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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys.. My 27 gallon hexagon had a UGF and blue rocks with a single HOB filter since the day I got it 14 years ago... Obviously I change the HOB filter when it gets clogged and dirty and so forth..

Anyway I started live plants like 3-4 months ago and I just got sick of the nasty blue rocks I had in the tank, so I removed the UGF completely and I removed all the rocks and replaced the substrate with floramax substrate which is supposedly good for plants..

In doing so it started a cycle on my tank.. Now I have like 28 fish in this tank... Mostly small fish like neon tetra's and glow light tetras, and white clouds, but I also have a few medium sized fish like Celebes rainbows and neon dwarf rainbows neither are fully grown yet.. The only big fish I have are 3 adult sized gold barbs.. Now since changing the substrate.. In the last 4-5 weeks my plants are literally exploded in growth and color.. My Red Nesaea has literally doubled in height and bushy-ness.. It looks like a forest now.. The color was long changing from red to green on the new growth however now that the plants are growing roots and growing really bushy and tall they are changing more to a deep orange color is really beautiful.. My Telenthara cardinalis "red" has tripled in size from the little packet I got it from in petsmart and its extremely bushy and much taller, and its a nice ruby deep red color on all the leaves....

Oh and please I don't need posts saying I have too many fish in the tank, I don't care for those opinions.. Its my tank and I will do with as I please.. I haven't had any fish die in like 7 months and prior to doing this my ammonia was 0 and because my tank is extremely heavily planted the fish have planty of hiding places and room to swim around

The problem im having though isn't the plants.. The problem is I have had 4-8PPM of ammonia in the tank for 4 going on 5 weeks now.. I haven't had a single fish die, nor any fish gasping for air or struggling or red gills and the reason why is because I put a capful of prime in the tank every 24 hours... But its getting expensive... I have gone through an entire 500ml bottle.. and I cant afford this... But then I cant afford replacing my fish either..

Soo... how much longer is this cycle going to take ?? I even put a filter from another tank in mine and it still didn't do anything.. I put a bottle of API bacteria in the tank and it didn't do anything either... I raised my temps to 82f and it still isn't doing anything... Could my UGF have really had that huge of an impact on my cycle ? Or is 4-5 weeks just not long enough yet to get a big enough BB colony for the fish I have in the tank..
 

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Well what plants do you have in there? Also what are your parameters reading? If you are adding that much prime everyday why not do water changes to bring down the ammonia instead of just binding it with the prime? If there is nothing in the tank to take it up then its just going to continue to go up.
 

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I agree with BDM, water changes are cheaper than Prime, for sure!

I know you asked not to hear that your tank is overstocked, but it is - and I suspect that's really the root of your problem. Even seeding that you did, the BB seems to be unable to catch up with the ammonia the fish are adding to the system.

I'm still a beginner, don't have 20 years experience, but I've read about situations in overstocked tanks in which the bioload of the inhabitants is actually too high for a sufficient colony of bacteria to form. I know things were going well before the substrate change, and I've never used this substrate. Is it possible that you've lessened the surface area for bacteria to colonize on by switching out from gravel? Something to look into, perhaps one of the others will have something more to offer here!

Adding a greedy floating plant like duckweed could help you out a bit by up-taking a decent amount of ammonia from the system (provided you have proper lighting, etc for it to thrive) A lot of people don't prefer duckweed, as it is difficult to remove, but in this situation, it may be the best option for you. . .

Another thing to possibly look into is the bottled bacteria that they sell in fish shops. Again, no personal experience with this, so I don't know which to recommend as best. Worth a try, I guess? Maybe one of our other members will know more about this. . .

Honestly, if this were my tank, I would divide the stock with another tank (even if I had to buy it new), toss some duckweed in, and slowly add the misplaced fish back in, little by little, after things settle down. (well, *if* it were my tank I would probably just leave both up and running, so as not to overstock. I'm much happier to run my tanks on the lighter side of stocking - but that's me!)

This is a difficult situation, for sure. I hope you get everyone through with no losses. . . Good luck.
 

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Owekaaay. Maybe I have some to add that might be helpful. Since I keep African cichlids overstocking is something I do as common practice when keeping those specific fish( but not as overstocked as your tank ). Well anyway the way to manage that is going well above the norm for filtration. My tank is 72g has 20( maybe more?) decent sized poop machines in it and I run 2 eheim 2217s on it. That's running the 528g per hour through my filters. And honestly in overstocking that's modest.. I need to be running 720g/h. But that alone only helps with the BB colony to deal with ammonia and nitrite. Then water changes deal with the nitrates. At 4-8 ppm ammonia your cycle is in stall mode. Chesh may be on to the way to *possibly* fix the stall in your cycle. But aside from that your filtration needs a. 10x turnover rate or more .. But somehow not creating a cyclone in you hex lol ( I have no clue how to do multiple filters on a small hex). Then I dunno.. Once and if you get this cycle sorted out then you'll have to stay on a good water change routine. At 4-8ppm ammonia I'd be doing water changes of 50% or more every 12 hrs.


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Thanks for your input!!! More filtration = more places for the bacteria to colonize, correct? And so *SHOULD* help in getting enough BB into the tank to handle the high bioload? I have no idea how this would be possible in a hex, either :/ And OP's fish are SMALL, maybe not able to handle that much turbulence. . .any way to skip extra filtration, and still add enough surface area for BB to colonize? Or did I miss the point. . .

. . .and I didn't even think of that, Agent! You're totally right - an ammonia level that high absolutely could cause the cycle to stall. CandyMan, do you happen to know the Kh/Gh/Ph on your tap water? Either way, more water changes ARE needed to refresh the system, and lower the ammonia level. What is your current waterchange routine on this tank?
 

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Pretty much .. Yes Chesh. Only thing I can think for not creating a cyclone is switching to a canister with at least a 270gph rating.. Then cut the spray bar to fit and if the current is too strong alter the angle to deflect against the glass first ? Or create an elbow DIY style spray bar one side horizontal holes against the glass mostly and other lateral at a slight upward angle just under the surface. A lot of toying would have to be done to avoid the fish ending up like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz lol.


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That high of ammonia with healthy fish id question the accuracy of the test
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Hmm, it seems as if the effects of Prime on the oxygen levels in a tank is debatable. I have moved related posts to their own thread in our Advanced Freshwater Discussions area, those interested in joining that discussion, please feel free to do so!

http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...n/effect-prime-oxygen-levels-aquarium-294058/

Back on topic, guys. Any further recommendations to help the OP out here? Looks like he's in a bit of trouble. . . Thank you!
 

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I hate posting from my flippy phone at work, I really do. My last post looks like "test duh test" when I see it on an actual computer at home! :oops:

The strips are famous for being inaccurate, if that is what you're using. The run of the mill API liquid test can be had for $5 online, probably costs $1 to make the thing. It's barely kid's chem set quality, most useful for measuring trends.

I'd try a different test to start, have a shop test it, whatever is more convenient. Unless your pH is 6.0 or lower bacterial colonization should occur, though more slowly. The upside to this if there is ammonia at that level with a lower pH is that most will be in the nearly harmless ammonium state.
 

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Hmm, it seems as if the effects of Prime on the oxygen levels in a tank is debatable. I have moved related posts to their own thread in our Advanced Freshwater Discussions area, those interested in joining that discussion, please feel free to do so!

http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...n/effect-prime-oxygen-levels-aquarium-294058/

Back on topic, guys. Any further recommendations to help the OP out here? Looks like he's in a bit of trouble. . . Thank you!

And that is an excellent plan. IMHO the effects of chemicals is and should be a very general topic where the goods and bads can be discussed.


So Thanks.


worth mor ethem my usual .02
 

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so getting back on topic as I understand it.

1) you're using prime

2) have or had very high levels of ammonia

3) fish are showing no signs of stress.

I would test ammonia for both the locked and free. I highly suspect all the ammonia is locked.

I would stop doing water changes.

I would add fast growing plants like anacharis.

And let the tank heal itself.

In my one woopsies I have very high levles of ammonia and used prime. But I added the prime for the ammonia one time then tested. The ammonia was all locked and the dangerous free ammonia was almost non existent.

I finally rinsed out my filter media which was just crushed oyster shells in an diy wet dry. After that ammonia dropped down to 0 in two days. So I basically found the source of the toxin I had inadvertently introduced. Or at least the source at that time and the media may have sucked it all out.

Over the next 3 weeks I experienced a very deep cycle with pH crashing, then nitrItes and nitrates. Finally, the nitrates droped and pH recovered.

Long story but wanted to share.

With no fish stress I think the best thing to do is let the tank recover.

still just my .02
 

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I dont no as much as some but a out of date test kit or a unshaken bottle can coz false readings,i read some where of the same problem, turned out the bottle was low makeing the salotion unstable, as its prob not be shaken properly at least once in its life. He change to a fresh bottle and the problem was fixed, cheapest option first could say you a lot of time and worry.

Ether way a hope it works out for you.
 

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you know 4-8ppm of ammonia is a HUGELY wide range. Do you know exactly what it is? Fish still seem ok today?
 

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Thats whats making me think a new bottle is needed. The fish are a fine, isnt there even coulouring to the fishes gill? At that level of ammonia you would expect weaker fish.
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^ But the Prime may be saving them by locking it all up, keeping it from really affecting them, plus the low PH.

When I first started I tested my tank water (didn't cycle properly, stocked it with several pearl gourami) and it was over 8ppm ammonia. But the fish acted healthy and I never lost a one, because my ph was so low (6.2) it didn't properly affect them (this is what I was told from multiple sources and researched independently). Plus I was using Prime in my water changes. I was able to cycle in a few weeks by doing water changes daily, adding Prime, and adding plants. The results were from a brand new liquid test kit, so I know they were accurate (I tested a bunch of other water sources to check). So it is possible to have high ammonia and the fish alive. Not that it is at ALL a desirable or safe situation.

Now, I'm NOT saying this is an ideal situation, and it shouldn't happen in a properly cycled/cared for tank. It's still dangerous, especially if the ph fluctuates.

Back to the OP, daily water changes and adding Prime are going to be what you need to do to get through this cycle. If you can add some floating plants (frogbit, water sprite, dwarf water lettuce, duckweed) to help bring down the ammonia a bit, it can be nothing but beneficial (but not a miracle.) I'm not a biologist, but I speak from my personal experiences.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
There is no way to tell if its 6 or 7PPM... im using the liquid API master kit... the range on the kit only goes in doubles.. So .25-.50 then 1 then 2 4 8 ect...

And no I don't think doing water changes is cheaper.. The water bill from changing water every single day would be really high and I doubt adding chlorine to my tank despite me adding a drop or 2 of prime in my bucket when I fill it would help my bacteria grow. I think water changes cause the cycle to last longer because of that. But I did a 70% water change the other day and it only brought my ammonia down to 2PPM.. and now 24 hours later its dark green again.

I dunno like you guys are saying confused to as why my ammonia is reading so high and I haven't had any fish or snail die.. Not even a neon and they are acting and looking like the water is perfect... I magine if after 24 hours my ammonia went from 2PPM back to dark green which is around 4-8.. imagine how high it would be after 7 days or 14 days with no water changes.... Something just doesn't seem right... Maybe it is the prime detoxifying it... but im almost wondering if the prime is causing my cycle to never happen

Anyway, my test kit is fine, I have 4 other tanks in the house and they are all reading 0 except my new 2.6g betta tank which is reading around 4ppm. And the tap water reads around 2PPM because of the chloramine's/ammonia combo..

My test readings are this..

Ammonia 4-8 (you want more accurate I cant give you more acurrate as I explained the test only shows 4 or 8)
Nitrite 0
Nitrates 5-10
KH is 5
GH is 7
PH is 7.5
Water temp is always 78f but I upped it to 82f to try and get the bacteria to grow faster

My plants are

Water Sprite, Wistera, Anubias (broad leafed), amazon sword, red tiger lotus, Telenthara Cardinalis ( a lot of it) and red nesaea (a lot as well).. I also have 4 stems of Limnophila hippuroides. The plants are all doing really well.. my telenthara as I said when I got it from petsmart in those tetra bags was only like half inch tall and maybe coverd 2-3 inches with only a few tiny leaves.. Now its like a giant bush and ruby red.. My red neseae lost its red color and its more green/yellow/orange now (IMO looks better like this then just being red) and its tripled in size.. The only plant that seems to be dying and hasn't grown any is the watersprite... and im very confused about that because it literally explodes in my 55g tank... but it looks half dead now and hasn't grown any in my 27g.. im wondering if its the ammonia levels causing it im not sure.

The entire bottom of my tank is covered in plants I cant fit anymore in there lol.. As for my tank stock.. Prior to me tearing out my old blue rocks and my undergravel filter I had all these fish in there and I always had 0 ammonia.. after removing the rocks and filter this is when the ammonia got really high and stayed there... I did this though last month on the 25th.. Its been 36 days now....Could my undergravel filter really have had that HUGE of a impact on my BB ? Im starting to wonder... because the HOB filter even if I took out the filter media in it my ammonia never went above 0 when I had the UGF in the tank.. I honestly always thought the HOB was a useless way to have BB and remove ammonia.. I only kept it in there to clean the water of floating particals and stuff.

Here is a picture of my tank right now






 

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Honestly as it sounds. Yes this change can have that huge of an effect. Your UGF running with a HOB *if I understand UGFs enough*(never used one..even in the early 90's when they were still common) seems like it would remove the solid waste at least before you HOB could really get a proper hold on a BB colony appropriate for your stock. I normally an all for 2 filters, but more so 2 canisters or on a long and larger tank two HOBs would work together also..but maybe these were working against each other?? OK Filter people..chime in those who've used UGFs!
Now having taken away your UGF are you doing gravel vacuuming ?(substrate vac..whatever..details ;-)) Just to be sure though get the Seachem Ammonia test to see if it's free ammonia your finding. Another note..With the Color guide go to the absolute brightest lit room in you house and let the light shine on your test as you read.but the tube against the white and look really close. I find reading the test under my chandelier .(which is in the room with most of my bigger tanks) I can't read the colors right..come up freaking out that all the sudden there is ammonia then I go to my bathroom light and clearly see it tested at zero. ( I hate dirty tanks so I'm prone to panic ..this is why I rarely test anymore unless I feel reason to. lol)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I haven't done any gravel vacuuming because A. I don't want to do vacuuming with plants, and B.. I have no room to vacuum the gravel really except in the middle if I remove the driftwood... However the Floramax substrate (same rocks as eco complete) have only been in the tank for 36 days now. Since I don't feed my fish that much due to the ammonia problem my gravel is fairly clean... Not to mention with the lack of suction from the powerhead and undergravel filter combo the gravel doesn't get as dirty as it used too..

With the UGF you could see the particles get pulled into the rocks once they floated down far enough... The first thing I noticed when taking it out was un eatin food and other particles in the tank would just simply float around until they either got sucked into the HOB or settled on the bottom eventually.. Another thing I noticed is my bigger bottom fish kick up the particles if they suddenly swim super fast (which are the 3 Adult gold barbs I have). If they get freaked out and swim quickly particles of matter get flinged into the water.. I never had this issue with the UGF...


But to answer your question.. No my HOB was easily able to catch enough junk in the water to build up a bacteria farm... You should have seen the filter media.. I had to replace it every 3-4 weeks because it would clog and overflow really quickly and the filter pad would be solid brown and made of slim almost lol.. I never once cared about removing the entire filter media and replacing it with a fresh one.. (I had too because the media would literally be mush after a month) because like I said even if I removed the media and turned off my HOB my ammonia would be 0 with my 25-30 fish and it was because of the UGF.. However you have people online who claim UGF cant handle and aren't good filters like HOB filters... It has been my experience HOB are nothing compared to UGF and I am experiencing this first hand and noticed it when like I said I removed my media and I could leave it out for a week and ammonia would be 0 with this large number of fish...

I have experienced the same thing in my 30g tank.. That tank is 22+ years old has and still uses the UGF/Power head combo... but it also has a double filter media HOB filter.. For 50-75g tanks.. It too has the same effects my 27g hex had.. I could shut the entire HOB off... and ammonia would be 0 no matter what...


Now One thing I did notice, and did know was UGF can be a huge trap for nitrates.... Eventually over time the rocks get so full of crap that even vacuuming them doesn't help lower nitrates... Eventually you get stuff under the UGF and while yes the power head does keep it super clean in the general area its placed in.. The other side or the middle or the front is so dirty when you look under the tank all you see is broken down waste. I had nitrate issues in both tanks so bad that even changing 100% of the water only fixed it for about 3-4 days.. The nitrates were in the tank because of all that waste the UGF sucked up in the substrate that a gravel vacuum couldn't get... What i had to do was grab the plastic tube the powerhead was on and lift up and down pulling the UGF plate up and down.. which dislogged all the junk and the powerhead sucked it up and spit in the tank... Then a gravel vacuum and 70% water changed got the nitrates under control.


Personally between past experiences i have mentioned with the HOB filter media being removed with the UGF running specially with so many fish... and now with no UGF and just the HOB... I think UGF are far superior to HOB filters. They do have nitrate problems though
 
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