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omgPlaty 03-24-2009 02:33 PM

Frustration with this process!
I've been doing 30% water changes daily and checking the ammonia and nitrite levels before and after. I try to get those levels below .25 every time I change the water and I have been successful. Both levels were very low when I went to bed last night.. about .1

And, until this morning I thought I was doing a pretty good job; I found my female platy had passed this morning.

Now, there is just one male Platy in a 10 gallon. What should I do? Just allow him to be lonely until the tank is completely safe?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Byron 03-24-2009 04:45 PM

I read your previous posts in the earlier thread; you are certainly having some problems, so let's get them resolved.

The advice given to you in the earlier thread was good, and from that you now know that your tank was not fully cycled when the three platys went in, and that was part of the problem. Most aquarists advise that it takes up to 8 weeks for a new tank to be fully cycled, and during this period you must be careful not to overload the biomas with too many fish. There is also a product called "Cycle" that helps in establishing the necessary bacteria, and I add the recommended dose to the new tank when I put in the first fish. Ammonia is the byproduct of several ongoing processes (fish respiration, excrement, fish food uneaten, decaying plant material if there are plants) and the Cycle helps establish the bacteria that convert the ammonia to nitrite, and the second bacteria that converts the nitrite to less harmful nitrate.

You should not have to be doing 30% water changes every day. While the earlier advice that water changes will resolve ammonia and nitrate problems was correct, it is also true that you have to give the bacteria a chance to establish themselves. These bacteria are in the water, in the filter, on the tank glass, on the gravel, and on the plants or decorations. When they are few in number you want to build them up, not keep removing them, which is why the filter should not be cleaned at first nor the gravel siphoned, and water changes should be minimal. However, your water changes were intended to resolve the ammonia/nitrite problem, which they were doing, but this may have brought into play another matter, namely the pH of the water.

I couldn't se any figure for the pH in the earlier thread; do you know what the pH of the tank is, and what the pH of your tap water is? If these are far apart, daily water changes will stress the fish because they are being tossed back and forth every day, and due to the biological process at work in the fish whereby it must change its internal pH to match the environment, this can cause considerable stress and lead to death. Of course, this may not have been the culprit, since I don't know your pH readings for the tank and tap water. I assume you were adding a good conditioner with each change (think I saw that mentioned), and that can help the fish if there are fluctuating water paremeters, but only so far. Another matter on pH is that platys are livebearers and they prefer alkaline water (above pH 7 which is neutral.

I and other members will be able to help further, but I'd like to know your pH readings first.

omgPlaty 03-24-2009 06:55 PM

Tap Ph: 7.0
Tank Ph: 7.2

How can the tank be raising the ph? I double tested both to make sure it was right.

Byron 03-24-2009 07:40 PM

Those are good pH readings, so that's not the problem. Some gravels can raise pH, for example dolomite or coral as aquarists would normally have with marine fish or Rift Lake cichlids. But if you had dolomite or coral gravel, the pH would be much higher than 7.2, more like 8 or 9. There's a buffering action that occurs in water, and I'll leave this to someone more qualified than I am to explain it.

At this stage, my suggestion is to ride out the cycling of the tank with the one fish. Don't add any more, as that will make things worse until the tank is cycled. I would get a small bottle of "Cycle" which is a biological preparation that aids the establishment of the necessary bacteria and in my experience has significantly reduced the stress imposed on fish by "new tank syndrome" as it is usually termed. It takes 5-9 days for the ammonia to peak and fall as the first set of bacteria get established, then a few days later the second group of bacteria that convert the nitrite to nitrate will become established. This 2-week period is stressful on fish, but the "Cycle" does help to reduce this stress. Some aquarists prefer to do this cycling without fish, using fish food as the catalyst.

I would not do daily water changes during the 2 weeks; as I mentioned previously, you want these bacteria to establish, and the Cycle will aid that. When the tank is cycled, I would guess the pH will remain close to your tap water or perhaps drop a bit. Monitor the pH and if it starts moving either way by more than a couple of decimal points let the forum know.

Pasfur 03-24-2009 07:48 PM

On the pH tap water vs aquarium mystery...

Your tap water has high levels of dissolved CO2 which are driving the pH down. When the CO2 is released, the buffers in your tap raise the pH back to the "real" pH reading, which is higher than your initial test. To properly test tap water pH, you need to place an airstone in a cup of tap water and drive the CO2 out for a period of time, prior to conducting your pH test.-)

Bryon - great advice. Nice to have you here.

Byron 03-25-2009 09:52 AM

omgPlaty, one thing I forgot previously--when the 2 week period is up, you still have to be careful not to overload the system with new fish. The two weeks is just when the biological processes in the tank are established at proportional levels to support the existing bioload. Adding for example 3 fish to a 10g at this point will only upset the balance and start the trouble again. Fish must be added gradually for 2-3 months. In a 10g, and provided everything settles down in 2-3 weeks, I would think it is OK to buy that second platy, then a third (or the guppies, whatever you want) a week later; maybe overcautious, but prevention is safer and better than cure.

Rather timely, there is quite a good article entitled "Preventing New Tank Syndrome" in the April issue of Aquarium Fish International which is available now in fish stores that carry this magazine. Given the space of an entire article, it goes into more detail on this issue and might explain it better.

Thanks Pasfur for your welcome. I'm still learning, no doubt of that, but when I see others going through some of the same frustrations as I did I hope I can help them out a bit. And the nice thing about a forum is that others may have a different take or a better method for this or that. I enjoy learning and imparting what I've learned equally.

omgPlaty 03-25-2009 12:38 PM

Byron, thank you so much! I will look for "cycle" when I get off of work today. You have been a major help in explaining things. I've been recording my levels everyday.

I hope that this last guy doesn't pass too. I already feel very bad about it. I'll change the water less often and keep on monitoring the levels. And, I will defintely only had one fish at a time! Like you said, overcautious, but I really don't want to send anymore fish to their doom.

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