I have dealt with it a few times thanks to walmart and petco's awsome water changing skills
The worst factor in ammonia poisoning is that elevated ammonia can't be seen. Although the effects can be seen, they are often misunderstood or missed entirely until it is too late. Regular water testing to detect elevated ammonia, and learning what symptoms to look for go a long ways towards combatting this invisible fish killer.Symptoms:
- Fish gasp for breath at the water surface
- Purple or red gills
- Fish is lethargic
- Loss of appetite
- Fish lays at the bottom of the tank
- Red streaking on the fins or body
Ammonia poisoning can happen suddenly, or over a period of days. Initially the fish may be seen gasping at the surface for air. The gills
will begin to turn red or lilac in color, and may appear to be bleeding. The fish will being to lose its appetite and become increasingly lethargic. In some cases fish may be observed laying at the bottom of the tank with clamped fins.
As the damage from the ammonia poisoning continues, the tissues will be damaged as evidenced by red streaks or bloody patches that appear on the body and fins. Internal damage is occurring to the brain, organs, and central nervous system. The fish begins to hemorrhage internally and externally, and eventually dies.
Ammonia becomes more toxic when the PH is high. I don't know the chemistry behind it though.
Did petco tell you what, exactly the reading were? also, they use test strips when they test the water and they are hard to read and usually not very accuate. If you can, purchase the API ammonia liquid test kit - its much better then test strips.
What I did was:
I put him in a cup and floated him in a tank with a heater. I used a milk jug and had it filled with water, and Amquel plus (which is supposed to help with ammonia poisioning). Since my fish was so weak, I used a syringe to take out poop and debris and then replaced it with water from the milk jug.
This betta was laying on the bottom of his cup, rapid gill movement, had an ammonia level of 8.0 and couldn't swim.
He looked like this when i got him from walmart
about a week later
and now he is perfectly healthy