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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 02-09-2010, 10:37 PM   #41
 
Whoa!!! I just realized my mistake! I haven't been waiting a few minutes before reading the Ammonia test results! I just tested again, and it's showing as .5ppm! I just made the assumption that the test works just like the pH test, and has immediate results. I've been doing the Nitrate/Nitrite tests wrong too, but, thankfully, they're still showing as 0 for both now that I re-did them following the instructions exactly.

For now, I'm going to try the Ammo-Lock, which claims to immediately de-tox the ammonia while still leaving it in a state that the bacteria can use, and a dose of StressZyme to see if I can kick-start the bacteria processing. If the ammonia gets any higher, though, I'll do another water change tomorrow.
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:36 PM   #42
 
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Lee, please do not jump into things. You have to take time with fish. I'll address issues from your last two posts.

First, the ammonia. Test kits, at least the API, read ammonia immediately, you do not have to wait. Once you add the drops and shake the tube, the colour is the indicator. Same as pH tests. The Ammolock won't hurt if it's actually needed, but if the ammonia is not above zero it is wasted and one less chemical going into the tank is preferable.

Second, the pH down is probably stressing the corys. These chemicals are dangerous to add to a tank containing fish. I don't care what the labels may say, chemicals will stress fish. The pH of your water may be buffered by the KH, and no attempt to lower it with these products will work long-term, and the fluctuations are worse on the fish than having a pH that is other than their preference. Plus, there are natural ways to lower pH over time. I suggest you do a pwc to remove this chemical and don't use it; I suspect your corys will improve. If they continue as is, they will probably weaken and may die, these things long-term can be fatal.

The API "Tap Water Conditioner" is fine. The Flourish Comprehensive is fine once a week, but you should use it a day after the partial water change so you aren't removing the trace elements with the water change.

Byron.
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Old 02-10-2010, 02:13 PM   #43
 
"Test kits, at least the API, read ammonia immediately, you do not have to wait."

All I know is that when I was doing the tests initially, I would shake the tube, and the solution would be yellow (0ppm), and then I'd usually discard the solution immediately after reading. When I tested when I got home from work yesterday at ~6pm, this is what I read it as. I went out for a bit, and then tested again when I got home (after my first post, ~10:30pm), though for some reason I decided to re-read the directions first and saw that they said to wait 5 minutes for the solution to 'develop'. When I did this and waited, the solution turned green (~.5ppm). Is it possible for the Ammonia to go up .5ppm in a couple of hours?

I was thinking that a few drops of the pH-Down per day would be less stressful to the Corys than the high pH, but if you think pH closer to 8 than 7 isnt bad, and to just let the pH do what it will, I'll lay off the ph-Down. I was trying to keep the conditions 'in range'. BTW, I had added the AmmoLock and StressZyme (not the Tap Water Conditioner) based on the little recommendation chart that came with the API Test Kit.

And, just to clarify, my understanding of the API products is this:
StressCoat - Water Conditioner + Aloe Vera
Tap Water Conditioner - Concentrated StressCoat, minus the Aloe Vera
StressZyme - Bacteria / Biofilter booster
ph-Down - Pretty much Sulphuric Acid to decrease pH. Instructions say safe to use as long as you don't change pH >.2 in 24hrs
Ammo-Lock - De-chlorinator + converts ammonia to less-toxic ammonium, which can still be used by the bacteria, but will not lower Ammonia test readings

Other than the pH-Down stressing the fish (is this because it may only be temporary, and 'rebound' back to it's original values?), and the general 'chemicals are bad', are there any major downsides to using any of these?

I'm leaving the office soon (to fight my way home through the blizzard here in NJ), and will re-test everything when I get home and see what's going on today.
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Old 02-10-2010, 03:08 PM   #44
 
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Couple of things here.

I only test water during daylight because pure daylight (not direct sunlight) is more exact in colour rendition. Different room lights can accent different colours, so try to use daylight. Certainly never use fluorescent light, all fluorescent tubes distort colours somewhat.

Re the products. Water conditioner is necessary, some on here are against any aloe vera or similar coating products. Ammo-lock is fine if needed, and if you think ammonia is an issue, it won't hurt and may well benefit. Stress-Zyme is supposedly bacteria so should be OK, but there are others who don't recommend these things. I would not use this particular product after initial setup if I were you because of what it claims to do, break down organic sludge: http://cms.marsfishcare.com/files/sc...0zyme%20sl.pdf
In a planted tank, this is not useful and quite the opposite, that organic "sludge" gets broken down naturally by bacteria and provides nutrients for the plants. I don't like messing with nature.

pH adjusters I will not use. The "safe to use once in 24 hours" is not altogether true. While the chemicals may be safe in themselves, the natural buffering of the water (determined by the KH) can affect these. I am one who does not believe in adding any chemical substance to an aquarium with live fish unless it is absolutely essential. Water conditioners to neutralize chlorine and chloramine is essential. That is all that ever goes into my tanks, aside from plant nutrients.

Corydoras are especially sensitive fish. I have kept them for 20 years, and have lost several always due to chemicals, medications, or new tanks not biologically established. I can't say the pH down is the culprit, but I can say it is not going to be easy on corydoras. And if something else is causing them problems, adding to it will certainly make it worse.

Let us know the test results and if anything surfaces I'm sure one of us will have suggestions. Final note, a daily pwc with conditioner is often the best treatment.
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:22 PM   #45
 
Ok, got home about an hour ago. Everyone in the tank is still alive, if not exactly kickin'. The tetras and zebras still seem fine, but most of the Corys are still kind of lethargic. However, 1 is swimming around slowly, poking around in the gravel here and there, and another is showing some signs of activity. The others may just be messing with me...they're laying pretty still, but don't seem to be breathing too hard. However, if I walk away for a minute and come back, they all seem to have changed positions in the tank.


Numbers seem pretty consistent with yesterday, with alkalinity and hardness down a touch:
pH - 7.4
Ammonia - .5
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 0
kH - 2
gH - 7

Unfortunately, I can't really read the test results in daylight. This time of year, the sun is barely up when I'm leaving for work, and it's already down when I get home. I read the results under the MR16 halogens over my kitchen counter.

Unless you really think I should, I'm going to hold off on the water change tonight. The Corys seem to be making a slight recovery, and I don't want to do anything else to upset that. According to the label, the dose of AmmoLock from last night should have been enough to neutralize 4ppm, so I'm thinking that the .5ppm that I'm still reading isn't really dangerous to the fish. If the ammonia goes up any more by tomorrow, I can do one tomorrow night.

Thanks agian for the help and insights.
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Old 02-10-2010, 07:24 PM   #46
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMychajluk View Post
Ok, got home about an hour ago. Everyone in the tank is still alive, if not exactly kickin'. The tetras and zebras still seem fine, but most of the Corys are still kind of lethargic. However, 1 is swimming around slowly, poking around in the gravel here and there, and another is showing some signs of activity. The others may just be messing with me...they're laying pretty still, but don't seem to be breathing too hard. However, if I walk away for a minute and come back, they all seem to have changed positions in the tank.


Numbers seem pretty consistent with yesterday, with alkalinity and hardness down a touch:
pH - 7.4
Ammonia - .5
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 0
kH - 2
gH - 7

Unfortunately, I can't really read the test results in daylight. This time of year, the sun is barely up when I'm leaving for work, and it's already down when I get home. I read the results under the MR16 halogens over my kitchen counter.

Unless you really think I should, I'm going to hold off on the water change tonight. The Corys seem to be making a slight recovery, and I don't want to do anything else to upset that. According to the label, the dose of AmmoLock from last night should have been enough to neutralize 4ppm, so I'm thinking that the .5ppm that I'm still reading isn't really dangerous to the fish. If the ammonia goes up any more by tomorrow, I can do one tomorrow night.

Thanks agian for the help and insights.
I think you're OK to let it sit. The Ammo-lock will neutralize ammonia by changing it to ammonium which you will still detect but it will be harmless. A pwc is the best treatment if things worsen. Keep us posted, and good luck. B.
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Old 02-11-2010, 05:55 PM   #47
 
Everyone's still alive. The Cory's don't seem to be gasping as much, but are still lethargic. When I fed them, though, one or two seemed to respond to the flakes in the tank and swam around a bit. I noticed one of the tetras looking like he was choking last night and hanging out near the bottom under a plant, and he's still doing that today, but the rest of them and the zebras are still pretty active and seem OK.

My numbers for today:
ph - 6.6
Ammonia - .5
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 0
kH - 2
gH - 10

I haven't added anything to the tank, but the pH dropped just like last week. (I've been testing within an hour of 7pm all week.) The only thing I did do was turn up the filter flow before I went to bed last night, figuring a little extra circulation might be good for the fish (I usually kept it at ~65%). I'm going to hold off on the water change until I hear back from you, since the only thing I can see it accomplishing at this point is increasing the pH and maybe kH a bit. Let me know if you have any thoughts...

Last edited by LMychajluk; 02-11-2010 at 06:00 PM..
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Old 02-11-2010, 07:24 PM   #48
 
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Your pH does seem to be moving around. But, leave it. I would let it settle where it wants. None of the fish you have will be harmed by acidic water, and ammonia becomes ammonium in acidic water so no issues there. Your KH is low so little buffering. Monitor the pH over a week, do a pwc once a week, 40%, use a conditioner. That should be it. Keep us posted. I expect if you do this the corys will bounce back. They will be very happy in acidic water. B.
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Old 02-14-2010, 11:25 AM   #49
 
Well, Friday night I did about a 1/3 water change, figuring the fish would appreciate it. Treated with the API Water Conditioner in a bucket prior to putting back in the tank. While doing the WC, I added a surface skimmer to the filter intake, becuase the bubbles / surface foam was bothering me. Everone looked happy after the change. Even a couple of the Corys seemed to perk up bit. pH (prior to the change) was ~6.6, ammonia at ~.5ppm, and Nitrates/Nitrites still at 0.

Yesterday (Saturday), I liked what the surface skimmer did overnight. No more film on the surface, and the bubbles from the aerator seem to be popping at the surface instead of being blown around in the tank by the filter output. Water looks very clear. I stopped into a LFS that I hadn't been in before while out in the afternoon, and they had Bananna plants on sale, so I added 3 Bannana plants to the tank.

Late last night, just before going to bed, I noticed one of the remaining Corys was dead. I immedaitely tested the water, and pH was up to 7.4 (expected b/c of water change - tap water has high pH, and time of day), and Ammonia was still 0.5ppm. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I dosed w/ AmmoLock just in case, and added some StressZyme, and decided to sleep on the problem.

Sunday - can't seem to find one of the Corys, but haven't found any more bodies yet, either. Was still trying to figure out what was going on with the Corys and decided to do an ammonia test on the tap water. I came back ~1ppm - higher than what was in the tank(!). Though I was using the API Tap Water Conditioner, when I re-read the label, there's no mention about removing ammonia, only heavy metals and chlorinates (can't get to the API site atm to confirm). I thought the Water Conditioner was just a concentrated StressCoat, w/o the Aloe Vera, but the API StressCoat also claims to remove ammonia from tap water as well as heavy metals and chlorinates, so I guess I'll be using that on my tap water when doing water changes in the future.

My plan of action right now is to leave it for the day, do the tests again this evening at thier usual time, and maybe plan on another water change tomorrow (with properly treated/conditioned tap water!).
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Old 02-14-2010, 11:45 AM   #50
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMychajluk View Post
Well, Friday night I did about a 1/3 water change, figuring the fish would appreciate it. Treated with the API Water Conditioner in a bucket prior to putting back in the tank. While doing the WC, I added a surface skimmer to the filter intake, becuase the bubbles / surface foam was bothering me. Everone looked happy after the change. Even a couple of the Corys seemed to perk up bit. pH (prior to the change) was ~6.6, ammonia at ~.5ppm, and Nitrates/Nitrites still at 0.

Yesterday (Saturday), I liked what the surface skimmer did overnight. No more film on the surface, and the bubbles from the aerator seem to be popping at the surface instead of being blown around in the tank by the filter output. Water looks very clear. I stopped into a LFS that I hadn't been in before while out in the afternoon, and they had Bananna plants on sale, so I added 3 Bannana plants to the tank.

Late last night, just before going to bed, I noticed one of the remaining Corys was dead. I immedaitely tested the water, and pH was up to 7.4 (expected b/c of water change - tap water has high pH, and time of day), and Ammonia was still 0.5ppm. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I dosed w/ AmmoLock just in case, and added some StressZyme, and decided to sleep on the problem.

Sunday - can't seem to find one of the Corys, but haven't found any more bodies yet, either. Was still trying to figure out what was going on with the Corys and decided to do an ammonia test on the tap water. I came back ~1ppm - higher than what was in the tank(!). Though I was using the API Tap Water Conditioner, when I re-read the label, there's no mention about removing ammonia, only heavy metals and chlorinates (can't get to the API site atm to confirm). I thought the Water Conditioner was just a concentrated StressCoat, w/o the Aloe Vera, but the API StressCoat also claims to remove ammonia from tap water as well as heavy metals and chlorinates, so I guess I'll be using that on my tap water when doing water changes in the future.

My plan of action right now is to leave it for the day, do the tests again this evening at thier usual time, and maybe plan on another water change tomorrow (with properly treated/conditioned tap water!).
The API site seems to be down or something, I can't get on it either. I checked elsewhere, and it says the API Water Conditioner only detoxifies chlorine (not chloramine which surprises me) and binds heavy metals. Stress Coat does this plus chloramines and ammonia, and AmmoLock does chlorine, chloramine and ammonia but not heavy metals. If you have chloramine (which is ammonia-related) make sure you use the Stress Coat or AmmoLock. Of course, whatever it says on the label will be accurate, should this previous info I found not be.

On the corys, it is possible that they were internally damaged by the earlier issues; sometimes this happens, fish will die later from somthing that occurred previously. Corys are highly sensitive to ammonia and any such substance. Keep on as you indicate, monitor and do pwc, using the good conditioner. And keep us updated. Good luck Lee. Byron.
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