Keeping bacteria in the filter alive - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2015, 06:25 AM Thread Starter
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Keeping bacteria in the filter alive

I have had a problem with nitrates in my tank. I have an algae problem and two fish have died. I did 3 small water changes that I thought should have added up to 30-40%. I retested the water and found Nitrates at 5ppm with API kit. I have now taken out most of the water. The tank is a 30 tall and there is approximately 5 inches of water left in the tank. I moved all but 1 surviving fish to a spare tank. I could not catch one of the Celestial pearl danios and I haven't been able to see it in the tank. But I was going to add more plants to try to plant it more heavily but now with the tank water so low I realize I need to vacuum the gravel and do alot of trimming of the plants that are in the tank.

I don't have the right size vacuum and wonder if I can leave every thing as is till tomorrow when I can buy a smaller gravel vacuum. I have read online that as long as the filter stays wet and has a source of nitrogen/nitrates then the bacteria on the filter will be ok. But I just wanted to get more info on this. Is the movement of the water necessary? If so how long do you think I can leave the filter with no movement but covered with the old tank water and still have good bacteria?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2015, 07:57 AM
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I am 100% positive that a nitrate reading of 5 did not kill your fish. I typically run much much much higher than that with no ill in the tank. I would start looking for another reason for the fish deaths. What is your ammonia at? What is your NitrItes at? What symptoms were the fish displaying?


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2015, 08:21 AM
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I would refill the tank with water, and keep the filter going overnight.

Just to clarify - were you talking about nitrates or nitrites?

Any further details about your tank?
When was it set up, how many fish, pH, ammonia?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2015, 10:45 AM
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nitrates

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noahma View Post
I am 100% positive that a nitrate reading of 5 did not kill your fish. I typically run much much much higher than that with no ill in the tank. I would start looking for another reason for the fish deaths. What is your ammonia at? What is your NitrItes at? What symptoms were the fish displaying?
I agree with this post. I run nitrates at 20. To. 30. Ppm and my fish are doing great. Now nitrites are a different story. You need to pretreat your water with chlorine remover and get the tank filled back up. Your bb feed on oxygen and ammonia , not nitrates.


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Last edited by rick dale; 03-22-2015 at 10:54 AM. Reason: info
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2015, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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The tank is dirted, and has had fish in it for around 6 mo. Plants were in the tank alone for several months before that. The tank had 5 cory cats and three celestial pearl danios. 1 cpd must have died 1-2 weeks ago. I did not find the body. 1 cory cat started swimming erratically and basically appeared to lose consciousness mid water and fall to the tank floor. By the time I got it out of the main tank to put into the hospital tank it was already dead. These are fish ( 3 cory sp) that were moved from my 55G to the 30 gallon after they were seen having similar symptoms in the 55G. Yesterday one of my Cory punctatus was laying on some moss appearing unconscious, I put it in the hospital tank and it died several hours later.

The nitrates are 5ppm, the nitrites were 0ppm, the ammonia appears more 0.25ppm than the yellow of 0ppm although it does not look as green as the 0.25ppm color block. pH was 7. GH as measured by api stick was 180ppm ( I have measured the api sticks to the liquid tests and the hardness and pH are true).

The remaining fish have increased redness around the gills.

After the 1st death when I did the 3 -10% water changes I did use a water conditioner and the water sat overnight as well. One thing I noticed when I was filling my water buckets was that my sink spluttered. The 1st water change I was using luke warm water by mixing hot and cold. Earlier that day when I was filling my dogs water bowl and I first turned the hot water on that day I thought the hot water was cloudy, possibly a small amount of rust. By the time I was doing the 10% water changes the water was running clear. But from then on I only used the cold water, which was why I let the water sit overnight in the room with the fish tanks, so that the water could warm to room temp around 70-72F.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2015, 04:42 PM
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Nitrate is fine, in fact it's normal/good to have some in a planted tank. Ammonia is a problem, the bacteria should convert the ammonia produced by the fish into nitrite and then on to nitrate which you'll plants will then consume. Ammonia and nitrite should be zero, nitrate should be low but not zero.

Your filter needs to be running for the bacteria to stay alive, they'll start to die within hours from the lack of oxygen, and then when you turn it back on the dead bacteria will spike ammonia. Your best option is to keep the filter in with the fish, so move it to whatever tank they are in.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-23-2015, 02:55 AM
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Run the filter on whatever container the fish are in. The fish will need the ammonia removal, and water circulation so it stays well oxygenated. The bacteria will need the oxygen and ammonia to live.

I do not understand what is going on with the main tank.

A fish died. By the next day you could have seen an ammonia spike, but it is a small fish in a comparatively large volume of water. So maybe there was no ammonia spike.
If there was a rise in the ammonia large enough to test, that would have been followed by a rise in the nitrite. This lasts a bit longer, so you might catch that when you test the tank. With that small a mass, though, the bacteria and plants would remove the ammonia and nitrite rather quickly, and the levels should not get toxic anyway.

5ppm NO3 is a low level. I add fertilizer to the tanks when the NO3 is this low.
Fish food gets turned into ammonia (fish digestion and decomposer organisms in the tank). The nitrifying bacteria start with ammonia, turn it into nitrite, then nitrate. For these bacteria, nitrate is the end result.

Now, the tap water issue is something else.
Water companies are out there all the time fixing broken pipes. Often, after a break, they will boost the chlorine or cloramine level for a day of so in the affected area just in case some bacteria got into the water. They do not tell you about it.
The way the water behaved when you turned it on does sound like the water had been off. If you did not do it or know about it, probably the water company did it.
Then, I would suspect the sick or dying fish might be from chlorine or chloramine.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-23-2015, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
.......Now, the tap water issue is something else.
Water companies are out there all the time fixing broken pipes. Often, after a break, they will boost the chlorine or cloramine level for a day of so in the affected area just in case some bacteria got into the water. They do not tell you about it.
The way the water behaved when you turned it on does sound like the water had been off. If you did not do it or know about it, probably the water company did it.
Then, I would suspect the sick or dying fish might be from chlorine or chloramine.
When I was rinsing the API test tubes I was leaning over the sink and distinctly remember thinking that the water had an unusually noticeable smell of chlorine.

I recently started using Aqueon Water Conditioner, which I am now wondering about this product. Does anyone have any experience with this product?

I still had a small amount of TopFin water conditioner which was what I had used for a long time. Which I never had a problem with so I am going to go back to using that for water changes to my other tanks.
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