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Am I Doing Everything Right?


Lolafish

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You can tell from some of my recent posts, I'm having issues with nitrites. Just getting frustrated because I've only cycled two tanks successfully, and I am still learning stuff all the time, trying to get better at it.

My 55 and 45 have been cycling since Oct. 31st with seeded BB's. Right now, I have the params equal in both tanks, and when I do WC's, I do the same in each with the new water. I've had nitrites since day 12. They are not going down yet though. With the exception of the last week (my RO unit's Chloramine blaster expired...and I have to buy a new filter), I was using 50-50 of water from my pool and RO water. Since a week ago, I am using strictly pool water. The pool water's params are:

0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10-20 nitrates (this varies)

PH - 8.5 approx.

KH - 51

When I do WC's, I add PRIME, ARAGAMILK, and ALKALINE BUFFER to stabilize the water. The water is seasoned 24 hours in advance per day to allow temperature matching to the tanks. The temp in the tanks run 76-80.

After a daily 50% WC, the params are:

0 ammonia, .5 nitrites, 20 nitrates

PH - 7.9

KH - 107

Within 12 hours, nitrites rises to 1ppm. In order to keep to a 24 hour regimen, I add a double dose of PRIME to protect the fish for the next 12 hours. Of course since nitrites have been present, I keep the tanks salted with Kosher salt to .1% The fish seem to be doing okay - no bottom sitting and healthy appetites. Speaking of appetites, I feed sparingly once per day, with 1-3 fast days per week, depending on what's going on in the tank.

For about a week in the middle of all this, the nitrites were making me mad, so I'd do 75% WC's to get them down to .25 But when I did this, the ammonia started showing up at .25 So now I'm back to 50% WC's, so as not to disturb the precious BB's. I did use TURBOSTART in each tank to help give them a jump start for a few days, but I'm guessing because I had to do daily WC's, it wasn't able to complete the cycles. I did get nitrite spikes with its use, which would excel the decline of ammonia, but couldn't get past the second stage.

So here I sit...waiting. I'm doing everything right aren't I? If you see something I could be doing better, please tell me. I know having nitrates in the water to start with is not a good thing, but it's my only water source until I get the RO unit back up and working again. Ya think that is the problem?

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I'm gonna have to go back to 75% WC's for a while. Sumo and Oscar are at the top a lot I noticed, gasping. Darn! I never know if it's detrimental to the cycling process to do a 50% WC versus a 75% WC per day. My fish are telling me today they need a break from the nitrites. I wish they would go away!!!!!! :(

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Everything seems to be right from what I have read up on cycling of tanks.

I don't understand why your tanks won't cycle though.

I hope somebody can help you because I don't know nearly enough.

My 20 gallon cycled a month ago and I was doing pretty much the same thing you are doing expect my water's PH is about 7.3 at school and like 7.5 at home, but I can't see PH being the reason for your nitrites

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I'm going to remove all of the plants in the 55 with the exception of the amazon swords for now. A lot of buildup gets in the filters, which I stay on top of, of course, (rinsing only with tank water) but maybe some of the decaying plant material is slowing me down too. Gotta do something different when nothing's happening, right?

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Another product I ran across out there is called

Acquamarine Ammonia Eliminator Freshwater

Description here: www.aquatichouse.com/Natural%20Solutions.asp

But cheaper to buy here: www.dtpetsupplies.com/catalog/Acquamarine

It's supposed to rid your tank of ammonia/nitrite in 1-2 days. I don't think it could hurt right now. If the tanks don't cycle in the next few weeks, I'm going to have to start over anyway.

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Lola, I don't know the products, I haven't used them but can I recommend you up the salt? I know its hard when you see your fish at the surface gasping to imagine adding more salt will help...but I would salt to 0.2% to get them through the nitrites (some even use 0.3% for nitrite spikes) and I'd do the 75% changes for a while not 50%.

Otherwise, I don't know. It seems a mighty long time to be cycling for. How high are the tap nitrates? And do you have plenty of surface bubbles- as nitrites use up DO- presume so. Was there ever a point where nitrites were zero?

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Update!

At 6am this morning I took out all the plants with the exception of 2 amazon swords and 3 grass types, and what a mess I found! It was nasty! I think I found the culprit to my slow cycling. Within the center of the plants I removed, was a lot of decay, including a lot of decaying leaves stuck in the rocks in between where I couldn't see. I scrubbed all the brown algae in the tank and did a 75% WC, including cleaning the plant crud off the floss filters again. This makes me decide that no more plants will be put in this tank until I can upgrade the lighting...with the exception of hornwort and sprite, which doesn't die on me.

I did something a little different with the WC because my husband had topped off the pool water with the hose yesterday, and that added .25 ammonia. I didn't want to put ammonia into the tank, and I didn't want to OD on the PRIME becuz whenever I put more than a double dose in, it drops my PH. So I had a bunch of boxes of Jungle Ammonia remover from a long time ago, and I put one tablet in each 5 gallons of water before putting it into the tank to get ammonia readings back to zero. I don't like using this stuff though, because it lowers oxygen levels - but does a great job of eliminating ammonia. I wish I knew for sure its effect on BB's though.

Params after the WC were: 0 ammonia, .25 nitrite

At 1:30pm I checked params, and they were: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite (I checked the nitrite twice to be sure!)

Freaking out that I'd killed all my BB using the Jungle Ammonia tabs, I checked params on the 45 - which I had done the same 75% WC for this morning. They were: 0 ammonia, .25 nitrite (Whew!)

Lola began bottom sitting though, and Ohji was hanging out in one corner at the top in the bubble wand stream, so I knew the low oxygen was affecting them. I did another 50% WC in both tanks as Sumo was bottom sitting more than usual too....but this time I used the water from the pool without any additives because the pool's cycle had eliminated all the ammonia.

Now, I wait 24 hours and see what I have! I may have solved my own problem here. I think the 55 is cycled now...but I have to wait a bit to be sure. I certainly hope so! :)

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How high are the tap nitrates? And do you have plenty of surface bubbles- as nitrites use up DO- presume so. Was there ever a point where nitrites were zero?

Nitrates are around 10-15 to start with. I got plenty of bubbles. :yeah: That tank is always heavily aerated due to the higher temps.

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Speaking about aeration... today I placed my first order from an online pet store (not the website of a brick & mortar store) that came highly recommended both price and quality wise from a co-worker. Besides the items I ordered out of necessity, I happened to notice a oxygen test kit from Tetra that they had. I've always been curious about the quality of aeration from our waterfall filters. I have reason to believe its fine - there are a good deal of bubbles on the surface as well as in the water, water movement seems good based on how uneaten food travels (for as long as it lasts ;) ), and while he does spend a fair deal of time at the surface bubbling, he also has no qualms about picking at the rocks at the bottom for 10+ minutes at a time when he feels like it (especially if food may be in there).

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see a test kit's report on oxygen in the water. The instructions were available online and I noticed that they tell you to gently turn the tube to mix after each of 3 (!!) bottles of reactants. After thinking for a minute, that makes sense, as shaking would certainly mix air into the water that you're testing, throwing off the results.

Not sure why I'm posting it on here, but I guess you reminded me of it by commenting on aeration. I'll report back once I get it and use it, let you guys know how it works. It obviously shouldn't need to be a regular test, but might be a nice thing to have around for when anything changes in the tank.

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I'll report back once I get it and use it, let you guys know how it works. It obviously shouldn't need to be a regular test, but might be a nice thing to have around for when anything changes in the tank.

That would be awesome! I'd love to hear. I was thinking about that today too. Sometimes the fish go through stages I call them...and suck air at the surface for no apparent reason. It's the times I have a reason to believe their oxygen is low that I want to be sure....such as in the case of where I used those ammonia tabs.

Hopefully there's a range included in that test kit that tells you what normal or good is. I have no idea how much O2 is supposed to be in their water.

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That would be awesome! I'd love to hear. I was thinking about that today too. Sometimes the fish go through stages I call them...and suck air at the surface for no apparent reason. It's the times I have a reason to believe their oxygen is low that I want to be sure....such as in the case of where I used those ammonia tabs.

Hopefully there's a range included in that test kit that tells you what normal or good is. I have no idea how much O2 is supposed to be in their water.

Here's the link to the product I ordered, should you want to test it out yourself. Its a *bit* steep as far as drop tests go, but, as I said, it wouldn't be something you'd need to run frequently.

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod...amp;pcatid=4366

If you click on the 'more information' button on that page it shows you the instructions for how to run a test, a table of maximum oxygen water content based on temperature and makes the following recommendation:

At any given temperature, you should ensure that the O2 levels in your water do not fall below 75% of the above saturation values. Regardless of temperature, the O2 level in freshwater and in saltwater must never fall bellow 2 mg/l. To ensure optimum water quality, it is recommended to maintain an O2 concentration between 5 and 8 mg/l when the water temperature is greater than 68?F and to maintain an O2 level between 8 and 10 mg/l when the water temperature is less than 68?F.

That basically matches what I read on a good article on aeration on Novalek's site:

They need 4-6 ppm (= 4-6 mg/L) oxygen in the water for good health and growth. Dissolved oxygen levels below 3 ppm (= 3mg/L) are stressful to most aquatic organisms. Below 2 parts per million oxygen in the water is lethal to most fishes.

source:

http://novalek.com/kordon/articles/beginni.../equipment.html

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I know I'm basically talking to myself right now, :rofl but I got to get this cycling tank issue finalized. I'll have a new fish coming in about a week, and I need a cycled tank by the time it gets here. I expected to have at least one done by now, and I've held off this long replacing my sick calico ranchu that didn't make it because I wanted a perfect habitat for it to recover from shipping in. The nitrite spiking is so crazy now, I have to do twice daily 75% WC's in two large tanks, and I can't keep this up...I have no life! I love my babies, but it wears DH and I out to have to spend so much time filling, dosing, watching, emptying, refilling, etc....for so many hours every day.

I'm evaluating every approach I can find - the old fashioned way is just not working. So trying to decide which helper to get - which one might be the best for the situation I currently have. I can move Sumo and Oscar into the 55 and do very little feeding inbetween frequent WC's, while finishing the 45 with something like Stability, Bio Spira, or anything else I can find that can do its magic uninterrupted with WC's.

I just have to decide which route to go. I need to figure out which product would work best to break nitrites down into nitrates.

Where is Eric when you need him? :rofl

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I have a plan that I am 99% sure will work! I'm encouraged especially because my 5 gallon tank has been showing 5 nitrites for about the same length of time as my 55 and 45 have been showing 1 - 1.5, and today it went down to .5! Yay! My little one is excited he'll get to have new guppies (or whatever we decide to put in it) very soon! It is processing 4ppm ammonia per 24 hours, so should be loads of great BB's in there. I have way more media in it than needed, so once it's cycled, going to halve it (absorb the cycle bump before adding the fishies), and put it in the 45 or 55 depending on what's going on.

The big news - I took Oscar and Sumo out of the 45 tonight, and put them in with the 4 in the 55. To help the 55 out, I added my Rena canister, so filtration in the 55 is now over 1,200 gph! Hopefully that will help with the WC's. I added Stability in the 45, and put in 4ppm ammonia to feed the new little BB's. The ammonia was zero before, and .5 nitrites. The last WC was this morning, so I'm going to leave it alone now until it cycles. (with the exception of daily ammonia feedings of course)

Fingers crossed!!

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If this doesn't work I am going to think somebody is sabotaging your tanks. :hmm

The tank grinch! :rofl

We're getting the filters changed out for our RO unit hopefully tomorrow, so the water issue will be better anyway.

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Well some good news. Got the carbon filters for the RO fixed, so now I am using mostly RO again. Still add 5 gallons or so of water from the pool if needed to top off the 55 when doing WC's, which will work to keep those nitrates way down - so I'll see if that has any effects on my cycling. The water is still the same make-up in the 45 though.....but the nitrates are creeping up, which proves there is some activity, so I'll leave it for now.

The 5 gallon is cycled today! Yay!!! I am going to sabbotage it a little, and remove a handful of the media from it, and throw it in one of the Emperor's in the 55, since that is where the fish are.

The Stability in the 45 spiked the nitrites to 5 in one day...but the second day, it cut in half. I hope to see continued declines. I can't believe that Seachem promotes that product to use with fish. My fish would be dead if they were in that tank!!

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