Thoughts on water conditioning and other 'additives'?
I am a little concerned with my tank. I am a fairly new tank owner (about 9 months and counting) and after a lot of research I've finally managed to maintain our tank, but I've killed several fish in the process. I now have our tank just the way I want it and these fish are very special to me (some I have raised as fry). I have two main concerns:
1 - I somehow manage to kill one of our Red Danios with my last two water changes. I have learned from experience how to clean the gravel without disturbing them to much and have recently learned how to get the water to the correct temp before adding it to the tank. One thing I cannot seem to figure out is how to get the water back into the tank without stressing them out. I have some VERY nosey Mollies and they always seem to go swimming directly under where I am pouring the water. Is there some special way to get the water back in without killing them in the process?
2 - I am concerned with the water conditioner and other stuff being added. I use mostly tap water and I do let it sit for a week at a time prior to adding it to the tank, but on occassion, due to evaporation, I do not have enough water that has sat so I add the water conditioner to it to eliminate the chlorine/chloramine. Recently I had an issue with the nitrates jumping up and after several water changes it didn't go down so I went out and bought some Amonia Clear tablets, which helped immediately. Now I have bubbles at the top of the tank (not collecting, just taking a while to pop) and I am concerned that it is just too much unnatural additives to the water. I do add the aquarium salt with each water change (about 3/4 tbl spoon per 3-4 gallons of new water). So, my question is, what is too much? Or is there even an answer to this question? LOL
Here are my water parameters (if I am reading these test sticks correctly - they are pretty crappy ones):
I hope that makes some sort of sene - ugh! Any advice would help!
4 - Dalmation Molly
2 - Cremecicle Molly
3 - Red Danio
2 - Ghost Shrimp
1 - Rainbow Shark
1 - Striped Rachel Catfish (that we never get to see cuz she hides all day)
Okay, first thing to do, get rid of the test strips. Long story short, when I had test strips my nitrates were always 40-120ppm. When I got my liquid test kit the real nitrate levels were only 20-30ppm. They are worthless and in the long run do not save any money. Not one single test was accurate within 20% with some of the comparison tests being off by as much as 300%.
Just so you know, 20ppm nitrates is nothing to worry about. 40ppm or higher is when it is time think about getting them down and 80ppm is time to get them down whatever way you have to.
My fish play in the water when I dump it in, almost every type of fish I have ever had did. I have also never lost a fish right after a water change. As long as it is the same temp then it should be fine. Adding the water conditioner before or after you add it to the tank. From what I have seen it is split about 50/50 as to when to add it. I add it afterwards and have never had a problem because of it. And unless you have a lot of evaporation and need to keep it up for some specific reason, waiting until water change time will not hurt the fish if you have 1/2 to 1 inch of evaporation. I have it in my tanks every week.
Salt, if you are gonna use it, get a hydrometer. Is the only way to make sure you are not turning it into salt water. Fluctuating levels of salinity can kill fish faster than temps being off by a couple degrees. This I have done by adding new water before adding salt into a tank that I added salt to. The fish swam under it and I almost killed them with the mollies taking 6-7 hours to get their balance back. You don't need it unless you are treating for ich.
This makes absolute sense to me. I couldn't figure out how suddenly my nitrates went from 0 to 160 and didn't put two and two together that I had gotten new test strips, which are horrible!!
I will purchase the hydrometer; it sounds like a good investment. The last water change (previous to the one I did today) I lost 1 Red Danio and almost lost 3 Molly and my Rainbow Shark. I did an emergency 'treatment' and added salt to the tank and the conditioner and within 1-hour they were all thriving like normal.
Thank you for the advice!!
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