How to Maintain Ammonia Level in a Goldfish Tank

Goldfish (Carassius auratus) is the most popular and nice-looking ornamental fish among the aquarium enthusiasts. The popularity of goldfish is increasing day by day among the pet fish keepers due to its brilliant bright body coloration, many forms, awesome body shape, easy to care for etc. They have lots of personality like people, provide aesthetic value and make an outstanding home or office decorations. Some goldfish are sociable while others are very shy. Generally, goldfish are non-aggressive fish but certain stress can alter their behavior into an intense behavior. To make your goldfish tank natural and healthy, water parameters (ammonia level) should be tested each week. To know the suitable water parameters in your goldfish tank, water testing kits are fundamental. You may discover any probable adversity in your goldfish tank by investigating the water weekly.

Basic water parameters such as pH, hardness, and ammonia, nitrite and nitrate etc influence water quality in your goldfish tank. By routine checking, you may easily monitor any conditions associated with poor water quality. If you do not diagnose any bad signals of water, they may cause severe impacts leading to fish mortality.

Among water parameters, ammonia is extremely toxic to aquarium fish and inverts. In aquarium condition, lots of fish die when ammonia levels increase in the tank water. Hence ammonia is the most regular killer of aquarium fish globally. About 75% ammonia is produced through osmosis process from the gills of fish and 25% of it is produced by goldfish waste products. Generally, suitable ammonia level for aquatic animals is 0 mg per liter of water.  If there are 0.2 mg or more ammonia per liter of water in your fish tank which can cause fish to die. You should lower the ammonia within the suitable level for fish by taking necessary measures.

Factors For Producing High Ammonia Levels in The Tank Water

Decaying organic matter: It is the major causes of high ammonia in your goldfish tank. If there are lots of decaying materials (aquatic plants and microorganisms) inside the tank, they produce high levels of ammonia leading to fish mortality.

Uneaten food: Uneaten food is a huge ammonia contributor in any fish tank. During the period of decomposition, uneaten food breaks down to produce ammonia in the water.

Fish waste: Waste from fish is the major source of ammonia in the fish tank. If lots of fish waste float in the tank which gradually break down during the decomposition causing high levels of ammonia in the fish tank.

Dead plant matters: If any dead plant matter or dead fish remain in your tank, they release huge concentrations of ammonia.

Overfeeding: It is also the major causes of high ammonia in your goldfish tank. Overfeeding leads uneaten food results in the accumulation of wastes which produce high levels of ammonia during decomposition.

Signs of Ammonia Poisoning in the Goldfish Tank

  • Black spots are seen on the body of fish;
  • Fish become tiredness;
  • They take rest at the bottom of the tank;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Erratic swimming;
  • Flattened and clamped fins;
  • They show unmanageable movement;
  • They come to the surface region to breathe;
  • Excessive mucous secretion;
  • Redness (Blood spots) appears on the skin, tail, and fins;
  • Fins become upright;

Steps to Reduce Ammonia Levels in the Goldfish Tank

Partial Water Changes: To reduce ammonia level, partial water changes are an outstanding and efficient way. In this case, you should do a partial water change every day or other day until the ammonia levels drop down. Water change does not remove all the ammonia but reduces the amount of ammonia from the tank water which helps to maintain a clean tank for your goldfish.

Removing Uneaten Food: Each time after feeding your fish, you should check the aquarium for any uneaten food. If any uneaten foods are available on the bottom of the tank or floating, you should remove it immediately to prevent decomposing. In this case, you should reduce the amount of food to avoid food waste. Generally, lots of uneaten food gradually decomposes causing high levels of ammonia in the fish tank.  

Stirring Up the Substrate Gravel:  Fish waste and sometimes uneaten food build up in your tank substrate overtime and decompose to produce ammonia. In this case, you should stir up the gravel using a fish net. You can also clean your gravel after changing water.

Removing Dead or Rotting Plants and Fish: Some ammonia is produced from rotting plants and fish which makes your aquarium water harmful to aquarium inhabitants.  In this case, you should find out any dead or rotting plants and animals and remove them from the tank as soon as possible.

Unblocking Tank Filter: Filter media such as tubes, cartridges, and impellers etc provide suitable space for growing beneficial bacteria which break down the ammonia into less harmful nitrites. If you do not clean the filter over-time, your filter blocks and water does not flow freely over the bacteria then bacteria can not break down the ammonia into less harmful nitrites. To make your aquarium ammonia free, you should always clean your filter to prevent clogging. 

Avoiding Overstock: If you keep much fish in your tank, the bacteria colony cannot establish in the tank. Fish produce lots of waste in the tank and the bacteria cannot simply maintain the wastes produced by the fish. In this case, adding your fish to the tank slowly to allow the beneficial bacteria to develop overtime.

Removing Ammonia Using Chemicals: You can also use chemicals to remove ammonia from the tank water. There is lots of ammonia removing products such as ammonia-removing pellets, Seachem AmGuard etc in the pet business sector with sensible cost. Generally, chemicals should be used during emergency situations when ammonia levels high in your tank water. You can also use ammonia neutralizing drops for the short term fix the ammonia levels in your fish tanks. This type of drop does not remove ammonia but it lessens the poisonous effects of ammonia.

Increasing the Aeration in the Tank Water: Ammonia (NH3) is a dissolved gas that saturates the water and it is toxic to fish. Aeration can help to scatter the ammonia gas in the water. To manage ammonia levels in your fish tank, you should increase the aeration in the tank water by using the best air pump which is available in the pet store with reasonable price. To diffuse ammonia gas, the tank should be uncovered if your tank has a lid or cover.

Final Words

Aquatic lives such as fish and other aquatic animals rely on good water parameters. Among water parameters, ammonia is extremely harmful to your goldfish if your tank contains 0.2 mg ammonia or above per liter of water. Suitable and acceptable level of ammonia for any tank water should be nil. pH and temperature play a great role to increase ammonia, because ammonia becomes more toxic with increasing pH and temperature.  In this case, you should check the tank water regular basis and do partial changes of water every day or other day to prevent toxicity of ammonia.

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