Inherited An Established Tank Then Listened To Bad Lfs

Jahnelle

Sorry ahead of time for the long post! It's kind of half introduction and half plea for help.
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I inherited a 30 gallon hexegonal tank almost a month ago. I've always wanted fish, but could never quite get to the point where I was ready to get my feet wet. In other words, I'm completely new and I have all these fish babies!

Originally, it had a bunch of plastic planys, a single bent-backed dano, 5 tetras, two adult guppies, 9 baby guppies, 2 mystery snails and a handful of ramshorn snails. Apparently, our benefactor bought the ramshorns and female guppies shortly before she died.

I researched care enough to find out that the fat little guppy was a pregnant female and that they could have up to 200 fry at a time. I panicked.

I went to my LFS with a ton of questions. Long story short, I came home with a bunch of fish big enough to eat fry. I know, I know, but I only have one other tank, and I only just finished cycling it (after the second trip to the LFS).

LFS tells me bioload is a wash, and more fish just means upping water changes.

Add 5 brilliant rasbora, 2 balloon mollies, a betta, 2 more guppies, and 3 nerite snails, totalling 32 inhabitants of various ages, not including the ramshorns. Which is the reason for learning about the nitrogen cycle and cycling another 30 gallon. I also replaced plastic plants with live ones: amazon sword, 2 emmersed cardinal plants, a japanese carpet plant of some type that I thought was backdrop (didnt realize it was a carpet plant until later), two moss balls, and a couple live plants that came with the tank.

Fast forward, and I understand more about the nitrogen cycle, and am testing my own water (apI master kit for freshwater).

My mystery snails have pitted shells.
My nitrate levels are high.
PH is way too low.
Kh is way too low.
Ramshorns keep propagating
One of the "sterile male mollies" I bought from the store as part of Operation Guppy Control is now happily pregnant and ready to push my tank's bioload to the limit.

I'm not sure how to fix it, and am tired of listening to supposed professionals. (Should have known. The guy called fish "livestock". Um excuse me, sir, but that fish is called the Blue Baron, not livestock, and he's coming home with me.)

Last readings on the established tank:
Ph 6 ( that's the lowest apI tests for. I did a strip test that said 5, but I don't know whether to trust it or not.)
Kh: 1
Gh: 10
Ammonia: .25 ppm
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 80+ ppm

I thought about a water change (last one was a week ago), but my tap water has a nitrate level of 80 ppm already. Not sure how that would work, although it might raise the ph, at least
Kh is still really low, though.

I've ran these tests a couple of times and keep getting similar readings, so either they're correct or I screwed up the same way twice.

I bought some API PH Up, but am afraid to use it, which prompted this cry for help.

I can take some of the load off the tank by moving a few to the new tank ( currently has excellent readings and only 5 rasbora), but that increases the chance of a bunch of fry surviving when mommas Guppy and Molly have them, and I just plain don't have enough tank space. And, no one around here takes volunteers.

I told the guy at the fish store that one of the sterile male mollies I bought for population control is now a happily pregnant female and he said, "Sweet! Bonus!"

No. No. This is not a bonus. This is panic city, trying to figure out how I'm going to deal with the possibility of 300 fry all at once with only 2 30 gallon tanks....

But enough kavetching. Any ideas on h
 

david1978

First relax. Have a glass of wine or the whole bottle. Yes they can have hundreds of fry but they are poor mothers and unless you have good hiding places only a few won't get eaten. Is your tap water close to your tank water?
 

Jahnelle

Lol thanks. Does the big green monstrosity growing in the back count as lots of hiding places? Now that I know it's a carpet plant, I've thought about using it as such, but haven't decided, since it will make the back of the tank look a bit bare until I get something else in there. Choices, choices.

My tap water has somewhat similar readings. Nitrites are higher, nitrates are similar. Ph is better though, around 7 straight from the tap. Slightly higher ammonia at .50ppm

I did add a NitraAbsorb to help with Nitrate levels that is currently recharging, but it didn't appear to make much difference.
 

lucy.hotdog

HI Jahnelle,

I too am a massive panic city member. I always worry about my tank and what's going on.

Regarding impending the fry, when I had mollies 2 of them had fry within a day or so of each other, I called my LFS guy and he was happy to take them off my hands.
Could this be an option you'd be happy with? Catch as many as you can, chuck them in a bag and take them to a LFS shop? Maybe not to the one you mentioned if you don't trust that guy...

I only managed to catch I think 11 or so, my guess is that a lot of them did get eaten before I got there to save them.
 

david1978

So the ph kh thing could be fixed with water changes if you have good water. Hmmm plants are going to be a good and bad thing. Good thing they use up ammonia, nitrites and nitrates but give your fry hiding places. With your water you may end up going with smaller water changes and one of these options.

 

Minxxy

Your snails shells are pitted because they need calcium I believe, get a cuddle bone and chuck a piece in the tank
 

david1978

Your snails shells are pitted because they need calcium I believe, get a cuddle bone and chuck a piece in the tank
Problem is the kh is 1. That low the passive route of a cuttlebone isn't going to help much. If the kh was 3 or 4 it would.
 

Jahnelle

Problem is the kh is 1. That low the passive route of a cuttlebone isn't going to help much. If the kh was 3 or 4 it would.
That's what I was thinking. If I can raise the ph/kh, the snails would do better. Not sure how fast I can raise the PH without harming the fish, though.

Your snails shells are pitted because they need calcium I believe, get a cuddle bone and chuck a piece in the tank
Thanks Minxxy, for your input. My GH swings between 10 and 11, though, so I don't think calcium is the problem. Not sure if that's the same kind of calcium they need, though.

So the ph kh thing could be fixed with water changes if you have good water. Hmmm plants are going to be a good and bad thing. Good thing they use up ammonia, nitrites and nitrates but give your fry hiding places. With your water you may end up going with smaller water changes and one of these options.

Thanks for the link. Wondering if I turned my carpet plant into a carpet plant instead of a backdrop, would it decrease hiding spaces? And would carpeting an established tank mess it up? I'm thinking about trying another water change, so I could do it then.

HI Jahnelle,

I too am a massive panic city member. I always worry about my tank and what's going on.

Regarding impending the fry, when I had mollies 2 of them had fry within a day or so of each other, I called my LFS guy and he was happy to take them off my hands.
Could this be an option you'd be happy with? Catch as many as you can, chuck them in a bag and take them to a LFS shop? Maybe not to the one you mentioned if you don't trust that guy...

I only managed to catch I think 11 or so, my guess is that a lot of them did get eaten before I got there to save them.
Thanks Lucy. I've looked for LFS that take volunteers, but everyone says no so far. I'm still looking, though!
 

david1978

The plant I'm not sure if moving it will hurt it sorry I'm not much of a plant person. Livebearers are tough to get rid. I had a relationship with my lfs so he would take some. Most I fed to my Oscar. Water changes at this point won't hurt to get your ph and kh up and your nitrates down some. What filter are you using? I only ask because it may be possible to go the small water change, buffer and anaerobic bacteria route.
Cichlidude do you think that could work?
 

Jahnelle

The plant I'm not sure if moving it will hurt it sorry I'm not much of a plant person. Livebearers are tough to get rid. I had a relationship with my lfs so he would take some. Most I fed to my Oscar. Water changes at this point won't hurt to get your ph and kh up and your nitrates down some. What filter are you using? I only ask because it may be possible to go the small water change, buffer and anaerobic bacteria route.
Cichlidude do you think that could work?
I'm using a marineland biowheel penguin 200. The link to buffer went to an acid buffer? You lost me on the anaerobic bacteria. Can you clarify?
 

david1978

Theirs the nitrifying bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrites then nitrates. Then theirs anaerobic bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrogen gas removing them from the tank. Its called denitrification I believe. Most tanks its not needed but your tap water isn't exactly great. Links are sometimes weird and just appear. The link to fishlab was the only one I inserted. So random links are a fish lore thing.
 

Jahnelle

Theirs the nitrifying bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrites then nitrates. Then theirs anaerobic bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrogen gas removing them from the tank. Its called denitrification I believe. Most tanks its not needed but your tap water isn't exactly great. Links are sometimes weird and just appear. The link to fishlab was the only one I inserted. So random links are a fish lore thing.

Thanks for all the help. I'll do a water change tonight (30%?) and then test in the morning and see where we are.
 

Jahnelle

Okay - adding this in here so I can keep track of what's happening.

Today I'm doing a 30% water change. I took the Green Monstracity (aka Hydrocotyle Japan) out as a backscape and turned it into the carpet it was meant to be. I decided to test the water I'm putting into the tank after it's been conditioned.

Readings of the conditioned water:

GH: 9
KH: 3
PH: 8.4
Ammonia: 1.0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrates: 20 ppm

I added Seachem Prime and Seachem Stability.

I'll test again tonight after everything has had a chance to settle in.
 

david1978

Those readings aren't great but you can work with that. Keep in mind when your doing a 25% water change your only adding 25% of that to the total volume of the tank. So .25 ammonia and only 5 nitrate. Your bacteria will use up the ammonia pretty quick.
 

Jahnelle

So, final readings today, 5 hours after the water change.

Gh: 16dk
Kh: 2
Ph: 6.4
Ammonia: .5 ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 160 ppm

As far as I can see, the only good that came from that was a higher ph. But ammonia and nitrates are higher, as well, with nitrates off the chart. I'm wondering, I also did a gravel clean. Could that be why they're so high? Not sure what to do now.

I'm seriously thinking about using a pothos to reduce the nitrates, but I hear they get huge.
 

david1978

The ammonia could be from your tap. It is possible stiring up your gravel released lots of nitrate. Your ph came up slightly as did your kh. Pothos are supposed to use up nitrates some. If you want more novel check out the potato tank.
 

Jahnelle

The ammonia could be from your tap. It is possible stiring up your gravel released lots of nitrate. Your ph came up slightly as did your kh. Pothos are supposed to use up nitrates some. If you want more novel check out the potato tank.

Ha! Love it!

Anybody have any experience with Natural Rapport water clarifier?
 

Jahnelle

Well, I did something wrong. Lost my male balloon molly last night.

says my tank is way overstocked, so I'm going to have to figure out how to split them between the new rectangle tank and this one. I did move four of my guppies over to the new tank, and they're happily swimming around with my rasboras (affectionately named "The School").

Interestingly enough, I was worried about my GH, butsays it's right in the range it needs to be. Anyone know how accurate they are?

I think I'm going to aggressively clean out the ramshorns and consider them a pest. Didn't want to, but they breed like water rabbits, and I can't find a single site that says they're beneficial to the tank.
 

wintermute

Sorry to hear that how did it rate you on fitration? I'm rated as understocked at the moment and something over 200% on the fitration. Once I add my cardinal tetras will be around the 100% mark for stocking level (which is good because I hadn't seen the site before and my gut feel was that I should be able to add them, but I was a bit unsure).

Tony.
 

Jahnelle

Sorry to hear that how did it rate you on fitration? I'm rated as understocked at the moment and something over 200% on the fitration. Once I add my cardinal tetras will be around the 100% mark for stocking level (which is good because I hadn't seen the site before and my gut feel was that I should be able to add them, but I was a bit unsure).

Tony.
68% filtration and 188% overstocked. Says 46% water change a week, split into two changes.

Me female molly (pregnant) is currently glass surfing; I'm concerned I won't get it figured out before I lose some more. I can move more into the new tank, but I don't want to crash the cycle with a bunch of new fish. Just moved four into it, for a total of 9 fish and barely 44% stocked.
 

wintermute

Oh yes no wonder you are having trouble! Short term perhaps an additional filter and frequent (maybe 25% every second day?) water changes should help. But it won't really be sustainable.

Tony.
 

Jahnelle

Oh yes no wonder you are having trouble! Short term perhaps an additional filter and frequent (maybe 25% every second day?) water changes should help. But it won't really be sustainable.

Tony.
Any idea how frequently I can move them to the new tank? I'm currently separating the males from the females at a rate of four per week, or at least that's the plan, but if I could safely speed it up I would!
 

Fishcat

You can also buy ornamental sweet potato plants at the garden center (annual plant section), soak the roots and pick any remaining dirt off, rinse well and put in the tank. Use those suction cups with rings to position them with roots in the water and stems out. Gorgeous colors and no big sweet potato to prop up.
Did I read correctly that you have nitrates at 80 in your source water? Maybe run water into a storage bin and grow plants in that to take some nitrates out before you use it for changes?
 

wintermute

I guess that is going to depend on whether the second tank is fully cycled. I'm only new at keeping tropical fish, and I've been very cautious about slowly introducing more fish, so I'm not really sure how many at a time and how frequently you can move to the second tank.

I got four mollies, after a couple of weeks I got three khulI loaches, then a couple of weeks after that I got another two KhulI loaches, then a few more weeks I got 6 espeI rasbora. Now maybe a month later (and after adding more biomedia) I'm going to add 8 - 10 cardinal tetras, and that should be it for me.

If you have plenty of bio-media in the filter, and the bacterial colony is well established, then I would think it should be able to ramp up pretty quickly, but the above (which went smoothly for me) is the only experience I have to go by. All prior stocking was much longer ago, was goldfish (all baby ones) and all in one go (usually 4). One time early on, I got six but that was way too many (I didn't know).

Tony.
 

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