Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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SarahCalgary 03-02-2012 11:12 AM

Foamy Water & Cyanobacteria
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I have been keeping a planted freshwater tank (29 G) for years and have never had as many issues as I am currently experiencing! I am not sure what to do about it and would appreciate some assistance...These are the issues I'm experiencing:

1) Have battled with cyano for months. Ended up doing the antibiotic treatments to get rid of it, which worked for awhile but then it came back about 2 months later.

2) Noticed one of my fishes eyes have popped out... he's now unable to swim and I know he's about to die. He is a black skirted tetra.

3) There are a ton of foamy bubbles on the top of my tank. I have a filter and an aeration device and usually the top has no bubbles on the top... it's out of control now.

In the past month I have added 3 apple/mystery snails to the tank, one died. The other seem to be fine.
I also added three additional albino corys. Currently I have 2 apple snails, 4 black skirts, 4 corys.

I likely caused a bit of the problem with the water quality by overfeeding because I wasn't sure how much to feed the bottomfeeders/snails, but even with that, I haven't seen the tank in this condition before.

Last night I did a 25% emergency water change but before I did that I added some tetracycline antibiotics for fish diseases hoping that would fix my poor eye popped fish. I had to do the water change because I noticed a decrease in the quality... so there goes the treatment schedule.

This morning it seems like the bubbles/foam is worse so I did another 20% water change. The filter appears to be working, but it is old. It is an Aqua Clear 70. I have kept the lights off today because I heard that is good for tackling the cyano. I just feel like I have too many things going on right now and even with my fishkeeping experience, I'm not sure how to tackle it. Suggestions?? I have included two photos that I just took of my tank this morning.

DKRST 03-02-2012 11:34 AM

Welcome to the forum!
First, might I recommend you purchase an API freshwater master test kit? It's under $30 most big pet stores, less online. That will tell you some critical information about your nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia levels.

We'll need more info to help diagnose the issue:
How often do you usually change your water and how much do you change?
How much are you feeding and how often?
What type of light do you have and how long is it on per day?
Can you list all the animals currently in the tank?
What type of filter and what is that substrate? (I saw the filter info, but not familiar with that one)
Do you fertilize your plants?

If you can provide this information, it will make it easier to recommend some actions.
While we wait for more info, I'd recommend changing your water frequently, even as often as every day or every other day, do a 25-50% change (making certain the temp is good). Clean water cures lots of ills!

The foam is likely from the tetracycline, assuming your filter is a HOB (hang on back)?

SarahCalgary 03-02-2012 11:46 AM

Thanks for the quick response. I do a thorough cleaning of the tank every month and add fresh water every few days, it evaporates a lot. I feed twice a day - breakfast/dinner time. I feed the 4 tetras probably about 20-25 tropical crisps at each feeding. I feed the 4 corys and two snails 1 to 3 bottom feeder sinking food tablets per day, as well as an algae wafer. That's probably too much now that I think about it, but when the snail died I thought maybe it was starving. I have a Coralife fluorescent light that is apparently good for my plants. I usually turn it on around 8am and off around 10pm.
I currently have:
4 black skirts
4 albino corys
2 apple/mystery snails

The bottom has black gravel on it. The filter is very common here in the fish stores - it looks exactly like this: I do not fertilize my plants anymore. I used to, but stopped that a couple years ago.

I will look for that test kit tomorrow when I head to the pet store.


Geomancer 03-02-2012 11:47 AM

Welcome to the community!

Have you tested for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate, and what kind of test? If so, what were the numbers?

You don't have too many fish for a 29 gallon, actually you are pretty light with only 4 tetras and 4 corys.

Stress weakens the immune system for fish making them get sick easily, and a stressed fish will release pheromones that other fish can detect, and can cause them agitation too. Both species of fish you have are schooling, so they like larger numbers. The tetras should be in a minimum group of 6, and the corys 4 (so it is good you got a few more so the one isn't lonely anymore).

Are you able to do a quarantine/hospital tank? Treating a smaller tank, and only the sick fish, is often easier and safer for the fish who are not sick.

For feeding, you should only put in a very small amount of flakes for the tetras that they will eat in less than 5 minutes. If any is left after that time, you have put too much in. The corys will eat flakes too, but they also enjoy sinking shrimp pellets. They take a bit of time to absorb water, so they'll take a little time for the corys to eat. The snails will eat any leftovers, but they also eat dead/dying plant mater and to a small extent algae.

Do you know your pH? Anything under 7 will start to erode their shells which is made up mostly of calcium and will dissolve in acidic water. You don't want it too high above 7 though because all the fish you have like soft, acidic water.

Hope your fish show improvement soon!

Geomancer 03-02-2012 11:51 AM

haha, I take too long to type and I see you already answered some of my questions ;)

If you only change water once a month I would suspect your Nitrates are probably on the high end. Bring a sample of your tank water to the pet store, they should test it for free, then also look for the API Master Test Kit so you can do it at home more often. It has everything you need, just be sure to read the directions. The Nitrate test is a little tricky because you have to shake the #2 bottle before using it.

SarahCalgary 03-02-2012 11:55 AM

I will definitely buy a test kit. When I first started fish keeping I had all those supplies but after awhile everything always seemed normal and they all expired and I haven't replaced them. Sigh. So how often would you suggest changing the water and how often should I do a thorough cleaning?

SarahCalgary 03-02-2012 11:56 AM

Oh, and I don't have a sick tank to put the other one into... we recently moved and I foolishly got rid of all the smaller tanks. Guess I'm learning my lesson the hard way. I feel so badly for that fish. He deteriorated so quickly.

Geomancer 03-02-2012 12:01 PM

A weekly water change is good, depending on how quickly Nitrates rise you do 25-50% a week. You want to keep Nitrates under 20-30 ppm if possible. More live plants can help with that also. Ammonia and Nitrite should always be 0 ppm, no level of either is good for the fish.

During that change, just scrub the front glass with a sponge (be careful if acrylic) and swish your filter media in a bucket of the old water to remove any debris.

Your photo period at 14 hours is long and you'll likely get algae, do you? If so, cutting the photo period back helps a lot with that. You can get a timer for the light so you don't have to remember, the same timer used for lamps in your house when on vacation. They are less than $10 at department/hardware stores. More live plants, again, helps with this as they'll take up the nutrients instead of the algae.

Once a month you can inspect your filter and see if it needs cleaned, usually the impeller area.

DKRST 03-02-2012 12:06 PM

Regarding the light, cut it back to 6-7 hours until you get the algae under control. Algae does well under longer light durations. Stinks you can't enjoy the fish as much with the lights on, but are you enjoyiug the tank the way it is currently? You can also set up the timer to turn off the tank when you are not home, kind of a "light it when you can enjoy it" approach (but the total should still be below 8 hours a day). That interrupted photoperiod seems to lessen algae also.

Totally agree on the weekly water change!

SarahCalgary 03-02-2012 12:06 PM

Yes, I do get quite a bit of algae. It's almost impossible to keep under control. I had a timer for the fish tank and then for some reason stopped using it. I think I will get that back in working order...Should I set it to 8-10 hours per day? I definitely haven't been doing enough water changes and will start doing weekly changes and vacuuming the gravel at that time too. I forgot about putting the filter media into a bucket of old water... funny how you can forget things after so many years. Do you think I'm feeding the fish too much? Should I cut back on that too?

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