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Old 06-05-2014, 02:45 PM   #1
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New Cichlid/Tropical Tank- Cloudy Water and High Ammonia

I've had a new 23 gallon aquarium (30x12x18) running for about a month now. I have four small cichlids (around 2" each), three turquoise rainbow fish (around 1.5" each), five tiny x-ray tetras (less than 1" each), three red glass barbs, a pleco, a catfish, and a small blue lobster. I know that things will be growing fast and I am prepared to get a larger tank very soon. Everything seems to be getting along so far without any aggression issues, but I am having a hard time getting the water chemistry under control. I've been adding API Quick Start and API Ammo Lock regularly, as well as a cichlid buffer to keep the pH around 8.2 and API Stress Coat as needed. It seems like everything stays fine for a day or two, but the water eventually becomes so cloudy that I get concerned. The fish also start to act lethargic and scrape themselves against the sand every once in awhile (which I know is a sign of poor water conditions). I do 25-50% water changes and those symptoms seem to subside, but things quickly get cloudy again and the fish go back to scraping and stiffening. I know new tanks need to cycle, but it seems like it is taking a long time for the water to clear. I don't want to keep doing water changes and adding more chemicals, but the fish seem much happier afterwards so I'm not sure how to proceed. The fish aren't dying, so I think something is working.. Does anyone have any advice as to what products I could use, or what I could do to prevent my fish from getting sick and/or dying? If I'm overstocked, is there anything I can do to make it work? Thanks!
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Old 06-05-2014, 03:51 PM   #2
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cycling the tank prior to just putting fish in helps.

what type of cichlids are they? either way you are over stocked i would ditch all the cichlids depending on what they are or ditch everything elce. also what type of catfish and pleco are these?
just cause the fish arnt dead dosnt mean things are working.
you should research things prior to just doing them
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:09 PM   #3
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Thanks, but you didn't give me any information or answer any of my questions. I also acknowledged that I'm probably overstocked, and I never said that I added the fish all at once. If anyone else has any actual advice, that's what I'm looking for.

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Originally Posted by daveho View Post
cycling the tank prior to just putting fish in helps.

what type of cichlids are they? either way you are over stocked i would ditch all the cichlids depending on what they are or ditch everything elce. also what type of catfish and pleco are these?
just cause the fish arnt dead dosnt mean things are working.
you should research things prior to just doing them
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:41 PM   #4
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New Cichlid/Tropical Tank- Cloudy Water and High Ammonia

That is actual advice. You say overloaded a tank, and the bacteria can't keep up, causing ammonia to spike and the fish to basically start getting burned, which explains the flashing (scraping against the ground). You need to do at least two 50% water changes each week, and get rid of some of the fish. Odds are the cichlids were out of an assorted tank at a big box shop, and are more than likely mbuna. Also, odds are that these will, if they're able to, grow and mature and will make quick work of tetras.
You're tank is new and more than likely is not cycled. I would read up on fish-in cycles since you are in one, I would add links but I'm on my phone. Basically your filters haven't developed the bacteria to convert ammonia into nitrite, and then convert nitrite into the least harmful nitrate (nitrogen cycle). This is crucial to maintaining a healthy aquarium, and many stores and employees are not well versed on it, and will tell you to let the tank run a few days and then add, when in reality this isn't enough unfortunately
Rainbows also are typically going to need a larger tank and a decent school, other than the Gertrudae, threadfin, etc.

The pleco is a bad idea in a tank so small, major ammonia machines. If you absolutely have to have a pleco, get a bristlenose.

An ID of the catfish wi better help to determine if it's worth keeping in this tank or not. Catfish is a pretty loose term and applies to thousands of species.

Finally the lobster will prove to be an issue, as cichlids tend to sleep on the bottom and crayfish will hunt at night. Also if it molts, they get picked on by cichlids quite easily.
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:35 PM   #5
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Well at least you are asking for advice now, better late than never. I'm very new and just finishing my fishless cycle. The seachem prime really seemed to get my cycle going, maybe worth a shot. Never done fish in cycling so can't comment, but I think there are some articles on it on this site. Sounds like pwcs are going to be frequent for you for about a month or so... if you don't have the api master test kit go get one

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Old 06-07-2014, 10:25 AM   #6
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Without knowing specifics of your species.
I dont believe there is a single pleco species i would recommend for under a 29 gallon tank tbh. Even a clown pleco.

The only cichlids i could see working in the numbers you gave in that tank would be shell dwellers. Would have to be 1 male 3 female. You could do a single pair of rams, bolivian are hardier so would be my recommendation.

You said catfish? For 23 gallons id say corys would be your only option and these must be kept in groups of at least 5 for proper social health.


As for fish in cycling...
I have done it and it does speed up the process but never with more than like 2 hardy fish like female guppies. Or putting a baby gold fish from my pond for a few weeks in a tank.
Ammonia test must be done daily and wc accordingly. After ammonia is undetectable repeat with nitrite testing daily.

Advice only from my experience.
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