HELP!!! Tap Water Ammonia Level so High even with Prime

3 years ago #1
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Hello…I am VERY new to caring for betta fish. I have one betta that I have been keeping in a 1 gallon bowl doing frequent water changes. I have always used Spring water but I am wanting to switch for tap water bc of cost and ease. I did purchase an API master test kit and Seachem Prime water conditioner. I followed the directions on the bottle and added 2 drops of Prime to my 1 gallon of tap water. I tested the water to see what the ammonia level was reading (bc I wanted to make sure the water was safe before plopping my fish in the changed water). The ammonia level read 2.0ppm!! So I thought this was somehow off so I added more Prime (actually up to 10 drops testing after every 2 drops) with no change.

So I decided to test my tap water WITHOUT water conditioner. My water tested 4.0ppm straight from the tap!!! Is this normal?? I called my water company and they directed me to the water lab who told me they only add .22ppm of ammonia to the water. So why is mine testing so high? And I am guessing this is not safe to use my aquarium at this time since I can’t get the ammonia level below 2.0ppm even with Prime. I have no idea what to do and I would appreciate any help/suggestions on this matter.

I have added a picture of what the API test result is of the ammonia level of plain tap water out of my faucet...NO water conditioner added.

3 years ago #2
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Prime can give you a false positive for ammonia. It converts it from ammonia to ammonium, which liquid test kits can't differentiate between. That said, your tap water ammonia is crazy high!

As far as using spring water--it is actually better to use tap water in most cases, because it contains minerals that are good for your fish, and because it has pH buffers that will keep your pH from fluctuating. That said, with your ammonia so high...Maybe you could use half and half?

Honestly, your best bet would be to try and get a bigger tank. A betta will do *much* better in a 5 gallon tank (and they really don't take up very much room at all), with a filter and a heater. You can get a starter kit that comes with a tank, hood, and filter for about $25 (if you look around a bit). With a larger tank with a filter, your tank will eventually have a working nitrogen cycle which will help eliminate ammonia. You will also have to change your water less.

Hope that helps!

3 years ago #3
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Wow! Thats pretty high. Your company is using chloramine in the water. Unfortunately, I honestly would not use your water for your tank. For right now, I would choose a brand of spring water (NOT distilled!!!!)& stick to it. Do some research online first before picking a brand because the ph levels for different brands vary ALOT (5.5 to 6.5). I would choose a brand that has a ph of @6.5. And keep using Prime.

If you decide in the future to do a bigger tank (20+g), I would invest in an undersink RO unit. They run $150-300 but you may be able to find one used cheaper. Over the long haul, this will be a cheaper option but you will need to reconstitute the water with minerals & buffers because pure RO can not be used straight. Please ask if you have any questions!

3 years ago #4
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Thank you for the response. Yeah...I am just dumbfounded by the results and honestly afraid to use the tap at this point. I went to an aquarium store today and the lady recommended a product called "Fritz Zyme 7" along with Prime. She said to first use the Prime to remove the chlorine and then this Fritz Zyme bc its a live nitrifying bacteria that naturally removes ammonia and nitrite. Ever heard of this product? I don't want to kill my fish but I honestly can't afford to upgrade my Betta to a bigger tank and afford spring water for all my water changes. I want to use tap water if possibly, but definitely want it to be safe for the fish first. Any suggestions?

3 years ago #5
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I think it may be Stress Zyme that contains beneficial bacteria; the Fritz stuff does not seem familiar, but it may exist. Please check the label to see if it has live bacteria.

A one gallon aquarium is really difficult to maintain, and larger ones are inexpensive if you know where to buy them. For example, PETCO is having their dollar a gallon sale, and yard sales in warmer climates often have aquariums for a small fraction of their retail price.

Even with the small aquarium, you could add some fast growing plants and change 25 percent of the water every two or three days. This would help maintain a healthy biological balance.

Tap water conditioned with something like Stress Coat will work just as well as spring water and better than distilled or reverse osmosis water. It also costs less, and more expensive water treatments are not needed.

2 years ago #6

but what about the ammonia. i have the same problem. i'm not able to find out what to do. my tank water is dark green. i'm going to do another water change and have no idea how much ammonia is in it. i use drops to test. i don't know what to do. i checked and there is a product called fritz zyme.

2 years ago #7
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Any live bacteria product will work well for either a new tank or an established tank. I buy this product from dr.fosters:

It has a shelf life of about one year they say, but I think best to use it within a few months of their harvest date, but you could prolong the life of the bacteria if you added ammonia directly to the bottle to feed it every once in while. I just add a little to my established reef tank every once in a while to boost the cycling process and keep the bacteria colony alive and healthy.

1 year ago #8

didnot address the ammonia issue shes currently experiencing. Buying a larger tank addresses filling it with high ammonia tap water how? Seems ur dodging the issue as Ive found to be the case on a number of sites.

1 year ago #9
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Hi pumpkinspice.
This post is 2 years old, I think the problem may now be sorted out.

1 year ago #10

I know this post is old and resolved but no one said how to resolve it. I also have ammonia in my water even when treated. I have a betta in a one gallon bowl with no filter and I also have one in a 3 gallon with a filter. They both show high ammonia. I use prime too. I have tested my water without prime and with prime and they test positve for ammonia. If it testing false positive, how will I know for sure if there is ammonia?

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