Issue with my new 2.5 Gallon - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-05-2011, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Issue with my new 2.5 Gallon

I have a newly created 2.5 gallon aquarium that has been running for about a week, but yesterday the tank suddenly took a turn for the worse. My snail went into his shell and played dead, all the fish were hiding and the few that were visible seemed stressed.

The things I did prior to this change were to add about 7 tiny guppy fry into an existing population of 5 guppy fry. The day before that I added a lot of floating wisteria and replaced the lighting from a weak halogen desk lamp to a brighter GE reveal bulb using a old-school light hood.

Could the additional bio-load from the 7 fry have caused such a drastic change? I thought plants were supposed to prevent ammonia toxicity in new tanks? I was really counting on this as I added a LOT of wisteria to go along with the handful of java fern already in the tank. The place looked like a miniature jungle so I thought I would be covered as far as ammonia goes. I have a hard time believing ammonia is the culprit because prior to being introduced to my aquarium, these 7 fry were kept for a week in a gallon sized container with no water changes and they were doing fine.

Or is there something else going on? Too many plants? Bad stuff leaching out of the new relatively new lace rock? I wish I took a photo of my aquarium when this happened, because I had a serious amount of plant foliage.

BTW, I do not have a water-test kit.

After doing two water changes and removing the lace rock, and about 75% of the wisteria, the inhabitants are doing much better and the snail has resumed its foraging. In hindsight, removing all that stuff that seems counter-intuitive, but I was truly baffled by what was going on.

My set up is:
Lighting: GE Reveal 10 watt
Filter: Small Whisper HOB. Power reduced by shoving sponge into intake strainer.
approx 12 guppy fry
small snail
handful of free floating java fern and water wisteria

Any help would be highly appreciated....

Here's what my tank looks like after removing most of what was previously in there...

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post #2 of 11 Old 05-05-2011, 10:52 PM
Petsmart does water testing free. Did you cycle the tank...although with enough live plants a cycle really wouldnt be felt... depending on the size of the guppy fry, it could have been an ammonia spike.

*They call me, Amanda*
Tank 1: (29 gal planted) empty
Tank 2: (15 gal) empty
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-06-2011, 08:52 AM
Plants do absorb ammonia but they can only grow so much depending on conditions of the tank, they aren't a sponge that just absorbs everything. They need balanced levels of nutrition from all maco and micro nutriends to grow and just ammonia will not help them grow. Additionally, java fern is fairly slow growing so it does not and will not absorb as much nutrients as you expect. Wisteria is a fast grower but ti will take some time to get established in the tank before exploding into growth.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-06-2011, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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I’m going to head to Petco the first chance I get to have my water tested. I’ll also be monitoring my plants closely as well. The majority of my wisteria is sitting in a jar and I’d eventually like them to go back into the aquarium…. But perhaps I should introduce them a lot more slowly instead of creating an overnight jungle.
Thanks for the input!
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-06-2011, 12:29 PM
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The improvement following the water change tells us that something in the water was the culprit.

I agree with Amanda that ammonia should not have been the problem. In addition to assimilating ammonia/ammonium as nutrient, plants also "take up" ammonia as toxin and deal with it. This is obviously limited, but fast growing plants like Wisteria at the surface can handle a lot of toxins.

I would replace the plants. Are you using any liquid fertilizer? Other nutrients are needed too as SinCrisis mentioned.

As for the lace rock, as it is new, was it rinsed/washed well? I have this in one of my tanks, have had it for 14+ years now, with no issues. But something on it might have beeen problematic. It is very porous rock.

I recommend an API master test kit, for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Well worth having.


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 05-06-2011, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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I might be going insane, but the tank now seems to be doing worse since the reintroduction of some of the Wisteria back into the aquarium...and the film that was on the surface of the water during my first incident seems to be forming again. I think your suggestion to replace the plants might be a good idea.

Argh, this is really annoying... because meanwhile my girlfriend's guppies in her filter-less bowl are enjoying crystal clear water with very few water changes and are dancing around happy as ever. It's quite humiliating after the way I bragged to her about my knowledge of aquariums!!

To answer your other questions, I'm not using any ferts and I cleaned the lace rock to the best of my ability. I think at this point, I will start with a bare tank and then add things one at a time....slowly.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-06-2011, 03:00 PM
film at the surface of the tank can be dissolved by surface agitation, its a biofilm made up of bacteria.

I think breaking down and restarting your tank is a good idea.

If I may, I have a few suggestions if you restart the tank.

1. More Substrate. It looks like you barely have any gravel since i think i see the edges of the bottom silicone seal at the edges. Generally, for planted tanks, its good to have ~1" of gravel. It offers more surface area for beneficial bacteria and will allow you to get plants that can root deep in the substrate to absorb the nutrient buildup from the broken down mulm

2. Boil water and pour it over the rock, then scrub and soak the rock in a bucket, see if anything out of the ordinary forms on the surface of the water, it will also help leech out impurities if there is any.

3. Plant your plants before reintroducing the fry.

4. Wait a day or so before adding the fry to let the plants establish itself and see if there is anything wrong with the water from the plants or rock before adding fry.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-06-2011, 03:57 PM
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I would remove the lace rock, do a large waterchange, and see what happens before restarting.

Fairly simple to see if the lace rock is the culprit... Why not try that first?

As for the substrate, it should be fine.. I would recommend removing the sponge from the filter and using felt or thin fabric... It won't decrease the flow as much, and it will keep the fry safe.(Find a woman with an extra set of pantyhose.. It works well.)

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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post #9 of 11 Old 05-10-2011, 01:26 AM
What about the change in light? 10W over 2.5 gallons is a lot of light and could be stressing out the inhabitants. Though I wouldn't rule out the lace rock as that has many areas for something disgusting to hide in.
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-17-2011, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Well, it was definitely the lace rock. After getting the aquarium to clear up, I slowly reintroduced the floating Wisteria with no ill effects. After letting it run for a few days, I reintroduced the lace rock (thoroughly cleaned) and the water started to cloud up again.

As suggested earlier in this thread, I ran boiling water over them and all they did was make a chirping not sure what that means. After doing some searching online, there seemed to be a decent amount of hits for people with cloudiness issues in tanks with lace rock.

The rocks have been removed and all my plants are now just dangling around. I expect the water to clear up in a few days.
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