Amonia spike... water change enough? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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Amonia spike... water change enough?

Hey, all

So, I have a 120 that's been running since October without incident. Been running 2 Eheim 2217s. Recently (January 7, so almost 2 weeks ago), I added 33 rainbowfish at one time. I normally would never do this, but the tank had been up and running for two months with good plant mass and only a handful of tank mates...12 fish + snails. I cleaned one of the Eheim on January 3 or so, and cleaned the other last week (around the 13th). Both times, I rinsed the media with tank water and changed the fine filter.

At first after bringing home so many fish at once, I was pretty skittish about water parameters. I checked amonia 2-3X/day. No spike. I was surprised. So, I've relaxed. I've done weekly 50% (or more) changes each Saturday, and so tomorrow is Friday and we're a bit due.

So, tonight I was just hanging out enjoying my tank when I noticed that my fish were darker in color and not as active. I got a hunch and did an amonia test: it's at .50 ppm, but nitrites at 0. I've peered in and around all that I can see of a planted tank and no obvious dead fish to be seen... so, I don't know what's causing it. It could be that I'm feeding too much... it's hard to gauge how much to feed that many more fish.

I'm currently doing a 60% water change, but my question is: will that do it? I know with Nitrates you can control that way, but is it the same for amonia? (I want to sleep well tonight!)

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 02:38 AM
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Yea you can remove ammonia via water change. Double it up with some Prime. It should help. Ammonia stays in the water column, so basically you will be cutting the ammonia levels.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 04:05 AM
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You can do a water change if you want (it will reduce ammonia by the % of water changed).

Some reassuring info is that the autotrophic bacteria (ones that nitrify -convert ammonia and nitrite) multiply in about 24 hours, so the filter will handle the increased nitrogen load for whatever reason an increased has been caused, so no worries about deaths from ammonia/nitrite.

Perhaps the fish darkening is just them settling in, or possibly they now feel more comfortable in their new tank and are getting around to establishing their group hierarchy by dominating each other (which will stress themselves out a bit).

If you have prime, you could dose some extra as it will make ammonia/nitrite non-toxic for 24-48 hours. Unnecessary in my opinion, but can ease your mind.

I've had tons of fish all very healthy. Added a lot more fish at once than your 33. Even set up tanks multiple times, just an hour before "over"-stocking them and never had issues (I do have good understanding though). Not bragging, just saying that add large stocks of fish safely is very much possible with no issues.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for that, folks! I think the most likely suspect for an amonia spike is over feeding the tank. These fish are pretty ferocious feeders and anything I throw in is gone within a minute. So, I think I've been overdoing, perhaps, as has my daughter, who sat the tank for us recently for a number of days in a row (or so says she). Everything looks good this AM; I plan to test when I get up and rolling for the day.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 11:57 AM
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Read the prime bottle as well. You can super dose in emergencies. I had an ammonia spike when I moved to a different filter system and dosed prime as it suggests and did daily water changes. Less than a week went by and my tank was testing stable again.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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I have been wondering if I am under filtered for the long haul. I have 46 fish... 5 are Cory cats, 3 are Ottos, 5 are Denison barbs, and 33 are rainbows, some of which won't get big (Signifers, dwarf neon, etc.). In fact, none of my rainbowfish should get over 4". Still... are 2 Eheim 2217s enough? This ammonia spike has me wondering... Thoughts?

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 07:54 PM
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if the fish start looking ill, I'd quarantine them with methylene blue, about 1 tsp on 12.5 gal, you could use a bit less if you catch it early(aim for teal to light blue). This is a very fast cure for ammonia poisoning (3 days max, but they will look better in a few hours).
If they are only suffering because of high nitrates you could dose 1 tsp aquarium salt to about 10 gal. This is a low dose and will not harm plants or fish. I find having lots of ceramic media helps me keep ammonia down much better than lots of mechanical filtering media.
Do a water change 1st before doing salt, to get parameters in check.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 08:28 PM
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If your pH is 7 or below the ammonia will be less of a problem. Worry more about getting a related nitrite spike..
Suggest a healthy dose of prime..
Your filters could just be adj. to the larger load..and this will take time..
ammonia--nitrite--nitrate..hard to get one w/out the other..
Cleaning might have "bothered" the am-nitrite bacteria..

2-2217's "should" be enough.. if working to capacity..

If after about a week you are still seeing ammonia, consider a filter replacement..


http://www2.ca.uky.edu/wkrec/pH-ammonia.htm

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 08:52 PM
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At the risk of being flamed I am going to say this as it is my belief. In today aquariums we are over filtering, not even by just a little but by a lot!!! Its not a bad thing and better safe than sorry but it also gives a false requirement to a lot of people. It is all relative to the size of aquarium, stocking numbers and types of fish as well as plant mass and type of plant. I personally feel you can filter a tank no problem with 1x the volume per hour with a lightly stocked aquarium (I wouldn't call it ideal). It is the nitrifying bacteria that do the work to convert ammonia and nitrites, providing there is enough media surface for the bacteria to grow on, this is the crucial part of filtration. Yes you need flow but only enough to move the water through the media fast enough to prevent ammonia or nitrites from building up. This is all without factoring in plant uptake. The more you increase the stock, feeding etc. the more you will need to increase the media size and flow rate. Todays aquariums have hugely exaggerated needs for filtration but again I will say this is not a bad thing but definitely misleading. You can have all the flow in the world and if you don't have enough media you will not be able to convert enough ammonia/nitrites to prevent them from building up. I would say Media is far more crucial than flow or GPH but both are required. The flow definitely has its benefits for various reasons like fish habitat keeping detritus off the bottom of the tank and plants etc. and others but suggested flow at 10x rate of volume strictly in the name of filtration I call absolute BS and I think to may people see that recommendation as just that instead of the other benefits from flow. You do not need 10x the flow for strictly filtration purposes unless you have a fish density that you would have a hard time seeing through (exaggeration).



Just my opinion and with that said I would say if you have adequate media with those 2 filters you have more than enough filtration.



Added: A bigger filter doesn't reduce the amount of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in you tank. It will only convert it at a faster rate. But if you can achieve no buildup of ammonia or nitrites with 1x 2x 3x 4x the flow depending on stocking, feeding etc. maybe more then going 10x provides no other benefit than flow.

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Last edited by Dman911; 01-20-2017 at 09:04 PM. Reason: Added
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 09:43 AM
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I've been breeding and keeping fish for quite some time. If fish are eagerly attacking the food, then they are partially starving. In well fed tanks, the competition for food is non-existent, all the fish get their fill and there is no black-friday rush to get theirs (they know that since food is in abundance, they don't need to rush/compete -a survival tactic- for food).

So go ahead and feed them until they no longer attack the food with haste. Your biological filtration will adjust to handle the increased bioloads. 46 small fish in a 120 gal is not much at all.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 08:59 PM
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you tripled your bioload overnight which kind of opens the door for parameter issues. you should not introduce that much more stock at once, this is how bad things like diseases can creep in and cause problems

do some water changes and make sure fish are healthy. even if your parameters are fine, stuff like that will really stress fish out


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