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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Help! I have a 55 gallon aquarium with juvenile cichlids. I have the api test kit, and I'm showing 4.0 ppm on my ammonia tests, despite frequent 30% water changes. however, none of my African cichlids seem to act as though its affecting them(and I also am having cloudy water). Despite me doing frequent water changes, what would be some other ways to reduce ammonia levels? No matter what i do, the level is staying at 4.0 ppm. Water temp is 78 degrees, nitrate, nitrite is all good, PH 8.2... Despite the ammonia reading, everything else seems to be perfect..
 

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What does your tap water test for ammonia before treating with a conditioner?

Which brand of conditioner are you using?

If you have zero nitrate, you tank is NOT cycled and not ready for fish yet OR you are not testing correctly for nitrate. Be sure to shake the #2 reagent bottle before dispensing the drops in the test tube.

You need to perform 50% water changes as often as possible to lower the ammonia level as much as possible. Don't forget to add your dechlorinator or conditioner to the new water.
 

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Deeda said:
What does your tap water test for ammonia before treating with a conditioner?

Which brand of conditioner are you using?

If you have zero nitrate, you tank is NOT cycled and not ready for fish yet OR you are not testing correctly for nitrate. Be sure to shake the #2 reagent bottle before dispensing the drops in the test tube.

You need to perform 50% water changes as often as possible to lower the ammonia level as much as possible. Don't forget to add your dechlorinator or conditioner to the new water.
The OP stated that the aquarium itself is testing at 20ppm of nitrate and that the tap has been testing zero for everything. I'm thinking it's probably an overstocked and under filtered issue at this point
 

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Yep, you are correct about the tank nitrate at 20 PPM that I missed but the OP never mentioned ammonia level in tap water, just in case the water company uses chloramine as a disinfectant.

No mention of how many fish and how large juveniles are so it is possible there is a dead fish somewhere.

What brand and model filter are you using?
 

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Deeda said:
Yep, you are correct about the tank nitrate at 20 PPM that I missed but the OP never mentioned ammonia level in tap water, just in case the water company uses chloramine as a disinfectant.

No mention of how many fish and how large juveniles are so it is possible there is a dead fish somewhere.

What brand and model filter are you using?
I agree 100% there's a possibility of a dead fish. I've had a few small female lithobates go missing lately myself, I hardly find anything but a few vertebrae here and there though lol. And yes we do need to know if the tap is showing any ammonia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I did a water change yesterday, no dead fish. I have 15 cichlids in my 55 gal and they range from 2 to 3 inches currently. Along with 2 plecos and 2 courts. My concern is only because i use tap water for my 29 gallon aquarium that holds tropical community fish, and everything is perfect, including water clarity. I was considering under filtered and looking into canister filters, but i wanted some opinions before I went and got one. The filter cane with the kit, it's a top fin with 2 large filters (don't remember the actual name because i no longer have that info from 6 months ago.
 

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What type of plecos do you have? I'm really leaning towards inadequate bio filtration with all the current information but a couple more questions to narrow it down further, are you using a hang on back type filter and are you cleaning the filter? If so what method are you using?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yeah it's a hang on the back. 2 bristle nose Plecos. And i "clean" my filter with tank water i put in a bucket during my water change. I know it's a big no no to use tap water to clean the filter.. i was honestly leaning towards the filter system being too small but i just wasnt sure because everything else is great when I test my water.
 

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Even if your filter was too small...when you remove 1/2 the water you should also remove 1/2 the ammonia. At least for that instant after you refill the tank.

Some kind of hidden, rotting debris sounds like a possibility. What kind of substrate do you have? How do you clean it? Gravel can hide a lot of organic material.
 

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Well it seems you're doing everything correctly as far as I can tell, so it would have to be an undersized filter and/or a build up of waste. If you do have gravel substrate, I recommend getting rid of it and going with sand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Lol yeah that's the weird thing, during my last water change (I do them weekly at about 30%) I even took some of the gravel substrate out during the siphoning off the substrate. I checked my decorations too to make sure there wasn't anything dead hidden in them. I do regular maintenance on my tank and that's why I was so confused as to why i still have ammonia in my tank... so do we just chalk it up as to needing a more powerful filtration system?
 

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I don't. When you remove half the water, you remove half the ammonia. If that does not happen, then debris is hiding somewhere.

Next step for me would be to remove all the gravel. I'd do daily PWC for a week or so in increasing increments (like 30 then 40 then 50 then 60 then 70 then 80 then 90 so that when you replace 100% of the water it will not shock the fish.
 

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Clean water is always beneficial. The beneficial bacteria are attached to the filter media and other surfaces and are not harmed or removed by changing water.

The reason you would do the increments is if your fish are not used to large weekly water changes...I often do 75% weekly so I could just go forward with the gravel removal and 100% water change.

Just be sure to match your parameters for pH and temperature.

How much do you change/week now?
 
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