Death and .10 ammonia - coincidence?
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:32 PM   #1
Thistle_Seed
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Death and .10 ammonia - coincidence?


Hi there. I started my first (20 gallon long) tank in September and put in a gourami in November. Altogether, it comes out to 10 fish and some ghost shrimp. Some good grasses, moss, and ferns. No fatalities or major issues until...

My poor Gogo was dead at the bottom of the tank on Thursday morning. I thought she was being her usual shy self in the preceding days, but apparently she was stressed out and sick! Wah! Got my water tested at the aquarium shop and the nitrites were at 0, ammonia .10, and apparently I have extremely hard water. But the clerk seemed kind of puzzled as to why my gourami died. She said maybe it was the ammonia. Some sites say .10 (with a pH of 7) is right there on the cusp of toxicity. I know that 0 is the goal for an ammonia reading, but basically I'm trying to get a frame of reference. I see other anecdotes where the ammonia reads 4+ and I'm like "WHAAAA?". Did stirring up the substrate do it? Trying one filter in my Penguin instead of my usual 2 (one older, one newer)? Cutting down on light usage to stop hair algae? Etc.

Did a 20% water change and, like an idiot, the test strips I just bought at the store don't do ammonia. So I'm sort of stuck not knowing for a while. But realistically, how much should I be freaking out over the ammonia in my tank? Or is the hardness or something a more likely culprit? My tetras and corys look OK. Are gouramis really so fickle or am I running a fish death camp?

And for fun, here's a photo of my 20 gallon long. (I would always worry that my gourami didn't have enough cover. But looking at other tanks, I wonder if that's bunk.)


Last edited by Thistle_Seed; 02-16-2013 at 09:05 PM.. Reason: Forgot to add the picture!
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:21 PM   #2
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Return those strips. Those are pretty much crap. Get the API Master test kit. Should run about 30$ or so, but its 800 test.. Compare that to the 25 $ you spend on the strips for 24 test..

I've used the strips sided by side the master kit.. The difference was breath taking.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:02 PM   #3
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i think a .10 reading with a pH of 7 isn't really that bad. if you have a lower pH, your ammonia isn't as toxic as it would be if it was at an 8 or 8.4. with that being said, you still will want to get it down as low as possible. i just don't see that being the main cause of death.

stirring the substrate will also release trapped toxins back into the water column. maybe that happened, affected your gourami, and then the bacteria dropped your ammonia to a lower level all before you grabbed a sample to test? just throwing out a possible idea...

now, my question is this... what is the ammonia reading from your tap? mine is already at .25 when i test out of the faucet. you may be putting ammonia in your tank without even knowing. it would be a good idea to add something like Seachem Prime to your tank when you do your WC's. the prime will turn your ammonia to ammonium, which is less toxic and easier on your fish.

and also amazon has those test kits listed about half off currently. i'd snag one up before they go back to regular price. same with prime.

Prime-
Amazon.com: Seachem Prime 500ml: Pet Supplies Amazon.com: Seachem Prime 500ml: Pet Supplies

API kit-
Amazon.com: API Freshwater Master Test Kit: Pet Supplies Amazon.com: API Freshwater Master Test Kit: Pet Supplies
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:19 PM   #4
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Dang thats a good price for that master test kit... I've got one already but that's mighty tempting for the price as just replacement bottles.
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Old 02-17-2013, 12:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rileynapalm View Post
stirring the substrate will also release trapped toxins back into the water column. maybe that happened, affected your gourami, and then the bacteria dropped your ammonia to a lower level all before you grabbed a sample to test? just throwing out a possible idea...
This sounds quite possible; the assassin ammonia. It feels so satisfying to rustle up all the poo and try to grab it the bucket/vacuum. I did do a big substrate shake-up and 40% change about a week and a half ago. It sounds that disturbing that mess is worse than having it in there in the first place. Counter intuitive! Uck. I would like to switch to sand. That'll stop my compulsive fussing.

I don't know what the ammonia content out of my tap is. BUT! I have been treating my water changes with Prime, happily, so I doubt that'd be the culprit! (Except for my hard water issues, of course. That tests out exactly the same, tap and tank.) Prime is pretty great.

A better test kit sounds like a really good idea. Hooray investments!
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Old 02-17-2013, 01:25 PM   #6
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I recently changed things and re-cycled my 8 year old tank. When the cycle was complete I tested my bacteria colony's capability. I removed my fish and added two ounces of ammonia which immediately brought the level up to between 4 and 8ppm according to the API test. An hour later it was at 2 and another hour later it was at 0. It sounds to me like your tank may not cycled.

I have been using tap water for water changes for years and like you I add Prime to take care of chlorine. The fish seem to be happy as long as I get the temp correct.
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