I Need Help- My Tank is a Mess and Fish are Dying - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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I Need Help- My Tank is a Mess and Fish are Dying

This is likely to be a long post, but I want to give as much info as I can, hoping someone can help me get these problems straightened out.

I have a Landen 45P rimless tank. The specs say it is 10.7 gallons. It measures 17.7" L × 10.6" W × 11.8" H. I set it up in early February with Seachem Flourite Black as the substrate, a few pieces of driftwood, and some rock. I planted it right away with a few plants I found at PetSmart, ordered some, and got a few more at a better lfs that is a bit further away. It is planted (as of now) with:
Micranthemum tweedeii ‘Monte Carlo’
Sagittaria sublualta ‘Mini’
Rotala indica
Echinodorus ‘Kleiner Prinz’
Microsorium pteropus ‘Windelov’
Bacopa caroliniana ‘Lemon’
Hygrophila corymbosa ‘Angustifolia’
Cryptocoryne wendtii
Aegagropila linnaei ‘Marimo moss ball’
Taxiphyllum ‘Flame’ moss
Altenanthera reineckii ‘cardinalis’

Filter is an Eheim Ecco Pro 60 cannister (rated for up to 60 gallon tanks). It runs through glass lily pipes to keep the flow from being too strong. The inlet has a skimmer on it because I was getting scum building up on the surface water. Water temp is just about 78 degrees F. and holds pretty steady. Light is a Fluval Nano clip-on and it is on about 8 hours with "sunrise" ramp up and "sundown" ramp down to blue moonlights. I know I am running a bit low on light for some of those plants but everything seems to be basically holding its own (sort of). No CO2. I use Thrive S for ferts because my tap water has some NO3 in it and I didn't want to add too much extra. I have to trim the Bacopa regularly to keep it from growing out of the tank. The moss is growing all over the wood and rock. The Rotala is starting to hit the surface of the water, too. The sword keeps putting out new leaves that are a nice red color. The rest are not growing like that, but not dying, and the crypt is showing new growth.

I did a fishless cycle with Dr. Tim's ammonia at the dosing recommended on the package. Took about 3 1/2 or 4 weeks for things to settle down to steady, good parameters.

First things I added to the tank were 6 cardinal tetras and a Nerite snail. Lost three of the cardinals within a week. The other three were doing well, and the snail was doing his snail thing. Tested and tested the water and things stayed good, so I added 5 chili rasboras and another snail. So far, it looks like I've lost 2 of the rasboras. The snails are fine.

This morning, the water tested at these values:
pH 7.4
Ammonia 0
NO2 0
NO3 5 ppm (Like I said, I do have some in the tap water)

I've been doing weekly 4-5 gallon water changes with my tap water treated with Prime and left to air out for 3-4 days before I use it. I have a bit of algae on the glass but not a huge amount. What I do have is brown, stringy, slimy stuff all over the plants and most of the wood. I have heard/read that brown is diatoms? It looks horrible and I can't seem to get a handle on it. And today, one of the remaining cardinals is not looking very good.

Any ideas on how to control this stuff and what's going on with my fish dying? When I had planted tanks before (similar set ups), they used to run closer to 10 ppm in NO3 with no bad effects. But something has got to be off somewhere or I wouldn't be losing fish like this. I hate to put any more in there until I get things sorted.

Thanks to anyone who managed to read all this, and who might have some ideas for me. I'm at a loss right now.

-Mak

-Mak
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 07:52 PM
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Can you post up a picture of your tank? What kind of driftwood and rocks do you have?

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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 08:03 PM
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Yes please, a picture would be great. I want to suggest laying off the fertilizer for a week or so as well as any additives besides beneficial bacteria and change the carbon in the filter. It sounds also like it may be a disease but without some images it's hard to tell...

Good luck, I hope you get it squared away soon.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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I don't know exactly what I have for rocks and driftwood. Got them at an lfs. The small rocks look like they may be a quarts of some sort? They have that shiny, crystal-like inside. The driftwood is small and branchy, not thick like some is. It's also light in color. Here are a few pics I took this afternoon. One of the full tank, one with two of the cardinals, and one that shows what the gunk on the plants looks like:
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 08:44 PM
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The only thing I can think of is unless you can verify which rocks you have in there, that would be my guess as to what's killing your fish. Take those rocks out.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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Rocks

Here's a picture of the rocks. The bigger one in back is hard to see well because the moss has grown on it so much.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ScrubbyDick View Post
The only thing I can think of is unless you can verify which rocks you have in there, that would be my guess as to what's killing your fish. Take those rocks out.

I agree, it would be a great place to start troubleshooting the issue... I'm not sure what could be causing that but something is fouled. Change the carbon often to pull out any toxins in the water.

Yeah... I name my fish...
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, I will start with the rocks. Thanks.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 11:25 AM
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Are you using any liquid carbon products?
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 01:56 PM
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To me this is your tank working to balance itself out. With consistent care (waterchanges, ferts, scrubbing algea away), the diatoms should stop growing and the tank should reach a balance. Diatoms normally become a nuisance within the first 2-3 months of a new tank, then they die back. If I recall correctly, quartz/silicates can cause diatoms algae as well. However, I doubt the rocks you placed in the tank a really causing you major issues.
As you increase plant mass in the tank, more ferts are needed. I would not be afraid of nitrates, your tap water may have some, but it's certainly not going to be enough for a thriving tank.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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DiscusStu- Not currently. I was dosing a small amount of Excel in the beginning, but was advised that with the light and plants I had, I didn't need it. I stopped using it maybe a month or so ago.

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinster8108 View Post
To me this is your tank working to balance itself out. With consistent care (waterchanges, ferts, scrubbing algea away), the diatoms should stop growing and the tank should reach a balance. Diatoms normally become a nuisance within the first 2-3 months of a new tank, then they die back. If I recall correctly, quartz/silicates can cause diatoms algae as well. However, I doubt the rocks you placed in the tank a really causing you major issues.
As you increase plant mass in the tank, more ferts are needed. I would not be afraid of nitrates, your tap water may have some, but it's certainly not going to be enough for a thriving tank.
I agree, very unlikely rocks are causing a problem, especially with the lack of CO2. CO2 causes the water to be more acidic, which causes the rocks to leach more and can cause parameter issues with GH, and KH if there's CO3 present. More likely to cause algae problems is the wood - wood breaks down releasing organics into the water column which algae will thrive on. I believe we just have a case of a new tank settling, as Vinster stated. Diatoms are unattractive, but they sort themselves out.
I would like to mention that letting your water sit for 3-4 days after treating with Prime is not the best idea. More and more municipalities are using chloramine as a disinfecting agent as opposed to just chlorine. Chloramine is chlorine and ammonia bound together. With Prime, it will immediately break that bond, neutralize the chlorine which can then dissipate, but it simply "holds" ammonia. Prime is only effective for roughly 24 hours, meaning that if your city uses chloramine, that ammonia will be free ammonia in the water by the time you're adding it to your tank. This could be part of the issue with your fish. It's also possible that a die off of the beneficial bacteria could be causing small ammonia spikes. If you were trying to achieve total removal of 2 ppm ammonia in 24 hours with cycling, that would be equivalent to a pretty big bio-load, which is not present in your tank. As a result, the bacteria colony can die back, which will result in quick traces of ammonia hitting the water column.

I would recommend temperature matching your tap water to tank water as close as possible, adding Prime, giving a stir and immediately adding to your tank. There is no reason to "age" your water. Prime acts immediately. Also, check your city's water quality report to see if they use chloramines. If they do, this could potentially explain your issue with fish death.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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DiscusStu- Not currently. I was dosing a small amount of Excel in the beginning, but was advised that with the light and plants I had, I didn't need it. I stopped using it maybe a month or so ago

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 02:27 PM
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DiscusStu- Not currently. I was dosing a small amount of Excel in the beginning, but was advised that with the light and plants I had, I didn't need it. I stopped using it maybe a month or so ago.
Sounds like you were offered some questionable advice. Excel can only help your plants if dosed correctly. I would go back to using it.
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 02:39 PM
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You have some interesting rocks- Especially the large one towards the front- considering it is made of dense minerals. I have had issues like that before because things were getting off parameters due to the stones I chose.

This is my opinion, but I would buy a new test kit.
I would check to see if the tank is getting too much light from a nearby window.
But then... I would just start over (I know it sounds drastic). But I would take things out and do a hydrogen peroxide bath, scrub them clean (what you can). Scrub the tank walls, put everything back and 25% water change every other day while also dosing
flourish and flourish excel.
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