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Bunny Girl
Bunny Girl, Veterinary Assistant
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 368
Experience:  10+ years at a veterinary clinic as a veterinary assistant. 20+ years raising/showing rabbits
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how do i get rid of ammonia in my aquarium. I have tried ...

Customer Question

how do i get rid of ammonia in my aquarium. I have tried ammo-lock; frequent water changes; but ammonia level is still around 5.0 instead of 0. I have Goldfish and Catfish. This has been going on for months.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Bunny Girl replied 9 years ago.
Hello Samantha

Your fish tank is too small. Each goldfish requires a 10 gallon tank. With the amount of fish you have you would need a 70 gallon tank. There is a product that you can put in the filter. It is not going to be to useful until you get a bigger tank. If you have already tried ammo-lock I really doubt that the filter version is going to work either.

If you get a bigger tank or spead them out you are going to see that their health improves.

Good luck


If you have any further questions please let me know.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
The water is pretty clear and all the fish look healthy and not under any stress. Just the ammonia level is too high. At one time, I had the level at 0, until I cleaned the gravel, then the level went up. Should I continue to use ammo-lock every couple of days? Is the ammo-lock working even though the test strip reads 5.0? Why are the fish not dying? I also had the level a bit lower, until I cleaned out the filters. I put a second filter on the tank to help out. I cleaned both, but read somewhere, that you are not to clean every chamber at the same time, re: the Bacterial bed? How do I get this bed corrected? I have the type of filters that hang on the outside. (Aqua Clear - 30 - with Cycle Guard with BioMax.). I just read on the box, to clean only one part at a time. How often do I clean them, one at a time?
Expert:  Bunny Girl replied 9 years ago.
Hi Samantha

I am at work right now but I will get back to you in detail when I get home. I have a few ideas for you. Thank you for your patience.

Expert:  Bunny Girl replied 9 years ago.
You are correct in not cleaning the entire filter at once. The biological filter harbors good bacteria as well as bad bacteria. If you clean it all the good bacteria won't be able to rid the tank of the bad bacteria. That is the bacteria bed.

I have found great success with something called ammo-rock. You put them right in the filter. This way all the water gets filtered through. There is a way to re-charge them. I can't remember how off hand but I know the directions are on the packages. You should make sure to change these frequently because of your high ammonia level. When you get the tank stabilized just monitor it and start changing them when the level rises.

Your fish have probably adjusted to the ammonia level rose slowly. This does not mean they can maintain their good health in these levels. Due to the waste products of 9 fish you would essentially have to do a 1/3 tank water change every other day. They are used to the poor water quaility now and the stress of a 1/2 water change may cause them to become ill. Once you get the ammonia level back to normal you could switch back to every 3 days. Ideally the best option is to get a bigger tank.

I hope this information has helped.


If you are satisfied with the answer please kindly hit the accept button so that I may be compensated for my time. If you have any further questions please let me know.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
How long will it take for the bacterial bed to come back? When I clean out the filters, do I just change one part at a time, and only rinse the other sections? Or, do I not rinse out the other ones?
Expert:  Bunny Girl replied 9 years ago.
You rinse one section at a time. Rinse it under pure clean running water.

There is no set answer to how long it will take the bacteria bed to come back. It will depend on how many gallons per hour your filter pumps. With your small tank it shouldn't take more than a week but with the amount of fish you have you may never build up a good bacteria bed. If you do a partial water change every few days rather than cleaning the filter as often you my be able to get a good bacterial bed.

Every time you clean that filter you are cleaning out all the bad bacteria and debris but also the good bacteria. Small tanks that are overstocked are hard to manage.

I hope this information has helped.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Thanks for your help. I don't have anyplace to put another aquarium, so as the fish eventually die off, I won't replace them. I just changed one section yesterday, but I rinsed the other sections and the container. I guess I made a mistake, again, eh? So, every other day, I'll do a 1/3 water change, until it gets better. Thanks, again! I have to mail your payment, as I don't have a credit card.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I forgot one more question. How often should I siphon off the gravel?
Expert:  Bunny Girl replied 9 years ago.
I siphon the gravel as I change the water. When you siphon up the gravel it takes the water with it. It is much easier to take the water that way than to stick the hose in the tank and take out 1/3 of the water. Since goldfish produce so much waste the bottom will be filthy if you don't clean it every few days.

Hopefully with a lot of care your fish will have a long life. They are a lot more work that many people think. They are so beautiful and fascinating to watch.

Thank you Samantha and if you need anything else just let me know.