Help! Water out of whack!

Discussion in 'Cleaning and Maintenance' started by LJC6780, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    My tanks have just gone crazy! Last night I lost a guppy to what I think was mouth rot. Today I've lost 3 (make that 4) CPD from the same tank. This afternoon I did a 65-70% vac and water change and did a double dose of Seachem Safe. I tested the water a few minutes ago and got some crazy colors in my vials!

    So as of just a few minutes ago my parameters are
    20 Gal planted:

    pH 7.6
    Ammonia 0.25
    Nitrite 5+ (off the chart purple!)
    Nitrate 7ish
    GH 4
    KH 3 (I've added CaribSea Aragonite but don't know how else to raise GH/KH)

    This is crazy! Parameters have been perfect until now. After testing just now I dosed another double dose of Safe along with a dose of API QuickStart.

    Do I need to do another partial water change?

    Edit: I just checked my 38 gal and everything is perfect except for the same GH/KH readings.

    So I did about a 20-25% water change and treated with Safe and Quick Start.

    Waited a while and did another water check. Parameters still crazy. Ammonia slightly better and Nitrite still off the chart.

    Installed an Emperor 400 filter (up from a Penguin 150 that never seemed to work quite right) moving my old filter cartridge and bio wheel over also. I moved the Aragonite into a media filter cartridge and will move the Matrix from the gravel into a media cartridge tomorrow or the next day, after my filter has enough time to transfer BB from the old cartridge.

    I just did ANOTHER water test and results are:
    Ammonia 0.05ish just slightly tinged greenish yellow.
    Nitrite still bright purple
    Nitrate maybe around 3.

    I have no idea what is going on with this tank and how I should proceed. I don't want to lose any more fish!

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2016
  2. TeishokueWell Known MemberMember

    Read the nitrogen cycle. You have to learn that. If you don't understand it
    You will lose more fish. Aggregate isn't what you need. It's "something that is always coming but never reaches"

  3. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    My parameters before were normal ... my other tank is perfect. I don't know why it is spiking and all out of whack ... I'm hoping the added filtration will help tonight and I'll check water again tomorrow.

    And this is what I have. I was told crushed coral or shells is what I needed. That's what this is.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2016
  4. TeishokueWell Known MemberMember

    crush coral keeps a high buffered ph, not good for your species cpd. if thats what i think it is.

    7.6 ph
    4/3 g/k is amazing for fish. why would you mess with that?

    your tank isnt cycled properly. 5+ nitrite means low bacteria........ your problem is in the nitrogen cycle. fix this you fix your tank.
  5. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    I did another water change/vac and the nitrites are finally coming down.

    I was told my water needed to be harder. And that by adding the coral/shells it would help to hold the cycle steadier for longer.

    My CPD is Celestial Pearl Danios.
  6. TeishokueWell Known MemberMember

    cpd are not hard water at all...... i suggest you not change your ph gh/kh. its not a good idea.

    pH, gH, kH has nothing to do with nitrogen cycle...
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2016
  7. Charles556Valued MemberMember

    That doesn't sound good! Have you tested the water coming straight out of your tap? Perhaps farm runoff has drastically affected your water company's water, or maybe there's an abnormal amount of ammonia in the water. Couldn't hurt to test. Did the deaths happen after a water change?

    Teishokue brings up a good point; don't bother messing with your pH, kH, or gH, especially not in a time of great stress for your fish.
  8. ashleybValued MemberMember

    You're doing the right thing. The only way to bring nitrites down is with water changes. I would be doing 50-75% daily until the bacteria in your filter catches up and starts converting properly. Can you think of anything at all that may have changed before discovering this anomaly? I would be dosing Seachem Prime like crazy during the water changes. And like people above have said, don't bother with the PH, KH or GH for the time being. Just focus on getting the water to a safe level for now. Good luck and keep us updated!

    Calling Aquaphobia and CindiL for more help!
  9. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    Never said it did. (But apparently it does!) Was just stating my parameters.

    Ok. The GH/KH thing was well before this current freak out. All I've done is add crushed coral/shells.

    I think I have realized it freaked out when I added some new fish. I didn't even think about everything going out of whack so badly with tiny tiny fish but it did.

    I did a 50% water change/vac today and dosed with Safe again. The Nitrites are significantly lower and actually on the chart now. I'll do another water change tomorrow and I bet it will be fine.

    It just never hit me that adding the fish would throw it so far out of whack when it has been perfect. I guess it was a hard lesson to learn!
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
  10. Machine11Well Known MemberMember

  11. AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    Agreed. Water changes and Prime are what the tank needs right now.

    I'd like some clarification on the timeline for when you switched to the new filter. How long has it been running? Is the old media still in the new filter?

    Don't sweat the pH/GH/KH non-issue. It can affect, and be affected by, the nitrogen cycle. Nitrifying bacteria and other living things use up the carbonates which can reduce your water's buffering capacity and lead to a pH crash. You're doing the right thing.
    CindiL might be able to explain it better and with more facts. It's 3am here and I'm not sure I could spell my own name right now;)
  12. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Hi, adding a few small fish wouldn't have caused this particular issue. Did you check the ph before the 75% water change the first time?
    It isn't clear to me if you changed anything before the problem with the filter and the media? Wash media in tap water? Forgot dechlorinator? Threw out some media? Did you check the ph at the time the nitrites were off the chart?

    You were right to add in the aragonite. Your KH was too low and your guppies need the minerals.

    This is actually not true. There are ideal ph parameters especially for the nitrifyers, generally speaking mid to upper 7's are the most ideal. KH has everything also do do with the nitrogen cycle because if you don't have a high enough KH, then like aquaphobia mentioned, the carbonates will get used up by the acidifying effects of the nitrogen cycle, the ph will crash and so will your cycle.

    Here is a short article that covers the ideal nitrifyers facts:
  13. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    I was running a Penguin 150 on a 20 gallon planted. So less than desirable filtration ... It was always spilling water over the front instead of going through the filter ... never seemed to work quite right. I set up the new filter after several fish died ... dropped the old cartridge into the new filter and floated the biowheel even though it never seemed to be turning because the water was flowing wrong. The bigger filter allowed me to put the coral/shells into a media cartridge rather than in the mesh just sitting in the tank. The Matrix I tried adding to the filter a while back (but realized it was way too small) has been laying on the gravel and I'm just waiting to put it into the other media cartridge in the filter.
  14. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    The pH is remaining around 7.6 but GH/KH are only at 4/3 even after adding the aragonite. Also, I added that well before the system crash.

    I added 10 CPD all at once. I had ordered them online. It wasn't long after that the system crashed. It is recovering now though.

    I also have a whole home filter so no yucky stuff in the water but I always add Safe with every water change. No new media.
  15. AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    How long had the old filter been running? How long ago did you add the new filter?
  16. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    150 had been running since startup. 400 was installed 7/2. Things are much better now (except for the filter being huge and not fitting well behind my sink. I had planned on putting it on my 38 gal but the holes weren't large enough..). Just did another 50% water change. Testing before water change had nitrites down to about 0.75 (it's hard to read the colors.) I'm going to wait a while and go ahead and do another water change. I also swished my other tank's biowheel in the water to help share some more good bacteria. It read completely perfect when I tested it today.
  17. AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    Established bacteria tend not to dislodge easily, why you can squeeze out the junk during cleaning and not lose the cycle. Depending on what you were going to do with the wheel afterwards it would have been more effective to either tuck it in the new filter with some of the new media for a couple of weeks then remove it and put in the rest of the new media. Or, and this would have destroyed the old wheel, cutting it up so that it could be fit alongside all of the new media.
  18. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    The biowheel from the 150 is just floating in the tank. There is no way to put it in the filter because of the size. The media was already in the tank, I just moved it from a net bag to a cartridge in the filter. The Matrix is also in the tank and has been. The old filter cartridge is shoved down in the filter behind the new cartridge instead of the second media cartridge.

    The only new media are the 2 filter cartridges that came with the larger filter. The 150 and 400 use cartridges 3 sizes apart, and the 400 uses 2 instead of 1, so no way to only use the old cartridge.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
  19. LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    Tested and Nitrite was down to 0.25! I went ahead and did another 50% water change and treated with Safe. I'll test again tomorrow but I think it's finally caught back up! Lost another CPD earlier today before my first water change. I'm down to 5. Hopefully once everything settles back down they will breed for me and give me a few fry to raise to replace the ones I lost. At this point I think I'll go with survival of the fittest.

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