Newbie question, bring your reading glasses (long)

not4you
  • #1
HI everybody!

HI Dr. Nick!

I hope a few people found that funny

Anyway.....

First off, fishlore.com is a plethera of knowledge! I've been lurking for a few days reading up on a lot of the info and the thihgs I've been doing wrong. I've tried to maintain an aquarium in the past but gave up when batch after batch of fish died. I recently moved and once the house was all set up I firgured I'd give the tank another try.

Here's a little back story on my tank:

I have a 20 gal tank with 4 neon tetras, 4 rosy barbs, 1 red tailed shark and 1 chinese algae eater. I started my tank back in June and unknowingly psuedo-cycled my tank. I filled the tank up and let it run for a few days with just water. I then bought two feeder goldfish and put them in the tank. The goldfish (Pearl and Jam, I'm a Pearl Jam fanatic, so if anyone else likes them you're already a friend of mine) thrived and about 3 weeks. I then added the above mentioned fish (orignally there were 6 neon tetras). Everything went fine for about a week and then I lost one of the goldfish, Jam RIP

Even though I had lost a fish I was still doing drastically better than I had before so I made no changes or bothered to do any research. A few weeks later Pearl, the other goldfish died. Since all of the other fish seemed to be fine I wasn't that concerned as I originally got the goldfish to <i>test</i> my water, wrong I now know.

Anyway, months went by without any further problems but I did lose one of the rosy barbs which was still way better than my previous experiences. So I thought finally I had things right and decided my tank needed more fish. I went back to the fish store and got 4 more rosy barbs, 6 more neons and 6 tiger barbs (way too many fish for the 20 gal, I now know). A week later I started losing about one tetra per day and then soon later the tiger barbs started dieing along with the new rosy barbs. So out of all of the new fish only one rosy barb has survived and two of my original neons had also perished.

So that leaves me with the above mentioned fish (4 neon tetras, 4 rosy barbs, 1 red tailed shark and 1 chinese algae eater). After my last disaster of adding more fish and having them all die, plus some existing fish I figured I needed to find out what I was doing wrong before adding anymore fish. I now know that my tank is pretty much fully stocked.

I previously had never tested my water or have ever done a water change (terrible I know) I'd just topped off the tank from what had evaporated. So I went out and got the test kits and found the following; ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate close to 40 (this is what I need to fix) and pH 7.0.

Having read that tap water should be dechlorinated, I went out and bought a 35 gal trash can and filled it with tap water. There's an old powerhead and an air pump circluating/oxygenating the water so the chlorine should now be gone. Being the good student that I NOW am *pats self on back*; before doing my first water change I also tested the levels in the water to be added to the tank. First I found that the temp is about 8 degrees cooler than the tank so I placed a heater in the water and am in the process of bringing it up to the tank temp. I found that nitrate is 5 but that's still way better than what's in the tank now. The pH is of the dechlorinated water is 7.3 while the tank water is 7.0.

This finally leads me to the point of this whole post, should I bring down the pH of the water I'm going to add to the tank much closer to the pH of the tank water(7.0)?

Thanks in advance!!!

- John
 
Isabella
  • #2
A neutral - 7.0 - pH is very good for a community tank that you have. You shouldn't be trying to change your pH. There are commercial products that can decrease or increase pH but they are very dangerous to the fish. Here is why. They only change your pH temporarily, and if you started using a commercial product, you'd have to be using it "forever" since you'd always have to change the pH of tap water (during water changes) to match that of your tank. As a result, the fish will have constant pH swings, especially if you forget to change the pH in your new water to be added to the tank. It is the pH swings that stress and even kill fish, not a slightly lower or a slightly higher pH than they normally have in a natural environment. It is more important to perform regular water changes and maintain a stable pH than to try to mess with the pH. I think for a freshwater community tank, anything between 6.5 and 7.5 is safe.
 
Gunnie
  • #3
Isabella is right on. Depending on how much of a water change you are doing, the ph difference probably won't be enough to hurt your fish. If you were moving the fish from one tank to another with a .3 difference in ph, that could make them very sick. I'm wondering why there is a ph difference between your tank water and the water in the trash can. If you are aerating the water, it should gas out and be the same. I know you are probably eliminating the chlorine by aging your water, but do you know if you have chloramines? Many folks on city water do have chloramines. If you are on a well, you won't. If you are not sure, I would strongly recommend using a dechlor that treats for chlorine as well as chloramines. If you purchase a product called amquel plus, you can dechlor you water and probably bring down those nitrates as well. You can also stick plants in your filter if you have a hang on back (HOB) type. Just stick the roots in there to suck up some of the nitrates. Or live plants in your tank can help with the nitrate problem also. Welcome to FishLore! It's so great to have you with us!
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Isabella and Gunnie, thanks for the replies. I have some follow up questions to ask but it's kinda of late and I need to hit the sack. I'll follow up with my questions tomorrow. Thanks so much.

- John
 
beckers4oranges
  • #5
for a little money saver go down to walmart and go to the fish section (duh) and look for the product called "start right" it is cheaper there and comes in 8 oz bottles at just under $4.50
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Since I do have city water it looks like I should treat my tap water for chloramines. I went out today and got the AmQuel Plus. I'm going to treat the water when I get home. I read the bottle and doesn't say if I should wait any period of time before adding the water to my tank, do I need to wait or is ready to go right away?

Also, I read on the bottle, "Note that when testing for ammonia you must use a kit based on the salicylate method, not nesslers." I don't know what my ammonia test kit uses. I have a Red Sea ammonia test kit, will this still work or will I need a different kind of ammonia test kit?

Thanks again everyone!
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Well I found the answer to my ammonia test question, I don't need a new kit.

Any thoughts on my other question, after adding AmQuel plus to the water I'm going to add to my tank do I need to wait any period of time?
 
chickadee
  • #8
You usually just add it and stir it up good and its ready to use, but I always make sure I use a pail or something with a wide opening so the chlorine gas can escape easily. I used to use milk jugs and all the bubbles stayed in the water and I had to keep shaking it up to get them out. (Things you learn the silly way )

Welcome to Fishlore.com.

Rose
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Thanks Rose!

I just added the amquel and I'll give it a good stir.

Since this is my first water change what percentage of water should I take out of my tank? I don't want to take out too much. I prepared about 25 gallons of water and I know that's more than I'll need in the coming weeks. After treating the water with amquel how long will it be good for or should I prepare fresh batches before every water change? BTW, I'm circulating and aerating the water.

- John
 
chickadee
  • #10
What are your water parameters? If you have really high nitrites or ammonia you may want to do a 50% change, but if all your readings are okay 25% should be enough, initially.

Rose
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
ammonia is 0
nitrite is 0
nitrate is around 35-40

Basically my tank was been running for about 6 months w/o a water change and I've just finally took the time to figure out what I'm doing. So does 25% still sound about right?
 
chickadee
  • #12
OOPS!  I forgot to tell you, the water will keep as long as it stays in a place where it is clean.  The only thing is you will have to watch the temperature of it when you put it in the tank.  Heat a small amount and add to some more to bring it up to the temperature you need.  (I use the microwave)

Rose
 
chickadee
  • #13
I'll get it right here soon.  The nitrates are way too high but you and I have the same problem and I don't have the answer either.  I have been mixing 50% distilled water and 50% dechlored tap water to bring down the nitrates (they are in our tap water here).  You can also plant some real plants, I am trying to get some started.  Otherwise I don't know how to conquer the problem.  Like I said they are in water systems usually and you might want to test your tap water just straight out of the tap for nitrates to see just how high you are to begin with.

Maybe after that long I would do a 50% this time.

Rose
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
I put a heater in the can so it's already about the same temp as my tank (about a degree cooler). Your microwave idea is pretty darn smart, wish I would have known about that before buying another heater.
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
I tested my tap water yesterday and nitrates are 5, so that's still a lot better than what's in the tank right now. I would think that changing the water would help bring down the nitrates, yes?
 
chickadee
  • #16
Yes but I would definitely do at least a 50% or more change due to the nitrate level. It will need to be watched carefully and try to get it down to below 10 in the tank all the time. This change probably won't do it but don't worry because it will lower it and not cause a large shock to your fish. But you should change again soon and often until it is down.

Rose
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Sounds like plan, I'll do the water change after dinner. Thanks for the advice
 
chickadee
  • #18
You are most welcome. Enjoy your fish, they are great friends.

Welcome to the group.

Rose
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
The water change is complete. I changed out almost 50% of the water and I have to say some of the funk that came out from the gravel was rather disgusting. I'll check the levels either later tonight or first thing tomorrow afternoon when I get home from work.

Thanks for all of the help so far, you folks here at Fishlore rawk!
 
chickadee
  • #20
I am betting your fish are feeling better already. That "funk" can be part of the reason your nitrates are so high. Hope that has helped. Keep us informed.

Rose
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
So I just checked the nitrates since changing the water and they have actually gone up quite considerably. They were previously around 40 and are now closer to 80 ???

I'm going to recheck them again in case I miscounted the drops. I guess miscounting could skew the results?
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
I just rechecked the nitrate level and I didn't botch the first test, they are much higher than before. The retest was I'd say 80+. So I guess more water changes will be needed to bring down the nitrates.

The dramatic rise in nitrates kinda of puzzles me, before they were around 40 so they have more or less doubled. I tested the water I added to the tank that reading was around 5. When I changed the water I used on of those siphons that clean the gravel while siphoning and as I said earlier I noticed quite a bit of funk coming up from the gravel.

I have an under gravel filter (which I'm not sure is set up correctly) and without a water change since I first set up the tank 6+ months ago, could nitrates have concentrated in the gravel? Then after I disturbed the gravel when changing the water could that have released more into the water?

I changed close to 50% of the water last night, how long should I wait until another change and how much?
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
Well, I'm getting ready to head out for the evening. Since the nitrates were so high I did about a 10% water change before leaving. I hope this change wasn't too soon but since the nitrates about doubled I thought I couldn't hurt. I'll continue to check the nitrate level but I need to know how frequently and I how much I should change my water until the nitrates get down to an exceptable level?
 
chickadee
  • #24
You can slow down your cycling process by changing large amounts of water frequently. but with nitrate levels that high and your tank being cycled already the water changes have to be done and frequently and at least 50%. You mentioned you have an undergravel filter. What other filter do you have? An undergravel filter just pulls the gunk down to the bottom of the tank and through the gravel and does more harm than good a lot of the time. You need a filter that will clean and aerate your water and build up the beneficial bacteria needed to take care of the balance of water chemistry needed for happy healthy fish. If all you have is mechanical filtration you need to add chemical and biological like a power filter of some type.
It does sound like the rise was caused by disturbing the gunk below the gravel and mixing it into the water and the only thing that will help is another massive water change. Water changes are all that will dilute these levels if the tap water is at 5 and the aquarium water is 80. It is imperative that you bring those levels down. You may have to do daily water changes for a while. I know that sounds hard but you will probably start losing fish if you don't.
Sorry I cannot be more encouraging.

Rose
 
0morrokh
  • #25
Kind of a side note:
Someone was wondering why the pH in the bin was .3 higher than in the tank.  The answer is that oxygenating water raises the pH.  By circulating the water to get rid of chlorine, you also encouraged more oxygen to dissolve in the water, thus raising the pH.
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
Okay, sounds like I'll be doing a lot of water changes in the coming days to bring down the nitrates. That does seem a little daunting considering I've only done 2 water changes in the past 7 months (both in the past 2 days) but at least I don't have a huge tank. Anyway, I'm up to the challenge

Rose, I do think I need a better filter for my tank. I only have the UGF running right now. After reading some more posts here it seems UGF are not the best out there. What's the best way to implement a new filter and what kind would be best to use with what I have now? I don't think it would be a good idea to rip out the UGF and introduce a new filter, that seems kind of dramatic.
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
Nitrates are still very high, I did another water change this afternoon about 50% again. I'll check the level again later today.

Thanks for all of the great advice so far from everyone. I know I need a better filter but have some questions so I made new post in the filtration board, please check it out if you would be so kind...
 
not4you
  • Thread Starter
  • #28
Nitrates are still through the roof, no improvement after todays water change. I will be purchasing a new filter tomorrow and some advice on how to install the new filter and remove my UGF, see my post in the filtration board for more details.

Once again, many thanks to everyone.
 

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