New FX4, Ammonia Spike, Dead Pleco

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OscarHoya

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I have a 55 gallon tank with one oscar, three small convicts and one pleco. I use two Penguin 200 bio wheels. I already have a 75 gallon tank spooling up to move them all

I got a new FX4 Fluval filtration unit on Black Friday. I followed the instructions, washed out the filters (no soap) and added the ceramic rings. I kept the two bio wheel filters in with the new FX4 so that I could adopt the bacteria to the new filter. Everything seemed ok for a few days. Then yesterday, I went upstairs to the tank and it saw that I had what looked like a big algae bloom. The drift wood had large amounts of algae as did the walls. And there was my pleco dead floating. I was shocked, I figured he would out last everyone. I took out the two pieces of drift wood, some small rocks and a potter. They all had algae on them. I then did a vacuum and 50% water change. Before that I tested the water and found that I had 8.0-8.2 ph, .5 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 10 nitrate. My heater seems to not be working well (new one ordered) and the temp was at 69. Everybody has been eating well (one-two cubes of shrimp brine a day).

Any ideas on why I had an ammonia spike with more algae? I've had my tank going with no ammonia for almost a year. Only change was the FX4 addition. I'll be testing each day to track changes.
 

Gregs76

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Hmmm, this is very interesting. I definitely no expert on this kind of thing, but the FX4 is kind of a beast. I am assuming that your FX4 has all band new media inside and that you were hoping to seed it while running the HOB's until it was good to go in it's own? I don't know much about the Penguin's, we don't get them over here, but they're relatively small in comparison to an FX4 I think? I'm just wondering if somehow that massive flow rate in the FX4 started seeding the new filter, and somehow started starving your two smaller HOB filters of their beneficial bacteria, killing them off, hence causing an ammonia spike? Maybe someone who better understand the bb in our filters will have a better answer, but it's something I thought of. You didn't take any media out your Penguins to start seeding the FX4, just started running it alongside the other filters to let the water column start helping it along?
 
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OscarHoya

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Yes, I left the HOB filters to try and get their bacteria to my FX4. The FX4 is big for my 55 gallon and even the 75 gallon I'm going to. I decided to leave the HOB's because they are unsightly when they accumulate gunk and the bio wheels are getting yucky. The bio wheels work well, but once you lose 2" of water they are loud. I didn't feel like doing the sponge trick or modifying them so I bought the FX4.
 

CHJ

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I love penguins and they were established, so I'm going to say low odds they are in any way related.
Your tank's PH is moving into African cichlid range. I'm guessing it used to be ~7? What is your PPM? Your listed stock wants a soft tank.
69F, ~15 degrees below happy pleco but should not be lethal. If it is a common pleco I know of one thing that ends them.
Sudden bloom. Was this a very large pleco and how long is the max time it could have been dead before you noticed? Was the tank cloudy before this (Cloud sometimes goes to bloom so fast you can watch it)? 69 is going to have slower decay than 84. A big dead fish can spike your numbers.

Now for the FX4. It sounds like your are running straight out of box. I say this as with an FX I swap all foams and media before firing it up. Lots of us have magic mixes.
I have fluval biorings running in a 406, my issue with fluval is the amount of rings they include with their filters. To fill 2 baskets in a 406 it takes all the rings from the 406 and all the rings from 2 FX6s which is just silly (total ripoff expecting someone to plunk down on a pile of media after buying a 300$ filter. Total scum move).
No issues with the rings, they are nice and porous I have also not seen water shifts with them. Fluval is just greedy in only giving you maybe 25% of what you need out of box. As rings go I give them a thumbs up (when price is not considered)

I want to ask what else changed. Are you on city water? Well water? Did you do some new decor, maybe limestone?
If the city changed your water this can be bad. I spent a year trying to figure out Discus Whirling Sickness that ended more than 6 breeding pairs of my discus (it actually got me out of discus), before finally finding my city switched for chlorine to chlorimine. So I know what causes the infamous discus disease. Well water is often hard, and can change. How is your tap looking? If a pile of anvil hard high PH water went in when you set up the filter I'd start considering that as your pleco killer.

Hard, high alkalinity water will kill an armored cat as fast as deep fryer will.
 
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OscarHoya

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170 ppm. Yep, hard. But I'm not sure what to do. I can't use an ROI where the tank is located.

Last night I checked water params again. ph is still 8.2, ammonia 0-.05, nitrite 0 and nitrate 5.0. However, it seems I'm still getting a lot of algae buildup. I'm also getting the red colored buildup on my heater and other tank items. What is this?
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