Lots of filters, 2 goldfish, and still ammonia!


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Good Evening,

I cannot get my Ammonia down to 0.0 !!! I added the skippy filter and the larger pre-filter for two goldfish. Of course I want more fish so I have these larger filters but I've been struggling with ammonia the whole summer. This is my second go around...poor feeder fishies!

What else can I do? Does planting plants at the top of the skippy filter help with ammonia?


Tetra 525 Gph with a box filter

Homemade Skippy filter from a 5 gallon bucket, scrubbies, Ceramic Rings
1 clump of Hornwort
API pond testing kit

Gallons: 125
Temp: 85
Nitrates 0
Ammonia NH3: Fluctuates between .50 and 1.0
PH 9.0
Phosphate .25

I'm told our PH in South-Eastern Wisconsin always has this high a PH because of all the Limestone
 
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Welcome! I am not a water chemistry expert, so I won't venture into that territory, but just wanted to say hello and thanks for actually giving us good information on your first post!

You said all summer you've struggled with ammonia - so your pond has been running for 3 months with just these two fish? And you only have the hornwort, no other plants?

Can you post some pictures of your set up - that's always helpful. Plus we're real nosy! We love to see ponds!
 
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I didn't want to put the whole long story at first. I also am experiencing the first algae bloom of this cycle. But since you kindly asked:

End of April I thought I'd get some fishies so my daughters and I (ages 7 and 5) had a reason to keep the pond going. It should be easy right! Learned the hard way not to put 7 or 5 fish in a pond all at once. The girls are doing well with all the fishy deaths.

Eventually 3 of the fish were doing great and growing for 8 weeks or so. Still had ammonia though.

Big Mistake: I didn't use scrubbies, instead I used sponges described as "Ocelo sponges use 3M's unique antimicrobial StayFresh technology to resist the growth of bacterial odors through hundreds of uses. " Lets just say the 4 Feeder Goldfish didn't make it. Poor Zippy...

Second Try: Filled the pond once again after draining the entire pond. I rinsed everything but didn't remove all the "film" in case there was still some good stuff in there.

Used API Quick Start and Tap Water Conditioner along with 4 oz of Ammonia weeks ago to try to kick start the cycle. I did see it go from 2.0, 1.0, 0.5 and I thought "The cycle has started!"

I put 2 feeder goldfish in figuring all the new filters will be able to handle 2 little fishies. I want no more ammonia!

One weird thing is that I've never seen the Nitrites register at all. Fun stuff...
 
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Hi and welcome! First I don't think the quick start or anything you buy in a bottle does much to really get beneficial bacteria (bb) going. When you rinsed it did you use chlorinated water? That will kill any bb you might have. It can take a while for a new pond to develop bb. Plants are good because they will utilize nitrates and will also help lower the ph over time. I wouldn't be in a rush to add new fish until your readings go to zero. I hope that helps and your children get to enjoy your pond with healthy fish soon! Good luck!
 
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something is fishy, how many times a day do you feed these two gold fish? what type of food and how much ? how old is the test kit?
 
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A couple other issues,
-You possibly used 10X more ammonia than is required to properly perform a fishless cycle in that size of container. What strength ammonia were you using?
-Anit-microbial sponges will have chemicals that are harmful to fish.
The film that you left behind may still contain some of the chemicals from the sponges.
If there are no fish in there presently, I would probably drain everything, wipe everything down without using any chemicals, fill it back up and start over. It's probably a good idea to place a mesh bag of activated charcoal in your filter (1 or 2 cups). Don't add any conditioners, they're not needed without fish. Don't add any bacteria. There is plenty available naturally.

Try the fishless cycle again, but there is a calculator available to give you the proper dosage amount.
http://www.fishforums.net/aquarium-calculator.htm
.
 

sissy

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welcome and over feeding can be bad and zeolite will help with ammonia
 
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@Jason M Molitor - thanks for the additional information. That helps a lot. Your initial post made it sound as if a pond that had been running all summer with two goldfish was still struggling to cycle - now it's more clear!

Some good advice here - hope you can get things settled in time for your girls to enjoy the pond a bit before winter sets in!
 
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something is fishy, how many times a day do you feed these two gold fish? what type of food and how much ? how old is the test kit?
Good Questions:

We feed them twice a day and make sure they eat all the food. Ususally they attack the food. Maybe 4ish pond sticks a time broken in half.

Test kit is a few months old. I'll take a picture of the ammonia tester just to make sure it looks good to the group. I think I remember it turning a different darker color when I left the kit sitting in the sun one afternoon.
 
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A couple other issues,
-You possibly used 10X more ammonia than is required to properly perform a fishless cycle in that size of container. What strength ammonia were you using?
-Anit-microbial sponges will have chemicals that are harmful to fish.
The film that you left behind may still contain some of the chemicals from the sponges.
If there are no fish in there presently, I would probably drain everything, wipe everything down without using any chemicals, fill it back up and start over. It's probably a good idea to place a mesh bag of activated charcoal in your filter (1 or 2 cups). Don't add any conditioners, they're not needed without fish. Don't add any bacteria. There is plenty available naturally.

Try the fishless cycle again, but there is a calculator available to give you the proper dosage amount.
http://www.fishforums.net/aquarium-calculator.htm
.

Wow, I did use a calculator online to figure out how much ammonia to add but this one you recommended says to use much less. Or maybe I read it wrong.

I learned the hard way that those sponges were a VERY bad idea.

Would you recommend using Zeolite and charcoal, or just the charcoal?

I will admit, I have completely underestimated how much work taking care of fish that are $0.39 each! I do love learning though.

Thank you all for the help!
 
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What strength ammonia are you using?
It should say on the side of the bottle.
Using excess ammonia will slow down the process for the most part because of a lack of oxygen available for the bacteria. Bacteria can only colonize underwater surfaces so fast. Past that, I think the ammonia will remain in the water column until it is consumed.
Zeolite is very effective at adsorbing ammonia, but once you have an established population of nitrifying bacteria, it should no longer be required. That is, if you have a reasonable population of fish for your pond.
Charcoal will be useful for removing any cleaning chemicals from the system. After a month or 2, plants will be able to take over that task.
 
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I would recommend to cut down on feeding. A small amount a few times a week is fine until your pond ammonia goes to zero. Actually goldfish can survive fine on algae and the occasional bug they find. It makes us happy to feed them, but they definitely won't starve without being fed. It's the old adage the less you do the better off they will be!
 

sissy

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If you look up zeolite it is used as a horse stall refresher .I just keep it on hand and ordered some but they sent me with activated charcoal 1 by mistake Whatever zeolite can be refreshed over and over again unlike activated charcoal
100_4599.JPG
 
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@Jason M Molitor , looks like you're in good hands, I just want to add my welcome! :
.... and don't worry about your ph being high, as long as it doesn't fluctuate your fish should be fine. My ph has always been that high! the only time I've had problems with it, was when I let people convince me to try lowering it, so now I leave it alone and don't even test it
 
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The 3rd picture is of the "Amonia Bottle #1"

I just wanted to make sure it was supposed to be brown.
 

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