having trouble with 90 gallong tank
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having trouble with 90 gallong tank

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having trouble with 90 gallong tank
Old 10-05-2009, 10:49 PM   #1
 
CamryDS's Avatar
 
having trouble with 90 gallong tank

Hello All,

just wanted to say hi -- I've joined this forum because I have a few questions that need to be answered.

I current have a 90 gallon tank that's been stocked for about 7 months (started in february, stocked in march) and i'm having problems with PH.

Alittle while ago, the tank had no problems -- but today it had a bad bad smell (probably some type of issue with cleaning) and ph was under 6.0!! I was so scared, I did an immediate water change and gravel vacuum and also I cleaned out the fluval 405 cannister filter.

I changed 2/4 foam pads, rinsed the media in my tank water (inside a bucket) and completey cleaned out the inside of my filter.

I noticed a lot of red gunk in the cannister and it was deep deep red. kinda like blood
I did a ph test of my tapwater, and found that the water is at least 8.0+, for a while my water was fine (between 7.4-7.6).

I always did weekly water changes(25%-30%) & gravel vacuum's, and I've done 4 water changes within the last 4 days -- including the largest one today (about 70% worth) I noticed when I came home and all my fish were at the botttom not swimming, and there was like acid like white burns on my rasboras' tail(white residue, appeared as though tail was ripped like paper). once I changed out the water, the fish became more lively -- I was contemplating about using a ph buffer, but I think I've seen poeple have bad experiences, and the last thing I need is a wipe.

I don't know exactly what I've been doing wrong.

Ammonia = 0
Nitrates = 0
Nitrites = ranges between 10-20ppm

I have a planted tank and I have close to sand gravel (fine gravel).
I also have 2 ceramic decorations and the plants are amazon swords (grew from 3 to 10 in 4 months).

I'm just listing what I may have and what might cause problems (ceramic decorations).

I can show you pictures:
Antiquities
this is where I got my decorations from.

I have a log that's made out of resin for aquarium use (From petsmart), other than that it's all natural

I guess, I'm wondering what's causing the red gunk, since there's red gunk in the filter when I pulled it out -- very think gunk.

one thing I forgot to mention is that, at one point I did use something called copper power (as medication) to kill off some parasites/ich/etc. that been flushed out. I believe I've used about 7 cap fulls -- 7ml per capfull, so that equates about 1.5 ounces? just around that amount. it did get rid of all the parasites, but I think that's when the red stuff started to appear -- I heard it was cyanobacteria but i'm too noob to diagnose properly -- anyone else had this problem before?

I tried to get rid of all the gunk in my fluval filter and then put everything back. fish are swimming more healthily, but I would like some advice -- should I keep water changes until I get ph back or should I just hold off?

Extra notes:
I use about 4 ounces of both kordon amquel(not +) and novaqua+ per water cahnge. I'm running out -- any advice would be extremely appreciated =D

Last edited by CamryDS; 10-05-2009 at 10:52 PM..
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Old 10-06-2009, 03:21 AM   #2
 
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very odd situation there since you have all fake decor except the plants. i cannot really diagnose the problem for you but i did see you mention something about a ph buffer. DO NOT DO THIS a drastic change in ph can pretty much insta kill your fish i would stay up with daily water changes. im also sure that people are going to ask the gh and kh of your water as those play a large rule in the actuall ph of your water. Money
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:55 AM   #3
 
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Are you using peat under the gravel or soil? is the tank Co2 injected? What test kit are you using? Maybe you could take a sample of the tanks water to the local fish store and ask them if they would test it for you? Were test results you posted before a water change or after? I will assume that you have mixed up nitrites with nitrAtes for 10 to 20 pppm nitrites would have lethal effect on fish. Knowing what your KH is would also be helpful. Does your tapwater go through a water softner of any kind before you use it for drinking or for fish tanks? These water softners sometimes remove minerals ,salts ,that buffer your water. Water companies sometimes inject Co2 through lines to help keep mineral deposits from forming inside pipes. This Co2 usually off gases after setting in aerated bucket for 24 hours.
Is also possible that recent medication destroyed a portion of bacteria in biological filter but this would ,could result in ammonia,and nitrite spike which you don't report but plants may be consuming the ammonia and some nitrites.
There are buffering products out there but they should be used in tub or bucket while trying to determine the amount needed before you use the water in the aquarium. This way ,the fish are not subjected to sudden ph changes. You could try a tablespoon per five or ten gal in bucket or tub of tapwater and measure the pH after 24 hours. once the desired buffering is produced then you can use this water for water changes.I recommend five gal buckets.(easy to measure)
The first thing I would want to do ,is get a second opinion on test results if using a strip style test kit as opposed to one that uses test vials and drops. The API Freshwater Master kit is popular and much more accurate than many of the strip style tests.
I would also use a full function water conditioner such as PRIME for all water entering the aquarium. Hope I have offered some things to consider>
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Old 10-06-2009, 06:37 AM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoneyMitch View Post
very odd situation there since you have all fake decor except the plants. i cannot really diagnose the problem for you but i did see you mention something about a ph buffer. DO NOT DO THIS a drastic change in ph can pretty much insta kill your fish i would stay up with daily water changes. im also sure that people are going to ask the gh and kh of your water as those play a large rule in the actuall ph of your water. Money
thanks for the advice -- i'm not going to use ph buffers -- I know the dangers of that -- definitely will take it to heart! thank you!!! =D

I have no idea how to test for kh and gh of the water...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
Are you using peat under the gravel or soil? is the tank Co2 injected? What test kit are you using? Maybe you could take a sample of the tanks water to the local fish store and ask them if they would test it for you? Were test results you posted before a water change or after? I will assume that you have mixed up nitrites with nitrAtes for 10 to 20 pppm nitrites would have lethal effect on fish. Knowing what your KH is would also be helpful. Does your tapwater go through a water softner of any kind before you use it for drinking or for fish tanks? These water softners sometimes remove minerals ,salts ,that buffer your water. Water companies sometimes inject Co2 through lines to help keep mineral deposits from forming inside pipes. This Co2 usually off gases after setting in aerated bucket for 24 hours.
Is also possible that recent medication destroyed a portion of bacteria in biological filter but this would ,could result in ammonia,and nitrite spike which you don't report but plants may be consuming the ammonia and some nitrites.
There are buffering products out there but they should be used in tub or bucket while trying to determine the amount needed before you use the water in the aquarium. This way ,the fish are not subjected to sudden ph changes. You could try a tablespoon per five or ten gal in bucket or tub of tapwater and measure the pH after 24 hours. once the desired buffering is produced then you can use this water for water changes.I recommend five gal buckets.(easy to measure)
The first thing I would want to do ,is get a second opinion on test results if using a strip style test kit as opposed to one that uses test vials and drops. The API Freshwater Master kit is popular and much more accurate than many of the strip style tests.
I would also use a full function water conditioner such as PRIME for all water entering the aquarium. Hope I have offered some things to consider>

No peat. no soil -- straight sand.
No Co2 injector it's just fish. I'm thinking it's medication, the tank does smell kinda on the sour side.
As far as buffering, i'm going to lay off of that and not use it.

I live in an apartment, so i know the water is not going through a softener. My ph from tap is about 7.8-8 so i'm safe to say it's kinda hard.

The test kit is API Master Test Kit for freshwater.

I'm just thinking why it's so strange that my tank has a ph of under 6, while my tap is at 8.0

Tap condition
0 ammonia
0 nitrates
(didn't measure nitrites)
ph 8.0

tank conditions
0 ammonia
0 nitrates
20-40ppm nitirites
ph under 6.0


Water Conditioners:
Cycle (used every once in a while)
kordon amquel
kordon novaqua +


Medication recently used (discontinued the use of it yesterday):
Power Copper (1.12% chelated copper sulfate)

As far as prime, i've never used it -- what's the differences between prime and the kordon products i'm using.

Last edited by CamryDS; 10-06-2009 at 06:48 AM..
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:11 AM   #5
 
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Prime detoxifys chlorine,chloramines,AND ammonia. Also detoxifys nitrites and can be used at double the dose safely for emergency situations such as ammonia and nitrite spikes. Not all water conditioners will treat all three toxins (ie) ammonia,chlorine ,and chloramines. You will use much less product to achieve the same results using two products. One ml of PRIME treats ten gal of water. Takes considerably more of nearly all other water conditioners to treat same volume of water.
I have read somewhere that if filter fails or perhaps becomes clogged while using copper sulfate at high enough concentrations, that pH can be affected but for the life of me I can't remember where I read it.In any event.. I believe with frequent SMALL water changes using your tapwater with conditioner that Ph levels will begin to climb back assuming there is buffering capacity in the tapwater hence,, my question with regards to domestic water softner.
API also offers a test kit for KH (carbonate hardness) and perhaps this test result would help determine the buffering capacity of your source water.
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:38 AM   #6
 
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In addition to previous post. Usually, weekly water changes prevent the ph from diving in aquariums due to the buffering capacity of the new water added. But in tanks where organic matter is allowed to accumulate ,and water changes are few ,and filter is not maintained on regular basis,then the organic matter will lower the pH but it does not happen suddenly as you have suggested but rather gradually, over a matter of months.
With sand substrates,we are encouraged to sift the sand to keep pockets of gases from forming underneath. It is best to sift the sand AFTER we use the vaccum. To do it before or during, sometimes leads to that which we are trying to remove,,becoming buried in the sand rather than remaining on the surface where it is easily sucked up with the vaccum.
It sounds to me that your maint. practices are sound and I am leaning towards the medication possibly having undesired consequences. I am sorry I cannot help you to pinpoint the problem for I am far from being an expert but hopefully ,the pH will begin to rise again with the small frequent water changes and assuming that your source water has not for some reason lost it's buffering capacity.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:46 AM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
In addition to previous post. Usually, weekly water changes prevent the ph from diving in aquariums due to the buffering capacity of the new water added. But in tanks where organic matter is allowed to accumulate ,and water changes are few ,and filter is not maintained on regular basis,then the organic matter will lower the pH but it does not happen suddenly as you have suggested but rather gradually, over a matter of months.
With sand substrates,we are encouraged to sift the sand to keep pockets of gases from forming underneath. It is best to sift the sand AFTER we use the vaccum. To do it before or during, sometimes leads to that which we are trying to remove,,becoming buried in the sand rather than remaining on the surface where it is easily sucked up with the vaccum.
It sounds to me that your maint. practices are sound and I am leaning towards the medication possibly having undesired consequences. I am sorry I cannot help you to pinpoint the problem for I am far from being an expert but hopefully ,the pH will begin to rise again with the small frequent water changes and assuming that your source water has not for some reason lost it's buffering capacity.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
Prime detoxifys chlorine,chloramines,AND ammonia. Also detoxifys nitrites and can be used at double the dose safely for emergency situations such as ammonia and nitrite spikes. Not all water conditioners will treat all three toxins (ie) ammonia,chlorine ,and chloramines. You will use much less product to achieve the same results using two products. One ml of PRIME treats ten gal of water. Takes considerably more of nearly all other water conditioners to treat same volume of water.
I have read somewhere that if filter fails or perhaps becomes clogged while using copper sulfate at high enough concentrations, that pH can be affected but for the life of me I can't remember where I read it.In any event.. I believe with frequent SMALL water changes using your tapwater with conditioner that Ph levels will begin to climb back assuming there is buffering capacity in the tapwater hence,, my question with regards to domestic water softner.
API also offers a test kit for KH (carbonate hardness) and perhaps this test result would help determine the buffering capacity of your source water.
Thanks for all the advice, maybe I will change the water conditioner and move over towards prime instead of kordon. I haven't heard of anything bad about kordon, but if it will help i'll swap over after i've ran out of my supply. I'm a bit of a penny pincher so kordon is always on sale where I buy it. 16 oz for 5.99 isn't bad compared to the other LFS which is about 13.99 a bottle.

As far as the kh -- i'll look into it with a tester.

My gravel vacuuming usually consists of shoving the vacuum into the sand all the way down, and step by step go through the whole entire tank doing so. I move my decor around sometimes, and carefully go around my plants, then I swirl afterwards in the water to get more of the solids to free flow, I have 3 powerheads including the outlet from the fluval 405.

2 x Koralia 1
1 x fluval outlet

I'll probably have a picture of the tank up soon. But as long as I'm doing what needs to be done, i'll be testing the ph every day to see if it makes a difference after water changes. I'll also post in this thread, progress so if I do anything wrong i'll have someone to educate me.

I don't think i'm too overstocked -- buy my signature will let you know about that.
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:10 PM   #8
 
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I wish I could be of more help. The one thing I know for certain is Clown Loaches are extremely sensitive to poor water conditions or sudden changes in the waters chemistry. The fact that they are not showing any negative reaction is promising. I might suggest more frequent servicing of the filter as well as perhaps twice weekly water changes. ALWAYS better to do SMALLER water changes than changing large amounts. That way the fishes can adapt slowly to the change and osmoregulation isn't as stressful as it is when we perform large water changes. I would change no more than 30 percent at any given time unless ammonia or nitrites spiked for some reason. I might also cut back on amount and frequency of feedings until such time as tank has stabilized a little bit. Sometimes (often) fish that are feeling stressed,or sick, don't feed and food that is offered and not eaten ,,will foul the water if not removed. I am a bit confused about what type substrate you have. If it is gravel, then your method of vaccuming sounds good. If it is sand,, then the method I described would work well. To be perfectly honest,, In tanks where fish are not overfed, the gravel can go perhaps up to three weeks or longer between vaccuming but I would never recommend this interval because 70 to 90 percent of folks overfeed and this contributes to ammonia producing organics if left in the tank.
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Old 10-06-2009, 01:37 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
I wish I could be of more help. The one thing I know for certain is Clown Loaches are extremely sensitive to poor water conditions or sudden changes in the waters chemistry. The fact that they are not showing any negative reaction is promising. I might suggest more frequent servicing of the filter as well as perhaps twice weekly water changes. ALWAYS better to do SMALLER water changes than changing large amounts. That way the fishes can adapt slowly to the change and osmoregulation isn't as stressful as it is when we perform large water changes. I would change no more than 30 percent at any given time unless ammonia or nitrites spiked for some reason. I might also cut back on amount and frequency of feedings until such time as tank has stabilized a little bit. Sometimes (often) fish that are feeling stressed,or sick, don't feed and food that is offered and not eaten ,,will foul the water if not removed. I am a bit confused about what type substrate you have. If it is gravel, then your method of vaccuming sounds good. If it is sand,, then the method I described would work well. To be perfectly honest,, In tanks where fish are not overfed, the gravel can go perhaps up to three weeks or longer between vaccuming but I would never recommend this interval because 70 to 90 percent of folks overfeed and this contributes to ammonia producing organics if left in the tank.
Definitely thank you for the advice. I've been having an uphill battle, and I think i'm beginning to see some fruits of my labor -- before the water change again today it was 6.0(and under) after the water change today -- about 30% it's gone up to 6.4 (waited about 25 mins after the change before testing)

I'm going to change the water again tomorrow and see if the fish adjusts well. the clowns were actually reacting skitish in the tank. they were darting around the second I appraoched the tank (which never use to be the case) I lost 2 in the past out of the pack of 5 -- so I thought maybe the loss made them that way, then when I realized the water was kinda iffy i started to waterchange consistently once everyday.

I took a break from doing that for about a week (probably not the best decision) and here i am now. I'm going to consistently change the water until it gets about 7.0 then do another 3 water changes to see if it'll maintain consistency and then just drop the maintainence to about once a week.

let me know if that's a good idea so far.

Here are the steps to the water change method I take
1. Gravel Filter (
2. stir up sand a little after the filtering is finished
3. Add water conditioner
4. Re-fill the tank with water around the same temperature (just by feeling)
5. wait approximately 2-4 minutes then add Cycle back into the tank.

PS. you guys all rock -- thank you for helping me out and leading me in the right direction.
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Old 10-06-2009, 05:30 PM   #10
 
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Just a caution on the water changes. And a couple other comments.

Your test kit is showing ammonia at zero, so there may not be an issue. Odd though, since you have no plants, and you replaced much of the filter media. But the bacteria may be sufficient to multiply and handle the ammonia and nitrite.

At an acidic pH, ammonia is largely ammonium which is basically non-toxic to fish. If you perform substantial water changes with water than is basic/alkaline (above pH 7.0) and the tank pH rises above 7 as a result, the ammonium immediately changes back into ammonia which is toxic. Better to do small changes as 1077 said, being careful to not raise the pH more than .2 or .3 in any 24-hour period. On top of whatever else is wrong, significant pH shifts can be lethal. They are certainly highly stressful for fish. Won't go into the why now.

Copper is a bad medication for fish (and plants) since it is lethal at relatively low levels. I have used it, but it always stresses out some of the fish, though not to the extent you describe. But worth knowing, to keep such meds minimal in future. The copper probably had the greatest impact on your biological equilibrium. The red stuff I think is biological in origin.

On the water conditioner, I won't argue against Prime. But I have used Kordon for 15+ years with never an issue so I feel confident in stating that this is not the source of any pH drop or fish problems. To my knowledge it does not have a limited shelf life either; I am using the jug I bought years ago, and I have heavily chlorinated water and with 50% changes every week my fish would be dead in minutes if the Kordon wasn't working. It doesn't detoxify ammonia as 1077 said, but I don't have that problem.

No need to be using "Cycle" at all, I would cease immediately. I have used it (back in the 1980's) to assist bacteria in new tanks, but never past the first day or two. While it claims to assist bacteria, it is chemical compounds, not live bacteria (such as Stability and some others are) and it may or may not have some effect (cumulative) on this issue. No point in wasting money, and possibly risking the fish.


Byron.
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