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mellofone 07-27-2006 06:19 PM

Just starting out, bad water problems
I decided to plunge into getting myself an aquarium. However, it looks like I am starting off on the wrong foot. I purchased a 29G kit with power filter, heater, and some odds and ends. In the kit included a "water conditioner" kit that was supposed to take care of any type of water, good or bad. I only wish :)

I assembled and filled the tank with plastic plants and a rock formation or two and let the tank settle and filter for about 2 days. I had a very basic test kit that hinted at the pH being high, but nothing to worry about. At the local pet store I stumbled upon some 5 in 1 test kits that test nitrate, nitrite, hardness, alkalinity and pH.

I apparently have very hard water that also has a very high pH level, 8.4 at least since that's as high as the test strip goes.

I have some clown loaches and cycled through 3 angle fish, which only one has survived. A placo and some smaller midas cichlids which seem to be doing fine. However, the water is starting to cloud.

The tank is only a few days in and its a bit early to tell, but are chemicals the answer to my obviously "bad" water? The pet store recommended some "Wardly 3 in 1 water conditioner," but I am unsure of where to start.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

jcarlilesiu 07-27-2006 06:40 PM

don't use chemicals. try putting some peat moss in your filter where the carbon will go. That will naturally lower your PH with out stressing the fish, but may turn your water a little "tea colored" at first.

Try to stick with drip style test kits they are more reliable if you are using strips

You need to be testing ammonia. I dont think you have cycled your tank yet or "aged" it... which will explain the fish loss. You have a very odd combo of fish in the tank also. Cichlids are pretty aggressive, and those clown loaches can get huge. Im not sure about capatibility problems, but i would assume the cichlids are harrassing your angels?

The white cloud that you are seeing is bacterial blooms. If you haven't changed water yet, you need to change out as much as required daily to keep ammonia and nitrite to a bare minimum. This will take a couple of months to get the tank established.

Read up on the stickies at the top of this forum and you should be clear as mud.

mellofone 07-27-2006 06:43 PM

Any specific suggestions on test kits?

07-27-2006 06:52 PM

Aquarium Pharmecuticals test kits are good.

jcarlilesiu 07-27-2006 06:53 PM

Most people here use the Aquarium Pharmacutical Master test kit


once you get all these readings back, most imporatantly at this time is ammonia and nitrite we should be able to give more help....

p.s. welcome to aquarium advice... we are here to help :)

mellofone 07-27-2006 09:55 PM

Ok, I got that test kit. Good or bad, here is what I got:

Low pH - 7.6 (since this was the highest I went to the high pH)
High pH - 8.2
Nitrate - 5
Nitrite - 0
Ammonia - 2

I also bought a Python as per everyone's recommendation. That looks like it will save A LOT of headaches and a lot of cursing :)

joannde 07-28-2006 12:04 AM

You need to do a water change immediately to get that ammonia down. ammonia becomes more toxic at higher pH's (and your's is high, like mine). Keep it below .5ppm but even that will damage the fish's gills I believe.
Keep doing water changes until you get those levels down. Cycling with fish is pretty much all about water changes. You're going to be extremely happy you bought that Python.

EDIT: found this chart for you showing the "safe" levels (ie: not lethal) of ammonia for given pH and temperature

Water Temperature
pH 20C (68F) 25C (77F)
6.5 15.4 11.1
7.0 5.0 3.6
7.5 1.6 1.2
8.0 0.5 0.4
8.5 0.2 0.1

interesting article which you should probably read as it explains the nitrogen cycle)

mellofone 07-28-2006 12:34 AM

How much do you suggest I change? I've read 10-15%. I'll do whatever it takes.

Should I treat the water chemically before adding it? I know I have very hard water to start...

rich311k 07-28-2006 12:36 AM

Change at least 50%, 75% would be better. Dechorlinate the new water and get the temp reasonably close to the temp in the tank.

src 07-28-2006 12:37 AM

Change 50% right now. Wait a few hours, test again, then change another 50% if the ammonia is still high (it will be). Be sure to add dechlorinator to the water you add. When using a python, different people add it at different times (before, during or after the fill). Personally, I add it before so I can't forget to add it later.

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