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n00b problems

571 Views 4 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  m1ko
I set up a little planted tank in my office earlier this summer as a little work-hobby. I've had hobby aquariums as a kid (25+ years ago) and worked with fish on a large scale (research facility), so I know a bit about fish biology, but the planted tank approach and small scale is new to me. So far it's been a lot of fun!

It's a 36 liter tank that's pretty shallow (60w x 20h x 30 cm). Fluval 20 HOB. Substrate is Tropica aquarium soil (black) plus some rocks and driftwood. Sorry to say I don't know plant names, but the tank is heavily planted and has CO2 from a tank and an LED light bar, gets a bit of natural sun from a window (but shaded by a plant). I have not bothered to measure CO2 but run it around 1-2 bps. Most of the plants seem healthy and are slowly growing, and judging from bubbles are photosynthesizing/respiring actively when the lights are on.

After cycling, I added fish 2-3 at a time up to the current (high, I know) load:
6 neon tetras
1 rummy nose tetra
3 lampeye killifish
1 small pleco
1 small oto
6 red cherry shrimp

Maybe a lot for 36 liters, but I run the HOB at full speed, again have a ton of plants, do weekly ~20% changes, and use SeaChem prime with water changes + 2 more times per week.

The first challenge was a major algae outbreak. I lost some plants, but think I've solved it with Seachem Flourish Excel, light period shortened from 8h to 6h, a toothbrush, extra water changes, and this is when I added the shrimp and the oto).

Some challenges I have now:

Two days ago I noticed the Rummy and 2 of the tetras have ich, which I assume came in with some recent plant additions from a pet store. I've been raising the temperature to 80-85 (didn't use a heater before and kept it at ~72) and am planning on using a 1/2 dose of Nox-Ich (0.5% each NaCl and malachite green) with the lights off and carbon filter removed for 3 days.

My concerns:
Shrimp and plants. It's not practical for me to remove anyone during the treatment. I'm hoping the 1/2 dose + heat is the right approach?
Biological filter will survive this?
O2 levels... with lights off and the plants stressed, will the fish be ok? Only air will be from HOB surface agitation. Tank has a large surface area for its 20cm depth, but still.
I turned the CO2 off during this... correct?

Assuming everyone survives this, I have one more big picture question: my fish are very shy! When the lights are on they almost always hide under driftwood / plants unless feeding. Is this normal? Related to the tank being shallow? They've been in the tank 3-4 weeks. Other than the Ich, they look healthy. The shrimp seem very happy, are active, eating, and growing (I find shed skins all the time). Water quality is good, regularly dosed with Seachem Prime (and Flourish / Flourish Excel).

Anyway, thanks for reading through all these beginner problems!

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· Registered
18 Posts
You need to measure how much CO2 you are injecting. With such a small tank, any fluctuations could easily harm your fish. Additionally, your rummynose tetra and killifish should be kept in groups of at least 5 each, which can be causing stress on them. You're also under-filtered and over-stocked, which is contributing to your ich and algae problems. What are your water parameters like? If you need to dose Prime more than when you do water changes then something is wrong with your water quality.

· Registered
18 Posts
Thanks for the info...will measure CO2, but is this likely to be related to ich?

The killis and rummy seem happy to school with the neons when they school, but point is taken.

All other water parameters are clear...I never had non-zero nitrate/nitrite. I started using the Prime more often when I was doing lots of water changes to fight algae and adding fish. I don't think they're necessary, but instructions on the bottle say regular dosing is beneficial so kept doing it.

Filtration rate is greater than one complete volume per hour... that's low? Realize the stocking level is high, but thought it was sustainable with lots of plants and this filtration rate.
CO2 won't be directly related to ich, but any increased stress levels can leave fish more susceptible to disease. If you're seeing non-zero nitrites then that could definitely be a cause for it.

Your filtration rate might be ok, but from what I've seen people (myself included) like to over-filter. I ran your setup through and it seems like you're right around the 100% mark for filtration. It doesn't take plants into account, but you still might want to look into upgrading.
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