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Old 09-16-2003, 12:30 PM   #1
AJ
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New tank failing...very discouraged & need help

Hi. At the end of July this year I started a new tank. I had one tank many years ago as a child so I am fairly new. I did lots of research before I started the tank to learn basics.
It is a 20 gal tank, with power filter and an undergravel filter powered by a powerhead. My water is a problem. Tap water here is extremely hard and alkaline so I dilute with demineralized water (75% demineralized/25% tap water). My KH is within acceptable range (although at the high end) but no matter how much water I change or how low my KH goes, my pH will not drop below 8.0. Sometimes it is at 8.2.
I started out with guppies and had no success, from several different stores. I have bought 9 guppies so far - I have two left, a male and a female, and the female is likely to die soon too. They just started hiding in the corner, not swimming around, and do not eat. Someone suggested I try a different type of fish so I bought neons as I have had them before. I bought 6 and 3 have died. The other 3 so far look good, but I have only had them a few days so who knows. And I know I need to get more because they like to school, however, I don't want to keep buying fish to watch them die.
I also have a serious problem with brown algae. It is gross and all over my tank. I have only ever seen green algae before. This brown stuff washes off easy but it grows so fast. I clean the tank weekly, vaccum weekly, change about 25% water weekly (with the vacuuming).
What do I do? I bought some chemical to decrease pH but have not used it yet as I am wary of it. I don't know what to do, and I am getting so discouraged watching fish die all of the time. I don't know why my pH won't decrease with water changes, even though the kH does. And I wonder if I should take out the undergravel filter and just put a regular filter attachment on the powerhead. The water is crystal clear, but the plants (fake) in the gravel get all slimy at the base.

Please help me!!!!!! In desperate need of expert advice.
Thanks.
AJ
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Old 09-16-2003, 01:03 PM   #2
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A very similar thread here
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewto...570&highlight=

suggests using a product called Seachem "Neutral Regulator", that will adjust the tanks PH up or down to 7. Sounds great, I am going to have to look it up . I've ocassionaly used something called PHdown to make small adjustments with no problems.

As for the really hard water, not sure what you can do I'm not sure if using a water softener would be a safe way to go for fish.
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Old 09-16-2003, 01:26 PM   #3
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Instead of trying to mess with the pH you should find fish that like that pH. I would suggest mollies, platies or some of the smaller African cichlids. Messing around with the pH is never a good idea because if you have a problem the pH can take another drastic swing. For example if you need to do a massive water change due to a contaminant then you might end up swining you pH and killing all of your fish.

Plus the chemicals only work if your hardness is low. Otherwise the water is buffered and nothing will take place.

If you really want it lowered then try using distilled or RO water. You can buy water at the grocery store and its acidity is much lower. Mix this with your tap water at a suitable level.

Of course I have tetras in my parents tanks and the pH is close to 8, so often it is just a matter of slowly acclimating your fish to the new pH. For me that means close to 2 hours of slowly adding a little tank water to the fish bag until the fish get used to it.
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Old 09-16-2003, 01:50 PM   #4
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some fish can live in ph a bit outside their normal preferrence (eg. hardy fish like cichlid and fancy guppy), the only draw back is they will not grow well and might take MC very often especially when spawning.

more important is you must not flux the ph or your fish will suffer. fish are very sensitive to ph flux.

as for brown algea, do you have pleco or any algea eater? 1 those will make alots of different.

you can also get fish that live at hard water condition like cichlid.
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Old 09-16-2003, 03:14 PM   #5
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I had a very similar problem and have been able to overcome it so far. My tap water has a PH of 7.8, KH 15 & GH 25. I wanted to keep a community tank with Cardinal so those readings weren't acceptable. So I became a mad scientist.. hehe.

I have begun to mix distilled water with my tap water. It took an hour or so for me to get the proper mix as I wanted it but once I did I had the proper mix. I try to keep my water at PH 7.0, KH 5, GH 6. The KH & GH are fairly easy because they don't change after I mix the water but the PH seemed to fluctuate which was unacceptable. To fix this I use a PH regulator as recommended above to keep my PH at 7.0. Because I keep my KH down around 5 by mixing my water the PH regulator works great. I didn't add fish for 2 weeks during this process until I felt confident I could perform a water change without messing up my parameters.

As for the Diatoms, they will go away with time. Once you get your tank stable you could get some Otos. I got 3 to deal with my Diatom problem (it was pretty bad actually) and they cleaned it up in a week! They love Diatoms it seems.

A-to-da-J

P.S. With all that said I agree it is far better to just find fish that will love your tap water parameters. Makes the process much simpler. That option wasn't acceptable for me though cuz I wanted a community tank with Cardinals.
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Old 09-16-2003, 04:17 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice

I do not understand though why my guppies keep dying. For example, this latest sick one I've had more than a month. Why is she dying now??? She should be used to the pH, etc, by now.
I guess I did not give my neons long enough to adjust when I brought them home which might explain their mass exodus, but the guppies confuse me as they were supposed to be extremely hardy which is why I bought them. I worry about some mysterious disease floating around my tank destining me for doom.
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Old 09-16-2003, 05:12 PM   #7
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Often times female guppies are already pregnant when bought. The problem is that females can "hold" their babies in if they feel stressed. Unfortunatly this can lead to death if held for too long. My female guppy died the same way.
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Old 09-16-2003, 06:49 PM   #8
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Hang in there dude. You have a new tank and things are just settling down.

If your fish shop is near you, odds are that the shop is using the same water supply as you. Have a word with them about the best fishes to keep with your areas water supply. They should have gotten feedback from customers and it must be possible to keep fishes there otherwise they would be out of business.

Also like tkos said, introduce the fishes to your tank veeerrrrry slooooowly. I used to be a mass murderer of fishes but ever since I was informed of this trick, I never lost a fish again. First dunk the bag in the tank till the temperatures equalise. Then add a tea cup of tank water into the fish bag with the fish still in it. This will introduce the fish to your water slowly. Add another teacup every 5 minutes or so. Tkos recommend 2 hours and I agree unless the fishes are getting stressed in the bag.

Female guppies breed a lot and often. Therefore I personally would not recommend keeping them. I speak from personal experience. You cannot give them all away and some shops cannot take fishes in unless they have quarantine space. Also as you have found out, they die due to the stress of pregnancy and attention of the males. Most of the young, unless you can keep the female in a breeding tank, will be eaten by the others in the tank. Apparently they can have about 300 young fry a year. I call that a fry-up (British humour), but i accept i could be weong

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Old 09-16-2003, 08:41 PM   #9
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I'm assuming your tank was cycled properly and that you are testing it every so often? I set up our 20gal in July too, after several years of being fishless. Started out w/ an undergravel filter and soon learned that this wasn't going to work... water stank, was constantly cloudy and generally just gross. Water parameters were okay though and the danios we were cycling the tank with were fine... but I couldn't stand it. So I went out and bought a power filter (Marineland Penguin 220) and ripped the undergravel filter out. The tank was quickly running smoothly and looks great....... fish are happy and beautiful. I would recommend getting rid of the UGF, though I am not sure if that would solve your immediate problem of fish dying.

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Old 09-16-2003, 08:48 PM   #10
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Hiya and welcome to AquariumAdvice AJ

Sorry you're having such a hard time. I have a couple of thoughts...

Your Ph may be the problem, but maybe not. Its quite possible the fish are not healthy prior to addition to the tank, or one has been ill and the infectious agent has remained in the tank and just passed from fish to fish (I am guessing you don't QT fish prior to addition? I strongly suggest it; while I QT fish for 2 weeks, some recommend up to 6 - I'm not that patient LOL).

As for the Ph and lowering it, you may want to look into some peat. Its what usually used in Discus tanks to lower Ph, and its a helluva lot safer then chemicals.

As for why, keep in mind guppies can be horribly inbred which can lead to problems, and neons are very tetchy. Neons especially are not initially hardy fish; if you scroll through some of the posts here you will notice many of us have had major problems with neons and their very close cousins the cardinals.

You don't mention other water parameters; what are the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels?

In the case of the algae, brown algae is not algae at all (tho we all call it that); its actually diatoms. Believe it or not, a LACK of light is usually the issue (where with algae the issue is too much). You might want to kick up the light a bit and see what happens.

Btw, thumbs up on your research and water care! Things WILL work out; it just may take a little more time then you anticipated.

(nice pic btw Gman; I'm jealous of all those cardinals!)
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