Daily Water Changes-yes Or No?

Large Daily Water Changes?


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jdhef

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I have edited and deleted some posts in this thread. Side arguments are not helping the OP in any way to solve her problems.

Remember to always stay respectful when disagreeing with someone. Rudeness is not tolerated. If you feel you need to have a side discussion/argument...PM one another.
 

bizaliz3

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Have you tested the tap water? My tap water has ammonia in it. Maybe the ammonia isn't going away because you might be adding ammonia from the tap water every time you do a water change. It is worth testing that tap water to see.

With my tanks, after doing an extra large water change (over 50%), it takes about 12-24 hours for my BB to eat up all the ammonia. A well cycled tank has no trouble eating up the ammonia. But that means if I am doing water changes every day, there is pretty much ammonia at all times. Seachem prime comes in handy for those times that I find myself doing daily changes ( like in fry tanks)
 
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Lauren4events

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Thank you to everyone who responded! All the information you share, helps me to make a more informed decision.

I am doing my best with a bad situation. Everyone in my life thinks I’m crazy for spending the amount of time and money that I do on these fish.

And when I say I haven’t missed a single day with a large water change, I mean it. Even if it means less sleep or missing something I enjoy. To me, they are living things and deserve to not be poisoned by ammonia. They can’t help themselves. So I can’t in good conscious do nothing. As much as I may want to.

No lfs within a 30 mile radius of me will take fish. I have asked friends, family, coworkers, etc. I’ve posted online. Nothing! I did find someone to take 50 fry. This was back when I was saving them and scooping the babies out of the tank. But that was creating more problems for me. So now I sadly let most get eaten. I have a lot of fish but they still have plenty of room to swim. I think? Does anyone have any ideas on who else I can ask to take fish? Who won’t mistreat them?

So I guess, taking all of the advice into account, I’m just going to get more filtration, on top of keeping the 2 hob I already have, and the new ugly sponge filter. And continue my daily water changes for now. It’s what I feel most comfortable with.

Is there such thing as too much filtration? Part of my problem could be the nets I cut and put around the filter intake tubes. This is my way of preventing fry from getting sucked in. I secure them with zip ties. I haven’t had any kind of issues with clogging. So I figured it was fine.

How much filtration can I safely have?

Will stability help at all if I’m still doing daily water changes? It never seemed to help me. But I didn’t stick with it very long.

Will I ever be able to finish my cycle with all of these fish? Or is it not even possible? That part, I’m still not clear on.

Thanks again everyone! I appreciate your time.

NavigatorBlack said:
This is the kind of thoughtless advice you should avoid, because it is a person with a pet idea who is not trying to give you advice tailored to your problems. Choose your advisors based on whether they seem to have read what you are asking, and avoid this stuff. This person has a very specific set up that has nothing to do with what you're up against.

It's on par with - help, I have 20 livebearers in a 10 gallon being answered with 'well I have 20 in a 75 and I don't have a problem'. It's nonsense. This person set up a tank with an eccentric plan he/she had worked out and wants to tell the world about. You inherited an overstocked disaster. Apples and oranges.

I see you in a bind. You will always have ammonia because of the overstocking. All the filters and chemicals in the world won't solve that, as you now know. Trust what you have learned, and not just what you've been told. You say you are clueless, but you lay out your question in a way that shows you have many clear clues you have identified.
You have to get to the root cause, because as you can see, the symptom is not going to go away unless the system crashes and you lose your fish. I know you don't want to discuss stocking. You don't need to be told what you've figured out, but don't know an easy way out of. You understand what is wrong already. 50 bandaids aren't going to heal it. Reduction of bioload will - you are going to have to find a way. How we solve it dependent on where we are - I can take fish to a local aquarium society club when I am overstocked. Some people have stores that will take them as feeders. Some cull. All mean losing something though.

There are no easy solutions. You need to get that tank down to the point where a weekly water change will do the trick, and where you don't need all the products, extra filters etc. You are fighting a rearguard action against an overwhelming force. I'm sorry to say that, but the bad guys of heavy stocking will win here. We can delay them, but they win.
I guess you are right. I’m not clueless anymore. Thanks to this site.

Honestly, when this entire thing happened and my ex left... I was like, great... fish. Now what? I had never heard of dechlorinator or the nitrogen cycle. I’m not kidding when I say I knew literally nothing.

So I started googling, came across this site and the rest is history. I read a lot about the nitrogen cycle, and even though I didn’t fully understand it at the time, I bought an API master test kit. Ammonia was over 8 (yes, my ex was a horrible person... I just didn’t know it). So I panicked and learned how to do my first water change. It didn’t go well.

So fast forward to now, and things are much better. I have made a lot of mistakes on the way but I have learned a lot.

I’ve tried to teach myself as much as I can in the shortest amount of time possible for the sake of my fish. It just still doesn’t feel like it’s enough. I feel like a failure and I feel dumb for not being able to figure it all out fast enough.

Keep in mind, I have been doing these water changes and trying to get my cycle since May! But I was doing so many things wrong, without knowing it. For example, I was rinsing my filters in tap water. I only recently, feel like I finally know what I’m doing—to an extent.

And then when I get so much conflicting advice, it just confuses me and makes me question everything I’m doing again.

Regardless, thank you for your advice! And thank you to everyone who has tried to help me.
 

cadd

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Lauren4events said:
My ex left me with these fish. I have been scrambling to figure things out ever since, because I knew nothing about having an aquarium.
How did he keep the fish alive? Did he do daily water changes as well?
 

TexasGuppy

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Is it possible you are exposing your filters to tap water prior to treating/dechlorination? That could be messing with your cycle. It's not an uncommon mistake.
Edit: just saw your post.. yep, that was me too!
 

NavigatorBlack

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It looks like you have decent lighting. If I can make a suggestion (it's easy to spend other people's money), consider some low light plants to help with the wastes. Cryptocorynes, java ferns - plants like that. Floating hornwort or guppy grass (najas) would also filter for you.
I don't think you'll ever 'cycle' more than now, as that is a lot of fish. Still I have had tanks where breeding crowded livebearer tanks that much. I have never had a totally unplanted tank though.
You get the conflicting advice because there is more than one way to do things, and all can be argued. I am old school, very old school, in my 51st fishkeeping year. I see plants as better than products, so I suggest them. Others have a chemistry lab for their tanks. Different philosophies, and we can all be very certain we are giving the best advice. I'm sure you have had advice from people less experienced and informed than you are.
You didn't plan for this. You had to hit the ground running at a bad time, and that is hard. I don't know you and will never meet you, but I can see you are figuring this out. It shows.

In your photo, those are very well fed fish. Reducing feeding might be an angle. Mollies and swords will eat themselves to death. How hungry they act is no indicator. You could reduce food portions, and even frequency for adult fish. They will beg, but if I fed my old dog every time she gave me the puppy eyes, I would be killing her. You can reduce the nutrients going in with careful feeding - 50% of what you are doing now, with a fast day every once in a while. It might be worth a try. It won;t harm the fish - in nature they have very lean periods and they can go 3 weeks unfed. They shouldn't, but they can. I would reduce feeding for 3 weeks and see how it looks, before I bought more filters.
 

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I am quite surprised to hear that online postings for free fish didn't net you a few takers, especially in a city as large as Chicago. List again in Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and anyplace else you can and leave the ads up for as long as you need to rehome fish.

I have been following along on your journey and the tribulations you've faced. Just keep moving forward on the path and do the best you can

IMO there is no such thing as too much filtration: Only limit is how much you are willing to find room to apply, how much money your willing to spend and whether your willing to put up with what some call an eye sore.

You have made some improvements in your stocking levels and I'm sure will continue down that lane. You have made some improvements in filtration and given your current situation need to add more. Sponge filters add a significant amount of BIOLOGICAL filtration, require minimal maintenance and are worth every cent. Definitely a huge advantage right now. IMO the key to successful filtration for you is to optimize Mechanical and Biological filters, while keeping in mind that your BB can double in colony size approximately every 36 hour, but only if they have the means to find a place to colonize (filter foams, bio media, etc).

I don't recall what your HOB's are but will offer this:
1. Put foam pre-filters on intake tube of each HOB or power filter. This will boost mechanical and biological filtration.
2. If you are currently using carbon/charcoal in the HOB - remove it and replace it with more sponge or bio media.
3. Continue to do % 25 WC daily to remove waste and control Ammonia and Nitrites.
4. Vacuum substrate and clean filters weekly - give your BB a chance to grow and do their job.

Remember you elected to take this on and deserve a bit of credit for continuing for this long. PAT ON BACK
Don't lose sight of the end goal and be proud of the progress you do make.
The number of post and points an individual has is not really an indication of their knowledge or experience level. There are many very experience folks here trying to help you out. Look for the consistency of content from those folks and ignore the ones who bring of topic comments, offer only little snipets of anecdotal commentary or obviously haven't read the thread.

You'll get there. Keep it up!
 

Susiefoo

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Rok55 said:
I am quite surprised to hear that online postings for free fish didn't net you a few takers, especially in a city as large as Chicago. List again in Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and anyplace else you can and leave the ads up for as long as you need to rehome fish.
This. I advertised fish I couldn't keep on my local selling sites (for free) and was surprised how many good responses I got. Have you advertised on here? Can you offer local delivery (with the help of a friend if necessary)? I agree with putting up the ads again and again on as many local sites as you can think of.

If you'd like to share the ads you've been putting up online we might be able to help. There are ways to word them that might be more (or less) appealing to potential owners. They are lovely, healthy looking fish that really shouldn't be that hard to find homes for - if you "market" them in the right way. IMO that is the kindest thing you can do for them, and for the health of any fish you do keep.

I agree with the suggestion to get some live plants in. If you buy a few from an LFS you might be able to negotiate them taking some of your fish as part of the deal. People get more helpful when there's a potential sale involved!
 
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Lauren4events

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cadd said:
How did he keep the fish alive? Did he do daily water changes as well?
I never saw him do any water changes, but I work 60 hour weeks. So it’s possoble he was doing them when I wasn’t home. But more likely... the poor things were probably just put in a tank, uncycled and exposed to dangerous levels of ammonia. I wish I would’ve known! It breaks my heart. I should’ve got involved when he was around. But I let the fish be his thing and didn’t concern myself with it. Lesson learned.

And that would explain all the problems (illness) I have had in my tank. I read that ammonia exposure makes fish more susceptible to illness, both when it’s happening and in the future. Is that true? It would explain a lot. I have had one problem after another and it has really taken its toll on me. And more importantly the poor fish.

If I ever see him again, he better run

TexasGuppy said:
Is it possible you are exposing your filters to tap water prior to treating/dechlorination? That could be messing with your cycle. It's not an uncommon mistake.
Edit: just saw your post.. yep, that was me too!
Yes, it actually took me a long time to figure out my mistake. No one had ever asked me how I was refilling my filters when doing water changes. And I had so many people on here trying to help me. I guess they didn’t think I would make a mistake that obvious. Basically, I used tap water directly from the hose. Dumb, I know! I didn’t get that “Ah-ha” moment until a month ago.
I posted a thread on this, to hopefully keep others from making the same mistake. Even though I was pretty embarrassed admitting it.

I do fill the tank with water directly from the tap. But I put prime for the full tank volume in first. I’m sure the tap water touches the filter intake tubes. Would that make a difference? Or some other obvious thing that I might be missing?

Thanks for thinking to ask that question by the way. I wish I would’ve found you 6 months ago!

NavigatorBlack said:
It looks like you have decent lighting. If I can make a suggestion (it's easy to spend other people's money), consider some low light plants to help with the wastes. Cryptocorynes, java ferns - plants like that. Floating hornwort or guppy grass (najas) would also filter for you.
I don't think you'll ever 'cycle' more than now, as that is a lot of fish. Still I have had tanks where breeding crowded livebearer tanks that much. I have never had a totally unplanted tank though.
You get the conflicting advice because there is more than one way to do things, and all can be argued. I am old school, very old school, in my 51st fishkeeping year. I see plants as better than products, so I suggest them. Others have a chemistry lab for their tanks. Different philosophies, and we can all be very certain we are giving the best advice. I'm sure you have had advice from people less experienced and informed than you are.
You didn't plan for this. You had to hit the ground running at a bad time, and that is hard. I don't know you and will never meet you, but I can see you are figuring this out. It shows.

In your photo, those are very well fed fish. Reducing feeding might be an angle. Mollies and swords will eat themselves to death. How hungry they act is no indicator. You could reduce food portions, and even frequency for adult fish. They will beg, but if I fed my old dog every time she gave me the puppy eyes, I would be killing her. You can reduce the nutrients going in with careful feeding - 50% of what you are doing now, with a fast day every once in a while. It might be worth a try. It won;t harm the fish - in nature they have very lean periods and they can go 3 weeks unfed. They shouldn't, but they can. I would reduce feeding for 3 weeks and see how it looks, before I bought more filters.
Thank you for your response! A few weeks ago, I started considering live plants. However, I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water as is. I’m worried that adding another thing that I know absolutely nothing about, will only complicate things more. And possibly make them worse. It does sound like something I need though.

But at that time, I started reading about the possibility of worms or bugs or other things that could live on plants and that freaked me out. So I thought I needed to put that on hold.

To be honest, I don’t even know how to take care of a plant outside of an aquarium. So now throw it into a tank that I haven’t even figured out yet... and can you imagine the mess I would create? I’m assuming it’s not as simple as throwing it in the water and that’s it. Right?

You know, I read a lot of advice on here. And it wasn’t until I actually started doing all of the stuff in the aquarium myself, that I finally understood it. Now, when I go back and re-read people‘s responses, it makes so much more sense and I understand what they’re saying. I wish I would’ve known then what I know now. Even basic terms were so unfamiliar to me. It was difficult to follow. I definitely couldn’t take away as much from the responses as I do re-reading them now.

The same will probably be true with live plants. However, I don’t think I’m in a position to start experimenting and learning through trial and error. At least not until I can grasp it all a little better. Please remember, things that seem really simple to you and a lot of people on this site, are completely over my head. I always considered myself a relatively smart person. Until this whole fish thing happened. And now I feel like a moron.

For me, simply reading about something that’s completely foreign and something I’ve never tried, or even seen, is difficult for me. It would be really nice if I had somebody in my life that knew anything about aquariums or aquarium plants or cycling a tank. If they could come over and help me in person, I know it would make such a difference. But of course, no such person exists.

Thankfully, I have all of you helping me though.

Oh, and you mentioned lighting. I have even more that I didn’t turn on too. If that matters for anything... not sure if that’s important for live plants or not? Just a guess

Should I attempt live plants even though I don’t know what I’m doing? Can it somehow make things worse? If not, I guess I should go for it...
Ugh, I’m always second guessing myself
 

RedLoredAmazon

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I know some Petcos and Petsmarts take fish and have them in their adoption tanks. It sounds like you are VERY overwhelmed with this tank. I know my advice my seem a bit mean, but if you can find a Petco or Petsmart to take your fish, I would donate every single one of them. This way, if you do want to get out of the hobby, you don't have to worry about the fish anymore. Or if you would like to stay in the hobby, then you can start with a clean slate and stock the tank how you want it, not how the terrible ex set you up with.
 

cadd

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I'm just amazed how these little guys survived from your ex's treatment. High ammonia is never a good thing and I remember you saying the ammonia was off the charts when you took over.

I'm not a scientist, but I would think just like humans, when any living creatures gets exposed to a harmful environment for a long time, our immune system will take a hit and we are more susceptible to disease and illness.

But you're doing the right thing. Increase your filtration (which you will do). Along with the increased filtration, the new filter will also be an additional place for you BB colony to grow. You already put a sponge filter in the tank. That's a great thing. That sponge has a lot of surface area for the BB to grow as well.

Once you get the cycle going, if in the future, you ever need to put a fish in a small (5 or 10 gal) tank for isolation/treatment/illness/quarantine, you can simply fill that small tank with tank water and move that sponge filter into it and you'll instantly be cycled in that tank.
 
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Lauren4events

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Rok55 said:
I am quite surprised to hear that online postings for free fish didn't net you a few takers, especially in a city as large as Chicago. List again in Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and anyplace else you can and leave the ads up for as long as you need to rehome fish.

I have been following along on your journey and the tribulations you've faced. Just keep moving forward on the path and do the best you can

IMO there is no such thing as too much filtration: Only limit is how much you are willing to find room to apply, how much money your willing to spend and whether your willing to put up with what some call an eye sore.

You have made some improvements in your stocking levels and I'm sure will continue down that lane. You have made some improvements in filtration and given your current situation need to add more. Sponge filters add a significant amount of BIOLOGICAL filtration, require minimal maintenance and are worth every cent. Definitely a huge advantage right now. IMO the key to successful filtration for you is to optimize Mechanical and Biological filters, while keeping in mind that your BB can double in colony size approximately every 36 hour, but only if they have the means to find a place to colonize (filter foams, bio media, etc).

I don't recall what your HOB's are but will offer this:
1. Put foam pre-filters on intake tube of each HOB or power filter. This will boost mechanical and biological filtration.
2. If you are currently using carbon/charcoal in the HOB - remove it and replace it with more sponge or bio media.
3. Continue to do % 25 WC daily to remove waste and control Ammonia and Nitrites.
4. Vacuum substrate and clean filters weekly - give your BB a chance to grow and do their job.

Remember you elected to take this on and deserve a bit of credit for continuing for this long. PAT ON BACK
Don't lose sight of the end goal and be proud of the progress you do make.
The number of post and points an individual has is not really an indication of their knowledge or experience level. There are many very experience folks here trying to help you out. Look for the consistency of content from those folks and ignore the ones who bring of topic comments, offer only little snipets of anecdotal commentary or obviously haven't read the thread.

You'll get there. Keep it up!
Thank you for the kind words and wonderful advice!

I know you said you have followed some of my threads, but I’m not sure if you have seen any on the issues I was having, and continue to have, with illness in my tank as well?

So, the reason no one wanted my fish when I posted online, is because I was honest about my situation. I felt obligated to let them know that the fish could possibly be sick or carrying some kind of illness. What kind of person would I be if I left that out for my own selfish gain? So I don’t blame anyone for not being interested. I would not want to buy sick fish either.

The truth is, having these fish in a tank with ammonia present for so long, has made them all very susceptible to illness. And I keep having problems. I don’t want to spread anything to another aquarium. I simply stated in my post online that a QT for a few weeks would be absolutely necessary. Do you see my problem now? And that hasn’t changed. I also live 35 or 40 miles outside of the city. So a little more challenging, but not impossible. I will try again on all the sites you recommended. Thank you! I’m not very hopeful though because of the reasons I just mentioned. But it couldn’t hurt!

Anyway, thank you for the advice on filtration. I will definitely give that a shot. I also decided to buy a canister filter last night... for $200, yikes! But at this point.. I don’t even care. So I’m broke now... well, broke still. I guess I don’t need to get my hair done or eat that much this month. LOL

I’m going to set up the canister when I get home from work tonight. If there’s no such thing as too much filtration, I mine as well add it. Right? I got the 306. Which I believe is 300 gallons per hour. I just hope it’s not too hard to put together . Or even worse, I hope it’s not something that will make it easy for me to make more mistakes. I don’t know anything about canister filters. I barely know anything about regular filters. I honestly will have to google some of the terms you used in your advice. But I promise to look into everything you said. Thanks again!

Susiefoo said:
This. I advertised fish I couldn't keep on my local selling sites (for free) and was surprised how many good responses I got. Have you advertised on here? Can you offer local delivery (with the help of a friend if necessary)? I agree with putting up the ads again and again on as many local sites as you can think of.

If you'd like to share the ads you've been putting up online we might be able to help. There are ways to word them that might be more (or less) appealing to potential owners. They are lovely, healthy looking fish that really shouldn't be that hard to find homes for - if you "market" them in the right way. IMO that is the kindest thing you can do for them, and for the health of any fish you do keep.

I agree with the suggestion to get some live plants in. If you buy a few from an LFS you might be able to negotiate them taking some of your fish as part of the deal. People get more helpful when there's a potential sale involved!
Please see my post before this one, about why I have a problem getting rid of fish with ads online. Let me know what you think, please.

RedLoredAmazon said:
I know some Petcos and Petsmarts take fish and have them in their adoption tanks. It sounds like you are VERY overwhelmed with this tank. I know my advice my seem a bit mean, but if you can find a Petco or Petsmart to take your fish, I would donate every single one of them. This way, if you do want to get out of the hobby, you don't have to worry about the fish anymore. Or if you would like to stay in the hobby, then you can start with a clean slate and stock the tank how you want it, not how the terrible ex set you up with.
I have literally asked every petco, petsmart, and lfs in my area. Within an hour of me even. No one will take them.
Am I saying the wrong thing maybe? I don’t ask for money. I just say I have too many fish. Before I get into any other detail, they tell me no. I did find one lfs who was willing to take them as feeder fish. But I couldn’t go through with that.

One place told me they would take them but they didn’t have the room for it at the moment. They said they would call me. But that was almost a month ago. I left a message since then. I will follow up again.

I think it all boils down to me mentioning that they could be sick. That is literally my entire problem. I don’t know that I could give anyone fish without telling them the truth...

Am I wrong?
 

RedLoredAmazon

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BettaFishKeeper4302 said:
It might not be fair. But can it still be done? It is not strictly 3 gallons a section the water goes through the holes in the divider.
Lauren4events said:
I have literally asked every petco, petsmart, and lfs in my area. Within an hour of me even. No one will take them.
Am I saying the wrong thing maybe? I don’t ask for money. I just say I have too many fish. Before I get into any other detail, they tell me no. I did find one lfs who was willing to take them as feeder fish. But I couldn’t go through with that.

One place told me they would take them but they didn’t have the room for it at the moment. They said they would call me. But that was almost a month ago. I left a message since then. I will follow up again.

I think it all boils down to me mentioning that they could be sick. That is literally my entire problem. I don’t know that I could give anyone fish without telling them the truth...

Am I wrong?
I agree about the honesty. I've also been following your other threads and know that you have been really struggling. I can't really say what I would do in your case. Hopefully that one place will be able to take some of the fish.
 

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Yes. You're doing the right thing telling the truth. Big props. It would be horrible if someone took your fish and didn't know about quarantine and got their entire tank sick. You are absolutely doing the right thing! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

What really baffles me (and I'm sure many other members here) is the fact that your ammonia doesn't seem to drop with daily water changes.

I know you stated your tap shows 0 ammonia. Are you absolutely sure of this? If so, it's just mind boggling and just doesn't add up. Theoretically speaking, if you test your tank and it shows 1.0ppm of ammonia, when you do a 50% water change that ***should*** bring the ammonia down to 0.50ppm immediately.

The next day, if you do another 50% water change, that should bring the 0.50ppm down to 0.25ppm. Then 0.125ppm....and so forth.

It's almost impossible to have ammonia build up over night that quickly unless something is decaying in the tank. I know you said you're not willing to feed less. However, when you feed do you notice any left over food uneaten? Are you sure there isn't a dead/decaying fish hidden somewhere? Have you checked your filters to make sure there isn't anything decaying in there?

Could it possibly be that there was so much **** that was left in your substrate that it's slowly releasing ammonia without you knowing?

If I were in your situation this is what I would do:
1 - I would set up the canister to see if that helps. Hopefully that will solve the issue by having more filtration and allow the BB colony to grow quicker to process the ammonia. If however after a few weeks and the situation stays the same I would personally rip the tank apart and start fresh by:

A: Move every single fish from the tank into a 5 gal bucket with a heater, air stone and small decor (fake plants, etc). I know they'll be fine for the hour or two that it'll take me to completely drain/vac and fill the tank.
B: I'll make sure all the filters have tank water in them so the BB colony doesn't die off for that 1 - 2 hour period
C: Remove every single decor (rocks, plants, driftwood, etc) from the tank and place them in another bucket/container with tank water.
D: Do a 90 - 100% water change and gravel vac every single inch of the tank while I'm draining the water.
E: Dose Seachem Prime for the entire tank while filling it back up with temperature that matches the water temp that the fish are used to.
F: Start adding back all my decor
G: Add back the dirty 5 gallon tank water that the fish were in
H: Slowly acclimate my fish back into the tank

Again, this is what I would do if it were my tank. It's pretty much a fresh start.
 

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Lauren4events said:
Thank you for your response! A few weeks ago, I started considering live plants. However, I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water as is. I’m worried that adding another thing that I know absolutely nothing about, will only complicate things more. And possibly make them worse. It does sound like something I need though.

But at that time, I started reading about the possibility of worms or bugs or other things that could live on plants and that freaked me out. So I thought I needed to put that on hold.

To be honest, I don’t even know how to take care of a plant outside of an aquarium. So now throw it into a tank that I haven’t even figured out yet... and can you imagine the mess I would create? I’m assuming it’s not as simple as throwing it in the water and that’s it. Right?

You know, I read a lot of advice on here. And it wasn’t until I actually started doing all of the stuff in the aquarium myself, that I finally understood it. Now, when I go back and re-read people‘s responses, it makes so much more sense and I understand what they’re saying. I wish I would’ve known then what I know now. Even basic terms were so unfamiliar to me. It was difficult to follow. I definitely couldn’t take away as much from the responses as I do re-reading them now.

The same will probably be true with live plants. However, I don’t think I’m in a position to start experimenting and learning through trial and error. At least not until I can grasp it all a little better. Please remember, things that seem really simple to you and a lot of people on this site, are completely over my head. I always considered myself a relatively smart person. Until this whole fish thing happened. And now I feel like a moron.

For me, simply reading about something that’s completely foreign and something I’ve never tried, or even seen, is difficult for me. It would be really nice if I had somebody in my life that knew anything about aquariums or aquarium plants or cycling a tank. If they could come over and help me in person, I know it would make such a difference. But of course, no such person exists.

Thankfully, I have all of you helping me though.

Oh, and you mentioned lighting. I have even more that I didn’t turn on too. If that matters for anything... not sure if that’s important for live plants or not? Just a guess

Should I attempt live plants even though I don’t know what I’m doing? Can it somehow make things worse? If not, I guess I should go for it...
Ugh, I’m always second guessing myself
Plants are great and take up ammonia as already suggested by @NavigatorBlack . If you don't feel like dealing with planting, just grab floating plants (frogbit, water lettuce), other plants like hornwort, anarcharis, guppy grass don't need to (or can't) be planted either.
I had to laugh reading that you are worried about bugs and worms You have fish, critters won't survive in your tank, that's what fish eat

I only have planted tanks, fish in an unplanned tank give me a stomach ache.
https://blog.aquariuminfo.org/top-6-benefits-aquatic-plants-aquarium/
 
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cadd said:
Yes. You're doing the right thing telling the truth. Big props. It would be horrible if someone took your fish and didn't know about quarantine and got their entire tank sick. You are absolutely doing the right thing! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

What really baffles me (and I'm sure many other members here) is the fact that your ammonia doesn't seem to drop with daily water changes.

I know you stated your tap shows 0 ammonia. Are you absolutely sure of this? If so, it's just mind boggling and just doesn't add up. Theoretically speaking, if you test your tank and it shows 1.0ppm of ammonia, when you do a 50% water change that ***should*** bring the ammonia down to 0.50ppm immediately.

The next day, if you do another 50% water change, that should bring the 0.50ppm down to 0.25ppm. Then 0.125ppm....and so forth.

It's almost impossible to have ammonia build up over night that quickly unless something is decaying in the tank. I know you said you're not willing to feed less. However, when you feed do you notice any left over food uneaten? Are you sure there isn't a dead/decaying fish hidden somewhere? Have you checked your filters to make sure there isn't anything decaying in there?

Could it possibly be that there was so much **** that was left in your substrate that it's slowly releasing ammonia without you knowing?

If I were in your situation this is what I would do:
1 - I would set up the canister to see if that helps. Hopefully that will solve the issue by having more filtration and allow the BB colony to grow quicker to process the ammonia. If however after a few weeks and the situation stays the same I would personally rip the tank apart and start fresh by:

A: Move every single fish from the tank into a 5 gal bucket with a heater, air stone and small decor (fake plants, etc). I know they'll be fine for the hour or two that it'll take me to completely drain/vac and fill the tank.
B: I'll make sure all the filters have tank water in them so the BB colony doesn't die off for that 1 - 2 hour period
C: Remove every single decor (rocks, plants, driftwood, etc) from the tank and place them in another bucket/container with tank water.
D: Do a 90 - 100% water change and gravel vac every single inch of the tank while I'm draining the water.
E: Dose Seachem Prime for the entire tank while filling it back up with temperature that matches the water temp that the fish are used to.
F: Start adding back all my decor
G: Add back the dirty 5 gallon tank water that the fish were in
H: Slowly acclimate my fish back into the tank


Again, this is what I would do if it were my tank. It's pretty much a fresh start.
Yes, ok so you see my frustration and why I am honestly losing my mind here. I have tested my tap so many times. Occasionally it looks like it might be close to 0.25, but not significantly. Usually it doesn’t change color at all. It’s pure yellow. There’s no ammonia. I have hoped to find ammonia in my tap. Because that would at least make sense to me.

I gravel vac with every water change and I only have 1 inch or less gravel on the bottom of my tank. It would be hard to miss something underneath, right? I move, lift and clean under my decor. Not every time, probably every 3 times though. I change close to 50% water and gravel vac every single day. Sometimes I do that 2 times back to back. I really don’t know where anything would hide... but that would at least make a lot more sense.

The ammonia lowers after a water change. But then it goes right back up to 1ppm pretty quickly. I figured it was strictly due to the number of fish I have in an uncycled tank.

I did rinse my 1 hob filter today. It looked like stuff was floating in the water when I refilled it. I assumed that meant it was time to clean it. Even though it’s only been a few weeks since I did it last. It’s a small one though. It just had the usual brown stuff. Yuck! But nothing decaying or out of the ordinary at all.

I always rinse my filters in tank water at least once a month. Usually twice, but I think up until now my filtration hasn’t been enough. So they get dirty quickly.

Unrelated, kind of... but can you tell me if this is another mistake I am making? When I decide to clean the filter, I usually pull it off the back of the tank before removing and replacing water. I do this in case any gross stuff gets into the water. I put the sponge, media and media holder thing (sorry, I don’t know actual terms of anything) into a bucket with tank water.

Then, since I can’t use tap water, I use paper towels and q-tips to wipe out as much of the brown gunky stuff as I can from both the main part of the filter (the part that holds everything) and the tubes. The tubes are always impossible to fully clean, but I think I do a pretty good job. No clue what I’m doing because I’ve never been taught.

I let the sponge and media sit in the bucket of tank water while I remove water from the tank. And since it’s a 60 gallon, and I remove so much water, it takes awhile. I rinse and squeeze everything when I’m refilling the tank water. But maybe that’s a mistake to wait that long. It just seemed like a better use of my time to rinse everything when I was waiting for the water to refill anyway.

But I was just reading something about canister filters -because I don’t know how to use them yet and I just installed my brand new fluval 306 a few minutes ago (the instructions were impossible for me to understand for some reason so it took forever). Anyway, I was trying to figure out it if I’m supposed to turn them off when doing a water change or not... I still don’t know.

Some people said yes. Others said no, leave it on. Because if you are keeping it off for longer than 15 minutes, and the water isn’t flowing through it, then there will be no oxygen and the beneficial bacteria will die. They said if you turn it off, you should put the sponge and media in a bucket with an air stone.

Am I supposed to be using an air stone when I clean my filters? No one has ever mentioned that before and now I’m confused again.

And that would lead me to believe another part of my problem is with my water change.

So, the entire process takes me about an hour and a half. Before I start, I unplug my heater and filters. And leave the air stones on.

Then, I start siphoning our the water. I keep a plastic cup within reach, so the second the water drains out of the filters, I scoop tank water and refill them. The water sits in there until I turn them back on, after the water is refilled.

I don’t turn the filters on when I’m refilling the water because I don’t want tap water to get sucked up. I put prime in the water first, but not the filter. So I didn’t want to risk it.

So could my problem be that my filters are off for at least and hour or 2, sometimes more, everyday single day?? If so, how would I even fix that?

And can someone please explain what I need to do with my canister filter when I do a water change? Especially a large one that takes a good deal of time.

Honestly, I don’t even know if I installed the thing correctly. But the one tube is blowing out water so that has to be a good sign, right? Seems to be working fine but what do I know?

Oh... and can I use stability with a canister filter? I just picked some up. But I’ve tried this stuff before. I doubt it will help. But I can try again I suppose
 

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I personally turn everything off when I do my water changes. However it's up to you. You can leave your filters running while doing water changes. I've done it both ways. Just personal preference. I just don't like water splashing everywhere with the filters running when I drain the tank.

I've had my filter off for 1+ hours before. I haven't had any issues. I've had power outages that lasted for 5 or 6 hours. Again no issues.

I think putting an air stone with the filter is overkill. I've mailed my used filter to a buddy to help him jump start his tank when he was cycling. It was in the mail for 3 or 4 days. It arrived a bit moist...and it did help him cycle faster. So if the bacteria was able to survive a 3 - 4 day trip in the mail, I'm sure an hour or two without an air stone is fine for your bacteria.

Did your canister come with bio media? I personally use Fluval Biomax and Seachem Matrix in my canister.

How many trays is in your canister? Can you list how you stacked them and what you put in each tray? This way we can tell you if it's set up efficiently.
 
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FYI: here is my test results when I got home from work. And then after a 50% water change (just before I installed my new canister).

It’s not different lighting, even though it looks that way. The colors are always just a lot lighter after I change water. Not enough though.

So to me it looks like ammonia went from 1 to 0.5 and nitrate went from like 30 to 5 or 10. Is that normal?

Tomorrow it will be back to the first picture. This is my life in a nutshell. And my personal nightmare! Welcome!

Although... and I might be imagining things... but my nitrite is starting to look slightly less blue than last week. Barely, but I can see it. And every little bit helps. Right?

cadd said:
I personally turn everything off when I do my water changes. However it's up to you. You can leave your filters running while doing water changes. I've done it both ways. Just personal preference. I just don't like water splashing everywhere with the filters running when I drain the tank.

I've had my filter off for 1+ hours before. I haven't had any issues. I've had power outages that lasted for 5 or 6 hours. Again no issues.

Did your canister come with bio media? I personally use Fluval Biomax and Seachem Matrix in my canister.

How many trays is in your canister? Can you list how you stacked them and what you put in each tray? This way we tell you if it's set up efficiently.
Sure I have 3 trays. I apologize ahead of time because I don’t know what anything is actually called. Let me know if I don’t make sense. I confuse myself too.

The bottom tray has 2 thick sponges that are wavey at the bottom. At least it looks like waves to me.

The second tray, which sits on top of that, has those ceramic pellets. I threw in some of the black plastic spikey looking things. I don’t know if I was supposed to. So there’s only 6 or 7. The rest is just the ceramic cubes that came with the filter.

Last, on top is a tray that has 2 thin little white flat sponges on the bottom with 2 bags of carbon on top of them. Yes, I knew a word!... carbon! Lol.

Then, on the opposite side of the 3 stacked trays is this red thing that holds 4 white sponges. 2 on each side.

Does that sound right? If you could even understand my nonsense descriptions...

Do I sound like a total moron right now? Cuz I feel like one.
 

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Yup. That makes sense. From 1 to 0.50 after a large water change. The Nitrate readings make sense as well.

It seems like you are cycled. But it seems like your cycle isn't strong enough. Or that one type of BB isn't strong enough. Seems like the BB that converts nitrites to nitrates is doing its job. But the BB that convert ammonia to nitrites isn't doing theirs.
 
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cadd said:
I personally turn everything off when I do my water changes. However it's up to you. You can leave your filters running while doing water changes. I've done it both ways. Just personal preference. I just don't like water splashing everywhere with the filters running when I drain the tank.

I've had my filter off for 1+ hours before. I haven't had any issues. I've had power outages that lasted for 5 or 6 hours. Again no issues.

I think putting an air stone with the filter is overkill. I've mailed my used filter to a buddy to help him jump start his tank when he was cycling. It was in the mail for 3 or 4 days. It arrived a bit moist...and it did help him cycle faster. So if the bacteria was able to survive a 3 - 4 day trip in the mail, I'm sure an hour or two without an air stone is fine for your bacteria.

Did your canister come with bio media? I personally use Fluval Biomax and Seachem Matrix in my canister.

How many trays is in your canister? Can you list how you stacked them and what you put in each tray? This way we can tell you if it's set up efficiently.
The out tube is moving back and forth slightly. Is that a bad sign? Or maybe it’s too low in the water? It’s a few inches below the water level. But I didn’t want to cut that stupid tube one more time.

It was so hard setting this up because I can’t get behind my tank. So I was doing it blindly and hurting myself in the process. I’m sure it would’ve been funny to watch tho...

cadd said:
Yup. That makes sense. From 1 to 0.50 after a large water change. The Nitrate readings make sense as well.

It seems like you are cycled. But it seems like your cycle isn't strong enough. Or that one type of BB isn't strong enough. Seems like the BB that converts nitrites to nitrates is doing its job. But the BB that convert ammonia to nitrites isn't doing theirs.
Did I set up my canister correct? And in the right order? I threw the instruction book to the side so many times because it was confusing me.

Yes, I agree. I don’t have the bacteria I need to convert the ammonia. Or even more likely, I have too many fish and the bacteria can’t convert it all fast enough. Maybe they never will be able to.

I was hoping adding a canister to my tank, along with the 2 current hob filters would help. At least I’m hoping... because I’m out of ideas.

I thought I read somewhere that you shouldn’t add stability for a few hours after installing a canister. Is that true or am I making things up? I wanted to try adding bacteria again. Even though it didn’t help last time I tried. It literally made zero difference in my water tests. But it couldn’t hurt, right?

Thanks for your help!
 
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