Old, neglected, overpopulated, inbred and snail infested.

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jmd03

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Hi everyone, I have a 29 gallon that I have been trying to get back on track. It is over twenty years old, but I had no idea of all the things we were suppose to keep an eye on. I won't get into excuses, but I am trying to make things right. Here is a list of the problems/questions and if anyone has any suggestions or ideas, they would be greatly appreciated.

Nitrite .25, Nitrate 80, Ammonia .50, PH 6
Whisper 3
Heater fixed at 78
Two air stones
Plastic plants
Only platies and some snails that came with plants from long ago (nothing new for at least ten years because of over population)

-What is the most humane way to kill/get rid of snails? I think they make more waste than the fish do. (as bad as these are, it will still be hard for me to hurt them)
-How do I get Platies to stop procreating???

-I made the horrible mistake of not cleaning the gravel all the way to the bottom and now have a layer of gunk. It has been there for years. If I disturb this layer, will the toxic gasses I just read about kill off my tank?

-Can plants be put in this layer so they can use it for food? I was hoping to get live plants once the snail problem was taken care of.

-I plan on getting another filter to help with the load. Is Aqua Clear a good one and what size? The fish won't like a lot of current.

For about two weeks I have been doing small water changes every 2-3 days and rinsing or changing my filter cartriges. I didn't realize I shouldn't change them, that I could have just put in new carbon. I do have two bio sponges that came with the filter that get rinsed, also.

I know its terrible that I allowed this to go on for so long, especially now after reading a lot of the information on here, but I'd like to move forward and make things a little better if I can.
 

andrew dinh

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I've heard one way to get rid of snails is to put a price of lettuce in there and pull it out once they gather on it. I'm not sure about the rest. When you rinse out the filter cartridge, do you clean it with tap water? If you do, you will kill the beneficial bacteria in it( I learned that the hard way).
 

jmd03

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I do use tap water, it is on the hard side and is high in iron, but its well water, and not treated, so it should be ok, shouldn't it?
 

jpm995

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I think the first thing you need to do is big [25% or more] water changes, probably every day or so. Ammo and nitrite should be zero, nitrates should be high [over 50] because of neglect. Has the filter stopped running for an extended time as your readings seem like tank is in the middle of a cycle. Snails eat fish waste and leftover their usually considered good for a tank. Give them to a local fish shop if you want them gone. Can't stop plattys from breeding if you have males and females in tank, possibly getting a fish that will eat the fry [halfbeak, killies] will help.Your waters params are all bad water changes are only way to get them back but your ph is low[6] so be careful to monitor it after water change. Rapid change will stress fish. Get started now as readings are getting toxic.
 

Aquaphobia

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Have you read up on the nitrogen cycle yet? Click on the blue words if not.

With those test readings your tank is not cycled, probably due to changing the cartridges in the filter. I would suggest picking up a bottle of Tetra Safe Start but with the low pH your BB won't be able to make use of the ammonia and will die off. Do you have a GH/KH test? If you get the Safe Start then you can add some baking soda (not baking powder!) to bring the pH up.
 

jpm995

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Using a vacuum hose with tube attached [every fish shop carries them] and suction out the gravel while your changing water. Be careful you can damage the silicon seal if you push hard against the bottom sides.
 

MikeRad89

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Disagreed. If you've had this tank for 20 years your fish are well adjusted to your low pH. Do not change it with baking soda.

Gravel vac that gunk layer and do 30 percent water changes twice a week. Don't touch the filter cartridges anymore. They never really need to be cleaned. If the flow is too low because they're clogged up, slosh it around in a bucket of tank water. The chloramines in tap water kill Bb.

As for the snail issue I'm not totally sure. I would remove them by hand if possible.


 

jmd03

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Thank you,

I didn't know that changing that much water was ok. I'll start doing it. I originally kept the snails for the reason mentioned, but they went crazy.
 

Aquaphobia

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But with a low pH the ammonia will stay in a form that can't be used by the BB and the tank will never cycle.

What is the pH of your tap water?
 

matsungit

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The pH is low because of all the bioload and waste. Adding baking soda now will just make things worse. Frequent partial water changes is the way to go. The bacteria responsible for the nitrogen cycle are already all there. It's just that everything is out of balance. Take care not to clean the filter media too much. Just a quick rinse in dechlorinated water will do. Do the filter first. As for water changes, do no more than 25% daily. Any more than that and the fish might go into osmotic shock. The aquarium is already in the old tank syndrome mode. As for platys, they will always reproduce as long as males and females are together. If you want to stop them, you have to separate the males from the females. As for the snails, they feed on waste, algae, and leftover food. When you fix those, the snail population will dwindle down.
 

jpm995

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Another thing, it's only a 29 gal tank and your main issue is water quality, it's very bad. You need to change out all the bad water asap but not raise the ph too quickly. Your tank may be cycling but i say get all the water changed out so ammo, nitrites and nitrates are down then try to start cycle over. So 25-50% water change every day until nitrates are near zero. Use syphon to clean gravel for water changes. Dont clean filter pads unless they look dirty than rinse them in old aquarium water. When your ready to cycle add tetra safe start bacteria in your filter and your on your way.
 

Aquaphobia

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I agree with you matsungit, but since the filter cartridges have been changed completely I'm not sure that there are enough bacteria there.
 

jmd03

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I have read about the nitrogen cycle, that's why I started the water changes, I just wasn't taking enough volume it seems.
I have a gravel vac but have only been doing the surface, about half an inch.
I do have a liquid test kit, that's how I found out how bad things are.
So, along with the last change, I did add some Easy Balance. Is that stuff ok to use?
 

matsungit

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I agree with you matsungit, but since the filter cartridges have been changed completely I'm not sure that there are enough bacteria there.
Oh, cool beans LOL. There might be still some on the substrate to reseed the media. In my opinion the substrate shouldn't be thoroughly cleaned either. Only half at most.

I have read about the nitrogen cycle, that's why I started the water changes, I just wasn't taking enough volume it seems.
I have a gravel vac but have only been doing the surface, about half an inch.
I do have a liquid test kit, that's how I found out how bad things are.
So, along with the last change, I did add some Easy Balance. Is that stuff ok to use?
Easy Balance is okay, but unnecessary at the moment.
 
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jmd03

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My tap water ph is 7.6,
 

Aquaphobia

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Or less, but then I'm usually over-cautious with everything

Personally, for a tank that's behind on cleanings, I prefer to vacuum in small sections at each water change. So do maybe a quarter of the substrate but do that section thoroughly. Next water change do a different quarter. And so on.
 

jmd03

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Thanks everyone for giving me a direction to aim for.

Here I've been trying to keep the filter cartridges clean, and it sounds like that is contributing to my problem.
 

maggie thecat

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You can trap snails several ways. Here are two.

Put a heavy glass or ceramic bowl in the training tank. Bait it with sinking pellets. Shut out the lights. (Best done at night.) Snails will be attracted to the bait. Remove in the morning and repeat as necessary.

Use a glass milk bottle or similar small small mouth jar. Stuff with lettuce leaves or other vegetables. Shut out lights. Remove in morning and repeat with fresh bait as necessary.
 

I3uckethead

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Goes to show there's an opinion for every person.

I wouldn't do as you've been suggested here.
Your tank has several issues that need to be addressed individually.

Ph: The Ph from your tap is 7.6, tank is 6. That's a massive difference. Doing large (25% or bigger) water changes will result in .3-.5ph jumps. One of those will stress your fish. Doing multiple in quick succession might kill them.
I would do 10% twice a day. Morning and evening until the Ph from tap and tank are the same. Nice, slow, steady increase instead of jumps.
(That's only 3gal, buy a 3gal bucket at Lowe's and wc will take 5min.)

Your water is toxic:
Get Seachem Prime or another ammonia lock to keep ammonia under control. Get a nitrate absorbing filter pad to control nitrates short term.
Reestablish your nitrogen cycle in the filter. Shouldn't take long with a deep, messy substrate.


I expect the previous two steps will take 10-14 days.

Ignore the snails and gunk in gravel until these two issues are fixed.
Once you have a healthy water column with Ph within .2 of your tap, and have maintained it as such for 12hours or more, then remove all your fish into another container. At this time empty the whole tank. You can dispose of your snails now, as well as clean out all the filth in the gravel, or even replace with new substrate.

After removing all the and wiping the sides (clean cloth, no soap at any time), then refill, condition, get the temp right, and add your fish back.

I would use Prime and Stability daily for the next week after that to absorb any mini-cycle kicked off by cleaning out the substrate.


After that, the only issue you have left that you mentioned is "inbred". Not usually an issue for fish, but if you are noticing severe genetic issues or deformities, euthanize. You can start looking to rehome your over-population of fish. I would wait a week after the tank was healthy again, just to be sure I was sending out healthy fish.


That's how I would recover the tank.
 
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