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Old 03-17-2003, 10:21 PM   #1
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Freshwater Troubles

I have setup a few tanks before, but they have always been saltwater. My friend asked me to help her setup a freshwater tank, so I did. We setup a 39gal tank with a BioWheel, undergravel filter and a airstone for a 'wall of air' effect.

The tank was setup in mid January and everything seemed to be going fine. However, just the other day, my friend need to add water to replace evaporation. She had done this numerous times with no problems. The difference this time was that she need to add more. So she got it from the tap instead of her normal place, the refrigerator door (filtered). She added the appropriate amount of water conditioner and added the water to the tank. Later that day she noticed that the tank was cloudy white.

We took a water sample to the local fish store and they told us that the PH was too low, 6.2 and the ammonia was too high. They told us that the biological filter was dead.

They gave us PH increaser and a seed of bacteria to jump start the biological filter. My friend added the bacteria and started to slowly increase the ph.

To make matters worse, her son ended up dumping a whole can of fish food into the aquarium this morning. I had her siphon out the fish food from the gravel. In the process of doing this she had to replace almost have the tank water. This time she used bottled water (distilled).

Now the tank water is so cloudy white that you cannot see the fish inside of it.

The PH currently measures around 7.0 and we do not know where the ammonia stands.

Does anyone have any advise? What would of caused the biological filter to die? Is the water being added causing the cloudy condition? or is it the ammonia. I have never seen this in a saltwater aquarium and am lost.

Thanks for your help
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Old 03-18-2003, 06:05 AM   #2
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The only time I have heard of Biowheels going bad is if they dry out and sit for a while. Cloudy water would typically be a sign of elevated ammonia levels. This is typically caused by overfeeding and an abundance of rotting food in the gravel. I would:

a. buy a test kit (this is like a car without a gas gauge...sure you could guess, but...)

b. Check the Ph of your tap water and your filtered water. I know that the Ph of my tap water is 7.4 in the kitchen, 7.2 from the filter (and strangely 7.6 in the downstairs bath...must be a chemical reaction off the pipes)

c. If your water is as acidic as 6.2, that's pretty severe. I would consider acidic minded fish.

d. Back to the problem at hand...do a 20% water change today (use filtered water unless the Ph is a lot lower from the filter, always use cold water as even warm water has additional dissolved minerals from the water heater). Do a 10% change daily afterward until the water clears (monitoring the ammonia levels). Make sure to vacuum the gravel thoroughly.

This is what I would do.
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Old 03-18-2003, 05:03 PM   #3
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I agree with Bearfan. Additionally -

- Is she only adding water as it evaporates? I usually do bi-weekly, but at least monthly, cleanings of my tank. With those I use a gravel vacuum to do a 20% water change while cleaning the gravel.

- Every other month I clean my filter, but I have a canister and don't know much about biowheels, so I'm not the person to ask on that.

Hope that helps,
Mike
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Old 03-19-2003, 09:25 AM   #4
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I have a Biowheel and change the media every 3 weeks almost rythmically.
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Old 04-25-2003, 04:10 PM   #5
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Although important to keep at a reasonable level, pH is probably the last thing you would need to worry about. I suggest to add water conditioner/stress coat and do water changes as necissary. Keep the tank going normally if your fish seem to be doing OK and soon it should be in a better balance. I dont know to much about bottled water, but distilled water is extremly dangerous for fish, it can kill a human! So just change the water with water conditioner, stress coat as much as possible without stressing your fish.
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Make sure you check the nitrate level since this is dangerous to your fish and is easily raised by over feeding.
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Old 04-25-2003, 04:55 PM   #6
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I agree with conan. Most fish will acclimate to moderate ph levels. I do not see any way that a biofilter would die unless it was killed with medication. Ich treatment will kill your biofilter as will some other antibiotic treatments. They are bacteria after all. I suspect it not to be white cloudy but green. Draw off some water into a whit bucket. Look at the color. I am guessing it to be a free floating algea bloom. Which can look like white cloudyness under florescent lighting. If it is free floating algea, do a heavy water change with the correct amount of conditioner, and make sure you have enough filtration. What are you using for a bio-wheel filter? My suggestion would be an Emperor 400. they are about $40 plus shipping through Bigalsonline.com. The Emperor 280 would probably handle it. But it is only $7 less than the 400 through the above site. Too much filtration is always better than not enough.
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Yeah i'm getting too many aquariums. Maybe I'll stop setting them up after I get a 125 or 180 or 300 gallon...... Sure I will. hahahaha
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Old 04-25-2003, 04:56 PM   #7
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I agree with conan. Most fish will acclimate to moderate ph levels. I do not see any way that a biofilter would die unless it was killed with medication. Ich treatment will kill your biofilter as will some other antibiotic treatments. They are bacteria after all. I suspect it not to be white cloudy but green. Draw off some water into a whit bucket. Look at the color. I am guessing it to be a free floating algea bloom. Which can look like white cloudyness under florescent lighting. If it is free floating algea, do a heavy water change with the correct amount of conditioner, and make sure you have enough filtration. What are you using for a bio-wheel filter? My suggestion would be an Emperor 400. they are about $40 plus shipping through Bigalsonline.com. The Emperor 280 would probably handle it. But it is only $7 less than the 400 through the above site. Too much filtration is always better than not enough.
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55 gal. livebearers, 55 gal. oscar, 29 gal. tetras, 29 gal. angels, 29 gal. female bettas, 20 gal. barbs, 20 gal. guppies, 10 gal. fry, 10 gal. grow out, 10 gal. quaretine, 10 gal. feeder, (16) 1 gal. male betta
Yeah i'm getting too many aquariums. Maybe I'll stop setting them up after I get a 125 or 180 or 300 gallon...... Sure I will. hahahaha
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