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Wow Nel - very sorry to hear this. "My tank was going for ~11 years without a break. Sand was never switched" Never dawned on me that this could be an issue. Evidently something that can happen quickly.

A fish in cycle seems doable but I am curious of the existing bio filter is still usable? Not knowing the specifics of your setup, I could only assume the bio media in the filter may still be useful. If so, your "cycle" should be pretty short.

Hoping for the best for you and the ropes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #142 ·
Wow Nel - very sorry to hear this. "My tank was going for ~11 years without a break. Sand was never switched" Never dawned on me that this could be an issue. Evidently something that can happen quickly.

A fish in cycle seems doable but I am curious of the existing bio filter is still usable? Not knowing the specifics of your setup, I could only assume the bio media in the filter may still be useful. If so, your "cycle" should be pretty short.

Hoping for the best for you and the ropes.
I think sand was the cause. I had a thick layer that was working great as additional biofilter. It was great, but on the other hand there ware probably many dead roots, many dead snails and other organics burrowed in the sand. The BBA was showing me there is too much organics, but I was like "well, I'll do bigger water changes and hover over the sand to get what I can"... Maybe it was just too much and it "just happened" or maybe one of the fish just died and after that everything crushed. My ropes are 11 years with me, maybe the one that died was too old. My sterbai corys were ~13 years old, so maybe one of them. The blue gularis was 2 years old and had a bent spine... There are many things that could have happened, but when I came it was just too late and everything was horrible. Plants are in a bad shape too, so restoring the tank will take some work and time.

I'm not sure how the bacteria in the filter media are doing as everything smells fishy. It's possible that good bacteria had not enough oxygen to survive when the bloom happened. I'll clean the media so it won't smell and use some media from my other tanks. They are small, but if I take a little bit from every filter it should help.

Lesson learned, BBAis here to help me see that my tanks needs a deep cleaning.

The four ropes are looking as nothing happened, eating normally, cuddling normally, just in a teeny-tiny tank. They look ridiculous in a 60 litres tank. I should be able to put them back in 2-3 days, for now 2 water changes daily.


Thank you all for the good words! I have to say, that my ropes were always my motivation in this hobby. Everything else is kind of a bonus, noddles are my pets and the fact that 4 of them are alive is enough to fight and try again. Tomorrow I'll get some sand and maybe some scaping materials... I have an empty tank, so it's an opportunity to change something, try something new. Restocking will be a pain as I have to always grow fish in a qt, so they won't be snack sized. I don't know if I'll go again with ropefish and other odd-ball Congo friends or if I should try finding new tankmates for my noddles.
 

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Captain
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:) Good to hear you are not giving up. From an experiment a few years ago, I did learn that beneficial bacteria, once established, can double in size about every 24 hours. With that said, a small amount of bio media from several tanks will give you a very good start. Assuming you can feed that bio media some ammonia around 4ppm for a few days you might be surprised how quickly you can get the system back up and running. Assuming you won't have a bunch of plants to put in the tank right away, the filter bio media will have to handle a bigger load. I honestly know nothing about rope fish - specifically home much bio waste they generate. Just judging from the pictures, I am guessing they are not a couple centimeters long so it is likely they do produce a bit of waste.

If you do decide to add ammonia to the big tank to kick start the cycle, I do have a nice site somewhere that will calculate how much ammonia to add to get to a specific ppm level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #144 ·
Yeah, ropefish are big fish, so they should produce enough ammonia. I'm not feeding them much as they're adults, but when feeding only frozen every one of them needs around half cube every other day to be happy. This should be enough to make the cycle go. I think I'll use the filter from the qt they're in now in the main tank for some time too. It's a powerful HOB (1200 l/h on max) and it's cycled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #146 · (Edited)
Ropes are back in their tank, stressed, but exploring their "new" tank eagerly. I've put them back on Friday and yesterday (Saturday) I did a 100 litres water change, another tomorrow. If the ammonia goes up too much, I will do 100 litres everyday, that's the maximum I can do with my RO (my knees would be really happy if I wouldn't have to, there are stairs on the way...). I'm adding prime to keep it safe and feeding sparingly.
My plants were hit pretty badly too, anubias are nearly non existing, it will take time for them to regrow.
I'm inhumanly using some ugly shrimps as a quick indicator if something is going wrong. Ropefish tend to behave like nothing's happening. So I've put a breeder box with some shrimps in it into the tank and I'm observing how they behave.

Bellow are photos from quick scaping and a video of noodles exploring the tank.




 

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Discussion Starter · #149 ·
I'm still perplexed as to what could have happened that would also affect the plants like that. Did you find anything while draining?
Just more dead fish, I didn't find some of the cories, so it seems they got eaten/decomposed before everything else died. I have absolutely no idea what really happened. I'm only guessing what happened to fish, but what made the plants melt so much is a mystery to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #150 ·
Today I did full water test (I really don't remember the last time I've done such a complete test!):
pH 6,7
NO3 <5 ppm
PO4 0,5 ppm
K 14 ppm
Fe 0,1 ppm
dKH 3
dGH 5
Ca 35 ppm
Mg 18 ppm
TDS 167 ppm
NH4 0 ppm
NO2 0 ppm
I'm using my sister for testing. She started biotechnology this year, so it's like "hey, come here do some chemistry for me" :D
Interesting thing is it seems like the filter didn't die completely... Or I'm doing more water changes than I should, as NO3 is close to 0 too. I'm dosing ~half EI for now.
 

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Very nice! Wish I had a sister that could do that kind of testing. As I was reading from the top and got to the Potassium (K) I thought - how the heck did you test for that???
Anyway, yes it looks like you are possibly doing more water changes than necessary. Nice to see the ammonia and nitrite at 0.0ppm - makes for happier rope fish.
The <5ppm Nitrate is going to make for some unhappy plants, unfortunately. dKH 3, dGH 5, Ca 35 ppm, Mg 18 ppm, TDS 167 ppm - these all look pretty normal.

Given the above testing information, I would be inclined to believe the bio portion of the filter is more than adequate to handle the current fish load. I would consider going back to weekly water changes and adjust your fertilizer dosing to get your NO3 levels at least up to 20ppm. For me, I try to keep the PO4 greater than 2, and typically closer to 5ppm. Not sure what has worked for you in the past.

As always, keep us posted how things are progressing :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #152 ·
I have a funny test for K, you get some murky water from it and drip it into another container as long as you need to for a black dot to stop being visible... It's a bit sketchy, but just for fun I did it ;-)
For NO3 and PO4 I was really surprised to see this, usually my fish were adding so much, that I was adding only K2SO4 and a little bit KNO3, but no KH2PO4. I guess with lean feeding and starting with 100% clean water I have to add some more. Usually my PO4 is so high it's beyond the scale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #155 ·
Was curious how the noodles are doing these days?

Back to normal, no breeding though. I was never sure about their sex and now I'm wondering if the biggest rope, that was the only one that didn't make it from the disaster, was the only female. Or maybe after the tank was restarted they just don't feel like breeding. Apart from that they are back to happy noodling around the tank.

I have to admit my tanks are a bit neglected now. I'm doing water changes weekly, but I'm at home around half of every week and I don't spend much time watching my fish as I usually did. In the next few months I'll be moving from my parents to a rented apartment, wish me luck in finding one that will accept a big tank :D

When I'm home I'll try to catch a few noodle photos.
 
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