New tank & Ammonia issue

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angleymi

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Sep 11, 2020
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USA
Hi all,
I just started my tank a week ago. I have a 55 gal tank. I added the conditioner as required and ran the filter for 24 hours. At that time I added 2 dwarf gouramis, 2 blue gouramies, 1 gold gourami, 3 candy tetras, 2 flame gouramies, 1 albino shark, and a small type pleco, not a common pleco. At that time ph was 7.0 , am 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 0. All was good for a couple days. Started to notice that a blue gourami and a flame were sitting on the bottom of the tank. Thought it might be the temp was too hot. It was set at 78F. So I lowered it to 75F. They still are sitting down there. So I retested today. All the same numbers except ammonia which went to .50ppm. Bad! So I added some more water conditioner today. Will this be enough? Should I do a water change of 25% as well. Don’t think I should since it’s only been the first week. Perhaps it hasn’t cycled yet and I should nitrites to spike next? What are your thoughts on how I handle this? This should be expected with a new tank? I was planning to do the water change next week as scheduled.
 

Sprinkle

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Mar 21, 2020
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Tetras are schooling fish and they need to be kept in groups of 6 or more. 25% water changes will not dilute out the ammonia, do a 75% water change.
You have way too many gouramies in the tank and most likely the ones sitting at the bottom of the tank are being picked on by dominant ones, but ammonia might be also the problem here. So, do as I said, do a 75% water change. Check your water parameters the next day and if ammonia or nitrite levels are not 0ppm, do 50% water change until ammonia and nitrite levels are 0ppm for 7 continuous days and when nitrate levels start going up, do weekly 75% water changes.
 

angleymi

Registered Member
Sep 11, 2020
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USA
Do you really think a 75% change is needed? Seems too much for a tank that was setup just a week ago. Not saying I won’t do it but it seems this is just the first cycle with the first set of fish. Do a smaller water change and let the bacteria catch up and push it to the nitrites.
Concerning the tetras, I thought 3 would be enough for now until the tank is settled. On the gouramies I have a lot of plants and caves for them to retreat to. Do you feel I should still remove some? Which ones? The dwarf?
 

Sprinkle

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1 male gourami per tank, males tend to kill females too. I saw one male kill another female and other gouramis in the tank were in one corner. Gouramis are from the same family as bettas hence their same territorial instincts and 2 males can not coexist in one territory. A 75% water change will not harm any bacteria that has established in the filter, I fish in cycled my 33 gallon tank and the cycle powered through.
75%water changes dilute out more harmful micro organisms potentially harmful to fish out of water column.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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New York
At your pH and temperature .50 pp, of ammonia is not an issue for your fish. The amount of ammonia in its toxic form, NH3, is 0,oo26 ppm. The danger level for this is .05 ppm. I doubt you have nitrite yet? If you did the fish would not be on the bottom they would be at the surface. You do not need to change any water yet. Water changes act to slow a cycle and as long as your NH3 level is under .05 ppm and the fish do not show signs of ammonia poisoning. Let things sit.

SIGNS OF AMMONIA POISONING

Fish will not behave as they normally do. Signs of ammonia poisoning can include sluggish behavior, panting, and gill discoloration (gill burn). Fish may hang just below the water surface or they may hide or stop eating. When you know you have ammonia in the tank during cycling and you notice such behavioral changes, the best course of action, regardless of test results, it to do an immediate water change of 50% or more.

I agree that putting all those gouramis into the same tank is asking for issues. It will be stressful for the fish. Stress weakens frish and makes them less able to fight of diseases or things like ammonia in the water. The good thing here is you have lots of plants, they love ammonia in its less toxic form NH4, aka ammonium. The plants also come with some of the needed bacteria on them. Having a lot of plants will do more to consume ammonia than your bacteria.

You need to be testing for ammonia and nitrite twice a day for a while. Nitrite would be the bigger threat to your fish. But you also do not want to see the ammonia rising either. However, you can block nitrite with a small amount of salt in the water. Ammonia, if it becomes an issue, can only be helped with water changes.

If you did not have a lot of live plants, some of your fish would likely be dead already. That fish load is way to much for a plantless fish-in cycle without a lot of help dealing with ammonia let alone nitrite.
 
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angleymi

Registered Member
Sep 11, 2020
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3
USA
So they are on the bottom because of too many gouramies in the tank?
My nitrites and nitrates are at 0 ppm today as well. Just the ammonia is up. Ph came in at 7.0 today and the temp is at 75F. I don’t have any live plants in the tank, just fake. But there is quite a few in the tank. I also have 5 cave like rocks in the tank. Plenty of places to hide. I don’t have any other tanks to take these fish into so how do I deal with the fact I have too many gouramies? Just let them die away? That sucks.
 

Sprinkle

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They might be sitting at the bottom of the tank because they are either, stressed, harassed or affected by ammonia. Please remove the fake plants, they have no benefits where the live plants will use ammonia as their natural fertiliser and will please your eyes. Leave one male gourami in the tank, do 75% water changes whenever your ammonia or nitrite are off until mentioned are 0ppm for 7 continuous days.
 

angleymi

Registered Member
Sep 11, 2020
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3
USA
So the water change is done. I added a sponge filter to help the hanging filter. We’ll see tomorrow if this worked. Thanks both of you for your help!
 
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Sprinkle

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No problem. Make sure to test for ammonia and nitrite, leave nitrates for now as they don't play a part during the cycle.
 
Apr 2, 2002
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I misunderstood re the plants. You are about to encounter the storm of an uncycled tank. It is just starting and the ammonia shoild rise to toxic levels and so should nitrite.

I would follow a completely different course of action than massive water changes. There are several ways you can deal with a fish-in cycle gone wild. One is to remove all the fish if the store will take them back or you can find other fish keepers who night do so. Then yiou can switch over to ding a fishless cycle. Next best is to reduce the stock as much as you can. The fish make ammonia so the fewer you have the less that will be made and the easier it will be to complete the cycle with no harm to any fish. However, this means once the tank is cycled for a few fish, you must add ne fish gradually.

The next best solution would be to the a bottle of Dr. Tim's One and Only Nitrifying Bacteria and add it to the tank. If you do this make sure you do a water change before you add it and turn out the light for the next day. The cheapest place I hve been able to find Dr. Tim's is on Amazon. That is where I buy it if I need it.

Your current tank parameters mean you should not need to change any water yet. The two gouramis on the bottom are trying to avoid trouble. If the ammonia level in the tank were toxic to the fish more than those two would be showing indications. You should reduce your feeding as well. Fish do not need to eat every day and you should be OK feeding them every 3rd day until the tank is cyled.

If your pH remains at 7 and you keep the temp under 77, the Total Ammonia (the combination of both ammonia NH3 + ammonium NH4) can rise a lot more before the NH3 component becomes toxic for sure, i.e. 0.05 ppm. Technically, for it to reach that level in your water parameters, it would have to rise to 9.0 ppm, on the test kit which likely doesn't go that high. However, ammonium, NH4, while no where near as toxic as NH3, can still do harm. I tend to advise folks that at over 2 ppm you may want to do a water change if the fish are showing any signs of a bad reaction.

While higher levels of ammonia can kill pretty fast, prolonged exposure to lower levels can also do harm. Watch for signs of ammonia poisoning as I described above. But remember that every water change one has to do during cycling slows the process. The bacteria we need reproduce in response to excess ammonia or nitrite. Therefore, the less of this we leave in the tank, the slower the cycle will progress.

The aboves why I will never suggest that anyone do a fish-in cycle. Having cycled over 100+ tanks/filters, only my very first tank was a fish-in cycle. A fish-in cycle is a battle between too little and too much ammonia. In order to make the cycle happen as quicly as possible without harming any fish is a balancing act.

One final note re ammonia toxicity. Different fish are more or less susceptible to different levels. There is no one universal number one can apply. However, that 0.05 ppm level is where it will start to do harm, how much is the issues. And as it rises from there it is for sure harming fish more and more. if you are curious how I know how much ammonia in any tank is in each form, I use and ammonia calculator here https://www.hamzasreef.com/Contents/Calculators/FreeAmmonia.php
1. Choose NH (NH3 + NH4)*
2. Enter in the total ammonia reading from your test, choose ppm.
3. For a fresh water tank, enter 0 for the salinity.
4. Enter your tank’s current pH.
5. Enter your tank temperature and choose F or C, whichever applies.
6. Click Calculate.

The number you want to know is the one for NH3.

[* If your kit measures ammonia as nitrogen aka –N, choose NH-N (NH3-N + NH4-N) in step 1. above.]

Ammonia test kits do not typically measure NH3 directly but instead measure the combination of NH3 and NH4+, referred to as total ammonia nitrogen (TAN). A TAN <1 mg/L is usually not cause for concern unless the pH is >8.5. However, if the amount of NH3 is increased, an explanation should be sought. The amount of toxic NH3 present can be calculated using the TAN, pH, and water temperature. When NH3 levels exceed 0.05 mg/L*, damage to gills becomes apparent; levels of 2 mg/L are lethal for many fish. Fish exposed to ammonia may be lethargic and have poor appetites. Acute toxicity may be suggested by neurologic signs such as spinning, disorientation, and convulsions.
ftom the Merck Veterinary Manual: Environmental Diseases in Aquatic Systems- Nitrogenous Compounds
https://www.merckvetmanual.com/exot...nmental-diseases-in-aquatic-systems#v23353510
* 1mg/L = 1 ppm

Adding a filter does nothing. It isn't the filter that removes ammonia or nitrite, it is the bacteria that will colonize the filter as well as many of the other hard surfaces in a tank.
 
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