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Old 01-15-2023, 09:23 AM   #1
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New Aquarium Craziness

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 Terraís 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 didnít work. I have no idea what the film is or how to proceed at this point. Iíd 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!

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Old 01-15-2023, 09:40 AM   #2
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5 neon tetras in 50+ gallons isnt going to produce ammonia at 8+ ppm overnight. So something else did this. Did you monitor the water parameters over that 2 week period, and immediately before you bought your fish?

Did you do a water change immediately before getting your fish? Might your tap water be an ammonia source?

What substrate do you have? Any live plants that may have died and decomposed contributing to ammonia?

A bit late now, but those 2 weeks of running the tank wont have achieved anything. You need an ammonia source to cycle a tank, and if you are planning on cycling the tank before you add fish you need to be adding ammonia on some form over an extended period.

You need that ammonia down to no higher than 0.5ppm. Based on 8ppm, that 4 x 50% back to back.water changes needed. Check your tap water for ammonia first though.

Whats your pH btw?
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Old 01-15-2023, 10:24 AM   #3
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PH is at 7. I just checked my tap water and it read zero for ammonia. I didn’t check the tank for ammonia before adding the fish as we have other small tanks in our house and never had this issue so I didn’t think I needed to. I don’t have any idea how it could have spiked like that or what could have caused it.
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Old 01-15-2023, 10:38 AM   #4
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Substrate is a good possibility. Many substrates leech out ammonia over the first couple of weeks, especially soil based substrate.

At a pH of 7 and a typical aquarium temperature, ammonia should remain non toxic up to about 4ppm. I would still get it down to 0.5ppm as pH swings are common in uncycled tanks. At 4ppm and pH of 7.2 you are at risk, and 4ppm and pH of 7.4 fish start dying.
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Old 01-15-2023, 10:39 AM   #5
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We have gravel. I do have ammonia lock…should I use that?

I still don’t know what the film is that is all over the place.

I’m in the process of doing a water change now. Will try and get it down as much as I can.
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Old 01-15-2023, 11:06 AM   #6
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Gravel can leech ammonia too.

The only surefire way to deal with high ammonia is water changes. Ammo lock will detoxify an amount of ammonia but the ammonia stays in the water, and the ammo lock only deals with so much and only for a period of time. There are limits to how effective it can be. Ive been doing some reading on ammo lock recently and it seems to work by lowering pH. Ammonia at lower pH is less toxic.

If you use ammo lock, or a water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia like seachem prime, it should a backup used alongside water changes.

The film is probably bacterial. Bacteria feeding on the excess nutrients growing until it forms biofilm. Or maybe something introduced with the new fish. I would try and remove it with your water change.
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Old 01-15-2023, 11:11 AM   #7
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Thanks. Just finished the first water change. Am going to wait a bit and do the next. Really tried to start the aquarium right so discouraged this happened in one night. ��
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Old 01-15-2023, 11:15 AM   #8
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Aquariums are complex things with lots of things going on. Most of the time things just work out, but you cant anticipate everything and sometimes despite doing things the right way things go wrong.
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Old 01-15-2023, 11:26 AM   #9
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Is there any chance any detergent might have got in the tank?
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Old 01-15-2023, 11:46 AM   #10
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Not that I know of.

Am considering moving the rest of the tetras over to a 10 gallon I have with a Betta in it. Not ideal but I am concerned they are not going to be ok. This biofilm is everywhere and short of draining the tank and cleaning everything I’m
Not sure how to get it out of the aquarium. I’m just stunned that it formed so quickly…although I guess there must have been something else going on that I didn’t realize for it to have happened.
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Old 01-15-2023, 01:50 PM   #11
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I completed the water changes. Aquarium is still hazy and hard to see in, but not as bad as it was this morning. Still have biofilm in the aquarium as I just couldnít get it all out. Am going to test in am hour or so and see where things are at.
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Old 01-15-2023, 06:53 PM   #12
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Hi and welcome to the forum

Can you post a picture of the entire aquarium, and post some of the haze?

Is the film/ haze green or white?
Green is algae, white is bacteria.

Did anyone add extra food to the tank?
Did you have visitors yesterday?
Do you have any cream, perfume, hand sanitiser, grease, oil or anything else on your hands that might have washed off into the water?

You mention you have another aquarium with a Betta, I assume you know about these things and feeding, filters, etc, but am just asking to confirm they didn't cause the deaths.

------------------

You can test the gravel by putting some in a bucket of tap water and leaving it for a week. Test the water for ammonia before adding the gravel to the bucket and monitor the ammonia during the next week. If no ammonia appears in the water in the bucket, then the gravel is not the issue.

Do you have driftwood in the tank?
Some driftwood leach fungus out of the wood for a while when first put underwater. Most of the fungus is harmless but there are some toxic fungus that come off driftwood and these can kill fish very quickly. The best treatment if you think it is driftwood, is to remove the wood and do a huge (80-90%) water change and gravel clean the substrate, and then follow that up with a 75% water change and gravel clean every day for a week.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

Clean the filter to remove any unwanted fungus that might be in it. You won't get it all out but you should be able to remove most of it.

If you have driftwood, you can put that in a bucket of water outside and monitor the ammonia level like you do for testing the gravel.

------------------

At this stage just remove driftwood (if you have any) and do big daily water changes and gravel cleans. Increase aeration/ surface turbulence.
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Old 01-15-2023, 07:30 PM   #13
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I tried to upload picturesÖ can you see them?

The film is white, so definitely not algae. And it appeared overnightÖI went to bed at 11, came down at 9 and it was everywhere! Not a small amount. Iím still shocked at how quickly it seemed to deteriorate.

Iíve done 5 50% water changes so far today and my ammonia is still reading at 1. I canít do anymore changes today as I basically ran out of stuff to put in the water as I had to replace so much.

I didnít move the tetras out of the tank yet as Iím not sure if I should or notÖ Iím having a hard time seeing them and have no idea if Iíve lost more.

I have a hard time thinking it is the gravel. Itís the same gravel we have used in our other tanks and I never had this happen. Can it be the plastic plant or the moon stone things we got to put in it? We did add those yesterday but we washed them off before doing so.
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Old 01-17-2023, 07:52 AM   #14
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The plastic plant won't cause this.

I don't know what the moonstones are but rocks shouldn't cause this either.

I would remove the remaining fish and flush the tank and gravel out. Then set it back up.
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Old 01-17-2023, 08:03 AM   #15
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Ok. Thanks. The biofilm is just getting worse so I wondered if this would be my only option. The water parameters are now in line so why the film is getting worse is beyond me. This has been a discouraging experience.
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Old 01-17-2023, 09:19 AM   #16
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Normally this is caused by uneaten food in a new tank, or driftwood fungus. This appears to be caused by something else but no idea what. If it happens again i would look into the gravel and anything else that might be in the tank.
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Old 02-02-2023, 09:14 PM   #17
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Hello - so me again. I finally got the biofilm out of the tank and I believe it was from one of the chemicals I used interacting with other chemicals.

Iím back though because I am STILL having issues with high ammonia. I still only have 4 neon tetras in the tank (55 gallon). The ammonia is skyrocketing so quickly I can barely stay on top of it. Last night I got it down to .5 and today it was back to 2 (if I were to leave it another day it would have likely been at 8, which is where I have found it several times despite numerous water changes). I have taken all decorations out of the tank (didnít help) and am in the process of testing the gravelÖ but what else can it be if it isnít the gravel? The only items left in the tank are the gravel, the heater and the filterÖ.

I have no nitrite or nitrate in the tank at all. Probably because all I do is change the freaking water.

I bought the aquarium used from someone who upgraded to a bigger aquarium. He did at one time seal the corners as I can see the sealantÖ it isnít clear but a black sealant. Itís the only other thing that I can even think of at this point? Is that even a possibility?

I am really at my wits end. I am regretting getting this aquarium and it makes me sad because I have always loved having fish and was excited to get back into it. But I have never had issues like this before. I need help.
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Old 02-02-2023, 09:41 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Littleldy View Post
Hello - so me again. I finally got the biofilm out of the tank and I believe it was from one of the chemicals I used interacting with other chemicals.

Iím back though because I am STILL having issues with high ammonia. I still only have 4 neon tetras in the tank (55 gallon). The ammonia is skyrocketing so quickly I can barely stay on top of it. Last night I got it down to .5 and today it was back to 2 (if I were to leave it another day it would have likely been at 8, which is where I have found it several times despite numerous water changes). I have taken all decorations out of the tank (didnít help) and am in the process of testing the gravelÖ but what else can it be if it isnít the gravel? The only items left in the tank are the gravel, the heater and the filterÖ.

I have no nitrite or nitrate in the tank at all. Probably because all I do is change the freaking water.

I bought the aquarium used from someone who upgraded to a bigger aquarium. He did at one time seal the corners as I can see the sealantÖ it isnít clear but a black sealant. Itís the only other thing that I can even think of at this point? Is that even a possibility?

I am really at my wits end. I am regretting getting this aquarium and it makes me sad because I have always loved having fish and was excited to get back into it. But I have never had issues like this before. I need help.
Let's start with these questions: Have you tested your tap water for ammonia? What did you use to clean the tank before you set it up?
What kind of test kit are you using? Does it test for free ammonia (NH3) or total ammonia ( NH3+ NH4)?

Is your substrate a plant substrate? Have you used any fertilizers for live plants?
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Old 02-02-2023, 10:00 PM   #19
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Sorry for the repeat
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Old 02-02-2023, 10:35 PM   #20
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I have tested my tap water for ammonia. The first time I tested it it read zero. I tested it again this evening and it was either zero or .25…hard to tell.

The tank was cleaned before I got it and set it up. although I did also take a sponge and scrub it out with water before I filled it with water as well to make sure to get small things that might have been missed.

I’m using the API test kit.

I have no live plants. I have aquarium gravel I got at Walmart (used the same brand in my betta tanks and never had an issue that I know of). We had a plastic plant and a couple moon rocks in there (never added anything else because I’ve had so many problems getting things started). I took them out last night when the water again tested at 8 for ammonia in an effort to try and start narrowing down what was causing it to continue to rise so rapidly. When I tested it again this evening and found it to already be at 2 again, I took some gravel out to try and see if it is the gravel.
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