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Old 06-02-2004, 02:30 AM   #1
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increasing nitrite and ammonia

I've had my 72 gallon community freshwater aquarium for a couple of years now and for the first time - last week, I began to have a problem with my nitrite and ammonia. I noticed several of my fish seemed to be gasping for air at the top of the tank, so I tested my water and found that my nitrite was around 4 ppm and my ammonia was about 6 ppm. Since I had just done a 1/3 water change and had cleaned the tank quite well, I assumed the problem was coming from my tap water. However, I tested the tap water and it seems fine. Since then, I have lost a few fish, and I performed several partial water changes, which initially lowers both the nitrite and ammonia, but they both keep creeping back up. I also lowered my PH from 7.2 to 6.9, added some salt, and added phosphate remover, nitrazorb and activated carbon to my Eheim cannister filter, in addition to the Ehfimech, Ehfisubstrat and ChemiPure that was in there already. Now, the fish appear to be ok, but I just tested the water and I'm getting around 2 ppm nitrite and 5 ppm ammonia.
Since the problem began, I have been cutting down on my feeding and the number of fish has reduced from around 15 to 10 (so neither of those should be a problem at this point).
Any idea what could be causing this? Suggestions?
Thanks for your help.
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Old 06-02-2004, 02:42 AM   #2
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Are all of your fish accounted for? It's possible that you have a dead fish somewhere in the tank that is (eww) rotting. It would mess with your levels real bad.

-brent
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Old 06-02-2004, 09:30 AM   #3
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I have no idea what all those chemicals do. You'll find that most people on this site only use something to dechlorinate their tap water.

Have you medicated your tank recently? Most mediacations will kill your biofilter as well as whatever else they were designed to kill. If not, then something else must have done damage to it. Levels that high make it sound like you're mid-cycle.

I would keep up with the water changes to keep levels in check and test the water to see if there are any spikes or sags in the levels of ammonia, nitrItes, and nitrAtes.

Keep us posted...
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Old 06-02-2004, 10:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deli_conker
Have you medicated your tank recently?
I didn't even think about that one. Just like deli said, any anti bacterial medication you put in your tank will start to kill off your good bacteria too. Do it enough (it doesn't take a lot) and it's like you are starting from scratch. That is why you should always treat in a QT. Then again maybe you haven't medicated your tank.

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Old 06-02-2004, 12:08 PM   #5
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[center:7b3fe1ac16] Welcome to AA, abelman! [/center:7b3fe1ac16]

I strongly recommend stopping the addition of all chemicals except dechlor during water changes. Keep the salt in there--it helps with nitrite poisoning. It sounds like the tank is becoming more unstable. Make sure to vacuum the gravel during the water changes.
Also, look for any missing fish.
At this point, I suggest 25% water changes on a daily basis until the water parameters are back to normal and the fish are doing better.
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Old 06-02-2004, 02:23 PM   #6
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thanks for all your help.
Now, my nitrite seems to have leveled out at O, but my Ammonia is still pretty high - about 6 ppm. I haven't found any dead fish in the aquarium, and I haven't medicated too much. Any other ideas for my ammonia problem?
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Old 06-02-2004, 02:38 PM   #7
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Water change daily.

I had a very similar problem about a week or so ago and I took an approach of doing about 10% in the morning and 10% again later in the day, so I was averaging roughly 20% water changes daily. My theory was it would be less stressful on the fish if I did a 10% twice a day, instead of 20% once a day.

It took almost a week for my levels to come down again. If the fish seem fine, chances are they may be hardy or acclimated to the extreme Ammonia. Obviously don't add anymore fish, and you may even consider cutting back on feeding.

On top of my high ammonia spike, I reduced my feedings from twice a day to once a day and they seemed fine. Then I fed on a schedule of about every 36 hours, and they are still doing well.

My ammonia went from unreadable (off the scale) to about 1.0ppm (where it is now) within 3 days once I started doing changes for almost 2 weeks. I guess I just needed my bacteria to kick in which they hadn't yet.
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Old 06-02-2004, 02:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysono
My theory was it would be less stressful on the fish if I did a 10% twice a day, instead of 20% once a day.
Absolutely!!

The bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite may have died off due to the extreme ammonia levels, but the bacteria that convert nitrite to nitrates may be fine. Water changes are your best solution.
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Old 06-02-2004, 06:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
I haven't medicated too much.
What do you mean by too much? When was the last time you used medication?

Keep doing water changes and lighter feedings to bring the ammonia down to a lower level. Over time it will balance out.
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Old 06-04-2004, 09:01 PM   #10
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thanks again for all your help.

I tried another test kit, changed some water, lowered the ph to 6.85, temperature to 79

Now I'm getting consistent readings of 0 ppm of nitrite, but 6-7 ppm of ammonia. since the fish seem fine with it, I assume that the ammonia is detoxified. Is ammonia still problematic even if it's detoxified? Any ideas as to how I can lower it?
thanks
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