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daryl

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  1. daryl

    Nitrates

    There has been a lot of research done in the recent years on nitrates and their effects on fish. It used to be believed that nitrates really had little effect on a fish, but experienced fish keepers knew that high nitrates did cause problems. Now days, it is acknowledged that high nitrate values in the water have detrimental effects. It is thought that nitrates in the water will retard healing, stunt growth and interfere with antibiotic treatments. Nitrates have an immune suppressive action - making fish incapable of fighting off disease. They slow in eating or stop, and are reluctant to swim - becoming sluggish and inactive. The blood vessels in the outer portions of their bodies will dilate, causing red streaks in the fins and even the body. Long term exposure to high nitrate values have been shown to levels reduce fishes' life spans, cause deformities in any offspring they may have - as well as reduce or eliminate breeding successes. In invertebrates and marine life, the nitrates need to be kept below 15ppm for any kind of healthy tank. Goldfish, generally, are more hearty and can do Ok in 40ppm and under. I, personally, like to aim at 20 and under and less, in some tanks. My personal opinion is that a fish that has been injured with nitrite poisoning (commonly during a tank's cycle) seem to carry a life long sensitivity to nitrates - being far more bothered by nitrates than fish that have never been exposed to nitrites. Nitrites, absorbed through the gills and body, binds red blood cells from the fish's bloodstream - making them incapable of processing oxygen. The fish will be extremely sickly and many die. It seems that many never full recover from a nitrite poisoning, making them far more susceptible to nitrate problems in the future. If you look at the way nitrates cause lower immunities, sluggish body functions and feeding problems, it is not hard to see why nitrates can cause "flip over" problems. Flip over is a symptom - not a disease, in and of itself. It occurs when excess gas is collected in the gut - through sluggish body functions and feeding problems. It occurs when a bacterial infection sets in through lower immunities. It occurs when eggs are not released or they get infected. The whole fish is impacted by higher nitrates, potentially setting off a whole host of problems - many of which result in flip over. Add in nitrate values and the conformation of many types of "show" fish - the ones that are bred with deep round bodies (Ryukin being one such conformation) and you are setting yourself up for flip over anytime the nitrates climb towards 40ppm. Nitrates have a way of running away with a tank - a heavily fed tank can have nitrate values that quickly climb towards 160ppm and higher. A regular nitrate test, run weekly, can help you keep a handle on exactly what is going on in your tank and what you will need to do to address the nitrate values that are developing. Water changes - large ones - are often needed to reduce nitrate values. Do not be afraid to change out 50% or more water each week in a tank that is being heavily fed or is heavily stocked - keeping the nitrates in the range that is better for the fish. In a tank where that is being specifically fed to promote growth - very heavy repeated feeding - a change of 75% of the water every two days or so will be needed to keep the water parameters under control. Test the water following a water change to make sure that you have reduced the nitrates sufficiently. If not reduced enough, the nitrates can add up, from week to week, until you find that the values sky high! To reduce nitrates, water changes, real plants (which utilize nitrates as the fertilizer that feeds their growth), feeding less food, and reducing stocking levels in a tank are all the best solutions.
  2. Well, I found this.... http://www.seachem.c.../Stability.html It says it is a bacterial additive that will jump start the cycle. Bloodworms will work like any food source in adding waste that (hopefully) breaks down into ammonia to feed the developing cycle. It might work .....but I have no experience with it. In my experience, the "Cycle", and other products that are similar to this one do not do much in the way of createing a cycle. Others, here, have reported some success with them. The only thing that I have found that really does start a cycle quickly and well is BioSpira - a refrigerated bacteria concentration. But even this product is best used in a different fashion from what is stated on the package...... If you want to try this, go for it....Rmember, though, if this is a bacteria to start the cycle, you definately do need a source of waste (ammonia) to feed the beneficial bacteria as they grow - that source can be clear ammonia, a fish that makes waste or some fish food (blood worms or your choice). Ask for details from the fish shop as to how much food to put in and what to watch for to make sure it does not rot and cause problems..... If they have healthy tanks there, you may even be able to buy or beg some filter media from them! (Even a little gravel from the bottom of a cycled tank is better than nothing - but I always worry about what is hiding, encysted within gravel.
  3. It really depends on what you are disinfecting - and how you want to do it. Potassium permanganate is one of the best disinfectants possible. It will take care of just about anything biological. Soak what ever you want to disinfect in a solution of PP that is bright purple for about4 hours. If the solution turns brown, add more until it is purple. You can fill a tank up to the top and run it purple - through the filters and all and kill everything in the tank. (Remove the fish, please - they will die, also) IF you have a deep gravel base, remember that any disinfectant cannot reach into every granny of it - and will not do it all. If you really need to zap the WHOLE tank, remove all the gravel and boil it at a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Add about 1T salt to 1 quart of water to increase the boil kill. Or pressure cook - this will kill even the alien infection from outer space or the nasties that never die from Toothless's tank. If I am "nuking" a tank, I take out everything. Gravel is boiled. Ceramic/rock/bioball media is boiled. Any "soft" media is discarded (sponges, floss, etc.). The biowheel, all the decorations, plastic plants, etc. are dropped in the clean tank. The tank is filled to the very top and the filter is set running with no media, no biowheel. Then the PP is added until it is bright purple. This is run this way for 4 hours. At the end of 4 hours, hydrogen peroxide is added to the tank until the water is clear. Then the tank is emptied, things are rinsed and the tank can be reset and started for fish/cycle again. A standard concentration of 1:12 bleach/water is what is used for most infectious agents. Some more stubborn infectious agents require a 1:10 concentration. Live plants cannot survive this concentration. 1:19, as Sandy has stated is ok for those. It will not kill all - but will get a lot off the plant. The best way to make sure a plant is clean is to place it in a "iso" tank for a time. Many problems cannot survive without a fish host. A good dechlorinator can detoxify the bleach when you are done. Between bleach, potassium peroxide, and boiling, you can pretty much sterilize just about anything you want.
  4. daryl

    Emperor 400

    Emperor 400 is perhaps the top of the line in Emperors. It pumps 400 gph. THere are two baskets that hold biomedia - mine are packed with ceramic cylinadars but you can use sintered glass, lava rock, small bioballs or other creative things. There are two cartridges that do the mechanical filtration. Two biowheels finish it off. The biowheels are driven by spray bars, so they do not rely on speed of filtration. The cartridges can be rinsed and shaken at each change. I think mine only need replacing about once every 6 months. Because there are two of them, you can do one at a time and never lose any cycle. My 400 does not selfprime with out a bit of grinding and work - something I am loath to let it do. In the times of power outages, though, it has self primed. The three I have have never failed me in any way. They can be found relatively cheaply - particularly on line or during a sale. The 400 is rather wide - it takes up the majority of the back of at 20-30 gallon tank. I really like the Emperors. They are my favorite of all filters.
  5. daryl

    Air Pumps

    I have never really worried about air pumps - I pretty much have used whatever I had or could find. The sound has never been of much concern for they are in other rooms. I now have to sleep guests in a room that also houses 5 tanks. I had a particularly old and noisy air pump. So I replaced it with a Rena 200. All I can say is ........... WOW. That is a really quiet pump! I am truly impressed. I did not think there really could be too much difference between the different brands - they all use the diaphrams to pump the air and diaphrams cause noise. Not in the Rena. Now that is an air pump!!!!!! I think I shall have to slowly replace all of mine...... http://www.aquariump...m/airpumps.html
  6. Penquin filters are one of my favorites. I really like the 330 because it has separate baskets that you can put extra bio-media in. The Penquins that are smaller rely completely on the bio-wheel for the support of your bio-base. I like having the bio-wheel, but it seems to take longer to get colonized and does not hold as much bacteria as other media. I have taken apart the cartridges of the 170s and filled them with media so they contain more. The Emperors - the next step up in the same brand are also excellent filters. There is an Emperor 280 that has a basket for biomedia. This is the equivilant to the Penquin 330 - except that it is not as wide and has only one biowheel. An Emperor 400 is a good worker too. I have one on each of my 30 gallon tanks and they have given me no problems. I run a Penquin 330 on one 20 gallon tank and an Emperor 280 on another. They are good filters. Since you do not need to throw away the cartridges as often as they say, they are a fine buy, also. I just shake the cartridge down really well every cleaning and put it back. I only replace it when it gets good and hairy and worn out.
  7. Since many here have reported less than good results with Amquel+, I have been curious at how it compares to the product Amquel. Amquel has always done a great job at binding free ammonia in water, but did nothing about nitrites, nitrates, and had little buffering abilities, so could potentially cause pH problems. Amquel + was designed to address these issues, but did not seem quite up to the job. I followed these tests very closely and feel that you might be just as interested in their results. "Any time a new aquatic water treatment appears on the market, it arrives with a series of claims about its effectiveness and recommendations for its use. Amquel + is no exception. It presents itself as a treatment for chlorine, chloramines dn ammonia, much like its predecessor, as well as being buffered and containing an as yet proprietary treatment designed to remove nitrite. We decided to take advantage of the new buffering capacity and its reported enhanced efficacy in removing ammonia and purchased four Kg pf Amquel + as the primary treatment for the Northern Midwest ZNA's Koi show held September 10,11,and 12, 2004 in Plainfield Illinois. Vats were arranged outside in broken shade, and filled with either 300 (6 foot vat) or 500 (8 foot vat) gallons of water from the local well source. This h ad been previously tested, and was free of runoff or exogenous ammonia., pH was 8.4 and alkalinity was in excess of 300 ppm. Test kits used were LaMotte Salicylate kits purchased within two months of the show and from different lots. The vat treatment protocol was that developed by Norm Meck for koi shows and publishing in Koi USA, Vol 22, issue 4 (January/February 1998). The only departure form Norm's technique was to omit the Novaqua, expecting the buffering capability of the Amquel + to ease the stress on the fish. A point system was used to prevent overloading. All vats were pretreated with the recommended dosage supplied with the Amquel + label at a weight calculated to provide ammonia neutralization capacity of 2 ppm for each vat. The Amquel + was measured for each vat on a triple-beam manual balance scale by a single operator. {Prior to introduction of fish into the vats, samples of untreated source water and treated vat water were obtained for reference purposes. An ammonia standard solution was prepared using the Hach ammonia standard solution (150ppm) to deliver a final concentration in 5cc of water of 0.25 ppm ammonia per drop of standard solution. Source water was tested for ammonia using both test kits and were both found to be negative. Test #1: Ammonia standard and reagent testing. Five tubes of distilled water were treated with 0, 0.25, .05, 1 an 2 ppm of ammonia standard, agitated, and then tested for ammonia using the directions and reagents provided with the LaMotte kits. Comparison with the provided standard comparison slides confirmed the accuracy of both the ammonia standard and the testing reagents. Test #2: Samples from 2 vats were obtained, one empty and the second containing koi at t a load rate of 0.66 of vat capacity. The koi had been in the bay approximately 2 hours prior to sampling and had been fasted for six days prior to the show. The tubes were filled with 5cc of respective bat sample and preteated with 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 ppm of ammonia standard. All tubes were tested by a single operator using one of the LaMotte kits. The expectation was, since the data supplied with the Amquel + indicated that standard dosing would neutralize 1.2 ppm, of ammonia and we had pre-treated with a double dose (2.4 ppm), that none of our test tubes would "break" or develop color indicating the presence of free ammonia. We were surprised to note that water form both bats "broke", the empty bat at tube 3, indicating only 1 ppm of residual protection. The vat with koi broke at tube 2, indicating a 0.5 ppm residual protection,. This was very disquieting, since it implied that Amquel + , used as directed, had less than half of the protective capacity claimed on the label. Both vats were retested with the second LaMotte kit and the results were identical. Test #3: All vats were treated with a second double-dose of Amquel +, mixed and allowed to equilibrate for 1 hour, and the same index vats were retested using the same test kits and techniques. With a claimed ammonia neutralization capacity of 4.8 ppm in each vat, the empty vat broke at tube #3, as did the vat with koi. These results are disturbing, indicating the lack of ability of our stock of Amquel + to dope with ammonia loads at concentrations claims on its label. All samples of Amquel + had been pre-measured according to label directions and stored in sealed plastic bags prior to use. Given these results, we cannot recommend the use of this product until the disparity between claimed results and actual performance can be resolved." Bob Paaovoy and Bod Brudd
  8. Some ornaments can be very large and/or have a lot of small crannies in them that are difficult to completely seal. to address this problem: I have often taken the cheaper small gravel (aquarium gravel left over from other projects) and filled the ornament. Then I pour food quality wax (used for canning and such) in to seal all the gravel in place and fill all the spaces. When this is completely cool (it melts at a low temp), I seal the very top of each with the aquarium sealant to make a final seal. It would be fine to leave just the wax, but I always feel that it is better to do a permanant job. It is much cheaper and easier than using 100% sealant - it flows well, fills completely, and is non-toxic and easy to use. I found a 10 pound block of it that was "chipped" and sold for about $1.00. It was a find. Check to make sure that you have filled all the little holes at the top of the ornament with a dab of sealant ahead of time, so the wax cannot flow out. It rarely does, but could, potentially. Any that is spilled is easy to rub or scrape away, anyway. You will have a solid ornament that will stay on the bottom of the tank, the filler is non-toxic and much cheaper and easier to use than 100% aquarium sealant.
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