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Old 07-03-2013, 06:23 PM   #1 
maggiea218
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Bacterial Bloom, ammonia spike

I have a 10 gallon tank with 1 betta and 1 mystery snail. About 3 days ago I woke up and my tank was a complete cloud of water. I did some research and found it to be a bacterial bloom. Before the bacterial bloom, my ammonia had been climbing and I started to treat it, daily water changes and added API Ammo-lock to ease the fish. I tested my ammonia after I started using it, about a week ago, and it was at about 4.0, I just tested it today after changing 2 gallons of water and it is wayyyyyyy past 8.0!! It is so dark green it almost looks blue. I'm so nervous now because it has never been this high. I don't know what to do because from what I've seen, ammonia spikes are a given with bacterial blooms. What should I do about the ammonia levels? I'm not too worried about the bacteria because it should be gone in a few days but I'm still worried about the ammonia
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Old 07-03-2013, 11:01 PM   #2 
shellieca
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Are you using a liquid test kit? I would do a 50%+ water change, wait an hour & do another 50%+ water change. Is your tank new? Are you testing daily? If not you should be, it sounds like you are doing a fish IN cycle which requires daily testing & a water change if ammonia or nitrites are>.25. If ammonia is at 8 I'm surprised your fish & snail are still alive.
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Old 07-04-2013, 02:10 PM   #3 
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I've had the tank for about two and a half, maybe 3 months. I have been doing daily water changes and using a liquid test kit. My levels were perfect before but it seems the bloom has been creeping up on me because I did notice the water getting a little bit cloudy each day, right around when the ammonia spiked the first time. Like I said before I am using ammo-lock which doesn't take the ammonia out of my water but makes it safe enough to swim in (so it claims) but that is the only reason I can believe they are still alive. Should I move my fish and snail into a hospital tank until the bacteria goes away?
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Old 07-04-2013, 10:21 PM   #4 
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Are you vacuuming well when you do a water change? Its odd that after all this time you'd have such an ammonia spike especially with only two inhabitants. I've done 3-4 fish IN cycles in 10g tanks with 1 Betta & 1 mystery snail & I've never seen ammonia that high even when I had bacterial blooms which usually occurred within 3-4 wks of a new tank being set up. Have you tested your tap? I would definitely do at least 50% water changes to get the ammonia down, ammo at those levels can kill off BB not to mention the harm to the fish. I've never used ammo-lock but if its anything like Prime it'll only detoxify for a limited amount of time.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:55 AM   #5 
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Did you by chance do something that may have shocked the good bacteria, such as adding water of a drastically different temp, pH, or before it was treated, or perhaps a dead fish or plant, changing a filter pad to a new one without putting some of the 'gunk' on the new pad, a filter that lost power long enough for the bacteria to be starved of oxygen or a lot of dead food, etc.?

Something like Prime or Ammo Lock will turn ammonia into ammonium, which if your pH is above 7 you need to do ASAP because a few large water changes may still not reduce the ammonia to safe levels and a 100% water change is ideally avoided whenever possible, technically much over 50 if it's a tank with an established biofilter (pH below 7 and its ammonium...above and ammonia). You may also want to cut feeding, reduce time the light is on if you have one, and remove organic waste via gravel vacs a little more frequently.

You may want to 'seed' the tank with something such as Nite Out Two or Special Blend. Special Blend smells terrible, but it's one of the few products I've used that have actually helped expedite cycling by a noticeable margin. There may be others that work well too, but I've had so much success with Special Blend that I tend to use it regularly and after cleanings where some of the good bacteria is remove via the cleaning process.
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:03 AM   #6 
maggiea218
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When I first started noticing the tank getting cloudy, I bought ammo-carb to put through my filter so it would clear the mild cloudiness, I also added stress zyme because from what my liquid test told me, my biological filter was still lacking and my nitrate levels were only at 1.0, even after having the tank as long as I've had. Every time I do water changes I always make sure the water is a little bit warmer than the current water, maybe 2 or 3 degrees, but do you think that would be it? My water stays around 78-77 degrees normally. From what I've read on other websites, ammonia spikes come from bacterial blooms and that I should just wait it out, but I can't ignore my ammonia levels!
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:04 AM   #7 
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Originally Posted by maggiea218 View Post
When I first started noticing the tank getting cloudy, I bought ammo-carb to put through my filter so it would clear the mild cloudiness, I also added stress zyme because from what my liquid test told me, my biological filter was still lacking and my nitrate levels were only at 1.0, even after having the tank as long as I've had. Every time I do water changes I always make sure the water is a little bit warmer than the current water, maybe 2 or 3 degrees, but do you think that would be it? My water stays around 78-77 degrees normally. From what I've read on other websites, ammonia spikes come from bacterial blooms and that I should just wait it out, but I can't ignore my ammonia levels!

I also forgot to say I have since stopped using the stress zyme and took out the ammo carb chips.
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:30 AM   #8 
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Originally Posted by maggiea218 View Post
When I first started noticing the tank getting cloudy, I bought ammo-carb to put through my filter so it would clear the mild cloudiness, I also added stress zyme because from what my liquid test told me, my biological filter was still lacking and my nitrate levels were only at 1.0, even after having the tank as long as I've had. Every time I do water changes I always make sure the water is a little bit warmer than the current water, maybe 2 or 3 degrees, but do you think that would be it? My water stays around 78-77 degrees normally. From what I've read on other websites, ammonia spikes come from bacterial blooms and that I should just wait it out, but I can't ignore my ammonia levels!
The cloudiness, as you noted, is a byproduct. At only a few degrees difference, the bacteria should not be impacted, especially because most of it lives in the gravel. Ammo-carb doesn't do much unless you have a hella lot of it...I'm not a fan of most carbon due to its tendency to pull trace minerals from water, which has been proven to be a cause of certain diseases and most people do not add minerals to water. It takes a LOT of zeolite to remove large amounts of ammonia. Seachem Purigen is probably the best filter media on the market and one of the few that does not impact mineral levels, and Prime and Ammo Lock (among others) will neutralize ammonia by turning it into ammonium. You can recharge Purigen hundreds of times making it more economical despite its higher initial cost, and it absorbs much more than other medias in terms of volume-to-absorption. I've used Stress Zyme and it's ok...it's far from Special Blend and Nite-Out II, but it should get you through this. When Special Blend is used correctly, water will clear in 24-48 hours and you will get nitrate readings going up and ammonia going down...but a lot of people do not use it correctly. When you add the Stress Zyme or ANY bacterial additive, do NOT turn the tank lights on immediately. During a bloom, less light is ideal and ambient light is plenty for most fish to navigate. And of course no product can completely replace time. Fish can go a while without food...reduce feeding dramatically, remove uneaten food, and avoid build-up of organic waste. Ammonia is more of a worry than a few days of fasting.

I cannot speak to smaller tanks but as a general rule, 100% WC are considered bad. 50% is advised as the max for most tanks although to my understanding, 100% WCs are done with small tanks for bettas without issue. The primary concerns would be a change in temp and if water does not resist pH flux and that new water would have a different pH than existing water, potentially causing pH shock.

When you change the filter cartridge, wring out that brown earthy gunk and drip it all over the new cartridge or (ideally) use the same cartridge and just rinse it under tank water lightly (chlorinated water will kill the bacteria)...that brown earthy smell is your good bacteria. I'd often just wring these out directly into my tanks after cleaning...the cloudiness clears quickly and this bacteria is what stops your ammonia spikes. If your filter has the ability to do so, add a ceramic media in which nitrifying bacteria can grow on it and it can serve as some biological filtration. On filters like the Aquaclears, the sponge is great at pulling debris but it also becomes home to good bacteria and that is why most people use the same foam block for years and just lightly wring it out in a bucket with tank water to keep some of the good bacteria inside the sponge. Ceramic media offsets this some but any filter using micron filtration will not only pull particulate matter but also become a home to good bacteria. It's also why canister filters filled with nothing but tons of ceramic, pastic, composite, or lava media is so popular as it's stable biological filtration that prevents larger tanks from having ammo spikes during major cleanings they often need during major service intervals...(side note...when I ran a 135 gallon for a client, I had two large wet/dry cycle Eheims each filled with almost two gallons of ceramic media only and they were cleaned every yearish (impeller/gasket only, media wasn't touched), and two HOB Aquaclears filled with nothing but sponges and Purigen which could be cleaned without worry due to the two large canisters...all of which were an easier service option than a wet/dry system with an underside tank as actual water changes were only being done around every 4-6 months and it really did not even need that [Purigen and plants kept nitrates below 40 at all times])

And any time one does a H2O change that involves gravel vaccing or filter service, there will be removing a good bit of good bacteria and so for a little while, reduce the feeding, possibly the lights, and possibly add something with a bacterial additive...at least that applies to larger tanks and for smaller tanks I've ran with biological filtration, I've not seen any reason the rules do not apply. Now when I see bettas without any sort of biological filter...I just want to cry for the fishy.
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Old 07-06-2013, 08:37 AM   #9 
maggiea218
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Well now with my ammonia levels being so high, it has in fact killed my betta. I tried everything I could besides doing a 100% water change but somehow my snail is still alive. I'm going to put the snail in a hospital tank. Should I do a 100% water change? Yesterday when vacuuming the gravel there was so much white gunk (bacteria) there was no way I was going to get it all out without a full water change. The ammonia is too high I don't know how else to solve this issue unless you think the special blend will work without killing my snail as well? I'm still new to some parts of this whole aquarium thing!
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