Originally Posted by penguin44
Oh I thought it was time to do water changes when my nitrate got up. That's been about once a month. Been fine for over a year. Oh and I stated that my nitrate reading is 0.
Unless your tank is heavily planted or your doing daily big water changes, a cycled tank will have nitrates. It's the end result of the nitrogen cycle. Fish produce ammonia which is converted to nitrite then nitrate. Nitrates are removed with regular water changes. I have to suspect there may be either a testing error or your test is bad. Make sure you really shake & bang the nitrate bottles on hard surface for couple of minutes before testing.
You got away with once a month water changes until now- the lack of water changes has now caught up to you & has resulted in your ph & nitrogen cycle crashing. The buffers in your water are necessary to keep your ph stable. These buffers are utilized as part of the conversion process for ammonia & nitrite. They get used up & need to be regularly replaced with water changes. The buffers, minerals & electrolytes in water are also necessary for fish health. They need to be replenished as well.
Just because what you have been doing seemed to work doesn't mean it was healthy for your fish or your tank. Your tank crashed so this should indicate to you something is wrong with what you have been doing. It's a simple thing to fix- you need to start doing regular water changes to keep your tank & fish healthy. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask!