Help! New tank problems - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
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Help! New tank problems

I started my heavily planted, dirted tank about 2 weeks ago. I added some otos and some RCS which I got from petco (which is the only store within 2.5 hours), but they nearly all died. The otos developed red underneath their gills, which is characteristic of ammonia toxicity, but it has never gone above 0.25 ppm. I didn't have this problem at all with my two previous tanks, but that was in Chicago, where the water is fairly different from Flagstaff, where I currently live. In my previous tanks, I waited a week after start, added the same fauna and they all flourished. Additionally, there is this really weird wavy white stuff all over the tank glass, which I thought was snail eggs, but the white specks seem much smaller than I remember. Does anyone know what this stuff is growing on my planted tank glass?

My tank is a 29 gallon, heavily planted, dirted tank with 1 inch of MGOPS and about 3/4 inch of Black Diamond Blasting sand. I also have some local manzanita and lava rock, both of which I had boiled before putting in. I tested the parameters yesterday and they were: pH 7.4, Amm 0.25, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, GH 6, and KH 5.

Any ideas what I might be doing wrong? I feel terrible about my animals.

Thanks for any help!


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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 03:09 AM
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The black diamond blasting sand often has a ton if residual stuff in it other than the sand itself.
The stuff is actually a coal slag. Chances are it has some type of chemical still in it and isn't washed quite enough.
I always wash mine for a long time with hot water. Hot water is key.
I then put it into a junk tank with a heater maxed out at 96° with a hang on back filter running with only filter floss in it. You would be surprised by the stuff that comes out.
From my experience, if it looks black it still has gunk in it. Mine tends to be more gray.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 04:11 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tyrant46290 View Post
The black diamond blasting sand often has a ton if residual stuff in it other than the sand itself.
The stuff is actually a coal slag. Chances are it has some type of chemical still in it and isn't washed quite enough.
I always wash mine for a long time with hot water. Hot water is key.
I then put it into a junk tank with a heater maxed out at 96° with a hang on back filter running with only filter floss in it. You would be surprised by the stuff that comes out.
From my experience, if it looks black it still has gunk in it. Mine tends to be more gray.
Thanks, I think you are probably right. I washed it very thoroughly, as was suggested to me, but I didn't read anything about washing it in hot water, so I doubt it got much out. Do you think I should try and remove it and replace it once the plants are more established? They seem to actually be doing fine.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 01:12 PM
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It's always better to wait at least a month or even two with a dirted tank to add livestock. You even still had ammonia Even if they lived in one setup its still not a good idea. Get the plants growing and purifying the water. Even without the possible chemicals from the BS I doubt those particular fish/shrimp would have survived.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 02:24 PM
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+1 to Asteroid -- I'd let the tank mature a bit more before adding such sensitive inhabitants. I added 3 otos to my super heavily planted 29 gallon, a couple weeks ago. I never saw one of the otos again, and the 2nd was dead within a week. Now there is just one, to keep the original one company. They are SUCH sensitive fish! Everywhere I read it is suggested that you let a tank mature for 3-6 months before introducing shrimp, to make sure they have enough to eat...I'm not sure if it's completely necessary to wait that long, but it's something to consider. From what I could see from the video, you have a gorgeous tank & it will only get even more amazing as time goes on!

Are there any other fish you could keep in there for a while? If you're completely cycled, I mean? If you have another tank you could take a couple fish from that one and let them chill in this palace to help it mature!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, it's really tough to know what is correct with all of the different info you get on here. I've read it's fine to add fauna with low ammonia and I have also read that it is not fine, so I should have hedged my bets and waited since ammonia isn't the only thing that potentially stabilizes in a tank with so many factors. Especially introducing such sensitive fish. Looks like I'll play the waiting game and do semi-frequent water changes despite the usual parameters, to help pull anything else out that could be leaching/accumulating. Thanks everyone!
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 03:19 PM
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Yeah, it's really tough to know what is correct with all of the different info you get on here. I've read it's fine to add fauna with low ammonia and I have also read that it is not fine, so I should have hedged my bets and waited since ammonia isn't the only thing that potentially stabilizes in a tank with so many factors. Especially introducing such sensitive fish. Looks like I'll play the waiting game and do semi-frequent water changes despite the usual parameters, to help pull anything else out that could be leaching/accumulating. Thanks everyone!
Someone said they had been "reading until their eyes bled," and I totally understood the sentiment! I've done the same! I think the biggest issue here is that you chose sensitive/delicate inhabitants. Also, purchasing from a big box store (not that we always have much of a choice on that) is a complete crapshoot, lol.

In any case, good luck! Waiting is the hardest part -- I just added some cherry shrimp to my newish tank yesterday, and I'm not sure if they'll make it -- though more due to the bettas in there than due to the lack of food. Fortunately I have another tank with 100+ shrimp, so worst case scenerio, my fish get a high protein snack!
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Someone said they had been "reading until their eyes bled," and I totally understood the sentiment! I've done the same! I think the biggest issue here is that you chose sensitive/delicate inhabitants. Also, purchasing from a big box store (not that we always have much of a choice on that) is a complete crapshoot, lol.

In any case, good luck! Waiting is the hardest part -- I just added some cherry shrimp to my newish tank yesterday, and I'm not sure if they'll make it -- though more due to the bettas in there than due to the lack of food. Fortunately I have another tank with 100+ shrimp, so worst case scenerio, my fish get a high protein snack!
Haha, I definitely feel that way. I'm also studying for the national nursing exam (NCLEX). I sure picked an interesting time to start this, but I'm honestly glad I did; it's a nice break from studying nursing stuff. Good luck with your newish tank and shrimp! My shrimp in my old tanks began breeding, so I know I can get there once this tank is cycled and the kinks are worked out.
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