Water Quality Issues

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by WolfPack21, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. WolfPack21Valued MemberMember

    I have a 55 gallon tank with a 9 inch oscar in it. I have two AquaClear 70 filters and a Rena Filstar XP3. I have had a problem with my ammonia for over a month now being at around 3.0.

    Here is my water quality currently:
    Ammonia: 3.0
    Nitrite .25
    Ph: 6.0
    Nitrate: 0
    Nitrate: 0

    I understand that that the low Ph will turn my Ammonia into something else that is not has harmful to the fish and that's the reason why my cycle is not complete. The fish has been in the tank for a little over a year now. I do a weekly water change of 10% and use Prime each time. I have tried not feeding for a week, going two weeks between water changes you name it I have tried it.

    So is there anyway to complete my cycle? I cannot find a way to get everything back to normal.

  2. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    The low pH is converting the ammonia in to ammonium, which is harmless to the fish (at least for the most part), but not useful at all to the good bacteria the cycle the tank. What you need to do is do something that will bring your pH up where it needs to be for the bacteria to be able to take hold. This is something I don't know much about.

  3. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    I had the same problem with my oscars in a 75g tank...the only way I was able to control the ammonia (other than re homing them) was run a canister (cascade 1200) and do water changes every other day...You can use some crushed coral in the filter, if you tap ph is low...but once the tank cycles, your ph should settle...

  4. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    First question, have you verified your readings (at LFS or another test kit?) - whilst I don't dispute the ammonia/nitrite readings, it always pays to get a second opinion so you don't go chasing ghosts.What's your water temp at?You could slowly increase the temp to around 27-28C (81-83F), this will help the Beneficial Bacteria grow. If you are going to increase temp, be ready to add an air line to increase the oxygen in the water.Have you tested your tap water? It's possible that your ammonia/ammonium is coming from your tap water [assuming you use tap water]Have you recently changed any filter media?Medicated the tank?[just throwing up some thougths]Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about the pH number while there's a cycle going on, as the cycle will swing your parameters. I certainly wouldn't be adding a pH altering chemical (pH up).Also worth noting - can you test KH (carbonate hardness)? There is a direct relationship between KH and pH, and you may be able to increase pH through KH.
  5. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Until cycled I do not recommend attempting to adjust it as that leads to more issues IME. Instead, I recommend daily water changes with deep gravel vacs.

    For today, the first step is to reduce the ammonia. To do this, you'd do a 50% water change. And as soon as the tank is full immediately do another water change. And, do this again a 3rd time (3 back to back water changes). At this point the ammonia should be under 1PPM.

    Once the ammonia has been reduced continue with daily 50% water changes. And deep gravel vacs. Shove the gravel cleaner completely through the gravel to the bottom glass plate. Do not move it until all debris has been lifted. The most important key is to lift the debris...not the amount of gravel cleaned. Make sure to clean the gravel under decor items as well as this is where debris particularly likes to collect.

    I also recommend finding the true pH of your tap. To do this add some untreated tap water to a bucket and aerate it for 24 hours. Then measure the pH. If you have the means to test it, also teat your KH and GH. This will tell us if you tank has acidified from a lack of buffers or if your water source is soft water.

    Good luck.
  6. Wendy LubianetskyWell Known MemberMember

    Oscar Tank Water Issues too.

    I had the exact same issues with my Oscar in a 60 gallon aquarium. I could not get it to cycle. I had horrible problems with ammonia and nitrite levels. I was doing 50-60% water changes everyday. I thought it would never end. Finally after 2 1/2 months it cycled. I still do a lot of substrate cleaning and water changes, but not nearly like I had to before. My point being, keep at it and be patient. Eventually it will get there.

    Good Luck.

  7. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

  8. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    :animal0068:I have moved your thread from Freshwater Beginners to Aquarium Water/Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle section of the forum.


  9. luke355027355027Well Known MemberMember

    I don't have ammonia problems but if I domt do 20 gallons every other day my nitrites spike up. It's a 55 gallon with two oscars plus I have a aqua clear 60. Fugal 306 and a homemade sponge filter. Personally I think a 55 or even a 75 is to small for two oscars. One Oscas might do well by itself in a 75. Pretty much whenever you own oscars you have to do a lot of maintenance.
  10. WolfPack21Valued MemberMember

    Thanks for the tips everyone! Assuming that I do a water change daily, won't that just take it even longer to cycle because all of the beneficial bacteria will have to start over each day? The true Ph from my tap read 7.4 and I keep the tank at 80.

    So it seems I need to clean everything, including all of the filter media. And I should I look into raising the Ph with some kind of crush coral? I don't want to raise the Ph too fast because then it will turn into true ammonia.
  11. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Yes, water changes can slow down the cycle; but allowing the ammonia to remain at 3ppm will simply kill your fish.

    FYI - Bacteria is not floating around in the water. So even a 100% water change will not affect the cycle.

    Also don't clean the filter media until you have to. Otherwise your tank may never cycle.
  12. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    If your true pH is 7.4, then steps should be taken to stabilise the pH. That said, we can't re-iterate enough that pH will swing during a cycle, so it's best not to focus too much on the pH just yet.

    Follow Dena's advice, and if you can, test your KH and GH, it'll give us an idea of what's going on.

    One other thought - are you treating with Amquel + ? There was a thread recently about a similar problem, with pH dropping, and as soon as the Amquel + (I think it was Amquel +) was stopped, the pH and KH stabilised.

    I also note that you are using Prime. Great choice. Prime detoxifies ammonia for up to 24 hours, but still allows beneficial bacteria to grow and feed on it.

    Keep up the water changes, using Prime, and wait for the cycle to complete. Then focus on the pH/KH. So IME, don't worry about the crushed coral or KH buffering just yet.

    Stay patient, it'll happen.
  13. WolfPack21Valued MemberMember

    Okay, thank you for your input everyone. I will do daily water changes and from what everyone is telling me, it will happen, it just may take a long time.
  14. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    Very good point Ryan. pH will bounce from one extreme to the other. Something I learned recently is that while the bacteria is quickly growing it causes the KH to drop; which then causes the pH to drop. Then, once the bacteria stabilizes, they release the carbonate, KH suddenly jumps up; and pH also jumps. This is why it is never a good thing to adjust water parameters with a cycling tank.

    As for the AmQuel thread, the problem was that the KH was depleted while using AmQuel. Same effect on pH. Not sure if this effect is normal with this product or not. But as the OP is using Prime, this isn't an issue here.

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