Help, crisis in nursery tank 😩 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Help, crisis in nursery tank 😩

I have a little 15 litre tank with 2 week old molly fry, I set it up just after they were born and used the inlet sponge cover from my main tank to seed the little filter that came with the tank, it was otherwise bare other than the heater. It was fine for a few days then a couple of fry died, I’d been testing every day but on the day I discovered the deaths the ammonia was up to 0.5. Did a big water change and all was well again. Anyway yesterday I decided to put some plants and gravel in there so I could have some of my blue shrimp in there to help clean up. I rinsed the gravel thoroughly first and did around 40% water change when I added it, fish all seemed happy enough. Today I found 2 dead shrimp and another dead molly, the rest of molly and shrimp were all hanging out at the surface. I tested for ammonia and it’s still 0, but then did nitrite and nitrate test and got a big shock, nitrite test went bright purple so 5.0 ppm , nitrate either 40 or 80. I don’t know what happened, could it be the gravel? I thought adding plants from main tank would aid filtration not mess it up.
I’ve done a 50% water change and fish are all swimming around again so seems to be ok for now but I’m worried, I don’t want to lose any more fry.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 06:49 PM
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Do you have another temporary tank to put them in? If not, put them in a large plastic container, strip down their tank, get the substrate out of there. Add some plants. Hornwort sucks up nitrates like no ones business, and gives the fry shelter, and it can be floated on top. Do 50 percent water changes daily until bad stuff is at 0. test water every day, if it looks better, test every other day. What are you feeding the fry?

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 06:55 PM
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Sounds like you're only part way through the cycle on this tank. The bacterial colonies are in place to convert the ammonia to nitrite, but not yet sufficient to drive your nitrites down to near-zero. It also sounds like your initial ammonia concentration was likely quite high. And as you just added the plants, there isn't a significant export of nitrates yet.

I would recommend not disturbing the substrate any further, as introducing substrate from another tank may have introduced some detrius that was locking-up nitrates. You need to let that all settle and let the bacteria start multiplying again.

If you have another tank, rather than a traditional water change, you can remove water from the small tank and introduce water from the larger? I would avoid larger water changes with tap water at this point, as you'll be introducing additional chlorinator of some type.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies and advice, the gravel was brand new, just pets at home stuff. I rinsed it thoroughly and added prime to the final rinse. Ive been feeding them liquifry. I did a 50% water change today and bought some API quick start, fish are swimming around ok at the moment. I’ll keep doing daily water changes but use water from the main tank as suggested, I just don’t understand how this has happened? My main tank is very mature, been running for years- I used the sponge from that tank in this one so I don’t understand why the sudden break in the cycle? The plants I put in came from the main tank too, I planted a few stems from a well established plant I have in there, I don’t know what it’s called but it’s a fast grower, I also added a piece of wood from main tank that has an established java fern on it, also a couple of moss balls from main tank. surely those things would have also had good stuff from the main tank on them?
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 08:42 PM
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At this point, one has to just hold it steady and do the work needed to keep pollution of whatever form down to less than lethal. If there is more media from the existing tank available to move over to this tank, I would do that, do not however risk moving too much so that both tanks are in turmoil.
Sounds like some bacteria moved but not enough or some got lost, so we need to do water changes to punish us for not doing something right! this hobby has a habit of making us suffer.
What may have happened but sounds iffy, is that there is far more bacteria on every other part of the tank and not too much on the spong which moved.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 08:57 PM
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based off what planted rich said, your beneficial bacteria may have had more colonies on the larger main filter for you big tank.

75 gallon planted tank. About to stock.
10 gallon QT

"Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” – Bruce Lee

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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So today readings are nitrate 10 or 20, ammonia 0, nitrite 0.5 which is much better but still not great, but I’m guessing the quick start stuff helped a lot. Fry are behaving normally, and I’ve just added a small sponge filter- it’s new so not going to help the bacterial colonies but hopefully will still help with keeping things clean. Regarding water changes using water from main tank, won’t that water contain a lot of nitrates which will add to the issues? Should I do a water change today with these readings or is is going to disturb things too much?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 01:48 PM
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One thing to consider on using the old water is as you mention. Kind of like putting on yesterdays shirt? But a second thing is how well new water matches the existing as we don't want to do a massive shift in things like the PH/GH/KH to shock the folks who are already somewhat weakened. But assuming the existing tank water is not treated with various chemicals, I say do as many water changes as needed to keep the nitrite and ammonia as low as possible because those are the two things which we know for sure kill fish. I think of it as the way nature does water changes when it rains. Fish often handle some change in water and do well enough, but we like to keep it down as much as practical. Practical also has to figure in what we can do with the time and effort point.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
One thing to consider on using the old water is as you mention. Kind of like putting on yesterdays shirt? But a second thing is how well new water matches the existing as we don't want to do a massive shift in things like the PH/GH/KH to shock the folks who are already somewhat weakened. But assuming the existing tank water is not treated with various chemicals, I say do as many water changes as needed to keep the nitrite and ammonia as low as possible because those are the two things which we know for sure kill fish. I think of it as the way nature does water changes when it rains. Fish often handle some change in water and do well enough, but we like to keep it down as much as practical. Practical also has to figure in what we can do with the time and effort point.
Ok so I will do a small water change, still not sure whether I should use dechlorinated tap water or main tank water tho. Oh etc should be the same as comes from the same tap, no chemicals in there other than ferts.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 05:43 PM
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When no other treatment beside dealing with chlorine/chloramine is done, I favor new tap water as being the better. While we often thing of things like nitrate, nitrite, etc. there are also things that we don't know about in old water, so I just favor new rather than water which is "used" to some level.
But when we do a water change it is always better to make the change as subtle as possible, watching the temperature and if we are involved in a situation where we are changing our tap water in some major way, we have to look a bit closer at matching as many things as we can.
One reason for me to match my fish to the hard alkaline tap water is that I can have a really large supply of water ready without worry about how to treat it, Just treat for chlorine, match the temp and go for water changes any time sometimes looks like they are a bit "off".
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 08:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for your help, I will keep testing and doing small water changes daily. The fry seem a lot happier now and the remaining shrimp too. I also noticed that there was a haze to the water yesterday but it’s clear today- fingers crossed I’ve managed to turn things around. I’m never using new gravel in a fry tank again! And now I have a small sponge filter which can live in my main tank after this until it’s needed again, I have thought so often I should get one and have it ready just in case but never got around to it.
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