Help! cannot get ammonia level down.

jmbrewster2010

New member
I have a 75 gallon tank that has been up for 4 1/2 months. It cycled in the beginning but now it seems to be cycling again.

The ammonia level is at 0.50 steadily for almost two weeks. I have done water changes and water changes and water changes and yet, it will go down for a day and two days later it is back up again. Help. What could be causing this and how do I make it stop?

I am doing about 10 gallon water changes every other day or so trying to get it under control. I have heard about doing 80+% water changes but I have mixed feelings about this because 1. it would expose the rock to air too long and I feel like this would cause some die off and then another smaller cycle 2. It would stress the fish too much. What can I do?
 

James404

I <3 Acros
What brand salt are you using? Many salts contain ammonia including Instant Ocean. If your bioload can not process it you can use products such as Amquel Plus or Seachem's Prime to detoxify it.
 

greech

New member
The first thing I would do is check your test kit by either buying another or having your LFS double check it. Do you have any livestock in the tank currently? If so how is it doing?

How much rock do you have in the tank, how many fish and how often/much do you feed.

If the test kit is correct, then I would definitely try a series of larger water changes.
 

lilalove

New member
I wouldn't be too concerned about the exposure of the rock. I'd try to do that 80% water change, and maybe use some Amquel. It's a bandaid fix, but at least it neutralizes the toxic form of ammonia. How many fish do you have? Perhaps you introduced too many too soon. It does take a couple of weeks for your biological filter to "catch up" to the new bioload. I typically wait a month between fish.
 

evsalty

hmmmmmm
Need to KNOW a lot about your system and feeding habits.

Actually first and foremost get a second test done on your water via another test kit preferably a different brand and or your LFS.

Now for the questions.

What is your salinity/specific gravity?

What type of source water are you using?

Are you using any Prime or Amquel products?

What fish are in the system?

What size is your tank?

What kind of filtration do you use?

What and how often are you feeding your fish?

There are more things but if you can answer these it will help.
 

Dingo44

New member
Is there detritus accumulating on the sand bed in any dead spots?

Maybe a snail/hermit/fish died somewhere where you can't see it and is polluting the tank
 

jmbrewster2010

New member
ok.. I'll do my best to try and answer your questions.
1. the SG is 1.023
2. Ammonia 0.50
3. Use RODI water
4. I did try some kind of ammonia neutralizer but i'm not sure what kind, it didn't help.
5. 2 blue damsels
2 four stripe damsels
2 ocelaris clowns
1 black percula clown
1 blue spotted goby
6. 75 gallon tank
7. aprox 80 lbs live rock
8. Cannister filter with carbon, filter floss, and nitrate absorber
9. HOB protein skimmer
10. feeding every other day with new life spectrum and every 2 days with frozen mysis

up until about two weeks ago it was seriously overstocked because we just didn't know what we were doing but with frequent water changes we were able to keep tank relatively stable. About two weeks ago one day we got up and something had nuked it. We lost 5 fish in 6 hrs. Since then i'll get the ammonia level down by water changes and then it will go right back up. We went and got more snails and crabs thinking that more clean up crew would help but then half the snails died.
There is detrius on the sand so i kind of cleaned the sand up and ran a sock filter for 24 hours over a powerhead and it did help this. now the fish listed are the only ones left but i don't know how to get the tank back to a stable place.
 

stingythingy45

New member
Sounds like a very aggressive tank you have there.
Do the clowns,single clown and damsels fight all the time?
I'm guessing the over stocking sent this tank into a cycle.
The only way to combat this is with water changes.
It can be done and eventually the biofilter(bacteria)will catch up.

Can I ask how you cycled this tank?
 

evsalty

hmmmmmm
Have you removed all the dead animals/inverts?

What kind of nitrAte absorber are you refering too? All the ones that I have read about SPECIFY FRESHWATER only. This may not have anything to do with it though but I am curious.
 

jmbrewster2010

New member
When we first started, we knew nothing about this hobby and therefore took the advice of the LFS clerk who sold us the 4 damsels to start the tank. We have made every possible mistake up to this point. The fish don't fight that much because they were all put in at one time i guess. After that, we waited until the tank had completely cycled to add any more fish. We got the three clowns all at the same time too and what ended up happening is that one of the clowns stayed as a sub adult and the other two grew. We are starting a 180 gallon tank hopefully this week and using what we know now, things should be much better for it. after it has cycled, some of these fish will be going into that tank.

yes, I have thoroughly combed the tank and removed anything dead I could find.

What about the extra large water changes? yes or no?
 

evsalty

hmmmmmm
I am still curious about this nitrAte absorber. All the manufacturers of these products put in BOLD FRESHWATER USE ONLY. I wonder if when used in salt water that it breaks it back down to ammonia. If so, then used in a canister filter where nitrAtes would be being created at an extremely fast rate could cause a problem like this.
 

fireball198

New member
I have a 75 gallon tank that has been up for 4 1/2 months. It cycled in the beginning but now it seems to be cycling again.

The ammonia level is at 0.50 steadily for almost two weeks. I have done water changes and water changes and water changes and yet, it will go down for a day and two days later it is back up again. Help. What could be causing this and how do I make it stop?

I am doing about 10 gallon water changes every other day or so trying to get it under control. I have heard about doing 80+% water changes but I have mixed feelings about this because 1. it would expose the rock to air too long and I feel like this would cause some die off and then another smaller cycle 2. It would stress the fish too much. What can I do?

10 gallons is not going to work and 80% is way to much do 50% wait 1 week do 50% more.
 

Ethan_W

New member
use AmQuel. also when you do set up the 180 you should only introduce the mated pair of clownfish and consider finding the 3rd one a new home or keeping him in another tank. since your tank is only 4 1/2 months old, and you have such a large bioload already, that's probably what's causing the ammonia. you should consider adding more live rock
 

evsalty

hmmmmmm
Ok I just read the description in my DFS catalog about Kent NitrAte Sponge. It says that it absobrs AMMONIA while fostering anaerobic bacteria. Know from my little knowledge I understand that you in order to have anaerobic bacteria you need a place that has very little access to oxygen. But to convert ammonia to nitrIte and nitrIte into nitrates you need oxygen present. I am wondering if this product can get oversaturated with ammonia when placed in a low oxygen location and thus would end up releasing some of it.
 

jmbrewster2010

New member
ok so the plan is to get the sponge stuff out of the cannister filter, and do a 50% water change now and do another 50% water change in one week. right?
 

jmbrewster2010

New member
i also thought i might take the rock out and double check for any dead snails crabs etc and clean the sand well would that help?

vaccuum sand well when taking the water out and then replace rock...?
 
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