05-15-2008, 10:33 PM
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First of all, your tank is overstocked. At this rate, you need a 75g. Either move them to a large tank or rehome them and get smaller specimens instead. Pictus catfish need plenty of swimming space to be able to swim around, not to mention the fact they grow to 8 inches. What size are they currently? If your upside down catfish is a Synodontis nigriventris, they can reach 4 inches. I would say 30g is the minimum for that.
Second, what brand of test kit is it? Test strips are so unreliable and inaccurate. You'll do better with an API liquid test kit. Test your water parameters with that kit. Which one is your nitrates, the 3.0 or the 6.0? Both are labelled as nitrites. Nitrites at that level is very dangerous. How are the fish doing? At this rate, they would have suffered severely from nitrite poisoning.
Test your tapwater's hardness levels with the API. If hardness levels are indeed low, put a bag of crushed corals or oyster shells in your filter but bear in mind that you must address your fish's space issues first before you proceed to this step. Avoid all chemicals except dechlorinator. I would expect nothing from the pH up at all. If the effects wore off, the pH will simply swing back thus stressing and killing your fish. Throw it to the bin.