Hi, this is my first post here.
I have kept one or two comets or shubunkins in a 20 gallon tank for the past 5 years. I was a beginner, have made some mistakes, and still make the occasional mistake. I'm trying to take another step toward being better at this. I enjoy reading and learning about fishkeeping and try to continually improve the conditions for my fish.
I used to use test strips for testing my water and was ignorant about water changes. In the past couple of years I have been better about water changes as I learned the whys and hows of this.
I have a simple set up: 20 gallon tank, tap water from a well, basic filter that hangs off the back. I use plastic plants, have small stone substrate, and have a wonder stone and lava rock as well as a few smaller rocks and shells. I feed flakes, small sinking granules, and brine shrimp. I keep my aquarium light on a timer as it's in a dark part of my apartment; it is on for about 9 hours a day. I sometimes experience a little brown algae; more seldom a little green algae but not nearly as much and usually only if I've been bad about cleaning the glass or decor.
Recently after having a single healthy shubunkin for about 6 months I decided to add one more to the tank. The new fish seemed to settle in fine.
Today while I was out I picked up a Master Test Kit for freshwater tanks. Some of my strips had expired and I knew they were not as accurate and so I'd put off replacing them until I had enough money for this kit. It's been awhile since I have tested some of the levels although I did have a pH kit.
My tank was good in most areas. pH is 7.6 on the normal test, although it reads 7.4 on the High Range test. Either is great for my Shubunkins. Ammonia was 0 (I did a water change 2 days ago and have never had ammonia issues) and Nitrite 0ppm.
The Nitrate concerns me. It reads 80ppm so I tested my tap water. The well water from the tap seems to look like it's in the 10-20ppm range.
I'm wondering what I ought to do to correct this, if continuing to use tap water is still ok, and how often should I change my filter media? I normally change it about every couple of months, and in between I sometimes give it a good rinse in running tap water adjusted to the same temp (while I'm doing a water change). Is this often enough? Why is my Nitrate high if my other levels are good?
Thank you very much.
Welcome to the forum!
If your well water has nitrates then you can either just keep on top of the water changes to stay ahead of the accumulation in the tank or do less frequent changes and use some sort of nitrate absorbing filter media to treat for the nitrates. I aim for 5ppm as a maximum but I have lots of plants and my tank easily handles nitrates mostly on its own. Others aim for 10ppm and some say 20 is still ok. It boils down to the less nitrates the better so you just do what you can manage in order to reduce them.
Floss and foam media just needs rinsing and replacing only when it actually wears out or falls apart. Foam could last as long as the filter. Carbon I think once a month, if you use it, I don't, lots of live plants.
In the meanwhile I'll do another water change tomorrow also and see how that affects things.
The type of filtration I use has a "bio bag" with (I believe) charcoal and also a plasticy meshy thing (which I normally just rinse and have never replaced).
Going to look into nitrate absorbing filter media tomorrow also since I'm headed out to run errands.
Hi, I have an update on my tank situation.
I visited the store and was informed that there really is not any nitrate absorbing filter media. I don't know if they meant none that existed, or none that really works. He recommended live plants, but when I told him I have Shubunkins he said they would likely eat them.
I tested my tap water again the following morning and in morning light I interpreted it as 10-20ppm, somewhere in that range. Meanwhile, I'd spoken to the tenants downstairs who purchased some kind of strip test at a water test store (not a pet/fish store) and they got a reading of between 5 and 10ppm. I'm not sure which is more accurate. We've decided to continue to monitor the tap water weekly to see if anything changes and alert the landlord if it rises. In the meanwhile...
I've been doing water changes about every other day at 25% or so. I seem to have a pH problem in addition to the nitrate problem. One of my two Shubunkins has died, and the remaining one fluctuates between looking like he is rallying, and looking like he's not. I don't expect him to make it to be honest.
Currently, these are the numbers on my tank and tap:
pH - 6.4
Amm - 0ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - looks like about 20 ppm (these colors are soooo close together on the chart)
pH - 6.0
Nitrate - guessing about 10ppm on the color chart.
In the past I've only used test strips for pH and to be honest it has been awhile, so I'm not sure what is going on with that. It seems I am bringing my nitrates down, but will I be able to keep them in the safe range for fish? Hard to say.
I think I need to let this other Shubunkin die a noble death and then figure out what to do from there in regard to my water and restocking.
Too bad about the fish.
Abbeysdad, a member here, uses some sort of niate media, it is working for him.
If someone can point me in the right direction on that, I'd be willing to try it!
Heres a link to the product, its from API.
I've never used it but some have with good results. I like that it is rechargeable.
I would still check with Abbeysdad on this one as the documentation says that it "prevents the buildup of nitrates" which could just mean that it only deals with ammonia and circumvents the regular nitrogen cycle in the same way that plants do.
Well my other fish died. I'm going away on vacation so I'm going to just leave the tank empty while I'm gone so the cat sitter doesn't have to deal with it.
When I return I'll look into replacing the fish. I'm wondering if there are other types of fish that would do better with a low pH. I'll ask under a different heading.
Hello - rinsing your filter media in tap water is not a good idea since it can kill off your good bacteria. You have the benefit of non chlorinated water, but still I'd recommend using aquarium water to rinse out the filter media.
To get your nitrate levels down, try weekly water changes of 20 - 30%. Nitrate is the primary driver to why frequent water changes are needed in a fully cycled tank. You can't 'filter' it out.
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