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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Fish Friends,

Just inherited a 20 gallon long tank from a friend. Put in a bunch of sturdy plants and a DIY CO2 pump. I've been cycling with 3 neon tetras for a week. At the behest of my aquarium retailer, I've also been using a product called Stability, which I've also been using for about a week, as per the instructions. Almost immediately the water got cloudy, the surface started bubbling, and white strands of an algae-like substance grew all over everything. Now a couple plants are decomposing, bubbles are coming up from the substrate and my fish are breathing at the surface. Also, my biofilter sponge became so engorged that water started spilling out the back onto the floor.

I squeezed out the sponge this morning. Did a couple 25% water changes and removed the CO2 filter. Fish are still breathing at the surface. Nothing's changed.

Inherited chem set missing chemicals so ammonia/nitrate/nitrate readings coming tomorrow.

Any advice? Is my tank doomed?
 

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Photos of dieing plants and the white threads algae

What are your lights? (Watt, kelvin, cfl led etc etc)
How long are they on each day?
How high above substrate are the lights?

What are the plants you started with?
What is the substrate? (Gravel, sand, ecocomplete, Amazonia, etc)
Is the substrate new or came with the tank?

Are you using a dechlorinator?
Have your tested your taps ph and tanks pH? (check tap ph often to make sure it doesn't change)

Do you turn off co2 when lights are off?
Do you have an airstone and pump to run while lights /co2 are off?

No experience with the product your lfs is selling you. I'd recommend buying Seachem Prime, it's a dechlorinator that also safely binds ammonia and nitrite for 48 hours (in 5x dose) which is helpful when cycling as it make the otherwise harmful levels of ammonia/nitrite safe for fish but plants and beneficial bacteria can still consume them the same way. I use this for a filter-less bin I keep like blackworms in (aquatic worms) so they don't die of ammonia toxicity, they get a bath and 100% water change every 48 hours.

If your substrate is old and you did not thoroughly clean it before starting your setup (especially sand or very fine/small grain) you may have trapped gases caused from decomposing food/waste, they escape as the substrate gets disturbed and get effect fish badly, even kill them.
If they are having breathing problems turning of co2 is a good idea. Running an airstone to add more oxygen to the water may help too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the advice!

Got the chemical readings. Ammonia 0.25 ppm, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, PH 6.6.

I think that means cycling is on track, so I did indeed gas my tank. Which in retrospect, considering my ballooning sponge, makes a lot of sense.

What do you think? Will my tetras survive? They're still breathing at the surface. Tank is unbelievably cloudy.

Was considering returning the fish, draining the tank, and just starting over with the same plants after giving the substrate a good rinse.

Bump: Do over may be doubly necessary as I'm going on vacation week after next.
 

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Returning the fish at this point would be killing those fish. They won't make the trek back I am almost certain.

Keep changing water frequently in small amounts like I said and feed lightly once a day. They can still bounce back. I hope they do. Make sure you have surface agitation

Bump: Don't allow ammonia to go much higher than that. This is why you want to very lightly feed, even skipping a day here and there. At this point water quality has to be great for these fish to recover quickly and not continue to be stressed.
 

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Returning the fish at this point would be killing those fish. They won't make the trek back I am almost certain.

Keep changing water frequently in small amounts like I said and feed lightly once a day. They can still bounce back. I hope they do. Make sure you have surface agitation

Bump: Don't allow ammonia to go much higher than that. This is why you want to very lightly feed, even skipping a day here and there. At this point water quality has to be great for these fish to recover quickly and not continue to be stressed.
Sorry Phillip, not responding to your quote. Annie, I think your cycle is just beginning and you could not have picked worse fish to do it with. They will surely be dead within a few days if not sooner. A black molly (1 per ten gallons) would be your best bet. Do not rinse the soil, just change the water above it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Okay, here's a funny thing.

I restarted the tank. Cleaned the tank itself, the substrate, all the tech, the wires, everything.

Now water's back in the tank and it's still cloudy and bubbles are still coming up constantly from the substrate. This is with entirely new water.

Wondering what to do. Perhaps there was so much CO2 in the substrate it got inside the gravel. Can't think what else is going on.

New water didn't help. Do I mess up the substrate? Is it just a matter of letting the bubbles rise over time? If I put my plants back in would they absorb the CO2?

Much weirdness. Any advice?
 

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I restarted the tank. Cleaned the tank itself, the substrate, all the tech, the wires, everything.

Now water's back in the tank and it's still cloudy and bubbles are still coming up constantly from the substrate. This is with entirely new water.

Wondering what to do. Perhaps there was so much CO2 in the substrate it got inside the gravel. Can't think what else is going on.

New water didn't help. Do I mess up the substrate? Is it just a matter of letting the bubbles rise over time? If I put my plants back in would they absorb the CO2?

Much weirdness. Any advice?
Wouldn't have done all of that for just a little extra CO2. Your basically starting a new tanks at this point which your going to have to cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The fish have been returned to the pet store. There is nothing in the tank but a bunch of gravel, water, and lots and lots of mysterious bubbles. The tank is cloudy still.

Any idea where the CO2 could still be coming from after everything's been cleaned?
 

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The fish have been returned to the pet store. There is nothing in the tank but a bunch of gravel, water, and lots and lots of mysterious bubbles. The tank is cloudy still.

Any idea where the CO2 could still be coming from after everything's been cleaned?

If you took the substrate out and washed it as well it's probably just trapped air.

The point to my post is that if you DID take out the gravel and wash it you killed the bacteria that is the nitrogen cycle and now it's back to square one with the tank basically.

I will suggest that you find the new tank threads on the forum and read through them. Here's one to start you off with.

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?p=1960797#post1960797

Good luck.
 
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