1 Month in and already fed up with ph and algea probs - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 08:59 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy 1 Month in and already fed up with ph and algea probs

Hi, I'm a newbie when it comes to keeping a tropical aquarium so any advice would be gratefully appreciated as I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle to the 2 problems below. I bought a 110 ltr tank a month ago, heater, filter, lights etc came with it as a package. I did what I should and cleaned everything, filled the tank adding in bioactive tapsafe and filter start and left it a week before buying fish. I bought a mexican walking fish, and 4 tiger barbs - the tiger barbs died one after the other the next day. At first they seemed happy and were darting round the tank in a group, the next day they were all at the surface no longer in a group trying to get air (or thats how it looked anyway). I then re-read my filter leaflet and established that the top of the filter needed to be out the water in order to feed oxygen into the tank so I corrected this immediatley but it was too late for the tiger barbs as this didn't seem to make any difference.
Problem 1 - I then decided to invest in a water test kit before getting any more fish (which I now know I should have done at the start), one of those liquid 5 test thingys, anyway I established the ph level of my water was way off chart - a really dark purple. The results of the other tests were all fine as the tank was only a few weeks old by this point. I assumed that it must have been a combination of the ph and lack of oxygen that killed off the tiger barbs so my next step was to find ways of decreasing my ph level. I tested the water out my tap and this was also a very high ph (slightly lighter purple but not much) - I live in a very old listed building so maybe this has something to do with the pipework in the building increasing the ph before coming out the tap(?) After weeks of searching for answers I decided to go for some peat moss to go in my filter which should hopefully bring the ph level down (haven't got this yet, waiting for delivery). I guess only time will tell for this method, I really don't want to add more chemicals to the water ph as I've heard lots about them doing more harm than good.
Problem 2 - in the 3rd week of setup (my mexican walking fish is still doing fine oddly) I noticed a brown staining appearing on everything within the tank, gravel, filter, heater, ornaments, flowers (plastic) and the longer it was left, the worse it got. I figured I'd clean it, took the ornaments out and 90% of the water, cleaned everything from top to bottom filled with water again and tapsafe etc and after a few days it's back again. After a week it looked so bad I had to clean it again! 90% of the water, gravel, literally everything got a thorough cleaning. This was last tuesday, and again within a few days the brown algea was appearing again...6 days later it looks like I haven't cleaned it for years!!!
It looks like another thorough cleaning session and 90% water change but I'm wondering if I'm doing more harm than good? I know I should only be cleaning 10 - 15% of the water every week but it gets so dirty in there thats why I chose to do 90%. I can't keep on doing this every week and I have read it does go away eventually but how long is eventually??? I'm only a month into having this tank and already I'm getting fed up with it, I guess all I want is for someone to tell me what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it? My mexican walking fish ("Buster" my daughter has named it lol) is still doing really well but I want to add fish to the tank too but at the moment this isn't looking possible. Help
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post #2 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 09:18 AM
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ok 1st thing .. welcome to the forum and believe me you will get a lot of help here!!! :) next stop cleaning everything LOL you need to let the bacteria grow in there to be able to handle the bio load.... search the threads regarding the Nitrogen cycle (cycling) and start there.. to be honest a month is really just the begining... this takes time and often a few failures before you get it right... dont add any more fish right yet as you have one in and are starting the tank up they will most likely also perish..... eventually could be a few days or a few months but let it go for now i know it does not look pretty at the moment but this will pass..... at the top of this section is a sticky thread that asks a lot of questions try to answer as many as you can and post here so when every one looks they dont have to wait so long to get your answers.. all oof the information will be helpful .... some of the best answers are going to come from Byron, Bettababby, and Lupin... not saying any one elses advice and tips are less valid in any way every one is extreamly knowladgeable but these three are tank starting wizards!!!!!! LOL

Back in the Game!!! Live Bearers in a 40 Breeder
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post #3 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 09:57 AM
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Hello & Welcome to the forum.
Please test all your parameters and post them (ph, KH, NO2, NO3 Ammonia)
There's several factors that enhance brown algae growth which need to be either eliminated or excluded from the 'cause list' step by step for your tank.
One cause could be higher nitrates.
Another cause can be low light. Now this does not simply mean to dial up the lighting durance, but possibly exchange for better bulbs - So what type of bulbs do you have (full spectrum?).
It often occurs in new tanks due to lack of oxygen and abundance of nutrients.
Do you have any live plants in the tank?

Brown algae or any other type for this matter is manly caused by an ecosystem within he tank that's out of level, meaning something is too high and other levels are too low. To permanently eliminate your issue, the cause must be found and eliminated.

Hate to tell you, but to solve it we'll have to go through several different matters in your tank and eliminate 1 by 1 and this may take time and patience.

And yes, absolutely agree to not mess with any additional chemicals in the starting phase of your tank right now. Its unstable system as it is, with further chemicals you'd just cause it to become more unstable. The only things you should be using is water conditioner for your weekly water changes.
The 90% changes you are doing are simply too much. The only time you should be doing such large changes is if either your Ammonia rises past 0 or your Nitrates rise.

Peat will only soften your water so much and over long time peat also looses this ability to soften your water further (pretty much the harder the water the quicker you'll need to replace peat). An alternative to this, since you have a fairly small tank is to establish exactly what your parameters are at the moment and use R/O water from the store and mix it in the same ratio every water exchange to maintain a set pH and hardness. That said, it is crucial to the fish health (the one you have and the one's you'll eventually get) to not have any variations in pH too sudden, a quick rise or drop in pH will not be tolerated by the fish.
Therefore it is easiest to test your water, see what you have and buy fish that will thrive in your water as it is, that will make for happy & healthy fish and a hassle free maintenance for you.
Also tell us what kind of decor and gravel you're using in this tank. Rock's collected from the outdoors often give of hardness as well, not adding these to your tank will eliminate a rise in hardness (and so with pH rise) right there.

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
Life May Not Be The Party We Hoped For, But While We're Here, We Should Dance. ~
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post #4 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mik johnson View Post
It looks like another thorough cleaning session and 90% water change but I'm wondering if I'm doing more harm than good? I know I should only be cleaning 10 - 15% of the water every week but it gets so dirty in there thats why I chose to do 90%. I can't keep on doing this every week and I have read it does go away eventually but how long is eventually??? I'm only a month into having this tank and already I'm getting fed up with it, I guess all I want is for someone to tell me what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it? My mexican walking fish ("Buster" my daughter has named it lol) is still doing really well but I want to add fish to the tank too but at the moment this isn't looking possible. Help
90% water change will stress the fish, 10-25% will be good.

if you're 1 month in, try not putting fish in yet.
Your tank will definitely need to be established with new bacteria.

Here's what I did with my freshwater tank + some tips to not crash the tank.

1. Once you've filled your tank with everything but fish, make sure the water is dechlorinated. If it has not been, add water conditioner to dechlorinate the tank (dosage depending on product) and then let it run for 48 hours.

2. Start adding ammonia to the tank and add some beneficial bacteria. 1 way is to get some gravel from an established tank and seed it in your tank -- or what you can do then is add cycle.

2a. Make sure when you add ammonia you're doing test readings (buy an API freshwater master kit) in the tank because you're feeding the beneficial bacteria.

3. Watch your water go through a bacteria bloom, and die off (cloudy white water)

4. At the end of the cycle you should read 0 pp ammonia, 0pp nitrites, <20pp nitrates

5. Once this has hit, do a 25-30% water change - then you should be able to add 1-2 fish (depending on the size of the tank)
5a. give it a week or so and add another, and water change weekly to bi-weekly IMO is the best.
5.b when you have a stocked tank, gravel vacuum a lot when you change water, I made the mistake of doing light vacuuming and got hydrogen chloride in the tank and it crashed.

There's a usual time frame of 4-8 weeks, but it'll depend on the setup.


-=+8 Gallon Planted+=-
Fauna:
1x Honey Gourami
2x Otocinclus Affinis
6x Flame Tetra
6x Ember Tetra
2x Apple Snail (Hitched on Rotala)

Flora:
Dwarf Sagittaria
Ludwigia Repens X L. Arcuata
Staurogyne Repen
Cryptocoryne lutea
Cryptocoryne Wendti
Cryptocoryne spiralis
Amazon Sword
Java Moss
Java Fern
Anubias minima
Water Primrose
Pogostemon Yatabeanus
Limnophila sp. 'mini'

Last edited by CamryDS; 11-30-2009 at 10:48 AM.
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post #5 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 11:17 AM
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I'd not recommend spiking it with Ammonia at this stage as he already has a fish in the tank, going this route now would very likely kill the fish, this approach should be taken when dealing with a fishless cycle.
Also when cycling a tank and undergoing a N-Peak it CAN cause cloudy water with the bacteria bloom, but does not HAVE TO. I had tanks set up, same source water, same everything some did get cloudy others did not.
The only true way to know when your nitrates peak up is to test the water with a liquid test kit.

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
Life May Not Be The Party We Hoped For, But While We're Here, We Should Dance. ~
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post #6 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel079 View Post
I'd not recommend spiking it with Ammonia at this stage as he already has a fish in the tank, going this route now would very likely kill the fish, this approach should be taken when dealing with a fishless cycle.
Also when cycling a tank and undergoing a N-Peak it CAN cause cloudy water with the bacteria bloom, but does not HAVE TO. I had tanks set up, same source water, same everything some did get cloudy others did not.
The only true way to know when your nitrates peak up is to test the water with a liquid test kit.
heh -- instructions are there and state that the cycling process shouldn't have fish, if he does then he's just adding fish too early. IE - listening to people from petco/petsmart


-=+8 Gallon Planted+=-
Fauna:
1x Honey Gourami
2x Otocinclus Affinis
6x Flame Tetra
6x Ember Tetra
2x Apple Snail (Hitched on Rotala)

Flora:
Dwarf Sagittaria
Ludwigia Repens X L. Arcuata
Staurogyne Repen
Cryptocoryne lutea
Cryptocoryne Wendti
Cryptocoryne spiralis
Amazon Sword
Java Moss
Java Fern
Anubias minima
Water Primrose
Pogostemon Yatabeanus
Limnophila sp. 'mini'
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post #7 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CamryDS View Post
heh -- instructions are there and state that the cycling process shouldn't have fish, if he does then he's just adding fish too early. IE - listening to people from petco/petsmart
Well he's got a fish in the tank and problem, so let's try helping from there

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
Life May Not Be The Party We Hoped For, But While We're Here, We Should Dance. ~
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post #8 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the super quick resposes everyone, I will test everything later this evening (when the little one has gone to bed) and post the results. Not too sure what the "sticky thread" is as I'm slowly navigating my way round the site
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post #9 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Aquatropic 80 - 110 gallon Freshwater fish tank think this is what bearwithfish was after?
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post #10 of 34 Old 11-30-2009, 01:28 PM
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nope this is it...... http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...nt-topics-257/

Back in the Game!!! Live Bearers in a 40 Breeder
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