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I am not feeding my fish, put in fresh water and cleaned my tank out but my Ammonia level is still 8.0mg/L. I have read that it needs to be around 0.75 mg/l.

 

Can someone tell me what to do?

 

Philip

 

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OK - I am assuming that you still have the trout set-up you mentioned before.  While I first wanted to wonder if the ammonia reading is correct (as trout may not last long under susch conditions), there is no time for trying to ponder that possibility. 

I would suggest the following steps:

1. Correct - stop feeding fish. They can take a few days without food while you sort this.

2. Try to see if you can get the pH closer to 6.8 - 7 than above 7.4 (not sure where your pH is and do not swing it too much if it is high, as this will also stress the fish).  The reason I suggest this is to manage the level of uniodised ammonia in the system.  At TAN (total ammonia nitrogen) of 8 you should be very cautious of unionised ammonia.

3. Try to see if there is some dead fish or uneaten food in the system.  The high ammonia could be as a result of that.

4.  Check nitrite and nitrate if possible.  If you are having nitrification problems, you will only pick it up if you check all the nitrogen forms together.

5. Double check your design, if it is new, to make sure that you have the correct media level to deal with the nitrogen (bacterial surface area).

 

Without knowing the history of your unit, I am also wondering about the following:

1. Is it fully cycled for the fish stocking density you have now?

2. Has anything happened recently to interrupt the correct functioning of the nitrification process in the unit?

 

If you have a good water supply that is safe for the fish (no chlorines or major temp / pH differences) I will consider more water changes if the water quality problem is not easy to solve.  What % change have you done? 

O, and if you have aeration, crank it up if you can - lack of nitrification can also show a DO problem but the trout should also be showing signs of stress if this was a serious problem.

Thanks Kobus, what level do you think the Ammonia level should be?

 

The really interesting thing about all of this is the fish seem to be doing fine!!! So are the vegetables.

 

I am pretty sure the test kit for Ammonia is okay, it's used everywhere in Aquaponic videos that I have look at.

 

Philip

The references I have are a bit scetchy as I do not typically take much interest in trout.  Some references refer to uniodized ammonia levels as low as 0.28 mg/L being sub-lethal to lethal.  Do you have the info needed (pH and temperature plus the charts) to convert your TAN reading to Uniodised ammonia? 

Philip Altmann said:

Thanks Kobus, what level do you think the Ammonia level should be?

 

The really interesting thing about all of this is the fish seem to be doing fine!!! So are the vegetables.

 

I am pretty sure the test kit for Ammonia is okay, it's used everywhere in Aquaponic videos that I have look at.

 

Philip

In a properly cycled up system the ammonia and nitrite should generally be like 0 to .25 ppm.

It is possible that the solutions in your particular test kit have gone bad.  I would say test the ammonia level of your drinking water with the test kit to make sure it reads different from what your system is reading.

 

What is your water source?  Do you have to deal with chloramine?  If so, some of the water conditioners for dealing with chloramine can mess with the test kits.

 

If your ammonia levels really are off the chart, or 8 ppm then I'm shocked that trout are still alive.  I would definitely be doing water changes to get the ammonia back down to below 3 ppm and then see if the bio-filter is able to take care of it but we need to figure out why your ammonia has gone so sky high.

I just went and had a watch of your video.  Did you do anything to cycle up the system fishlessly before you got the trout?

Did you carefully watch the ammonia and nitrite levels after getting the trout and adjust feed according to keep the levels from going too high?  Or did you just get them and start feeding and only later test the ammonia level and realize it was high?

 

If the latter is the case, then other than suddenly over stocking an uncycled system there may actually be nothing wrong with the system other than too many well fed fish with no established bio-filter.  Hopefully you can save some of them with water changes and then only very slowly ramp up the feed while watching the levels.

 

I think 50 trout is probably too much for the amount of filtration you have (you should probably eat a bunch of them a bit small to have enough filtration for the rest of them to grow out bigger.)  Somewhere between 25-40 trout would have been more appropriate.  (Had your grow beds been filled all the way up with media, you might have had enough filtration to support 50 fish but you still have to go through the cycle up while watching the levels and withholding feed until the levels are safe.

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