The Planted Tank Forum banner

Ammonia problem in my planted 10gal

2672 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Rex Grigg
I've had my 10 gallon planted tank for about 6 months now and I can't get the ammonia down in it. I've been doing weekly water changes (about 20%) and using an ammonia detoxifier but it isn't helping. I'm not sure what to do at this point besides a complete water change.

My inhabitants may be the culprits though.
2 blue rams
1 red dwarf guroami
1 zebra danio (I had 5 but most died a while ago)
1 ghost shrimp
LOTS of baby mystery snails and 1 big one. I had 2 large mystery snails that laid eggs inside my filter of all places, needless to say they hatched and I now have about 25+ pea sized snails. I don't have the heart to get rid of them.

My plants: 3 amazon swords, broad leaf ludwigia, and 2 anabus nana's. My swords are getting too big for the tank but again I'm not sure what to do besides, trim, trim, trim. My substrate is Flourite if that matters, I don't do any kind of dosing since my plants grow much more then I want them to already. The only chemicals I put into the tank is AmQuel+ with water changes.

Please help!

1 - 12 of 12 Posts
IMO you have over loaded the tank. You'll need to get a better bio filter going to keep it down but it will not solve the issue with that many fish.
Sounds like it's overstocked, but also that you stocked too quickly.
By any chance is your source water treated with chloramine?
kzr750r1 is right, your tank is overstocked. As he stated get a better biofilter, or put in a second biofilter to help relieve the bioload. You may have to increase frequency of water changes to twice a week. Be sure that your ammonia test kit is giving you accurate readings. You may want to get a sample of tank water tested by a local fish store that tests aquarium water for free just to be sure.

Also, some other things that I would suggest to help with your problem. Pack the tank with more fast growing stem plants to help absorb some of the organic waste, limit or greatly reduce how much you feed your fish to further reduce waste production, purchase and place Seachem purigen in your biofilter to help absorb the organic waste, and consider the following. Go to Wal-Mart and look for a product called Septo-Bac in the septic tank supplies. I believe there are 8 envelopes in a box. Now, buy some unbleached coffee filters. Take 1 tablespoon septo-bac powder and thoroughly mix in 1 cup water. Now strain the water through the coffee filter to catch the solid stuff. Discard the coffee filter with the solid stuff and take the filtered liquid and pour directly into your filter or tank. The Septo-Bac uses the same beneficial bacteria as BioSpira for a fraction of the cost and will quickly increase the beneficial bacteria in your filter to neutralize the excess ammonia. I have used it several times over the years to quickly and permanently neutalize and eliminate dangerous ammonia and nitrite spikes and have never suffered a fish loss using Septo-Bac. And one more thing, you may want to use a piece of cucumber to bait the snails and reduce/limit their population as difficult as it may be. I hate to tell you, but as the snails continue to multiply at a rapid pace, they will add to your problem to a point where you will find it impossible to resolve your problem no matter what you do. Then, your fish may begin suffering and many could die of ammonia toxicity.

I too have a overstocked 10 gallon(as per my signature)tank, but this happened because I was forced to relocate the fish to the 10 gallon when my 20 gallon sprung a leak. I have been able to keep ammonia and nitrites at zero eventhough my tank is overstocked by doing what I suggested you do.

Regards and Good Luck.
See less See more
Thanks so much for all the replies! I will try what you suggested.

And Yes, Rex I believe the tap water in my area is treated with some type of chemicals, I believe I got a notice not to long ago mentioning chlorine but it might have been chloramine too. I use AmQuel+ to help get rid of it before putting it into my tank though.

So.. Anyone want some free mystery snails?? :icon_wink
I'm not 100% sure (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong). But I think AmQuel+ can give false readings for Ammonia. Or I could just be thinking of Prime.

I'm not 100% sure (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong). But I think AmQuel+ can give false readings for Ammonia. Or I could just be thinking of Prime.

I believe it may be AmQuel that gives the false ammonia readings. I use Seachem Prime and use fairly accurate ammonia test kits and the water always tests 0 for ammonia.
I'm not 100% sure (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong). But I think AmQuel+ can give false readings for Ammonia. Or I could just be thinking of Prime.

Yes, they will give false positives. If after six months of high ammonia, there should be even MORE nitrites showing since the bacteria that convert it grow at an even slower rate. If nitrites are fine. It's probably a false positive for ammonia. Might want to do water changes with a couple of gallons of spring water on a 10 gallon. Only a couple of bucks a week.
I thought of that yesterday while doing my water change. I testing my tap water with the AmQuel in it. It did show some Ammonia about 0.50 - 1.0 ppm before putting it into my tank. I've used 2 different ammonia test strips and they both read well over 3.0ppm for my tank.


I found an article online confirming AmQuel+ can give false high readings, it says you need a Salicylate-based test kit to get the true reading. I found one online at Big-Al's online so I'm going to stop by the store after work (I'm a few mins from the FL store) and pick it up, they are only a few bucks. I'm still going to work on reducing the load in my tank since I agree that it is over stocked. I'll let ya know what I find out. Here is the article in case anyone is interested:

See less See more
So I went and bought a SeaChem Ammonia test today to test for NH3 and NH4.

NH3 (free toxic ammonia): 0 ppm
NH4 (ionized ammonia): 6 ppm

This explains why my fish aren't dead and don't seem to be in any kind of distress.

The guy at BigAl's suggested I do water changes with filtered or distilled water and supplement nutrients for plants until the NH4 is gone. I have SeaChem Florish Tabs, will those work?

So the moral of my story is don't buy cheap test kits :icon_mrgr
See less See more
If you have chloramine in the water most water treatments will make it non-toxic.
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.