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FAQs on Freshwater Aquariums & Ammonia: Control

Related Articles: Ammonia, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, pH, alkalinity, acidityTreating Tap Water, Freshwater MaintenanceFrequent Partial Water Changes Establishing Cycling, Freshwater Filtration, Know Your Filter Media, A Concise Guide to Your Options by Neale Monks, Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, Tips for Beginners

Related FAQs: Freshwater Ammonia 1, Freshwater Ammonia 2, Freshwater Ammonia 3, & FAQs on FW Ammonia: Importance, Science, Measure, Sources, Chemical Filtrants, Troubleshooting/Fixing, & Freshwater Nutrient Cycling, FW H2O Quality 1, Aquarium MaintenanceEnvironmental Disease, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Biological Filtration, Nitrogen Cycling, Establishing Cycling 1, Nitrite, Nitrate, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

New water can have the sanitizer (including ammonia) removed by letting it set a good week ahead of use, treating it with a liquid water conditioner product, or running it through an ammonia-absorbing chemical filtrant prior to use.

Cycling can be "sped up" in its establishment by the addition of cultures (only some products work), using "old" filter media, moving gravel, muck et al. from an already established system.

If Ammonia toxicity is obvious, or measures more than 1.0 ppm, institute frequent, partial water changes and STOP feeding.

Re: Hardness question - sponge filter not working, Now fish length measure, tests and chemicals for removal of ammonia and chlor/am/ine    2/26/12
ps, thank you and two dumb, unrelated questions:
1)  When you ask for the size of a fish, are you including or excluding its back tail?
<Depends... for most hobbyist correspondence, the tail is included, or guessed (by me, others) to be so. For fisheries and ichthyological consideration, no, never. The "standard length" in these cases is the end of the caudal peduncle>
2)  When you add "Prime" or some other dechlorinizer, I assume that also helps with ammonia in the water at the same time (it says it renders it "inactive" or "inert"/"non-toxic" or whatnot on the label.
<Just for then... these products don't "hang around", continue to neutralize ammonia nor chloramines... Note, no one in W. Europe, the US currently uses dechlorinisers... Chlorine is not the sanitizer of use in most first world countries any longer>
 When you retest that water for ammonia after adding the Prime, should the green color go away?
<No... unfortunately, an artifact of most test protocols "re-releases" the bound to free ammonia to give a "false positive">
 Or will it stay green just because the ammonia is in the water, and while now 'non-toxic", is still present and still therefore registering and turning up green?  I ask, because my tap water most often does have a native level of ammonia in it right out of the tap, and even after adding Prime and letting the water stand in a bucket for 24 hours it still comes back as containing
<Understood... and good question. Again... do you understand what I've stated above? B>
Re: Hardness question - sponge filter not working 2/26/12

Yes, if I understand, the test kit will still show the water color as the same (green variations in the case of ammonia), even if you have added Prime or some other product to it. So you have to "trust" that the Prime is working.
What is fascinating to me is that this is just temporary (Prime making the ammonia inert)?  So the "inert ammonia" will become "bad ammonia" again over time?  This is good to know!  Should be on the bottle!
<I most wholeheartedly agree>
Questions then are: 1)  What is the ideal time to let water sit in a bucket after you have added prime to it?
<Several minutes>
 I used to think longer (within reason, like say 48 hours) was better to let bad stuff evaporate, and/or to let the Prime do its thing.  Now it seems if I wait too long, the ammonia reverts back and it essentially is the same as untreated water?  Almost seems I should not add Prime at all and just let it sit 48 hours? 
<... see WWM, books, the Net in general... chlorine does dissipate w/ or w/o aeration/circulation. Chloramines are much more persistent... about a week to go>
2)  Adding Prime in an emergency situation only helps in the short run, before you can do a water change, and if I understand you right if for some reason you could not do a water change you would need to add more prime over time, not just to take care of new ammonia being introduced, but also because
the old ammonia was getting reactivated.  Is there a time this occurs over? 
12 hours?  24 hours?
<... generally there are other chemicals present that take the chlorine, ammonia out in time...>
Great info!!!  I only wish you had a store in the states so I could buy from you.
<I just wish there were more curious, intelligent hobbyists as yourself.
Cheers, B>
Re: Hardness question - sponge filter not working 2/26/12

I/we don't publish such shouting. Read where you've been referred, Write back if you wish in complete sentences. BobF>
Sorry, as I said only wrote in CAPS to differentiate strings after a couple back and forths (it can get confusing)
<... Please just re-write anything you have in mind as if it were new... Complete sentences, ideas. B>
Re: Hardness question - sponge filter not working 2/27/12

Thanks!  Sounds like then the best thing then, if you are going to let the
water sit 24-48 hours for other reasons, is that you should not add the Prime until a few minutes before you put it in the tank, or to redose it again if you put it in initially (which sounds mostly to be a waste).
<Okay... I take the risk of adding nothing... here in San Diego, CA; though the municipality is known to "pulse" in much higher titers of Chloramines at times... IF only changing out less than 30% or so, you should be fine w/ adding nothing as well>
 I am guessing very few hobbyists at my level know this, and I've been doing it a couple years.  Everyone I have talked to says "let the Prime sit in there overnight, if not 24 hours".
<Is a good product... and can/will work used in either protocol. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia question   7/5/11
Hello! You helped me out not too long ago when I had an Ick problem, so thank you again!
Now I seem to have a new problem. My ammonia levels have been really high lately (fluctuating between .5 and 2.0).
I know you recommend ACE but I couldn't find this at either of our pet stores so I tried a product called AmmoLock which did absolutely nothing.
This is a newer tank (up and running only about 5 weeks) - I had 3 Mollies from my previous tank that I now have in my new tank along with a new Swordtail. Based on many of your articles, I figured that the high ammonia levels could be due to the tank being new and not yet going through an entire cycle.
Despite several water changes and adding AmmoLock, I could never get the ammonia levels below .5.
<There should be no livestock present here>
Now I'm wondering if the high ammonia could possibly have been caused by a dead snail in our tank. We went on vacation and had a pet-sitter. Upon returning, our snail was dead. So I estimate that the snail had been dead on the bottom of the tank for about a week. Would that be enough to cause such high ammonia levels?
<Could be. Do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/NH3ContrF.htm
and the linked files above. I would cease all feeding...>
Now for my tricky question... perhaps due to the high ammonia levels, my tank also started producing a lot of algae starting about yesterday (as a side note, I'm a total clean freak, so my tank is normally pristine!).
<Mmm, cleanliness is not sterility in biological settings>
Today I took my fish out of the tank, put them in a bowl of new water and completely cleaned out my tank, filter, gravel and plant decoration (I tested the water right before doing this and it was at a 4.0 for ammonia!
I'm not sure how my fish are even still alive?!) I added water conditioner, some aquarium salt and a product called SafeStart by Tetra that my fish lady highly recommends. I just tested my new tank water and the readings are perfect for every category. Just out of curiosity, I also tested the water in the bowl where my fish have been resting the past couple of hours.
The ammonia reading of that water is 1.0!
<Not surprising... not much effective means to convert...>
 This was brand new water (not from their tank) that I added right before moving my fish. I used a net with the fish so there could not have been that much, if any, tank water mixed in. Can fish "store" ammonia on their bodies?
<Mmm, no... to some degree w/in their bodies, but are constantly producing, ex- and se-creting it>
 Could it just be a slime layer perhaps that then washed off into the bowl? I just have no idea how this brand new water could have such a high ammonia reading?
<Normal metabolism>
 Unless the fish are stressed about being in the bowl and that's causing a spike in ammonia levels?
I would love to hear your thoughts. I haven't yet added them back into the tank as I'm confused on this whole ammonia problem. Thank you!!
<Welcome Tiff, BobF>
Re: Ammonia question, rest...   7/7/11

Thank you! So far all is good with my new water, and my ammonia reading is finally at 0. I read online that the product I added to my new water, SafeStart, is a replacement for Bio-Spira by Marineland. I'll stick with this from now on as it seems to work much better than my previous products.
Thanks for your great website!!
<Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

Ammonia in Fry Tank  1/20/10
Hi. I am new to the whole fish keeping thing.
<Welcome aboard.>
We have a 15 gallon planted tank with 3 female Platies, 1 male guppy, and a snail. About 2 weeks ago I noticed one of the platy's was pregnant (which was a surprise to me since we hadn't planned on breeding them!) I set up a 5 gallon tank immediately so I would have somewhere to put the fry when they were born.
<Actually, it's often easier to leave the parents and the fry together. If you add lots of floating plants, a surprising number of fry will survive.>
I treated the water with Cycle, and added some decorations from my other tank in hopes of jump starting the bio filter.
<Ornaments and water conditioners will have little/no useful effect. To really jump start a new tank, try removing media from an established aquarium. A filter can stand to lose up to 50% of its biological media without any problems. That means it's easy to divide up the media in your established filter, put up to half that media in the filter for the new aquarium, and end up with two "cloned" filters, both fully matured!>
After several days, I added the pregnant female. The next day she had her babies. I let her stay overnight, hoping some of the fry would hide and survive. In the morning, I moved her back to the 15 gallon tank (she seems to be doing fine.) The fry are now 5 days old (I think there are 6...they are tricky to count), and I am having trouble keeping the ammonia at 0. It always seems to waver between .5 and .25 ppm.
<Ah, this will kill the fry quickly.>
I have been doing daily water changes of about 50%, adding an additive to remove the chlorine and chloramine. I'm assuming a big part of the high ammonia is due to the frequent feedings.
<Can certainly be the case. Indeed, the trickiest part of rearing newborn fish ensuring good water quality. Urgency means we tend to use new aquaria, often with new filters. Factor in the amount of food they need, and you have a double whammy situation that means the baby fish often get exposed to worse conditions than the adults.>
Should I be concerned about ammonia at these levels?
What else can I do to help reduce it?
<Three-fold. First, clone the mature filter to quickly get biological filtration working in the new tank. Secondly, remove uneaten food promptly (a turkey baster is ideal for this, just slurp out whatever hits the bottom of the tank). Finally, do more water changes. You could also add a little salt, maybe 2-3 grammes per litre. Salt has a mild detoxification effect with regard to nitrite, and since Platies and Guppies are highly salt tolerant, this is a cheap and cheerful tonic. Doesn't work with most fish, but with livebearers, it's worth a shot. Alternatively, you could stock the adult aquarium with floating Indian Fern, add the babies, and hope for the best. Incidentally, if the baby fish aquarium gets good light, adding some floating plants will help too. They absorb ammonia directly, and also carry lots of bacteria on their roots, so act like little biological filters.>
I would appreciate any advice. Now that we have these baby fish, I would really like to see them survive!
<Good luck, Neale.> 

Mbuna and Ammonia Problems  7/7/08 Hi there. Wondering if you may make a couple of suggestions regarding filtration, etc. <Sure thing!> A number of months ago, I read Ad Koning's book on African Cichlids. Since I was experiencing ammonia levels in my 55 Mbuna tank, I followed his advice and fed the fish once every other day (vs. 2-3 times per day). This brought on a great deal of aggression and I lost a lot of fish. So I went back to feeding them twice per day - an amount they can consume within 30 seconds. <I have to say I agree with your experience. Whilst in theory feeding fish less than once per day may have distinct advantages, on balance I'm in favour of the "multiple small meals" approach. All my day-active fish get two meals per day, but small ones. One in the morning, another in the evening. The catfish get their pellets or wafers at night, after lights are out. This way you spread out the ammonia and problems with uneaten food.> I then commenced doing 10% water changes every other day which did nothing to abate the ammonia levels. <Ah; well, if you're getting ammonia present "in real time", then there's three things to consider -- overfeeding, under-filtering, or overstocking.> I am back to conducting 30-40% water changes on Saturdays. Despite taking ammonia tests, which show no trace of ammonia, a few of the fish still flash. I've been treating the water with Amquel which neutralizes ammonia and I have found this effective. I also have a canister and a large hang on filter equipped with ammo chips. I change the filter media once per month (not at the same time intervals). <Chemical ammonia removers only work up to a point, and once a dose has been used up, any new ammonia produced by the fish is left untreated. Amquel is of no value at all in this context; it is exclusively for removing ammonia from tap water prior to adding fish.> I understand bio media aid in the nitrification process. Both filters are loaded with the stuff. What to do? I must be doing something wrong? <As outlined above. Given the tendency for Mbuna tanks to be overstocked, filtration has to be profound. I'd reckon on a big canister filter at least 6 times and ideally somewhere between 8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So adding a second big canister might be just the ticket.> Look forward to hearing from you. Lisa Mae <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Mbuna and Ammonia Problems  7/9/08 Hi Neale, thanks so much. With both filters (canister and hang on) I'm turning over an equivalent of 685 gph which meets the needs of the 55 gallon tank. The canister is only filtering 185 gph which is rather weak. Looks like I need to seriously upgrade the canister. What about media Neale? Is Zeolite effective if changed/recharged once per month? What do you use to combat ammonia levels and spikes? Thank you very much! Lisa. <Hi Lisa. The problem with combining multiple "weak" filters on a single big aquarium is that unless you position their inlets and outlets carefully, it is very easy to end up with corners of the tank with minimal water movement. Adding powerheads can help, as will an undergravel filter. But in all honesty, with fish are big and messy as Mbuna, filtration needs to be robust. If you are detecting ammonia, then you clearly don't have enough biological filtration. I wouldn't bother with Zeolite -- realistically this will be very expensive, and removing some biological filtration media from one filter to replace it with Zeolite makes no practical sense at all. So, what I'd look at is something like a couple of Eheim 2217 'classic' filters. These aren't expensive, have lots of capacity for biological media, and are extremely reliable. At about 260 gallons per hour turnover, two of them would give you well over 10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. You could of course simply add one and use that alongside what you already have, or combine one filter with a reverse-flow undergravel filter that would take care of carbonate hardness as well as ammonia. While old school, reverse-flow undergravel filters are inexpensive to set up and extremely effective at dealing with ammonia and solid waste. Either way, fill with good quality ceramic media or sponge for biological filtration. That should take care of your ammonia. In properly maintained, mature aquaria with suitably sized filters, you shouldn't get ammonia spikes or problems. It's as simple as this: if you detect ammonia, you either have too many fish for your filtration system; put too much food in the system for the filter to deal with; or just don't have enough filtration for the overall bioload. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mbuna and Ammonia Problems  7/9/08 This is great info - thank you so much! My problem has to be poor filtration - I only have about a dozen Mbuna in the 55 gallon so I'm not overstocked. I'll swap my current canister for the Eheim 2217. Thank you! <Hi Lisa. The concept of "being overstocked" is a practical rather than theoretical one, which is why I am leery of these inches-per-gallon rules. If you have a system where ammonia never gets to zero, you're overstocked. As you say, on paper at least a dozen 10-15 cm Mbuna should comfortably fit into a 55 gallon system. But in practise these fish are so active and have such high growth rates that it is very easy to find the otherwise reasonably sized filter being overwhelmed. I have a 40 gallon system in which I keep a few smallish tetras and glassfish along with a 15 cm Panaque nigrolineatus. Although water quality is perfect, the tank itself gets dirty very quickly simply because the catfish eats wood and produces masses of brown faeces. So it has two canister filters offering water turnover of almost 10 times per hour. Seems ridiculously over-filtered on paper, but actually the least I can get away with! In other words, one should go by empirical data -- ammonia tests for example -- rather than what is stated on the box the filter came in. Cheers, Neale.>

How to clear 0.5 Ammonia Level? -- 03/07/08 Hello, My 20cm Flowerhorn who is in a 55-gallon tank has stopped eating and changed swimming behaviour for a week. The pet store tested the water, everything is OK except ammonia level (0.5) and I was recommended to clean and use Ammo Chips for the filter . I did as recommended but today when the pet store tested again. the ammonia level is the same without improvement. I usually change water every day, about 1 gallon every 1 or 2 days to remove fish feces. I don't know how the tank got that ammonia level. Please show me how to remove the ammonia or any solutions to use for ammonia removal. Thank you. Sophie <Greetings. Ammonia-removing chemicals won't work in a situation like this. Ammonia-removers are designed either to remove ammonia from tap water or from small, lightly stocked aquaria where biological filtration can't work. In your case, the problems are one or more of these: overstocking, under-filtration, or overfeeding. Pick and choose. I'd recommend a program of major water changes per week, at least 50%. The filter needs to be providing at least 6 times the volume of the aquarium in turnover per hour (i.e., the filter used in your tank needs a turnover of not less than 6 x 55 = 330 gallons per hour). Reduce the amount of food you are providing; fish need no more than they can eat in a couple of minutes. Big fish only a need a single meal per day, and skipping a meal once a week will do no harm at all. Lean towards green rather than meaty foods to provide energy with less protein, as this will also help. If you fail to manage the aquarium as I've described, this fish will soon be dead: cichlids have very little tolerance for ammonia. Cheers, Neale.>

RO/DI question with freshwater tanks, tap trtmt., ammonia  3/26/07         I have read through alot <There is no such word> of things and I am really confused.  I have 3 freshwater tanks set up, and found out I have ammonia in my tap water. <... appreciable amounts? Unusual... I would contact your "water board"... See your utility bill> I have done alot <...> to remove the ammonia before adding water to my tanks and have ended up with 4 dead and 1 with fin and tail rot now.  I have decided to get a RO/DI unit. I do understand that I need to put stuff back into the water, and most likely will be using R/O Right by Kent.  What I don't understand is the issues with the ph.  I know I need to bring the ph to what the fish are used to and make it stable, but I am not sure what products I need to use. <Just simple aeration... letting time go by... about a day> Also, I do not understand what I need to do with GH or kH. <You can add sources of such hardness back... the Kent et al. products do this> I have not gotten the RO/DI unit yet and do not want to use it until I know what I am doing, so I do not lose any more fish. If I could have someone give me a simple list of what I need for the proper ph and to make it stable again, and what or if anything I need to do for the kH and GH.  I have the following fish (not in same tank) 1 African cichlid, 2 angelfish, 1 algae eater and 1 male Betta with 7 Neons. Thank you for your time. <Actually... I would NOT buy/use such physical means of cleaning your source water... if the "ammonia" was all you're concerned with... I would use a simple dechloraminator, and store new water ahead of use... as detailed over and over on our site. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Peruse the areas of Set-up and Maintenance... Treating Tapwater, Ammonia... For your potable uses, I would certainly have your water checked professionally... and likely use an RO device (as we do). Bob Fenner>

Ammonia in well water   2/1/06 My well water has ammonia in it, .5 using liquid test or .25 using test strip. Would it be better to use the water that has went through the home water softener, it tests at 0 ammonia. <Mmm, maybe... depending on how this latter is otherwise... and the livestock you keep. Better still to develop a routine of treating, storing new water...> Have looked at ammonia removing products but want to be able to continue to test for ammonia in tank and these products say will still show an ammonia reading  in tests, also don't know how much product to use per gallon for a 5 gal. change. <Varies by product... but such prep.s are not necessary... try aerating, storing the well water for a week... the ammonia will be gone> I have been diluting my well water with RO water, 1/4 well with 3/4 bottled but have been wanting to slowly change to pure well water because hauling RO water from store is a hassle. Wish I could just use the softener water, but know it is supposed to be bad for fish. Any ideas of what to do would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Suz <Mmm, please try the above... ammonia is quite transient (an energy source as well)... Bob Fenner>

Yet another ammonia question   1/26/06 Hello, I'll try to make this short. <Hotay> I have searched so many web sites, asked so many people so many different questions that now I am confused. Brief history. On December 28 I purchased a 28 gallon tank with a filtration system, that as far as I can tell is a wet dry system. It is built into the hood. <Likely an "Eclipse" unit... can find on Marineland.com's site> I treated the water with Cycle. On January 1st I added one small fish with a little water and a rock from an already established tank (from a friend). I was told that by doing that the tank I could start adding fish sooner. <Usually, yes> 3 days later I added 3 black skirt tetras and two Corys. I added Bio Spira and then over the next two weeks more fish. An aquarium store owner told me that after adding the Bio Spira I could add more fish faster. <Mmm...> I now have 17. The others I added over that period of time are 5 Serpae tetras, 2 dwarf ram cichlids, 1 dwarf Gourami, 2 platys and 2 flying foxes. I noticed a slight increase in ammonia levels (between .5 and 1.0) <Yikes... toxic levels> nitrites were .25. I did a partial water change Jan 13 replacing about 20% of the water with RO water. I also vacuumed the gravel. I tested the water a few days later and the ammonia was up to between 1.0 and 2.0. <!> Nitrites were 0. I panicked...did another partial water change about 20%...using RO...2 days later no change in the ammonia and nitrites. Panicked again, went back to the store got more RO water <... is your tap/source water "that" bad?> and also on the recommendation of the store owner got Bio-chem stars. I also bought Ammo-lock and put some in the water. On Saturday the 21st I did a 25% water change, cleaned the decorations and vacuumed the gravel. I also put the Bio-chem stars under the filter media. I tested the water last night (the 24th) The ammonia level showing 4.0! Nitrites still 0. Again I added the prescribed amount of Ammo-lock...and will continue to follow the instructions on the box. Through all this the fish have been fine. But the last few days I have not known what I will find when I come home. I'm only feeding them once a day by the way. <... the water changes are likely holding you back from establishing cycling...> Did I mess up by adding the Ammo-lock? Now that I have gone down that road should I continue to use it as directed until the ammonia level is down? Should I stop using it now? Should I do another water change or wait 7 days as the instructions say? <One of the active ingredients in this AP product can yield a "false positive"... it is very unlikely you have as much ammonia as your tests show... your fish would all be dead> I know this is a bit drawn out but your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Karen T. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. I would not change your water till the system cycles... and stop feeding period till the ammonia and nitrite are below 1.0 ppm. Bob Fenner>

Re: yet another ammonia question   1/26/06 Thanks for your help. No dinner tonight for the fish. The filtration system does not have a bio wheel. It's more like a sponge type material that the water goes through after it is drawn up from the tank. <I see... same concept... driven nitrification> The tap water here is very hard. Lots of lime deposits....that can clog things after awhile. <Some mineral content is useful, necessary though... As you will learn. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia Removal in a New Tank  08/08/2005 Hi Bob,< Chuck Here this time.> It's Bobbi  again, I wanted to thank you for your quick reply to my email on July 22.   I wanted to thank you much sooner but I have been sick.  I'm feeling better  now so, thanks for the wealth of information I really appreciate it.  I'm having  a bit of a dilemma, I was hoping you can give me some advice. I can  imagine you are always bombarded with e-mails and I don't want to add to the  stress so if you can't I understand. It's been  over 2 weeks since my tank is set up, but my ammonia value is still too high at  . 50.  How can I get it to go to 0 so I can finally get some fish? < Be a little patient or add Bio-Spira from Marineland. Go to marineland.com and check out Dr. Tim's Library for articles on nitrification. May help clear up some questions if you haven't already found the answers on WWM site.> Right now I have an Ammonia Remover Bag at the bottom of the tank per the  recommendation of the pet store because I can't put it in the biofilter due to the  sponge/carbon/BioMax, so it is full.  I swish the ammonia remover around in  the tank once a day but the results stay the same.  If you have any idea  that would help me, please help. Thanks, Bobbi < Most ammonia resins are slow to act and need to be in the tank with a water flow to be effective. I would recommend that you get one hardy fish and place it in you tank. Feed it once a day and remove any left over food after two minutes. Remove the Ammonia Remover and don't use it anymore. How can the bacteria developed if you keep trying removing their food source. Check out the Marineland website and you will know how and when to get your tank going with fish.-Chuck>

Bio-Spira Issues  6/10/05 Dear PufferPunk, http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/member.php?u=217 this is the reason why I asked for you.  I was impressed by reading the Q&A page.  You should take it as a compliment since I am stating who I am and how I can be reached in my signature.  Have I made a mistake by requesting your help? <Absolutely not!  I do take it as a compliment that you asked for me.  Like I said, I was just curious how you found me here, that's all, since this is the 1st non-puffer Q being asked of me at this venue. =o) > I know that many people don't follow directions clearly.  I on the other hand follow directions thoroughly.  The fish is tiny when compared to the tank; at the present time, the tank is big enough. He is getting fed very sparingly.    <Did you check out those FAQs?  I'd contact Marineland about your issues.  ~PP>

Bio-Spira & Ammonia Issues  6/9/05 Hi Pufferpunk, <Hello again> Thanks for responding back. I keep a juvenile Chinese Sailfin Shark, which will stay in the 10 gallon tank for about a year.  Once he is five inches, I will get a much bigger tank for him.  As of right now, I have no interest in any other fish so he will be alone in the tank.  The place where I bought the B-S is reputable. It was refrigerated and when I bought it, they packed it with dry ice.  There is no other fish store in the state that sells it at the present time.  My fish does not seem stressed but as of this morning, the ammonia is at 0.50 and still no nitrites.  Is it normal for there to be ammonia in the tank when I used B-S?  At which point do you think I should put the second application of B-S in the water--when the nitrites start? Thanks for you help PP. <I think that you need to check out these Marineland FAQs to see if you did everything according to their instructions: http://www.marinelandlabs.com/cus_faq.asp#60  The only other thing I can think of is a 10g just can't support that fish somehow.  I would definitely find a bigger tank before it reaches 5".  I am a little curious as to why you picked me for these questions.  Not that I don't support the use of B-S, it's just usually, I'm called upon for puffer (& sometimes brackish fish) questions & I see that you asked for me specifically.  Of course, I'm happy to help in any way I can...  ~PP>

Results about Bio-Spira Issues Dear PufferPunk The advice from Marineland worked 100%.  By the next day, Saturday, the ammonia was gone.  Today, Monday, there still remains no ammonia and no nitrites have developed in the tank.  He said you don't want to pour the B-S over the filter because this gets changed so you don't want the bacteria to adhere to the filter.  He said that is what B-S does; the initial dose adheres to what ever it is poured on.  If poured directly in the water, that is the worse thing to do.  If poured on the filter, when you change the filter, the tank may develop problems.  Hence, the bio-wheel never gets replaced so that is the logical spot to pour the B-S onto.  All I can say is that it worked successfully.  It will probably behoove Marineland to revamp their instructions in how to use their product since I poured in directly in the water the first time. <Thanks for the update.  I'm glad you are having success with the Bio-Spira product finally.  As most folks do not have BioWheels, I do feel the next best option is to pour the product into their filter.  It may be a good idea not to rinse the filter material for a couple of weeks after doing so though.  I rarely suggest actually "changing" out the filter material.  ~PP>

Ammonia level and floating goldfish I have 1 Red Cap Goldfish. I used to have 2 and I got them in the beginning of November, but I got them from a very bad place (Petland Discounts - will never do it again, I know I should not have) and they had a disease when I got them. I gave them an antibiotic (Myacin - you guys had recommended it for them) during the last week of November. Harry pulled through and got better and is the goldfish I have now, but unfortunately, Sally did not make it. It has now been 3 months since I gave them the antibiotic. I know that at the time it killed whatever bacteria was developing on the filter. <It's long since come back> I have a 5 gallon tank and I have a wet-dry filter. I change the water twice a week and change from 30% - 50% each water change. I only change it so often because the ammonia levels are fairly high. I do not overfeed my fish - I give him one flake and wait until he finishes it before I give him another one, so none falls to the bottom. (By the way, exactly how many flakes should I feed him a day?  Assuming one flake is about 1 centimeter in diameter? I give him, maybe like 7 a day spread out throughout the day...should it be more? Less?) <Sounds about right... could be more... if you want the fish to grow... and I would mix in some other foods... even a few grains of cooked rice and a pea or two... when you're having them... and look into pelleted formats of foods...> The ammonia levels are around 1 - 2 ppm and doesn't decrease.  <Mmm, you need a better filter... look into an inexpensive "sponge media" type... like an inside airlift or submersible... or even a hang-on... you shouldn't have detectable ammonia> There are still no traces of nitrate, maybe a tiny bit, but the level is not increasing, so I don't think the water has cycled yet. <I agree with you> I am wondering why it has not. <Me too... mainly the filter, or should I state, the lack of filtration> I also use Cycle with each water change to help speed up the process. <Sometimes this product works, sometimes not. I'd look into Marineland's BioSpira... it almost always works> I have changed the water so many times since the antibiotic, I am sure there are no traces, so why do I still have ammonia and no nitrate? And what should I do about this? <The bacteria you want have just not "settled in"... in part due to the water changes... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > Another problem - Harry seems to be in great health, but sometimes he floats up to the surface. He tries to swim down, but has a hard time, and just pops back up to the surface. However, this isn't all the time, because sometimes I come home to find him sleeping at the bottom of the tank when it is dark. I read that if he eats food floating at the top, he may be getting too much air into his body which makes him float?  <Much more likely this is from the all-flake diet... as stated, I would give up the flakes> I don't think he has swim-bladder disorder because he doesn't seem to be spiraling or floating on his side. But he has such a hard time swimming because something is causing him to bounce back up to the surface. Should I switch foods to one that does not float? <Do switch foods> I don't think he is very good at eating from the bottom of the tank, so I'm worried that he will not get any of the food. Or does he have a disease? Please help! I am concerned about the floating and the presence of ammonia in the tank. Thank you! -Jessica <Your fish's problems are due to diet and environment... having a real filter that's established and better food will solve its current problems. Going forward, when the opportunity can be made, I would move this fish into larger quarters... this will solve many problems by itself. Bob Fenner>

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