water levels are off - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-08-2012, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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water levels are off

I have had my tank set up for a very long time. I had my Oscar die over 2 month's ago and have let my tank sit with no fish since then. I recently got a bunch of live plants as well as 5 bristle nose plecos (which are still tiny babies).

I tested the water prior to getting the fish and the levels were fine. I went to put in my new rocks today (and take out my old ones) and it kicked up a bunch of crud and now my water is green and the levels are all off:

PH is around a 6

Ammonia is present (hard to tell the number, maybe at a 1?)

Nitrate is pretty darn high, between 20 and 80 (hard to tell it's so dark red)

NItrite is zero


I am currently still running my carbon filter but only because the levels are off and the water is dirty. I have a sponge filter I need to install but I'm waiting until the water is clear so I can find a good place in the tank for it.

I know the green cloud will lift over the next few days. I just want to make sure my fish will be ok and I want to make sure I get the levels down to what they should be. Keeping in mind this is a planted tank can you give me any advise?

I did a small water change (50%) but that is about it. I have also added a tiny amount baking soda to help increase the PH
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-08-2012, 04:57 PM
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The live plants should help so that's a good thing. Keep up with partial water changes and use a double/triple dose of a good water conditioner to new water. I'd recommend Seachem Prime which will help keep your fish safer while you get your cycle back on track.

And skip adding anything to alter your PH. It's better to let your fish adapt slowly to PH levels over time than to try to raise it and lower it with anything.

Did you remove the crud in the old gravel with a siphon when you stirred it up?

Animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
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post #3 of 13 Old 09-08-2012, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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I got as much as I could but not all of it. I have new gravel though that has nutrients for the plants in it
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post #4 of 13 Old 09-08-2012, 05:57 PM
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Sounds like your tank is recycling. Keep up with partial water changes and check the levels in another day or so and let's see where you are.

Good luck!

Animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-08-2012, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Sounds like your tank is recycling. Keep up with partial water changes and check the levels in another day or so and let's see where you are.

Good luck!
OK thanks! I do plan on taking down my carbon filter and using just a sponge filter. Should I wait till the water is clear to make the switch?
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-08-2012, 07:38 PM
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Are there any fish in this tank now? If not, I would do massive water changes to clear this up. But if there are fish, maybe not.

A pH of 6 is fine for soft water fish, but you have not told us what it was previously, or what it is in the tap water. Same for nitrates, which may be high due to organics in the substrate. Also, the GH and KH of the tap water are relevant as they impact pH. Once you give all these numbers, we may see what is happening. Also, what fish do you plan for this tank (or are now in it)?

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 #7 of 13 Old 09-08-2012, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Are there any fish in this tank now? If not, I would do massive water changes to clear this up. But if there are fish, maybe not.

A pH of 6 is fine for soft water fish, but you have not told us what it was previously, or what it is in the tap water. Same for nitrates, which may be high due to organics in the substrate. Also, the GH and KH of the tap water are relevant as they impact pH. Once you give all these numbers, we may see what is happening. Also, what fish do you plan for this tank (or are now in it)?

Byron.
PH for the tap is 6.4
Nitrate for the tap is zero

I don't have a test kit for GH or KH. I'll try to pick one up though.
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-09-2012, 07:49 PM
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PH for the tap is 6.4
Nitrate for the tap is zero

I don't have a test kit for GH or KH. I'll try to pick one up though.
If the tap water is 6.4, a pH of 6 in the tank is not surprising. Still want to know the GH and KH though, you can get these from the water suply folks and save your money. Unless one intends altering GH or KH, a test kit will be used once and not again.

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 #9 of 13 Old 09-10-2012, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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If the tap water is 6.4, a pH of 6 in the tank is not surprising. Still want to know the GH and KH though, you can get these from the water suply folks and save your money. Unless one intends altering GH or KH, a test kit will be used once and not again.

Byron.
i'll call my local pet store to see if they test those but I don't think they do Any other suggestions as to who might be able to test that?
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-10-2012, 09:51 AM
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i'll call my local pet store to see if they test those but I don't think they do Any other suggestions as to who might be able to test that?
Can you not contact your municipal water suply people? Many now have a website with water data posted. Or if not, they should be able to tell you. Look for general hardness (GH) and the carbonate hardness (KH) which is often called Alkalinity. The GH and KH will not change so once we know the numbers that's it. Get the numbers and the measuring scale, by which I mean something like ppm (parts per million) or mg/l (milligrams per liter), or whatever they use.

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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