I just recently returned from a month long business trip and found that my fish tank has been neglected by the roommate I entrusted it to. The water is half evaporated, the remaining water is green with about %10 visibility, the plants are covered in algae and my fish are looking quite dull.
I don't know from which angle I should approach the problem.
Should I do a huge water change to get rid of the algae? Will my fish survive that?
Keep in mind that my tank is at about %50 so if I change much it'll probably be down to about %15.
Should I remove the plants, as they are the main source of algae?
I don't know what to do. This if my first fish tank and has been successful for nearly a year with out any problems. I really don't want to lose my fish and have to start over.
Any help would be appreciated.
Would replace half of the filter media while leaving half in place.
Would vaccum one half the gravel while leaving the other half.
In three days, I would perform another 50 percent water change and a week from now,,replace other half of filter media and vaccum the other half of the gravel.
Can't help with the plant's but if they are covered in algae,I might toss them.
A caution on any water changes. The tank water is probably acidic (pH below 7) so the ammonia is actually harmless ammonium. If you add tap water that is basic (pH above 7) and it raises the tank's pH above 7, the ammonium will immediately change into ammonia and poison your fish. I don't know your tap water pH, but slow minimal water changes are better if it is as I've described above.
The fish have become adapted to the changes slowly over the week; they should be similarly returned slowly to normal. Nitrates is another issue similar to pH and ammonia. Use a very good water conditioner; Prime would be ideal in this instance as it handles ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in some measure.
Byron I use RO water and Prime. Would I be able to do large water changes with that?
I'd be afraid of doing to much at once and create an even bigger problem.
First thing I would start is by refilling the tank back up slowly, No actually water change, Just replace the evaporated water, and make sure you treat it first, Give the fish a chance to adapt to that before moving on to something else.
As Byron stated your fish have become accustomed to this, The last thing they need is a super shock by doing to much to quickly, Remember it took a month for it to get the way it is,
First issue is the pH change, if any; if the RO water is below 7, fine. Second, the nitrate in the tank is probably high and while lower nitrates won't harm any fish, I would tend to think it should not be a sudden shift. If it were me, I would fill the tank with fresh conditioned water (provided the pH is below 7) and not remove the existing water. Then tomorrow a 50% water change (again provided the pH remains below 7 in replacement water), and so forth to reach the normal equilibrium.
For the benefit of others following this: with a pH above 7 in the replacement water much smaller water changes over a longer period. It is not so much the pH changes themselves, but the ammonia/ammonium issue.
Do you have a test kit?
Just measure the parameters and let us know.
Thus is the problem (my fault) with responding to post's without pertinent information in the form of water parameter's.
I would agree with Byron and information above but would submit that in this case,, that changing fifty percent of the water that remained in the tank ,(estimated 50 percent percent) would dilute ammonia levels present by one half .
Could only assume, (always a bad thing) that for the month the tank was neglected ,,that the fishes were swimming in their own feces(no water changes) for that duration and therefore in my mind,,,the 50 percent water change followed by another 50 percent three day's later along with filter maint and cleaning up the substrate as described.
Much better in my view,my tanks, to dilute possible ammonia level's with addition of fresh dechlorinated water and risk the sudden change in pH (perhaps) than to let the fishes continue in water possibly quite high in ammonia due to afore mentioned lack of water changes and possible overfeeding,and or over stocked tank.(opinon's vary)
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