Ammonia poisoning in Goldfish

Goldfish can suffer badly from Ammonia poisoning. Ammonia poisoning is where high ammonia levels start to harm your fish. The ammonia burns the fish's gills and eventually prevents them from breathing.

Causes of ammonia poisoning in goldfish

There is no safe level of ammonia in goldfish tanks. Ammonia poisoning can be caused by several different things which are given below

  • Not cycling your tank.
  • Overstocking your tank with too many fish.
  • Chemically treated tap water.
  • Organic matter.
  • Bacteria buildup.
  • Improper cleaning.
  • Overfeeding can lead to ammonia.

Sign of ammonia poisoning

Ammonia is a silent killer. It is a combination of hydrogen and nitrogen and has no color.

Following are the sign of Ammonia poisoning in goldfish-

  • Streaks of blood in the tail and fins.
  • Sitting at the bottom of the tank.
  • Loss of appetite and lethargy.
  • Red or purple gills and bloody patches.
  • Your fish may appear weak, and not move as much as it usually does or should.
  • It spends a lot of time at the bottom of the tank.
  • Its gills appear red or purple or may even bleed.
  • The fins appear torn or damaged.
  • You have to look out for any ammonia poisoning symptoms when setting up a new tank.
  • One of the most obvious signs of ammonia poisoning is ammonia burns on a fish's body.

Following are Ways to know when your ammonia levels are too high-

  • Fish breathing heavily and gasping for air is the most common way to know that the ammonia level is too high, it damages your goldfish gills and internal organs.
  • Mood swings, changes in consciousness, and excessive sleepiness are some ways you can know that ammonia levels are too high, in your goldfish aquarium.

Treatment of ammonia poisoning

Ammonia poisoning can be treated by regular water changes (25-50%), for immediate relief by lowering the pH of water.

The following are the ways to treat ammonia poisoning-

  • Lowering the pH of the water will provide immediate relief 50% water added is the same temperature as the aquarium several water changes within a short time may be required to drop the ammonium below 1 ppm.
  • If the fish appear to be severely distressed, use a chemical pH control product to neutralize the ammonia.
  • Add 1-2 g/L salt to the water to relieve the stress on the kidneys of the fish.
  • Increase the oxygenation of the water by the addition of air stones to lower the chance of suffocation.
  • Never add new fish to the tank until both the ammonia and nitrite level has fallen to zero.

Can goldfish live with Ammonia?

No, goldfish or any other fish cannot tolerate ammonia levels because it is the biggest killer for fish. Ammonia poisoning is most common when setting up your new tank. It can be due to your fish being exposed to Incorrect pH, fish waste forms ammonia, which very quickly becomes toxic at high levels.

A small amount of exposure to ammonia in your goldfish will not be life-threatening but will cause issues. However, in larger quantities, it is a serious problem. Ammonia burns the fish's gills, causing them to stop breathing and eventually die.

How much ammonia can a goldfish tolerate?

Fish waste forms ammonia which quickly becomes toxic at high levels, the only safe level of ammonia is 0 parts per million (ppm). Even a concentration of just 2 ppm can cause fish to die in your tank.

Ammonia poisoning is not good for your goldfish but may not always be fatal. It depends on how much ammonia you have left in the tank. We want to do regular ammonia testing to make sure that the water is safe.

How do I know if my goldfish has ammonia poisoning?

Following are the ways you can easily know if your goldfish has ammonia poisoning or not -

An ammonia test is the surest way of diagnosing ammonia poisoning symptoms including purple, red, or bleeding gills.

You can buy Ammonia Test Kit from Amazon.

How to use an ammonia test kit? 

  • First, you have to fill a clean test tube with 5 ml of water to be tested ( to the line on the tube) and add 8 drops from the ammonia test solution bottle. Holding the dropper bottle upside down in a completely vertical position to ensure uniformity of drops added to the water sample.
  • Add 8 drops from the ammonia test solution bottle holding the dropper bottle upside down in a completely vertical position to ensure uniformity of drops added to the water sample.
  • Cap the test tube and Shake vigorously for 5 seconds.
  • Do not hold your finger over the open end of the tube, as this may affect the test results.
  • Wait for 5 min, for the color to develop, and read the test results by Matching the test solution against the ammonia test color chart.
  • The tube should be viewed against the white area beside the color chart. Color comparisons are best made in a well-lit area. The closest match indicates the ppm (mg/l) of ammonia in the water sample. Rinse the test tube with clean water after each use.