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Old 03-11-2021, 04:50 PM   #1
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Ammonia levels help

Former tank was a single betta fish 2.5 gallon micro tank. I had plans to move up to a 5 gallon planted tank, but the pump on the micro tank went out while I was out of town an my friend didn't notice. Ammonia levels went sky high. Blue betta turned blue/red/green/yellow/grey due to ammonia poisoning. Fin fray, gills are edged in gray, face head brown/grey.

Ran to Costco got new 5 gallon tank and all new decor (fake)etc.
Dechlorinate with stress coat, add cleaning bacteria, betta fix, room temp.

Fish is recovering, returning to blue color. Eating, swimming and exploring new tank.

I'm doing twice daily 50% water changes but the ammonia levels stay consistently .25ppm ammonia. Tested tap water, not the source of ammonia. Reduced feedings, water changes still .25ppm ammonia.

I'm going nuts trying to bring this level down, and I'm worried the frequent water changes are stressing out the fish.

Am I missing something? Where am I going wrong.
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Old 03-11-2021, 04:51 PM   #2
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Have you checked your tap water?
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Old 03-11-2021, 04:54 PM   #3
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Yes, I tested the tap water. It's not the source.
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Old 03-11-2021, 05:12 PM   #4
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If you are trying to cycle a new set up, that could take weeks or even months. Have you tried moving some filter media from your old filter to the new.

Also, 0.25ppm ammonia is nothing to worry about (unless you have really high pH). You need some ammonia in there to start your cycle. Typically you want to keep ammonia + nitrite combined below 0.5ppm through water changes until your cycle establishes and keeps them at 0ppm by itself.
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Old 03-11-2021, 05:24 PM   #5
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Given the crazy high levels of ammonia I didn't want to attempt filter transfer at risk of being overly cautious. I started completely fresh because I was 98% sure the betta was going to be dead by the time I got back with the new tank (he was in really bad shape) and I wanted the tank to start out with a 0ppm for his recovery.

So I shouldn't worry until levels get to .5ppm? Should I maintaing 50% changes until levels drop to 0, or should I only do changes at .5ppm? I've only had fish for 6 months so I am very new to all of this.
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Old 03-11-2021, 05:42 PM   #6
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Your test kit doesn't measure free ammonia, it measures total ammonia, which is ammonia + ammonium. The ratio of ammonia to ammonium increases towards ammonia the higher the pH and ammonium is much, much less toxic than ammonia.

In the short to medium term, 0.25ppm wont be toxic unless you have a very high pH. It is a sign you arent cycled though.

Your fish has been affected by the ammonia though from your cycle crash, and this could have long term health issues. If your fish doesn't fully recover, its not the low levels of ammonia that you have now, it will be the high levels it had previously that will be the cause.

Test daily, if ammonia + nitrite combined is above 0.5ppm (say 0.25ppm ammonia + 0.25ppm nitrite) then do a water change. 25% if you see 0.5ppm, 50% if it gets to 1ppm. If you keep removing ammonia whenever you see it, you will never cycle.

Having said that, 1 fish in even a small tank, if you do a weekly water change, you might never see elevated water parameters. Which is fine, your tank will eventually cycle without you really noticing and you will never see water parameters that are a risk to your fish.
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Old 03-11-2021, 05:48 PM   #7
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Thanks, that helps a lot. I know that he's going to be permently damaged, I feel so bad for him that I just want to do everything I can to help him recover and have the best outcome possible.
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Old 03-11-2021, 05:54 PM   #8
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We dont know the fish is permanently damaged, and we all make mistakes, expecially when inexperienced. The trick is to try and not make the same mistakes multiple times.

Fingers crossed, hope your fish recovers. You are doing all you can.

Edit. And that's not to say you have made any kind of mistake. Something broke and you werent there to notice it. Things happen.
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