I am new here but not really to owning an aquarium. I have had my current 55 gal setup for a good 2 years now with very minimal problems until recently. I decided that I wanted a few new fish so before I mossied ff to the store I decided to test my waters real quick and found some alarming news. firstly the equipment I am using are
55 gal tank with under ground filter
two aqua clear 50 power heads
and an emperor 400
I sometimes use the mag 350 pro to help rapidly clean teh debris when changing the dirty filters out.
the test strips I am using are mandel 5 in 1 that I have confirmed work with a friends salt water master kit, so they are somewhat accurate.
what I found is that the
nitrate levels are literally off the charts. greater than 230 ppm
very hard water
alkalinity levels are a bit lower than they should be and
PH around 6.2 still pretty low
I have done a test on the tap water itself and found that it is acceptable but I still use chlorout or some conditioner
also within the past few months I have noticed a lot of dirt building up on my substrate. it dosent have the same charistics as allege as that is more of a slimy more grouped together look than this which is more easily broken up with just the current and a med to dark brown color. I am assuming this has something to do with my extreme nitrate levels and am wondering a few things here.
#1 would it be wise to try and move the substrate with all of this dirt embedded? couldnt this prove to be more harmful than good at this point?
#2 if I do decide to basically break the tank down and do a full clean would it be best to just keep the UG in place or just throw it out and use the current emperor and power head combo alone?
I have had a thought recently about how to keep the UG filter clean but am not sure how exactly well it would work. I am thinking that if I were to use the mag 350's inlet split and coupled to both tubes for the ug filter and had a 90* elbow for the sharp turn then a few short runs of tube litterally underneath the filter that would prevent most excessive build ups of well you know that "stuff" haha.
I am at this point extremely amazed that my fish havent died yet due to these extremes in unbalanced chaos. I am going to setup either the other 55 gal or the smaller 29 gal temporally to perform what ever is needed but absoutley do not want to have to do this again. right now I am dealing with a serious back injury and dont know exactly how long it will last with me being up on my feet but something has to be done. the back injury is the reason why I have had to cut down on maintence lately. I can't just pick up a 5 gal bucket and walk off with it anymore, which for me being 245lbs is a really hard thing to comprehend, and when it goes, its gone for a few days so.