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Old 10-04-2012, 02:13 AM   #21
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I went out and dug up the actual bag of substrate I'm using. It's a natural black beach sand from a brand called Nature's Ocean. It says marine sand but I asked my LFS owner about it and she uses it in her African tanks and the only thing she noticed was her water was slightly harder.

Has anyone used natural beach sand in their freshwater tank? Any difference between that and crushed coral?
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:51 PM   #22
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I've been running the Rena xP4 as my second filter for a couple months now. I'm rinsing the media from one filter at the weekly change, alternating so each filter is rinsed every other week (every once in a while I don't have time so I'll get it the next time, pushing it to three weeks- but I'm trying hard not to let that happen).

Each time I replace the Cichlid Lake Salt I've removed with the water and add Cichlid Trace..and of course my Prime.

Parameters:
Am:0
N02: 0
pH: 8.0
......N03: 80.....

UGH!!!!!!!!!

To get my nitrates to twenty I have to take out 75% of my water every week. I don't want to do that in one sitting so sometimes I do a 50% change followed by a second 25-30% change the next day. I don't care about the cost of the chemicals and water but I hate the stress and pH fluctuations that go along with it, so I don't do it every week.

Even then, the nitrates are back at 80 within the week.

The only way I've successfully kept them down has been using API's NitraZorb. It's temporary and I hate using a chemical to keep my tank in check. The fact that it would run me $40 a month doesn't help. I worry about rebound as it wears off so I quit using it.

I am beginning to feel like I shouldn't have this tank since I can't give my fish a healthy environment. No other tanks in my house do this and I use the same substrate and rocks and media in them.

To make things worse, my tank LOOKS dirtier now. The water is always clear but I often look over and see poop floating around. The flow coming from the filters is strong...I don't think it's decreased but I can't exactly measure. I've cleaned the tubes from both filters and nothing changed. I can clean the tank Sunday night, thoroughly sifting through and vacuuming every inch of sand, and early Monday morning I can see poop gathered between the rocks and lying on the sand.

A few of my fish, particularly my Star Sapphires, have started to look like crap. Their fins are starting to get ragged and they don't have good color.

What should I do??? I feel like an awful fish mom!!!!
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:33 PM   #23
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Have you tested your tap water for nitrates? if it contains trates then you are not reducing tank nitrates much.. You might have to start doing 75% water changes every week. I do that with my overstocked Rainbow tank, plus I run 3 Aquaclear 110's, and 2 Rena XP-3 canister filters. I need to do things this way to keep up with the tank. I rinse the media in 1 filter every week, by the time I get through the last filter it's time to do the first one again. This works for me to keep nitrates down in my severly overstocked tank.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:40 PM   #24
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I did test my tap water. I won't lie, I was hoping that was it but there was nothing there.

I don't mind changing the water but I get nervous wondering what's going to happen when I finish stocking my tank. I have been planning a trip down to the Wet Spot to pic up the remainder of my fish- I'm letting some go but when I'm done I'll end up with more than I have now. Once everyone is grown I'll have even more waste to deal with...I just wish I could figure out what is up so I could fix it.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:24 PM   #25
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Since your tap water contains no nitrates, then its coming from the bio load in your tank. Other than using a denitrification system, or nitrate removing resins the only way to remove them is through water changes. Live plants will remove nitrates also, but with the type of fish you are keeping that probably won't work! Try the 75% per week WC's and see if that helps. Even though you have a large tank, the load is pretty heavy, and cichlids produce a fair amount of waste. If once a week WC's don't produce the results you want, then try twice weekly changes. Eventually you will find the routine that will keep the nitrates under control.
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:52 PM   #26
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I've just started using seachem matrix in my cannisters. Too early to tell how well it works yet but if it does what it claims I'll be a very happy man. According to seachem 1litre of matrix provides the same surface area for bacteria colonisation as 170 litres of bio balls and due to its porosity it also provides a site for anaerobic de-nitrifying bacteria along with the nitrifying bacteria that colonise your filter with standard media giving you an all in one solution for breakdown of ammo, nitrite AND NITRATE.
I'll keep you posted how it works on my tank but may be worth a look?
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