How To Lower Ammonia Levels in Fish Tank

how to lower ammonia levels in fish tank

Keeping a fish tank is a rewarding hobby, but it’s definitely one that requires some work, and some love.

Keeping the chemical balance of your tank just right is extremely important when it comes to the health of your fish.

So, if you’re worried about high ammonia levels in your tank, you’re probably wondering if there is anything that you can do to help solve the problem!

Well, don’t worry, as there are plenty of things that you can do about high ammonia levels.

We’ve got a quick guide to the first steps that you should try!

Partial Water Change

This is something you should probably do around once a week anyway, as it’s a good thing to do for the overall health of your tank and the fish living in it.

It’s also a great way to manage the ammonia levels of your tank, as you’re directly removing water that contains ammonia and replacing it with water that doesn’t have any!

You shouldn’t really do more than change 30% of the water of your tank at a time.

Disconnect anything that’s electrical near to the tank for safety.

You can leave the fish in the tank, as long as you’re gentle and don’t startle the fish.

While the water level is lower, you might as well carefully scrape any algae that’s collected on the sides of the tank.

After all, keeping it clean is another great way to help manage the ammonia levels of your tank.

Clean Out Organic Matter

Likewise, any waste, debris or organic matter that builds up in your tank can be a contributor to ammonia levels in your tank.

If there’s any uneaten food in the tank, then you should clear it out as soon as you can.

Leaving it to build up will only make the problem worse!

Fish won’t want to eat old or decaying food, so you’ll have to get rid of anything they don’t eat.

Fish waste can also contribute to ammonia levels in your tank.

As it decomposes, it will release ammonia.

This is another thing that you’ll simply have to make a routine of cleaning out of your tank.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have any dead fish in your tank, then they have to be removed as soon as possible.

Just as with any organic matter, they’ll decay, which is of course very unhealthy for any other fish living in the same water.

They’ll release ammonia too, which of course is also unhealthy for anything living there.

Likewise, clear out any decaying plant matter in the tank too.

Reduce How Much Fish Food You Use

If you find that you’re regularly having to clear out uneaten food from the tank, then it’s a sure sign that something is up.

The first thing you should check in this case is if you’re simply overfeeding the fish!

Do some research online for your specific type of fish, and the food that you’re using – make sure to check at least two or three different sources – and find out exactly how much you should be using.

Using too much fish food will just mean that it’s left to decay, which can increase the ammonia levels of the tank.

The fish simply won’t any more than they want to!

Therefore, the best course of action is to prevent it happening in the first place – by making sure that you’re only feeding your fish as much as they need, and not more than they can eat.

Of course, if you’re feeding your fish the correct amount, and they’re still leaving food, then you should of course ask an expert opinion – a veterinarian or another professional who knows how to care for fish.

Healthy Bacteria

If the bacteria balance of your tank isn’t quite right, then it can be a contributing factor to having higher levels of ammonia than you might do with a good balance.

This is because one of the things that these bacteria do is to convert ammonia into substances that are far less harmful to your fish!

This can be a problem in a new tank, or in one that’s not as healthy as it once was.

Either way, there are some ways that you can help with the balance of bacteria in the tank.

You can add healthy bacteria from another tank – and it’s actually really simple to do so!

You’ll just need to move some gravel from the healthy tank to the tank that needs a little bit of help.

Hopefully, this bacteria should grow and help to improve the condition of your tank.

It’s also possible to introduce healthy bacteria into your tank by adding some of the right type of fish – their waste can add bacteria to the ecosystem.

how to lower ammonia levels in fish tank

Lower pH Levels

The pH level of your tank is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the water is.

If you check the pH level of the tank and find that it’s too high, then the water is too alkaline.

This is an indicator of higher levels of ammonia than you ideally want!

There are ways to help out with this, however.

The most simple way of lowering the pH of the tank is to use chemicals that lower it – you should be able to get these from a pet store.

Use these as per the instructions, and you’ll lower the pH levels of your tank safely.

However, this won’t actually remove the ammonia from your tank – it’ll just neutralize it.

You’ll still have to change the water to actually remove it – but using these can buy you time if you need it.

It also won’t help with whatever was causing the ammonia buildup in the first place, so you’ll have to take care of that if you don’t want the problem to reoccur.

Increase Water Aeration

If you’re having problems with ammonia, increasing the amount of air that gets pumped into your tank can help out.

Ammonia could be diffused with increased air flow through the water.

If you already have a system set up for aeration – an air stone and pump, for example – then you might find it’s worth cleaning things up – if there are any blockages, air flow can be restricted.

You might also find it helps to upgrade parts of your aeration system if necessary – for example, getting a more powerful pump.

Neutralizing Drops

If you need a temporary fix to high ammonia levels in your tank, then you can try neutralizing the ammonia.

You can get chemical products that will directly neutralize the ammonia in your tank.

These should be available inside pet stores.

These drops will essentially stop the ammonia from being harmful to your fish.

Note that these drops aren’t going to actually remove any ammonia from the tank – it will have just been turned into something that isn’t going to harm your fish as much.

You’ll still need to address the cause of the raised ammonia levels, and will still need to change the water of the tank to get the ammonia out.


Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be able to learn how to manage the ammonia levels in your tank, and ensure that your fish are all living in a healthy environment!

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