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Can Antibacterial Food Mess Up Water Chemistry?


Guest RookieToo

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Guest RookieToo

I am a rookie goldfish owner with a tank started in late February which FINALLY finshed cycling at the beginning of June. I was religiously testing and changing about 25% of the water almost daily during the first few months (it's only a 10gallon tank with one fish that I rescued and the tank was what I had at home).

The fish, who wasn't healthy to start, started to show signs of some type of illness around the first part of June (ironic...since my water reading were now great!). He/she was lethargic, laying on the bottom and starting to show redness in his fail fins and what looked like a sore on his tail). I didn't want to use Maracyn II -- since I used that when I initially got him and I think that's what delayed my cycle.

I wasn't sure if he had a bacterial infection of some type, since the tank water was close to 80 degrees during this early June hot spell, and I hadn't yet gotten an airstone.

Someone in the local aquarium society suggested the airstone. I got a pump, hooked it up and put that in, and started treating the tank with salt, and 1tsp of Pimafix and Melfix daily (was told that wouldn't hurt the biofilter). I also started feeding the fish a tiny bit of Jungle antibacterial food. I say "tiny" because he wasn't eating much and the stuff floats and so he'd maybe eat two pieces and perhaps two more pieces would end up floating in the water. I used the antibacterial food sparingly for about a week.

The good news is the fish is MUCH better. Tail and fins looking just fine; now active and curious and eating. However, all of a sudden my water readings are getting wacky. This week, all of a sudden my ammonia reading is up and so are my nitrites. Ammonia appears to be around 1.0(!) and nitrite around (argh - I forget and I'm not writing this from home ....not too high, but not great -- .25?) and nitrate around 10ppm. pH was all ok.

What could be making my ammonia and nitrites go up? The antibacterial food? could that have killed off some of my good bacteria? For the past few days I've been doing 25% water changes (2.5 gals) per day of salted water. The fish looks fine but I am wondering what happened!

Being a new fishkeeper is kind of frustrating and mysterious and it's really helpful to have found this site and to read all the posts.

Thanks for any words of wisdom!

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  • Regular Member

Generally I don't have trouble with the cycle using melafix/primafix but i guess it is possible that anitbacterial food may have an impact, especially if it floats around and the medication can dissolve into the water.

I think most of the antibacterial activity would have neutralised by the time the food is passed as waste, so just take extra care to remove an uneaten portions.

Hmmm, maybe your filtration system isn't strong enough or big enough to harbour substantial bioactivity? What type of filtration do you use, how often do you clean it and how do you clean it?

Something doesn't sound right if it took 4 months to cycle a 10g tank with one fish.

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Guest RookieToo

Hi - My filter is a small Whisper 10i that hangs in the tank. I really didn't know much of anything when I bought it -- so I figured it was OK for the 10 gallon tank. When I started putting in the Melfix/Pimafix I put in a new filter (the white puffy stuff - not the plastic stuff that apparetly holds the good bacteria) and took the charcoal out. I figured a new filter would help keep the water cleaner but didn't touch the mesh pad filter; I've never cleaned that at all and it has a little algae growing on it.

I figured it took so long to cycle the tank (3 whole months - March, April and May!) because when the fish was very new - probably the very end of February or beginning of March) I was putting Maracyn II in the water and did that for about 8 days. So I'm assuming the "good" bacteria didn't really get started until after that was done. In those early weeks my ammonia was pretty high and then finally dropped but it was the nitrites that wouldnt drop. It seemed like I was getting high nitrite readings FOREVER and those finally came down and the nitrates came up in late May/early June. I was fine the first week of June until a series of really hot weather. My house got very hot and the tank water went up to around 80 degrees and I didn't have any aeration at the time and the fish seemed to get very stressed and sickly.

However, my water params seemd to be doing ok. So I hadn't checked the water chemistry for about 5-6 days (don't have my log with me) and was shocked them to see ammonia and nitrite readings coming up! I figured this had something to do with either the melafix/pimafix treatment or the antibacterial food.

I'm back to daily readings and about 20-25% water changes daily (after letting the water sit overnight and having treated it with Prime and adding 1 tsp per gallon of aquarium salt).

And I thought I was home free for awhile since it's only one little fish........!

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Guest Phreno

Maybe some of the bio base was living on the things you removed? Next time maybe leave the old ones in the filter for a while to let the bacteria colonize the new stuff?

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Guest RookieToo

I don't have access to my readings right now (they're at home and I'm at work) but will try to remember to post them tonight.

Once the tank finished it's initial "cycling" in early June - I was then getting fine readings....basically zero ammonia, zero nitrites and maybe 10ppm nitrates. Because the readings were doing so fine, I stopped testing every day and started only testing on the weekend.

I'm using a Master Test kit (the kind with the drops and the little vials). Recently I purchased a quick strip test kit for convenience ... but I noticed those strip readings differ from the master test kit readings.

The temp of the water is now consistently in the high 70's and hovering around 80 degrees.

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  • Regular Member
I put in a new filter (the white puffy stuff - not the plastic stuff that apparetly holds the good bacteria) and took the charcoal out. I figured a new filter would help keep the water cleaner but didn't touch the mesh pad filter; I've never cleaned that at all and it has a little algae growing on it.

I have a feeling that even though you left the mesh in that the cycle is having a hiccup because there was bacteria in the white part of the filter as well. I would think the cycle should be starting to right itself within the next few days.

I have never had a prob with my water params & antibacterial food (I would think it would take so much food to have this prob that the food itself would be rotting & causing other probs :D )

I too use strip tests for quick tests but I rely on my dropper tests. If there is a difference between them - I generally believe my dropper test.

Hope this helps!

:D Jenn

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Guest RookieToo

Thanks very much. It's true that perhaps I'm now doing a "mini-cycle" again. I checked readings last night and had .50 ammonia and .25 nitrite. Changed 25% of the water this morning and everything has dropped a little (colors are lighter but not "zero" jsut yet). Will change out some more water either tonight or tomorrow AM and re-test. Fish seems fine, so I'm not too worried -- I was just surprised because I thought I was finished with cycling and "home free."

I guess it shows you have to always be vigilant!

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You'll want to keep that white filter pad in action as long as possible, cuz a lot of your biofilter bacteria live there. When it gets gunked up, just rinse it in discarded tank water. When that doesn't clear it, you can put it in a plastic baggie and smack it up against something to clear it. A month or two before you think it's going to need replacing, hang another of the white bags to start getting colonized before you have to remove the old pad.

How many gallons per hour does your current filter move?

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Guest RookieToo

Thanks, Dataguru. I guess I thought I was doing a "good thing" by putting in a new filter cartridge. I thought, from what I had read, that most of the good bacteria lived in the plastic mesh thingie that's in front of the filter. So next time I see mine getting yucky, I'll put another one in the water to hangout for a while, as you suggest, before I change it.

I have no idea how much water my filter moves (I know - bad answer!). It's a small Whister 10i that says it's recommended for 5-10 gal tanks....so it's probably the minimum I should use for my 10 gal tank!

I feel a filter upgrade coming on.....although how is that accomplished without disrupting the cycle again! Put a new filter in and leave the old one running at the same time? But for how long?

Jeeeesh -- there's a lot to learn!

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LOL Hey don't feel bad, I completely killed ALL my biobugs back and had to cycle from scratch before I got on the board and started binge reading about all this stuff.

Yep, that's exactly how you'd do it. You'll want something that moves around 100 gallons per hour. ideally something with separate areas for mechanical and biological media. If your current filter pushes enough water per hour you could jerry rig a separate biofilter area with a mesh bag containing bioballs, or nylon scrubbies, or lava rock, or ceramic rings, etc. under the outflow of your filter.

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