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Bert and Ernie are gasping!:(


pandamanda111

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There's one of two things currently happening in your tank (in case you want the scientific answers instead of just the basics):

Either the bacteria that were in your tank while everything was cycled are still there or they have died off (or been removed too quickly). Either way, you're not seeing the ammonia being removed right now because with a ph under 7.0 ammonia exists as ammonium (nh4), which is non-toxic to fish and the same stuff prime will convert the ammonia to when you add it. Ammonium is not consumed by the same bacteria as Ammonia. It can be consumed, but it's a different bacteria that does it...one that may not exist in your tank in sufficient numbers to process it currently.

I'd say that if you can keep your ph below 7 while continuing to do the salt treatments and dosing with prime, you should be fine. The prime in this case is more to remove the chlorine/chloramines than to detoxify the ammonium since it's already non-toxic. If, on the other hand, your ph raises above 7.0 while you do the water changes, the prime will help protect your fish in the short term by binding the nitrogen into ammonium. The bind is short-term however, which is why you have to dose every 24 hours. What I don't know is how well the goldfish will tolerate the lower ph without time to adapt to it.

The ideal here is to continue doing water changes, dosing with prime, and treating with salt. Once the ich is cleaned up, get the cycle re-established and eventually upgrade your tank and you're good to go.

Salt, by the way, should AID in keeping the ammonia non-toxic. I do not understand why it would be more toxic. Here are a couple of articles that will help explain this better than I can:

http://theaquariumwiki.com/Ammonia

http://theaquariumwiki.com/Salt

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There's one of two things currently happening in your tank (in case you want the scientific answers instead of just the basics):

Either the bacteria that were in your tank while everything was cycled are still there or they have died off (or been removed too quickly). Either way, you're not seeing the ammonia being removed right now because with a ph under 7.0 ammonia exists as ammonium (nh4), which is non-toxic to fish and the same stuff prime will convert the ammonia to when you add it. Ammonium is not consumed by the same bacteria as Ammonia. It can be consumed, but it's a different bacteria that does it...one that may not exist in your tank in sufficient numbers to process it currently.

I'd say that if you can keep your ph below 7 while continuing to do the salt treatments and dosing with prime, you should be fine. The prime in this case is more to remove the chlorine/chloramines than to detoxify the ammonium since it's already non-toxic. If, on the other hand, your ph raises above 7.0 while you do the water changes, the prime will help protect your fish in the short term by binding the nitrogen into ammonium. The bind is short-term however, which is why you have to dose every 24 hours. What I don't know is how well the goldfish will tolerate the lower ph without time to adapt to it.

The ideal here is to continue doing water changes, dosing with prime, and treating with salt. Once the ich is cleaned up, get the cycle re-established and eventually upgrade your tank and you're good to go.

Salt, by the way, should AID in keeping the ammonia non-toxic. I do not understand why it would be more toxic. Here are a couple of articles that will help explain this better than I can:

http://theaquariumwiki.com/Ammonia

http://theaquariumwiki.com/Salt

I disagree. If the OP has been cycling her tank at this particular pH, then the cycled tank clearly should have enough Nitrosomas spp. to fix both ammonia/ammonium. Also, could you point to some references where the ammonia/ammonium fixing bacteria are different? To my knowledge, it's the same bacteria that are capable of doing both. I'm not entirely certain as to why she is detecting a blip of ammonia, but I doubt it's because she somehow preferentially lost one type of Nitrosoma.

The binding of Prime to ammonia to reduce it to a non-toxic but consumable form is IRREVERSIBLE. This is stated very clearly on the Seachem site. Hence, you do NOT need to re-dose Prime every 24 hours to keep the ammonia non-toxic. Rather, Prime will evaporate from your system after 24-48 hours. So, if you have more ammonia produced after 24-48 hours after your Prime, there won't be any left to bind to the new ammonia. This is why you re-dose.

Salt has been shown to have a protective effect against nitrite toxicity, but I'm not so sure that it's been shown to protect against ammonia-induced gill damage. Remember also that salt itself is a caustic substance and so can cause damage itself. Having said that, I will stipulate that 0.1% salt should not cause much harm one way or another.

It is very dangerous to recommend to anyone to keep goldfish tanks at pH's below 7. First of all, I think messing with pH is very fickle thing to do, and while I fully recommend working to raise and buffer the pH when it is below 7, I don't recommend working to lower the pH for the following reasons: 1) goldfish do not do well at pH 6.5 or lower, and you will begin to see slimecoat changes at this range. 2), goldfish are notorious waste producers. If you already have pH below 7 and the water is not well buffered, you could very easily have a pH crash.

I agree with you that in this particular situation, the OP should be doing daily water changes, add salt, and use Prime to detoxify the bit of ammonia that is detected.

Edited by dnalex
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Before I say anything else, I would like it noted that my intent here is to help the OP, not to argue and derail a discussion thread. That being said, my clarifications are below:

Where is it that you are finding that ammonia is more toxic with salt? Every single article I have found (including the one I linked to in my above post) states that it helps, at least in the short term with making it less toxic to the fish by assisting with gill function. This does not protect against burns in a high-ammonia environment, but nowhere have I seen that adding salt increases ammonia toxicity.

I said nothing about dropping the OP's ph. I believe it was already stated that her ph is below 7.0 currently (if I am thinking of a different poster's situation, then I apologize). An ideal would be to leave her ph where it is since ammonia is less toxic to fish at lower ph values. As far as the ph's effect on the goldfish, I already stated that this was an unknown to me; however, that being said, after doing some quick research, it is true that goldfish ideals tend to higher ph levels, but according to most articles I found they can easily tolerate ph levels as low as 6.0. Their ability to do so is, as with all fish, dependent on the time they are allowed to adapt to whatever environment they are exposed to. For this reason and the above in regard to ammonia toxicity, leave the OP's ph where it is, do the salt treatment to kill the ich, and continue treating with prime.

To dnalex in regard to the two separate types of bacteria: I was retrieving the reference to where I found that and decided to re-read it before making a complete idiot of myself. I'm glad that I did. It was a discussion among a number of other aquarists. That particular part didn't come from Dr. Tim Hovanec like I thought it did, instead it was said by a different person and later corrected by Dr. Hovanec. The correction stated that the same bacterium consume both ammonia and ammonium. As the OP is still finding ammonia in her water even after a period of time in which it would be expected that the levels would be reduced somewhat, I have to think that the cycle has been interrupted in her tank and she will need to cultivate new bacteria in levels sufficient to handle her bio-load in order to correct this problem long-term. In the meantime, as long as the fish are not having an issue with the low ph that is already in her tank, the lower ph will benefit them by keeping the percentage of ammonium:ammonia in her tank higher.

I did not intend to come to this forum and create angst among members. For this reason, I will bow out now. I believe the OP has the necessary information at this time to correct her issue with ich and I wish her the best of luck in doing so.

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Thank you Alex for the info regarding dosing Prime... I assumed that because it is always stated that it detoxifies ammonia for 24-48 hours that after that time period it becomes toxic again. Good to know that this is not the case :)

So, if Mandi has a strong enough cycle that no more ammonia is produced (it does not raise above the .25 contained in her tap), then she could does/double dose Prime at her water change and go without another water change for at least 2-3 days correct? (I am assuming here that her cycle is strong enough to deal with the fish produced ammonia for at least 3 days, since when she posted her parameters it had been 3 days since a 40% water change and all she had was .25 ammonia, which is the same amount in the tap)

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Once you get your tank healthy, the bacteria in the tank will consume the .25 ppm of ammonia rather quickly so it won't be an issue. Also, with you dosing the Prime each time you do a water change, the .25 ppm won't hurt the fish until it is gone anyway.

What do you mean it won't hurt them until it's gone?

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Prime turns the ammonia into ammonium. Ammonium isn't particularly harmful to fish at all, so your fish will be fine even though your test kit (after dosing with Prime) will still show .25 ammonia present. The bacteria in your tank will convert that .25 ammonium into nitrite over time just as it does the ammonia produced by your tank's bio-load. That nitrite is later converted by a different bacteria into nitrate which is either used by plants or removed via water changes.

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Gervalt, I don't think you have to exit the discussion, but I DO want to correct misinformation. In this case, it's regarding the pH. GOLDFISH CANNOT TOLERATE pH of 6 or lower for any extended amount of time, and a drop into the range will result in all sorts of detrimental changes to the fish, including gasping at the surface, lethargy, and/or major changes in slimecoat, such as sloughing.

The ideal pH for goldfish is slightly on the basic side, in the range of 7.6-8.4. Although stability of pH is what is preferred so for example if you have stable pH of 7, that is fine. However, acidic pH for goldfish is not recommended.

I do not think that Prime detoxifies ammonia by converting it into ammonium. That particular process IS reversible, whereas Prime's action is not. I will call Seachem tomorrow to ask them about what it converts ammonia into.

Don't worry. No angst was induced in this discussion, nor will there ever be :)

Edited by dnalex
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Gervalt, I don't think you have to exit the discussion, but I DO want to correct misinformation. In this case, it's regarding the pH. GOLDFISH CANNOT TOLERATE pH of 6 or lower for any extended amount of time, and a drop into the range will result in all sorts of detrimental changes to the fish, including gasping at the surface, lethargy, and/or major changes in slimecoat, such as sloughing.

The ideal pH for goldfish is slightly on the basic side, in the range of 7.6-8.4. Although stability of pH is what is preferred so for example if you have stable pH of 7, that is fine. However, acidic pH for goldfish is not recommended.

I do not think that Prime detoxifies ammonia by converting it into ammonium. That particular process IS reversible, whereas Prime's action is not. I will call Seachem tomorrow to ask them about what it converts ammonia into.

Don't worry. No angst was induced in this discussion, nor will there ever be :)

They do gasp at the surface...

Edit-Oh! And u don't have to go thought the hassle of calling them! I can call if you tell me what website to find the number on. And what should I ask? I feel bad making you call for my problem!!

Edited by pandamanda111
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Good to know. Pretty much everything that's out on the web states their range at between either 6.0-8.0 or 6.5-8.25. I've been keeping freshwater fish a long time now, but goldfish in particular are not something I've studied much. Just goes to show that it pays to ask people who know, not to assume that what's out on the web is correct.

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**PLEASE KEEP IN MIND**

Petsmart tests with test strips, so their tests are not completely accurate. They told me my ammonia was at 1ppm when really it was 0.25, so I wouldn't completely trust my results if I were u. Just something to keep I mind:)

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OK, Amanda, could you please recap for me what exactly is in your tank right now in terms of salt, the state of your fish (in terms of spots), and all the water parameters. Also, what is your house temp? I know you don't have a heater for the tank (which is fine).

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9tsp aquarium salt (0.1%), 2 ryukins- one has white spots on his tail fin (about 5 or 6...) and has his dorsal fin up more and more every day. The other has no spots, but has his dorsal fin down. Both have clamped fins. I have a little gravel left in my tank, as I am in the process of gradually going barebottom. I have 1 plant, and 2 shrimp, who have survived the salt in the past. Anything else u need to know?:)

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OK. Everything looks good, except for the little blip of ammonia. It's not a huge concern, though, although I would like to get it down to zero.

Am I correct in assuming that the spots have decreased recently? Also, was the decrease AFTER adding the salt or before?

Also, you now have Prime as the water conditioner?

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OK. Everything looks good, except for the little blip of ammonia. It's not a huge concern, though, although I would like to get it down to zero.

Am I correct in assuming that the spots have decreased recently? Also, was the decrease AFTER adding the salt or before?

Also, you now have Prime as the water conditioner?

Yes, I would like to get my ammonia to 0 too! And yes, the spots decreased recently. I have no clue why. And there were little white flecks in my gravel, and for some reason I have a feeling it was from the spots on ernie...idk. But just today, he increased again. He started out w/ about 20 spots, he decreased to 2, and now he increased to 6. I have no clue why. They decreased before the salt, and increased again after. I am hopefully going to buy prime soon, but I currently have top fun water conditioner and a separate bottle ammonia remover. Maybe I could add more of that...

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May I ask what is the ammonia remover?

For now, I would go with the excellent plan tithra provided for you, which is to go up to 0.3% salt, and change 50% of the water every day. You will want to salt and change water daily for at least one week after the very last spot has disappeared. It is also very important to check your ammonia daily to make sure there is no sudden spike, although I doubt this will happen with daily WCs.

Do you know how to replace the salt after a WC so that you add back what was taken out at each WC?

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It is top fin ammonia remover.

One problem- would it be absolutely TERRIBLE if I missed a wc every once-in-a-while? I don't mind doing them, but I have rediculous amounts of hw, and sometimes I just don't have the time! Ya no?

And yes, I know about adding what you take out during a wc and letting it dissolve and how it doesn't evaporate and all:)

Do u have any idea why his spot count (lol) was going up and down? And were the white flecks really from ernie do u think?

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Yes, those spots are what are called trophonts, and you did a great job vacuuming them up. Please continue doing so when during your water change when you notice any.

I totally understand about having a lot of other priorities, and my answer is this: yes, you can miss the occasional water change, but don't skip it several days in a row. Also, your best guide is the ammonia test. Never ever let it get higher than 0.5.

Just as a warning, you MIGHT see more spots developing over the next few days. So, don't panic when this happens. You've already started the best treatment for ich, and now you are stopping the life cycle dead in its track, but it will take up to a week for the spots to all disappear. :)

I'm sure tithra will guide you in raising your salt and other questions.

Good luck!

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