03-18-2010, 12:49 PM
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Overstocked and poorly stocked is part of the problem IMO, plus having nitrate in your tap water is not helping matters either.
You need to rehome some fish but first you need to get them in lower nitrate slowly and this can take about 10 days to safely do this.Too fast of a drop in nitrate can shock even kill the fish, high nitrate can also affect their immune response.
Start by making 10% water changes for 2 days, then 20% for 2 day, then 30% for 2 days, then 40% for 2 day, then 50% for 2 days, vacuum 1/4 of the substrate with one of the percents of 10-20-30-40%, when you get to the 50% water changes vacuum 1/2 with each one, check your nitrate level before each change and start a log, try to keep the nitrate drop in the 5-10ppm range even though you will be adding back nitrate from your tap. Once you get your nitrate in the 20ppm range, rehome that big pleco and the clowns neither of these fish need to be in your tank unless it is at least 125g or bigger, get some stem plants and floating plants like hornwort and water lettuce to help with your nitrate and stay on top of 50% weekly water changes and vacuum the substrate in all the areas you can reach without moving anything in the tank like the decoration, if you have an UGF it will be a problem with stem plants and the roots can cause it to not work properly. If your substrate is too deep that will also cause problems.
As Lisa stated shake the heck out of the nitrate reagent and give it a bang on the table and shake some more as the reagent in the API nitrate tend to settle and you will not get accurate readings