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Old 07-10-2018, 09:52 PM   #1
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Can't keep fish.

I have had my tank up and running for 8 years. I always had lots of luck with fish and no major problems. The past year or so I have not had any luck with fish. Any fish I put in the tank will not last more than a few weeks. I'm talking hardy fish like patties and jollies. I have hard water, and I use water that goes through a salt softener. My ammonia is 0, my Nitrates are 0, but my Nitrites are always pretty high. I only feed the fish a few flakes 2 times a week. The only fish that have lasted is a striped sucker mouth about 1" 1/2 long and a ghost shrimp. The tank is 29 gallon and has a hanging filter and two overheads with an underground filter. I use a Python system to do water changes every week and dechlorinate as I am filling the tank. Could the build up of salt from the softener over the years be the cause of the problem?
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Old 07-10-2018, 11:55 PM   #2
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i was thinking maybe the salt softener is building up to much salt and killing off your BB and maybe its at to high of an amount and killing your fish. i cant say for certain that is the cause and i actually had never heard of a salt softener until now. i had to look up some info on it. it seems the harder your water is the more exchanged sodium occurs. they say even with very hard water you personally could never taste the salt in the water but maybe the fish are more sensitive than your taste buds? with you have 0 nitrates and high nitrites that kind of makes me think your tank is never finishing its cycle. you shouldnt have any nitrites. next is your feeding. you should feed fish every day. you can feed very small amounts 2 times a day or an amount they can eat in 30 seconds or so 1 time a day. you can then have 1 day a week where they fast and dont get fed. only feeding 2 times a week is pretty much starving your fish.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:46 AM   #3
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Sorry. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, high nitrate.
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Old 07-11-2018, 03:40 PM   #4
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If you've had a water softener for years without problems id say that probably isn't the problem. Also, I know of two guys who keep fish on a water softener system without problems. If your worried about sodium in the softener then switch to a phosphate softener. It's in the bags next to the sodium softener and it is better for you even.........what is your nitrates like.... ppm? What is the nitrate level out of your tap or water source......water report? What is the frequency of your water changes and what percentage of the water are you changing during this?
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Old 07-11-2018, 07:19 PM   #5
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I agree with Kingfisher, the problem is not with the water softener, but with the high nitrares. You noted that the tank has been up and running for many years and that one part of your filtration system is an "Under Gravel" filter. Two words sum up under gravel filters; Prehistoric
& Obsolete.
My guess is that there are years worth of bio gunk layered underneath the plastic gravel plate
causing toxic misery to your fish.
IMO, it would be best to remove the under gravel setup, thoroughly clean or replace the substrate and rely on other filtration systems.
If you are still concerned about possible toxic salt levels in the tank, buy an inexpensive floating Hydrometer and check the scale. Hope things level out soon.
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Old 07-12-2018, 09:40 PM   #6
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Ok. Update. Did another API test a week after last water change. Ammonia is .25, nitrite 0, and nitrate 20-40ppm. Tested tap water nitrate 0%. Water changes every week 25% changes.

If I remove the UG and clean the gravel, won't that restart the watercycle? Or would my Aquaclear 70 filter be able to hold enough good bacteria to keep the water stable. I do not want to kill off the fish I currently have. Two platties, red tail shark, sucker mouth catfish, and a ghost shrimp.
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:54 PM   #7
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Removal of the UG filter would not cause a restart in the cycle, however, you might see a spike in your readings. The filter media in the AC70 has a portion of the bacteria needed to convert some the waste and will eventually have enough to convert all of it. Performing a water change after are removal removing the UG is important. I would monitor the parameters daily filter for a few days after wards and perform WCs as needed.
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:09 PM   #8
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I really appreciate the help. I'll give it a try.
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:13 PM   #9
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Carefully Rake all the gravel to one end of the tank, exposing the UG plate. Gently raise the exposed end of the UG plate. Be prepared to see crime scene gunk under the plate. Try to pull the plate out without stirring up gunk. (Good luck with that). Have your gravel vac handy, your really going to need it. Thoroughly gravel vac the substrate.
This situation is one of the few that I would recommend a 70% WC. This is to avoid a bacterial
outbreak and yes to avoid an adverse water parameter spike.
As you can tell, I've taken down a few UGF's, but it's been many years ago.
Your AC 70 is plenty of filtration for 29 gallon.
If your AC. 70 is to be a solo filter, don't Over clean it. Only squeeze out the filter sponge once a month, or if you notice the sponge starting to rise in the filter box.
Let us know how it goes.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:29 AM   #10
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I'd up your water change to 35% once a week. V227 has solid advice on the removal of the UG plate. If you're worried about a bacteria bloom maybe try a vac on 50% of the gravel after you remove the UG. Then vac the remaining 50% the next week during your water change. Don't clean your filter during this. Wait until a week after total gravel clean then clean your filter......That's my 2 cents.
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