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Guest GuppyKat

Can Fish Get Warts?

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Guest GuppyKat

OK, this is my first post, I have been reading this page for hours and hours and I know that if I had more information it would go a litle more smoothly, but I am trying to collect as much info as possible and until then, this is what I have,please help if you can!

Test Results for the Following:

Ammonia Level? between .25 and .5 (that color-matching is so imprecise, isnt it?)

Sorry I havent got answers for the rest of these yet, I have to wait until the local fish store opens so i can go get some test kits!

Nitrite Level?

Nitrate level?

Ph Level, (If possible,KH and GH and chloramines)?

Ph Level out of the Tap?

Tank size (How many Gals) and How long has it been running? 55 gals, running over 5 years nonstop, about 10 years total

What is the name and size of the filter/s? Powerhead 402 and 802, one at each end with undergravel filter

How often do you change the water and how much? I hate to say it, especially after reading over and over how vital it is to do frequent changes, but I never have done a "change" as in taking water out and putting in new, except when the tank was moved to its current location 5 years ago and maybe 3 times or so in the last 5 years when i rearranged rocks and plants i'd take about a third of the water out so i didnt end up sloshing it everywhere as i worked. It's been less than but close to a year since I did that particular task. Usually I end up adding water (after it's sat out on the counter approximately 10 hours) at about 5-8 gallons at a time almost every week (there's an evaporation situation, apparently).

How many fish in the tank and their size? 6 total. A Pleco, about 3.5 inches long; one silvery/charcoal "gold"fish that no one can seem to identify (common?), he's about 3 inches long; two orange common goldfish, one is about 2.5 inches long, the other is about 6 inches, and the two fantailed (or probably veiltailed) goldfish, not sure how to describe their size since so much of them is their fluttery tailfins but i'd say the body (torso?) parts are maybe 2.5 inches or so with a good 3 to 4 inches of tail each.

What kind of water additives or conditioners? none except a dechlorinator when I add the water (AquaSafe by Tetra)

Any medications added to the tank? no

Add any new fish to the tank? not since october (the silvery/charcoal one) but this problem started before he arrived

What do you feed your fish? tetra fin

Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt", bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? heck yeah that's my biggest concern :(

Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, ect..? only one of the veiltails hangs out at the bottom, the rest of the tank seem to act normally

I bought the two veiltail goldfish a little less than 2 years ago, no apparent problems with them until relatively recently (around 5-6 months ago), one developed a growth near its tailfin which had been getting progressively bigger and bigger, but lately seems to have topped out on its size. It's about 1/2 inch in diameter, and it sticks out like a cylinder about 1/3 of an inch total. It's totally white, and kind of like a cauliflower in texture. Seems solid, it doesnt wiggle separately from the fish, if that makes sense. Nothing stringy or fiber-like trailing from it, either. It grew evenly, getting larger around as it grew farther out. Proportionately, I guess. Two new ones are beginning to sprout on the same side as the first, near the middle of the torso, but they are irregularly shaped, more like a line or a gash than a circle. They appeared to come out from between the scales, pushing the scales to the sides, as opposed to the scales coming off and these growths starting up in the spot where the scales had been. The other veiltail fish that was bought at the same time from the same store/tank has lost all color in a small but growing place above its left eye. From a vibrant reddish orange to pure white, but no protrusion, just the absence of color suddenly. This is the one that sits on the bottom of the tank, in the corner. This same fish also has a line of small white dots along the front edge of its left fin, and a cluster of small white dots near its left gill. They appear to be growing from the fish, as opposed to attached to it. They kind of resemble pimples, they are very small but only white at the surface, the sides appear to be the regular orange of the fish However, I just looked at the fish again to make sure, and there is now also a loosely attached tiny white ball in the same gill cluster, kind of floating with the current as the fish swims along. It doesnt even look attached to the fish at all, but it moves along as he does, so I guess it obviously is. I've never heard of it, but this might fall into the "grains of salt" category? There are no other white dots anywhere on this or any of the other fish. Help on that would, of course, be greatly appreciated. No bloody streaks, no frayed fins, and I guess this wart-looking thing could be a fungus but I truly dont know.

Also, There had been, for several years, other assorted fish in the tank but about a month ago they all died in the course of one night! (three neon tetras and one scissortail) They had been in there for pretty much the entire 5 years, though. The pleco acts as if nothing ever bothers it (except when i add water it swims away from the "waterfall" while all the other fish swim into it) And none of the other fish appear to have anything more than an occasional missing scale. All the fish eat vigorously when i feed them, there's always one or another of them in various states of pooping. There is no gasping at the surface, no floating, no swim bladder issues that I can spot, nothing even appears to be out of the ordinary in any behavior except the one with the small white dots sits on the bottom (always in the same spot) occasionally. Sometimes the one with the growth hangs out near it, hovering almost on the bottom but not quite. I've never seen fish be so very very still one moment then up and about and wiggly and vivacious the next. They sure are interesting to watch but the "wart" concerns me.

Just to cover all the basics, I have no heater (it konked out on me, can anyone reccommend one that will last longer than a year, i seem to have issues with heaters!), I have both plastic and live plants that came from packaged bulbs (the APONOGETON kind that you drop in and they root where and if they so choose) Rocks that came from a pet store 10 years ago and have been in the tank ever since. I also have a bubbler that's been in there for a good year and a half to two years, and a couple of decorative odds and ends that've been in there for ages. In other words, there's nothing new in there, nothing unusual has been added, removed, or done to the tank, and the fish were not new when this growth stuff began, it kind of just happened spontaneously with no obvious/apparent provocation. The fish that died showed no signs of anything either before death or when they were discovered, i'm assuming it was fairly natural causes (except that it happened all in one night, that part i find kinda odd)

As soon as this is posted I'm going to try my hand with a gravel vac (i have to run out and buy a bucket and some test kits first!) and then I'll add the water that's been sitting out on my counter and some AquaSafe for good measure and then i'll swing by and see if anyone has posted any thoughts/suggestions. I thank you in advance for any expertise and advice you can offer!!

PS I have some (not great) pics if needed, but theyre not published to the web anywhere (I'm not really computer savvy, but I'm a fast learner if someone wants to tell me how i can get them up ASAP)

ok, I think i've made this long enough, hopefully it's got enough info that someone might be able to help! I'll be back in a couple of hours...THANK YOU!

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Guest GuppyKat

update:

nitrAtes 160-200 ppm (yikes)

nitrItes: less than .5 ppm, i'd venture to say its effectively 0, since the test strip came up pure white with two hot pink dots on it like little flecks of pink

GH: 300 ppm (very hard says the chart)

KH: 0 (chart says it should be 120-180)

pH between 6.8 and 7.2

i know some of these levels are pretty bad, so what steps do I take?

Also, I saw (but did not purchase) the Python. Any advice on whether to go back and get it, or just try to get the regular vac I have to work? Did I mention I'm gravelVac-challenged? I just spent 10 solid minutes trying to get it started and I couldnt!!!

I'm going to try again, back soon to check in, I hope!

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Yikes ! :yikes

Well first of all, welcome to the board.

You have quite set-up there! So before we go any further, I'm going to suggest that you reserve a glass of water for testing (as soon as you can get yourself either a kit or a fish shop to test for you - ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and PH - exact numbers please), and then do a massive water-change, using your vac. Be very careful not to 'stir' the gravel, just stick the vac into it and ease upwards once the 'crud flow' begins to diminish. You will be horrified at how much gunk will fly up the tube. Next, replace the volume removed with temp-matched water which you have first de-chlorinated. Pour slowly so as not to stir up a hurricane in your tank. Your gravel may harbour very toxic anaerobic bacteria which you do not want to stir up.

Now for the bad news.........

Your tank is desperately overstocked and this in conjunction with the absence of any water changing practice means that the level of organic waste will be extremely high and an enormous source of stress to the fish. For the stocking levels you have a tank approaching 100 - 120 gals would be much more suitable. Undergravel filters are considered very bad for goldfish as they accumulate large amounts of waste and harbour harmful bacteria - for this reason we do not recommend them.

A rough rule of thumb for medium-sized fish is 10 gals per fancy and 20g per common. Once fish become larger like your 6" common they produce a great deal of waste and need even more space. Plecos, too, are big waste producers and not ideal tank mates for gfish as they tend to develop a liking for their slime coat.

So, if you're still standing and not completely psyched-out :thud can I suggest posting a pic at an online hosting site, like Photobucket? This is an easy way to upload pictures and to see these lesions would be most helpful. The cauliflower-like growths can sometimes be the result of a viral condition called lymphocystis but pics will make diagnosis easier.

Let's see what the water reveals and how the fish behave after a good water-change. Meanwhile, we'll unleash our deadliest weapon 'Trinket' to see what she can make of the growths you describe. She's very knowledgeable about fish pathology and will have some ideas I'm sure.

Please post back if you haven't hung yourself in the meantime!!!!!!

:welcome

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Ooops! Double post.

OK - nitrates as I expected. Would you like some vac instructions?

Also, can you try to get the water tested with drops as they are much more accurate than strips. Having the ammonia reading is very important, too. By the looks of things you may be in a state of PH crash, too. Can you tell me what the tap water PH is?

I hope I'm not posting on top of you again!

Edited by Pixiefish

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Ugh. After fighting with the vac for a while longer, i finally got it working and sucked out about 50% of the water (and OH.MY.GAWD.EW) I (of course) didnt have nearly enough to refill it, so my tank is a litte low while I let a plethora of various containers sit out tonight. I took the opportunity to straighten out some of the large rocks and such, and a hurricaine of poop/debris came up with that, despite the massive amounts that came up with the vac! I had no idea so much of that gunk was hiding amongst all that gravel!!! Yuck. Its now settling disgustingly on the top layer of gravel while I type this to you and ask what to do next... Can i do another water change tomorrow? That is, another massive one? or is that generally not recommended so soon after? I'm in the mood right now, but i'm sure that's waay too early :)

I accidentally caught Sid Fishous (the silvery charcoal one) in the vac when the tapered nozzle came off, because he was so nosy he just HAD to be right where the vac was. In fact, all of the fish felt the need to inspect what i was doing and were swimming around my hand as I worked. Is that normal? I'd think they'd rather go to the farthest reaches of the tank, but maybe that's cause my cats prefer to be as far from the vacuum as possible, i'm maybe projecting those same characteristics on the fishies. Kinda cute, but kind of annoying. And I'm sure Sid Fishous didnt like the ride. Then again, he still hung around when i let him back out, so I dont know, maybe he liked it. :)

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Straight from the tap:

Nitrites:0

Nitrates:0

GH:25

KH:between 40 and 80 closer to 40

pH: between 6.8 and 7.2 closer to 6.8

is that any help?

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Oh dear! I did think after posting that I should have written instructions for you.

Watch your fish very carefully for the next few days; the suction in a vac is terrific and can cause internal injury. My fish are incredibly nosey, too, and always want to inspect the business end of the vac.

Here's how I do it: First of all, stick your finger in the end of the tube to make it airtight. Then fill the vacuum with water, raise it above the tank, whilst putting the tube end into the bucket with your finger still blocking the outlet. Once the water has run all the way to the bottom of the tube, top up the vac until full then stick it into the gravel. You can then release your finger to make the water flow. Keep your finger close to the end so that you can quickly block the flow in an emergency. Never lift the vac too far above the gravel in case nosey GF get sucked inside. Sometimes I hear people talking about not wanting to get water in their mouths! Man, I wouldn't suck on a fish syphon to save my life!

Anyway, I would say that with your current water situation, no amount of changes can be too much! Personally I would want to remove 100% if possible (a) to reduce those nitrates and high bacterial levels, and (b) in order to get the gravel as clear as possible. What is potentially problematic with adding back water whilst there is still so much debris, is that all the waste will be flown around the tank when you re-fill.

So, just a few Q's:

Do you have a large rubbermaid or clear plastic storage crate (which has never seen detergent or chemicals) which you could use to put the fish in temporarily? If so, you could give the tank a really good clean while they wait elsewhere.

Are you sitting the water out for temperature reasons or to let chlorine dissipate? If it's just because of the chlorine, the water will be good to go, just as soon as you've added the de-chlor to the bucket.

I would want to remove as much of the debris which has settled on the substrate as possible if you can.

The most important thing at the moment is that your fish are sitting in very toxic water. If nitrate is at 160-200 and you've removed 50% of the water, you will only have reduced it to 80-100 when you replace the new 50%. Still too high. Nitrate ideally should be kept below 20, but 40 in this case would be better than nothing.

I've just read you tank and tap water chem and think we should wait for the w/change then test again. Your PH is a little low so once we've stabilized your tank we can think about raising it along with KH to give you more PH stability. At the moment the nitrates (nitric acid) are so high that they have used all your KH (alkalinity).

Post back if you can and I'll see what else I can suggest once you've answered the couple of Q's above.

PS. As it's 2.15am my time, I'm off to bed. But I've asked Trinket to drop in as soon as she logs on. Hopefully you won't have too long without cover ;)

Edited by Pixiefish

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Guest GuppyKat

I figured "snapfish" was a more apropos server for these pics than anything

of course, i cant find the cable to connect my camera to my computer, so i'm stuck with this one and only shot that I already had on here. So, here's an only vaguely helpful picture rather than the specific shots of the fish until i can locate that darned cable! You can kind of get the idea of the growth relative to the size of the fish, at least. And you can, if you really know what you're looking for, see the two lines/gashes of the new growths a little closer to the front of the fish, as well.

http://www2.snapfish.com/slideshow/AlbumID...26/t_=120769526

it's too bad Sid Fishous didnt make it to this photo, otherwise the goldfish gang's all here :) He appears to be doing just fine after his spin in the vac, he ate plenty at feeding time and is swimming around the same as usual. I cant see any visible signs of trauma on his fins or scales, either

oh, and the dip strip results after the water change look to me the exact same :(

and on a completely non-fish related note...for some reason my info to the side over there says I'm a male, but I'm a female! I though for sure i'd marked the right one but evidently not. Anyone able to help me with that particular issue?

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and on a completely non-fish related note...for some reason my info to the side over there says I'm a male, but I'm a female! I though for sure i'd marked the right one but evidently not. Anyone able to help me with that particular issue?

Well, OK Mr-Sister, we'll try to get that fixed :rofl Click on your user name or 'my controls' to raise up your profile. On the LHS you'll see a strip and it should have a box to say 'set as male' which you can click and change.

Meanwhile where are things up to? Did you read through my last post, yet?

Before we even think about the tumors etc, the absolute first order of business is your water. Until we can get the readings to 0,0, 20 (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) your fish are in an unimaginably polluted environment. Tumors are very often a response to this, as the stress it causes surpresses their immune system. The level of waste in the tank will also give rise to all sorts of bacterial infections.

Next thing to think about is your test strips. Are they new or old? Strips are not very accurate at the best of times, but easily become useless if exposed to any humidity. I would suggest getting some drop tests or, short-term, getting your fish shop to test for you (Don't take their advice on anything else - employees are mostly ignorant and untrained in Gfish keeping). Your strips don't tell us about ammonia which is important to know.

I think we need to approach this in two stages;

First - crisis management ie. getting water within safe parameters and removing high build-up of waste.

Second - re-thinking tank space and improving the filtration system. We can then diagnose and treat more easily.

Post back when you can.

Edited by Pixiefish

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Ahhh, I feel like a lady again, thanks :)

the test strips are brand new, at least to me, i bought them right after the first post. the ammonia ones I had already and i suspect theyre outdated, so tomorrow i'll go buy some new ones (drops, i think, if theyre going to work better)

Its nearly 2 am, and though i had an unplanned nap earlier, i'm exhausted and I must sleep. In the morning I'll do another water change and retest after a run to the store for more dechlorinator and some drop test kits.

also, what kind of filters do you recommend for goldfish tanks? I was always under the impression that powerheads and undergravel filters were a pretty viable option, for circulation and getting the muck out of the actual water and down out of the way. I have a biowheel (still in a box from i dont even know how long ago) and can get that up and running if that might be a better option, or at least in addition to whats already there?

First, sleep. I dont want to keel over facedown into the tank in mid-vac :)

Thanks again for the help!

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If is any help - the little white bumps along the pecs and over the gill plates are most likely breeding stars - indicating a male. So - at least you can dismiss the distress over that part of it.

The rest is very serious - but between Pixie and Trinket - they are the BEST! :)

Welcome.

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"First, sleep. I dont want to keel over facedown into the tank in mid-vac "

Yes , given the organic load, it could actually prove fatal! :rofl

Regarding the UG filters - they are fine for tropical fish who produce a fraction of the waste. But goldfish need space, high filtration and regular, large water changes. If you read the links under my signature you'll be on top of the basics.

But now I really think you must get the fish out of that water asap

Now I don't know what you have at your disposal, but if it were me.......

Temporary accommodation

I would get 2 large rubbermaids or crates - a 20g and a 40g (or bigger if poss).

Go to the fish shop and grab 2 bags of zeolite (+ dropper test-kit while you're there, too)

Fill both tubs with dechlorinated water. Try to match the temp.

Take the powerheads out of the tank and put them (according to size) on the respective tubs.

Hang the zeolite (which will absorb the fishes ammonia) on/around the intake or outflow tube.

Once both tubs are set up and running. I would transfer the two sick fancies to the 20 and the commons to the larger one.

I would try to hand-catch the fish if you feel confident enough as nets are rough on their fins and slimecoat. If not, scoop them out with a jug.

(The plec must be separated from the fancies because they are sick and will be easy prey for him. You could put him with the commons for a very short period, but he really needs somehwere else to live - away form the GF.)

Once the fish are in their tubs, you can set about tearing down the tank.

Use the vac to remove the rest of the water and as much gunk as possible. Once you have removed as much of the water as you can, take out the gravel. Put it in buckets or even a large builders sieves. Then remove the under gravel plate/s and clean out all remaining slop!.

Now you must decide what would be most manageable next. Bear in mind that you do not have enough room for all your fish. Fancies need 10g and commons need 20g - but your 6" common will need more, to have enough swimming room now that he's bigger. You should decide between re-homing some, getting another tank for them, or using the buckets pro-tem. You could also try to find someone with a pond for any of the commons. Mr Plec can't continue to live with the goldies safely.

Now, you can either (a) Nuke the tank. This means disinfecting and starting a new cycle from scratch afterwards.

(b) Clean as thoroughly as possible. Thoroughly washing down tank sides and rinsing gravel until gunk-free. Replacing some to keep hold of beneficial bacteria (how deep is it?) and attaching internal filters to the powerheads instead of the UG plates.

It really depends how much time and money you have to play with. You can get a lot of info about filters in the 'tanks and equipment' section to help you decide. Turn over must be x10 tank capacity per hour.

Post back and I'll try to help out with which ever route you'd prefer to take.

Edited by Pixiefish

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Uh Oh, according to Daryl, Lisa Left-Eye Lopez is a boy! Guess I should stop calling him Lisa... So fish get acne when they hit puberty, too? Neat.

Today the fish are more active than ever. The big one (i call him Nick, which will probably indicate he's a she given my luck) is dashing around the entire length of the tank, checking out every inch of the wonderfully clear water. He's not bumping into anything or acting erratic, is it weird to associate "curiosity" or "happiness" with a fish? The smaller ones are swimming similarly, it's just not as dramatic with their smaller sizes. Everyone ate when I fed them, so I hope that's a good sign

There's about 4-5 inches or so of gravel at the bottom of the tank, the gunk layer began about halfway down, i'd guess... the fish are constantly rearranging the top layer, leveling it out from the nice slope It began with! Little interior designers, I bet they'd rearrange the larger rocks if they could...

I could definitely temporarily house the fish in a couple of rubbermaid totes, just got to run to the storage unit and grab the two easiest to empty. Not sure how to get the powerheads to work in there, though...theyre the type that intake from the bottom up the tube thats attaced to the undergravel filter, so I cant just hang them from the rim of the tote...

It's okay to do another major water change (i'm thinking another 50% but would that be enough?) so soon after the first? I guess its better than leaving them swimming in their toxic soup, right?

okay, i'm off to buy drops and pick up some totes. Oh! and I have another (about 30 gal, If i remember right) tank in the storage too!! YEAH!

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Yay! I like these stories where fish get to go from toxic river to fresh clean water because their owner found kokos. :welcome

Guppykat. If I can add one suggestion to Pixies wonderful talk-you- through- it-all advice, and that is to try and salvage at least some of your beneficial bacteria (hereafter bbs) These are what are living alongside the bad bacteria in your tank (very basically, the bad ones have caused the ulcer; the good ones have kept your fish alive) and these are living in the gravel bed and in the filter media. You cannot salvage the bbs in the gravel because as Pix says that must be given a heavy duty- I suggest boiling water- clean, but you can salvage some bbs from the filter media. Rinse the sludgeoff the filtermedia in TREATED cold tap water (hot water and chlorine and chloramines kill them) and replace at least half the media plus some new media to allow transfer. I hope you haven't already chucked that...

Then when you've removed the fish you could add back the 100% new treated water- get the filters running over for an hour and add back the healthy fish-the commons- to help kickstart the cycle.

You can definitely afford to do a real big cleaning job on the tank sides and the ornaments and rocks. With nitrates that high you most likely also have enough bbs going to launch your own "Biospira" product line so (the least disintegrated )filter media alone can be used to start over. The sickfish should be housed in the tub separately as Pix says with the ammochips to monitor them. Any cycle bumps will be hard on the weakened/sicker fish.

Just my :twocents I'll hand you back to Dr. Pix now :goodluck

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OK - a couple of crates and the spare tank will be a great help. Not sure what to suggest about the power heads - let me think about it for a minute.

I'd like to address one misapprehension which regularly comes up -

'water changes are stressful to fish and mustn't be done too close together'

- this is nonsense often spouted by fish store employees, which regularly leads people astray. Fresh water is exactly what gfish require, and providing the temp and PH are matched you can never have too many. On the other hand, polluted water is very stressful on fish and gives rise to all manner of health problems. Trinket has written an excellent piece on this subject which you can read here:

http://www.kokosgoldfish.com/StressInFish.html

Just a question - are you clear on how the nitrogen cycle works in a tank?

Read the link below my sig, if not. Once you put the fish in temporary accommodation there will be nothing to process the ammonia - so it's a very important process to understand. Buying some zeolite pouches/ammo chips for the tubs would be a great help in this regard.

Trinks - I've just read your new post and am wondering about this issue of BB's and powerheads. As far as I understand, with this set-up, the gravel is the filter media; I think the uptake and in flow tubes are lodged in the gravel and that there is not any other 'filter media' as such.

Can you confirm this Guppycat? If there is any sponge or floss anywhere in the tank please let us know.

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Okay sorry hun. I'm not familiar with that system I admit. Is there any other way then to slavage at least some bbs :unsure:

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Hmmm. Very well rinsed gravel (in de-chlor water) put into net bags?

Not sure - let's wait for her confirmation as perhaps there may be some other media somewhere.

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Ugh, life happens. :krazy: Sorry I've been awol for a bit. Anyway!

There is no other media such as sponge or floss in the tank, no. There are the undergravel plates with riser tubes (4 total), there are 2 powerheads, one at either end and just regular bubblers in the middle two. The gravel is about 4 inches deep on top of the undergravel plates.

I did a second 50% water change on the second day, vac'd until the water ran clear in a large percentage of the tank, but I didnt want to replace every drop of water so I stopped. I scrubbed down the sides of the tank itself, and I also scrubbed down the ornamental stuff (but not the large rocks because i didnt want to tear up my scrubber) and a lot of the gravel as well. Id forgotten how many different colors of rocks are in the "natural" gravel mix! The tank looks great, and I feel guilty that i hadnt been doing this on a regular basis!!

I got several good shots of the growth, and of the tank as a whole, but still cant locate the cable to connect the camera to my computer :idont

I havent been able to get to the storage unit, so as of this moment the fish are all still in the tank. I'm hoping to get over there tomorrow, before work, but it's going to be a tight squeeze for time! And even then, i wont be able to do any relocating until AFTER work.

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:stupid:

didnt mean to submit yet, sorry!

I think I understand the nitrogen cycle, but in application to my tank specifically, what is the best route to take? Would more plants (in a general sense) make a difference, as well? There's currently just the two in there.

Also, how often would a regular waterchange be optional? Weekly? monthly?

There's a good amount of algae on the large rocks, pretty much every surface has a thin layer, is that okay, or should I try to scrub that off?

so many questions! your patience is appreciated :)

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Well, I may not be on again until later as I'm really sick and running a temp.

But here's the bottom line with your tank.

The UG filter is bad for the fish. 4" of gravel traps a ton of debris and harmful bacteria are growing there. So what you'll need to aim for, is a change-over from UG to internal or canister filters, so as not to loose all the beneficial bacteria. You can talk to the wonks in 'Tanks and Equipment' about the best filters and they will advise. You could do it gradually, by introducing new filters (containing floss, sponge/ceramic-media noodles) whilst step by step removing gravel until you can dismantle the UG plates altogether. Leave the algae covered rocks for now as the BB's will be covering them.

Weekly water changes are essential, especially as you are so overcrowded. Harmful bacterial levels build quickly under these conditions, which is why monthly water changes are out of the question.

But before this, you must vac the gravel and change enough water to bring the readings within safe parameters - ammonia/nitrite-0, nitrate below 20, PH somewhere over 7.0. Your fish have been living in sewage and need to be relieved of this stress asap. - Not trying to be rude here, just want to communicate the urgency.

So you've done x2 50% changes, but how much have you put back in? I've slightly lost track.

As far as the cycle goes, it rests on there being enough beneficial bacteria, colonizing the filter media, rocks etc, to be able to eat your ammonia (which is converted to >nitrite, which is converted to >nitrate). Nitrate is the harmless end product, providing it is kept low, which is why water changes are necessary. Plants are not an integral part of this process.

Re-read both the links under my sig to be absolutely sure you understand it. It's a lot of new info to take in.

What are the water readings today? Try to test daily at the moment so that we know what is happening in the tank.

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GuppyKat, how is the wart situation going now? :)

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