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Old 01-15-2013, 12:19 PM   #1
graceful.04
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Exclamation CRAZY ammonia levels in my 55

So I have a fairly new 55 gallon aquarium. I left for a day, then when I got back, the ammonia level was at .5ppm so I did a big water change. This morning, the ammonia was even worse! almost 1 ppm! My fish aren't currently gasping at the surface which is good, but if I can't get the ammonia down the won't be ok for long... I checked and there are no dead fish to cause an ammonia spike, my tank isn't overstocked, and everything seems like it should be normal, but it isn't. Help!! I just added ammonia reducing rocks to the tank and did another water change but I don't know what else to do. I haven't had a problem this big since my very first tank...
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:56 PM   #2
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I would clean your test kit out real good and retest... I ran into it once and after I cleaned it out with some distilled water I had more normal readings... They were still high but not as high as my first couple tests were indicating...
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:01 PM   #3
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Peaks and Valleys
An ammonia peak in a mature aquarium indicates a short-term, immediate problem that if dealt with rapidly, will soon be remedied. So what is your best action should you be on the end of an ammonia spike?

Follow this eight-stage recovery plan:

1) Stop feeding immediately.
2) Aerate vigorously, check the filter and aquarium for any decaying matter.
3) Carry out a partial water change.
4) Retest for ammonia to confirm near-zero reading(s).
5) Allow the aquarium two days furher “rest” without feeding, etc.
6) Retest and repeat steps 1-5, if necessary.
7) If readings are near zero, then start feeding sparingly.
8) Continue to test water to confirm that filter is now coping with ammonia and nitrite production.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:23 PM   #4
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Here's a bit more ammonia info for you:

Ammonia’s Effect On Tropical Fish
Ammonia is a tissue irritant, causing real problems for delicate areas such as exposed gill tissue. The gill tissue responds to this irritation by hemorrhaging, with the delicate filaments thickening and clumping together — a condition called hyperplasia. The vast reduction in surface area caused by the clumping reduces a tropical fish’s ability to absorb oxygen from the water. In addition to their undesirable state of affairs, any oxygen that is absorbed is done so suboptimally, as the presence of ammonia reduces the blood’s carrying capacity.

If that’s not bad enough for our tropical fish, the reduction in the surface area of the gills also reduces a fish’s ability to excrete ammonia from its body, causing the ammonia levels in the fish to increase, damaging every cell in the fish’s body. More than 90 percent of all ammonia excreted by tropical fish is done so by the gills. It’s not surprising therefore that when tropical fish do experience ammonia in an aquarium, they show a pronounced and typical gasping response.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:12 PM   #5
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Agree with the above.

Ammonia spikes in a new tank are usually from feeding and/or stocking more that your "cycling" filter is ready to handle. Also check for dead fish, plants, algae, or even rotting driftwood.

But also test your source water. Sources can switch from disinfecting with chlorine only to chloramine or even in some reported cases, just ammonia and amounts can vary hour by hour.

Also read the fine print of everything you've added to the water. Some "maintenance" products reduce the nitrate levels by turning it back into ammonia

Last edited by emc7; 01-15-2013 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:43 PM   #6
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Ahhhh, thats so scary!! My poor fish! I checked the ammonia several times over a period of about twelve hours and it's remained constant throughout all of my water changes, adding of bacteria, etc... I did take out the driftwood just a few minutes ago and I don't think any of my fish are dead although it's pretty hard to count all ten of my tiny pigmy corys in a 55 gallon tank. I don't add anything to the water other than API stress coat for a water conditioner, aquarium salt, and special blend...
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:13 PM   #7
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Usually overfeeding. Go really light with a new tank.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:02 PM   #8
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I haven't been feeding them at all for a few days and it's now risen to 1 ppm. The fish aren't gasping for air though and their gills aren't red...
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:42 PM   #9
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How long has this tank been running? Don't add anything but dechlor to it otherwise you will run into problems. You can add StressZyme+ as it is a bacteria in a bottle and it will help with cycling, but that is ALL you add besides the declor. What kind of fish do you have in your 55 gallon tank? Some fish produce a lot of waste therefore contributing to the ammonia spike.
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