Platies and tank cleaning/water changes
I have a 20 gallon tank that is mostly Platies (6- 2 male, 4 female) and I've noticed that Platies are basically small, aquatic Panda Bears. To put it less delicately, they poop a LOT. More than such a small creature should be able to.
I do test my water often, and stick to a water change schedule of approximately 30% every week- week and a half. So far they're okay, but it seems like the water levels cross the threshold from safe to danger zone REALLY quickly, like overnight. Of course, ANY ammonia or nitrites at all are "danger zone", but my concern is the levels getting high suddenly and me not catching it.
I'm currently running an Aquaclear 30 (went a size up on both of my tanks) and I have plenty of live plants.
My question is: would it be safe and beneficial to do water changes more frequently (maybe 20% every 5 days) and/or in a larger amount (40%-50%) in order to keep their water frm getting into the 'danger zone'? I don't want to do TOO much and kill the needed bacteria, but I dont like cutting it that close.
How old is the tank? Sound like a cycle is going on. I would use Seachem Prime or AmmoLock to detoxify ammonia but keep it available for the cycle to complete.
This is the normal and expected result of fish living, eating, and pooping in the water, only it hits 'critical mass' faster than expected. (Although maybe not "faster" for Platies...)
My concern is whether I can safely increase water changes to accommodate the 'critical mass' without negatively affecting the good bacteria in the aquarium, and if so, what would be the best way to do that (either a higher percent of water changed or just more frequent water changes).
I'm certain it's not an issue of overstocking. It's a 20 gallon tank with 6 Platies (not even fully grown-- maybe 1.5" each), one Golden Wonder Killifish (about 2.5"), and two Diamond Tetras (a little over 1" each). (Diamond Tetras are temporary; this issue existed well before they were introduced to the tank, and doesn't appear to be affected by their presence.)
I should also add that I am diligent about checking the filter, using a gravel vac when doing water changes, and cleaning the algae, etc. from the glass.
I'm unwilling to use chemicals as a) they will not solve the problem (levels will just continue to increase, not balance out eventually as with a cycling tank); and b) I don't feel they are a substitute for regular tank maintenance.
In my opinion the only reason for ammonia is a cycle. I also think that there is such a thing as too clean. Removing all the waste doesn't give bacteria enough food to thrive. I didn't suggest any chemicals to try to solve the issue but just to help create a safer environment for fish.
I'm definitely wary of the dangers of a too-clean aquarium; that's the concern that prompted me to post my question. :) I'm wondering whether it's better in terms of not getting the tank 'too clean' to change more water each time using my current schedule, or to change slightly smaller amounts more frequently than I do now.
Sorry my question wasn't more clearly worded before.
Well....I'm out of suggestions. I'll stick to my original hypothesis that your tank is cycling. Hope someone else can offer a different suggestion.
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A water change of 50% right away would definitely help alleviate the ammonia / nitrate issues for the immediate future. Since the majority of your bacteria is located on the interior surfaces of your tank (plants, decor, substrate, glass), don't worry about water changes negatively impacting the colonies. Water changes are nothing but good. Additionally, you might experiment with your feeding routine / amount. Lots of input = lots of output. Good lluck !
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