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Old 12-21-2010, 03:55 PM   #1
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Question My beginner setup step by step - problems - advice

Hello everyone,
I am a new member from Istanbul, Turkey. This is my first post at this forum; I will try to summarize what I have done so far step by step, explain you my problem and ask for your advice.
Thank you in advance for your time in reading and suggestions;
1. I purchased all my equipment from the same store. I have a 60 lt tank, TetraTec EX-400 external filter, TetraTec heater and air pump. I have black quartz as gravel and couple of decorative stones.
2. I setup the equipment as instructed, put in the quartz - filled with tap water. I then used AquaSafe and sera Nitrivec biological starter as instructed. Started all the equipment.
3. System worked as is for about 20 days. I later purchased the following fish from another store - the fish choice was definitely wrong and I was not advised properly by the owner at the time - yeah such things happen in my city
2 x Labidochromis Caeruleus
2 x Monodactylus argenteus
2 x Astronotus ocellatus
2 x Balantiocheilus melanopterus
2 x Botia macracantha
2 x Catfish
(I later learned that this is an impossible combination: in terms of types - fish tank size) I put in the fish bag in my tank - waited about 15 min - and then put in the fish (did not mix the water in the bag with water in tank)
4. I did not feed the fish the first day; since I work in another city during week days, I asked my friend to feed the fish very little while I am away. (I think he overfed as there was a lot of debris when I got back so I got an auto-feeder)
5. when I got back the first weekend, some fish had white spots. I vacuumed my gravel, added drinking water - increased the temperature on my heater and used methylene blue as instructed.
6. when I got back the other weekend, some fish were dead - the ones with white spots were treated yet they seemed as if they were attacked and bit.
7. as of last weekend; 2 x Labidochromis Caeruleus, 2 x silver shark , 1 x oscar and 2 x catfish are still alive with electric yellow and silver sharks very lively - and in good form and color. oscar is severely bit and his skin has white marks (not spots but bigger areas)
8. I changed the bag of carbon medium and floss pad in my external filter with spares and cleaned the filter.
9. I later applied the ph, total ammonia and nitrate tests.
ph read was 8 - total ammonia and nitrate were at dangerous levels. I was unable to repeat the tests and I am away for work again.
My aqurium lamp turns on at 14.00 and off at 24.00 with a timer.
Auto-feeder feeds very little twice a day.
Average temperature is 82 F.
Over the weeks; I added drinking water when water naturally evaporated, had two 25% water changes.
this is my current status.
Firstly, I would appreciate your remarks on the current status of my tank and fish.
High ammonia and nitrate levels show that the biological filtering is not satisfactory and oxygen level is low in the water, right? What is the proper method to bring the tank to normal condition ?
I would also appreciate your suggestions on my below plans;
1. Since 60lt is not big enough for health electric yellows - if I can spare my healthy fish - what would be appropriate species to put in a 60 lt tank? Tetras? what would I need to do for a healthy conversion?
2. I can not buy a new larger tank yet; if cant spare the electric yellows, can I buy 2 more and have 4 elecric yellows and 2 silver sharks in such a tank?
It is a long message but I would appreciate your feedback as I had a pretty challenging start to the hobby.
PS.
1. My external filter design is as follows from top to bottom;
2 buckets
1st bucket - floss pad, foam, active carbon bag
2nd bucket - foam, ceramic rings
Should I change the active carbon to zeolite to neutralize the current levels of ammonia?
2 . If I decide to change to tetras - I need to have plants in my tank; hence, need to change the gravel - can I remove the water to buckets, change the gravel and put the water back in?
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:16 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozenalp View Post
1. I purchased all my equipment from the same store. I have a 60 lt tank, TetraTec EX-400 external filter, TetraTec heater and air pump. I have black quartz as gravel and couple of decorative stones.

2. I setup the equipment as instructed, put in the quartz - filled with tap water. I then used AquaSafe and sera Nitrivec biological starter as instructed. Started all the equipment.

3. System worked as is for about 20 days. I later purchased the following fish from another store - the fish choice was definitely wrong and I was not advised properly by the owner at the time - yeah such things happen in my city - You haven't properly cycled your tank. Even if your biological starter was viable, you killed it off by starving it for 20 days. The beneficial bacteria need an ammonia source to feed on.

(I later learned that this is an impossible combination: in terms of types - fish tank size) I put in the fish bag in my tank - waited about 15 min - and then put in the fish (did not mix the water in the bag with water in tank)

4. I did not feed the fish the first day; since I work in another city during week days, I asked my friend to feed the fish very little while I am away. (I think he overfed as there was a lot of debris when I got back so I got an auto-feeder)

5. when I got back the first weekend, some fish had white spots. I vacuumed my gravel, added drinking water - increased the temperature on my heater and used methylene blue as instructed.

6. when I got back the other weekend, some fish were dead - the ones with white spots were treated yet they seemed as if they were attacked and bit. - Your fish took ill because they're stressed. Read up on the nitrogen cycle Get a test kit that can measure your tank's ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. These water parameters give a good indication of your tank's health. Here in the US, the API Freshwater Master test kit is the way to go. I'm not sure of it's availability in your region. Whatever you do, skip the strips and get a liquid reagent test kit. The strips aren't very accurate.

7. as of last weekend; 2 x Labidochromis Caeruleus, 2 x silver shark , 1 x oscar and 2 x catfish are still alive with electric yellow and silver sharks very lively - and in good form and color. oscar is severely bit and his skin has white marks (not spots but bigger areas) - These fish are much too large for your aquarium. Your tank is about 15 US gallons. One oscar by itself needs a 55g tank. Your silver sharks will grow more than a foot and need much larger aquariums.

8. I changed the bag of carbon medium and floss pad in my external filter with spares and cleaned the filter. - Never change your filter pad unless it's physically falling apart. Clean it in a bucket of old tank water to preserve your beneficial bacteria populations. The carbon also isn't necessary unless you're trying to remove medications or tannins from the water.

9. I later applied the ph, total ammonia and nitrate tests.
ph read was 8 - total ammonia and nitrate were at dangerous levels. I was unable to repeat the tests and I am away for work again. - When your tank is fully cycled, you should see no measurable ammonia or nitrite levels. Control the nitrate level with PWCs. In the meantime, keep your ammonia levels below 0.25ppm by doing PWCs.

My aqurium lamp turns on at 14.00 and off at 24.00 with a timer.
Auto-feeder feeds very little twice a day.
Average temperature is 82 F.
Over the weeks; I added drinking water when water naturally evaporated, had two 25% water changes. - I hope you're using dechlorinated water. If not, you need to add dechlorinator before you refill the tank.

this is my current status.
Firstly, I would appreciate your remarks on the current status of my tank and fish.

High ammonia and nitrate levels show that the biological filtering is not satisfactory and oxygen level is low in the water, right? What is the proper method to bring the tank to normal condition? - It takes time to build up your biological filter. You'll have to keep a close eye on the tank and do lots of PWCs until your bacteria populations are sufficient. As far as I know, neither the high ammonia or nitrate levels indicate low oxygen levels.

I would also appreciate your suggestions on my below plans;
1. Since 60lt is not big enough for health electric yellows - if I can spare my healthy fish - what would be appropriate species to put in a 60 lt tank? Tetras? what would I need to do for a healthy conversion? - Tetras are good for a small tank. If you're thinking of totally redoing the tank, look up fishless cycling here on AA and consider following that procedure. It's less stressful on both your fish and you. All you really need is a measuring spoon and some pure ammonia.

2. I can not buy a new larger tank yet; if cant spare the electric yellows, can I buy 2 more and have 4 elecric yellows and 2 silver sharks in such a tank? - You're already overstocked. Don't add any fish until you're finished cycling.

It is a long message but I would appreciate your feedback as I had a pretty challenging start to the hobby.
PS.

1. My external filter design is as follows from top to bottom;
2 buckets
1st bucket - floss pad, foam, active carbon bag
2nd bucket - foam, ceramic rings
Should I change the active carbon to zeolite to neutralize the current levels of ammonia? - Put the foam before the carbon if you want to keep the carbon. In your current configuration, the carbon will catch a lot of detritus that the foam should catch. Zeolite would just be a crutch. There's no need for it in a healthy tank. Work to fix your biofilter and you shouldn't need the Zeolite.

2 . If I decide to change to tetras - I need to have plants in my tank; hence, need to change the gravel - can I remove the water to buckets, change the gravel and put the water back in? - When you say black quartz, is it sand or more like broken glass? Plants aren't necessary in any tank, but they sure make nice additions. If you want plants and you've got a sand substrate, you're ok. I have sand in all my tanks and I have live plants. If you're set on changing your substrate, the method you outlined will work.

Lots of issues - My comments above in blue.
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Old 12-22-2010, 03:19 AM   #3
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Question

Dear BigJim, thank you very much for your feedback.

To summarize and confirm - I'd appreciate if you could confirm my comments in orange;

I need to fix cycling in my tank.

by

Lots of PWC / once a week? more often? "partial" meaning 15-25%?

De-chlorinated water / I use Tetra's AquaSafe per instructions - as far as I know it functions the same as PRIME, do you suggest changing to PRIME? I use this in tap water, rest the water for a day, and then add the water to the tank
should I use a biological starter to increase bacteria amount right now? (like sera NitriVec)

Fishless cycle - will give it a try if I can spare the fish to another tank

Bucket design - the configuration is factory default - as I said its from top to bottom - and yes foam is on top of the carbon; my question goes; should I change the ceramic rings to bioballs?

Gravel - Very similar almost identical to one here; apologies as this is not quartz KW Zone Black Sand Siyah Akvaryum Kumu KW001 ( 1mm ) 5 kg,KUM «E


Thanks a lot once again!

Alp
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:10 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=ozenalp;1187547]

Welcome to AA. To answer some of your questions. My suggestions will be in blue.

I need to fix cycling in my tank. Yes this is going to be the most important thing.

by

Lots of PWC / once a week? more often? "partial" meaning 15-25%? I am currently cycling a 29 gal tank and I am changing 35% of the water twice a day. So you are going to need to do PWC anytime your ammonia gets above .25 ppm

De-chlorinated water / I use Tetra's AquaSafe per instructions - as far as I know it functions the same as PRIME, do you suggest changing to PRIME? I use this in tap water, rest the water for a day, and then add the water to the tankI don't think you need to change to prime unless you want to. Also you don't need to let the water rest for a day. I treat the entire volume of my tank and just add the water right from the tap.
should I use a biological starter to increase bacteria amount right now? (like sera NitriVec)This is also not needed. However if you can get a used sponge filter from a cycled tank this would help.

Fishless cycle - will give it a try if I can spare the fish to another tankEndless you are going to move them to tank that is already set up this wont help. It would just cause a cycle in that tank.

Bucket design - the configuration is factory default - as I said its from top to bottom - and yes foam is on top of the carbon; my question goes; should I change the ceramic rings to bioballs? I would get rid of the carbon and use ceramic rings
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:28 PM   #5
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+1 for iceywater on the PWCs. You'll need to do a PWC any time the ammonia gets above 0.25ppm. My tanks are established and I do a 30% PWC once a week as part of my regular maintenance.

Aquasafe is good stuff. I'm skeptical of the biological starters. Some people swear by the stuff, but I've never seen a reason to use it.

I would try to find a good home for your fish in an established tank. They'll get to big for your tank very quickly. You'd be best off restarting with some fish more suited for your tank.

Don't change out the rings. They actually offer more surface area per volume than bioballs. The only special feature of any biomedia is lots of surface area per volume. Beneficial bacteria grow on surfaces. Lots of surface area = lots of space for beneficial bacteria.

I missed the first foam above the carbon. It sounded like you built this filter yourself. If that's the way the factory designed it, run with that.

If your substrate looks like the stuff in the link, you should have no problem growing plants if you have good lighting.
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Old 12-23-2010, 03:12 AM   #6
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Guys, thank you so much for your feedback.

@iceywater101
By sparing the fish, I actually meant returning them - so I'd have an empty tank and start over with proper setup - and cycle.

The tank has experienced whitespot before; any suggestions for disinfecting it before the second start? Would boiling water and salt work?

@BigJim

As far as I understand the fundamental difference btw rings/biological media would be the space they provide for the bacteria and nothing more; in this case I might choose to delay switching to bio. media just yet...

Yes, the filter was shipped with the media; I put the media in according to instructions.

for both of you;

I've been reading that the water I add in PWCs needs to be water that rested for a day or so --> if there is no need for this, I can immediately top it with tap water? no conditioner? --> Argument is that water needs to rest a bit to dechlorinate and reach the tank temperature (at least the room temperature)

Thank you once again,
Alp
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:36 AM   #7
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The rings are biomedia. Actually, all the media in your filter will become biomedia because bacteria will grow on it. Material sold as biomedia is just material that has a lot of surface area per volume. Those rings have tons of tiny holes and tunnels through them that increase your surface area.

If you add conditioner before you refill the tank, use water straight from the tap. Resting the water will let the chlorine off-gas, but chloramine, another disinfectant, doesn't off-gas. Conditioner will take care of both. Try to match your tank temp out of the tap and you'll be fine.
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