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Strange Params And Sick Fish


Kissy

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I've had my rescued comets since august and they've always seemed like there was something not quite right about them. They occasionally gulped air and had trouble chewing (Io more than Calypso), which were signs of gill disease, but their gills always looked healthy. Every once in a while they'll have bad days, but they've always perked up. I kind of concluded that the fish had gill damage do to the very high levels of ammonia they were subjected to for long periods of time before their rescue. I've tried parasite clear before just in case, and yesterday I decided to try some aquarium salt to see if it would help any.

I added 29 dissolved teaspoons of aquarium salt to the 29 gallon tank with a 40% water change. Usually my tap water has about 10ppm nitrate. Straight from the tap, the pH is usually about 7.5, but when aerated for a short period of time, it stabilizes at around 8.2 because of added CO2 at the water company. Yesterday was different though.

I came home today and they were not doing well. They were both sitting on the bottom and Io had her fins clamped, uninterested in food. I immediately started a 90% water change to get rid of the salt. Halfway through I realized that the salt was probably trivial and there might be a bigger cause. I tested the tank and pH was 7.5, and nitrate was 40+ (that indistinguishable red zone). I tested the tap water and that showed 40+ nitrate and the pH was 8.2ish. The first two buckets of water I aerated for 30 minutes each actually went DOWN to 7.5. The remainder buckets of water did not budge from 8.2. I don't get it? So what went wrong yesterday? The salt, high nitrates or pH change? Or all 3? What's going on with my pH? How do I get rid of high nitrates from tap water? I really have no idea how high they are, just that they are too high. Prime detoxifies nitrate, right? I added double dose of prime to the water but it didn't seem to help. If you detoxify nitrate with prime, does it still show up on tests? The goldfish are not doing well.

I tested my tropical 10 gallon which I had recently water changed, and the pH was the normal 8.2ish but the nitrates were above 40. The fish in there are acting alright, but that can't possibly be good for them. My two bettas need their water changed very soon!

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I don't know much about anything, but I can tell you that the prime DOES affect the test results, but it lowers the nitrates in such a minuscule amount that you have to do more than five times the dosage (which is the max recommended on the bottle) for it to show noticeable improvement there. I did an experiment with my dirty tank water one week.

I wish I could be of more help to you.

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in your experience L.E., in what way does the Prime effect test results? of what params and in which direction?

I use Prime and the API master kit.

When I have water that tests for 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate and 0.25-0.5 ammonia, one dose of prime will knock that ammonia down to testing at 0.

I haven't done the nitrite testing in a long time (as my tanks are both fully cycled) but when I would test the water before adding prime, and then add the prime (was triple dosing at that point), wait an hour and test again, it would be a very small amount lower.

When I did the nitrate test, no change was noted on the test kits until after I was past five times the normal dose, but then a change started to show. I don't remember the exact readings, but it did lower it.

Prime *does* hide the amount of total ammonia, nitrite and nitrate from the API test kits. However the ammonia and nitrite are still available to be consumed by the bacteria. They just don't hurt the fish.

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Kissy, sorry that no one has seen your thread. I apologize.

That said, how often do you test your water? Is this a new problem?

Has your ph always been steady, or is this new?

At this point, without knowing anything new, I would say the salt would help them.

Post back and update us and we'll go from there.

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Yes, this is a new problem. All the tap params are usually very stable and low. Nitrate is usually 10ppm, and the pH is usually 8.1ish after aerating because of added CO2. The goldfish seem to be doing better now, but I'm still in a rut! I re-tested the pH of tanks and tap today and I got similar results:

29 gallon goldfish tank: 7.6

10 gallon tropical: 8.2ish

3 gallon betta: 8.4

3 gallon betta (unfiltered): 7.9-8.1

Tap: 7.9-8.1

Tap water aerated for 24 hours: 7.6

Sorry about inacurate results. I don't think I will buy the masterkit again because the high range test results always give me unidentifiable colors. Then there are all those reds on the nitrate test....

So... If I can find a way to lower nitrates, I can easilly give my unfiltered betta unaerated tap water and the pH will lower slowly by itself. I can do the same for my 10 gallon and hopefully they'll be okay since I can do partial water changes. Maybe I can do the same for the filtered betta but it will be more difficult since her's is so high and I don't know how it got up there. For the goldfish I could just change 25% of the water by aerating it first. However pH isn't the main problem...nitrate is!

Do goldfish ever have bad reactions to salt? I want to make sure it was the slight pH change that hurt them first before adding salt back in. I can't add salt to my tropical tanks, and I'm weary about adding it to my betta tanks.

What about those nitra-zorb thingies that you put in the filter? I don't really remember much about them. Do they just suck up nitrates, or do they suck up ammonia and nitrite too, damaging the cycle? Is there anything else I could buy at the store?

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Actually the nitrazorb pouches are not recommended to control anything. You can use them in a pinch, but only for a day or so then water changes are used to keep them in order.

My expertise is ph is very limited, so I can't offer to much advice on that, except to set it out for 24 hours before the change. This will give it time to level off and not bounce on you.

Water changes are still going to be your best bet for things, I know it is extra work but many of us don't have th liberty of only once a week changes.

Hopefully you can get things worked out.

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So I should change the water even though the tap water's nitrates are so high?

I'm hoping that they go down on their own soon. Maybe I'll buy some water for my bettas only since their tanks are smaller and their my favorites.

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Nitrates straight from the tap are above 40. I don't know exactly because I have the master kit.

That drives me nuts too, and when I get a new test kit, the colors are different than the old one. I'm going to look for a different brand (currently using API) of test kit for Nitrate the next time I need to restock.

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Kissy I am afraid I am not sure what to tell you with that reading. My goodness. Just off the top of my head you could mix half and half tap water with bottled water. (not distilled though) and break it to 20 nitrates. Other than that I am at a loss.

I think you should post a thread in the water chem area asking for experts advice on how to control this problem.

Is this new too? If so maybe contacting the water dept.

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The nitrates have gone down to 20 :D I noticed today while I was testing again, but I wasn't sure because 20's color is still pretty close to 40, so I did an experiment. I filled my bottle of water up with arrowhead water at school and brought it home. I tested the arrowhead and it came up with 0 nitrates. I filled another test tube with half arrowhead and half tap, and it came out just a tad over 10. Sooo...they've gone down to 20ppm. Is this safe to change water with in the tanks? I need to know today!

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If the nitrates in the tank are higher than the nitrates in your tap water, then it should be safe to change it out, assuming that the water is temp and PH matched to what is in your tank.

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Kissy, I assume the 40+ nitrates from the tap water is something new as well, yes? How were the nitrate readings from the tap usually? If it has changed (and it sounds like it did), I'd contact the water department and find out the reason for it, and if its a temporary thing. I can't imagine a nitrate reading like this being healthy for humans on a constant basis either.

So, the tap is at 40, and you got the goldfish down to 20 by using half bottled water?

I would have to go out in the rain to check my big Prime bottle, but off hand I don't remember the Prime taking care of the nitrates - only nitrites and ammonia. Correct me if I am wrong here, I am just too darn dry to get myself soaking wet at the moment... :D

If it does take care of the nitrates, then yes, the reading after a dosage of Prime should go down. Its only with the toxic and detoxified ammonia, that 2 different readings are a possibility - not so with nitrates. There is only one nitrate, so the reading should be on the down side. Again, IF Prime takes care of nitrates.

For now, until you find out how the nitrates changed in the city water, looks like you have to modify your water changes. Do a simple test with the Prime and the nitrates, and if it kicks in, take the nitrates out of the bucket of water with Prime before you put it into the tank. :)

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So, the tap is at 40, and you got the goldfish down to 20 by using half bottled water?

Not quite. I took a reading of the tap water by filling the test tube with half bottled water and half tap, then multiplying that result by 2. So my tap water nitrate is 20 now. I'm pretty sure it has gone down from at least 40ppm from a week ago. I'm not sure of the exact nitrate results on my fish tanks yet. I will do that tomorrow, along with waterchanges that I may (probably) need.

It says one the front of the bottle that it detoxifies nitrate, but doesn't say anything about nitrates and dosage on the back like it does with ammonia, nitrite, and chlorine.

Do you think that because of the extra waste in the water (as shown by high nitrates), the water company would increase the amount of added chlorine to disinfect more? I'm not really sure how that works. I'll send them an email asking about all this, but until then, I think it might be wise to double dose with prime for chlorine and nitrates (if it does detoxify nitrates) before adding new water to tanks.

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I tested again today and the nitrates in the tap water have gone down to 12-15ppm so I am doing large waterchanges on ALL my tanks. It came just in time too, because my bettas look like they could be getting the beginings of pop eye. I already made a thread in the betta section for more specific help.

The pH from the tap looks like it has gone back to normal (starts at 7.5 and goes up to 8ish after aeration) but the pH in all of my tanks are different from eachother and the tap water. I'm going to try and manipulate the water through controlled aeration intervals to match the pH's of all my tanks. Goldfish will be hard though, because they are the only tank that needs more than 1-2 buckets, and that's all I've got.

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Do goldfish ever have bad reactions to salt? I want to make sure it was the slight pH change that hurt them first before adding salt back in. I can't add salt to my tropical tanks, and I'm weary about adding it to my betta tanks.

Don't know about gf reactions but some freshwater trops like salt--platies and mollies for instance. Also, I always add 1 or 2 pieces of aquarium salt to each of my bettas bowls when I clean them every week to help buffer the ammonia. So far they have all been the picture of perfect health so a little won't hurt them anyway. :exactly

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