Aquarium ammonia levels.

Discussion in 'Other Animals and Invertebrate' started by reptalica, Aug 5, 2012.

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  1. reptalica

    reptalica Subscriber Subscriber

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    Howdy all. Normally spend all my time in the herp section but got a question for the fish/aquarium keepers on the forum.

    We have a 180 litre tank set up with an Eheim 2215 canister filter running the spray bay vertically at one end of the tank. We keep 1 x silver sharl, 5 x clown loaches, 2 x rainbows, 3 x kissing gouramis, 4 x bristlenose catfish and 2 angels.

    We seem to be always having issues with our ammonia levels. Oh and we have been keeping fish for long enough so know the usual remedies....water changes etc.

    Does anyone on here have any "tricks of the trade" in keeping ammonia levels at a respectable level. We don't over feed and do 25% changes often enough. we use products like Seachem Stability and Prime to treat the water.

    Also our water hardness is up.....considering a reverse osmosis water filter so that should help in that department but don't think that has anything to do with ammonia...maybe, maybe not.

    If anyone can assist it would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Twitch_80

    Twitch_80 Well-Known Member

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    I know this is a stupid/simple question but when did you last clean your canister? Im guessing you already know that over cleaning is bad but I find with mine it makes a huge difference to scrub the hoses out as well as they clog and slow the water flow. Its a fair bio load you have there but the eheim should handle it no prob. How big are your loaches etc? Any chance or some plants in there or would they destroy them? The water here isnt generally very hard so its surprising you hardness is up, are you using conditioning salts or any salts? Normally water changes drop the hardness. Have you changed anything like substrate or added anything new lately?

    You could also add an extra internal filter.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012
  3. Ammonia is the primary waste product which should be quickly broken down into nitrite, then nitrite to nitrate. Each is less toxic as the process continues. To have escalating ammonia levels, you either have too many fish for the volume of water, or your filter medium is not mature, and therefore unable to cope with the highly toxic initial output of ammonia. Normally you will be looking at several weeks to allow the filter medium to develop the varieties of bacteria to deal with the three waste products (nitrtate, the last one in the chain, is boken down anaerobically (in the absence of oxygen)).

    If you set up a new tank, you must only put the minimum fish load in to begin with, to allow the filter to develop, and increase slowly over a couple of months. If you keep cleaning your filter medium, you're back to square one each time. A properly developed filter is essential for aquarium health, and you should look after it accordingly.

    Jamie
     
  4. reptalica

    reptalica Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks for your feedback. Much appreciated. The five loaches are about 4-5 cms long. Only thing we haven't done is clean the hoses but in saying that we only bought the filter about 3 or so months ago. How do u recommend cleaning these hoses????

    Thanks in advance.

    And no aquarium salt as I heard that up's the hardness.

    We have just added another spare Eheim we have had from the previous set-up. This one has been placed inside the tank.
     
  5. Twitch_80

    Twitch_80 Well-Known Member

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    Ah well sounds like something is wrong. If the fish are that small the bio load isnt that large. Having said that if your ammonia is over 50ppm it can often ruin the growth of good bacteria in your filter and bugger up the cycling of the tank. Is the whole tank new or just the filter? If the whole thing is new you may have to do small water changes twice a week for a few weeks to try and keep it down long enough for the filter to establish itself.

    If the eheim is only three months old the hoses wont need a clean but when they do you can get little scrubbers. They look like a bottle brush on a longer cord.

    I know this sounds silly but have you checked the filter output? Is it running at the lph it should be? (just put the outlet into a bucket for 60sec and see how much comes out then multiply by 60). Sometimes if the hoses are loose and some air is getting in it can reduce the flow quite a lot.

    The internal should help a bit but if it hasnt been used in a while it will take a while before it does any bio filtration. You can also use the prime at double dose to help but its a short term fix until your filter kicks in by the sounds of it.

    Sorry if Im covering things you already know, just trying to figure it out.
     
  6. thepythonguy

    thepythonguy Active Member

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    I use a product called amtrite down and biofilter's and amazon frog bite plant other then that watch what i feed and regular water changes and gravel vaccum
     
  7. Twitch_80

    Twitch_80 Well-Known Member

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    The reason I asked about plants is they are good for removing ammonia but dont use any fertilizer's or anything yet.
     
  8. reptalica

    reptalica Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks again guys. Knew someone on the forum would be handy in this area. Filter appears to be running correctly. I might, in fact will look at the plant option. Ok....which type of plant would u guys recommend given my set-up above and type of fish I am keeping.

    Might even get some of that amtrite down.

    Cheers and thanks again.


    Oh and what test kit do u use for ammonia?? A specific one that measures ppm???? Cheers.
     
  9. Twitch_80

    Twitch_80 Well-Known Member

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    API kits do the job but there are more accurate ones if your really keen (tds meter is about $100 for ok one). The API give a general reading but its enough to know where your sitting. Its sort of a 0-25, 25-50, 50-75ppm readings etc. What are your ammonia readings at the moment and what kit do you have? The prime will take out ammonia as well but as I said its a short term, have to figure out whats wrong.

    There are a lot of plants out there, I wouldnt go for anything to fragile and your loaches will prob eat whatever you put in there but you could try something that floats and see how you go. Plants are 2.95 a bunch at the shop near me.
     
  10. Multifoliate

    Multifoliate Not so new Member

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    If you are after something that you can use as a complete nitrate sponge, then the plant that i have a love/hate relationship with for that is duckweed.
    (love - grows like the dickens, easy to scoop most of it off the surface, some fish love eating it and uses a lot of nitrates. hate - grows like the dickens if you even have 1-2 leaves left in your tank when you are trying to get rid of it, it will grow back and do so very quickly) That being said, I tend to go towards the love side of the equation for this plant. (and if you want some I can post you a care package of it :lol:) Your loaches will also appreciate the shading it provides.

    Otherwise/In addition, I assume you have some driftwood for the bristlenoses to munch on, and so, Java moss, java ferns and anubias could do quite well there. (they are also tend towards being hardy, and since they are attached to the driftwood rather than buried in the gravel they are less likely to be bulldozed by the loaches) Amazon swords tend to be quite hardy and have deep roots so are also an option.
     
  11. thepythonguy

    thepythonguy Active Member

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    duckweed is good it's consider a pest tho there's also a floating plant called amazon frog bite which grows on the top the tank that helps reduce nitrates and ammonia. i have that amazon swords in my 6ft keeps growing out the top of the tank and drying out i trimmed it backed now don't look so healthy haha
     
  12. -Peter

    -Peter Guest

    Protien skimmer?
     
  13. Twitch_80

    Twitch_80 Well-Known Member

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    Anubia, Java, and Swords will prob end up as an expensive meal for your loaches. Duckweed is a good idea as it might even grow faster than they eat it. A couple of bunches of that might be enough to help your filter kick in.
     
  14. cheekabee

    cheekabee Well-Known Member

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    What are you using in your filter, arfe you using just the sponges or the bio media, maby there isn't enough surface area for the good bateria.
     
  15. slim6y

    slim6y Almost Legendary

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    Always used plants and grow lights for the aquarium and kept snipping plants back regularly.

    Plants that grow quickly sop up nitrates quickly (nitrogen is required for protein which is required for growth).
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  16. ynot64

    ynot64 Suspended Banned

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    Another option is airation i use an airstone in my tank full of discus and tetras along with drift wood and anubius and java ferns. Also lower the ph as the higher it is the more fatal the ammonia will be. I have run pets shops and until recently ran a quarantine room for a major fish supplier. Sometimes the less mucking around with filters the less problems you have. It is a good idea to use a piece of filter wool also in the filter to reseed the canister after you clean it out so you still have a bacterial base. With old school filters eg under gravel the bacteria is always present in the tank even when you use a gravel cleaner. I still use both in my tanks but do not ad the canister until the under gravel filter is working efficietly. I hope this helps you.
     
  17. reptalica

    reptalica Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks guys. As far as the Eheim 2215 is concerned I will I have the bio balls and noodles......basically there is a circular black plastic piece which is at the bottom of the canister which sits 2 inches off the bottom, then the noodles, approx 2 inches worth then the blue filter sponge, then the bio balls....approx 6-8 inches high then the thin gauze (white) pad then another black circular piece which sits flat on top of the white pad (thin) then the filter head sits on top.

    See attachments for breakdown of filter.

    And plants it is.....might get some duckweed and that frog one.


    Oh and by the way I'm hoping that anyone else who has ammonia issues of which I'm sure there are can get some useful information from this thread. Great advice all round.



    View attachment 261544 View attachment 261545
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  18. Kyro

    Kyro Very Well-Known Member

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    You could also consider using a coral sand or aragonite substrate which helps keep your ph level low. I use this in all my tanks & never have any problems.
     
  19. ericrs

    ericrs Active Member

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    if i were you id go out to the aquarium shop and get some charcoal. that will drop the ammonia nearly overnight. its pretty cheap stuff (3-5 bucks for a little bag) and it will give your filter some time to catch up biologically.
    Your system is pretty young and maybe throwing all the fish in at once has just spiked it a bit to much. from what you have said you have got what you need filter wise. charcoal is your friend and has saved my *** sometimes when ive needed to buffer things to stop them spiking.
    it generally comes in an over sized teabag. just peg it to the back of your tank and let it hang in the water. it sucks all the nasties out and lasts 4-6 weeks. im betting this is a pretty simple issue and all it needs is a bit of time to level out.
     
  20. Manda1032

    Manda1032 Very Well-Known Member

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    I'll add my 2 cents here. Cannister is only 3 months old right? Why is it being cleaned? unless your just replacing charcoal, It's really only started up. Remember not to clean the tank AND the filter at the same time, you'll kill the good bacteria off and cause spikes. And if all the fish you've put in there reach maturity it's gonna probably get crowded
     
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