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Water Changes Not Reducing Ammonia


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I have a 5 gallon tank that is housing two small goldfish. I know, it's too small and I'm going to be getting my larger tank this weekend. right now, my ammonia is sky high at 8.0. My ph is low 6.4 and I have 0 Nitrates and Nitrites. I have been doing daily water changes, and the other day I removed 3 of the 5 gallons. My tap water does not show any signs of ammonia, but after the water changes my levels remain the same.

Yesterday, a co-worker gave me some of her gravel from her established tank, as I am hoping it has some bacteria on it, and I'll be getting some more gravel and poop water from another co-worker tomorrow. In your opinions, do you think my tank is not cycling because they fish are in confined quarters? they are doing very well. No red streaks, they have a vicarious appetite, (I'm not over feeding them, they get a little pinch twice a day of pellets and saki hakkai sticks. I know I spelled that incorrectly) they come up and give my finger kisses, they are playing and look the same as they did when I purchased them 3 weeks ago.

I'm at my wits end. Should i continue with my daily water changes as well, even though it doesn't seem to be helping?

Edited by teetsymomo
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I have a 5 gallon tank that is housing two small goldfish. I know, it's too small and I'm going to be getting my larger tank this weekend. right now, my ammonia is sky high at 8.0. My ph is low 6.4 and I have 0 Nitrates and Nitrites. I have been doing daily water changes, and the other day I removed 3 of the 5 gallons. My tap water does not show any signs of ammonia, but after the water changes my levels remain the same.

Yesterday, a co-worker gave me some of her gravel from her established tank, as I am hoping it has some bacteria on it, and I'll be getting some more gravel and poop water from another co-worker tomorrow. In your opinions, do you think my tank is not cycling because they fish are in confined quarters? they are doing very well. No red streaks, they have a vicarious appetite, (I'm not over feeding them, they get a little pinch twice a day of pellets and saki hakkai sticks. I know I spelled that incorrectly) they come up and give my finger kisses, they are playing and look the same as they did when I purchased them 3 weeks ago.

I'm at my wits end. Should i continue with my daily water changes as well, even though it doesn't seem to be helping?

By all means continue with daily water changes. Are you using Prime to help reduce the ammonia levels? Prine will help to reduce the ammonia until your BB establishes itself. Also some Nutrafin Cycle would help establish BB to help get the tank cycled.

Edited by blackteles
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Wow. I don't think the ammonia could be 8.0 without them showing major signs of distress! What kind of test kit are you using and how old is it?

I'm glad you're getting a bigger tank. I just want to say that it's a bad idea to get "poop water" from your friend's tank. The gravel is an okay idea as long as you think the tank is very healthy (even then there is a slight risk). But dirty water won't do a thing for you because the beneficial bacteria that convert the harmful waste into less harmful forms don't live in the water at all. They live on surfaces, so filter media and the very top layer of gravel.

Your pH is too low and is dangerous at this point. Can you get a small bag filled with crushed coral to put in the filter box? This will gradually raise your pH to a safe level.

Edited by Sakura
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Agreed on the pH at 6.4....can you get something such as Buff-It-Up to increase the pH? pH levels should be 7.6 or higher for your GF...6.4 pH will definitely stress them as they need that higher pH.

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feed less, i would be feeding every second day and only once per day. you really do have a small tank and it's great that you are getting a new one so soon. infact, i would wait for the gravel and use it to help the new tank to cycle rather than put it in the 5 gallon.

for the 5 gallon, seeing as it's such a small tank, i would be doing two water changes per day. with this and the restricted feeding, the ammonia should come down pretty quickly and the routine will keep it under control. as the others have said, the ph needs to rise.

have you tested for nitrites?

what is the reading of the ph straight from the tap? if it's at a good level and you're doing 2 large water changes per day until the new tank comes this should sort it out for the time being, but it's not a permenant fix. if the ph from the tap is too low, then yes, get some crushed coral as sakura suggested or some ph buff it up as blacktele's suggested.

what size tank are you getting this weekend? try to get as big as possible with a minimum of 30 - 40 gallons and a good filter.

good luck.

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Perhaps there is something wrong with the tests- like Sakura, I'm a bit skeptical that 1) your goldfish are not visibly bothered by the 8.0 ammonia and 2) that after changing more than 50% of the water, your ammonia doesn't change.

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my ammonia is sky high at 8.0. My ph is low 6.4 and I have 0 Nitrates and Nitrites. I have been doing daily water changes, and the other day I removed 3 of the 5 gallons. My tap water does not show any signs of ammonia, but after the water changes my levels remain the same.

Perhaps there is something wrong with the tests- like Sakura, I'm a bit skeptical that 1) your goldfish are not visibly bothered by the 8.0 ammonia and 2) that after changing more than 50% of the water, your ammonia doesn't change.

i thought that too, but upon reading again, i see the information she provides says the tap water is at 0, so it's quite possible her reading is correct.

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The ph of my tap water is 7.0. I've used Seachem Neutral Regulator. It's supposed to adjust the ph to 7.0 and remove chlorine, chloramine and ammonia, but it hasn't helped. I was told to add Ammolock and then someone told me that was bad and that's why I was getting a false reading. I also have the Seachem Ammonia Alert on my tank, and it's reading between 0.05 and 0.2. The test kit is brand new and it's the API master test. I'm planning on getting a 60 gallon. What's confusing me is that everyone is saying they should be showing all sorts of distress, however they are the exact same as when I purchased them. I'm not going to put the poop water in the tank, I was just hoping it would adhere to the gravel. The Nitrate and Nitrites are still showing 0. I will reduce their feedings to once a day until this is under control. thank you everyone for your help. Who would have though owning fish would be so difficult. :fishtank:

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I would stop the feedings. They can go a week or two with no food so for now just stop it. Remove the rocks slowly to give them move water. Or better yet move them to a rubber maid that is much bigger.

Or as stated doing 2 complete water changes a day. And don't delay on a bigger tank.

Good luck

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Before I started using media to seed, I had fish in a 5 gallon QT tank that wasn't cycled. My ammonia readings were sky high. Even with 2 water changes a day of around 75%, I couldn't keep the ammonia under control. I nearly lost my mind trying to keep the levels safe.

Different fish respond differently to poor water quality. They may never act any differently. I know. I have a goldfish that suffered really bad ammonia burns. She never appeared to be in any sort of distress and appeared to have nothing wrong with her physically...until parts of her turned black.

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I don't understand what you mean by "media to seed". If I get my tank tomorrow, what should I do, should I attempt to cycle the tank with ammonia or put the fish in it and begin the cycling process. I'm freaking out.

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Seeding is taking media from a healthy established tank and putting it in the new tank. It helps to jump start the cycle. I have never had a problem since I started doing this. It has eliminated the ammonia spike for me.

Since I have more than one tank, I usually keep extra bio material in my established tanks in case I need it. Something like bio-balls or Bio Max allow for good growth of beneficial bacteria. You can also use floss material from the filter (I have cut cut small pieces off of my Whisper filter). I can then just put some of the media in my new filter.

I have also used gravel, although I don't trust it as much. However, it has worked for me in the past. If your co-worker gave you rocks from an established tank and if there was no die off of the good bacteria, that could work.

The problem may be that you don't know if your co-worker's tank is actually established. It depends how knowledgeable your co-worker is about fishkeeping. Just because a tank has been running a long time doesn't mean that is is fully cycled. Call me paranoid, but I won't rely on someone else's tank unless I am sure.

Don't freak out. If you can verify that your co-worker has a healthy established tank, the rocks might work. If you could get some of the media from that tank (again assuming it is cycled), you could use that.

I have never done a fishless cycle. People here have done it with a lot of success and would probably say that is the best way.

If you can avoid going through the entire cycle, that would be best.

Edited by Grace
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I think I would personally get them into the big tank asap. Don't bother doing a fishless cycle since your 5 gallon isn't cycled to begin with. It will be less stressful to have them cycle the 60 gallon instead of the 5.

Oh, and sorry if this doesn't bother anyone else. But can you please resize your signature? It is stretching my screen.

Edited by ashlee18
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I think I would personally get them into the big tank asap. Don't bother doing a fishless cycle since your 5 gallon isn't cycled to begin with. It will be less stressful to have them cycle the 60 gallon instead of the 5.

Oh, and sorry if this doesn't bother anyone else. But can you please resize your signature? It is stretching my screen.

Yep. Getting them into the larger tank as soon as you can is the way to go.

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I don't understand what you mean by "media to seed". If I get my tank tomorrow, what should I do, should I attempt to cycle the tank with ammonia or put the fish in it and begin the cycling process. I'm freaking out.

The best for your fish right now will be to get them into the bigger tank even if they have to be there while cycling. What that means for you is continuing lots of water changes. You'll still be testing daily until you are completely cycled. What I would do about the media is to run this current filter along with the new one on the tank for a while, that means if you have any good bacteria in the filter it will be introduced into the new tank.

We can help you through it, when you set up your new tank start a new cycling thread, you can put in the tank size, filters, and your test kit and readouts there. Having it all in one place will help you and help those who can offer advice. Good luck, I'm glad you're taking the initiative and trying to provide the best care for your goldfish.

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Prime only ionizes the ammoinia, aka detoxifies it. the alert measures the unionized form which is dangerous and you may want to add prime to ionize it. If you fix your pH now without getting the ammonia under control, the toxicity will go up with ph and they may start to show signs of stress. the higher the pH, the more dangerous ammonia is.

Many water conditioners say they remove it but they don't. prime being one of them. it removes it via the bio bugs, not breaking the bonds like amquel+ does. You may want to pick up a bottle. It worked for controlling the 3ppm out of my tap. Prime only binds the ammonia for 48 hours, then you have to redose that amount plus any additional that your fish have produced. It says on the bottle how much one treatment ionizes. A warning about amquel+ though, if you add enough to remove all the ammonia, you will starve the bio bugs and stall the cycle.

good luck!

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