Newbie question, bring your reading glasses (long)

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by not4you, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. not4youValued MemberMember

    Hi everybody!

    Hi Dr. Nick!

    I hope a few people found that funny :)


    First off, 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
  2. IsabellaFishlore VIPMember

    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.
  3. GunnieWell Known MemberMember

    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! ;)
  4. not4youValued MemberMember

    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
  5. beckers4orangesValued MemberMember

    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
  6. not4youValued MemberMember

    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!
  7. not4youValued MemberMember

    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?
  8. chickadeeFishlore VIPMember

    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. :D (Things you learn the silly way :) )

    Welcome to

    Rose :D
  9. not4youValued MemberMember

    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
  10. chickadeeFishlore VIPMember

    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.

  11. not4youValued MemberMember

    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?
  12. chickadeeFishlore VIPMember

    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)

  13. chickadeeFishlore VIPMember

    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.

  14. not4youValued MemberMember

    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.
  15. not4youValued MemberMember

    I tested my tap water yesterday and nitrates are 5, so that's still alot better than what's in the tank right now. I would think that changing the water would help bring down the nitrates, yes?
  16. chickadeeFishlore VIPMember

    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.

  17. not4youValued MemberMember

    Sounds like plan, I'll do the water change after dinner. Thanks for the advice :)
  18. chickadeeFishlore VIPMember

    You are most welcome. Enjoy your fish, they are great friends.

    Welcome to the group.

  19. not4youValued MemberMember

    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!
  20. chickadeeFishlore VIPMember

    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.