How to Lower Ammonia Levels in an Aquarium If It's Not Too High

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How to Lower Ammonia Levels in an Aquarium If It's Not Too High
How to Lower Ammonia Levels in an Aquarium If It's Not Too High
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Ammonia is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic animals, and the only safe concentration even for an aquarium is 0 parts per million (ppm). Even concentrations of 2 ppm can be fatal. Therefore, make a test with the water in your aquarium and adjust as necessary so as not to lose your little fish. Read the tips below to find out more.

Steps

Part 1 of 3: Reducing Ammonia Levels in the Aquarium

Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 1

Step 1. Change some of the water

This is a practical and efficient way to reduce ammonia levels and keep the aquarium clean. Change some of the water once a week - or more depending on your condition. To determine the ideal frequency, stir the gravel at the bottom of the aquarium with a net. If there is a lot of waste, it is better to increase the exchange.

  • Leave the fresh water out of the aquarium for about eight hours for it to dechlorinize or apply a specific product that does this.
  • Wash your hands and remove all soap, cream and other possible contaminants. Then dry them well with clean sheets of paper towels.
  • Unplug all electronic devices that are near the aquarium from the outlet to avoid the risk of electrical shock. Leave to turn them back on after changing the water and see if everything is dry.
  • Change 30% of the water if the aquarium is in hygienic and healthy condition. In other words: if it has 40 L, change 12 L of water.
  • You don't need to take fish out of the aquarium to make the switch. Just be careful not to upset them too much.
  • Remove algae that are growing on the aquarium walls. If you like, buy a special tool or use an old card or similar object to make the scratch.
  • Use a siphon to transfer 30% of the water to a nearby bucket or sink. After that, pour the clean water into the aquarium little by little.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 2

Step 2. Remove all waste that is polluting the aquarium

This waste (organic matter) greatly affects ammonia levels. Use a large net to remove anything that is bad - that is, everything but the fish and plants themselves - to reduce the problem.

  • Leftover feed contributes a lot to increased ammonia levels.
  • Fish waste also increases the ammonia level when it breaks down.
  • The remains of plants or fish bodies release high concentrations of the product.
  • Clean the aquarium filter so as not to generate an even greater accumulation of waste. Just don't remove the suction cups, as this can affect the balance of bacteria in the water.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 3

Step 3. Decrease the frequency and amount of feed you feed the fish

Leftover feed also contributes to the increase in the level of ammonia in the aquarium. So reduce the amount and frequency so you don't have such problems.

  • Consult a veterinarian or other specialist to find the optimal amount of feed for your fish.
  • Changing the fish's eating habits does not reduce ammonia levels when they are already high, but it can prevent them from increasing in the future after changing the water.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 4

Step 4. Put healthy bacteria in the aquarium

In general, bacterial colonies that form on the bottom of aquariums help convert ammonia into benign nitrogen components. However, if your tank is new or if the old colony has been drastically reduced, you may have the so-called "new tank syndrome".

  • Some people put a cheap fish or two in the aquarium to produce waste that attracts bacteria. If you want to give it a try, buy a goldfish for a cold-water tank, a barbel for a warm-water tank, or a damselfish for an ice-water tank.
  • You can also distribute gravel from an older aquarium to the new one to attract bacteria.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 5

Step 5. Lower the aquarium pH

Generally speaking, ammonia is deiodinated, in the form of ammonia (NH3), or iodinated, in the form of ammonium (NH4+). Ammonia (NH3) is toxic to fish and is found in higher concentrations when the pH of the water is basic (ie, high on the scale).

  • The easiest way to adjust the pH of water is with specific chemicals. Buy them at any pet store.
  • Lowering the pH of the water doesn't kill the ammonia, but it makes it less toxic to fish - so you don't have to be in such a hurry to change the water.
  • Use real gravel in the aquarium to keep the pH of the water always low. Corals, sand and the like release calcium and therefore raise the pH.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 6

Step 6. Try increasing the water plow

NH3 is toxic and gaseous and, when dissolved, permeates the water. Therefore, increase the aeration in the aquarium to diffuse the substance into the outside air.

  • Aeration is not as effective in larger bodies of water, but it can help control ammonia levels in the aquarium.
  • Buy an aeration pump at any pet store or on the internet.
  • Leave the tank uncovered for a while while the gas disperses into the air.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 7

Step 7. Apply a neutralizer to the aquarium

You can use a neutralizer to control the ammonia levels in the aquarium for a while. Buy the product at any pet store or online.

  • Neutralizers do not remove ammonia from the water, but neutralize the substance's toxic effects and thus protect the fish.
  • You'll still need biological filtration from bacteria to turn ammonia into nitrite and nitrate.

Part 2 of 3: Identifying the source of high ammonia levels

Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 8

Step 1. See if the problem is with tap water

It is very difficult for tap water to bring in high concentrations of ammonia. In general, most city water systems test the concentration of chemicals to see if it is safe for consumption. However, sometimes it's better to know if everything is right with the grades.

  • Use an ammonia test kit (same as the aquarium) in tap water.
  • If ammonia levels in tap water are too high, contact your city's water department.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 9

Step 2. See if there is anything decomposing in the aquarium

Decomposing organic matter also greatly increases the ammonia levels in the aquarium. Test your tap water to get a clear idea of ​​how to fix the problem.

  • All organic matter, including plant debris and microorganisms, can cause extreme increases in ammonia levels and protein deficiency.
  • Feed that fish do not eat can increase ammonia levels in the water.
  • Get this decaying organic matter out of the aquarium as soon as possible. Keep an eye out for the situation not to get out of hand.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 10

Step 3. Learn to identify the ammonia that fish excrete

If you notice a lot of fish waste in your aquarium, it could be the cause of the high ammonia levels. These wastes decompose and, over time, cause increases in the toxic chemical.

Remove solid waste from the aquarium whenever you find it or change the water every now and then

Part 3 of 3: Determining Exact Ammonia Levels

Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 11

Step 1. Buy a regular test kit

Most pet stores sell ammonia test kits, which also test for ammonium levels. The problem with these products is that they don't distinguish between two different levels of the chemical - and so it's not possible to take an accurate reading of the toxicity of the water.

  • Generally speaking, the normal kit does not detect ammonia levels when the tank is older and has lots of fish and active bacterial colonies.
  • If these tests indicate a measurable level of ammonia, it is because there is already a healthy bacterial colony and little organic matter. In this case, the problem is probably with the filter.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 12

Step 2. Measure the pH of the water

The pH of the aquarium directly affects the ammonia levels in the water. Measure it regularly to determine if the product is not at toxic levels.

  • The pH of a body of water affects the ammonia ionization process.
  • In addition to adjusting the pH, you still have to treat the water. Acidifying the water does not help to break down the ammonia molecules present in the aquarium.
Lower Ammonia Levels in a Fish Tank if They Are Not Very High Step 13

Step 3. Test the water at the right time

The kit's reading depends on when you test the aquarium water. The best time is probably before feeding the fish, as the product has not yet been consumed and released into the water.

  • Ammonia levels peak about 90 minutes after you feed the fish.
  • Test the water soon after feeding the fish (and they produce waste or organic matter) to optimize test results.

Tips

  • Don't put too many fish in one tank.
  • Do not feed the fish too much and always take care of the filtration system.
  • Wait a while after setting up an aquarium to put fish in it.

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