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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 20 gallon tank that is planted with a banana plant, some amazon swords, some valisneris (probably misspelled that) and some java moss. For some reason, there are extremely high levels of ammonia in the tank, and I can't figure out what is causing it. I have done several water changes, which drops the ammonia levels, but over night they spike back up again. I've had to remove all my fish from this tank due to the ammonia. Any thoughts on what could be causing the ammonia?
 

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How old it the tank..... My first hought is you didn't let the tank cycle, by adding plants, you seeded the cycling process. You don't say how many fish you have stocked the tank with........ Second thought is you have a major bio load on the tank and when you gravel vac your vacuming all the gravel. You should be gravel vacing in four sections. One section a week with the weekly WC. I think you need to let the tank cycle completely about 6 weeks.

Also check your water source, if you in the country and using well water, you might be adding amm. and nitrates to the tank with water changes. It is summer time and alot of ferts are being addded to the farm lands. All that will leach into the well waters.
 

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Sorry, you're right I didn't put those details. It was a cycled tank before I added the plants - it had been up and running for almost 2 months before I put the plants in. At the time I added the plants, the fish I had were: 1 beta, 5 neon tetras, 4 platies, and 2 female swordtails. Oh and an algae eater. The beta was the first to get sick, and I didn't realize at the time that it was ammonia poisoning. I moved him to our second tank (which was empty of fish) but we lost him. When the platies and swordtails also started having symptoms, I realized it was ammonia and moved them to the other tank. I did a large water change which brought the ammonia levels back down. I ended up losing all but 1 of the platies. I have since also moved the tetras and the algae eater down, and they seem to be doing just fine in the other tank. So, that leaves a tank with plants and no fish. I have done 2 more large water changes, and both times the ammonia spiked back up overnight.

The water I use in the tank is the same water I have always used in the tanks (both tanks used to be cycled previously, for over a year but we had a major power disaster and ended up losing all the fish.) There were no ammonia problems while the tank cycled.
 

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Than that is a puzzle..... the ammonia has to becomming from something in that tank than. If the all things being equal with the two tanks water. what type of food are you feeding them and how much, could be a source. You could have a dead fish in there you have found yet, that could be a source. Is anyone using a ammonia based glass clearer around the tank, on the tank. Generally when you add fish to an established tank there is a small mini cycle that happens, until a benefical Bact. is colonized to match the new bioload. You did have a party at the house recently, I had a friend in the 80's that would pee in people tanks while at a parties,
The ammonia has to be coming from somewhere, your going to have to look around, keep and eye on the tank cycling again. Any change you can give a complete water peram. reading. Ph Nitrate Nitrites Amm. Temps
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I love the banana plant - it is the fastest grower in the tank. The only problem with that is, its eventually going to take over the tank! lol
 

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i grow bananas in my yard. never heard of a nana plant you can grow in the tank.....i might have to get one or 12. lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
they're really a lily plant - they're just called banana plant because of how they look. I can't post links yet, but if you google images of "banana plant aquarium" you'll see
 

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wow thats awesome, thank you.
 

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Those plants also can create an amm. spike, (so i ve been told) .. as the leaves die off, too be replaced with new ones, they begin to decompose in the tank. Bio matter decomposes faster underwater, in most cases. it might be simple the fact that you added alot of plants all at once, the plants, being new to the tank are most working on growing the root system 1st, so you should trim alot of th leaves off before, But DONT over doo it, that'll kill them. After the plants become stable in th etank they will actually absorb more toxins, then they inturn produce, making them a wise choice, but you have to be patient.

you can add some ghost shrimp too the tank, they are cheap, they eat the dieing leaves, and they are kinda cool to look at.

Its My opinion, that the shrimp waste is less then the diing leaves, because if you let food rot, or you eat it, which makes a bigger pile, your crap or the pile of rotten food? (food for thought)

plus there might be some chemistry in it. where by the waste of the shrimp produces an eaiser to convert amm. then that of the decaying leaves. But thats completely unsupported speculation.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'll look into the ghost shrimp. I just did another water change, and the ammonia is still high. I just noticed though, these little white string/worm things that have attached themselves to my driftwood - any chance they are the source of ammonia?
 

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Can you post a picture of the worms..... how did you treat the DW before you put it in the tank, and was it something you found in the wild

Anything that die and rotts adds amm. to the tank. As far as ghost shrimp. they mainly maintain grean hair algea, but more likely end up being a snack to the fish in the tank. Oh they will hide and be there for awhile but one day they all wwill be eaten. The best way is to just maintain your plants you see a leaf floating get it out, you see the strainer on the suction line of the filter is cover whit leaves take them out. you see leaves turn yellow, clip them and fert you tank.

What type of test kit are you using, if it the drip strips, throw them away and get a liquid drop kit. The testing strips give more false reading than anything, every time you open the container to get one, humity get in there and that will effect the out come. You may be gettting a false reading .

I want you to remove the DW and do a 20% WC. I never seen worms comming out of my DW, unless there was something wrong. and that was a parasite. See if you can post a picture and you may end up treating the complete system for parasites. Which mean you will need to treat that tank.

But let get the amm. thing first..... remove the dw see if that helps, make sure you using a reliable testing kit....
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I purchased the driftwood from an aquarium store, it was already soaked and leeched and all that. The driftwood was in the tank before the fish were - so it was there while the tank cycled and it hadn't been an issue. I don't think the worm things are coming out of the wood..I think they're eating into it. I can't get a picture (don't have a camera with me) but I googled it and they look like planaria worms http://www.fishdeals.com/fish_diseases/planaria_white_worms/planaria.jpg

I've been cleaning the dead/dying plants out of the tank regularly, because I knew that could cause problems. I use a liquid ammonia test.
 

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Amm. is commingfrom somthing in the tank.... or you test is giving you false readings...... will if the worms weren't there in the would thna you add them with the fish..... so I would treat the tank and fish..... You going to have to find the cause, I can only suggest what to do, or causes. If I was tyhere and could see everything I might be able to point it out, but I not so, I hope you find what the source is for the amm. spike.... generally it dead rotting stuff, fish watse and poor maintenance, false reading, or an outside source that causes it. but you say everything is way it shopuld but your still get a high amm. spike...
 

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You aren't by any chance using PRIME, or a product like it that locks up bad ammonia and turns it into usable but safer( maybe) nontoxic kind? Those products can cause your test to show ammonia off the charts. They usually disseminate in 48 hours.

Have any rocks in the tank? They can affect PH. Dunno if any of them could lead to a AM slike though.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
There is just the normal gravel in the tank, no rocks. I was not using prime or anything else. I discovered the white things were parasites, so I treated the tank and they all died. It was a rather mass death...everything was coated in white dead parasites, had to do some vacuuming. I also purchased prime and my tank is now ammonia free! I think it was the parasites that were causing the ammonia, because now that they are gone, the ammonia levels are no longer spiking overnight. I ended up losing most of my plants :( but once things have settled I can start rebuilding. :)
 
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