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Old 12-01-2020, 10:57 PM   #1
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I made a mistake and killed my biological filter.. but fixed it? Maybe??

So I decided to take on the daunting task of changing my substrate and the plan was to keep all my decor/plants/fish in a large tub with running an airstone with water from my tank and keep my canister filter running to keep my bacteria alive in there as well. This did not go to plan, my water level got too low and even after adding a bit of water back couldnít get my filter going without refilling completely. So.. after all was said and done my ph was tanked to 6 or less and 0 nitrates. This was about a week and a half ago. Since then I have been used seachem nuetral ph additive, seachem stability bottled bacteria, seachem prime to neutralize ammonia, and root tabs to keep my plants alive. I have been water testing daily and never had a nitrite spike, my ammonia levels have only been up to .50 ppm (I have done a couple small water changes) but now my nitrates have been reading at 20 the last few days.. did something magical happen and my biological filter bounced back quickly? Or are the nitrates simply from the root tabs or bacteria I added and not going to stay unless I keep it up?
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Old 12-01-2020, 11:18 PM   #2
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How long was your canister off? And was it still filled with water?
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Old 12-01-2020, 11:31 PM   #3
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It did have water in it but was off for several hrs of me scooping out the old substrate and then getting new stuff in and and then adding all my plants back etc.. (itís a 55 gallon tank)
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Old 12-01-2020, 11:37 PM   #4
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I could be wrong, but my understanding is that most of the bacteria will live several hours if kept wet. I think it takes more than a few hours to suffocate or starve it all. Like I said, I'm no expert, but I've moved tanks before and they were off for 2-3 hours and I had no water issues after that
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Old 12-01-2020, 11:44 PM   #5
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Hmm, I mean that would explain it I guess if my tank just needed to cycle for a bit to get the levels back up. I honestly thought it was faster than that if the water wasnít moving through the filter but Iím very happy if thatís not the case. Do you know if anything else I have been doing could cause the nitrate levels other than the tank truly being cycled?
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Old 12-01-2020, 11:53 PM   #6
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No, sorry. I don't have live plants due to most of my tanks are digging, redecorating big cichlids, lol. So I don't know much about the root tabs
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Old 12-02-2020, 12:02 AM   #7
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No, sorry. I don't have live plants due to most of my tanks are digging, redecorating big cichlids, lol. So I don't know much about the root tabs

Ok, thank you! I def appreciate you replying. I used to have a chichlid tank and Anubias tied to rocks was the only thing I was able to keep them from killing lol.
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Old 12-02-2020, 09:41 AM   #8
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It did have water in it but was off for several hrs of me scooping out the old substrate and then getting new stuff in and and then adding all my plants back etc.. (itís a 55 gallon tank)
Remember, millions of tanks all over the world have power failures for hours, days, weeks and they survive. Millions are turned of for simple cleaning for hours and hours. If your media stays wet, bacteria will live for hours, weeks and months with no issue (assuming it can still have some oxegen). It is very tough to kill bacteria.
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Old 12-02-2020, 01:37 PM   #9
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Remember, millions of tanks all over the world have power failures for hours, days, weeks and they survive. Millions are turned of for simple cleaning for hours and hours. If your media stays wet, bacteria will live for hours, weeks and months with no issue (assuming it can still have some oxegen). It is very tough to kill bacteria.


Thank you! I initially panicked when I tested and had no readings of anything. Iím going to assume it was just the water change and Iím good now (will obviously continue to test regularly)
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Old 12-03-2020, 08:53 AM   #10
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I've had canister filters off during storms for up to two days... with water inside. Restarted, no problems.
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