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Old 10-13-2010, 10:18 PM   #1
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Nate's 14g BioCube

Hi, this is my 14 Gallon BioCube that currently has:

2 Bronze Cory's
1 Gold Honey Gourami
1 Banded Dwarf Cichlid
1 Dalmatian Molley
Live Plants
Snails

I just recently battled ich, so the plants don't look very healthy and there is some algea in the tank becuase I raised the temp to the mid 80 degrees.

I do a water change of 5 gallons about 3 times a month. I have personally never check my water levels but every time I take a sample to my lfs they tell me everything looks good.

I however have gone through many fish in the last 20 months so that is why I decided to hang out here and try to learn. I feed my fish dried flakes and dried tubaflex worms once daily.

Thanks Nate
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Old 10-14-2010, 10:46 AM   #2
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Welcome to AA!

What kind of test kit does the LFS use? I'd recommend getting your own API Freshwater Master test kit. It's accurate and lasts forever. Very helpful to know exactly what's going on in the tank. Going through a lot of fish should never happen over that long of a time period.
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Old 10-14-2010, 05:53 PM   #3
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I don't know what kind of test they would use but it would take them about 10 minutes to tell me the results, but they would just tell me every thing looked good (not tell me the numbers). I will be buying a kit by tomorrow night.

I have been trying to read about tank cycles, ich, water changes etc the last few days and my eyes are killing me and I am still confused

So what readings should I take and what are exceptable levels for my tank?

Other than the ich I just had my fish seemed healthy to me, swimming around, eating, and good color. Then I would wake up in the morning and fish would be dead on the bottom of the tank.
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:06 PM   #4
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What questions do you have? I'll be glad to attempt to answer them. There's some conflicting information out there.

Like I said, the API Freshwater Master is the gold standard around here. It contains the important tests for the average FW aquarium.

Ammonia - This is your fish's waste. It's toxic in small concentrations

Nitrite - This is the chemical bacteria converts ammonia into. Also toxic in small concentrations.

Nitrate - This is the final chemical bacteria converts nitrite into. It's less toxic, but you still have to do water changes to control it.

pH - Not nearly as important as a lot of people think unless you're trying to breed picky fish.

The API kit has these four tests. These will tell you and us a lot about what's going on in your tank.
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:22 PM   #5
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So should the levels all read 0?

Also the plant on the right has expanded to four and I have been trimming the length down, should I be concerned about them taking up to much space?

What advantages or disadvantages do live plants have?

Thanks for all the help. Nate
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Old 10-14-2010, 08:47 PM   #6
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Hello Nate, and welcome.

Ammonia and nitrite should read 0, but there will always (except for rare exceptions) be some nitrate in a freshwater system. Most of us like to keep it below 40 ppm.

The plant on the right - the tall one with long narrow leaves? Is it vallisneria? That one should not become too large and can be trimmed to the desired height.

Advantages of live plants - plants consume nitrates and in best cases can reduce algae. Also, they contain lots of mico-critters that fish and invertebrates like to eat. IMO, live plants are the best looking tank decorations as well.

Neutral plants - may bring in snails (can be good or bad)

Disadvantages of live plants - If they don't grow, it can be hard to fix the issue. Could potentially bring disease or insects.
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Old 10-14-2010, 08:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for the reply. I am not sure what plant it is. I do trim it down in length but it sprouted new growth so now there are four plants. I had trouble getting them to grow at first but my lfs recommend flourish tablets and they seem to work good. I put several tablets in about every 3 months.

I will be getting a test kit tomorrow. I am curious on my readings.

Thanks Nate
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:04 AM   #8
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So I bought the API test kit and here are my readings
pH 7.2-7.6
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0-0.25 ppm
Nitrate 0 ppm

So what do the readings say? How do I bring my pH down? I usually change out 5 gallons of water on Sundays or Tuesdays so when is the best time to do these tests? Since I do frequent water changes could my tap water be high in pH? Should I test my tap water? I use Seachem Prime to treat my tap water.

Thanks Nate
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:32 AM   #9
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So I tested the pH in my tap water and it was the same blue color as my test reading for my tank which I interpet as between 7.2-7.6 I test my tap water also with the HIGH RANGE pH test and it looked to be below 7.4 (it was a yellow color)
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Old 10-16-2010, 02:31 AM   #10
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Are you sure your nitrite is reading .25?

If so, that is probably what is slowly poisoning your fish. You will need to do daily water changes until it reads 0.

You get an A+ for getting a test kit!
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:09 AM   #11
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Agreed about water changes
But im harsh and only give a A- because we had to tell you to get one lol!
But i love the way the tanks set up and the fish are all perfect for the size of the tank. Great job!
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Old 10-16-2010, 10:59 PM   #12
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Do you guys think my pH is to high?
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Old 10-16-2010, 11:11 PM   #13
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Nope.

Stable pH = healthy fish. My pH is much higher and I have no problems.

If you wanted to breed Discus, yes your pH would be too high. However, if you just want to keep and enjoy tropical fish, you're golden
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Old 10-16-2010, 11:28 PM   #14
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So my pH is good I retested my nitrites and it looks to be closer to 0 than .25 (more blue than purple)

When should I take my readings if I usually do water changes on Sunday or Tuesday?
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Old 10-17-2010, 12:15 AM   #15
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I would take readings every day or every other day until you turn up 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites for a week straight. Then, test before a water change to see how fast your nitrates rise.
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Old 10-17-2010, 04:14 AM   #16
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OK I will do that. Also what temp should I have my tank set for? I have it set at 74 degrees right now. My plants where doing great until I raised the temp to kill ich. Thanks Nate
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Old 10-17-2010, 06:32 PM   #17
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Your fish would appreciate it if you bumped the temp closer to 78. Your plants will recover, but yes, the high temps can be stressful for them.
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:33 PM   #18
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New readings as of tonight

pH 6.6
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate 5.0 ppm

My Nitirate is 5.0 ppm now and was 0 ppm on Friday. What does this mean?

Also what is the best way to clean the test tubes and also should I dedicate each test tube for a particlular test and if so what is the best way to mark the test tubes.

Thanks Nate
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:49 AM   #19
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I don't dedicate a test tube for each test. Before each test, I dip the vial in the tank. I then pour it out, and re-fill to the line. I perform the test, then dump the solution in the sink. Then I thoroughly rinse it with tap, inside and out, and leave them tilted so any excess water flows out for a little bit. Then, I cap them and repeat for the next time

I am sure there is a "best" way better than mine - but mine gets the job done. Maybe XimeD, our chemist, can help?
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Old 10-21-2010, 09:43 AM   #20
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I rinse out my test tubes in tap water and shake them out after I'm done with them. Cap the tubes and put them back. Glass is pretty inert so I don't worry about using the same tube for the same test.

nds - Nitrates with no ammonia or nitrites is a good thing. It means your nitrification process is working.
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