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Old 11-26-2003, 07:51 AM   #1
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high ammonia ! please help!

My tank is only 1 week old, i had my water tested 3 days after i purchased it. The person at the fish store said my water is good and that i can buy a fish. So i did i bought 2 clown fished and 1 star fish.
3 days later my star fish died and my clown fishes weren't swimming around much ( i don't know if this is normal), when i feed them they don't even eat. I got the water tested again and found very high levels of ammonia and nitrite, so the lady at the fish store told me to put live rock in my tank and to do a water change immediately.
I did a 25% water change and added Cycle (4 capfuls) to the water.
After a few hours my clown fish started to swim around again.
I tested the water again the next day and still found high levels of ammonia - over 5.0 mg/l (i use the Tetratest) so i did a 50% water change and i also added AmmoLock 2 and Cycle to my water.
Few hours after i tested the water and now my ammonia level is at 3.0mg/l.
Is it safe to do another water change again? what else can i do to remove ammonia from my water? the funny thing is my clown fishes are swimming around heaps and are looking for food. is this normal for them? how can i tell if they are sick? i'm soo stressed out and worried that my clown fish are gona die..please help me!
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Old 11-26-2003, 08:53 AM   #2
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oh boy. first of all the people at your lfs are morons. your tank is one week old. i'm assuming that you dont know anything about cycling a tank? i think you need to do a bit of research about cycling a tank. here's a quick overview. in order for the bacteria that breaks down amonia to be present in your tank you have to introduce some form of ammonia. this can be done with a couple of fish( not recommended). check the articles page on this site and you can read on how to do a fishless cycle. so you introduce ammonia into your tank, it peaks, bacteria forms and breaks it down to nitrites. nitrities peak, bacteria forms to break it down into nitrates. this process takes about 6 weeks. when your ammonia and nitrite levels are back to zero and you are getting some nitrates, THEN you can add some fish. most of your fish will keep dying until this cycle is over. again, that was a very brief overview, there are tons of sites that explain in depth about the cycling of a tank. unfortunaly for you your lfs is of no help. please if you have any questions come to this site instead of asking them again, no one here is trying to sell you anything!! anyways, hth!
steve
also, you need to get a testing kit of your own so you can watch the levels closely.
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Old 11-26-2003, 09:41 AM   #3
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So i guess there is nothing i can do to keep my fish from dying? They are having problems breathing now thanks for your help...next time i'll just get advice from here......
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Old 11-26-2003, 09:59 AM   #4
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it isn't likely. there are a lot of fish that can make it through the cycling period like damsels. i think that clown fish are much less tolerant though. you can either try to take them back to your lfs for a refund, otherwise you will have to wait and see i guess. someone else might have a better idea of something you could do but it kind of sounds like your stuck for now. anyways, the bottom line is learn from this mistake. there are tons and tons of sites and books to read. there is even a reading list somewhere on this site you should check it out.
steve
sorry about the clowns
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Old 11-26-2003, 10:20 AM   #5
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Clown fish are damsels. Do massive water changes being very careful about matching the salinity and get those ammonia levels as low as possible. Do small water changes at a time, possibly 20% each day from now on until the ammonia starts to drop by itslef. If you register any ammonia in the tank then do a water change. Do not add any new fish or inverts right now. Feed only little amounts of food to keep the waste low. Add LR only if it is fully cured. Otherwise there will be lots of die off and more ammonia produced. LR is a great thing for saltwater tanks to keep them healthy and if you can get fully (not partially) cured LR then add it now and it will help immensly. Good luck and as was mentioned keep reading and reading and asking questions, specifically from people who aren't making money from you.
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Old 11-26-2003, 10:48 AM   #6
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if all the ammonia is taken out of the tank it will not cycle. am i wrong?
steve
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Old 11-26-2003, 11:11 AM   #7
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There is one solution I would recommend. Use Saltwater Bio-Spira. In general, it is the good bacteria in a bottle which you add to the tank, thus cutting down the normal 4 week cycling period.

You can get it shipped to you cold packed, 2 day priority from this website;

http://www.fishstoretn.com/

Good luck!
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Old 11-26-2003, 11:30 AM   #8
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I would recommend bringing the clowns back and have them babysit them for awhile until your tank is cycled. That's the least they can do for giving such poor advice.
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Old 11-26-2003, 11:34 AM   #9
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You will not be taking out all of the ammonia. Our test kits aren't that acurate so there will still be a little bit left. Plus there is no way that the ammonia bacteria is going to grow that fast that it can use even 1ppm over night. It grows slowly and all you need is a little more ammonia than there is bacteria capable of using it.

That is why dumping a ton of ammonia in an uncycled tank doesn't necessarily mean that things are going to cycle faster.

The fish are the key thing right now in this particular tank.

As gizmo is in Australia 2 day priority probably won't work. Good old water changes are the best thing that can happen right now.

Also your tank is 26liters? That is around 10 gallon maybe at most and that is not big enough for 2 clown fish. The store sold you a tiny tank. You need around 20 gallons for 2 clown fish. Sure they fit in therebut they do grow to be around 4-5 inches in size. They might be able to live peacefully in that tank but do not add any more fish at all in there or the clowns will likely kill it as they are super aggressive fish. Do not add an anemone either as it will just die in a matter of weeks at the most. The best thing to add to that tank is LR (when you are ready) and maybe some hermit crabs and snails. That is it. I wouldn't add another starfish either as in a tank that small either the starfish will die or they have actually been known (some varieties) to cornor fish and eat them.
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Old 11-26-2003, 11:42 AM   #10
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Just to clarify, tkos, you are not adding ammonia. Bio-Spira is live nitrifying bacteria. You are correct though in that it will not cycle over-night since you do have high amounts of ammonia already.

It is used to cycle/start a new tank, but it will speed up the cycling period.
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