Nothing but trouble since I’ve started please help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-28-2019, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Nothing but trouble since I’ve started please help

Hello so I have a little over 2 month old 29 gallon. Roughly 2 months and 2-3 weeks. It has 2 filters(a penguin biowheel filter 200 and a pf10 whisper tetra filter) both filter have ceramic rings inside of them and prefilter sponges on their intakes. The substrate is 1/2 gravel and 1/2 sand. I have driftwood and several plants in it.(about 6 anacharis that reaches to the top, 1 Amazon sword, 1 anubias, 1 java fern, 1 Asian water fern, 1 Christmas moss bamboo stick, 3 medium Marino moss balls, 1 small bacopa, and 1 small AR plant) all of these plants have been doing wonderfully since the beginning of the the tank with 0 melting and fast growth. In the tank I have 6 cherry barbs, 5 Harlequin Rasboras, and 6 ember tetras. The temperature stays at 75-76 and the ph is 6.0-6.4 with some tannin staining (intentional). I do weekly water changes of about 20-30% a week and gravel vaccinator only half the tank(the sand side) my tapwater has 1ppm ammonia and about 5 ppm nitrates. The tank was originally cycled and has randomly dropped to 0 ppm ammonia on several occasions however it regularly spiked at 1 ppm ammonia and 80 ppm nitrates! This is clearly awful and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. While all of he fish have seemingly been fine and even engaged in spawning and have bright colors I’m planning on rehoming them and simply starting over becuase I don’t want them to suffer in anyway. However I can’t figure out why this is happening? It’s not spiking with the addition of fish so I can’t figure out what’s causing it? There are no dying plants and aquadvisor lists me at currently 62% stocking and 180% filtration. So I’m not overstocked. And I feed every other day small amount immediately picking up uneaten food so it’s not overfredint either. Please help I’ve had an aquarium in the past and never had this much trouble with it and just wanted to get back into it.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-28-2019, 02:57 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

What test kit are you using?

What water conditioner are you using? If your tap water tests positive for ammonia, you need to use a product that treats for chloramine.

It is possible that excess food is trapped in the gravel portion of the tank if you don't do substrate vacuuming but it is also possible you made an error in the testing procedure.

Are you using any products to lower the pH of the aquarium?

Post all the test results for your tap water including pH and nitrite since you didn't include those numbers.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-28-2019, 07:48 PM
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Sounds like your grossly overfeeding to me, 80ppm nitrate and 1ppm ammonia shouldnít happen in a cycled tank with plant load you stated.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-28-2019, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Nope no products just the driftwood. I use prime conditioner and I always vacuum half never the full when I do a water change. I feed every other day about two punches worth and use a unwashed, only boiled turkey badger to suck out any uneaten food although usually there isn’t any the fish are pretty good about getting all of it since I only feed once every other day . I use the api freshwater master test kit. Prime should do the chloramine it says on it that’s why I use it.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-28-2019, 09:23 PM
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Are your test kits defective? Also Nitrate test reagents requires a lot of shaking to get it to read correctly. If you werenít doing that from very start when you started using reagents they are now going to give faulty readings no matter what.

Also I would never stick a unwashed turkey badger in my tank. got love auto correct.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-28-2019, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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The turkey baster oops not badger was never used for food just boiled to kill germs as I didn’t want to wash it in soup(I eat read that’s bad to do in any fish tank) and yeah I think the tests are correct I’ve tested bottled water from Walmart and that didn’t have any ammonia or nitrates.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-28-2019, 09:50 PM
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Got a full tank pic so we can see what weíre dealing with?

Also why do you not vac gravel side? To many plants there?
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 01:29 AM
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Something is releasing a lot of ammonia in your water.... By any chance is something dead in your tank? Like a pleco get stuck in a intake tube or something get wedged in your biological media? I am serious about that. It can happen.

I second the need for a tank picture. Is your substrate like crazy thick?

Did the driftwood come from the wild by any chance?


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Okay adding a full tank picture for image. Nothing is stuck on the filter as all fish are counted and visible. I don’t vacuum the gravel side simply because I’ve read to only ever vacuum 1/2 the tank at a time. But yeah a large portion of the plants are on that side. The driftwood is mopani driftwood bought from a pet store and soaked waterlogged in hot treated water before placing in the tank.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 03:31 AM
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I think they probably meant to alternate sides only doing 1/2 at a time not to completely ignore doing 2nd side.

I donít know what to say. Gravel not deep enough on left side to be any problem so blowing it up with turkey baster should be all it needs. I would still try vacuuming it in spots next time to see what it pulls up.

Truth is tank looks spotless and Iíll have to go with your getting false readings on your test somehow. I mean no fish has died or even acted distressed so I really donít know what else to think.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 09:43 AM Thread Starter
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Hmmm okay, any idea what would cause the false readings? I’ll look into it and google some information on what could cause it too.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 11:02 AM
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Nitrate test kit solutions readily crystallize. So from what I understand if they sit too long you literally need to smash them into something and shake them to death for like five minutes. So if some tests were taken while crystals were in the bottle and the solute was out of solution, then your solution in the bottle is at a higher concentration. Or they could be talking about calibrating your nitrate test kit
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 06:03 AM
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I believe the ammonia test will also report the bound ammonia that prime creates from chloramines... so perhaps that's the 1ppm you're seeing? In that form it wouldn't distress the fish but still shows up on test kits. Seen a lot of people running into that particular mystery on the saltwater side of things.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-04-2019, 11:11 AM
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I am a total newbie, and so I might be totally wrong about this, but this video might help calm you down a little:




Basically, he says that there is ionized ammonia and un-ionized ammonia, and it's un-ionized ammonia above .05 ppm that is particularly harmful, but ammonia readings in test kits give you total ammonia, including un-ionized and ionized.



Using the calculator he links to in the video and the parameters you mention in your post, the un-ionized (i.e., very harmful) level of ammonia in your tank is around .025 ppm, which half of the harmful level.



So perhaps this explains why your reading is high but your fish seem fine.


Still, he closes the video by saying any ammonia level is not good and should be addressed.



Again, I am a newbie and have zero experience with this myself, but thought I would pass it along.
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