Join Date: May 2007
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
How healthy does your hairgrass and swords look? From personal experience, I discovered that starting off with unhealthy plants can wreak havoc with ammonia readings?
Are all your fish accounted for or did you miss one that may have died? Again, from personal experience, I have found that if a fish dies on you and you miss it, you will get an ammonia spike regardless of whether your tank is cycled or not.
How accurate is your ammonia test kit? Inaccurate test kits may give inaccurate results. Take your water sample to a local fish store that tests water for free for a second opinion and to be sure.
How many fish do you have and how much are you feeding them? Too many fish and too much poop equals ammonia spikes even in a cycled tank.
Possible solutions. These have always worked for me.
Increase your plant load 40% of your tank should contain plants. This will help prevent/minimize algae in the long term and quickly neutralize any ammonia from any future spikes.
We all know the real danger of ammonia to fish. Even if your fish are doing well if you have an ammonia problem and don't address it right away, some of your fish could suffer permanent gill damage. Also, keep in mind that ammonia is the main fuel for algae growth and being opportunistic, algae will take advantage of any sustained elevated ammonia levels and begin growing like weeds. To quickly reduce ammonia if your ammonia levels are high, I suggest that you do water changes every three days and consider adding septo-bac. This is a concentrated benefical bacteria powder that you can get from wal-mart(septic supplies section - it comes in envelopes, is super cheap and will last you forever). You open an envelope, take a tablespoon and mix it in 1 cup dechlorinated water. Now strain that water into another cup using a coffee filter. Discard the contents in the coffee filter and add the water to your aquarium. You only need to do this once, then I suggest you pack your aquarium with plants to prevent the problem in the future. The septo-bac is only to address the problem short term. I have never suffered fish deaths doing this, it is the same stuff as biospira but for a fraction of the cost, and I have used it many times to quickly deal with dangerous ammonia and nitrite spikes.
Best Regards and Good Luck