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Hello! Looking for new tank setup critique, plus a couple of questions

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Hello! Looking for new tank setup critique, plus a couple of questions
Old 03-01-2010, 10:45 AM   #91
 
Thanks, batman...

I have an aerator in the tank that's part of an ornament, so I like to run it for aesthetic purposes, but Byron (whose been guiding me along...) told me that it could force too much of the CO2 that the plants use out of the water, so I put it on a timer to only run in the evenings and overnight, and I usually keep it very low. But now I cranked it up and am running it 24/7 to make sure the fish have enough O2.

I did my scheduled WC on Saturday, and the one last night was kind of an 'emergency' one. The ammonia seemed pretty high (4+) after the WC last night, but Byron said that I shouldn't worry about it too much as long as the pH stays below 7, but now I'm also going to be watching the Nitrites closely... I'll check the ammonia and Nitrites/Nitrates when I get home tonight and plan on another WC if needed.

This morning, the water was still really cloudy, but the fish I saw were still active, and the Flame Tetras were still showing color (at one point, they were all pale white). Hopefully they'll be OK when I get home.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:48 PM   #92
 
Just got home... Was almost afraid of what I might find.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Water is still cloudy as all heck - can't see anything. But, the fish I can still see seem active and normal, and even the Flame Tetras don't seem to be too stressed (except for one, that I now think is permanently white).

#'s:
pH - 6.6
Ammonia - 8ppm (maybe higher...8 is the highest the kit will test)
Nitrite - .25ppm
Nitrate - 5ppm

Ammonia is getting high, but I'm wondering if I should hold off on the WC? Would there be a downside to doing the WC at this point?

I'm also thinking of opening the filter and changing out the water polishing pads (not the primary foam), which I realized today are supposed to be changed every week or two. I want to make sure the flow isn't being impeded by clogged pads (they've been in for 2-3 weeks...). I also still have a couple of Ammonia-removing pillows that I could add to the filter if you guys think the ammonia is rising too quickly. I can also add a small bubble filter with some Ammonia-remover in the bubble filter?

Also, any thoughts about leaving the lights on overnight? Would it help the bacteria develop any faster, or maybe allow the plants to process some additional ammonia?

Last edited by LMychajluk; 03-01-2010 at 06:50 PM..
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:04 PM   #93
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMychajluk View Post
Just got home... Was almost afraid of what I might find.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Water is still cloudy as all heck - can't see anything. But, the fish I can still see seem active and normal, and even the Flame Tetras don't seem to be too stressed (except for one, that I now think is permanently white).

#'s:
pH - 6.6
Ammonia - 8ppm (maybe higher...8 is the highest the kit will test)
Nitrite - .25ppm
Nitrate - 5ppm

Ammonia is getting high, but I'm wondering if I should hold off on the WC? Would there be a downside to doing the WC at this point?

I'm also thinking of opening the filter and changing out the water polishing pads (not the primary foam), which I realized today are supposed to be changed every week or two. I want to make sure the flow isn't being impeded by clogged pads (they've been in for 2-3 weeks...). I also still have a couple of Ammonia-removing pillows that I could add to the filter if you guys think the ammonia is rising too quickly. I can also add a small bubble filter with some Ammonia-remover in the bubble filter?

Also, any thoughts about leaving the lights on overnight? Would it help the bacteria develop any faster, or maybe allow the plants to process some additional ammonia?
No on the lights at night; fish need darkness to rest, same as we do, and plants do. I know of aquarists who left lights on 24 hours and in a couple days ich broke out big time. You don't need that on top of everything else.

I'm getting a bit out of my depth with this; I am not a chemist, and I just do not understand the ammonia level. With plants and a not unreasonable fish load, this should not be occurring, and we have established it is not from the tap water.

On the filter pads, rinse them, don't change them. Filter media like plain pads should only be rinsed until they literally fall apart and water gets around them rather than going through them, then replace it. If those ammonia pads only change ammonia to ammonium, fine. That is natural and does not amount to adding chemicals into this soup. The cloudiness is not a problem unless it is related to the ammonia, and again I am out of ideas on that. I will PM a couple members.

Byron.
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:47 PM   #94
 
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Well, plants can't use any nutrients (ammonia included) if they can't photosynthesize, and the bacterial bloom may be preventing them from doing exactly that since your water is so cloudy.

Leaving the lights on might be a good idea, since it will allow the plants more time to photosynthesize and as a result you might get more O2 in the water. I am concerned about those high ammonia levels. Since your water is acidic you don't need to worry about the ammonia itself being dangerous but if your cycle jumps to the next level, you could see all of that concentrated ammonia start turning into nitrite, which would be quite toxic even in acidic water.

More dangerous, though, are probably the reduced O2 levels as a result of all of those bacteria which are feeding off of the ammonia. I know it's not ideal for your plants, but I think stepping up aeration and doing some serious water changes will help combat the problem until your ammonia levels start to go down naturally. I would prefer water changes to using ammonia-removers for two reasons: 1) ammonia removers won't really be doing anything in your tank as all they do in the first place is convert ammonia to ammonium (which you've already got in your acidic water) and 2) water changes have the added benefit of removing bacteria from the bloom and adding O2 to your water, which is crucial during a bacteria bloom.
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:15 AM   #95
 
Well, I disconnected the filter earlier and cleaned it a bit. I rinsed the sponges in the aquarium water, and did end up replacing the polishing pads. The old ones were kind of disgusting. I tried to rinse them, but they just felt 'heavy', and I didn't get the impression alot of water was flowing through them. Fluval says they're not for continuous use, anyway... While I had it open, I did also add the ammonia remover (ion exchange media) to the empty baskets - figured it can't really hurt at this point, but I think the 2 pillows will only treat 30 gallons total anyway. I think that replacing the polishing pads was a good idea, though, because I think I see a noticable increase in flow from the filter output.

I let it run for an hour or so and re-tested the ammonia. The test tube was so dark green (API Test kit) I couldn't see through it, so I decided I had to do a water change. I changed out 35% of the water, treating w/ Prime. The WC really stressed out one of the Corys. I thought he was dead at one point, laying on his side, but when I went to recover the carcass, he moved. Right now, he's still alive and hanging out in a big plastic cup with fresh water that I floated in the main tank to keep the temp, but I don't think he's going to make it...

Now, after the WC, the water is looking a bit clearer (could be temporary), but pH is now up around 7.4 and Ammonia is still at 4ppm. The lights just went out (going to leave them on the timer for now), so hopefully the higher CO2 levels during the night will bring the pH down a bit.

I'm still kind of baffled where all this ammonia is coming from. It seems to be an aweful lot. There wasn't any significant 'gunk' in the filter that could've been rotting bio-matter. I've got <20 small fish in the 44g tank that I've barely fed in the last few days, and I think I've accounted for them all (no MIAs decomposing in a back corner somewhere). The dozen or so plants are doing well as far as I can tell (sprouting new leaves, roots / shoots, etc...). The only thing is the 2 crypts I have do have some 'melt' on thier leaves, but I vac'd them on Saturday as best I could. They're also showing signs of sprouting new leaves. Should I be trimming these leaves w/ the 'melt' off completely and removing them?
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:58 AM   #96
 
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Lee, I have been asked to give this thread a read and I just spent over 1 hour on it. I think I have a good grasp on the details of this. Bryon and I are discussing this in private. Conversations of pH and hardness are very complicated and sometimes dangerous when the casual reader is skimming the page. He and I will discuss this further today and get back to you. We need a large brainstorming session, and this really needs to occur outside of this thread. I appoligize to anyone who does not appreciate this, but I will just ask you to trust Byron, Jim, and myself when I say this needs to be discussed offline. If anyone has any input, post it here in this thread. It is very much appreciated.

Jim, the discussion is in the moderator forum. Please join us.

Lee, please don't do anything to the tank today. No water changes PLEASE. Things need to sit tight so we can actually understand what is causing your problems. Test results would be nice, but please do not take any action as a result of the results. I would also like to see pictures of your tank and equipment, regardless of how cloudy the water is.

This situation can be fixed. Just sit tight and let us help. Trust me.
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:27 PM   #97
 
Wow... I really appreciate the time you guys all spent, but I really didn't think it was that unusual of a situation. I started this thread as a sort of dairy for my tank setup, and Byron has been providing some great guidance, but I didn't really expect a "SWAT Team" response to what I think is just a (normal?) bacteria bloom (though I have to admit, the rapid ammonia rise doesn't seem right to me...). From what I can gather, it's not unusual for bacteria bloom to last 3-5 days (today would be day 4). I do appreciate your efforts, but please, don't make my problem your priority. I don't want any of you to be wasting your time on me.

My water alkalinity and hardness seem more or less stable for the most part (kH 2-3, gH 9-10), and I think pH is OK (now that Byron talked me out of trying to adjust it). pH seems to want to stablize around 6.4-6.6, but when I do a water change (usually around 35%), it jumps to the mid-7s for a bit (which makes sense to me...low kH and high tap water pH). BTW, I haven't added anything to try and adjust these values for ~3 weeks, but did use a little ph-Down early on before Byron stopped me.

I'm at work now, but will try to post some more pics of the setup later tonight, but it's a 45g pentagon corner w/ a Fluval 305 canister filter (sponge, pre-filter media, ammonia remover, bio media, and water polishing pads, in that order). I'm using 2x15W (18") T8 bulbs, temp is set ~78, and the only other 'equipment' is a Hydor volcano ornament that I also use as an aerator (which is usually turned down very low, and off during most of the day, but is now on 24/7 to prevent O2 from dropping). I'm using API's test kits. All of the equipment was purchased new and set up the last weekend of Jan.

If there's any additional info I can provide before getting back to the tank, let me know. I'll post test result numbers when I get home and hold off on any additional water changes for the time being.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:09 PM   #98
 
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Lee, don't think twice about our time helping you. I know I speak for all the moderators when I say that this is why we are here, to offer advice from our collective experience which is very considerable. Mark and Jim have a lot of experience and knowledge, more than I do in this area, and this will get resolved. Just sit tight, no tinkering with the tank, and we'll be back. B.
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Old 03-02-2010, 06:59 PM   #99
 
Okay, just got home and snapped a few shots that I uploaded to my album. The one clear pic was taken last Wed or Thu (the cloudiness started Sat morning, but wasn't too bad, and got really bad by Sunday).

It's actually not as cloudy as it was. I can actually make out the deco at the back of the tank. At very least, it's not any worse than it was after last night's water change. Could it possibly be clearing up? The fish still seem active, and the Tetras still have thier color.

Here are the numbers:
pH - 7.5
Ammonia - 8ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - Between 0 and 5ppm
kH - 3
gH - 10

(BTW, I re-read the directions, and took the pH and Ammonia tests 2x, just to make sure.)

The ammonia is still high. The only thing I can think that could possibly be causing this is some of the 'melting' leaves on the 2 Crypts (I got some closeups in the album). I can trim them if you guys think it will help. There could possibly be a dead zebra or two in there, but it's hard to tell... As you can see, the other plants seem well, and the bannana plants and swords are putting out new roots, shoots, and leaves.

BTW, I re-tested the tap water. Straight from the tap, I have a pH of 7.8 and an ammonia level of .5ppm.

If there's any other info or pics I can provide, please let me know.

Thanks for your time and efforts!
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Old 03-02-2010, 07:59 PM   #100
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMychajluk View Post
The ammonia is still high. The only thing I can think that could possibly be causing this is some of the 'melting' leaves on the 2 Crypts (I got some closeups in the album). I can trim them if you guys think it will help.
This isn't the problem. Everything is pH related. Sit tight and NO TINKERING!
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