Help us serve you better. Take a five minute survey. Click here!

jay


 


Archived message board.


Ammonia high and fish are dying!

Badmans Tropical Fish Message Center: archive: Ammonia high and fish are dying!
  

Chris

Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 06:49 pm
Hello,
I have just started this process, so I am not sure what information to give. I think my tank has cycled. It is about 2 months old and it is now crystal clear. I started the tank off with 3 Bala Sharks and 2 tiger barbs and a plecostomus. The guys at the fish store after the tank cleared told me it was cycled and I could add fish. I added 1 clown loach, 2 kissing gouramis, 2 gold gouramis, 2 juli cory's and 2 sword tails and 2 austrailian rainbows. That cleary, in my 29 gal tank, was too many fish too fast. I got a 10 gal tank and moved some of the fish out. At this point all the bala sharks, the tiger barbs, 1 cory and the clown loach have all died. The plecostomus is staying at the top with his head partially out of the water. I do parital, about 25% water changes every 3 or 4 days. The ammonia is way high 7 or so. In the 29 gal, 1 gold gourami, 2 sword tail, 2 kissing gourami and the plecostomus remain. I have undergravel, powerhead, 1 penguin 150 bio filer and Aqua clear 150 with the ammonia carbs. Still have a very high ammonia amd the nitrate is at 0. Please help before they all die.

  

joycedonley

Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 07:15 pm
Keep doing small water changes and go to feeding only a tiny amount once a day. Kick has great advice for the same problem if you look in the 6/21 post to Marie and Brad. Do a keyword search with the utility feature on ammonia and I think it is the second posting that comes up. Your ammonia is really out of sight!

  

Anonymous

Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 11:05 pm
Just a point but when you do get the ammonia problem sorted out, you are in for another headache. The fish you have stocked in your tank are going to outgrow it. Kissing Gourami can get to be between 6 and 12 inches long, Swordtails can get to be up to 5 inches long, and most pl*cos (don't know what kind you have) get to be very large. You will constantly be fighting to keep ammonia levels down due to the large amount of waste in your tank. You might want to consider trading in for some smaller species in the future. As for your problem, you have more than adequate filtration and you are doing water changes so I would suggest maybe you are overfeeding? Do you see a lot of uneaten food in the tank? If so, cut back.

  

joycedonley

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 07:46 am
Good point on those kissers Anonymous. You can identify yourself there are way too many anonymous people out here giving good advice. I also agree Chris has an overstocked tank. I have kept swords easily in a 29gallon, but wouldn't put kissing gourami in less than a 55gallon. His pleco will take awhile to grow and some LFS stores will let you trade them in for smaller ones. Chris suggest you try and take those kissers back or look for a 55 gallon plus soon.

  

Chris

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:03 am
Thanks for the advice. I do realize that the fish I have will outgrow my tank. I am in the process of looking for a 55 or 75 gal tank. No there is not a lot of food at the bottom and have been feeding only once or twice a day for about 2 weeks so I dont know if its overfeeding or not. Which remains my question. I am still uncertain as to why the ammonia is so high? The kissers are only 3 in. now and the gold gourami is 4 and the the swords are about 2 in and the plec is about 4 in. so that 18 inches of fish in a 29 gal tank. is that still too overstocked for now, which then in turn is causing my ammonia levels to be so high. Also, at my current rate, the tank won't be overstocked for long. The fem. swordtail is on its last leg.

  

peter

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:32 am
Stop feeding them every day. I would recommend going to every other day feeding them for the next 2 weeks. Maybe even just 3 days a week. You need to lower the amount of waste in your system. I wouldn't worry about teh fish load for now, as you pointed out. It's a future problem, perhaps.

  

Claude

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 10:36 am
Chris,

The reason your Ammonia is WAYYY out of whack is because several reasons:

1) You have introduced WAYYY TOO MANY FISH at one time....even for a fully cycled tank. When you stock a tank (or change the bio load) you only add a couple of fish at a time. then give the tank 3 or 4 weeks so the bacteria can catch up to the new addtions. If not you have too many fish and not enough bacteria....its like cycling your tank all over again.

2) Before your fish died...you had TOO MANY fish for a 29 gallon anyway. Its hard to say HOW many you can have, but the 1" of fish per gallon is a good general rule. Now if all your fish are 4" or above.... they make ALLOT more waste then a samll 1 " fish. So a 4" fish would actually take 8" out of that rule (1/2 inch per gallon) as opposed to just the 4". I hope you followed that, as I lost myself there

3) dont know if you already know this but the SURE way to make sure your tank is cycled is NOT clear water. Clear Water just means all the sediment (minerals, diatoms ect) have settled to the bottom of the tank. The REAL way to make sure a tank has cycled is to TEST for Ammonia (Nh3 and Nh4), nitrIte (NO2...i think), and NitrAte (NO3). A new tank will have spikes in the ammonia, then after a few weeks NitrIte, then a few more weeks NitrAte. see the genisis section of this web site. He describes this "cycle" in depth.

Good luck... I was a begginer once too (still am...but everyone here educated me well

Claude

  

Chris

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 11:30 am
I really appreciate all the input. It is really cool of people to take time out of their schedules to address my specific problem. I will go to every other day feedings Peter. Thanks for the advice. I did read the cycling section on this web site and everything in my tank did what was stated except for the ammonia going down. The NO2 did go up then zeroed but the ammonia never went down. Thanks again for the help.

  

Claude

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 12:04 pm
No problem chris.....the people here are GREAT! If your Ammonia never went down then your tank did NOT cycle, even though you did get Nitrite readings. Also the anytime you add fish, you will probably notice a Ammonia spike as the bacteria try to catch up. Unless you have a Live Plant tank.

My tank (with plants) took FOREVER (like 4 months) to cycle. I got One rading of ammonia (I checked every two days) around 5 mg/l (5 ppm) then nothing. I also NEVER got a Nitrite reading. Then after 3 or 4 motnhs I FIANLLY got a NITRATE reading. The plants seemed to have been sucking up all the excess ammonia and nitrites. I started my tank cycling with 2 dwarf plecos, 3 black skirt tetras, 4 danios, and 4 whiteclouds. and this was in a 75 gallon tank. And this was too many fish to start with.

  

PetFinatic

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 02:36 pm
I know how you feel Chris!!! I have had my tank up and running for 1 1/2 months now and had the same problem. I have a 37 gallon freshwater and started out with 5 fish, and added 6 fish a week later. Lets just say the ammonia rate was off the scale!! I tried Amquel and it didn't do anything. Then I treid adding AmmoCarb to my filter and I was down to a ammonia reading of 0 in two days. Right now I'm in the second phase of the cycle and my Nitrites are sky high (5) and I'm waiting for them to go down. I've lost 3 fish so far (sob!!) and yesterday my tank sprang a leak but I managed to get 18 gallons of the original water into a new 37 gallon tank. What drama!! This takes so much patience. Hang in there and listen to all these wonderful people on the board. Kick and Jeff have helped me beyond any measure. They're lifesavers!
-Tina

  

Kick

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 06:00 pm
Chris, you have gotten excellent information here. So I really don't need to add anything. Once again, I just can't believe the LPS would sell you that many fish at one time for one tank. Even if your tank was "cycled" you never, ever add that many fish at one time. You have caused your cycle to go absolutely crazy with the bioload. I will also mention here that some of the fish you purchased are really not for beginners, i e. the balas and clown loaches, as upsets in water perimeters cause major problems for them. The pleco may be having problems as he may not be getting enough to eat. Plecos should not be added for at least 6 months. Listen to what these guys have told you and before getting any more fish check with us to be sure they will do okay in your beginner status. Good luck on getting things under control.

  

Chris

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 08:37 pm
Had another funeral this evening. The flags raised to half mass once more now that the female sword tail has died. The julli cori looks like its next. My ammonia is still off the charts and the fish that remain are the 2 kissers, the gold gourami, 1 sword tail, the pleco, and 1 julli cori. Is this still too much of a load for my tank? Also, how often should I change the water to "make it more comfortable." Doesn't changing the water even in small increments effect the ammonia levels negatively. I really dont want to loose the kissing gourami, they are my favorite. Should I sacrfice the other fish to reduce the load or take them back (if they will let me)?

  

Chris

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 08:43 pm
As I posted the last message I turned to see my last julli cori have an epileptic seizure and flip out and then jerk a few more time before it died right in front of my eyes. It's one thing to come home and see one , but to watch them die is quite sad. Please help My male sword tail is next.

  

Chris

Monday, August 06, 2001 - 08:51 pm
Is it ok to change the 20-25% of the water every day?

  

joycedonley

Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 07:49 am
Put the male sword in the 10 gallon you got.That is big enough for a sick sword until your water parameters balance out. I wouldn't change the water every day because the tank needs to cycle and 25% is quite a bit. Maybe 10% would be okay to give your fish some help in the interim. Stop feeding for a few days until the ammonia starts to go down. I have left my fish for a weekend with no food and they can go longer than that! Even if you don't think you aren't overfeeding..excess food and fish waste are still adding to your problems.

  

Claude

Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 08:31 am
Ok all,

Here is a begginer that has made the same mistakes as yourself just 6 months ago.

First, They fish you should use to cycle your tank intially should be a HARDY fish. Scour this website as I think Badman gives several examples of good cycling fish. Plecos, loaches, ottos, swords, neons are NOT good cycling fish as they are very sensitive to changes in the tank. And the fish you select for cycling should not be a schooling fish as you should only use 3 fish or so to start with (especially in a tank less than 30 gallons).

Second, changing 20-25% of your water DAILY should ONLY be done if your fish are on medications, or you have Ammonia problems. Unless the water that comes out of your tap is the same PH, temp, and chemical composition, you are REALLY stressing your fish out. If your gonna change water daily (again I advise against it unless you MUST) change only 5 -10% MAXIMUM. I would only reccomend changing 15%- 20% every week or two!

Hope that helps
Claude

  

Chris

Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 11:13 am
I already have the other larger gold gourami and the 2 australian rainbows in the 10 gal which has not cycled yet either. 1 of the rainbows looks pretty bad in there. Would adding the sword tail to it be to much?

  

Claude

Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 11:38 am
YIKES,


You are between a rock and a hard place. if both the gourami and rainbows are a good size (greater than 2" I say) then DO NOT add the sword. Remember a 4" fish makes a BIGGER amount of toxic waster then four 1" fish. I would say just leave things the way they are and PRAY!! I lost a few fish too due to my overstocking. Its sad but, live and learn. Or try and trade some of your fish with your LFS for store credit.....

Am I on the right track other board fish experts????

  

joycedonley

Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 05:29 pm
Hard to say how big the fish are Claude. Sometimes when you first buy them they are usually juvies and not at the adult length. The sword could just be 2" we can't tell without looking. Chris if you could estimate size and which fish are where it might help. When I suggested temproraily moving the sword I was hoping that there hadn't been much fish or food waste added to the 10 yet. If he has other fish there the ammonia may be building up in the ten gallon as well. Just quit feeding temporarily, keep testing for ammonia, do tiny water changes if you must and hope for the best! I think you should look for a better LFS store when you get through all this.

  

Chris

Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 08:12 pm
29 gal- two 3inch kissing gouramis, 1 4in gold gourami a 2 in sword and 3.5 inch plec
10 gal - 4 in gold gourami, 3 in and 2.5 in autralian rainbow

  

Kick

Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 08:54 pm
Your gouramis might possibly (??) be okay as they are from the anabantoid family and get their air from the surface so the concentrated ammonia isn't going through their lungs. The others I am not too sure about. The pleco probably doesn't have anything to eat other than what you might be providing for him, and this will not give him a very good start.

I am afraid, however, that you are going to see problems with the 10 gallon now. 10 inches of fish in this tank is way too much in this "uncycled" tank. Oh my, I am trying to think what to tell you to do.

Claude is right about the excessive water changing. The best thing you could do if the remaining fish look and act healthy is to see if you can return them to the LPS. Then leave the tanks alone for about 2 weeks empty and start over with fish. Posted below is a very worthwhile article on "first fish". I think it would benefit you to check it out.

Damn the LPS for putting you in this position!! I know how exciting it is to bring new fish home, but I also know how upsetting and discouraging it is when they die right in front of your eyes.

If returning is not an option, only feed a very small amout every 3 days. Fish can go for up to 2 weeks without feeding with no ill effects. And at this point, I think that is the only way you are going to get a reduction in your ammonia levels until the bacteria has time to catch up.

Do minimal water changes because as Claude said, the fluctuation in the pH can cause more harm and stress the fellas worse than what they already are. I would say no more than 10 percent every 3 days. Do you have ammocarb in your filters? This should help to rid the tank since this in an emergency situation. Be looking to hear from you again soon.

Check out the site below to get you started on a little better footing as far as choosing fish goes.

http://www.actwin.com/fish/mirror/fish-popular.html#first

  

Chris

Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 07:11 am
My ammonia is starting to gradually come down. However, I have a few additonal questions/concerns. I am down to 2 kissers, 1 plec and 1 gold gourami in the 29; 1 gold gourami and 1 austrailian rainbow in the 10. However, in the 29 gal once I went to a 3 day schedule--they are not eating. The food is just sitting at the top. The gold gourami and one of the kissers has not eaten at the top for a few weeks. Any comments.
Second, when should I can I clean the gravel since it is recommended that I not mess with it?

  

jeff

Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 12:13 pm
chris..all that food laying around is not a great idea..scoop it out and go ahead and lightly clean your gravel...all that decay in there will certainly not help with your water condition..

  

Chris

Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 12:59 pm
The plecostomus died also, so now I am down to 3 fish in the 29 gal and 2 in the 10. How frustrating!!!! I am not even sure my tank is trying to cycle the NO2 is still at 0.

  

jeff

Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 02:24 pm
sorry chris..he may have just starved..I know it's real frustrating going through cycling..hearty fish..a little at a time...most people starting out just plop in a whole bunch of nice looking ones they think a great,then slowly watch them die..not good for anyone...please read through the genesis section on the main site to easy some of your pain with a better understanding...or the cycling stuff kick put out for you...don't worry you will get through it all and be a happy fish keeper too.

  

Kick

Wednesday, August 15, 2001 - 08:17 pm
Chris, just to add a little here. Plecos are not good for tanks newer than 6 months old. They thrive mainly on the algae that grows in an established tank, and I feel, like Jeff, that the poor little guy starved to death. Stay away from these until your tank is established and you start to see some algae growing on the glass.

  

Claude

Friday, August 17, 2001 - 11:43 am
Chris,

HANG IN THERE. As long as you have ammonia readings, YOUR TANK WILL CYCLE. Unfortunely you got some bad advice in the begining (just like I did) and now you are learning. I think thats why the veteran fish keepers keep posting here. To help newbies from making the same mistakes over and over.

We have all been beginners at one time (or still are in my case) and had bad info passed to us by lfs or bad books. God, I hate crappy lfs!!!!!

All will be ok in the end....just chalk this up to a valuable learning experience. In a few months you will have a BEAUTIFUL tank that will enthrall you for HOURS (I know mine does). Just follow the advice of Kick, Jeff, and Joyce.

Keep your chin up,
Claude

  

ratletrps

Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 07:59 am
You have been another victim of some bad advice from the fish store!!!!!!! Save yourself a headache and either take some of the fish back to the store or get another tank (BIG ONE). Now some will say that one inch of fish per gallon is a good guide line, but I have broken that rule on three of my seven tanks...just increase your water changes. You also have some species in your tanks that don't quite get along. Look up all of your fish on the net (like here) and learn about their habits and who they get along with...DON'T LISTEN TO THE PIMPLE POPPIN DWEEB AT THE FISH STORE!!!!!!! Good luck!

  

Anonymous

Sunday, September 09, 2001 - 05:01 pm
I do not know if this is a great idea, but could he take the fish out put them in a tupperware and use bottled water to try and keep them alive? I have done this when fish were getting picked on. One of those 30 gal storge containers worked good.

  

joycedonley

Sunday, September 09, 2001 - 08:35 pm
Anonymous that will work if you still use a heater and filter.Bottled water is not a good idea since you don't know what ph it is. Distilled is 7.0 and spring water can have a very high ph(test it and see). It's better to use your tap then to shock the fish! Also this post is pretty old and I think some solution has probably been found by now.

  

Chris

Monday, September 10, 2001 - 11:21 am
My tanks still have not cycled but I only have a few fish left anyway. IT seems like it is taking forever. My ammonia is still high and now my NO2 is really high so I guess its cycling. In the 30gal the 2 kissing gouramis still remain with the australian rainbow. In the 10 gal the last remaining gold gourami is left, but he is weird now. He is very skidish. He hides in a shell. Still waiting to add some fiSh. Patience seems to a big part of this hobby. Who would of known?

 

Navigation panel.