Away on holiday - filter blocked but... everything perfect?!

NellysDad

Member
This is a surprising tale of success among VERY weird circumstances...

I was away to be with family for the new year's holidays, about two weeks vacation. I got someone to feed my fish once in the middle of my absence and got back fully expecting to see chaos after no water changes for around 2 weeks. This specific tank is small, about 5.5 gallons, and heavily stocked with guppies so keeping the nitrates low has always been very difficult even with twice weekly water changes. I was certain there would be losses.

So I get back and surprised to see that not only are my guppies thriving but have even given birth to a few tens of fry. I start testing the water and find the nitrates to be under 20ppm (usually over 40 and up to 80)! This was the first shock. I then notice all traces of algae have been wiped clean of the tank. No algae anywhere. This is looking too good to be true...

I then notice there is no flow from the filter. Not even a trickle. I take it apart and find that the intake has been completely blocked by juvenile bladder snails that built up and completely blocked the inflow. So for a few days at least my overstocked tank was running without filtration... :eek:

How can that be? I can only think of two possibilities:

a) Very low feeding so minimal waste produced. But this alone still wouldn't account for the ammonia produced by fish respiration, especially in a small and overstocked tank.

b) Frogbit... In my absence the Frogbit grew like crazy and took over every little available space. It must have consumed every little bit of ammonia produced by the fish to grow. It did such good job that whatever algae was lost was eaten by the snails and guppies.

TL;DR: was away for a couple of weeks and returned to find a much healthier tank despite a filter blockage
 

RayClem

Member
In an aquarium, there are beneficial bacteria on every surface. They are on the glass, on the filter intake tube, on the heater tube, surrounding every grain of substrate, even on the leaves of your frogbit. Also, ammonia is the preferred source of nitrogen for plants. When your filter became blocked, the beneficial bacteria elsewhere and the plants thrived.

One of the biggest causes of high nitrates in a tank is overfeeding. I have left freshwater aquariums unattended for 10 days without maintenance and without feeding and everything was fine. That does not work with saltwater aquariums, however.

With some new guppy fry, I would suggest you start thinking about a larger tank.
 
  • Thread Starter

NellysDad

Member
No worries I have other larger tanks that I use to separate male and female guppies. This one holds the older ones I have (those still "possibly pregnant" from the store). All their babies go into separate tanks as early as I can determine their sex, as the last thing I need is a guppy population explosion.

I was surprised on how efficient Frogbit was on sucking up all the nitrates (no traces of nitrites or ammonia even with the blocked filter). I haven't had Frogbit in my tanks for very long but to actually see that effect in action... Wow. Then again the roots have been growing over an inch a day every day and I have to keep trimming them to prevent them from taking over all the swimming space for the fish, so these growth nutrients needed to have come from somewhere.

The biggest problem is what to do with all the leftover Frogbit and Frogbit parts
 

RayClem

Member
NellysDad said:
No worries I have other larger tanks that I use to separate male and female guppies. This one holds the older ones I have (those still "possibly pregnant" from the store). All their babies go into separate tanks as early as I can determine their sex, as the last thing I need is a guppy population explosion.

I was surprised on how efficient Frogbit was on sucking up all the nitrates (no traces of nitrites or ammonia even with the blocked filter). I haven't had Frogbit in my tanks for very long but to actually see that effect in action... Wow. Then again the roots have been growing over an inch a day every day and I have to keep trimming them to prevent them from taking over all the swimming space for the fish, so these growth nutrients needed to have come from somewhere.

The biggest problem is what to do with all the leftover Frogbit and Frogbit parts

I am sure other fishkeepers in Greece would love to get a a handful of your extra Frogbit.
 
  • Thread Starter

NellysDad

Member
I wouldn't mind giving it away but it's so cheap here that it's easier for anyone to buy a pack from a store than to pay for shipping. Besides I get so much left over that it would take many many people to give it all away. Right now I just dry the leftovers to turn them into powder, maybe I will be able to make some sort of fish food or fertilizer out of it.
 

TheWalkman

Member
Apparently the frog bit is doing a great job!
 

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