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rocmills

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pH readings as of first thing Sunday morning:

Tap: 7.6

Tank: 6.0

Bottle: 7.6

Hospital tank: 7.0

Full readings on main tank after 75% water change, treated with Prime only:

pH: 7.0

Nitrate: 40

Amm.: .50

Nitrite: 0

GH: 180

KH: 180

--Roc

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Saturday pH readings:

Main tank: 6.0

Hospital tank: 7.0

Tap: 7.6

Bottle: 7.6

pH readings as of first thing Sunday morning:

Tank: 6.0

Hospital tank: 7.0

Tap: 7.6

Bottle: 7.6

Full readings on main tank after 75% water change, treated with Prime only:

pH: 7.0

Nitrate: 40

Amm.: .50

Nitrite: 0

GH: 180

KH: 180

Hi again Roc.

So, what we now know, is that the tap PH is not diving and the PH in the hospital tank is also holding. All good.

However, the results even after a 75% w/c show where we have a problem. We expect the amm and n'ite to be showing a little, as you've suffered a tank crash and lost BB's; but 40 nitrate after a large change shows that the organic load on the tank is very high. How long was it between this change and the last, out of interest?

My feeling is that the fish are too big/ too many for the tank at this point and it was probably a steep rise in nitrates which may have crashed your tank (aside of the municipal water hiccups, too)

As plecs are big waste producers and also bad tank-mates for GF - is there any way to find them their own tank and keep the the main tank for goldies? This might make life a lot easier and healthier for the fish. Just thinking aloud here......

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Pixie,

Main tank seems to be holding at a pH of 7.6 for the time being - just tested again moments ago.

I know the tank is overcrowded, that's why it is so massively over-filtered, too. The plecos and these 3 (4 if you count Luc) have been together since they were all less than an inch long. I suppose, once Luc heals up entirely, we could put the plecos in what is currently the hospital tank... but I'd hate to break them up. They all sleep in a clump with the plecos on the bottom.

Plus it puzzles me that the tank was able to cycle and stay steady for months with all six critters in it... the crash didn't occur, in fact, until months after we moved Luc to the hospital tank thus reducing the population and poop content of the main tank.

As for previous water change... it was probably a week ago. I tend to do all my critter maintenance (fishies, iguana, ferret, cat) on Sundays. I can do changes more often if you think that would help. I think I will also re-test the tap for Nitrates and see what it says.

I would really like to solve this problem without removing anyone from the tank and hold that option off as a last resort. I have some NitraBan - do you think that would help?

--Roc

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Yes - I do understand the wish to keep them all together BUT, here's the thing; if your nitrate was 40 after removing 3/4 of the total volume, it means that before, it was most probably 160ppm! This is sky-high and enough acidity to crash your PH.

Often times a tank will be OK for a long time; the fish continue to grow and then one day you reach a tipping point where the organic load just becomes too much. A tankcrash is the point at which this has happened.

So there are a few options to consider. You can try to keep them together but you will have to test the water every day and do a water change whenever the nitrates get to 20ppm - this could end up only being a couple of days.

The other thing to consider is that the nitrate is not the only thing building in the tank - the unhelpful bacteria which breed on tank debris, rise at an enormous rate, day by day, too. This places your fish under a greater level of stress and possible infection. So, very regular, large changes would need to be in place. I would not use a medium like Nitraban as I think a water change would be the healthier option considering the bacteria, too.

The last thing is that although they are rather cute sleeping altogether in the corner, there will come a point where the plecs will become carniverous, so getting them somewhere of their own is not a bad idea to protect the GF.

Also, corner crowding can be a symptom of organic overload; goldies should always be mid-tank or mid-lower, even when sleeping - not on the bottom. Have you ever treated the fish/tank for flukes?

On the other hand, if the tank has super-charged filtration they will sometimes hide in a place where there is less current while they rest.

So, my feeling is that you should probably move the plecs out at this point - but if you want to keep them there a little longer, I would be thinking of water changing 3 times a week, rather than once.

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Pixie,

pH across the board - main tank, hospital tank, and bottle of water - are holding steady now at 7.6. I'm testing morning and evening every single day.

As of this afternoon, main tank ammonia is down to .25 (whew), Nitrites still 0 and Nitrate holding at 40. I get what you're saying about how high the Nitrates must have been before the water change, but I did test before and it was still 40. It seems to be 40 no matter what I do. I tested the tap for Nitrate and it reads 10 - should there be Nitrates in our tap water?

Carniverous plecos? Huh. These guys are both riddled with birth defects - one of them can't suck onto anything because of how deformed his mouth is. At any rate, I really can't do anything with them until Luc is out of the hospital tank as that is the only spare set up we have at the moment.

Yes, the tank is super-charged with filtration and air stones. The only current-less place in the tank is the back left corner and that's where the gang sleeps sometimes. On the other hand, the fishies often just float in the middle of the tank, as you described, and the plecos enjoy sleeping on top of one of the air stones.

I have no problem doing water changes every couple of days, if that would get my Nitrates down to 20... the trouble I'm having is reaching that 20 in the first place! Sigh and argh.

Could any of this be caused by my filters themselves? I haven't changed the pads in months, just rinsed them as I was advised to do elsewhere on the board - unless I misunderstood and am shooting myself in the foot again. I have also not washed the filter housings or the intake tubes.

--Roc

ps: am i correct in assuming that i should not move Luc back to main tank until this nitrate thing is under control? i'll try to get a photo of how he is looking and post it in the "battling mouth rot" thread - but he looks so incredibly much better now... i think he is all healed up. he's started eating like a PIG, taking food 4-5 times a day and eating every last morsel.

Edited by rocmills

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Pixie,

Sorry, I never did answer your question about flukes.

No, we got these four fish out of a plant tank at the LFS. One of the employees had pulled them from the grossly, horribly overstocked feeder tank because she thought they were so pretty. So did we. We had two commons in a 29 gallon tank and one of them died - so we got these four little guys (and two teeny tiny plecos) to keep the survivor company. They were never isolated or treated for anything. This was a good 4-5 years ago. Fred eventually died of dropsy and the four little ones just grew and grew and grew. Three tank upgrades later, they are as you know them now.

I have never seen any signs of fungus or foreign bodies on them, except for Luc and his columnaris. The only symptoms any of them have ever shown is the occasion red blotch which used to clear up in a few hours to a few days. In fact, I could have sworn Ricki had some new blotches this morning, but this evening there isn't a mark on her.

Is treating for flukes something I should consider even at this late stage? If so, what do I do?

--Roc

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Hi again - well it's good news about the PH.

It seems there is nothing problematic with your mains water now, even if there may have been a glitch earlier. High nitrates could have been enough alone to crash the tank, but if, during the switch over to the other supply, there was a drop in PH or KH then that also could have been the trigger. Have we got a record of the Tap KH now?

So now let's think about Nitrates. You have a tap reading of 10. This is common, but a real bore when you have large/many fish.

Can you try doing another big change to see if you can get the reading below 40? Having a python makes all the difference in this situation as you do not have to lug 55 buckets each time. I'm also wondering about the tester - is it the API? I had one that always read high, no matter what I did. Then I switched to Tetra Tests, which are apparantly more accurate (more stages and reagents) and the results were very different. I think the API Nitrate CAN sometimes cease being effective once past it's sell-by date.

At this point it would be a very good thing to do is some major filter and tank maintenance, which can be surprisingly effective when you have a loaded tank; the rate of organic build-up in pipes and media can be fast with large fish and high nitrates. It may be advisable to do only one filter at a time just because you are recovering from a crash.

Take a clean bucket and remove some tank water; take your filter/s apart and clean all the pipe work and internal surfaces with one of those small aquarium bottle brushes in this water. Then, swish your filter media thoroughly to remove debris and excess gunk; you can swish the bio-wheels but do not scrub them. Notice the colour of the water once you have done this; very brown water indicates that filter maintenenace must be stepped up.

If you have any white, changable filter pads - the ones that provide the primary job of catching large pieces of debris rather than growing space for BB's - you can change them over, too. Finish by vacuuming the substrate thoroughly and cleaning any brown algae from the sides.

If, after this, the nitrates are still high, you could try using one of the absorbing mediums like the nitraban you mentioned before, or a nitrazorb pillow. Seachem make some granules too, but I forget the name. I might do a little research later into the best brands.

As far as the plecs go , if you feel they aren't capable of cannibalism then it's your call. If you think the corner where they sleep is just refuge from the current, then that's probably OK. But, I would run some Prazi at some point as it's harmelss to the fish and filters but will erradicate safely any load which may be present. If they originally came from a very nasty tank, it's almost certain there would have been flukes. Most healthy fish can tolerate a few parasites, but the danger comes when you add in other stress factors; anything like high nitrates, overcrowding, PH swings which supress immunity can be the trigger for parasites to get the upper hand. By nuking any load you will be removing another stress factor.

Excuse endlessly long post :thud

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I agree a few months without rinsing/cleaning pipes is too long a wait. Especially since your fish are huge and dump a lot of waste in that water that all gets turned into nitrates.

Pixiefishes advice is good about the filter maintenance. Maintaining the balance of bbs and nitrates is a constant balancing act that needs to be reviewed every 6 months as fish grow and produce more waste. What I do is have 2 or 3 kinds of media. Ceramic balls and hoops that just need rinsing occasionally and filter media floss that Pixie mentions above, that I find after rinsing and rinsing really don't last for ever. I have started chucking pieces that are grey or starting to disintegrate. One piece at a time and always replacing it with a new one ontop of old floss so the bbs can easily transfer. Be very careful about chucking too much media, it has to be done slowly and always by first colonising the new media before chucking the old.

About the plecs. I do keep plecs with goldies. However, I am very careful to remove any fish that is floaty, or slow from the pleco tank as I have witnessed firsthand attacks on a sick fish. As long as the fish are strong, much larger than the plecs, fast swimmers and the owner is very experienced it is in my opinion possible with bristlenose types only, always of course at your own risk.

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Tonight I have to work at home. I will do a water change on the hospital tank this evening since Luc is eating and pooping so much now, but the main tank may have to wait until tomorrow evening for a 50% change and cleaning of the filter housings. Cleaning the HOBs wont be an issue, but the Fluval can't be cleaned in a bucket since it is so large and the intake and outtake tubes are about 3 feet long each.

The HOBs have filter/media pouches that are easily replaced, the Fluval has foam inserts which haven't been changed in a long time but I have some on hand and will replace tomorrow. The Fluval has three baskets... one has the little donuts, and two have the hexagon shaped pieces - I gather both are for the biological filtration and I don't replace those anymore (unless they start to disintegrate). Should I have two baskets of the donuts and only one of the hexes? I also put "water polishing pads" in the baskets with the biomedia, and change those out every week or so as they quickly get brown and yucky.

As for the plecos... Understand, I watch the tank closely and often. At least twice a day I sit and watch the fishies swimming around for quite a while, sometimes I just kneel in front of the tank so I can watch up close. Ethel, the big white one with the orange crown, like to be petted. The plecos just about totally ignore the goldies... even when peas fall on top of the plecos and the goldies go after them, the plecos just ignore them. Honest to goodness, in five years or more I have never seen the two species interact with each other except to occasionally sleep in a clump.

Oh, wait, that's not entirely true. If one of the goldies gets too close to Tiny Tim (the pleco with the deformed mouth who can't suck), Murrray, the other pleco, will come along and herd Timmy away or hover above Timmy protectively. So truly, I think the only time that Murray might be a threat to the goldies is if the goldies were beating up on little Tim. But I do promise that I will keep an even closer eye on them and watch for any signs that the plecos are picking on the goldies.

--Roc

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OK - this sounds good.

Just be very careful not to remove anything which is a breeding ground for beneficial bacteria; the only thing to remove would be the white floss/foam which acts as a barrier against large pieces of waste.

BTW - for cleaning the long pipes - have you ever seen those tiny brushes on a long nylon chord? They sell them at the lfs and they're a fantastic tool for cleaning any type of long tubing.

On Trinkets advice, I began rinsing and cleaning my filters much more regularly. I normally did this as a monthly maintenance but when I realised that the water would be brown after only a week, I realised that once a month would way too little. At the time, I had 4 fish in my 40 gal so the crud built up very quickly. Now I only keep 2 in there, and the nitrates and smell of 'lake' is now much lower.

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Did a good 75% water change on Friday and will do another on Sunday. Also on Friday, cleaned out the filter boxes, scrubbed the hoses out, and replaced the floss and sponge medias.

Main tank readings as of Saturday morning:

pH: 7.6

Amm.: 0 (yea!)

Nitrite: .25

Nitrate: 40

GH: 180

KH: 180

I like the API drop kit better than the Red Sea because, in most cases, the colors are much more distinct and easier to distinguish one level from the next. Except for the Nitrate test... the color difference between 40 and 80 is so slight that I can hardly tell the difference on the card, let alone in the test tube. Which is my way of saying that the Nitrates might be as high as 80, not 40... or somewhere in between.

It occured to me while I was vaccuming the tank that I might have too much gravel in there. How deep should my gravel be? I think I've got a good 2 inches of gravel in there.

Can Prazi be purchased at a local fish/pet store, or is that something I have to order online?

--Roc

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Prazi should be ordered - GoldfishConnection, Pond Rx, Dr's Foster - there a quite a few suppliers.

2" of gravel will trap a ton of debris - a big breeding ground for nasty bugs and also likely to raise nitrates because of a raised level of organics.

When I first started, I had very deep gravel which I thought looked good. But over time I realised it was unhelpful - it traps crud, and parasites can hide very comfortably there - and so I have reduced mine to a very thin scattering. I would remove a little with each water change until you have something closer to 1cm. Don't do it all at once or you risk taking away too many BB's.

"replaced the floss and sponge medias."

I'm a little worried that with the sponge you have tossed out a chunk of your BB's. The floss is normally just a barrier and supposed to be changed, but the sponges provide surface area for bio-bugs. Can't recall which filters you have without reading all the way back.......

Readings are coming along. I know what you mean about the API nitrate; mine used to drive me nuts with those reds. I have taken to using the Tetra tester for nitrate as I find it far easier to read.

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Only removed the sponges from the Fluval, which has three baskets of bio media as well (the donuts and the hexes), only rinsed the filter cartridges on the two HOBS (misspoke in earlier post). I also cut up one of the sponges from the Fluval and stuck the pieces wherever they would fit in the HOBs to conserve bbs. The hobs are positively stuffed with floss and sponges right now. One HOB has two biowheels, and the Aqueon has it's own strange way of growing bbs.

Will start reducing the gravel a little bit at a time, and will also look for a Tetra kit for Nitrates when I do my shopping tomorrow. I did find one product (CopperSafe?) at on a lfs website that said it treated for flukes and I may pick some of that up. My last order from GFC is taking two weeks to arrive, and I'd rather not wait that long if I can help it.

--Roc

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Just happened to read this last post and this would be your tomorrow for shopping......... hoping to catch you in time....... Copper safe is terribly hard on your fish and if I remember right it kills off your good BB's .......... Please don't use it until you hear from Pixie or Trinket!

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Guest Nemo & Cynthia
Just happened to read this last post and this would be your tomorrow for shopping......... hoping to catch you in time....... Copper safe is terribly hard on your fish and if I remember right it kills off your good BB's .......... Please don't use it until you hear from Pixie or Trinket!

Hey zookey! Long time no see! Do you know what happened to GP?

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Zookey,

Thanks for the tip. I decided against the CopperSafe and will probably just order some Prazi from GFC.

Picked up some BioMax for the hospital tank, some more bio balls for the main tank, as well as replacement media cartridges for both HOBs and another bottle of Amquel+. None of our major stores in town carry Tetra test kits, so I will have to continue to make due with the API kit.

Now it's time for some food and then another 75% change on the main tank.

--Roc

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Do not even think of using Copper. Zookey is right. It is very toxic, particularly in an unstable or low PH (which you have recently had).

I have noticed that some med companies are starting to withdraw copper products because there is now research to show that this heavy metal does long term damage to fish.

Many treatments will kill flukes, but most are toxic and damaging either to fish or BB's; Prazi on the other hand is harmless to both. By far the best med for erradicating flukes.

Filtration arrangements are sounding good.

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Hi Pixie!

Just did another 75% water change on both tanks.

Main tank test results after water change:

ph: 7.6

Nitrates: 20

Nitrites: 0

Amm.: 0

Gh: 180

Kh: 180

Treated water with Amquel+. Removed a cup or two of gravel (how often should i remove gravel in order to not overly upset the balance of bbs?) and took the piece of wood out as I have been worrying about it ever since someone asked if it might be bogwood and I really don't know.

--Roc

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I am glad you had decided not to buy the coppersafe... My LFS will even recomend not using it if you have any alternatives....... and they are the ones selling it!!

And as far as your peice of wood...... up here where we have 10,000 lakes (and twice as many bogs) we see alot of crafties made of "drift wood" hand harvested in the local area..... some of those peices of wood are actually "bog wood" (preserved in Peatbogs) verses the true "drift wood" (wood that has been submerged and broken down in bodies of fresh/salt water) I don't know that even knowing this information that I can look at the wood and tell if it is driftwood or bogwood.

Someone once told me that drift wood was good for your tank as it would help soften extremely hard water...... but I don't know if I trust that or not.... I will stick to resin ornaments made for my aquarium.

off topic:

Oh, and Sabastian, I don't know what happened at GP. Sorry.

Edited by zookey

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We bought the wood so Murray the pleco would have a food source because my husband questioned the wisdom of putting algae wafers in the tank. However, judging from the amount of crud which accumulates on the wood, I'd say Murray doesn't eat from it much... I think both plecos have gotten used to eating the crisps we feed the goldfish, and the stray pea that gets overlooked every once in a while, and the algae wafers I put in when hubby isn't watching ;-)

--Roc

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Wood is an important nutritional part of plecs diet though. I don't think it can be replaced with algae wafers, not 100% . I have wood and wafers for my plecs and one more trick a thick chunk of zhuccini that lives in there (its gone in 2 days and replaced). This keeps the plecs on 24/7 feeding they seem to like and provides them with a nice stomach fill distraction when the fish devil whispers fish fins look tasty :yeah: . I've had no probs and my plecs have had babies in the tank! (Very cute).

PS Very smart move about not getting the copper. Terrible stuff :o

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Main tank readings as of this evening:

pH: 7.6

Nitrate: 40

Amm.: 0

Nitrite: 0

GH/KH: 180

So I think I've the initial problems licked, I just can't seem to get the Nitrates down.

My order from GFC connection arrived today, so I put some of their super de-tox in the water to see if that would help.

What else can I do to bring those Nitrates down?

Oh, Trinket, I will probably put the wood back in after I've confirmed that it isn't causing the problems. Once the Nitrates clear up, I will put the wood back in and then continue testing for a few days to make sure the Nitrates don't rise again.

--Roc

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I have wood and wafers for my plecs and one more trick a thick chunk of zhuccini that lives in there (its gone in 2 days and replaced). This keeps the plecs on 24/7 feeding they seem to like and provides them with a nice stomach fill distraction when the fish devil whispers fish fins look tasty :yeah: . I've had no probs and my plecs have had babies in the tank! (Very cute).

Trinket -- How do you keep the zucchini chunk from floating? That sounds like a good idea. I think that my pleco Buzz must be getting tired of algae wafers. BTW, the fish in your new avatar is beautiful!

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I have wood and wafers for my plecs and one more trick a thick chunk of zhuccini that lives in there (its gone in 2 days and replaced). This keeps the plecs on 24/7 feeding they seem to like and provides them with a nice stomach fill distraction when the fish devil whispers fish fins look tasty :yeah: . I've had no probs and my plecs have had babies in the tank! (Very cute).

Trinket -- How do you keep the zucchini chunk from floating? That sounds like a good idea. I think that my pleco Buzz must be getting tired of algae wafers. BTW, the fish in your new avatar is beautiful!

We feed our newly acquired plecos cucumber. We keep it from floating using suctioncup clips... aquarium clips? I can't remember what they're called. Vegetable clips?

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Our local stores call them "veggie clips" ... I once stabbed a piece of zuccini with a lead (?) weight meant to hold down live plants... there was nothing but the weight left a few hours later.

--Roc

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