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Ammonia burns


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I ordered 3 American Flag Fish on Ebay.

Unfortunately package was delayed in shipment.

Usps accepted shipment on the 23rd at 9:34 PM, and delivered it 10:48 AM on the 27th.

all three were swimming around when Iinitially opened the box.  

bag was floated for 15 minutes with 2 addittions of 1/4 cup tank water to bag during that time per sellers instructions, then poured into net and placed in quarantine tank and left dark. 

the largest one seemed rather lethargic resting on tank bottom and barely swimming.


that evening he looked worse. Dosed with aquarium 3 tbsp in 10 gallons aquarium salt, stress coat, maracyn, ich x and paracleanse.


this morning, rear tail fin eroded and splotchy discoloration on sides torear half.


tonight more fin erosion noted, and red splotchy area to rear.


bag water originally tested over 8ppm Ammonia per API master test kit before adding water.  I wish I had had the presence of mind to set aside a sample of the water to have done a 50% dilution and retest for Ammonia to get a feel for how high it really was.


the other two smaller flag fish do not appear in distress, they are swimming around, no sign of fin erosion or burns. though I have no doubt they were affected as well somewhat


signs point to it being ammonia burns.  The question is at what point do you decide to put fish out of their misery verses trying to save them.

the one in serious hurt doesnt move, still having gill movement and staying upright, but not moving on his own.

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In my experience, the art of fasting fish before shipping is lost on most private sellers.

The fish is still upright so it could be saved if it has very clean water, lots of oxygen, and every possible stressor is reduced. If it starts laying on its side it's game over IMO.  The stress coat was a good move. I wouldn't over do the meds though.

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This morning the fish no longer is in pain. He passed in the night.

I read where ammonia burns can lead to secondary infections and antibiotics were recommended. Single dose only was administered.

I have an air driven box filter and undergravel filter with 2 more airstones in the uplift tubes.  

Regardless, the battle was lost.

dos this look like ammonia burns to your eye?


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On 9/29/2022 at 1:48 AM, Pepere said:

How long should a fish be fasted before shipping?

these were shipped out next day after order.

At least 24 hours but 2 days is better IMO.

For 8ppm total ammonia, they would had to eaten a dime sized amount of flake food between the 3 of them the day of shipping.

Pics look like bacterial infection but I'm not the best with disease ID.

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On 9/29/2022 at 12:39 PM, modified lung said:

For 8ppm total ammonia, they would had to eaten a dime sized amount of flake food between the 3 of them the day of shipping.

Well I know it was at least 8 ppm but that is the highest the scale goes.

I should have saved a sample in order to be able to do a 50% dilution to get a better feel of the actual level.


in any event I learned a fair amount that will guide me going forward.

Edited by Pepere
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If it took like almost 4 days to deliver, then I think it's recommended to just move the fish into the tank w/o any acclimation.  Something to do w/ fast change in PH once the bag is opened and exposed to the air and that causes the ammonia to spike.   

I haven't ordered fish online before.  What's the typical delivery time?  Do most fish make it?  I'd imagine they're so stressed b/c of all that jostling that goes on...

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