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HELP! Ammonia in tap water!

Memeboi

Member
Messages
93
So I have recently moved, and have re-setup my 10g tank, now with just the male because the female tragically died as a consequence of the moving process (Basically i had to move them and their tank to my mom's school, where they ended up being stressed out by the kids). And now my male has been doing very poorly. I went and checked my Ammonia the day I moved him in to my home, and it was at 1 PPM, horrendous, so then I did a large (ballpark 50-80%) WC and went to sleep. Then the next day I repeated the process, and again, with my filter actually up and running (it died but I managed to fix it), it was 1 PPM. So today I did another test and it was, again, really high. Today I decided to test the tap, and it turned out to be 1 PPM. My A.Borrelli's condition is worsening (He is very lethargic, discolored, and refuses to eat) and I really need alternatives. I hear that distilled water is bad for fish so i really need all the help I can get. I have been using the API Master Test Kit, if that information is helpful. Also, the male has not eaten much at all for the past WEEK, due to all of the moving.


TLDR : Moved and my new house has sky high ammonia in its tap, A.Borrelli is getting sicker by the day.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,902
Location
Germany
I doubt it's just the water, the whole back and forth has likely had the bigger impact.

Your pH must be relatively low: Because the lower the pH the less toxic is Ammonia (NH3) as it's no longer present as NH3, but as NH4 (Ammonium). By using distilled or RO with humic substances you will drop the pH, thus bringing it in the safe zone.
Hence I'm pretty sure your water is quite acidic, as if it wasn't ALL fish would be affected and ALL fish would already be dead.

Distilled water is ok, you just can't use it without humic substances (what's wrongly called "tannins") and not just change to it too fast. Water conditioners can bind Ammonia but that's not a long term solution. Long term neither is an alternative because it's too expensive and impractical. A RO unit is the better alternative. It pays off within 1-2 months.

Your filter died? So you might have lost beneficial microfauna, which might explain
 

Memeboi

Member
Messages
93
I doubt it's just the water, the whole back and forth has likely had the bigger impact.

Your pH must be relatively low: Because the lower the pH the less toxic is Ammonia (NH3) as it's no longer present as NH3, but as NH4 (Ammonium). By using distilled or RO with humic substances you will drop the pH, thus bringing it in the safe zone.
Hence I'm pretty sure your water is quite acidic, as if it wasn't ALL fish would be affected and ALL fish would already be dead.

Distilled water is ok, you just can't use it without humic substances (what's wrongly called "tannins") and not just change to it too fast. Water conditioners can bind Ammonia but that's not a long term solution. Long term neither is an alternative because it's too expensive and impractical. A RO unit is the better alternative. It pays off within 1-2 months.

Your filter died? So you might have lost beneficial microfauna, which might explain
While I have been thinking about the whole "no beneficial bacteria" thing, and it probably is a factor. but i do really think that it is mainly the water, since I tested the tap and it was very green (because of the Ammonia). In Pennsylvania (where I live) the water seems to all be alkaline, so that makes things even more confusing. Why do I have to use humics for distilled water exactly? I always thought the problem was that it lacked any electrolytes (water hardness). My tank does have some old twigs and leaves in it, but they have released all their tannins long ago. I also have 2 really large pieces of driftwood, Which I could hypothetically chop to size. But both pieces are in storage. Another thought about the Ammonia is that there likely was not many bacteria there in the first place, because back in my old house the tank was a "no water change" tank, due to all of the plants.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,902
Location
Germany
Why do I have to use humics for distilled water exactly? I always thought the problem was that it lacked any electrolytes (water hardness).
Because distilled and RO water lack KH, which is one possible buffer. But KH works by the principle: The higher the KH the higher the pH and also a low KH is enough to keep pH above 7. You will want to get pH significantlicly lower (5-6.5). Humic substances are an alternative as they buffer pH between 4 and 6, depending on the amounts you use. And before you ask: As you get these substances from botanicals (like alder cones) or peat, all sources are natural so there is no "take 100 grams of peat" or "10 alder cones per 10 liters" formula. You will have to go by experience. Driftwood is not a good source.

Also electrolytes are not identical to hardness. electrolytes in the biological sense are things like Natrium or Kalium, hardness is comprised of Calcium and Magnesium.

Another thought about the Ammonia is that there likely was not many bacteria there in the first place, because back in my old house the tank was a "no water change" tank, due to all of the plants.
If the tank ran for more than 10 months this theory won't hold up.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,173
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
It doesn't matter for me if it is a new tank or established tank, r/o or tap water, I always use a dechlorinator when adding water. You don't mention if you do or not.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,902
Location
Germany
We don't have chlorinated water here, but yes, it could be Chloramine. But still, it would have killed the fish already.
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,339
It doesn't matter for me if it is a new tank or established tank, r/o or tap water, I always use a dechlorinator when adding water. You don't mention if you do or not.
Is there a particular reason why you favor dechlorinator rather than large carbon blocks? Just curious if i missed something. To handle my larger aquariums i setup some carbon block filters at the tap so all the water at the fishroom would have chlorine removed - at least that was the intention.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,173
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Dechlorinator is cheap and most brands even tackle chloramines in tap water. Most available carbon found in the aquarium trade is low grade. I have some experience with high grade carbon that I used at 'pump and treat' Superfund remediation sites. That carbon was high grade, effective over a long period (changed a ton every 5 - 10 days), but very expensive. I suggest that you test your fresh carbon by running water with food color through it and see how long it takes to turn the color clear again. You will probably be surprised that it takes a lot more time than chlorinated water normally is in contact with a carbon filter.
 

Memeboi

Member
Messages
93
I'm starting to think that my API Master Test kit might just be a little faulty... I did the High Range PH test and it put out 8.8. Which my water... Definitley is not...
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,339
Dechlorinator is cheap and most brands even tackle chloramines in tap water. Most available carbon found in the aquarium trade is low grade. I have some experience with high grade carbon that I used at 'pump and treat' Superfund remediation sites. That carbon was high grade, effective over a long period (changed a ton every 5 - 10 days), but very expensive. I suggest that you test your fresh carbon by running water with food color through it and see how long it takes to turn the color clear again. You will probably be surprised that it takes a lot more time than chlorinated water normally is in contact with a carbon filter.
I'm not using aquarium carbon; these are filters where the water enters the pipe to the fish room - larger canister with high grade carbon. the declorinator i've been using is sachem prime and a bottle is $15 these days and last about 2-3 months for about 200 gallons of aquarium - so i spend around $45-60 a year - but the new aquariums are much larger - 550/450/pair of 200 so i was hopeful the carbon would be effective. The filters are about 5 feet tall and the water starts at the bottom and works it way up to the top - but i did buy a chlorine test kit to make sure they do the job. I will be very sad if they don't.
 

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