Algae problem, ammonia and nitrite / nitrate risk to fish

  • Algae

    Algae cannot simply grow from nothing. They receive energy from light. However, like every plant, they have to source most of their biomass from the surrounding environment in the form of various nutrients. In other words, algae need fertilizer.

    The most important components of 'algae fertilizer' are ammonia / ammonium, nitrite and nitrate. Nitrate is the form most plants like. Therefore, maintaining a low concentration of macronutrients such as nitrate is essential to keep the aquarium or pond free from algae.

    During the nitrogen cycle, nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into nitrate in the biological filter.

    The toxic form of ammonia (NH3) is usually much lower than the much less harmful ammonium ion (NH4 +). The ratio of NH3 to NH4 + varies with temperature and pH; an increase in pH or water temperature causes more and more toxic NH3.

    Thus, in addition to ammonia, it is also valuable to know the pH of the water and its NH4 + content. It is important to fully understand the potential level of risk to your water system. Understand that a sudden increase in pH can significantly change NH4 + to NH3 and lead to toxic levels.

    Light reduction, partial water change, control of fish nutrition, limiting the number of fish in the aquarium, chemical nitrate filters, plants help to reduce algae growth.

    An effective preventive measure is the use of zeolites which block the formation of ammonia by absorbing ammonia.

    Additional recommendations for some algae:

    • In the case of green algae (blooming water) or seaweed, it is recommended that the aquarium light be further reduced, if possible by removing the algae mechanically by filtration and replacing part of the water.
    • Algae-beard. We can eliminate them by increasing CO2 levels, and by increasing CO2 levels in water. Also reduce lighting. If plants lose a lot of CO2, the CO2 level should be increased. Water circulation also reduces "beard" growth. Reduce fish food intake.
    • Cyanobacteria (growing on leaves, rocks) is also an indicator of aquatic water contamination (mainly ammonium, phosphates), for which zeolite Zeowet can be used. Once the cyanobacteria has formed, try to maintain a neutral pH of 7 (cyanobacteria likes higher pH 9-10), turn off the lighting for at least three days, replace some water, reduce phosphate. They can also be killed by the antibiotic erythromycin as cyanobacteria are bacteria, photosynthesis, but this method can kill useful bacteria in the aquarium, so use caution.
    • In the case of brown algae, it is necessary to increase the illumination of the aquarium (8-10 hours / day), change some water to lower nitrate, phosphate levels, lower the pH level to 8-10, use silicate-absorbing resins.


    Ammonia / Ammonium


    Ammonia (formed from NH4 + ammonium as the pH of aquarium water increases) is one of the biggest killers of aquarium / pond fish. Often this problem arises in the case of new aquariums.

    It can also occur in an installed aquarium / pond when too many fish are added at a time, when the filter breaks down due to power or mechanical failure, or when bacterial colonies die due to medication or sudden changes in water conditions.

    It is important to note that changing the water in the aquarium or fish tanks may result in a higher pH of the new water and thus result in the conversion of ammonia into ammonia.

    Increased ammonia is not visible and should be monitored regularly to prevent it. Frequent water testing can detect NH4 + levels before it turns into an invisible killer of fish.

    What is ammonia poisoning?

    Ammonia poisoning occurs when the pH of the fish tank is raised, and this turns into ammonia NH4 +. Under ideal water conditions, ammonia should not be detected. VNet even the smallest amount of ammonia can cause damage to gill fish, and extremely high levels are often fatal.

    Ammonia poisoning can occur suddenly or within days. Initially, the fish catches air on the surface of the water. Their gills become red or lilac. Your fish will lose their appetite, become apathetic In some cases you may find fish lying on the bottom of an aquarium or a body of water

    When ammonia poisoning occurs, fish tissues begin to decompose, indicated by red stripes or bloody spots on their bodies and fins. Ammonia poisoning will eventually damage the brain, organs, and central nervous system. Fish begin to bleed both internally and externally and eventually die.

    The toxic level of ammonia is above 0.5mg / l and the effect on fish is already from 0.1mg / l. 

    Causes of ammonia poisoning

    Ammonia can enter water in many ways.

    The first method is chemically treated water (chlorine) from the tap.

    The decomposition of organic matter - aquarium plants, fish excrement and uneaten fish food - is another reason for the increase in ammonia levels.

    Fish themselves also contribute to elevated levels of ammonia in water. When fish eat food, the ongoing process of protein accumulation can cause a by-product to enter their bloodstream. As a result, ammonia can penetrate their gills and into the reservoir.

    Solving the problem

    If the ammonia level in the water rises above 1 mg / L, lowering the pH of the water (to neutral) will prevent ammonia NH4 + from converting to ammonia, partially replacing the water.

    Do not add new fish.

    How to prevent ammonia poisoning

    When you start using a new aquarium, insert zeolite, which effectively absorbs ammonia (NH4 +), which directly causes the formation of ammonia.

    Use nitrifying bacteria.

    Only allow a few fish to start.

    Do not over fish. Remove any remaining food after eating.

    Check your ammonia or ammonia levels regularly.


    Nitrites (NO2) problem

     Fish release ammonium through their gills as waste products containing nitrogen. Toxic ammonia is converted into nitrite, which is also toxic to fish, when exposed to beneficial aquatic bacteria. Usually in old aquariums, other bacteria convert nitrite into less harmful nitrate. However, in new aquariums where the bacterial population is not grown enough to detoxify aquarium fish waste, few plants, too many fish, ammonia can quickly accumulate to toxic levels.

    Nitrite poisoning is a consequence of increased ammonia. Any increase in ammonia will soon lead to an increase in nitrite. To avoid nitrite poisoning, test the water in a new aquarium by adding new fish to an old aquarium or when the filter breaks down due to power or mechanical failure and when treating sick fish.

     Signs of nitrite poisoning:

    • Fish catch air on the surface of the water
    • The fish are apathetic, slow
    • Brown gills
    • Gills move quickly

    If the nitrite level suddenly rises, 30% change is necessary. aquarium water and supplement the water with nitrifying bacteria.

    Safe level of nitrite in aquarium - 0-0.2ppm.

      Elimination of ammonium will help prevent ammonia and nitrite poisoning. Again, one of the most effective preventive measures is the use of zeolite Zeowet.

    Zeolite will also prevent the formation of dangerous chloramine (if the water is chlorinated) in the aquarium water. Chloramine kills all good bacteria, including nitrifying ones.


    Solving Nitrate (NO3) Problem

    What are Nitrates?

      Ammonia (gaseous form of NH4 + ammonium) is the most important dissolved waste in the aquarium. The bacteria in the aquarium biofilter first convert ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate. Although ammonia and nitrite are very toxic to fish, nitrates are less dangerous. However, they accumulate and eventually affect fish.

    The nitrate level cannot be determined visually as it is invisible and odorless. Algae blooms usually show high nitrate levels, although algae grow in a new aquarium with nitrate levels of only 10 ppm.

    The maximum nitrate level in the aquarium should be 5-10 ppm. Levels of 20 to 50 ppm are too high.
    Many fish will not show any symptoms of nitrate poisoning until they reach 100 ppm or more, but studies have shown that prolonged exposure to sub-critical nitrate levels in fish causes stress, making them more susceptible to disease and inhibiting growth. young and decreasing the likelihood of reproduction.
    When nitrate levels rise to zero, fish will become drowsy and may develop ulcers or red spots on their skin. It is common for long-held high levels of nitrate fish to die suddenly, and often when a new fish is introduced into an aquarium where fish are accustomed to higher concentrations of nitrate, the new fish can quickly die of shock.

    The main causes of nitrate pollution are:

    • Too much food
    • Too many fish
    • Dirty filter
    • Plant remains

    A solution to the nitrate problem that eliminates nitrates but does not eliminate the nitrate problem

    • Nitrate absorbers (zeolites, sponges, etc.)
    • Biofilter
    • Reverse Osmosis
    • Water change

    When changing water with high nitrate content, it is recommended to change it initially by about 15 percent. water the next day 15-20 percent. etc. until you reach the 5-10ppm level.

    Nitrate Prevention

    • Controlling fish food. Fish food should not be left within a couple of minutes of feeding.
    • Adjust the number of fish
    • Clean the filter regularly and change the fillings
    • Remove food residues, dead plants
    • Change the water weekly
    • Natural plants remove nitrates
    • Zeolite prevents nitrates by blocking their mechanism of formation