back to her old self now, no bottom sitting, swimming around with the other fishies.

Even Luc is looking pretty good today.

(oh, and thanks for adding me to your friends list - i think your the first to do so, thanks again for the warm fuzzy)

--Roc

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Before a water change, with the new API test kit:

ph: 6

Nitrite: 1

Nitrate: 40

Amm: 2

Is that pH too low? What are the ideal readings I should be shooting for? I know ammonia should be at zero, and I thought pH was supposed to be 7.5... what are the proper readings for the others?

--Roc

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It looks bad. pH of 6 is very dangerous. I suspect your kH is slipping which means the pH could plunge farther and if it does can kill your fish fast. I'm sorry to sound so sinister but pH is a killer when it gets this acidic.

You need to immediately add a tablespoon of baking soda, perhaps more but start there and check pH after- it picks up the pH temporarily. You need to look at stabilising that longterm. You may need to add coral or limestone in the filter or as substrate. These slowly release carbonates that stabilise pH. pH must be above 7 at all times. Higher is always better than lower since alkaline water is less lethal on the points scale

Ammonia at 2 is also very scary. Some fish die in exposure of 2 ppm over 2 days. That really has to be lowered. Nitrites at 1 is also dangerous. Must be zero. Nitrites interfere with the fishes ability to transport oxygen and vital nutrients from the water. Nitrites damage gills.

Nitrates are getting high. They should always be kept under 40, although right now these are the least of your worries priority wise.

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Trinket,

Added a dose of pH stabilizer just now, and will do so again this afternoon after water change.

GH is back to 180, but KH is still at dead zero. The tank is heavily aerated, though, so that should be of some help, yes?

I will also finish off the bottle of Cycle when I change the water. The HOBs are positively stuffed with zeolite, so I don't know what more I can do there. Am filtering 955 gallons per hour in a 55 gallon tank.

What can I do to help the carbonate hardness get back where it belongs? Is that what the coral or limestone is for? I'll see if I can pick some up today.

The ammonia is down from 5 to 2, I think a few more days will see it level off finally.

--Roc

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No coral or limestone at the lfs, sigh.

As mentioned in Mouth Rot thread, though, I did pick up three bottles of stuff that are each supposed to help jump start a cycle and keep all the readings, even Kh and Gh, stable. Am about to do a 75% water change on the tank... already "cleaned" the filters (rinsed everything in tank water) and will do a full battery of tests after I have changed the water and added the various treatments. There are six bags of zeolite in the filters of the main tank (each bag supposedly for a 50 gallon tank), and they are less than a week old (supposed to be good for a month).

--Roc

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Readings after a 75% water change and treatment...

pH: 7.0

Nitrate: 10

Nitrite: 0

Amm.: 1

GH: 180

KH: 180

Note that Gh and Kh are tested with strips (the same strips that were previously reporting 0 for KH), all other tests are from API drop kit.

--Roc

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Good job. Much better. Strange that your kH has done such a huge turnaround. Since your source water seems to be so unpredicatble I still recommend you get your hands on some coral shells or gravel to add to help there. I use coral small stones as substrate - large amounts- as my kH is so crazy.

Otherwise you are doing really well. Everythings going down/stabilising. BTW I said in your mouth rot thread that the zeolite lasts a week, you say a month, different products work differently but I should be wary of them lasting the full month. The ammonia readings will warn you there.

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It's great to see that your water is back to a safe condition, and Ricki is feeling better. The 1ppm ammonia from the tap sure isn't helping, though...

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Cripes!

So I just read the information on the bottle for Ammo Lock - it removes the harmful ammonia but will still cause a FALSE POSITIVE reading when testing!

Here's what it says:

Ammo lock doesn't remove ammonia. In converts ammonia to a non-toxic form. So test kits will still show positive for ammonia. A positive ammonia test after 7 days may indicate overfeeding or overstocking. The biological filter of the aquarium will consume the non-toxic form of ammonia, converting it first to nitrite than to nitrate.

Maybe this is why Ricki looks so much better but I am still getting high readings with the drop kit. I've already committed to keeping zeolite in the HOBs, but how am I supposed to get an accurate reading of the harmful ammonia if Ammo Lock gives false positives? Maybe that ammonia meter I bought and then threw away after a week because it kept saying there was no ammonia... maybe the meter wasn't defective after all. Crap. Now what?

--Roc

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Yours is a complicated issue with the disease and tap water params, but if you could do a big water change with AmQuel+ (for the ammonia in the tap) and forgo the Ammo-Lock and zeolite; then test the water afterwards.

However, it seems you're in a very delicate balance with your water conditions, and I wouldn't suggest doing anything that will cause a cataclysmic cycle crash. Hopefully someone else will have more educated advice.

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i have ammonia in my tap water too which is making it hard because most of my tanks arent cycled yet. i have had good luck with amquel+ to keep my water from becoming dangerous to my fish. my tests still show positive for ammonia so i know my bacteria hasnt grown completely yet but with amquel in the water, it makes it safer for the fish (i'm still religiously changing water too). when i originally discovered the ammonia levels in my water, someone gave me THIS LINK to read about prime which is very similar to amquel+ and ammo-lock. maybe this will help?

me and my fishies are all rooting for you and your gang!

edit for spelling (doh!)

Edited by liz_okerson

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I have done "big" water changes, do so every weekend as a matter of fact. I drain the tank until there is barely enough water for the fish to move around in, I figure at least 75%.

And I treat the water with Stress Coat which removes chlorine, chloramines, and ammonia from the tap.

I think the real problem may be the Ammo Lock after all.

I will continue with the zeolite and ammo chips and stop using the Ammo Lock and see what readings I get after a few days. On Sunday, I'll do another 75% change and take readings then.

I do have a bottle of Prime which I will probably put to use this weekend.

--Roc

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Hi Rocmills - I have just read your whole thread and thought I would offer some thoughts.

Firstly I think it is imperative that you have a test kit which you can be sure is giving accurate results.

I'm not clear on which of your testers you are now using - can you confirm? As far as I know, Red Sea is a marine kit and not suitable for Freshwater testing.

I think it would be a good idea to test your tap water before each change, to determine what needs treating. Can you tell us the tap results with your next post?

Regarding Ammo-Lock - it can bind up to 3ppm and as much as 6ppm with a double dose; the harmful ammonia is converted permanently into less harmful ammonium, whilst still leaving it available to your filter, unlike zeolite/ammo-chips. However, the test kit will read the total ammonia in your tank (free and bound) which is where the 'false positive' reading comes into play.

I think it would be good to decide on ONE product to condition your water, rather than using several ammonia/chlorine detoxifyers - that will keep things a little more simple.

Amquel binds ammonia permanently - whereas Prime holds only for 24 hours. It is up to you to decide which one you personally prefer, but I would say that Prime is good in that it does not affect an accurate reading. Amquel with a salycilate kit like API is fine, too. Stress coat as well would be unnecessary.

If your tap tests regularly for low KH, I would order Buff it Up from Rick at the GFC; many members here say it is the best and most stable buffer they have found.

At some point, I guess you will have to scale down your zeolite/ammo chips to help strengthen the cycle again.

Anyway, I think some tap results will be very helpful is turning this whole thing around - let us know when you can. :)

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Pixie!

Good to hear from you again, and thanks for dropping by.

Actually, Red Sea (like many other manufacturers) makes both fresh and salt water test kits; I have Fresh Lab... but since I was questioning its results, I bought an API kit last week and gave up on the Fresh Lab.

Here are my readings as of just a few minutes ago.

TAP:

pH: 7.6

Amm.: 0

Nitrate: 5

Nitrite: 0

GH: 180

KH: 240

TANK:

pH: 6.4

Amm.: .25 -.50

Nitrate: 40

Nitrite: 0

GH: 180

KH: 40

So I still need to bring the pH up a wee bit along with the KH; the nitrite/nitrate cycle needs to kick in... I think the ammonia is under control, or getting there.

I have both Amquel and Prime, though I haven't used them yet... or not until just now, I did add some Amquel and some pH regulator after I did the tests above. 75% water change scheduled for Sunday, maybe Saturday if I can manage it.

--Roc

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TAP:

pH: 7.6

Amm.: 0

Nitrate: 5

Nitrite: 0

GH: 180

KH: 240

TANK:

pH: 6.4

Amm.: .25 -.50

Nitrate: 40

Nitrite: 0

GH: 180

KH: 40

Well, this is something of a puzzle! I was expecting a very low KH to be the cause of your PH problems, but instead, at 240 it should be more than high enough to hold things steady. I guess it is possible your strips may not be 100% if they are old or have been exposed to any degree of humidity (it's just the KH and GH which are strip tests, right?).

But if they are reasonably correct, the PH/KH should not be sliding downwards.

A couple of possibilities:

Amquel has sometimes been known to drop the PH (Amquel Plus doesn't have this propensity); I also wonder if several detox conditioners used at once could undermine the PH? Not sure if I'm entertaining a false notion here, but with several ammonia fixers I'm thinking it may be a possibility.

Do you have any bogwood? This acidifies the water.

Do you have a CO2 unit for plants in the tank? Carbon di-oxide when dissolved in water lowers the PH.

One other thing you could try with the tap water is to fill a jug; test it immediately and then again 12 and 24 hours later. If you see a drop, it may be that the buffers the w/board are using are not stable.

BTW - I did a little reading for you about the Red Sea kits; they have received quite a few bad reviews for their unreliability, so it's good you have bought the API.

For now you'll have to keep a very close eye on the PH/KH to prevent any further drops. Daily, partial changes may be more steady on the PH than 3 daily large change-outs. Try the jug test and let us know the results.

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Pixie,

Well, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one boggled by this situation.

I figured the horrible ammonia spike, which probably went unnoticed and unattended for a week or more, was responsible for the overall cycle crash in the tank. Now I figure I'm just struggling to re-establish the cycle and get things back to where they were. On the other hand, if I'm wrong about what caused the crash then I am stumped about 1) how to fix it; and 2) how to prevent it from happening again. Of course, I don't know what caused the ammonia spike or how to prevent that from happening again, either. Sigh.

To address some of your questions...

Bogwood? I don't think so. We have a bit of driftwood that has been the tank for about a year now, maybe even longer. No CO2 units. We have lots of bubbles for aeration, 1 ornament which has been in the tank as long as the fish have, and one rock which has also been in the tank as long as the fish have. That's it. There isn't room in the tank for us to be adding stuff, so we don't. The only new thing that has gone in the water recently was one of those veggie clips that looks like a cartoon fish with a suction cup.

So when I do the big water change on Sunday, what do you recommend I treat the water with? I have Prime, Amquel, and Stress Coat - all of which claim to do essentially the same thing. I have no personal preference, but if you favor one over the other than I am willing to give that a shot. If you think I should go out and buy some Amquel Plus, I can do that too. I'll look on my shelves, see what else I've picked up in the last couple of weeks... I think I do have a couple bottles of other stuff that is supposed to jump start a tank cycle, but aren't tap water conditioners.

Am I okay using the powdered pH Neutralizer, or should I give that a rest?

--Roc

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Okay, here is my current stock of water conditioners and treatments. I don't use them all at once, though I have been known to use 2 at a time.

API Stress Coat+

API Ammo Lock

Seachem's Clarity (to clear up cloudy water)

Cycle

Neutral Regulator (for controlling low and high pH)

Tetra EasyBalance with Nitraban

Prime

Amquel+

Everything but the Clarity was purchased in the last few weeks.

Then there are the left over meds from my mouth rot thread, but I'll be chucking most of those out as they are several months old now and I don't think I need them anymore. I'd rather buy fresh if the need arises again. And a bottle of potasium permawhathaveyou for emergency disinfection.

--Roc

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Hang on - powdered neutralizer? Which product exactly is that? ie which brand and what do the details say? PH neutral is 7.0 - so if your tap is 7.6, a neutralizer will soften and lower the PH. This is the opposite of a buffer which hardens water and raises PH. Can you clarify this?

Just to be clear - an ammonia spike is normally the result of a PH crash rather than the cause of it. The most common scenario is that nitrate (acid) climbs high and exhausts the KH (alkalinity) capacity of the water which then causes the PH to slide downwards into acidity; the result is that the beneficial bacteria are killed off by the acidic conditions and in their absence the ammonia and nitrites begin to spike.

The other way a crash can happen is through running meds which kill off your BB's.

I think the jug test with the tap water is a good first step toward understanding what's going on with your water source. See if the numbers remain the same after the jug has been sitting for 24 hours. It isn't scoring for ammonia which is good, but we have to understand what is causing the KH and PH to drop. After the jug, I would begin testing the tap every day for the coming week, to see if there is any fluctuation in the PH etc.

You forgot to tell us when and how much the last w/change was - I'm trying to guage how fast the PH is dropping.

I'd leave the Amquel and Ammo-lock for now and just try Prime for your next change.

With all that zeolite in the tank there shouldn't be any amm showing - so perhaps your large fish have exhausted the zeolite OR..... are you using any salt? That will cause the zeolite to drop its ammonia back into the tank.

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Well, EXPLETIVE!

Yes, I have been salting the water at 1 teaspoon per gallon after the Sunday water change. I thought that was helping! <grumble grumble> <bangs head against desk>

Okay... the pH Neutralizer <Neutral Regulator (for controlling low and high pH)> states that it will either raise low pH or lower high pH ... it is supposed to give me a pH of 7.0 period. I've added it to the tank twice now (once yesterday and once a week or so ago). I got it when I was worried that low pH was giving Luc grief in the hospital tank.

Oh, before I forget, I ordered that Buff It Up from GFC along with a bottle of their super water conditioner and some after-illness food for Luc who is still in the hospital tank and lost a little weight during his mouth rot battle.

Now, you say the pH crash is what started the ammonia problem, not the other way around? That's good to know... in that case, I definitely think it was the transition in city water source that caused the problem. Also, have not had any meds in the water of this tank, so that can't be what started this off. Mystery solved on that front, now I just have to remember that they will switch water sources again after summer has ended.

Last water change was 6 days ago, 75%, which I will do again either today or tomorrow.

Next water change will be with Prime only, no other treatments or additives - NO SALT! I will also dump the bags of zeolite I have in there now and will start using the Ammo Chips I bought earlier this week since they are fresh and new. And you've inadvertently answered my question about the Ammo Chips - the carton says they are "rechargable" by soaking them in a tub of salt water... so now it makes sense to me and I understand why the problem has continued so long. Shot myself in the foot, so to speak, by salting the water. <bangs head on desk one more time for good measure>

Does it have to be a jug of water, or will a small bottle suffice?

Going downstairs now to apologize to the fish for putting them through this and offer some peas...

Thank you, Pixie, for all your help!

--Roc

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Yes, I have been salting the water at 1 teaspoon per gallon after the Sunday water change.

So, that explains your ammonia problem. :thud

Okay... the pH Neutralizer <Neutral Regulator (for controlling low and high pH)> states that it will either raise low pH or lower high pH ... it is supposed to give me a pH of 7.0 period.

So for future reference, as your tap is 7.6, the best solution would have been to make a very large change, followed by daily partial changes to keep the PH steady. A PH of 7.0 is not helpful to your situation as it holds less alkalinity than your tap.

Oh, before I forget, I ordered that Buff It Up from GFC along with a bottle of their super water conditioner and some after-illness food for Luc who is still in the hospital tank and lost a little weight during his mouth rot battle.

Very good move. BTW - which mouth-rot med did you run?

Now, you say the pH crash is what started the ammonia problem, not the other way around?

An ammonia spike in an established tank is a sign of filter failure; usually the result of BB die-off either caused by PH crash, or toxic meds; or the rapid growth or introduction of new fish, which deliver more ammonia than the BB colony can keep up with.

Remember - ammonia is alkaline, so IT cannot cause a PH crash. As it's converted through nitrite, its end product, nitrate, is acidic, which is why very high nitrates and/or too long between water changes can crash the PH.

Last water change was 6 days ago, 75%, which I will do again either today or tomorrow.

Like I said before - when you are having cycling or PH problems, daily changes are preferable to 6/7 w/c's with adjusters and other chemicals thrown in as management. If the tank was reading for ammonia and nitrite yesterday, it will be even higher by today/tomorrow, so really shouldn't wait..

You currently have 3 gfish and 2 plecs in your 55g so the amm output from all of them is very high. The bacterial count of harmful bugs will also rise quickly in this space. It may well be that they are starting to need more water and more filtration

Next water change will be with Prime only, no other treatments or additives - NO SALT!

Great! Test the water daily thereafter to chart the rise in amm or any change in PH.

I will also dump the bags of zeolite I have in there now and will start using the Ammo Chips I bought earlier this week since they are fresh and new.

If you are not able to do daily changes at the moment, I guess the A-Chips will be the next best thing, but remember that they will not be helping your cycle ; they suck up the ammonia needed by the BB's for sustenance. At some point you are going to need to re-cycle. You should let your water results dictate the amount and regularity of the w/c's.

And you've inadvertently answered my question about the Ammo Chips - the carton says they are "rechargable" by soaking them in a tub of salt water... so now it makes sense to me and I understand why the problem has continued so long. Shot myself in the foot, so to speak, by salting the water. <bangs head on desk one more time for good measure>

Well, these things happen - I'm just glad we got to the bottom of it, as I knew there had to be a logical answer.

Does it have to be a jug of water, or will a small bottle suffice?

Not a bottle with a lid - a bowl, a large mug or glass. You want it open to the air and to see if the PH is changing by itself.

Apart from this, your two jobs are; testing the tank every day and testing the tap PH every day to monitor any PH swings in the source water.

Going downstairs now to apologize to the fish for putting them through this and offer some peas...

Thank you, Pixie, for all your help!

My pleasure, hun :D

--Roc

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BTW - which mouth-rot med did you run?

The better question would be which ones didn't I run. Seriously, with Trinket's help we tried dern near everything on the market... but what finally did the trick was Binox. If Luc keeps up the way he has in the last couple of weeks, we may finally be able to put him back in the main tank. He's been in isolation since New Year's Eve (the thread is Battling Mouth Rot).

So, I've set out a bottle of water to perform daily pH tests on, and I will also test tap and tank daily for the next week.

As for additional filtration, that was the very first thing we did when the ammonia spiked. In the 55 gallon tank, we are now filtering 955 gallons per hour. I couldn't get another filter in there if I wanted to, unless I removed the top (not an option, these guys like to jump) and added HOBs to the front of the tank.

So you're saying I shouldn't bother with the Ammo Chips? If I do a 75% change and ammonia goes down, I should just keep an eye on the ammonia levels and do water changes accordingly? I removed the zeolite this morning, and was getting ready to add the Ammo Chips - but if that is going to inhibit the cycle, I'd rather do more water changes even if it is a bit tedious.

I know these guys need a bigger tank, actually what they need is a pond, but a larger tank isn't in the budget at the moment. I've got my eye on a couple of tank stores in town, hoping for a sale or maybe a trade in. I found one tank that is significantly larger than our existing tank, but has about the same width so we could keep it in the same place the current tank is located. I worry about the added height, though, as this may interfere with the HOBs.

--Roc

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Saturday pH readings:

Main tank: 6.0

Tap: 7.6

Bottle: 7.6

Hospital tank: 7.0

So it looks like the regulator I used in the hospital tank is working as it seems to be holding steady at 7.0

Will test and post results daily.

--Roc

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