At a loss for ideas - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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At a loss for ideas

I started a 75 gal. tank. I have used eco complete substrate,I have a Aqua Clear 110 filter, Tetra 100 bubbler. I forgot the brand but a higher end LED light and the proper heater. The water stays at a constant 77 degrees.

I had the tank running for 3 weeks and it was cycling very well, on the 4th week I added 6 tetra, the ammonia was slightly spiking but less than .25 everything else tested good. I put in 6 more tetra they were all dead within 4 days. Again the water tested well. I had 2 large goldfish we were going to move into it and did, they died.

I called a local tech that has been in the business 30 plus years we did a 80% water change and let it run for a few days, the water was excellent. I put in 6 corys they are all dead but one it has only been 2 days. The only thing that is slightly off is the water hardness and everyone says it should not matter. Could that Eco Complete be contaminated? could there be something in the tank construction that could be killing them. I have raised oscars and ciclids for many years and never had a issue like this.

Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 12:46 AM
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Sounds like your tank is not cycled yet. Ammonia should not be spiking. Are you doing a fishless cycle?

If not, the fish you chose to put in the tank are not ideal to start the cycling process. Tetras and corys can be rather sensitive, and goldfish just produce too much waste.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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It quit spiking after the 4th week. The water has tested great the last 2 weeks.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 12:53 AM
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How do your acclimate the fish? Have you been buying from the same supplier?

I bought 10 cardinals from 1 store and lost 1, then bought 10 from another and lost them all...
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 12:54 AM
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So you did do a fishless cycle?

What do you mean by "tested great"? Did you see any nitrates, and did they increase over time?
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 12:57 AM
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Which test are you doing including ones like this.
The only thing that is slightly off is the water hardness and everyone says it should not matter.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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So you did do a fishless cycle?

What do you mean by "tested great"? Did you see any nitrates, and did they increase over time?
I use API Master Test kit. I also had the local tech and the store test the water. everything was with desirable levels. I don't remember them all, but the only thing that test just above was the water hardness GH

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How do your acclimate the fish? Have you been buying from the same supplier?

I bought 10 cardinals from 1 store and lost 1, then bought 10 from another and lost them all...
I keep them in the bag till the temp is even and then add a 1/4 cup of tank water every 10-15 minutes
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 01:34 AM
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Did you add anything to the aquarium to help the cycling process, prior to adding the fish?

Ammonia? Something like Tetra Safestart? Filter media from one of your other tanks?

You have not answered my question about whether you did a fishless cycle.

If your tank has cycled, you should see nitrates. Testing the water without any fish in it won't show anything, unless you are doing a fishless cycle.

As your tank cycles, you should see ammonia rise, then fall, followed by a rise in nitrites, which then fall as nitrates rise. When the tank is cycled, ammonia and nitrite will be zero, and you will have measurable nitrate.

This is if you are adding ammonia daily, or have fish in the tank.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randym View Post
Sounds like your tank is not cycled yet. Ammonia should not be spiking. Are you doing a fishless cycle?

If not, the fish you chose to put in the tank are not ideal to start the cycling process. Tetras and corys can be rather sensitive, and goldfish just produce too much waste.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMF View Post
It quit spiking after the 4th week. The water has tested great the last 2 weeks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by randym View Post
So you did do a fishless cycle?

What do you mean by "tested great"? Did you see any nitrates, and did they increase over time?
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMF View Post
I use API Master Test kit. I also had the local tech and the store test the water. everything was with desirable levels. I don't remember them all, but the only thing that test just above was the water hardness GH

Bump:

I keep them in the bag till the temp is even and then add a 1/4 cup of tank water every 10-15 minutes
Quote:
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Did you add anything to the aquarium to help the cycling process, prior to adding the fish?

Ammonia? Something like Tetra Safestart? Filter media from one of your other tanks?

You have not answered my question about whether you did a fishless cycle.

If your tank has cycled, you should see nitrates. Testing the water without any fish in it won't show anything, unless you are doing a fishless cycle.

As your tank cycles, you should see ammonia rise, then fall, followed by a rise in nitrites, which then fall as nitrates rise. When the tank is cycled, ammonia and nitrite will be zero, and you will have measurable nitrate.

This is if you are adding ammonia daily, or have fish in the tank.

Sure sounds like you're not quite cycled yet and you're getting the right advice here.

What were you doing those first three weeks when you say the tank was "cycling well"?

Once that local tech helped you with the 80% water change what did you do when you "let it run a few days" and what do you mean the "water was excellent" after that? Did it look good or did you use your API master test kit? If the tank was just empty running for a few days with no fish and no source of ammonia, then all you had was a water container essentially.

If you've got that test kit, go use it and report the readings. For a tank to be cycled you should be getting 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite and at least some measurable reading of nitrate. Confusingly enough a tank that is not yet cycled may also show 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite if you've not added a source of ammonia (which is the main part of the fishless cycle) and typically in this scenario you'll also see 0 nitrate. so to truly ensure your tank is cycled you need to dose ammonia to a measurable level and see it return to 0 within 24 hours and also have a measurable nitrate reading.

The fact that you saw your ammonia reading was ever above 0 is a pretty good indication that the tank was not yet fully cycled resulting in those deaths.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 07:22 PM
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Did you use Seachem Prime or a similar dechlorinizer before adding any fish? That should be added every water change, if the new water is more than about 10% of the total in the tank. How soon after adding the fish did they die, or start acting very sick?

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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
Sure sounds like you're not quite cycled yet and you're getting the right advice here.

What were you doing those first three weeks when you say the tank was "cycling well"?

Once that local tech helped you with the 80% water change what did you do when you "let it run a few days" and what do you mean the "water was excellent" after that? Did it look good or did you use your API master test kit? If the tank was just empty running for a few days with no fish and no source of ammonia, then all you had was a water container essentially.

If you've got that test kit, go use it and report the readings. For a tank to be cycled you should be getting 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite and at least some measurable reading of nitrate. Confusingly enough a tank that is not yet cycled may also show 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite if you've not added a source of ammonia (which is the main part of the fishless cycle) and typically in this scenario you'll also see 0 nitrate. so to truly ensure your tank is cycled you need to dose ammonia to a measurable level and see it return to 0 within 24 hours and also have a measurable nitrate reading.

The fact that you saw your ammonia reading was ever above 0 is a pretty good indication that the tank was not yet fully cycled resulting in those deaths.
This. If you didn't add an ammonia source to begin cycling your tank, it's not "cycled." The ammonia spike after adding that small number of fish is a pretty good sign that you don't have your nitrifying bacteria built up enough, or even at all (which is what a "cycled" tank has). Go here and read.


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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-12-2015, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, I'll start over as I am more calmer today. I am just aggravated by all of the local opinions.

When I started the tank I ran it for 3 weeks. I started with tap water and added API Quick Start. I also added SafeStart and cleaned out the biofilter from my other tank in there also. The ammonia was a consistent .50. I added API water conditioner to remedy that. I kept adding Safe Start and cleaning the biofilter. At the end of week 2 the ammonia sorta stuck at .25. I live on a very clean spring fed lake so I added 25 gallons of lake water during a 60% water change and added more Safe Start. By the end of week 3 The ammonia was 0 nitrate was 0. Nitrite #2 was 1, Nitrite #3 was 30, ph was 7.5,KH was 80 and GH was 120. Water temp was 76.

I added plants 1st mostly swords and beginner plants. I left them for 2 days the water was the same. I added fish acclimated as described above I did start using Prime. I kept a check on the water and over night the ammonia went up to .25-.40 I added declorinator as needed and finally a partial change it did this a couple of times. By the end of the week all were dead.
Week 5 was pretty much a carbon copy but the ammonia only went to .25, I had added the 2nd set of tetras and they were dead with in 3 days. Start week 6 the water is just like week 3 so I put in the goldfish the died pretty fast. their fins did turn red like it was ammonia poisoning but it check out good. The tech says I was not using "hardy" so he said get 6 of the large green corys they were dead in 2 days.

So the tech and the fish store who are connected have different ideas...the tech says add stronger fish, the fish store says let it run a week and try again. My wife is so distraught over the amount of fish that have died that she is ready to cut losses and give everything away. I'm just tired of buying fish and just want to enjoy the tank for awhile.

Hopefully that is enough info for you guys and thanks for all of the help.


Last edited by Darkblade48; 11-13-2015 at 06:08 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2015, 01:24 AM
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By the end of week 3 The ammonia was 0 nitrate was 0. Nitrite #2 was 1, Nitrite #3 was 30, ph was 7.5,KH was 80 and GH was 120. Water temp was 76.

I added plants 1st mostly swords and beginner plants. I left them for 2 days the water was the same. I added fish acclimated as described above I did start using Prime. I kept a check on the water and over night the ammonia went up to .25-.40 I added declorinator as needed and finally a partial change it did this a couple of times. By the end of the week all were dead.
Week 5 was pretty much a carbon copy but the ammonia only went to .25, I had added the 2nd set of tetras and they were dead with in 3 days. Start week 6 the water is just like week 3 so I put in the goldfish the died pretty fast. their fins did turn red like it was ammonia poisoning but it check out good. The tech says I was not using "hardy" so he said get 6 of the large green corys they were dead in 2 days.

So the tech and the fish store who are connected have different ideas...the tech says add stronger fish, the fish store says let it run a week and try again. My wife is so distraught over the amount of fish that have died that she is ready to cut losses and give everything away. I'm just tired of buying fish and just want to enjoy the tank for awhile.

Hopefully that is enough info for you guys and thanks for all of the help.
I'm sorry to say this but it really sounds like your tank did not complete its cycle before fish were added.
At the end of week 3 you were still having a nitrite spike.
At completion of cycling, ammonia should be zero, nitrite should be zero, and there should be nitrate. You had nitrite and no nitrate, hence incomplete cycle. Like others have said. Again, sorry, but this is what it looks like from what you are reporting.

Ammonia should not spike after that unless there was serious decomposition of something or lots of poop, enough that the denitrifying bacteria couldn't handle it.

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2015, 04:21 AM
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I added plants 1st mostly swords and beginner plants. I left them for 2 days the water was the same. I added fish acclimated as described above I did start using Prime.
Two days is not long enough to get the plants to start growing. Two weeks will be long enough if the plants have adequate nutrients and light. Then the plants will help remove a lot of the ammonia from the water as it is added by the fish waste products. But, you can only get by with that if you add just a few fish, like less than 6 small fish. After another week or longer, you can add a few more fish, and after another 2 weeks for so you should be able to add the rest of the fish you want in the tank. Aquariums do their cycling naturally. Growing plants use small amounts of ammonia as a nitrogen source, a preferred nitrogen source. So, this technique naturally cycles the tank, and lets you start almost any tank without worrying about cycling. I think you will find that most veteran planted tank keepers use a version of this method.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-13-2015, 04:13 PM
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We don't mean to aggravate you; we are just trying to help. And I apologize if I'm underestimating your knowledge.

But...to me it seems like you do not understand the cycling process, and neither do the "experts" you have consulted. (Either that, or they are not properly communicating it to you.)

SafeStart is meant to be used after fish are put in the tank. It contains bacteria cultures.

Letting the tank sit there for weeks with no ammonia source (no fish or bottled ammonia added) will not cycle your tank. The bacteria you add via SafeStart and filter rinsing will starve to death without ammonia.

If I were you, I would try a fishless cycle. Get some janitor's ammonia (so there's no additives), or buy a small bottle from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/DrTims-Aquatics-Ammonium-chloride-bottle/dp/B006MP4QG6
Add it as directed every day. SafeStart and filter media from your established tanks will speed things up, but won't work without ammonia.

Test your water daily. Add ammonia daily. Wait for ammonia and nitrite to go to zero, and nitrates to go above 0. When that happens, your tank is cycled and you can add fish.

Adding some fast-growing stem plants will help, because they absorb ammonia. They are a good "insurance policy" for new tanks. You can remove them once your tank is established.
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