High nitrates in red devil tank - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 16 Old 12-06-2012, 08:14 AM
Hello lakemalawifish:
I really liked your post above. That’s an interesting piece of information about salt and the biological filter. I have read that canister filters are nitrate factories the goal of biological filters is the production of nitrates by the conversion of ammonia to nitrite to nitrate, yet I don’t regularly clean the canister filter. I don’t test for ammonia, nitrite or nitrate concentrations either because I change the water. I do monitor carbon hardness, general hardness, ph and temp but not on a daily or weekly basis.

I believe the less interaction between me and the aquarium’s environment the better it is for the environment and the tank residents. I don't experience the predicted issues that one might expect as loss of fish or manifestation of sickness or dull color and sluggish behavior.

As for “calling me out” on these issues please do, I am someone who is continuingly searching for information and different ways of viewing the world of fish keeping.

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post #12 of 16 Old 12-06-2012, 08:59 AM
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Would invest in my own test kit rather than rely on fish store employee's to do so.(API Freshwater Master kit).
If there are no nitrate's in sample of tapwater,, then nitrate reading's are result of organic waste, which was introduced via fish food's waste(poop) and twice weekly 50 % water change along with reduced feeding's both in quantity,and frequency, will help as well.No need for Nitrate scavenger resin's /media.
Reportedly,,,the fish usually eat's a dozen feeder's a day when they are offered.
OP is aware, or should be,, that store bought feeder's are often riddled with parasites,or other pathogen's and it is fastest way I know to infect my /your fish, with same parasites that are found in the feeder's once your fish/my fish eat's the possibly infected feeder's.
Would try twice weekly water changes , or more if tank has not cycled while reducing food's to once a day or every other day.
Would not be in hurry to treat fish or tank with medication's for unkown problem that simple twice weekly water changes and proper diet may resolve.
Would clean cannister's once a month,and after tank has matured,,vaccum one third to one half the substrate at weekly water change and different area at next water change.
Would see that only one person is feeding the fish, and no feeder fishes if health of the larger fish is of primary concern.
Opinion's vary .
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The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #13 of 16 Old 12-06-2012, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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THANK YOU all for your suggestions and advise! It is much appreciated!
I went to the aquarium store last night and bought 15 gallons of their (I think this is what you call it) "oxidized" water? Its pure, filtered, clean and free of all nitrates etc. (its what they use in their store) and did a slow water change (5 gallons at a time, 10 last night and 5 this morning). The water has cleared some this morning and before I added the final 5 gallons I tested the circulated water from over night and it STILL is reading as red as red can be (80 or higher)! I also tested my tap water as a base just to see what kind of nitrates where coming from the tap (that I do his water changes with) and that was really high as well! So I am thinking that while I may be doing his water changes reguraly its not helping because even though I am treating the water before it goes in his tank the high nitrate level in the tap isn't helping the problem.
He still wouldn't eat this morning and went crazy when I turned on the light and started thrashing around his tank attacking the sides!

Going back to Jeaninel's question about his old filter media, I couldn't transfer it to the new filter because I had an Aquaclear (overtank) to a canister (marineland 220). I was thinking when I bought the filter that maybe I should have gotten the one for a 100 gallon tank instead of the 55 because he does produce a lot of waste and is a larger than "normal" fish. The sales clerk told me if it isn't working well enough then I could bring it back and get the higher gallon one and just pay the difference. Do you think this is something that I should consider doing? Or maybe it just needs to cycle? It has only been a week with the new filter but I guess I shouldn't have put the old water in the new tank... I thought it would ease the stress of moving i guess.

So many problems! Ugh! I feel so bad the big guy!
Also, should I wait to use the Healthguard/bodyguard till the water is normal and he is doing better? I did put some stress zyme in there this morning.
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post #14 of 16 Old 12-06-2012, 10:34 AM
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Bless your heart, I know you are trying everything you can do! I don't want you to feel bad about any of this, you are doing your best. Just for the sake of anyone else who may read this, and for future reference... you could have taken the seeded biomedia from your HOB and used it in your new canister and that would have definitely jump started your new tank set up. And also I would recommend in situations like this to use some type of bio in a bottle, there are several kinds some more expensive than others but we have had great success with API Quick Start and it is mid-price range. The Quick Start will not cycle the tank but will assist with the process until the biological filter takes over so you still need to monitor water parameters and do the necessary water changes.

You are dealing with a double wammy... nitrates in tap water, fresh tank set up. I have no clue on what to do about the high nitrates in your tap water. Someone please help her here and I will do some research myself. Seems like I have read that to properly test for Nitrates in Tap Water you need to allow the tap water to sit for 24 hours before testing to allow the chlorine to dissipate (in other words if you use a dechlor product it could/would interfere with the test results)

But, this is what I am thinking... I think you do need the larger filter but more important than that right now you need some good bio. If you have a friend with an established tank who can give you some of their "good funky stuff" that would be awesome. I have done that before, just put it in a zip lock bag with some of the tank water to keep it wet and alive. If you can't get any bio from a friend, etc. look around and choose a bio in a bottle to help calm your tank down while the filter is getting established. Only problem with this is you are running the small filter now and probably need the big one for your big guy. If it is an affordable option for you I would continue to use the one you have since it is kinda getting started with bio. Once your tank is running in good shape and has been established for a good while, then consider adding another one but don't bother the established one leave it on the tank of course. We have 2 filters running on all of our large tanks 55 g and up.

Also, I am drilling my brain here but what type of test kit are you using to test your tap water for Nitrates? API Master or test strips... test strips are not worth the paper they are printed on and when they expire they are a fishkeepers nightmare. Same with API Master test kit if it is way beyond expiration date. Just trying to think of anything possible to help. Also... if your fish store uses test strips (ours do) they are just wasting your time and money. Sometimes I just don't trust LFS and the way they do things.. i.e. just to sell more product??

Your big guy is grumpy for sure, so sorry... I always turn on a light in the room first, leave it on for a bit, open a window somewhere in the room and let the fish start waking up before I turn on their tank light. Especially for the big guys, they don't like being bothered when they are sleeping and startle easy.

Definitely wait on those meds until after your tank is settled down, you will just be removing them with water changes right now anyway.
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post #15 of 16 Old 12-06-2012, 11:48 AM
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Well,, if nitrAtes from the tap are high(40ppm+), I might consider a nitrAte scavenging product /resin, or mix tapwater with R/O water, to help keep level's low along with careful feeding's,and regular water changes.
Nitrates from the tap, or from dry mineral salt's such as KNO3 used by many in planted aquarium's, are mostly inorganic. By that I mean the process of them arriving in the tank, is not nearly as toxic as the method where ammonia,nitrites,are broken down into nitrates.
It is the latter method that takes a toll on the fish long before the excess nitrates due to the ammonia and nitrites that preceeded in closed system.
Is still wise in my view to keep nitrate level's low,so I might google nitrate reducing product's to help in this regard.Would be cheaper than R/O unit or buying bottled R/O.
Might also consider throwing a big handfull of floating plant like Pennywort in the tank which will help consume nitrate as food for growth.
Cichlid will prolly tear some up but maybe enough will survive and grow to help in this instance.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.

Last edited by 1077; 12-06-2012 at 11:54 AM.
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post #16 of 16 Old 12-15-2012, 09:52 AM
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I would work to get your nitrates below 20ppm. The erratic symptoms mentioned previously are likely the result of nitrate poisoning which builds up over time. All cichlids are prone to deteriorating health in higher levels.

Malawi bloat was earlier mentioned, and this is believed to be due to the use of salt [here meaning common or aquarium salt, sodium chloride], stress from poor water conditions which of course are almost always connected to elevated levels of nitrates, and diet. According to Dr. Neale Monks and Marc Elieson.

AbbeysDad has to deal with nitrates in his tap water, and he has a thread on his methods. If you can't find it, PM him and I'm sure he'll help out.


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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cichlid help , new awesome beginner , nitrate ' lvls ' help , red devil , won't eat food

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