Ammonia Poisoning

This disease doesn’t occur very often when the aquarium and fish are well cared for. If the fish do become ill action should be taken immediately. Diseases in fish are categorised in the following way :

  • Bacterial
  • Parasitic
  • Environmental

Disease is a very broad topic and therefore each one should be looked at separately. Some of these diseases have names that must sound very ominous, but in fact most are easy to treat. It is highly important that if you see any symptoms, you should react and act very quickly. Remember prevention is always better than cure and keeping your aquarium well maintained, changing the water frequently will virtually guarantee that these diseases are avoided. Another great idea is to add a quarter of a teaspoon of AQUARIUM SALT put into the fresh water (only when you are changing it) will also help with your betta fish’ breathing.

Below show the healthy halfmoon betta…

All tanks breed some sort of bacteria, in most cases it is not detrimental, however if your betta is in a stressed state different bacteria can infect it and cause a decline in health. This decline can be slow and in some cases can even cause death by rapidly spreading in just a matter of hours to more of your fish.

There is one parasite called Oodinium which is a tiny creature that feeds off fish. This is the most common of the parasites and can damage and strike down all the fish in the aquarium.

Ammonia poisoning is environmental and is probably the number one death causing factor within the world of cultured fish.

It can happen if :

  • You set up a new aquarium don’t make the mistake of adding all the fish in your collection at one time.
  • If the filter fails
  • Adding medication can cause health giving bacteria to die
  • Sudden changes in the condition of the water

The symptoms to look out for are :

  • The fish gasping for breath at the surface of the water
  • The fish appear to be bleeding with red or purple gills
  • The fish becomes lethargic and sluggish
  • Loss of appetite
  • Red streaking on the fins and the fish laying on the bottom of the tank

It can take days for the ammonia poisoning symptoms to suddenly appear. Probably the first symptom is the fish at the surface of the water gasping for air, it is highly important that you as the keeper of the fish constantly watch them so that you will know if there is a change in their habits and movements. Tissue damage will result if this is left untreated, bloody patches or red streaks appear on the fins and body. Damage will be done internally to the organs, central nervous system and the brain. This all culminates in your betta having internal haemorrhaging and eventually dying.

  • If these symptoms do occur using your water testing kit:
  • Lower your tank pH to below 7.0
  • Use aged water (water left for 24 hours) to change the water in the tank. This is the best method of changing your aquariums water at all times.
  • Add AmOuel, a neutralizing ammonia chemical (pet stores usually carry this)
  • Cut out the feeding and make sure that all food uneaten 5 minutes after feeding is removed from the tank as there is an increase of problems when uneaten food is left in the water.

If the ammonia level raises above 1 ppm lower the pH level, this will provide immediate relief. Ammonia testing is critical to the health of your fish. If the level is above 1 ppm it means that your fish are under stress and stress is one of the worst problems in all animals to cause diseases. This stress can cause your fish to die if the ammonia is present for prolonged periods. Keep up the tests on a daily basis until the ammonia levels are at zero. Even when these ammonia levels drop you could still lose some of your fish if they were exposed for too long.

Always stock up your aquarium slowly and never over-feed the fish. Remove all uneaten food from the water after 5 minutes. Under normal circumstances your tank only has to be tested for ammonia twice monthly. If your filter stops working test for ammonia within 24 hours to make sure that the good bacteria that eliminates the wastes are still unaffected. Whenever one of your fish seems to be ill you must test immediately for ammonia, simply to rule out ammonia poisoning. Your tank must be cleaned and changed at least once a week or if the water becomes cloudy.

If you can’t seem to decrease the ammonia levels doing all the above, then try Chloramine Eliminator to convert the ammonia into a non-toxic substance. This can be obtained from most pet stores.