Bad Eco-complete?? possible emergency!! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 04:50 AM Thread Starter
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Bad Eco-complete?? possible emergency!!

Sheesh ...Where do I start...I have a 30 gallon tank full of fish that are freaked!! I'm in the process of setting up a new large aquarium and needed to move my main aquarium to another room temporarily. So I did. In this move the filter (XP3) rocks, live plants and fish were put into a new tank (never had fish in it before...cleaned w/o soap) The one thing I changed besides the tank was the substrate, opting for eco complete instead of the natural gravel I had before. Now I had the old aquarium up and running for more than a year and water parameters were always fine. Water parameters are fine in the new one as well with 0 Amm, 0 NitrIte and 15-20ppm nitrate ph of about 7.4-7-6 with kH at 300ppm (new hard Nebraska water). New aquarium has been running for 2-3 weeks. After a week of the new set up I had a Featherfin Catfish in there and a couple guppies with the ECO complete. There was also a piece of new driftwood in there. Long story short the feather fin died...I took out the driftwood...water changes...then last night added the rest of the fish. THEY ARE while I was at work an SAE jumped out to his death. I did a 50% water change when I got home and they are even more freaked. I have 5 kuhli loaches swimming around at the top frantically. My other SAE is looking for the same escape plan as the former and the angelfish is very tense. The damn guppies are as content as can be. Help! The only thing I could think it could be is two bad bags of Eco-Complete. The bags have been sitting in my house for about 3 months before I broke them out for use in this temporary set up. Can the stuff go bad??? Now, I'm seriously freaking out! I've prided myself on not having killed any fish and have always done my best to serve their comforts.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 05:02 AM
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I think I recall reading that there were some bad batches that were distributed. It could be possible that you got one of these bags.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 05:06 AM
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I think that was much to long ago to still be in circulation. But I could be wrong.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 05:15 AM
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I don't recall reading about fish stress or deaths with the bad batches way back when... just milky "water" in the bag that played havoc with tank parameters. Or am I remembering wrong?
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 05:17 AM
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The bad bags leaked phosphates, if I recall corretly. Skibop, do you have a phosphate test kit?

Let me make sure I understand you - the new setup was there for a week, and THEN you started having problems? One thought is that it could be high ammonia. Have you checked it recently, or just when you set up the new tank? You lost a lot of your good bacteria when switching out your old gravel. Just because eco is wet doesn't mean it's cycled. How long was your filter unplugged? Did you rinse it out really good when you did the change? Did you use tap water with chlorine, or that was kinda hot?

Now for the obvious questions, bear with me and don't be offended (I have to ask!)

For your 50% water changes, you used dechlorinator (assuming city tap)? You matched temperatures? No new meds? No house cleaners or other fumes in the air (bug bombs, carpets steam cleaned, etc.)? Did you have any lotion or soap on your hands when you messed with the tank? IS YOUR HEATER WORKING PROPERLY?

Test for ammonia (and phosphate if you have the test), double check that it isn't high. Ease up on the 50% water changes, no more than one every 3 days since they are potentially stressful and you haven't nailed down the problem yet. If you have city water, call your water company and make sure they haven't futz'd with the water lately. My local water company will occasionally do a high concentration chlorine flush before they switch back to chloramines and that likes to wreak havoc on my setups if I don't realize it beforehand.

EDIT: I'm also a Nebraska native! My family hails from Omaha

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 05:21 AM
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I thought that Eco resolved the bad batch issue a while ago. Anyway, I have raised this question before. Eco claims to come complete with waste eating/nitrifying bacteria prepackaged. Most reputable tank cycling products like Bio-Spria come refrigerated and are stored that way to preserve the beneficial bacteria. How the heck do bacteria in Eco survive for long, unless Eco has some patented process to keep the bacteria alive indefinitely. I would guess that these bacteria don't remain dormant indefintely and given that they are packaged in a bag without oxygen, I cannot imagine they would survive indefinitely.

Anyway, did you check your water parameters. If the bacteria in Eco were dead and you added them to the tank, it wouldn't surprise me if your ammonia and nitrite levels are through the roof, thanks to the mass of dead bacteria in the Eco you added and the resulting waste from the dead bacteria. Test your water or take it to your local fish store to get tested. Many local fish stores test water for free. If your ammonia and or nitrites are through the roof, continue with at least 1/3 water changes every 3 days and add a reputable product like biospira to stabilize the tank. You can also add a lot of floating plants and jam pack your tank with healthy plants to quickly neutralize the high ammonia levels.

By the way, did you take some of the old gravel and use a thin layer underneath the Eco-complete. It is always a good idea to do this as the old gravel contains the mulm and valuable nitrifying bacteria that can help to quickly jump start cycling a new aquarium.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 05:27 AM
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Although it could be something in the tank bothering the fish., ie substrate or hard water; it could also just as well be only the moving into new digs.

When I moved my angelfish from one well established tank to another well-established tank she hide and didn't eat for a week. It took a second week before she was swimming all around the tank and greeting me as normal. As well as being in a strange tank with all new landscaping, having just planted the tank the plants are probably not as thick and dense, offering less hiding places and shelter.

Most of my tanks are open top. However when I introduce new fish I try to keep my tank covered for the first few weeks until the fish settle in more. If I don't have the glass tops, I use some eggcrate purchased at Lowes and cut to size.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 05:49 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the input so quickly. I just checked all the water parameters. They may be skewed somewhat since I did that water change today but here they are fresh outta the tank.:
pH 7.8
NitIte: 0 ppm
Amm: 0 ppm
phos:approx 1-2 mg/L
Water changes were neutralized with Prime per dosing instructions

There have been continuous 0 ammonia and 0 NitrItes. There was no clouding with the Eco, it looks great. I used all the same plants outta the old tank and tried to arrange them very similar to the old tank. Fairly low tech for me there is a big bunch of Anacharis, a very large bunch of moneywart, 3 large anubias and bunch of crypts and java ferns...heavily planted...Maybe they are just freaked from the move. I never really messed with them in the old tank except for a light gravel vacuuming every couple weeks. They were all in that tank for over a year living very peacefully and I went and destroyed their world. Again thanks for all the replies...I'll keep posted
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 06:38 AM Thread Starter
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 06:40 AM
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do the nose test.. Any funny smells?

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 03:36 PM
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@Homer_Simpson: It could be anaerobic bacteria. Not all bacteria need oxygen to survive. If you introduce air in to a well run septic tank's bottom layers, it can actually wreck the colonies of anaerobic bacteria and give you some big troubles with the tank overfilling.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 07:31 PM
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Hey, I'm in Lincoln too. I am guessing that you got yout Eco from the fish store just north of 48th and Vine? I use Eco in my tanks from that store, and have not had any problems.

I tend to agree with Jen that the substrate may just need to be cycled. Even with a good pre-seeded filter, the denitrifying bacteria in the substrate are very important. Just because the test kit shows no ammoinia does not mean it is not there. First, your test kit could be too old, those reagents may lost their effectiveness over time. Try getting a new ammonia test kit. Second, the Prime could be altering the ammoinia tests. Prime has a chemical in it that purports to "bind" ammoinia in the water. No one knows for sure if this is really makes it less toxic to fish, or if it just makes it not show up on tests.

I think in fact that the Eco could be causing an ammoinia spike. It has been well documented that Aquasoil causes an ammonia spike about 1 week after setup. I suspect that Eco that has been sitting in a bag on a store shelf for months could do the same thing. Any bacteria that were in the bag to start with may have died, and other organics would then begin polluting the water in the bag. This is the reason why I always cycle Eco before adding livestock, even though the manufacturer says that is not necesarry.

I would set up another tank if you can (go get a 10 gal from petco for $10). Put in no substrate, move your filter over to that tank, and the fish, and then let the other tank sit for another two weeks. Put plants in that tank, and perhaps a powerhead just to move the water around. Then test ammoinia again, and see if anything shows up.

Hope this helps!

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Skibop View Post
...Amm: 0 ppm
Water changes were neutralized with Prime per dosing instructions...
What particular ammonia test kit are you using?

You should be using a Salicylate type ammonia test kit with Prime, Amquel, Ammo-Lock, etc. and not the Nessler-type test kit.

The Nessler-type kits will give false positives for ammonia, I believe.

Since you have an ammonia reading of 0, you should be fine. I just wanted to throw in my 2.

I just used Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kits as examples of the two types of ammonia test kits.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-07-2008, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Hey thanks for all the replies so far. ...The test kit I'm using is the Aquarium Pharm ammonia drip test. This is a Salicylate type test. It's only about a month old. Of the two aquariums I have, both well cycled, the test always come out to zero (test before water changes); not even close to the other colors on the card. I'll try getting another test.

The one thing I think I'll try is seeding the eco with some of my old substrate...thanks for the sugesstions. I didn't mention that when I put the eco I drained out the excess water. It seems I read somewhere here that it doesn't have to be included. Was that a mistake?

I'm going to wait a couple more days to see if the fish are just freaked by the move B4 I start stirring things up more. The angelfish "seems" a bit more relaxed. I've got a couple more crypts to plant and that's it for tonight...

Quick question...How much can you trim crypt roots?
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-07-2008, 06:45 PM
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I trimed mine back to the root base and the THRIVE now.....I have crypt wendtii "reds" in my tanks becuase they are easy to grow.....BTW: I think you are supposed to use eco right after you buy it.
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