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Old 02-03-2023, 01:51 AM   #21
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I would say it's the gravel. Filters won't cause ammonia to go up to 8ppm unless they are full of dead fish or fish food. Black silicon or any aquarium silicon won't cause this. You removed the moon rocks and the only thing left is the gravel.

Get 2 buckets of tap water. Test the pH and ammonia in both buckets. Add a few inches of gravel to one bucket and leave the other bucket with just water in. Monitor both buckets for pH and ammonia over the next week. If the bucket with gravel gets an ammonia reading, that is the problem. It would also explain the white slime that grew on the substrate. I reckon you got a bad batch of gravel.

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Old 02-03-2023, 04:05 PM   #22
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So. It seems it was the gravel. I tested the water just now had the gravel in it and it already had 2ppm of ammonia. I canít believe it. What a disappointment and waste of my money.

How do I get the gravel out when I have fish in there? Does anyone have good suggestions? And how to put something new in?

Thanks!
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Old 02-03-2023, 04:38 PM   #23
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You might be able to syphon it out. If not fill a big bucket or tote box with tank water, remove your fish into the bucket, scoop out all the gravel with a net, set your tank back up and refill with clean water, acclimate your fish to the clean water and return them to the tank.

Try and do it all in 1 go to minimise the time fish are kept in the bucket.
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Old 02-03-2023, 06:32 PM   #24
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Gravel clean the substrate (if it hasn't been done in the last few days).
Use a fish net to scoop the gravel up and lift it out. Put the old gravel in a bucket.
When you have most of the gravel out, use a syphon hose to remove the remaining stuff.
When you are scooping the gravel out, push it to the ends of the tank and scoop it out from there. That way you can work on one side of the tank and the fish can swim around the other side.


Wash new gravel and then use a small container to scoop the new gravel up and put it in the tank. Lower the container of gravel into the water and get it close to the bottom, then pour the gravel out.
Add the new gravel to each side and then use your hand to push it towards the middle and level it out.


If you have the receipt, you should be able to return the gravel to the shop and let them know it's contaminated with something that causes ammonia levels to go up rapidly. You should be able to get a refund for that gravel.

Try to avoid light coloured gravel, or blue, red, green gravel. Natural brown gravel is generally the best or use play sand, however that's usually white, which isn't good unless you have lots of floating plants.
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Old 02-03-2023, 07:00 PM   #25
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So. It seems it was the gravel. I tested the water just now had the gravel in it and it already had 2ppm of ammonia. I canít believe it. What a disappointment and waste of my money.

How do I get the gravel out when I have fish in there? Does anyone have good suggestions? And how to put something new in?

Thanks!
Well that's an oddity but at least you know now.
While it can be done with fish in the tank, I'm not a fan of doing this for a whole substrate change. As mentioned in another post, I'd move the fish into another tank or bucket or container where you can add some form of aeration or filtration then attack the tank. If you use a larger diameter siphon hose, you should be able to remove most if not all the gravel out rather quickly. If not, you can always add more water to the tank should you run out of water before you run out of gravel without needing to dechlorinate or do anything to the new water. Once done, you can setup the tank with the new gravel or substrate and fill the tank, dechlorinate and or adjust the water, run the filter and let the tank run overnight without the fish. This way, if there is a cloudiness issue or you need to make alterations in the tank, the fish are not effected by these. Once you have the tank set to the fish's desires, you can add back your fish.
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Old 02-05-2023, 01:32 PM   #26
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I cleaned all the gravel out of the aquarium yesterday and put new gravel in and added the fish back in. I tested the water just now, 24 hours later, and I already have an ammonia reading of what looks to be more than one and less than 2. ☹️ I thought for sure it was the gravelÖbut I canít imagine I would have been unlucky enough to get two bad batches of gravel. We got natural gravel this time. Itís brown.

The container I put the original gravel in tested at a 2 for ammonia levels after 24 hours. I had thoroughly cleaned the gravel off before putting it in the container as well. My tap water either doesnít register any ammonia or it might be .25 (such a slight difference in the colors I canít tell).

What is going on? Would 4 fish in a 55 gallon aquarium cause that kind of rise in a non-cycled tank in 24 hours? Or is my tank just crap?
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Old 02-05-2023, 01:45 PM   #27
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Unless you are severely overfeeding, I would expect 4 neon tetras in 50 gallons to take several days before ammonia was detectable in a completely uncycled tank.

Remove everything from the tank. Go bare bottom. Put some plastic pipe in the tank to make the fish more comfortable.

If ammonia continues to increase as before, you know its nothing in your aquascape. You are then looking at something in the filtration maybe or its a problem with the tank assembly. If you are seeing more normal ammonia levels start adding back decorations one bit a time and monitor. You can then identify whats causing the issue and remove it permanently.

Are you adding products or supplements other than water conditioner when you change water?
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Old 02-05-2023, 01:58 PM   #28
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This time I added API Quick Start to the tank. Just that and stress coat. I had only the gravel, heater and filter in before. I had taken all the decorations out and it was still rising rapidly. The only other weird thing about the aquarium is the black sealant. I don’t know anything about sealants or if they can be a cause.

I can’t believe I have to take all the gravel back out. This has been a horrible experience.
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Old 02-05-2023, 02:05 PM   #29
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Its entirely possible that the gravel is the source of the ammonia. Id go as far as to say gravel will often be an ammonia source for a few days until its leached out and been removed by a few water changes.

If you don't want to remove the gravel, big water changes every day for a week or so and see if the ammonia comes back after that.
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Old 02-05-2023, 02:33 PM   #30
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Ok. I will give it a few days I guess. If it normally goes away, I guess I would have expected it to go away with the last stuff I had, and that didn’t happen….

Does ammonia just keep rising if nothing is done to counteract it?
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Old 02-05-2023, 05:32 PM   #31
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This time I added API Quick Start to the tank. Just that and stress coat. I had only the gravel, heater and filter in before. I had taken all the decorations out and it was still rising rapidly. The only other weird thing about the aquarium is the black sealant. I donít know anything about sealants or if they can be a cause.

I canít believe I have to take all the gravel back out. This has been a horrible experience.
One other possibility is that that black silicone was not totally cured and is leeching into the water. Another would be from animals. Do you know if the tank was used only for fish and not for any small animals before? I have seen ammonia issues in tanks that were previously used for rodents and their urine got into the silicone and when used for fish afterwards, there was an ammonia issue that couldn't be resolved.
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Old 02-05-2023, 06:43 PM   #32
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He used it as a saltwater tank before I bought it. It hadnít been in use for a couple days at least before I picked it up. Iím not sure when the silicone was put in or how long that takes to cure though.
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Old 02-05-2023, 09:15 PM   #33
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Silicon doesn't cause ammonia problems.

It's possible you got another bad batch of gravel or it could just have some gunk on it that didn't wash off when you were cleaning it. Get a bucket of water and test the new gravel.
And as Aiken suggested, do a big water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for a week and see how it goes after that.
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Old 02-05-2023, 10:16 PM   #34
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Silicon doesn't cause ammonia problems.

It's possible you got another bad batch of gravel or it could just have some gunk on it that didn't wash off when you were cleaning it. Get a bucket of water and test the new gravel.
And as Aiken suggested, do a big water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for a week and see how it goes after that.
I don't know what brands of silicone you have in Australia but not all brands of it in the states are tank safe. Some of the black ones are and some aren't. In the case of cured silicone, it can absorb urine apparently because it happened more than once. Rodent pee is very strong and once it gets into the silicone, I wouldn't use the tank again for fish.

That all said, if the new gravel was made by the same company as the other gravel, it's possible it all was contaminated but that has to be a rarity. If the new gravel was of another brand, it would have to be somewhere along the line in storage that it all got contaminated and the OP should bring that up with the place they got it from.
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Old 02-05-2023, 10:23 PM   #35
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He used it as a saltwater tank before I bought it. It hadnít been in use for a couple days at least before I picked it up. Iím not sure when the silicone was put in or how long that takes to cure though.
I'd contact the seller and verify that nothing was in the tank between the time they shut down the saltwater tank and you got it. Silicone usually has a 24-48 hour curing time. ( It dries to the touch before then tho) I'd ask when they added the black silicone, what brand they used and if they had used it before setting up the marine tank, ask if they had any ammonia issues with the tank or many unexpalined fish deaths.
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Old 02-06-2023, 12:30 PM   #36
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SoÖ is it possible it is my tap water?

As an experiment last night I took some tap water and put it in a glass to sit overnight and see what happens. When I test my tap water straight from the faucet I get a very low reading or no reading of ammonia at all. When I tested the water I sat out last night (covered but not air tight) it had a reading of 1+ this afternoon. Is this the issue? And if so, how can I work with it? No way can I buy 55 gallons of spring water to put in the tank and continue to buy them for water changes, etc. 😕
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Old 02-06-2023, 12:39 PM   #37
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SoÖ is it possible it is my tap water?

As an experiment last night I took some tap water and put it in a glass to sit overnight and see what happens. When I test my tap water straight from the faucet I get a very low reading or no reading of ammonia at all. When I tested the water I sat out last night (covered but not air tight) it had a reading of 1+ this afternoon. Is this the issue? And if so, how can I work with it? No way can I buy 55 gallons of spring water to put in the tank and continue to buy them for water changes, etc. 😕
I'd contact your water company because that doesn't sound right. That said, in my last hatchery, there wasn't enough outside air getting in that I created gaseous ammonia in my air and with the bubbles in the water creating an exchange of gases, I had an ammonia problem in my egg hatching tanks. There are test papers to test ammonia in the air.
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Old 02-07-2023, 02:29 AM   #38
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SoÖ is it possible it is my tap water?

As an experiment last night I took some tap water and put it in a glass to sit overnight and see what happens. When I test my tap water straight from the faucet I get a very low reading or no reading of ammonia at all. When I tested the water I sat out last night (covered but not air tight) it had a reading of 1+ this afternoon. Is this the issue? And if so, how can I work with it? No way can I buy 55 gallons of spring water to put in the tank and continue to buy them for water changes, etc. 😕
Clean water that is not exposed to anything organic, will not just magically create ammonia. A clean glass of water will not create ammonia so the 1ppm in the glass of water came from your tap water. The water you get today could be different from the water you got yesterday, or get tomorrow.

Your water probably has chloramine in and water companies don't always add the right amount of chlorine to ammonia to make the chloramine. There is sometimes a small amount of ammonia left over. If your tap water has 1ppm ammonia, that is the highest level of ammonia it will introduce into your aquarium (1ppm). You can change all the water in your tank and the tap water will only give you 1ppm ammonia. If you are getting readings above 1ppm, then there is something in the aquarium producing the ammonia.

If you have an established biological filter, and the substrate and ornaments are not leaching anything into the water, then the filter bacteria should be able to deal with 1ppm ammonia pretty quickly (within a few hours).
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Old 02-07-2023, 02:50 AM   #39
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Hello -

I bought a 55 gallon tank a couple weeks ago. Set it up. Have a good test kit and made sure everything was in parameters. Let it run for a good two weeks with the just the water and filter. We bought 5 neon Terra’s yesterday to add to the tank to give it a start without overpopulating. I woke up this morning to water so cloudy I could barely see in the tank. There is a film covering everything and one of the tetras already died. I tested ammonia and it was above 8 already! I know about new tank syndrome was trying to avoid this by going slow but I guess it didn’t work. I have no idea what the film is or how to proceed at this point. I’d prefer not to lose anymore of the fish if possible. Just looking for advice as to what to do. And what the heck the film is??

Thanks!
There was a couple times I accidentally put to much neutral regulator in my aquarium and it did just this! You may have added to much of something.. I don't know what products you use but some products do this when you add to much of it for the volume of water.. also be sure of exactly how many gallons of water is actually in ur tank. Just because ur tank is 55 gallons don't necessarily mean that's the amount of water in the aquarium.. Think about the amount of space the gravel, decorations, and such take up. Just my experience.. although I'm not ten year hobbyist or no professional either...
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Old 02-07-2023, 03:06 AM   #40
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You should find someone that will sell you some spong filters from a cycled aquarium about 3 large ones. They will help cycle the tank. Throw those in run them and also add seachem stability.. stability rapidly and safely establishes bio- filter.. new tank stabilization system..
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