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Old 06-09-2018, 03:58 PM   #1
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High Nitrogen Levels

Hello everyone, I'm a bit new to the aquarium world. I admit that it's a lot more work than I thought.

I'm having trouble with a new tank. It's about 3 months old. The first two weeks were fish free. I wanted to get things cycled in and established before adding fish. It is a 29 gallon with 12 Tiger Barbs and one Mollie.

Everything looked great until my ammonia levels spiked. Found for some reason it was my Marimos. I removed them and all went back to normal. About a month later my Nitrites and Nitrates spiked. I've been doing daily pwc's (usually 25%) and barely making a dent in it. I cut way back on feeding, removed all plants, cleaned the tank in stages as not to disturb too much of the bacteria beds at once. I can't for the life of me figure out why my levels are so high.

I prepare my water before I start my water changes. I use Seachems prime and safeguard and some stresscoat+ to treat the water. Then I test it with my master test kit.

What am I doing wrong or missing?

Photos show before water change, after 75% water change and 4 hours later after another 50% water change.

Thanks in advance for any help.Click image for larger version

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Old 06-09-2018, 09:56 PM   #2
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What kind of filtration are you using? Sounds like it might not be completely cycled. How big are your water changes?
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Old 06-10-2018, 02:14 AM   #3
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I'm using a Penguin Bio wheel 200. I bought this tank as a kit. It is 29 gallon kit from Marineland.

When I'm doing my weekly cleaning I do approximately a 30% water change. I alternate every other week between cleaning the gravel and replacing one of the filters (I run two filters medias). Each filter gets replaced every other time.
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Old 06-10-2018, 09:43 AM   #4
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You are changing out the filter cartridges much too often, losing a large percentage of the beneficial bacteria each time you replace. Just rinse the cartridges off in old tank water once every 3 or 4 weeks. Do not replace a cartridge until the polyfiber begins to unravel. The Marineland company benifets from rapid fire filter cartridge change outs, not fish.
A better plan is to eventually stop using the Marineland replacement cartridges, and instead
stuff Aqua Clear replacement foam sponges in your Penguin filter box. The sponges last for years. To clean; just squeeze them out once a month. The sponges are inexpensive. You will save a lot of money and have much better filtration.
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:38 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I just got home and was ready to do another water change. I like to test the water before and after so I know what I'm starting with and the affect the change had. Very slight traces of ammonia and Nitrates and zero Nitrites. I think I'm going to leave alone for now and order an Aqua Clear replacement foam sponge.

My next question is; should I just float the sponge and get the bacteria established before swapping out the Marineland cartridges?
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:23 PM   #6
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Petsmart and Petco both sell Aqua Clear / Fluval replacement sponges.
If there is enough room in your filter box to keep the cartridge and squeeze in a sponge I'd go that route. I suppose floating sponges would work as well, but likely to take much longer to seed the sponges.
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Old 06-18-2018, 09:10 PM   #7
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I want to thank you guys again for your help. The tank seems to have settled and everything is where it is supposed to be.
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