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I have not been watching my PH, Ammonia and Nitrate for a few weeks and found that 1 of my fish systems is way over 8 on ammonia, 0 on Nitrite and my PH is at 6 or lower. 

The water is real dirty and the pump is working great.  I stopped feeding the fish and have tried to raise the PH with Potassium bicarbonate. It could be fish food or fish waist in the tank but not sure.

I have another system and will test it by adding ammonia to make sure that it is still cycling but it had no fish in it for 3 weeks and may not be working.

I have Perch and Catfish in the system and they are doing good but yesterday I saw a few swimming a little funny so I increased the air to that system and that is when I did the tests and found everything.

I can do a water exchange but the new water will be at 45 and they are in 65 so I can't give them too much.

My main concern is I am leaving on a business trip on Monday and have no one that can do anything.

How long can they go without feeding them? I will be gone a week.

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Don;t know about not feeding them but the lower your PH is the higher your NH3 can be without hurting your fish.

Joe, you might want to get your pH into at least a readable range (like 6.2)...But Bob's right, at lower pH values your TAN is going to be made up of much more of the less toxic ionized ammonia (as ammonium; NH4+) as opposed to the more toxic un-ionozed ammonia (NH3). Still, it'd bee keen to have pH in at least the readable range...I'm no expert, but I don't think I'd feed them at all that week...until NH4/NH3 was under matter how much they looked up at me with those sad fishy puppy dog eyes...

That is what I was thinking no feeding until PH and ammonia get better. I am here for 2 more days so I will add a little more Potassium bicarbonate later today and Sunday and try to get it to 6.2. My water looks a little better today so hopefully this will clear up.

Hey Joe, just out of curiosity...when you say "...The water is real dirty...hopefully this will clear up..." are you talking about suspended solids/fines in the water, or has the water in that tank/system gotten a sort of whitish milky/cloudy thing goin' on..?

The water has a lot of suspended solids/fines and was getting brown and today it looked better.

The other thing I just thought about was I was working in the rafts or wading in them to put in a heated canopy over the top and when I was working in it with my no shoes and shorts I stirred up a ton of brown stuff that has settled on the bottom of my rafts. I may have sent in a ton of decayed matter and fines and added to my problem but had no choice.

It is looking a little better and later I will take another ammonia reading to see how it is doing. I still have 1 or 2 catfish looking strange and I was able to hold one. So I may have 1 or 2 die on me shortly.

Hi Joe,

Look like the system may be overtaken by anaerobic bacteria and that you may have lost some/all of your nitrifying bacteria. Ammonia at 8ppm and zero nitrite are the indicators as you know. You may have to recycle and re-fish........ In the meantime though, check your filtration and improve it, seed from existing system as someone suggested, also check your water turnover rates/oxygen compared to the rules of thumb.

Hey joe,
I ran my system for three straight months with similar readings. I had zero nitrites and nitrates.I did not have my filter system set up so I rationed the feelings I gave them to about every 10 days. Water temp was around the 60 degree temp. I would use siphon cleaner to get solids that settled and frequently skim floating solids from the tank. Fish were fine. No losses. The guys are right, the lower the ph the lower toxic ammonia is available. It will still read high but harmless.
Cut back on feeding and slowly buffer your ph back to normal levels.
I have tilapia so I don't know does this make a difference as for tolerance levels etc.
I have my filter system set up now my readings back to tolerable levels and my fish are thriving and most of all no losses through it all.

Great to here this.  What kind of siphon cleaner do you have? I can see getting something for the rafts.

Does anyone know how much Potassium Bicarbonate I should be adding.

I am sure I am below 6 because Thursday I added 1 ounce Friday I added 1.5 in the morning and 1.5 at night and Saturday 2 in the morning and 2 at night. So a total of 8 ounces for about 2500 to 2750 gallons. If it is coming up I can't read it yet.  I do not want to go on my trip and it goes up to fast.

Hi Joe,

Since you may have to leave the system unattended for some time, and you really want to buffer the PH very slowly, may be you can make a slow release container of some kind. A submerged plastic container with the carbonate inside with a couple of tiny holes, placed near to a return or inflow line for example?

How many ounces for a 2500 gallon system?

Where did you get the siphon?

I have a second system without fish in it exactly the same as the one I am having trouble with. yesterday 24 hours ago I added enough ammonia to get a reading of 4 or higher and I tested it just now and 24 hours latter it was .5. The PH is 7.4 I am thinking that I could transfer all of the fish to this system but my only concern is the PH is lower than 6 on the one they are in and they would go into a 7.4 PH.

Would that hurt them that much of a change?

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