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MadisonLH

Significant ammonia in tap water?

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I've been keeping a close eye on the water parameters in my 20 long since I have 4 baby fancy goldfish in there temporarily.  Over the past 2 days I've measured .5-.75ppm Ammonia, 0ppm Nitrite, 5ppm Nitrate.  Yesterday after measuring the ammonia I did a 40% water change.  Today I decided to test my tap water because I thought it was odd that I'm testing ammonia and nitrate without nitrite, and I discovered that my tap water contains about 1ppm Ammonia.

I'm not really sure how to address this, especially because in this case it would almost seem that water changes actually raised the ammonia?  Instead of doing a water change after testing today, I dosed the tank with Prime and I'm going to test again tomorrow and see where we're at.  Any other thoughts on how to handle this? 

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Do you have a filter on the tank? If so, which one and was it cycled before you added the 2 new fish?

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My tap water registers 1.0 ammonia (due to chloramines), so when I do water changes, I dose double the amount of Prime for the water volume (I do 75-80% changes). After 24 hours, the ammonia in the tank reads as 0 (before that, the Prime was making it safe anyhow).

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My tap water registers 1.0 ammonia (due to chloramines), so when I do water changes, I dose double the amount of Prime for the water volume (I do 75-80% changes). After 24 hours, the ammonia in the tank reads as 0 (before that, the Prime was making it safe anyhow).

That's why I asked if she has a filter on the tank and if it was cycled . .. . If she has a filter that was cycled for the 2 fish, she needs to feed lightly for now until the cycle catches up to the extra bioload. If there isn't a filter or it wasn't cycled for the initial 2 fish, then that ammonia becomes a bigger issue...

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My tap water registers 1.0 ammonia (due to chloramines), so when I do water changes, I dose double the amount of Prime for the water volume (I do 75-80% changes). After 24 hours, the ammonia in the tank reads as 0 (before that, the Prime was making it safe anyhow).

That's why I asked if she has a filter on the tank and if it was cycled . .. . If she has a filter that was cycled for the 2 fish, she needs to feed lightly for now until the cycle catches up to the extra bioload. If there isn't a filter or it wasn't cycled for the initial 2 fish, then that ammonia becomes a bigger issue...

 

Gotcha! Ah, I see she's got a filter, but it's not cycled - I saw there was some nitrate registering, which is what made me not think of that issue. So yeah, it's a fish in cycle, PLUS ammonia in tap. Keep testing the water, it looks like you know Prime can detox a combined amount of 1.0 ammonia & nitrites for 24 hours. Shortly after setting up my goldfish tank ( I did a fishless cycle), I had some cycle bumps, & just did extra water changes whenever values were higher than what adding Prime would detoxify. I do always use double Prime, due to my tap values.

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Fish-in cycle, ammonia in the tap, and overstocking.   Purchasing water may work, but it will be expensive.  Can you return the new fish to the store?

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I could try to return the fish to the store but I don't see how they would be any better off there as they were in a much smaller tank.  I used a bottle of Tetra SafeStart for "up to 40 gallons" and additionally I'm adding Top Fin ReadiStart Nitrifying Bacteria Starter with every water change.

I kept multiple aquariums for several years in high school so I understand the nitrogen cycle, Prime, liquid testing, etc.

Edited by MadisonLH

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I also do have 2 filters on the tank, an Aqua-Tech filter on the tank moving 125gph in addition to another homemade filter rig (I'm not sure on the specs of the pump on this one).

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You could have ten uncycled filters in the tank and they wouldn't remove the ammonia.  The store tank has cycled filters so the fish will not be suffering from ammonia poisoning, nor will they increase the ammonia in your tank.

 

Normally, you have only the ammonia produced by the fish in an uncycled tank, and daily water changes can handle this until you grow a population of nitrifiers.  But you don't have water without ammonia to use for water changes.  

 

The products you bought aren't likely to help much.  I recommend trying Seachem Stability.  

 

Move one of your filters to your ten gallon tank (no fish) and treat both tanks with Stability.  Treat the 10 gallon with the normal dose of Prime.  Treat the 20 gallon with the normal dose of Prime for a 20 gallon tank and do so every day.  If the ammonia goes above 1 ppm, double the dose.  

 

If the 10 gallon tank drops to 0 -- 0.25 ppm ammonia, you can use the water in it for a water change for the 20 gallon.  Then put new tap water in the 10 gallon and treat it as above.  

 

If/when you get nitrite in the 20 gallon, add salt to the tank using 1 teaspoon per ten gallons.  When you do a water change add salt to the new water.  Prime can protect against up to 1 ppm nitrite, but salt protects against up to 10 times that concentration

 

 

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Done. The one thing I'm confused about is whether Prime interferes with the cycle when it neutralizes ammonia?

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No it doesn't. It detoxifies the ammonia, it doesn't remove it.

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The ammonia oxidizers prefer the ammonium form as do the fish.  Your ammonia test measures total ammonia, including both the toxic stuff and the safer form, so the ammonia reading will not decrease when you add Prime.

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Added the Stability about 4 hours ago and Ammonia is down to ~.5 from 1.  Nitrite at .25, Nitrate at 5. Dosed with Prime again. Fish are all active and eating well.

Edited by MadisonLH

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Seachem says Stability consists of a variety of microbes specially selected to carry out nitrification and denitrification under many conditions. These bacteria form spores, which means they do not include the usual nitrifiers of aquariums -- ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOAs) and such nitrite oxidizing bacteria (NOBs) as Nitrospira.

 

Seachem won't tell us what microbes these are or whether they found them, selected for them, or used genetic engineering to produce them.  In most cases I expect that they carry out nitrification until the system gets populated with the usual aquarium nitrifiers.

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Today we have ammonia at .5, nitrite at 1, nitrate at what looks to be a little over 5.  So things are definitely moving.  Still dosing with Prime daily and fish still seem happy.

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Please add aquarium salt to the tank water to protect the fish from nitrite.  Use one teaspoon of salt per 10 gallons of water.  When you do a water change, use that dosage of salt in the new water you add.  Continue the salt treatment until the nitrite concentration stays consistently below 0.5 ppm.

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Today we have Ammonia at .5 (a touch closer to .25), Nitrite at 2, Ntirate at 10.  Still dosing with Prime and have added salt.

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