Is there such a thing as "OLD TANK SYNDROME " - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 02:40 AM Thread Starter
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Is there such a thing as "OLD TANK SYNDROME "

What's your experience? My low tech 75 was "COOK'N"! Plants grow'n so much I was supplying my LFS with trimmings every other week. Then at about 2 year mark growth slowed down significantly. Did my tank hit the "WALL"???
(I know my specs and bioload etc. all play a part but I just want to hear from your experiences)

Last edited by Dr Fishbait; 12-21-2013 at 04:04 PM. Reason: Sp.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 02:42 AM
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There is but from my understanding it is more of an issue when introducing new fish.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 03:08 AM
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Have you checked your ph recently? One of the hallmarks of 'old tank syndrome' is increased acidity. I know it happened in my tank and the growth in certain species of plants began to ebb. Once I buffered the water back up to around 6.6/6.8 things started to improve.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 04:17 AM
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Yes, it's the excuse you tell your wife when you want to buy a new tank.


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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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What I was hoping with this question was discussion and input. Especially from the people who have been in this hobby for years. Where are the Experts???
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 01:19 PM
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The only time you should have "old tank syndrome" is in a natural style tank where water changes are few and cleaning is seldom. Then, as Raven said, you will experience a lower Ph. The nutrients in the substrate get used up, basically the tank, plants and fish just exist.
In a regularly maintained tank everything is cleaned and water changed on a regular basis there should really never be a point where you have "old tank syndrome".
New tank syndrome is the time your tank is establishing and stabilizing.


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,2x75g, 55g, 40g breeder, 29g, 2x10g, 100g stock pond..........MTS ? Nahhhhhh
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 01:47 PM
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my unheated, uncirculated planted tank is nearly 13 years substrate never cleaned no ots. substrate is nine inches or more deep too, it will never run out of nutrients. my tank is designed to live forever, without physically directly killing it, the plants and ecosystem can run for a hundred years. building long term aquariums is my number one goal. The tank ran with only top off and no water changes for seven years, started taking better care of it when I began using it to breed rcs

small old reef tank:

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still running in 2018

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Last edited by brandon429; 12-22-2013 at 12:59 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 03:52 PM
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Sadchevy has it right. Old Tank syndrome is when water is only topped off for a long time. The inhabitants gradually get used to a lower pH and poor conditions, but new stock added do very poorly.
I have multiple tanks that haven't been moved for 27 years and the plants and fish are fine, but they get regular partial water changes and debris vacuumed. Plants are doing as well as they ever have in the low light, low tech situation.

2 2.5s, 3 10s, 2 20s, 1 29. Low light, low tech. Ponds
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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I think in my case, because I never vacuumed the substrate (thinking it was natural fertilizer and I did have a large bioload) it got to the point where my nitrates went through the roof and growth slowed considerably. It also appears that this spike in nitrates caused a latent parasitic or bacterial infection to break out and cause me to lose 9 mature fish! Does that seem plausible ??
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Fishbait View Post
I think in my case, because I never vacuumed the substrate (thinking it was natural fertilizer and I did have a large bioload) it got to the point where my nitrates went through the roof and growth slowed considerably. It also appears that this spike in nitrates caused a latent parasitic or bacterial infection to break out and cause me to lose 9 mature fish! Does that seem plausible ??
Absolutely. Fish and beneficial bacteria don't like high nitrate levels. Many plants also will stagnate or die if nitrate levels get too high. You can strike a balance between plants and bio-load but it's definitely possible to overstock to deadly levels without the proper filtration and water changes.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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I had 2 Ehiem 2217s and a AC 110 on that tank, a power head and I do weekly WC. Guess my tank was maxed out.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twentypoundtabby View Post
Sadchevy has it right. Old Tank syndrome is when water is only topped off for a long time. The inhabitants gradually get used to a lower pH and poor conditions, but new stock added do very poorly.
^This. In addition, a fish moved from a tank like this to clean water may be shocked, and possibly die. Suddenly attempting to perform even a moderately sized water change may shock fish in the tank, and raise the pH enough that ammonia buildup becomes toxic, resulting in mass deaths. People who experience this often come to the conclusion that water changes are bad for fish, not realizing their lack of maintenance was what got them into this predicament.

I do 50% weekly water changes. So no old tank syndrome is possible, or worries about excessive nitrates. Still, in some cases the mulm will eventually pile up until there is an unbroken layer - either on top of the substrate, or just below (as seen from the front of the tank). Which blocks circulation into the substrate. If I let that go too long I do, eventually see a decline in plant growth. Had a nice carpet suddenly die off once, I'm pretty sure the substrate went anaerobic and started producing hydrogen sulfide gas. Which is far more toxic than nitrate!

So a few times a year, if things start looking too mulmy, I'll do a gravel vac. Not to get everything squeaky clean, just remove some buildup, and stir things up. For things that can't be vac'ed (like carpets), I'll go at them with a pipette to blow out some mulm. Or inject a dilute H2O2 solution into the substrate to break down mulm.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-22-2013, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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UPDATE: my GBRs spawned!! Did my WC on Friday and saw the eggs this morning. My 75 is back!!
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-22-2013, 02:53 PM
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Have you changed your light bulbs lately ? It may "look" just as bright to your eyes, but fluorescent bulbs need replaced annually.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-23-2013, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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What???? I think rbarn's post went to the wrong thread
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