Please Help! All Readings Are Baddd

Jed

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I have a 10 gal aquarium. Planted. I have rocks for decor, gravel substrate and a small piece of driftwood. I have 3 Dalmatian mollies (the fourth just died and another ones shimmying) and 2 KuhlI loaches. I have no co2 an air stone and a hang on back topfin filter. I recently bought a API master kit. Ammonia is over 8ppm off the charts, my ph is below 6 (used to be 7.5) my nitrites are 0 and my nitrates are between 80 and 160 ppm. Fish are super stressed. I do a 3 gal water change a week so 30%. It’s been fine for a year, now it’s bad. I vacuum, brush of decor, all that. What’s going on????

Ive read about old tank syndrome but I also have driftwood so idk what’s going on. I don’t think the fish still alive have long and idk what to do or where to begin.
 
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Jed

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I fill a bucket with some aquarium water and wash them in it, and sometimes I don’t wash the filter if it’s new or I'm doing a deep clean to keep beneficial bacteria.
 

Kiks

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Your tank is overstocked which is probably why your ammonia is so high.
Mollys need a 30 gallon tank minimum so I'd rehome them or get them a larger tank fast. Before that happens you need to change a bunch of water to get the ammonia down to as close as 0 as possible. A bunch of 50% changes might be a good idea.
 
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Jed

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Why has it been fine for a year though? Ok I’ll see what I can do about the mollies, I don’t rlly know where to rehome them though. I’ll do some big water changes too. What about my ph, I read that anything below 6 kills good bacteria and can cause high ammonia too. And idk why the ph is so low
 

Kiks

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When the pH is low ammonia turns into ammonium which isn't harmful in the same way as ammonia is. This might be why your fish have been fine. The thing to be concerned about regarding the pH is that it seems to fluctuate and this can cause serious problems.

What is the pH of your tap water?

Even if the fish have been fine for a year they've still been living in a way too small tank for a year. They do need something bigger.
 

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For your PH to be going down that makes me think Old Tank Syndrome, are you doing complete water changes and not just topping off water. Several 50% water changes are needed to bring back your nitrates to lower... it's not going to happen right away. Nitrates that high are dangerous. You could do them in 1/2 increments.. 25% in the morning and 25% in the evening.. You don't want to cause the tank cycle to collapse either, so do water testing.
 
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Jed

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Ok I will do my best to relocate the mollies. And I’ll start some big water changes, my Substrate is 2 inches plus in some spots so I assume there’s a lot of build up? I’ll get down in it with the vac every time. Idk how else to clean it. And my tap ph is around 7, could my driftwood be making that much of a difference? It’s a small piece. I have hard hard water in fl so it’s got a buffer
 
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Jed

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So the overall recommendation for the ammonia and nitrates is big water changes, what about the ph, do I need to take that driftwood out or something?
 

Kiks

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I don't think the driftwood makes much of a difference unless you have a ton of it in there.
You're saying the pH in your tank is 6, but what is it out of the tap? And have you tried adding some tap water to a bucket, letting it sit out for 24 hours and then testing it?
 
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Jed

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Kiks said:
I don't think the driftwood makes much of a difference unless you have a ton of it in there.
You're saying the pH in your tank is 6, but what is it out of the tap? And have you tried adding some tap water to a bucket, letting it sit out for 24 hours and then testing it?
It’s below 6 I think but it’s as low as the test reads. Out of tap it’s about 7, no I haven’t tried that what will that tell me?
 

Kiks

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Jed said:
It’s below 6 I think but it’s as low as the test reads. Out of tap it’s about 7, no I haven’t tried that what will that tell me?
If your tap water has a higher pH than your tank water it probably doesn't have to do with aeration.
Usually there's a difference in tap water pH and tank water pH because of the difference in aeration.
 
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Jed

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So if it’s not that what could it be? It’s never been this bad. Does ammonia and nitrates effect it?

Also will cleaning the substrate entirely to rid all the gunk in it be safe if I don’t touch my filter?
 

Elkwatcher

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Jed said:
So if it’s not that what could it be? It’s never been this bad. Does ammonia and nitrates effect it?

Also will cleaning the substrate entirely to rid all the gunk in it be safe if I don’t touch my filter?
I have driftwood in all of my tanks and it's never lowered the PH that low. Are the rocks new to your tank?
 
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Jed

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I have a 10 gal with 3 mollies and two kuhlI loaches, been there for a year. Always had perfect parameters. I have plants a small driftwood piece and rocks. I do weekly 30% changes with a vac. I have a air stone and hob topfin filter which I change every month or more. My ph is below 6 and my ammonia is above 8 ppm on apI kit. Nitrates are between 80 and 160. Nitrites are 0. Fish are dying and stressed. I don’t know what’s going on. Substrate is a few inches deep in some spots, could there be a lot of buildup? I don’t know why my ph is down either, I have 7.0 tap water.
 
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Jed

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I was feeding sinking wafers for a long time, then flakes for a few months. Have only fed flakes now because they won’t eat wafers now, it’ll just sit. I was over feeding for awhile but cut way down to what they eat in a few mins. And I’ve done a multiple water changes and gravel vacs since the over feeding. But I can only clean the top part of substrate bc it’s so deep in some spots. Should I do a deep clean??
 

mikefishies

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Jed said:
I was feeding sinking wafers for a long time, then flakes for a few months. Have only fed flakes now because they won’t eat wafers now, it’ll just sit. I was over feeding for awhile but cut way down to what they eat in a few mins. And I’ve done a multiple water changes and gravel vacs since the over feeding. But I can only clean the top part of substrate bc it’s so deep in some spots. Should I do a deep clean??
What is your kh/gh? Is there anything you have done/changed recently that could be contributing to this sudden spike?
 

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What do you mean with you change your filter? I am not an expert, but wouldn't that mean you are disposing a good chunk of your BB colony when you do that?

Based on how high your ammonia and nitrate is, I would do several large water changes.
With that bio load I would recommend to do much larger water changes weekly or twice a week. The loaches should be in a tank at least 20 gallon.
 

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