Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Need help with the levels in my 30 gallon tank's water! (

pepper44 11-28-2010 06:22 PM

Need help with the levels in my 30 gallon tank's water!
I've posted here awhile ago...I'm still struggling with keeping my fish alive. I kept fish for years, since I was a little kid, without much trouble. I never had any trouble until a couple of years ago when I got this 30 gallon hexagonal tank. Now it seems like fish never live for long, or something is always off with the water. I don't know why! Our local fish store closed due to the economy last year, and now I'm totally lost. I used to just take a water sample there and ask any questions I had.

My few remaining fish (couple of mollies and a pleco) just went belly up. I do a 25% water change every three weeks or so, just FYI. My tank has several plants including java moss, and a filter with a bio wheel.

I tested the water tonight and the nitrates are around 0 and so are the nitrites. The KH was 80 and the pH was up to 7.8. The GH was 300!

I will admit I used a diddly test strip for the water testing. There's not anywhere else to buy fish things around here, and I don't have money to order something online and wait for it right now. ;-) Even if the strips aren't 100% accurate they can at least give a good estimation! I do have a water drop kit for the GH and KH, I just haven't busted it out.

I would like to get my aquarium under control so I can stock it with some pretty fish. (Which most unfortunately I have to buy at Petsmart. :-( ) My baby and 4 year old love to look at them and feed them. I was actually thinking of getting a few goldfish since they are cheap and my 4 year old loves them more than fancier fish. How many inches of goldfish can fit in a 30 gallon tall tank? Maybe that's a question for another thread.

I would appreciate opinions and advice on my constantly messed up water!

mcb5522 11-28-2010 06:42 PM

Just wondering what type of filter you have and how big of a tank the filter is for, also how long you've had this certain tank running. i would also do water changes closer together like once a week. Pick up a water conditioner and let it sit overnight in a a bucket before you go changing the water also. These are the only things I would probably do differently that I can think of at the moment.

Ostara 11-28-2010 06:51 PM

Unfortunately the test strips very often don't give you even an idea of where your levels are. I've seen countless people say that their tank tested at 0 for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate only to buy a liquid test kit and discover that their levels were actually sky high. When I first got started I had an API strip test kit that always tested at 0 (and sometimes turned colors that weren't even on the chart) and was surprised to see the real readings when I got the liquid kit.

Your water changes are definitely too infrequent, which could be causing problems. You should be doing around 25% a week to help remove the wastes, especially with a messy pleco.

Is the tank one of those really tall skinny ones? Unfortunately those are a terrible shape to have, and I'm not sure how well goldfish would do in it considering how large they grow. Normally you could have two or three fancy goldfish in a 30 gallon (10 gallons per fish), but in a tall skinny tank they wouldn't have much room to swim. Sticking to smaller fish like livebearers or tetras would probably be better.

I would say that a liquid test kit is definitely a must whenever you can get it. Petsmart will test your water for you but they may not do any better. The fish departments in my local Petsmart's have been scaled down and now use the same crappy strips instead of the liquid kits like they used to.

You mentioned that you've had the tank for years... has it been established (with fish) the entire time?

fish joey 11-28-2010 07:07 PM

Hi, for what its worth and Im sure more experienced people will chime in...but could it be the shape of the tank? I started researching hexagon tanks ...for some platy babies my Hubby had to save ...any way what I read is ...that the fish are forced to swim in circles... which is super stressful.... anyone else evert hear of this?

tanker 11-28-2010 08:42 PM

Yes, I agree. Definitely do more water changes. Change some water every week.

When you change the water, are you doing gravel vacs? What sort of filter maintenance have you been doing? Have you recently changed the filter pad?

When your child feeds the fish, do you give them the amount to be put in? If they are picking up the amount to put in by themself, they might be overfeeding your fish.

Do you put your hands in the tank? Do you use any lotions? Does your kid ever put his or her hands in the tank? Does he or she wash their hands before putting the food in? Is the tank covered? Can your kid access the tank to put anything in it? (extra meals, perhaps?) Do you use any fly sprays or cleaning sprays? As the fish died at the same time, it could be some kind of poisoning?

In terms of getting back on track, I've done well following the advice I've read. Cycle the tank before adding heaps of fish, only add a few fish at a time, do regular water changes with a gravel vac, condition the water you add, check that the temperature is ok and your heater hasn't malfunctioned, don't overfeed, don't let any household chemicals into the tank. What else am I forgetting?

If it were me, I'd probably pull it apart, rinse everything out properly, start off with new filter material, and cycle the tank from scratch. Get a liquid test kit and test the water until it's cycled, and then keep up with the water changes.

How long are your fish lasting before they die? If you are just buying fish and they die, look into the tank conditions where you are buying from and how you are introducing them to the tank. Sometimes they cark it if there is a big difference in water chemistry between the shop's tanks and yours. Sometimes, fish you buy just aren't healthy and they are going to die regardless of how good your tank water is.

Just some ideas. Good luck getting to the bottom of it.

mcb5522 11-28-2010 08:45 PM

also i forgot to say, a liquid test can solve or rule out problems if you cannot figure them out if they persist. Also as ostera said, petco also uses strip tests but also my local petsmart does the same now too.

pepper44 12-29-2010 05:12 PM

I think you all are right, the little test strips must have been wrong. I took everything out of the tank when I was trying to catch the 3 remaining neons hiding in there and so much gunk was down in the gravel. Yuck! My poor fish!

I got a gravel vacuum so I can regularly suck out that ick and I'll do partial water changes more often as well.

I moved the 3 neons to a 5 gallon tank that will be easier to keep up with. I now have my two albino clawed frogs in the 30 gallon and they are loving it. They aren't nearly as picky about water conditions, either. I had one of them escape was lost for a week and mauled by my cat. We found it bloody and covered in fuzz and fur. Put it back in the water and it was 100% fine the next morning, lol.

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