So this is odd (and also a short novel which I apologize for). I have a high tech 36g bowfront. Established for well over a year (really about 3 years but a year and a half ago I moved the tank, switched out the substrate but kept the filter media...but the point is it has been well established and nothing unusual in all that time).
This afternoon I notice the tank looks slightly cloudy and the fish look kind of mellow. Not stressed but some of them don't look thrilled with life. We are having a heatwave here on the coast and no one has AC so the past two days it has been around 100 degrees and the tank temp has climbed from about 76 to 82 degrees. So I thought maybe it is just that. It would have been a gradual climb though as this is a dark/cooler room in the NE of the house and the house itself isn't crazy hot.
But I think just in case let me do some water tests. I did a water change 10 days ago even though the Nitrate was at 5ppm.
So after the water change the TDS of the tank was 254. Check it now it is 276. OK went up a bit in 10 days. But I have not been using a meter long enough to know if that is an alarming number.
Check Nitrate using a Nutrafin test kit and I am alarmed. Before I even add the 3rd reagent the vial has turned hot pink. Something like 110 ppm. This is strange. Even though this tank is pretty overstocked with fish I have never had that high a climb in Nitrate in such a short period after a water change and the cloudiness doesn't make sense. The Nutrafin test says that results may be off if there is any Nitrite in the water.
So I use my last Tetra Test strip. I know people say they are no good but they are nice when you have multiple tanks to do a quick check on Nitrate if you do not suspect anything is off and you don't have time to shake vials for multiple tanks. This test kit the Nitrate comes back as fairly low but the Nitrite is reading at light pink. About 1.0 mg/L. I have never had these strips show Nitrite in this tank since the tank was first established 3 years ago. I use an ammonia test strip too and that comes back fine.
So test strips. Maybe everyone is right and they are not accurate? So I use an API test kit to test Nitrite. That comes back with 0 nitrite. API ammonia test is also 0. API Nitrate test is low. Hard to read which orange but between 5ppm-10ppm.
So I look in the tank for corpses. Don't see anything. Everyone is accounted for. I put in Prime to neutralize whatever it is that is off and the fish more or less look OK. Still pretty mellow.
Check the filter. There is water coming out of the return pipe. Check the intake. Ahaha! My insanely vigorous Nymphoides 'Taiwan' has this huge mass of aerial roots that have totally engulfed the intake strainer. I clean them out, try to shift the plant, and intake tube a little bit.
Wondering if that could be it? I am assuming now that it is my Nitrites and not Nitrates that are off and the API test kit is just old and is not reading them right. Hoping this will clear up pretty quickly now that I have cleared the intake?
Going to do a water change but I have to go get RO water tomorrow. I buy it from a place in town and was still out from my recent water change.
Just an odd thing to have happen. I have always been all like "Yeah I have never had a biological filter collapse and ammonia or nitrite spike before." Oops. First time for everything?
In the picture below it is the tank on the right. Oh and I used the Nutrafin test on my other tanks to see if maybe that test kit was off but it is coming up with the results I expected for those tanks.
46 and 36 gallon planted bowfront tanks
by Kaveh Maguire
, on Flickr