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    Thread: Filter Crash, Part Two - Need Some Experts!

    1. #1
      Charlottekoi is offline Junior Member
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      Filter Crash, Part Two - Need Some Experts!

      Well, I'm about 10 days into my filter crash and i've spent a small fortune on AMMO LOCK and now Seachem Prime, and i have a few questions. Here are the stats:

      PH 8.2, KH 180, Ammonia (bound) 8.0(!), Nitrites .25-.50, Nitrates around 80. Salt = .5% for the last week to protect fish during this filter "rebuild". Pond plants removed due to the high presence of salt. Water temp 62F.

      I've used Ammo Lock multiple times at 2x the recommended dosage but it's not been very effective at lowering ammonia. So I finally switched to Prime and it's working much better, but these treatments are expensive! I stopped feeding for a week but fed at 25% of usual amount today.

      Here are my questions:
      1) i know that Prime only works for +/- 2 days. After the second day, does the NH4 Ammonium then "unbind" and become NH3 again, or does it stay NH4 and bound until it's processed by bacteria?
      2) along similar lines, i'm hoping that one needs to re-apply Prime after 2 days only because new ammonia (NH3) is produced daily and also needs to be bound?
      3) If i find a way to reduce the 8.0 ammonia reading, will that help speed the filter rebuild? How can i lower this super high (but bound) ammonia?

      I wanted to use zeolite to remove ammonia but given the salt levels, that's not possible. On the water change front, i've done them at 20% every 3 days or so in order to get the biofilter fired back up, and that seems to be working - but the ammonia just won't drop. Any advice would be much appreciated! ck

    2. #2
      Asagibottom is online now Senior Member
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      Last edited by Asagibottom; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:34 PM. Reason: Not good enough to post here :(

    3. #3
      RickF's Avatar
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      Use the Seachem Ammonia Alert card to guide the addition of Prime. A less expensive option to prime is a dry powder form called SAFE. ClorAm-X in dry powder form is another option.

      How long Prime, SAFE, or ClorAm-X will keep ammonia in the safe form is highly variable, so the ammonia alert card is your best option to guide dosing.

      Do not feed AT ALL until the ammonia is down. Koi do not starve. They can safely go several months without food. Any feeding at this point causes far more harm than good.

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    4. #4
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      Don't know for sure what happens with ammonia after a couple of days, but fish do continue to give off ammonia and the additional does need to be bound. I would get the SeaChem Ammonia Alert Card. It will show you exactly where you are as far as toxic ammonia, so you will know when to add more binder. It may save you some money as it measures only the toxic ammonia, which is what you have to treat.

      You are showing some nitrites, so the filter is starting to process the ammonia, so it should only be a couple of more weeks to start making major changes. Do not feed until the ammonia is near zero. The fish can easily tolerate the fast. Show fish are supposed to be fasted for a week or two before going to a show to make water quality management easier and the fish safer in the end.

      Jinx, Rick.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

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    5. #5
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      Water changes are good for many reasons, but unless you are running a flow-through system, you cannot keep ammonia concentrations under control with water changes. Given a total ammonia concentration of 8.0, a 20% water change will drop the ammonia to 6.4 temporarily, but considering how much ammonia is being produced in the pond, the concentration will continue to rise. If your source water contains chloramine, the drop in ammonia from a water change will be even smaller.

      Water changes at this stage will also increase the amount of ammonia binder you will need to add.

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      Last edited by RickF; 2 Weeks Ago at 07:47 PM.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

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      Charlottekoi is offline Junior Member
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      Asagibottom i have a 3000 gallon pond. Far from overstocked - BUT, i was guilty of overfeeding this spring and that's why it crashed. (rookie mistake) I have two filter systems - one small waterfall filter and a much larger skimmer with a bog biofilter and a stream that leads back into the main pond. Thanks for the tip on SAFE. ck

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      Rick, I do have a Seachem alert card, it's very helpful. Thank you for the tip re: SAFE and ClorAm-X, i'll check those out. Thanks for the tip on feeding - BUT, next week it's going to get in the middle to high 80's here. With those warm temps, should I still stop the feeding completely? Finally, i didn't understand your comment about the water changes. Seems like you were suggesting not to do water changes too often?

    8. #8
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      Do not feed until the ammonia drops to trace levels regardless of water temperature.

      Weekly water changes are sufficient. Doing more frequent water changes will not help with the ammonia or with reestablishing the biofilter. Frequent water changes will not hurt, but they do drive up the cost, since you will be diluting the ammonia binder, do you will need to add more.

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      Thank you Rick. In your opinion, when should i start reducing the salt concentration? It's at .5 now - pretty high. I suppose if i can successfully keep the ammonia & nitrites bound then i can lower the salt soon? Perhaps take it to .3 over the next few (weekly) water changes? Again, thanks for your expertise.

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      Last edited by Asagibottom; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:36 PM. Reason: Donít have the expert badge

    11. #11
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      A 15% water change will lower the ammonia 15%. I don't really consider that substantial.

      Small (10-15%) water changes daily when cycling a pond is not unreasonable but it is not a fix for the issue. Changing too much on an establishing bio filter can actually be detrimental. Bound ammonia is still available to cycle the filters.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

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      Last edited by Asagibottom; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:36 PM. Reason: Not a donor

    13. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by Asagibottom View Post
      Rick, wonít a substantial water change lower the ammonia? A 15% water change will reduce the ammonia significantly- and a product like safe will have to bind less ammonia. Safe binds chloramines much more effectively than it does ammonia with lower dosages. Imo- water change all the way. The filters still need ammonia to convert but itíll give them time to catch up and save some $$ as binders take a lot more product for ammonia than chlorine
      I've never known Rick to guess at anything.
      If you want to ask a question of a Health Care Committee member (the emblem is in their signature file) about a post,
      that's fine... but questioning what they're suggesting only confuses the OP. Here's a post that Rick posted before
      explaining how the ratio works:

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...21#post2627421
      --Steve


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      and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him,
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      Asagibottom is online now Senior Member
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      Last edited by Asagibottom; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:37 PM.

    15. #15
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      Quote Originally Posted by Charlottekoi View Post
      Thank you Rick. In your opinion, when should i start reducing the salt concentration? It's at .5 now - pretty high. I suppose if i can successfully keep the ammonia & nitrites bound then i can lower the salt soon? Perhaps take it to .3 over the next few (weekly) water changes? Again, thanks for your expertise.
      I agree that 0.5% is more salt than is necessary to protect the fish from nitrite poisoning. A concentration of 0.15% is sufficient, but you should keep the salt at 0.15% for as long as nitrite is measurable.

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    16. #16
      Charlottekoi is offline Junior Member
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      Thanks all! This is great advice and the picture is starting to become much clearer. I just read on Seachem's website that once ammonia (NH3) is bound (becoming ammonium or NH4), it can become "unbound" after 24-48 hours - i was hoping to read that it might stay permanently bound until consumed by the filter bacteria. That alone shows me that with an 8.0 (presumably bound for now) ammonia reading, i don't have much margin for error until this clears, because if it "unbinds", then it creates an ugly environment quickly. So much to learn, so hard to master. gc

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      Charlottekoi is offline Junior Member
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      Asagibottom - your point about water changes make common sense and it's hard to argue; but, i've gotten great and accurate advice from Rick before so perhaps it's safest to stick with that! Thanks for weighing in - ck

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      Charlottekoi is offline Junior Member
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      Don't know if any of you will read this day old post, but i have one follow up question.

      The seachem alert card is tough to interpret. If i fill it with tap water, it reads yellow - completely safe. With pond water, it reads between alert and alarm (gray and blue), but after using the max dosage of Seachem Safe (5x or the "emergency" dosage") the card still reads between alert and alarm. Then, to add to my confusion i did a test. Using pond water (with a reading of "alert") in a mason jar, i added Seachem Safe directly to the jar and the color stayed as "alert". i thought that surely it would shift to yellow or safe. That's making me wonder if the alert card readings in the pond water are accurate?? Any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks, gc

    19. #19
      GoldieGirl's Avatar
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      I found that the cards are not always reliable. I was cycling a tank and never showed an ammonia reading on two different, brand new cards. Added a few tablespoons of ammonia to a pint jar of water and still no reading. I threw them out and would not trust another one. Sorry to say ...
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    20. #20
      RickF's Avatar
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      The card does not change instantaneously. It takes at least a day for it to equilibrate. That is not a problem in use, because free ammonia concentrations change gradually, but if you put the card in a jar of water with or without free ammonia, you need to wait at least 24 hours (48 hours is better) to get an accurate reading. Also, the cards do not work if the pH is below 7.0, but that is rarely an issue in koi ponds.

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