Think I Messed Up Filters

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Mobluesfan

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OK, my 55 gallon aquarium is about 4 months old and its been cycled for awhile now. I have 1 Blood Parrot, 2 Firemouths, 5 Cory Cats, 3 mollies & a BN pleco. Over the weekend I noticed my water was starting to get real cloudy, so on Monday I cleaned the gravel and did about a 40% water change in the tank. I also cleaned my filters (more on that in a sec). That seemed to help, I could at least see the back of the tank better, but a couple of days later it's back to being real cloudy. I have read some things online and the only thing that I can think of is the filters. I don't overfeed, its not a bloom, substrate is not dirty ( I regularly siphon it), so that's the only thing I can think of. I have a top fin 75 filter and a Marineland 350 running on the tank right now. Eventually I will take the top fin off and just use the Marineland filter. Here's where I think I may have hurt it.... When I did water change, I took both filters off the Marineland & rinsed them WITH TAP WATER and put them back in. They are about a month old, so I don't have to replace them just yet (soon tho). I also did the same thing to both filters in the Top Fin (I did completely replace one of the filters, but rinsed it with TAP WATER beforehand). Now I am reading that I should not be rinsing it with tap water at all, that the chemicals in the tap water will kill all the bacteria. I should've known this, but lesson learned.

Now my question is.... Has this hurt my tank? Is it re-cycling now? Have a really killed all the bacteria in the filters? I was going to start using an aquarium sponge with polyfil in the Marineland filter (so I wouldn't have to buy filters every month), but didn't want to start it new cause I would lose all the bacteria. But if I just killed it all, should I go ahead and just do that now?
 

jjohnwm

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I suppose that it would depend upon just how you rinsed them. If it was just a quick squish under tepid running water, the damage will be relatively minimal. If you had it as hot as you could stand and squeezed until the water ran off clear...you may be hooped.

I suspect the reality is somewhere in between those extremes? Tap water is chlorinated for the express purpose of killing bacteria, so you definitely didn't do yourself any favours this way, but the odds are that at least some bacteria survived. With that in mind, I would strongly suggest that you do not start over with new filters. You almost certainly have at least some bacteria still alive, so nurture them. Keep feeding of your fish to a minimum for a few weeks, do frequent and large-volume water changes (with treated water!) and monitor your levels. Treat it as though you are doing a fish-in cycle on a new tank. Bottled bacterial cocktails to kick-start a cycle might be of use, but I have no experience with them. Someone who does will probably weigh in soon.

It's a learning experience, and one you won't soon forget. Fingers crossed!
 

Islandvic

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Mobluesfan, sorry to hear about the cloudy water.

A couple of questions may help us shed light onto the water troubles.

Is the look of the water have a milky tint to it, or more of a green color?

Is the tank near a window where sunlight hits it?

Water parameters?

Why would you want to remove the Top Fin filter? Repalce the cartridges with some foam sponge blocks from an Aquaclear refill sponge kit for $5 and call it good.

Link for ideas on easy and inexpensive methods to add DIY media to your filter.
 
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I will try the stability for sure. I actually used it when I initially set the tank up and it worked great.

The water has a "milky" tint to it. It is not near a window, no sunlight hits it. I do not leave the LED light on during the day either. Typically I turn it on when I get home from work. So from about 6pm until 10pm.

I haven't taken water parameters since i did the water change, but they have been good. I will take them either tonight or Saturday morning and let you know. I am afraid they are all outta whack now.

I may not remove the Top Fin, when I got the Marineland filter i thought about just using it, but it can only be a good thing to have the two filters continuing to run at the same time. I researched making DIY filters and that is what I plan to do. Just didn't know the best time to start because of the bacteria and starting over.
 
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Mobluesfan

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OK, well, I definitely have a problem. I took the parameters today, the good news is the PH is fine. No Ammonia or Nitrites. But the Nitrates are out of control. Like WAY too high, like so high I don't even want to say. The good news is that I test my tap water and there is no Nitrates in the tap water at all. So, I know I need water changes. The problem is I did about a 40% water change 5 days ago and the Nitrates are still that high!

I don't get it though, I do regular vacuuming of the substrate and when I do, hardly anything comes up. So I don't think I am feeding them too much. I have let my 12 year daughter feed the fish, but I have watched her and she does the same as me. I have went down to feeding them once a day for the past week or so. But when I vacuum hardly anything comes up? What could I be missing? Do I need to remove all the plastic plants and other décor I have and rinse it off (with tank water!) Go deeper in the substrate?

Also, would that explain the cloudiness?
 

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The nitrates are the end product of a healthy nitrogen cycle in the tank. No ammonia and no nitrites is good; the crazy high nitrates you are describing sound like the end result of a long, long time without any water changes. Since that's not the case...I am assuming the 40% water change you mentioned is not the only one you have ever done ...I'm wondering if you got an accurate reading when you tested. Try it again, maybe with a new test kit?

It doesn't sound like you did any significant damage to the population of bacteria in your filter, because if you had you would be seeing ammonia levels rising, not nitrates.
 
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Mobluesfan

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OK, did a 40%-50% water change yesterday and Nitrates fell to between 10ppm and 20ppm. So that fixes that problem. So my parameters are fine now. I will say I found the carcass of one of my mollies inside the cave that belongs to Gus (my blood parrot). So that had to be part of the problem. I'm hoping the cloudiness goes away in a couple days. I can't even enjoy my tank with as bad as it is.
 
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