75 Gallon Newbie Catastrophe

  1. EddiePrice3

    EddiePrice3 Initiate Member

    I know. Why would a newbie buy a 75 gallon aquarium? I wanted a 36 gallon, bow-front. I knew the exact model and had done my research. I went to Petsmart for 4 consecutive Sundays and called on the intervening Mondays and Wednesdays to inquire. After 4 weeks the manager felt bad and offered me the 75 gallon tank (regularly $499, on sale for $299) for the 36 gallon price of $249. I reasoned that I had the room and took it. That was 6 weeks ago.

    The past 6 weeks have been a horror story! Fortunately, I have been sensible enough to only buy inexpensive fish, and only a few of them.

    I don't particularly like brightly-colored, tropical fish. I prefer rather drab fish that look like generic fish and have the potential to grow to 8+ inches. I also really like snails. My absolute favorite fish are Kissing Gourami. My second-favorite is my common Pleco, named “Smedley Jackson.” I currently have 3 Pink Kissing Gourami, Mr. Jackson, 2 smaller Gourami that I bought when I started the aquarium, and 6 snails. Combined, they are >21 inches.

    The following are my problems:

    1. Despite weekly siphoning 10%+ of the water and cleaning the gravel/plants, the ammonia level is always dangerously high (4-5ppm). Now, I do use Ammonia Lock, which I understand neutralizes ammonia but does not prevent it from being detected, so that number it likely off.

    2. The Nitrites were high, but have subsided. I suspect this is because the bacteria is finally starting to get to where it is supposed to be. Still, nothing seems to be happening with the ammonia.

    3. The water is slightly acidic. It is not dangerously acidic, but from what I have read it is more common for a freshwater aquarium's water to be more basic. I have no idea what is going on here. Please help.

    4. The Thing That is Driving Me Crazy: My water is always somewhat cloudy! I have a canister filter rated to 80 gallons and an on the side filter rated to 100 gallons, and I have cleaned them (changing the replaceable filter in the side filter, and gently rinsing the media and changing the cotton in the canister, so as not to reset the bacteria) in a staggered fashion, canister at the first of the month, side at the middle. Yet the water remains cloudy.

    The only time the water was consistently clear was when I completely disconnected the canister and only used the side filter for a week. I was over-feeding, and had clogged the canister.

    Please help!

    Thanks so much,





  2. PharmDawgRx

    PharmDawgRx Initiate Member

    It definitely sounds like you put WAY too many fish in there so soon which is leading to a very long and laborious cycle. Do you have plenty of biological media in your filters? Fish can go several days, even up to a week or more, without eating. I would hold off on feeding your fish until the ammonia goes down to safer levels (e.g. ~ 1.0 ppm), and when you start feeding again, be careful not to over feed. They don't need as much food as you might think. I'd also go ahead and do a 50% water change which would bring your ammonia level down to about 2.5 ppm. When it comes to water changes, you need to be careful about too frequent water changes or you will have a hard time cycling your tank if you're removing all of your ammonia. Once you get your ammonia down to ~ 1.0 ppm, I would start feeding your fish again and do a 50% water change when your ammonia gets up to 2.0 ppm.

    When you say your water is acidic, how much? Do you know your exact pH? Since your tank likely isn't cycled and you have fish in the tank already, having a lower pH is good because more of the ammonia will be in the less toxic Ammonium form.

    I can't be totally sure why you have cloudy water. It could either be from having too high Ammonia levels or from a bacterial bloom. Either of these seem probable at this point.

    Good luck and hang in there! I got into the hobby without doing any research, and so I ended up doing a fish in cycle as well. It took a lot of time and dedication, but I actually made it through it all without a single death.