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Old 11-29-2008, 11:25 PM   #1
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How much Ammonia is too much?

I'm in the process to cycling a new tank (carnival goldfish), Started almost a week ago. I'm daily testing ammonia levels and doing 20%-35% water changes.

While I know ammonia needs to be zero, that obviously isn't possible when I've been forced to suddenly start a new tank already stocked. But when I try to research the subject of cycling a tank, everything just says "too much ammonia" is going to be harmful without anyone saying HOW MUCH is TOO MUCH. Give me a number!

What I'm looking for are numbers that I can use to let me know I can put off a water change vs when I need to do a water change NOW!!!

For example, would a good plan be...Put off a water change if ammonia levels are 0.25ppm to 0.5ppm, do a water change at 0.75ppm to 1.0ppm, and PANIC if it gets near 2.0ppm?

My current setup:
Stock: 2" common and 2" rosie minnow goldfish
10 gallon tank
HARD tap water (lots of calcium around here, using Prime)
15W florecent light
Sand base with a few decorative river rock
Some plants
Fluval 1 Filter and basic air stone
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Old 11-30-2008, 12:35 AM   #2
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any readable ammonia can cause damage to the fish. thats a lot of fish for a 10 gal to. have you read up on fishless cycling? its faster and less stressful then fish cycle.
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Old 11-30-2008, 06:59 AM   #3
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The general recommendation is to do a PWC anytime your ammonia or nitrIte level gets above 0.5ppm.
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Old 11-30-2008, 09:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by mgamer20o0 View Post
...have you read up on fishless cycling?...
I'm doing the best I can for the situation. The common was a CARNIVAL goldfish. It was unplaned. I wasn't the one who allowed DS to "win" a goldfish. Now you could blame me for buying the minnow. But even that was a combination of "big brother" had one, "little brother" wanted one too, and the fact I've read that goldfish don't like being alone. But hey, even then, I tried for a smaller fish on the 2nd one.

At least they were not just tossed in a tank and already dead. I wonder how many of the other fish from the carnival are already dead.
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgamer20o0 View Post
any readable ammonia can cause damage to the fish. thats a lot of fish for a 10 gal to. have you read up on fishless cycling? its faster and less stressful then fish cycle.
Completing the cycle with fish is just as fast and isn't any more stressful than a fishless cycle. I don't think that method is for amateurs but certainly more advanced fishkeepers would be able to do this. Then again, more advanced fish keepers would just move over a seeded sponge filter, but my point remains the same.
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:16 PM   #6
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What is your exact pH level? Ammonia is more toxic (less ionized) at high pH, so the higher the pH, the less total ammonia fish can tolerate. At any rate, 0.5 is a good number to aim for in hard water.

Once you get through the ammonia spike, you will have to worry about the nitrite spike. For nitrite, try to keep below 0.25. You may add a low level of aquarium salt (0.1% or about 2 tablespoons in the 10 gal) to prevent nitrite poisoning & allow for a higher nitrite level during cycling.
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Old 11-30-2008, 04:15 PM   #7
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Tank is a week old today.
Did about a 30% water change last night.

Using API 5 in 1 test strips:
Hardness is at the top of the chart
GH 180ppm
KK 240ppm
pH 8.0 (maybe higher)
Nirite and Nitrate MIGHT be at the 1st mark above zero
Nitrite 0.5ppm (MAX)
Nitrate 20ppm (MAX)

Using API Ammonia NH3/NH4 Test Kit
0.75+ppm (it's not quite to the 1.0 color, but above 0.5 color).

Doing one water change per day, it's been staying around the 0.75 mark (before water changes). I would say that it hasn't gotten quite up to 1.0ppm.

But now isn't there more to reading the ammonia level. In other words, 0.75ppm to 1.0ppm is total ammonia isn't it? Didn't I read some where, the pH will influence the proportion of NH3 vs NH4, and from these readings we can deduce the amount of each (and while either being high, one of them in particular is the one to watch the closest?)
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Old 11-30-2008, 06:11 PM   #8
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Another point to consider is the test method you are using. Most people will either tell you the paper strips are useless or the more diplomatic ones will say inaccurate. You want to get a liquid type test kit for at least ammonia and nitrites as soon as you can. Depending on what forum you are on and who you trust, ammonia and nitrite are cause for alarm at levels as low as 0.25 ppm. I see that JSoong has said 0.50 ppm for ammonia but that number varies a little from forum to forum. Even Mgamer's statement that any detectable is too much is common advice in some places.
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Old 11-30-2008, 08:27 PM   #9
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Another point to consider is the test method you are using. Most people will either tell you the paper strips are useless or the more diplomatic ones will say inaccurate. You want to get a liquid type test kit for at least ammonia and nitrites as soon as you can. Depending on what forum you are on and who you trust, ammonia and nitrite are cause for alarm at levels as low as 0.25 ppm. I see that JSoong has said 0.50 ppm for ammonia but that number varies a little from forum to forum. Even Mgamer's statement that any detectable is too much is common advice in some places.
The ammonia kit is the liquid version.
Unfortunately when I was looking at test kits, I missed the 5 in 1 liquid test kits (they were on a lower shelf). I only saw the individual kits, and didn't want to spend something like $50 in test kits just starting out. So for starters, I think I spent something like $6 for liquid ammonia kit, and $15 for 25 test strips. Now that I've seen the liquid multi-kit, when the 25 test strips are gone, I'll get the liquid kit.

I've done another daily PWC. I changed out 3.5 gallons, which I'm going to guess equates to a 35%-50% when you considter the space taken up in the 10 gallon with sand, rock, air, etc.

After the water change, the level is down to 0.25ppm or less.

Like I said, I know that 0ppm is ideal, but to accomplish that in a newly cycling tank (where I'm still trying to learn exactly how much to feed these guys) the only way that would come close to happenning right now is if I were doing perpetual water changes. For now, those fish are going to have to deal with 0.25 to 1.0 ppm.


For now, this thread has served it's purpose... basically that I likely need to continue doing daily water changes so long as ammonia is even close to 0.5ppm.
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Old 12-07-2008, 01:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
I'm doing the best I can for the situation. The common was a CARNIVAL goldfish. It was unplaned. I wasn't the one who allowed DS to "win" a goldfish. Now you could blame me for buying the minnow. But even that was a combination of "big brother" had one, "little brother" wanted one too, and the fact I've read that goldfish don't like being alone. But hey, even then, I tried for a smaller fish on the 2nd one.

At least they were not just tossed in a tank and already dead. I wonder how many of the other fish from the carnival are already dead.
i am not trying to knock you at all. your taking the right steps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bs6749 View Post
Completing the cycle with fish is just as fast and isn't any more stressful than a fishless cycle. I don't think that method is for amateurs but certainly more advanced fishkeepers would be able to do this. Then again, more advanced fish keepers would just move over a seeded sponge filter, but my point remains the same.
just depends how you do it. first i dont think its for advanced fish keepers at all. i know countless number of people who never owned a fish tank had no clue do fishless cycle fine. with fish cyling the ammonia levels down can take the cycle longer. you also risk killing the fish or injuring the fish. you also have to wc a lot. fishless cycle you add ammonia test if it the level gets to low add more ammonia and the worst case all the ammonia gets used and the bacteria dies or you add too much ammonia and you kill the bacteria at least the fish are fine. when your planing for fish its a great idea but when they just end up on your lap its a little hard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
The ammonia kit is the liquid version.
Unfortunately when I was looking at test kits, I missed the 5 in 1 liquid test kits (they were on a lower shelf). I only saw the individual kits, and didn't want to spend something like $50 in test kits just starting out. So for starters, I think I spent something like $6 for liquid ammonia kit, and $15 for 25 test strips. Now that I've seen the liquid multi-kit, when the 25 test strips are gone, I'll get the liquid kit.

I've done another daily PWC. I changed out 3.5 gallons, which I'm going to guess equates to a 35%-50% when you considter the space taken up in the 10 gallon with sand, rock, air, etc.

After the water change, the level is down to 0.25ppm or less.

Like I said, I know that 0ppm is ideal, but to accomplish that in a newly cycling tank (where I'm still trying to learn exactly how much to feed these guys) the only way that would come close to happenning right now is if I were doing perpetual water changes. For now, those fish are going to have to deal with 0.25 to 1.0 ppm.


For now, this thread has served it's purpose... basically that I likely need to continue doing daily water changes so long as ammonia is even close to 0.5ppm.
dont be afraid to do much larger water changes. 50% is fine 75% will help knock that ammonia level down even more. for the feeding try just every other day feeding they will be fine and make less waste. i would try to keep the ammonia under .25 ppm.
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