New tank syndrome...need advice :( - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 08:49 AM Thread Starter
New tank syndrome...need advice :(

Hi all!!!
Before I even start telling u ALL my problems with this tank, I know I've done a few things wrong and you'll be like Ahhhh,eeekkkk, no she didn't! Well yes, I did. Alot of mistakes. Now I need allying wisdom and advice and experience of fix it. Please!!
Ok...new tank, new filters/gravel, everything brand new. 3ft, 175L (bout 47gal) running about 9 weeks.
Was started with 2 goldfish where ammonia was about 0.25. At about week 3 I was given a bunch of random fish that I put in and since then...well u can imagine. I have had quite a few deaths and now have about 20 fish in the tank. Currently levels are
Ammonia: around 8ppm (I know!!!how are the fish alive)
Nitrite: around 1ppm
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.4
Running an undergravel filter with powerheads and two 800l/hr internal filters (currently sponge only due to meds)
I have been doing regular water changes but even after a 50% and a 25% two days later the levels didn't drop at all. I've been dosing prime with the water changes and had to treat for ich last week (tri sulpha). I can't figure out why the levels won't drop!! Have read lots that ammonia suppresses growth of nitrite bacteria and so can adding detoxifyers like prime. Can't believe these fish are still alive, need HELP! Know I didn't start off right but where to I go from here??? Have tested tap water its 0 for ammonia and nitrites.
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post #2 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 12:22 PM
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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

After 9 weeks the tank should have been initially cycled, but adding so many fish at once would overwhelm the bacteria, hence the issues.

Ammonia at 8 would mean dead fish almost immediately, but your Prime has detoxified the ammonia. Similarly the nitrite. Prime detoxifies ammonia by changing it to relatively harmless ammonium. Test kits read ammonia/ammonium as "ammonia." Prime detoxifies nitrite by binding it somehow, can't remember the chemistry. Test kits will I believe still read nitrite. Prime works for about 24 hours. As long as either remain above .25 do a 50% water change using Prime (only sufficient for the 50%, no point in overdosing) daily. Just a water change, no substrate vacuuming or filter cleaning.

What fish (species and numbers) are now in the tank? This can have an impact.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 12:40 PM
Prime actually gives directions for over-dosing. So IMO I would dose more then recommended. It says on the bottle exactly how much ammonia a regular dosage handles. If you need more don't be afraid to use more.

.... I'm probably drunk.

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post #4 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
I was unsure about vacuuming the gravel, I had read that excess organics add to the ammonia problem so I did I really good vac the other day...would this have disturbed the growth of the bacteria?
The tank now contains
1 spanner barb
2 jewel cichlids (and 10 fry about 2cm long)
1 green terror
1 geophagus pearl horseface
1 giant danio
1 rainbow fish
4 rosy barb
3 coryodoras
4 sucking catfish
1 black catfish
2 bristlenose catfish
4 silver dollar
1 Congo tetra
4 male betta (in their own divider net)
All these fish are small/young.
Is it unwise to do a larger than 50% water change at once? I'm really desperate to get that ammonia down a little! I have been feeding only tiny amounts every couple of days but the gravel still appears to have a bit of debris sitting in it...should I just do the water change and not vacuum anyway?
Thanks!!!
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post #5 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrivingMissFishy View Post
I was unsure about vacuuming the gravel, I had read that excess organics add to the ammonia problem so I did I really good vac the other day...would this have disturbed the growth of the bacteria?
The tank now contains
1 spanner barb
2 jewel cichlids (and 10 fry about 2cm long)
1 green terror
1 geophagus pearl horseface
1 giant danio
1 rainbow fish
4 rosy barb
3 coryodoras
4 sucking catfish
1 black catfish
2 bristlenose catfish
4 silver dollar
1 Congo tetra
4 male betta (in their own divider net)
All these fish are small/young.
Is it unwise to do a larger than 50% water change at once? I'm really desperate to get that ammonia down a little! I have been feeding only tiny amounts every couple of days but the gravel still appears to have a bit of debris sitting in it...should I just do the water change and not vacuum anyway?
Thanks!!!
It is true that organics cause ammonia as they are broken down, but it is also true that nitrifying bacteria colonize surfaces including the substrate, so one doesn't want to be pulling them out in a new tank. Bit of a catch 22, I guess. I'm not sure if any of this would make that much of an impact. But I wouldn't touch the substrate until this is resolved.

Which brings me to feeding; feed little. And even alternate days won't hurt. The more food going into the system, the more organics to swamp the bacteria.

In this new a tank, larger water changes are not likely to hurt as the tank isn't stabilized and you won't be altering the water chemistry, something that can occur in established tanks that suddenly get a massive water change. Ammonia and nitrite are gasses in the water, so changing the water will reduce them.

I realize you said you suddenly acquired all these fish from someone, but you have an assortment that is not going to work together as they start maturing. As these are you say very small I won't go further into this, the cycling is the main issue, but keep it in mind. Some of those fish are shoaling, meaning they must be in groups or they will be stressed which causes more health issues. And some of them will live up to their name, like Terror.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
Ok thanks for the advice. Gonna do a water change soon and see how we go over the next week. Yes the fish are a rather odd bunch, I'll have to pass some of them on to pet shops and such but don't want to do that until my tank is healthy and under control, hopefully ich doesn't make a comeback!! I also need to decide which I'm going to keep! Was thinking of a south American cichlid tank but I do like the community fish. But before all that I need this ammonia down! Thanks again will update with some hopefully better news!!!
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-26-2011, 12:55 PM
As long as a tank receives at least 50% water change weekly I don't think it can change too much from the tap water. I've done 100% water changes on both stable and unstable tanks without any issues.

.... I'm probably drunk.

This is how I lurk


Mikaila31 is offline  
post #8 of 11 Old 06-27-2011, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
So I did a water change (about 70%) and the ammonia dropped to about 2ppm but nitrite looked to be about the same (1ppm) will continue the water changes. How long do u think it will take to stabilize?
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-27-2011, 11:26 AM
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It can vary from tank to tank due to several factors. But generally speaking, nitrosomonas bacteria multiply every 9-10 hours, and nitrospira every 20+ hours under "favourable" conditions. They multiply by binary division if ammonia/nitrite are present, and up to the level needed to handle it. So it could take several days depending upon the number of bacterium initially and the amount of ammonia/nitrite being produced.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-28-2011, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
Tonight I tested again and ammonia was down to 1ppm and nitrite still looked the same, if not higher (at least 1ppm). But I was lucky enough to get some 'dirty water' off a friend, he's been running an extra sponge filter for a while and brought it over for me so I basically washed the sponges off in the tank. He also brought me a couple of handfuls of gravel. I hope that helps kick everything into hyperdrive! Will test again in the morning and see if there is any change
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