Help Filter Replacement Cycle Issue

Ashzilla

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Hello All
I messed up starting my tank and it didn't cycle properly before adding my fish so we are in the cycle now and the filter is gross. I have a tetra whisper filter (M) and I'm really worried about replacing it and starting this whole process over. I tested my water and the ammonia is now spiking. I'm using prime to help it as I was told to. I'm going to be doing a 1/2 water replacement tonight and the filter is gross. Please I'm a newbie in need of some help.
 
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ghostdawg

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I'm not sure if you should do anything with the filter at this point. But by bumping this, someone with more experience may offer better advice.
 

Dunk2

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Ashzilla said:
Hello All
I messed up starting my tank and it didn't cycle properly before adding my fish so we are in the cycle now and the filter is gross. I have a tetra whisper filter (M) and I'm really worried about replacing it and starting this whole process over. I tested my water and the ammonia is now spiking. I'm using prime to help it as I was told to. I'm going to be doing a 1/2 water replacement tonight and the filter is gross. Please I'm a newbie in need of some help.
When you say you’re worried about replacing the filter, I assume you mean the contents of or media in the filter?

Do not replace the filter media. Soak/swish it in the water you remove from the tank.

Also, realize that Prime is very good, but it’s only effective up to a combined level of ammonia and nitrites of 1 ppm. So partial water changes to keep the levels below that are very important.
 

AquEric

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Ok take your filter cartridge out don't forget to unplug your pump run your cartridge under light water rub the gunk off if you have to don't have to much pressure theirs a lot of good bacteria in your filter it eats the ammonia and nitrate and turns it into harmless nitrite. I'm a believer in fish in cycling I use guppies or platys
 

FishGirl38

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Okay, well, the filter is going to be 'gross'. The filter pad is the thing that traps all the debri and left over food, it'll never be a fun task to have to clean out, I promise...

Now, personally, I would recommend ditching the tetra whisper when it becomes unusable (when the motor goes) and upgrade to an aquaclear filter. The ONLY reason, is because tetra (marineland, and aqueon) filters all come fashioned with a pre-made 'filter pad'. This filter pad is usually small (not a lot of space for beneficial bacteria to grow), and replacing it on a monthly basis could be problematic later on, as you're finding out now (you don't want to clean/replace the filter and restart your cycle...), BUT...that's how these filters are supposed to be used. It's their fatal flaw.

Now, tetra has done something with their bio-bags to help alleviate this issue. They've made the carbon optional. In some containers, you'll buy the filter pads, and have to add the packet of carbon before you put the pad into the filter. WELL, this is good, because the only reason you're advised to replace your filter pad on a monthly basis IS to replenish the carbon...if you don't use carbon, you never have to completely 'replace' your filter media (unless you choose to use another chemical removing agent - like carbon). I recommend aquaclear because their HOB is actually an open filter basket that you stack filter media inside, it works like a true mini canister filter. First the sponge, then the carbon, then ceramic rings for your bacteria to cling to, if you don't use any carbon, just substitute another sponge (or more ceramic rings-the better option) in it's place and you'll never have to worry about depleting the BB in your filter. BECAUSE it will be attached to the ceramic rings, you'll simply pull the basket out of the filter, wring the sponge out till it's as clean as you can get it (while leaving the ceramic rings in some tank water for a second), replace it all right back where you got it from and boom, clean filter with a strong BB colony.

Maybe that doesn't help you so much in the current moment. For now, I would pull the filter pad, and swish it in a bowl of tank water to get all the gunk off - what's restricting flow. It's supposed to be brown or red. (take some water from the tank, and replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water - DON'T do this during a water change, stagger your filter cleaning and your water changes - so, clean your filter one week, then do your water change the next week - or some time after).

As far as the carbon goes, I wouldn't worry too much about it. The worse thing that could happen, is that you have an increase in nitrates or phosphates. These two compounds only contribute to algae growth (nitrate CAN be toxic and very high levels for prolonged periods - but it won't harm fish to not worry about it just to get through your cycle - and technically, you shouldn't have any nitrate in the tank till the cycle finishes).

If you absolutely need to do a water change, remember that your bacteria (what you're trying to grow) lives in your gravel bed and your filter (pad/ceramic media). SO, only set the syphon in the water, don't syphon the gravel bed. If you do, you risk removing some of that good bacteria as well as the waste. Whereas if you leave the syphon in the water column, you're only getting rid of the (ammonia) saturated water, which is what you really want to do.

You mention you're a newbie...Prime is a great product, and it's probably one of the only one's that goes against what I'm about to say, but my one piece of general newbie advice would be never to assume there's a product you could add to the tank for an easy fix. A lot of people assume...Oh, algae problem? use an algaecide (algae killer), Oh, PH problem? Use a PH buffer product (usually a salt or liquid). Usually when something is going wrong in the aquarium, its better to remove something (dilute) than it is to add a magic fix - don't buy into those magic fix's. Research the problem online, learn about what is causing the issue, and target the cause - these product often work like cheap band-aids that target side effects. :).

So, in summary, Don't replace your filter media until your cycle completes. I would (unplug/turn off the filter-otherwise it'll put a ton of gunk into your tank) pull the filter pad and clean it off in some aquarium water. Just like your fish, your BB do not do well in chlorine, and using existing water to keep the environment the same would be the best per the health of your BB. From there, add that pad right back to the filter and let her be. If you need to do a water change, try not to clean your filter at the same time, and don't syphon the gravel bed right now, only remove some of the ammonia saturated water.

A trick for understanding how to read your test kit and how much water you need to remove - these concentration are mathematically relevant by percentages. SO, if your tank is testing at 1.0 ppm, than a 50% water change would dilute the ammonia level to .5ppm (which is just at the cusp of 'toxic' which is .5ppm). Ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish at levels above .5ppm, prime will help with this up to a concentration of 1.0ppm as mentioned. Nitrate should be constant around 5-40ppm.

Once your tank is cycled, you'll be watching the nitrate instead of the ammonia, when your nitrate rises higher than 40ppm, that means there is enough waste compounds in the tank to cause an algae problem, and a water change would prevent that (of course you'll watch the other compounds too, but once the tank is cycled, you'll have a safeguard against ammonia and nitrite spikes) - this is why we cycle.

That was all over the place, but I hope I helped some.

EDIT: IF your pad is only discolored...If it is not cached with slime that is causing the filter to be restricted. Than you should not clean the pad at all right now, as I said, you shouldn't have to worry about the carbon for right now, and if it does become a problem later on, that can be remedied with small, back to back, daily water changes to dilute excess nutrients. (you would do smaller W/C more often so as to not change the water parameters on your fish too rapidly - going from 1.0-.25 in 3 days [using prime to buffer] is a lot safer than doing it in 20 min). So, if the filter is still flowing well, and there isn't any fungus growing on old food that you can visibly see on the filter, than all you MIGHT need to do right now is a water change to only dilute ammonia.
 

Dunk2

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AquEric said:
Ok take your filter cartridge out don't forget to unplug your pump run your cartridge under light water rub the gunk off if you have to don't have to much pressure theirs a lot of good bacteria in your filter it eats the ammonia and nitrate and turns it into harmless nitrite. I'm a believer in fish in cycling I use guppies or platys
Unless you’re on well water or your water coming out of the tap is dechlorinated, you shouldn’t run any filter media under it.
 

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All filter media/ foam/ sponge/ cartridges/ ceramic/ fabric is only rinsed in a bucket of old TANK water.And then put back in the filter. Most media will not need replacement for 2 or more years.
A cartridge is meant to look gross/ black Ashzilla.
 

AquEric

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Dunk2 said:
Unless you’re on well water or your water coming out of the tap is dechlorinated, you shouldn’t run any filter media under it.
I live in south Alabama on city water and have no problem running my cartridge under the water supply I have here I don't use a lot of pressure
 

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AquEric said:
I live in south Alabama on city water and have no problem running my cartridge under the water supply I have here I don't use a lot of pressure
It’s not the pressure that harms beneficial bacteria, but the chlorine.

Although some (few) folks claim to do what you’re suggesting, I wouldn’t ever try or recommend doing it.
 

FishGirl38

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AquEric said:
I live in south Alabama on city water and have no problem running my cartridge under the water supply I have here I don't use a lot of pressure
So...I loyally stand by my aquaclear and fluval canister filters...I wring my sponges out in scalding tap water...No care at all about it. I double up on my ceramic media, leave them in my bucket with the water that was inside the filter unit, replace my used sponges, add the swished (somewhat dirty still) ceramic rings to the basket, replace and I'm good to go.

What I find risky about it, is that you're subjecting your only BB colony to potential harm. Granted, Its possible the BB hanging out in your gravel is strong enough to replenish itself before there's an issue in the filter BB? Can't say I haven't done this though, I just wouldn't do it without a known back-up colony somewhere (like using two filter pads and cleaning one at a time?).

"I understand what you're saying I have well established tanks(I have bad MTS)9 tanks and know about the dangers of city water as long as I shut down my filter I keep a lot of bacteria in it and have never had a problem"

(Replying here so as to not spam OP's post): This makes total sense to me...If you're not cleaning or messing with the unit itself - and it's a large enough unit, than the water and subsequent filaments attached to it would hold quite a bit of additional bacteria, thus acting as a 'back-up'. And too, if you're running these tanks at an average or less than average bio-load, than they would be able to rebound quite quickly, I would agree. We all have different methods of going about BB, good for the OP to learn. :).
 

AquEric

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Dunk2 said:
It’s not the pressure that harms beneficial bacteria, but the chlorine.

Although some (few) folks claim to do what you’re suggesting, I wouldn’t ever try or recommend doing it.
I understand what you're saying I have well established tanks(I have bad MTS)9 tanks and know about the dangers of city water as long as I shut down my filter I keep a lot of bacteria in it and have never had a problem
 
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Ashzilla

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FishGirl38 said:
Okay, well, the filter is going to be 'gross'. The filter pad is the thing that traps all the debri and left over food, it'll never be a fun task to have to clean out, I promise...

Now, personally, I would recommend ditching the tetra whisper when it becomes unusable (when the motor goes) and upgrade to an aquaclear filter. The ONLY reason, is because tetra (marineland, and aqueon) filters all come fashioned with a pre-made 'filter pad'. This filter pad is usually small (not a lot of space for beneficial bacteria to grow), and replacing it on a monthly basis could be problematic later on, as you're finding out now (you don't want to clean/replace the filter and restart your cycle...), BUT...that's how these filters are supposed to be used. It's their fatal flaw.

Now, tetra has done something with their bio-bags to help alleviate this issue. They've made the carbon optional. In some containers, you'll buy the filter pads, and have to add the packet of carbon before you put the pad into the filter. WELL, this is good, because the only reason you're advised to replace your filter pad on a monthly basis IS to replenish the carbon...if you don't use carbon, you never have to completely 'replace' your filter media (unless you choose to use another chemical removing agent - like carbon). I recommend aquaclear because their HOB is actually an open filter basket that you stack filter media inside, it works like a true mini canister filter. First the sponge, then the carbon, then ceramic rings for your bacteria to cling to, if you don't use any carbon, just substitute another sponge (or more ceramic rings-the better option) in it's place and you'll never have to worry about depleting the BB in your filter. BECAUSE it will be attached to the ceramic rings, you'll simply pull the basket out of the filter, wring the sponge out till it's as clean as you can get it (while leaving the ceramic rings in some tank water for a second), replace it all right back where you got it from and boom, clean filter with a strong BB colony.

Maybe that doesn't help you so much in the current moment. For now, I would pull the filter pad, and swish it in a bowl of tank water to get all the gunk off - what's restricting flow. It's supposed to be brown or red. (take some water from the tank, and replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water - DON'T do this during a water change, stagger your filter cleaning and your water changes - so, clean your filter one week, then do your water change the next week - or some time after).

As far as the carbon goes, I wouldn't worry too much about it. The worse thing that could happen, is that you have an increase in nitrates or phosphates. These two compounds only contribute to algae growth (nitrate CAN be toxic and very high levels for prolonged periods - but it won't harm fish to not worry about it just to get through your cycle - and technically, you shouldn't have any nitrate in the tank till the cycle finishes).

If you absolutely need to do a water change, remember that your bacteria (what you're trying to grow) lives in your gravel bed and your filter (pad/ceramic media). SO, only set the syphon in the water, don't syphon the gravel bed. If you do, you risk removing some of that good bacteria as well as the waste. Whereas if you leave the syphon in the water column, you're only getting rid of the (ammonia) saturated water, which is what you really want to do.

You mention you're a newbie...Prime is a great product, and it's probably one of the only one's that goes against what I'm about to say, but my one piece of general newbie advice would be never to assume there's a product you could add to the tank for an easy fix. A lot of people assume...Oh, algae problem? use an algaecide (algae killer), Oh, PH problem? Use a PH buffer product (usually a salt or liquid). Usually when something is going wrong in the aquarium, its better to remove something (dilute) than it is to add a magic fix - don't buy into those magic fix's. Research the problem online, learn about what is causing the issue, and target the cause - these product often work like cheap band-aids that target side effects. :).

So, in summary, Don't replace your filter media until your cycle completes. I would (unplug/turn off the filter-otherwise it'll put a ton of gunk into your tank) pull the filter pad and clean it off in some aquarium water. Just like your fish, your BB do not do well in chlorine, and using existing water to keep the environment the same would be the best per the health of your BB. From there, add that pad right back to the filter and let her be. If you need to do a water change, try not to clean your filter at the same time, and don't syphon the gravel bed right now, only remove some of the ammonia saturated water.

A trick for understanding how to read your test kit and how much water you need to remove - these concentration are mathematically relevant by percentages. SO, if your tank is testing at 1.0 ppm, than a 50% water change would dilute the ammonia level to .5ppm (which is just at the cusp of 'toxic' which is .5ppm). Ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish at levels above .5ppm, prime will help with this up to a concentration of 1.0ppm as mentioned. Nitrate should be constant around 5-40ppm.

Once your tank is cycled, you'll be watching the nitrate instead of the ammonia, when your nitrate rises higher than 40ppm, that means there is enough waste compounds in the tank to cause an algae problem, and a water change would prevent that (of course you'll watch the other compounds too, but once the tank is cycled, you'll have a safeguard against ammonia and nitrite spikes) - this is why we cycle.

That was all over the place, but I hope I helped some.

EDIT: IF your pad is only discolored...If it is not cached with slime that is causing the filter to be restricted. Than you should not clean the pad at all right now, as I said, you shouldn't have to worry about the carbon for right now, and if it does become a problem later on, that can be remedied with small, back to back, daily water changes to dilute excess nutrients. (you would do smaller W/C more often so as to not change the water parameters on your fish too rapidly - going from 1.0-.25 in 3 days [using prime to buffer] is a lot safer than doing it in 20 min). So, if the filter is still flowing well, and there isn't any fungus growing on old food that you can visibly see on the filter, than all you MIGHT need to do right now is a water change to only dilute ammonia.
This was amazing thank you sooo much. This was the crash course I needed. I have definitely tried to stay away from using the remedies at the store beyond prime which was very recent when I upgraded to this tank and filter combo and started this journey (prematurely).
Based on what you've said I think I can wait on cleaning up the filter and focus on my ammonia issue with water changes. I will definitely be looking into upgrading this filter situation probably sooner rather than later sounds like a better plan long term. I have screenshots of your whole reply I am so greatful!! This really put it out there in a way I get what im doing and supposed to do.
 

FishGirl38

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Ashzilla said:
This was amazing thank you sooo much. This was the crash course I needed. I have definitely tried to stay away from using the remedies at the store beyond prime which was very recent when I upgraded to this tank and filter combo and started this journey (prematurely).
Based on what you've said I think I can wait on cleaning up the filter and focus on my ammonia issue with water changes. I will definitely be looking into upgrading this filter situation probably sooner rather than later sounds like a better plan long term. I have screenshots of your whole reply I am so greatful!! This really put it out there in a way I get what im doing and supposed to do.
Okay! well, if and when you do decide to change out the filter, Figure out a way to transfer your existing filter media into the new filter. Whether than means stuffing the used cartridge behind or on top of the new media, or cutting it apart and stuffing it in the bottom - don't throw it away. The carbon will be useless (so it's okay to cut it up and destroy the carbon) but the brown, gunky poly foam is where your good stuff is living and you'll want to keep that when you transfer filters. OR you could instead add the new filter on the tank WITH the old filter and wait between 2 weeks to a month. I personally recommend just transferring the gunky media, as it'll seed the new filter a little faster, but any of those methods will help in avoiding a decrease in your bacteria colonies in the future (when you switch filters).

Well, I'll go ahead and blurt it out here. I mention quick fixes like algaecides and PH buffers because they can actually get you in ALOT of trouble if they're not used properly. Algaecides, when overdosed, can rapidly decrease oxygen levels in the tank (your fish suffocate *cough* drown, I said it...*lol*) and when using PH buffers, if they're not used continually, can actually cause major PH swings (and the most important part about PH isn't the number itself per se, just that the number stays consistent over time).

In reality, you can control algae growth by keeping your light off for 16 hours a day, and on for only 8. While also keeping your nitrate and phosphate levels low. Nitrate is a waste product produced at the end of the nitrogen cycle (plants -like photosynthesizing algae, 'eat' nitrate as well, this is why 'having plants keeps the tank *cleaner*' - if you've ever heard that), and phosphate, will occur in your tank as leftover fish food/wastes break down. Phosphate can actually be the sole cause for specific types of algae growth, like hair or black beard algae. So...take away the steroid that grows the plant (light) and take away it's food source with regular water changes (excess nutrients) and you've killed your algae problem without chemicals.

As a note, nobody can tell you how much water you should remove and when, I get this question all the time where I work. Most associates will tell you '25% every 2 weeks' - its a basic guideline. Your tank might need a water change every week, or every month (after it's cycled). How often will depend on how many fish you have in the tank and how much waste they're producing (and subsequently, how quickly your excess waste compounds build up). The only way you'll know when and how much, is by testing your water and doing a little ratio math.

PH is the hardest (IMO) thing to understand about fish keeping because it depends on a few things, I still don't think I've got it down pat 100% but I'll share what I believe to be true. (I think I've got it at about 85%)

PH in and of itself is a combination of 2 other measures, your GH and your KH. It's not necessarily GH+KH=PH, but it's how these two separate measures 'interact' that results in the overall 'PH' of the tank. More like GH:KH = PH ratio.

so, PH measures how alkaline (basic, hard, high measured number) or acidic (soft, low measured number) your water is. For context, Hydrogen is acidic, the chemical formula for ammonia is NH4+. The 4+ means there are 4 hydrogen for every one nitrogen atom which makes up ammonia. Because ammonia (and other acids such as tannic [from leaves and woods that're breaking down] and aminos [from foods]) is acidic, it will naturally eat away at the minerals in the tank overtime. This is where our GH and KH measures come into play. GH measures the overall content of heavy minerals, specifically, calcium and magnesium (are the most prevalent) that is in the water. GH is what can affect the overall PH number specifically. The greater mineral content in the water, the higher the overall GH (and subsequent PH) will be, and conversely, the lesser amount of minerals in the water, the lower the PH value. You can have a low PH at 6.2 to keep south american apistogramma, or you can have a high PH at 8.4 to keep african cichlids (or saltwater fish), neither one is 'bad'. What can be 'bad' in either scenario, is having a KH value that is low. KH acts as the buffer between your acids and your minerals. Think of the acids (like ammonia and other wastes) as a knight with a sword, and your minerals as a knight with a shield. The shield is your 'KH' measure.

KH measures carbonate and bicarbonate. What's that??? well, Calcium looks like Ca+, and magnesium looks like Mg+. Carbonate looks like CO,3,2- and BiCarbonate looks like HCO,3,1-. What is interesting about carbonate (and why it's important) is because it BINDS with our Ca+ and Mg+ ions in the aquarium to create...Calcium carbonate and Magnesium carbonate.

So, this next part has to do with the electrons and protons (the +'s and -'s I keep adding in) and how these compounds are able to bind together, but basically, if your Ca+'s and Mg+'s are already bound with CO,3,2-'s, than they become more STABLE and less REACTIVE to the acids in the aquarium (because those +'s and -'s will balance out). If there is not enough CO,3,2-'s in the aquarium to bind with your Ca+'s and Mg+'s, Than those Ca's and Mg's get eaten up fairly quickly by the acids, and the PH will drop over time. Its a ratio game.

If you're at all into chemistry, something else to note (wasn't going to get into it but...) because carbonate is CO3 *2-* it has 2 extra electrons (has a negative charge of 2). Because Ca+ and Mg+ are each 'missing' an electron, (are charged positive by 1) they will attract eachother - they 'complete eachother and will balance out their charges, it takes 2 Ca's or 2 Mg's to bind with every 1 carbonate molecule. This is good, CO 'doubles' up it's mineral protection in this way and takes longer to be broken by acids. Bicarbonate is similar but I think that's enough details for now -Just another micro thing to consider as we're talking about ratios. (Acids want to bind with (eat away at, as previously referred) Ca+ and Mg+ because they typically have a negative charge, opposites attract).

To add more acids (to decrease PH) you would (generally-this is very dependant on scenario though) add organic matter that will release tannins, such as indian almond leaves, peat, or driftwoods. RO water, or demineralized water (because it doesn't have minerals) often has a lower PH too(between 5-6-careful if/when using). To add more Carbonate, (to increase PH) you would want to add carbonate stone, or crushed coral.

Essentially, KH is the most important measure regarding PH and you generally want your KH in the mid to high range to keep your overall PH constant. and GENERALLY, if you keep up on regular water changes (because there is always a reserve of minerals in tap water) than your PH (and GH/KH) should stay constant. IF for some reason, the mineral content in the tap water drops, OR you get lax on your water changes for too long, thats when you'll need to look into manipulating your mineral content to get your PH back into safe ranges. Generally accepted 'safe' ranges for most community fish fall between 6.8 and 7.4-6 ish. Though, again, the ONLY important thing about PH (especially once fish are already in the tank) is that it remains constant over time, if it's not broke, don't fix it.

FUN FACT: Calcium carbonate is the same compound corals use to build their skeletons, its the building block of the sea. :D.

Okay, I'm really sorry if THAT was too much. Its a lot of info and I dumped a good 8 years worth of learning between HS honors chem and my work at the aquarium store. I hope I helped explain some of the nuances behind water chem and some problems that can arise with it. Don't get me going on disease diagnostics and medications. Good thing my degree is in psychology and business. xP. I'm glad I helped some earlier too. Enjoy your fish keeping! If you need anything else, the people on this forum are the absolute best.

PS. As a disclaimer, the information presented here came straight from my noggin and its 4am. Always do your own research and perform the tasks/maintenance that you believe is best for your tank at a given time. We all have different experiences and ways of going about things. That was all just how I understand these things. I've worked at an LFS for 5 years with other credible, experienced and knowledgeable fish keepers, but that's about the extent of my credentials. :).
 
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Honestly, I cannot thank you enough for this deep dive crash course!!! And your puns lol This was the exact reason I came to this site instead of more facebook groups. The break down really males it a lot easier for me to understand what I'm trying to accomplish and how I really appreciate it!!! Once this tank is completely established Im going to switch filters using previous media to help. I did have a healthy plant when I switched tanks to this one abut it died within a week in the new tank which I was warned could happen. :( once this is all good I will attempt to plant bulbs again.
My ph has stayed steady pretty much since set up around 7.4 and nothing else has spiked besides ammonia which is expected at this stage in the cycle from what I gather, which the water change helped dramatically last night. I think I have a pretty clear plan of attack now thanks to all of your awesome guidance and info. Which is now in my screenshot library for quick reference. It definitely is a much less daunting task now!!!
 

FishGirl38

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Ashzilla said:
Honestly, I cannot thank you enough for this deep dive crash course!!! And your puns lol This was the exact reason I came to this site instead of more facebook groups. The break down really males it a lot easier for me to understand what I'm trying to accomplish and how I really appreciate it!!! Once this tank is completely established Im going to switch filters using previous media to help. I did have a healthy plant when I switched tanks to this one abut it died within a week in the new tank which I was warned could happen. :( once this is all good I will attempt to plant bulbs again.
My ph has stayed steady pretty much since set up around 7.4 and nothing else has spiked besides ammonia which is expected at this stage in the cycle from what I gather, which the water change helped dramatically last night. I think I have a pretty clear plan of attack now thanks to all of your awesome guidance and info. Which is now in my screenshot library for quick reference. It definitely is a much less daunting task now!!!
Well, there are specifics about keeping plants too. It CAN be as simple/easy as adding an anubias plant into your fish tank and letting it be, or it can be involved with fertilizers and light timers and plant placement in the tank, it all depends on the type of plants and your fish tank set up.

The best advice about plants I could give is to pay attention to the names and what you're buying because not all plants eat the same amount of nutrients or grow at the same rate, just like fish are compatible (or not), so are plants. But It's not that your plants won't be compatible with one another, its that they might not be compatible with your tank type - and you'll want to know this BEFORE you buy them.

So, similar to algae, plants REQUIRE light and excess nutrients in the tank to grow. Although, unlike algae, they use different wavelengths of light, and different types and levels of nutrients (algae thrives in yellow/green/white wavelengths, plants thrive in red, green, and blue wavelengths (if you buy a 'plant light' and it shines purple, that's why). Algae primarily eats nitrate and phosphate, whereas plants require a host of macro and micronutrients....). The problem with not knowing the type of plant you're buying, is that you then won't know it's nutrient or lighting requirements. Some plants are 'low light, low maintenance' plants that will thrive in most any aquarium (anubias, java fern, cryptocoryne, vallisneria, ludwigia, to name a few) they require a basic level of macro nutrients and an average level of blue and red light wavelengths. However, other plants can be 'high light, or high maintenance' plants that require very high concentrations of nutrients in the soil and high outputs/intensities of blue and red light wavelengths (like sword plants) - these can be harder to keep healthy, let alone alive, in a tank that isn't nutrient prepared or too tall (or with a weaker light) to allow the proper light levels to reach them.

NPK - you'll hear this when talking about plants and plant foods/fertilizers. NPK refers to the 3 most abundant and necessary macronutrients the plants in your tank will need to thrive. N is nitrogen, P is phosphorus, and K is potassium. You may notice NO3- (nitrate) is a compound of nitrogen, and phosphate (PO4-) is a compound of phosphorus - again, referring to the notion that "keeping live plants keeps your aquarium *cleaner*". If you naturally have an increased concentration of nitrate and phosphate, than you don't necessarily need to dose them and your plants will eat them as they're introduced into the tank - a natural balance of sorts, this is called 'low teck'. Careful though, too much of these food compounds for your plants to eat will give space (resources) for algae to move in too, algae in planted tanks is a problem because it grows on your plants and restricts their ability to access light. On to potassium - it's the only macro nutrient that is NOT readily available in the aquarium unless it's dosed, and usually if you have yellowing/browning plant leaves or stunted plant growth, the potassium concentration may be at fault.

Micronutrients refer to things like zinc, iron, nickle, magnesium, and other compounds that some of your plants will use in small concentrations.

Many people worry their plant fertilizers will harm their fish when used for the first time, so long as you follow the instructions on the fertilizer you choose to use (if you choose to use one - biggest thing would be to not overdose in large amounts) little could go wrong. These compounds are already present in natural water-ways, so long as they're not increased too quickly in a short amount of time, the fish will be okay.

FUN FACT: plants like red ludwigia, crypt wendtii, lobelia cardinalis, and melon swords can have red leaves if there is enough iron in the aquarium. Without enough iron, these plants will slowly turn green in your tank. (you'll buy them colored red at the store, and within months, their new growth will begin turning green). Iron can be harmful when overdosed though, good thing you'll get all you need in most regular fertilizer dosings, as it is only a MICRO nutrient (and you don't need a lot).

Onto lighting...Of which i still don't understand fully at all, maybe 50%, but I can tell you WHAT to look up/know about to help you if you so need later on.

There are a number of measures that will be on the outside of most fluorescent aquarium bulb (or led fixture) packages. Things like Kelvin, lux, PAR, NM (nanometer), and Lumens for example, these explain things like wavelength color range, light intensity, color temperature, radius of beam range, etc. These measures will determine how 'good' or 'necessary' a light is for what you're looking to keep. Wattage doesn't necessarily determine how strong or good a light is, it can be a factor, but the other measures listed here will give you more detailed info. Though I don't understand them enough to explain them for you quite yet.

If you made it this far through my third book, you deserve this last bit of plant info. Just like your fish, your plants have an acclimation period. If you purchase a plant, add it to the tank, and notice 3 days later that the stem has started to decay and melt and the leaves are falling off - Leave (leaf..) It Be!

The old growth from the store WILL start to die off, it's the new growth that comes after that you want anyway. The old growth is present from the lighting and nutrient levels of it's previous environment. When those nutrient levels change, the plant growth rate will change too. Maybe the conditions aren't that different at all and the plant barely changes, OR maybe it almost looks dead, before you see this little sprig of bright green shooting from the top of it...More finicky plants can decay quicker under smaller change conditions, whereas hardier plants can withstand a greater change. You will want to prune and remove old or decayed growth from your plants, Green is the only thing that is providing good for it, remove the brown, flowing decayed pieces (preferably right underneath a joint on the stem, depending on plant).

I'll stop bombarding you now. Enjoy your aquarium, and I'm very happy I helped you in breaking it down.
 
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Ashzilla

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FishGirl38 said:
Well, there are specifics about keeping plants too. It CAN be as simple/easy as adding an anubias plant into your fish tank and letting it be, or it can be involved with fertilizers and light timers and plant placement in the tank, it all depends on the type of plants and your fish tank set up.

The best advice about plants I could give is to pay attention to the names and what you're buying because not all plants eat the same amount of nutrients or grow at the same rate, just like fish are compatible (or not), so are plants. But It's not that your plants won't be compatible with one another, its that they might not be compatible with your tank type - and you'll want to know this BEFORE you buy them.

So, similar to algae, plants REQUIRE light and excess nutrients in the tank to grow. Although, unlike algae, they use different wavelengths of light, and different types and levels of nutrients (algae thrives in yellow/green/white wavelengths, plants thrive in red, green, and blue wavelengths (if you buy a 'plant light' and it shines purple, that's why). Algae primarily eats nitrate and phosphate, whereas plants require a host of macro and micronutrients....). The problem with not knowing the type of plant you're buying, is that you then won't know it's nutrient or lighting requirements. Some plants are 'low light, low maintenance' plants that will thrive in most any aquarium (anubias, java fern, cryptocoryne, vallisneria, ludwigia, to name a few) they require a basic level of macro nutrients and an average level of blue and red light wavelengths. However, other plants can be 'high light, or high maintenance' plants that require very high concentrations of nutrients in the soil and high outputs/intensities of blue and red light wavelengths (like sword plants) - these can be harder to keep healthy, let alone alive, in a tank that isn't nutrient prepared or too tall (or with a weaker light) to allow the proper light levels to reach them.

NPK - you'll hear this when talking about plants and plant foods/fertilizers. NPK refers to the 3 most abundant and necessary macronutrients the plants in your tank will need to thrive. N is nitrogen, P is phosphorus, and K is potassium. You may notice NO3- (nitrate) is a compound of nitrogen, and phosphate (PO4-) is a compound of phosphorus - again, referring to the notion that "keeping live plants keeps your aquarium *cleaner*". If you naturally have an increased concentration of nitrate and phosphate, than you don't necessarily need to dose them and your plants will eat them as they're introduced into the tank - a natural balance of sorts, this is called 'low teck'. Careful though, too much of these food compounds for your plants to eat will give space (resources) for algae to move in too, algae in planted tanks is a problem because it grows on your plants and restricts their ability to access light. On to potassium - it's the only macro nutrient that is NOT readily available in the aquarium unless it's dosed, and usually if you have yellowing/browning plant leaves or stunted plant growth, the potassium concentration may be at fault.

Micronutrients refer to things like zinc, iron, nickle, magnesium, and other compounds that some of your plants will use in small concentrations.

Many people worry their plant fertilizers will harm their fish when used for the first time, so long as you follow the instructions on the fertilizer you choose to use (if you choose to use one - biggest thing would be to not overdose in large amounts) little could go wrong. These compounds are already present in natural water-ways, so long as they're not increased too quickly in a short amount of time, the fish will be okay.

FUN FACT: plants like red ludwigia, crypt wendtii, lobelia cardinalis, and melon swords can have red leaves if there is enough iron in the aquarium. Without enough iron, these plants will slowly turn green in your tank. (you'll buy them colored red at the store, and within months, their new growth will begin turning green). Iron can be harmful when overdosed though, good thing you'll get all you need in most regular fertilizer dosings, as it is only a MICRO nutrient (and you don't need a lot).

Onto lighting...Of which i still don't understand fully at all, maybe 50%, but I can tell you WHAT to look up/know about to help you if you so need later on.

There are a number of measures that will be on the outside of most fluorescent aquarium bulb (or led fixture) packages. Things like Kelvin, lux, PAR, NM (nanometer), and Lumens for example, these explain things like wavelength color range, light intensity, color temperature, radius of beam range, etc. These measures will determine how 'good' or 'necessary' a light is for what you're looking to keep. Wattage doesn't necessarily determine how strong or good a light is, it can be a factor, but the other measures listed here will give you more detailed info. Though I don't understand them enough to explain them for you quite yet.

If you made it this far through my third book, you deserve this last bit of plant info. Just like your fish, your plants have an acclimation period. If you purchase a plant, add it to the tank, and notice 3 days later that the stem has started to decay and melt and the leaves are falling off - Leave (leaf..) It Be!

The old growth from the store WILL start to die off, it's the new growth that comes after that you want anyway. The old growth is present from the lighting and nutrient levels of it's previous environment. When those nutrient levels change, the plant growth rate will change too. Maybe the conditions aren't that different at all and the plant barely changes, OR maybe it almost looks dead, before you see this little sprig of bright green shooting from the top of it...More finicky plants can decay quicker under smaller change conditions, whereas hardier plants can withstand a greater change. You will want to prune and remove old or decayed growth from your plants, Green is the only thing that is providing good for it, remove the brown, flowing decayed pieces (preferably right underneath a joint on the stem, depending on plant).

I'll stop bombarding you now. Enjoy your aquarium, and I'm very happy I helped you in breaking it down.
Omg queen of teaching me everything I've been trying to figure out. Honestly write a book make a pamphlet something. Your breakdowns are everything!! This has been the best experience, you have provided me literally all the info I've been desperately trying to understand. I really appreciate the time you've taken to help me out in my aquarium journey. I feel so much more prepared to get this all on track without putting my fish at risk and thats awesome!!
 

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@FishGirl38
You're officially awesome. Advanced math was never my bag, so college chemistry was difficult for me, but I dig the heck out of the concepts, especially when they're explained in a way that applies irl. I would like to hear your take on disease diagnoses and treatment. If you post it in a new thread, please tag me!
 

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greengoddess said:
@FishGirl38
You're officially awesome. Advanced math was never my bag, so college chemistry was difficult for me, but I dig the heck out of the concepts, especially when they're explained in a way that applies irl. I would like to hear your take on disease diagnoses and treatment. If you post it in a new thread, please tag me!
Ohh, Shucks guys, I wasn't going to mention it, but I was looking into starting a blog. Specifically, like a 'how-to' guide for general hobbyists (I'm no expert at all). It's barely in the works just yet but it's a real thought. I'll post a thread on here when I launch it. I wanted to go into the real 'how-to' of it without just throwing affiliate links out there (more pure informative based opposed to comparing products to make a sale). What's also stopped me too, is that I'm aware there are many other (less bias, better ways to find info - such as fishlore here) but...I wanted to write it almost in chapters and as a quick read. So I touch on everything - but again, still in the works.

So, I'm actually terrible at advanced math. I got through algebra 2 but I struggled in Pre-calc. Honors chemistry, on the other hand wasn't too bad. I honestly think my teacher at the time had a lot to do with it...because it wasn't cake - it was hard stuff. But she was real strict (most of my peers Hated her but I loved her), and she challenged us and helped us through things. I think too, was the fact that....math (in general) can be a little extrapolated or...made up. To me, the numbers don't make sense. What is y=5? what is y? I just never got it. Whereas in chemistry...Everything is labeled and all you have to do is find the balance, find the 'zero' if you will. I never thought I'd say that, by college, stoichiometry was fun - more like a puzzle than a problem.

In this post I write I pretty length summary of what fungal/bacterial/parasitic infections can look like (how to spot/differentiate them)
https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfi...t-on-a-very-tight-budget.461354/#post-4643770

If you enjoy science-y stuff, I went a little ham in this thread. I think I list through some examples of each type of med you could use for a general given disease issue, just the most common that I know of.
Very sick Betta- urgent! Help - | 452862 | Freshwater Fish Disease and Fish Health

I'll have to keep you posted, I would write it here now, but it's 1am and I gotta open the fish store tomorrow...(after calling the dentist for a wisdom tooth (teeth) extraction...). Wish me luck. :).
 

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