Need help! Water quality is BAD! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-28-2015, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Need help! Water quality is BAD!

After a few fish deaths I went out and got a master test kit instead of the cheap test strips I've been using. Turns out PH is 6.0 or lower. Ammonia is through the roof as are the Nitrates. Other than a big water change what steps should I take to get this tank back in line? I should add it was new fish that died. Apparently the fish that I've had in the tank have adapted to the current water issues.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-28-2015, 08:54 PM
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First thing I would do is add prime to try and get some of that ammonia bound up. My concerns about doing lots of large water changes is that if the pH of your new water is very different from your tank water, then you can cause more fish deaths.

If your new water and old water match up closely with pH and TDS, then I personally would do several large water changes, possibly up to almost 100% change. I would NOT do that if the new water parameters are vastly different from the old water.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-28-2015, 09:04 PM
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Got to ask...is it cycled ?
Check the source water first. Before you use it to see how it looks in test.
Of particular interest would be the nitrate and PH.
Let us know what you find out...

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-28-2015, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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I've had the tank setup for about a year. I did a 40% water change about 2 weeks ago so unless that kicked off a new cycle I don't really know. I use ceramic rings in the filter so they went back in as did a sponge that was cleaned in tank water. The only thing I replaced in the filter was the Pinky filter. I've had some Algal bloom recently but nothing major. Just a slight green tint to the water. As far as source water I'm assuming test it str8 from the tap? Untreated?
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-28-2015, 10:54 PM
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water

You say the fish that died were new ones . Have you accounted for all of them ? Dead fish in the tank will cause all sorts of problems unless they are promptly removed. Including high ammonia levels. Make sure you got em all out.


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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-28-2015, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrivingaBigBrownTruck View Post
I've had the tank setup for about a year. I did a 40% water change about 2 weeks ago so unless that kicked off a new cycle I don't really know. I use ceramic rings in the filter so they went back in as did a sponge that was cleaned in tank water. The only thing I replaced in the filter was the Pinky filter. I've had some Algal bloom recently but nothing major. Just a slight green tint to the water. As far as source water I'm assuming test it str8 from the tap? Untreated?
Yes to see what it has in it before it gets to the tank.
Unless you have good reason to believe that it is clogged, the bio-media should never be touched. This explains the ammonia. The nitrates may be in your tap water but more likely you need to change a higher amount of water.
Tanks that have the filter in good condition and lots of plants may be able to "get away with" few water changes. Plants use nitrates IF they are healthy and a tank/w lots of healthy ones may use all of it.
And also the plants use some of the ammonia when they are healthy.
One 50% water change will cut what is in there by 50% which is much better than it is now.
But you need to check the tap water to see if it's contributing anything to this. Put the results in here for ammonia/nitrates/PH.
If your disturbing the bio-media is part or all of the reason then the filter renewing it's self will correct the ammonia problem and weekly water changes will correct the nitrate problem.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-28-2015, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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OK will test and post the results. Quite a bit of algae had grown in the filter that's why I took it apart during the last water change. I know my son has been overfeeding. I'm sure that plays a factor in the problems I'm having. As far as plants go there are very few in the tank now. I'm new to the planted tank thing.

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You say the fish that died were new ones . Have you accounted for all of them ? Dead fish in the tank will cause all sorts of problems unless they are promptly removed. Including high ammonia levels. Make sure you got em all out.
Yes. We bought 5. One died in the bag another died the next day. We exchanged those for 2 new fish since then 2 more have died. So we are back to 3 Long Fin Rosy Barbs This particular store only exchanges for the first 48 hours. I believe the guy that caught the original 5 was a bit too rough and hurt the fish some. This along with my awful water killed the poor guys.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-29-2015, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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Tap water tests at 8.0-8.2 PH and 0 ppm for ammonia and possibly slightly above 0 ppm for nitrates. It's just barely a darker yellow than 0 ppm but much lighter than 5.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-29-2015, 12:29 AM
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If it's not coming in when you do a water change, then what except disturbing the bio-media may have caused the high ammonia...
It sounds to me like it's something which will repair it's self. So just do one 50% water change to get things better for the fish. Then test it an hour or so after to establish what it is with the new water. Then after a full 24 hrs test again to see mostly if the ammonia has gone down any since you tested it with the new water.
As long as it's not going up you can just leave it a couple more days and test again
to see when it starts back down. If it has gone up when you check it after the 24 hrs
you may need to do another water change. You likely killed more bacteria than you realize and it will take watching the ammonia level till it grows more new bacteria.
It's the same as it's doing now, just that the more you lost the longer it takes to multiply them. Every surface in the tank has them so you can't kill all of them unless you poured in chlorinated water for example. The conditions in the filter are better for them so the level is just higher there and they have more water contact due to the flow.
The PH is lower than the tap likely because of long times between water changes.
Your KH is likely 3 or less also.
Plants use minerals/nutrients. No water changes = none of these left in the water.
The water changes bring in new nutrients that the plants need especially if you are not using ferts.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-29-2015, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks a million Raymond.

My test strips(that's all I have that tests for GH and KH) show tap water is around 120 GH and somewhere between 0 and 40 KH. Tank water is 180 or higher GH and around 0 KH.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-30-2015, 03:29 AM Thread Starter
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OK an hour after a 50% water change PH is up to around 6.4. Ammonia is around 4 ppm and nitrates are somewhere between the 160 and 80 ppm mark. I have some aquarium bacteria from Marineland. http://www.petsmart.com/fish/cycling...6-catid-300035 Should I add any of that to the tank?
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-30-2015, 03:48 AM
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So then check it 24 hrs from now to see what it has done.
From your last two post I'll stick my neck out and say it looks like you don't do much/frequent water changes. Still could have been caused by cleaning the filter too well.
Water changes bring in new nutrients for the plants and it is also how we get the nitrates down when the plants aren't taking them out.
I'll be at work this time tomorrow night. That is still mighty high nitrates.
No doubt they built up gradually and the fish you had got used to it slowly but long
term exposure to high nitrates breaks down their immune systems etc so I would do another one after 48 hrs from the one you just did.
If the beneficial bacteria are building up well the nitrates should be higher and the ammonia should be lower after the 24 hrs.

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-30-2015, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
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I did in fact neglect regular water changes for about 2 months(shame on me I know) I'm getting adjusted to the crazy hours I work now. I rarely know day to day when I'll be going to work. Could be 1am could be 9pm. It just depends on what runs are available and when they start. I'm on a night schedule this week myself so I'll probably be testing a bit before the 24 hour mark. Should I add any of the "bacteria in a bag" that I have or just see what happens?
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-30-2015, 05:02 AM
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"Bacteria in a bag" ?
I have successfully used Tetra Safe Start a couple of times. I did not mention this because it will run up the nitrates quickly once it starts to work as the ammonia will be converted to that.
You might add it after you check the water tomorrow, but watch the nitrates after you do. But then you realy should do another WC to get those nitrates down more.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-30-2015, 05:06 AM
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Do the water change first. After you add a bacteria product like Tetra Safe Start, or Dr. Tim's One and Only you need to wait a few days for the bacteria to anchor to something. They drift in the water for a day or two, and you do not want to remove them.
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