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Old 06-24-2020, 03:44 PM   #1
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Fish Color and Water Quality

I'm a newbie, and struggling to keep my tank clean. I'm changing 10-20% of the water weekly, but the orange tint and algae keep coming back quickly and it seems to be getting worse.

My test strips have always came back clean, but in the last day or 2 I have seen the nitrite/nitrate levels spike. I've bought some Seachem Prime Fresh to treat my water, and will do another water change today.

My Cichlids are growing and are active and look great! Except for 1 that has completely lost his color, he is still active and acts normal except for the color issue. I will attach pics. I have 5 Cichlids and 5 Tiger Barbs in the tank.

1) Should I do a large water change, 50%??
2) What am I doing wrong!
3) Check out the pics. I bought these 3 fish at the same time, and they were originally grey with black dots. 2 of them have gained awesome color, and the 3rd one had great color but has lost all of it now, he looks like a ghost!

I think I was feeding too much and have stopped. They just always looked so hungry when I walked by. I am now feeding twice/day, and not 3 times. Tropical flakes and Cichlid pellets.
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Old 06-24-2020, 04:01 PM   #2
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First off, when you say water parameters are coming back clean, what are your water parameters exactly?

When in doubt always do a water change.

Process for determining how much water to change. Change 30% water. 1 week later change another 30% and test for nitrates. If they are around 10ppm or below, great keep up with 30% weekly water change. If they are higher than 10ppm, increase to either 50% weekly or 30% twice weekly. If your nitrates still aren't getting below 10ppm then you are overstocked. Either reduce your stocking or get a bigger tank.

If the water is coloured, you could try putting some activated carbon or purigen in your filter.

Algae growth is probably due to excess nutrients and/or lighting. How long are your lights on for? Does the tank sit in direct sunlight?
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Old 06-24-2020, 04:11 PM   #3
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I should mention its a 55g tank.

the Nitrates have always been near 0, but recent tests show 80 PPM. The nitrites have always been near 0, but are now around 4.0 PPM.

Chlorine is at 0.
KH - 80
PH - 7.8..

Lighting is on 50% of the time, no direct sunlight.
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Old 06-24-2020, 04:16 PM   #4
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You really need to do water changes, and big ones. Nitrites are way to high, and 80ppm nitrates while less haxardous is a sign that you havent been doing enough water changes.

Your cycle might have crashed. Do you know what your ammonia level is?

I would do 50% water change. Then test daily, if you see any ammonia or nitrite 25% water change. When you are getting 0ppm ammonia and nitrite consistently every day, then your cycle is established and you can proceed with my water change process in my previous post.

Edit: Also your light is on too much. Light should be 6 to 8 hours a day to reduce algae growth.
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Old 06-24-2020, 04:20 PM   #5
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I guess my strips don't test ammonia.

I've been good on water changes, that must mean my cycle crashed. I'll get some ammonia test strips today.

Does the cichlid color change mean anything? Is he stressed?
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Old 06-24-2020, 04:26 PM   #6
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Get a liquid test kit, they are more accurate and much cheaper in the long run.

10 to 20% weekly water changes isn't enough. Your rising nitrates is a sign of insufficient water changes.

I dont know much about cichlids, so cant advise there, but 4ppm nitrite is at lethal levels, so i think thats a strong hint at whats wrong. Your ammonia could also be too high, but we will have to wait on the test result.
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Old 06-24-2020, 04:30 PM   #7
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OK! Test kit arrives tomorrow. I'll do a 50% water change and add the seachem Prime right now. I'll post update tomorrow. Thank you so much for your time.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:39 PM   #8
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Nitrates are down to 10 PPM
Nitrites are 1.0 PPM
Ammonia is at 0

Water is looking better. Fish are doing great. The ghost fish keeps getting whiter, like he was dipped in bleach, but they're all active and eating.
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Old 06-26-2020, 05:53 PM   #9
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I think you just had some sort of spike. 1ppm for nitrite is still too high, so i would do another 25% water change. Keep testing everyday and if you see readable ammonia or nitrite then do 25% water change until you are consistently seeing 0ppm over a few days as you would for a fish in cycle.

If improved water conditions doesnt follow through with an improvement with your fish, then report it again and hopefully someone with more knowledge on sick fish and in particular cichlids will help you out.

Stress is a big cause of washed out colour though. Could be caused by the water quality. Is it getting bullied at all?
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Old 06-26-2020, 06:27 PM   #10
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Sounds good, I'll keep working on it!

he's not getting bullied, but he also doesn't seem to be growing like the other ones are. He still eats like crazy when I feed them.
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