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Old 10-23-2020, 08:17 PM   #1
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Water issues, fish suffering... please help!

Hi all,

I’m not new to aquariums but I’m having issues I can’t seem to solve.

I bought a used 60gal tank two months ago with a few large fish. Immediately I discovered the tank was too small for the fish I had, so I rehomed two fish and bought a brand new 90gal tank about 3 weeks ago. In the transfer I seem to have disrupted the cycle. I have consistently 0.25ppm Ammo, 0 Nitrite and fluctuating Nitrate, 10-40 depending on how close to last WC. I have been treating with Prime, Stability (to speed up new cycle) for just over a week. No change. Any ideas on my ammo problem?

In the tank: a 12” tiger Oscar, a 10” Jack Dempsey, an 8” common pleco.

The Oscar is really my problem fish. She is stressed. Obviously. She hides and lays on her side all day every day. Oddly, at sundown and when it starts getting dark she suddenly seems happy as a clam. Swimming and playing etc. But only after dark. We have a programmable LED and it’s only on a few hrs a day, at 40%. But still she hides. No signs of fish aggression. The JD and the Oscar always hang out together. Oscar seems to be the leader. If she hides, Jack hides. If she’s out, he’s out. They both eat sparingly. Oscar eats various foods, even right from our hands, if we approach her when she’s out and it’s dim/dark. Jack D seems to pick stuff off the bottom; we rarely see him eat and he never never eats from the water surface.

Water issues:

I have a well. Water is quite hard. KH8, GH12. PH8. We also have a water softener but do not use softened water here due to its added salts. I have tried several methods (peat, driftwood, chemicals) to get the PH down a little but it has never budged. (Prob too high KH). As an experiment, I did a PWC and added 15gal of distilled water. This dropped the hardness to much better levels and the PH to 7.8. I was happier and the fish had a really good day- they were very active that day and I thought I had it fixed. Next day, PH was back at 8. Why?!? The substrate is commercially available aquarium river rock. Various types of stone in there. Would pictures help?

Then, I bought a Reverse Osmosis unit. I have not yet used this water but I plan to use some in a WC tomorrow. Similar to the distilled water I got, it has low hardness and PH is mid-7s.

Filtration: I have two large HOB filters (no carbon) with 2 layers of sponges of different densities. (Emperor 400 and Emperor 350). One filter also has Zeolyte to hopefully help with ammo. And I have two large sponge filters running. Am I perhaps over-aerating?

So the bottom line:

-why is this Oscar so terribly stressed after two months?
-what happened to my cycle, and what should I do about ammonia?
-how can I keep my PH in check, hopefully stable at 7.6-7.8?

Thank you!

JSlead
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Old 10-23-2020, 09:55 PM   #2
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Sounds like you are doing everything right. pH of 8 isn't abnormal. Your tank should cycle quicker if you are using the same filter media. Just keep doing water changes every few days until your parameters stabilize. Good luck!
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Old 10-23-2020, 11:06 PM   #3
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Sounds like you are doing everything right. pH of 8 isn't abnormal. Your tank should cycle quicker if you are using the same filter media. Just keep doing water changes every few days until your parameters stabilize. Good luck!
Thanks for your reply. Any ideas why this Oscar is SO stressed, two months now?! How long does it take to acclimate?
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Old 10-23-2020, 11:12 PM   #4
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How long has it begun in the new 90g? Moving to a new tank and recycling is likely adding stress as well. Do you have a filter or powerhead breaking the water surface to keep the water oxygenated?
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Old 10-24-2020, 12:06 AM   #5
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How long has it begun in the new 90g? Moving to a new tank and recycling is likely adding stress as well. Do you have a filter or powerhead breaking the water surface to keep the water oxygenated?
Hi again.

2 1/2 weeks in new tank. Yes, I do have a powerhead
and two sponge filters for surface agitation (in addition to 2 HOB filters).
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Old 10-24-2020, 12:19 AM   #6
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Oscars laying on their sides is not always a sign of stress. This is one of the "crazy" fishes that do that when happy. lol Most all of mine in the past did this. The fact that it does come out and act " normal" at times and is still feeding is a sign that the fish is not stressed about the living conditions with the exception of the lighting issue. This behavior sounds like it's having an issue with the lighting. Keep in mind that if this was a wild fish, Oscars are found in dim water which is why it is more at ease when the lights are off. Domestics can be the same. What you can do is continue to reduce your lighting levels systematically so that when you find a level that brings your Oscar out during the lights on time, you keep it at that level. Your fish should be out for longer periods of time.

As for the ammonia issue, you have 2 fish in this tank that are just crap machines (a.k.a Poop-inators lol ). My breeding pairs of Oscars needed large water changes every 2 days and they were in large tanks. That's just the fish :^/ If it eats, it poops large volumes. Common Plecos are the same, they get big and just produce large amounts of poo. You can add ammonia absorbing agents like Ammo-Carb or Zeolite, etc. to your filters to extend the times between water changes but water changes are really the best way of controlling the ammonia levels in an Oscar tank.

As for the Ph issue, you may have calcium based rock decor in there so anytime the Ph falls, it dissolves the rock a little making the Kh and Ph rise. More wood and less rock should help keep the Ph from getting high. ( although 8.0 is not that bad. )

Hope this all helps
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Old 10-24-2020, 11:30 AM   #7
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Thank so much. Yes, I’ve arrived at the same conclusion and have definitely read that these fish do that! (It’s so creepy though- she looks dead!)

I guess I’m more worried about how MUCH she’s laying down or hiding.

On another person’s recommendation I took the plastic plants out of the tank last night (I had 7 large plants in there). And I do agree, it now seems more spacious and she’s better able to maneuver around. She was out quite a bit last night and is out again this morning, which is unusual. Maybe she was feeling claustrophobic. I sure hope this lasts. She seems happier and is even playing in the bubbles.

I’ll keep an eye on the light issue. The tank is in our living room and we have LOTS of windows and natural light. I probably don’t need tank lighting at all during the day. The fish seem to enjoy the blue LED “moonlight” effect in the evening.

JS
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Old 10-24-2020, 02:17 PM   #8
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Thank so much. Yes, Iíve arrived at the same conclusion and have definitely read that these fish do that! (Itís so creepy though- she looks dead!)

I guess Iím more worried about how MUCH sheís laying down or hiding.

On another personís recommendation I took the plastic plants out of the tank last night (I had 7 large plants in there). And I do agree, it now seems more spacious and sheís better able to maneuver around. She was out quite a bit last night and is out again this morning, which is unusual. Maybe she was feeling claustrophobic. I sure hope this lasts. She seems happier and is even playing in the bubbles.

Iíll keep an eye on the light issue. The tank is in our living room and we have LOTS of windows and natural light. I probably donít need tank lighting at all during the day. The fish seem to enjoy the blue LED ďmoonlightĒ effect in the evening.

JS
I took advantage of this laying habit and trained one of mine to lay in my hand. lol It used to freak out my friends. " Hey, watch this.....my fish loves to cuddle!!" They would call me " The fish whisperer".
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Old 10-27-2020, 05:30 AM   #9
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I often find if fish are hiding a lot something large in the middle of the tank can bring fish out from being shy, usually people put plants or decorations and wood nearer the sides and back of a tank and then fish will hide behind them but if there was something large in the middle then they seem to feel they have cover round the whole tank so come out more round the front.


Can be something simple as a large fake plant just plopped in the middle of your tank that covers most distance from bottom to even middle and suddenly fish will appear out and swim round it and not be as nervous, most fish it seems don't like massive open water but large objects that make them feel safe to be around that help them feel covered. Maybe try a large object in the middle of their tank like an upside down plant pot or bucket type thing with a rock on it to hold it down and if it works to bring the fish out then you can buy or get a replacemtent thing that fits the tank better like pile of rocks or fake plant thats similar in size.
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:24 PM   #10
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Constipated?!?!?

Guys, please help.

I have posted many questions about this poor Oscar these past two months and now I think sheís simply constipated.

She eats sparingly, but does eat every day (a little). Yesterday we had an awesome day and she seemed happy and normal and ate THREE times, pretty eager.

Today sheís been laying in the corner looking miserable for over 6 hours. (See pic).

In the two months I have had her, she has pooped exactly TWO times that Iíve seen (her poop is pretty obvious). Twice in 2 months!!!

YES Iíve tried peas. Iíve tried them a LOT. She WILL NOT eat them. Iíve even fed her crickets which I have gut-loaded with peas. That didnít seem to help.

I did the Epsom salt bath in a smaller tank. No poop. I did a full-tank Epsom dosage, which was disastrous for my water hardness (!!!) but there was one small 1Ē poop.

Now she eats a lot, seems happy, and the next day is a total wreck.

PLEASE HELP- am I right thinking sheís stopped up? What can I possibly do?!
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Old 11-03-2020, 06:37 PM   #11
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Try feeding frozen prawn or frozen krill. The shells of these are roughage and help with digestive issues. If you can't get her to eat these, try making some brine shrimp i a geletin to make the pieces large enough to peak her interest. Again, Brine shrimp is high roughage and very helpful with "cleaning out" fish. DO NOT USE dried or freeze dried foods as these will help block her up not clean her out. Keep us posted.
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Old 11-03-2020, 08:33 PM   #12
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Try feeding frozen prawn or frozen krill. The shells of these are roughage and help with digestive issues. If you can't get her to eat these, try making some brine shrimp i a geletin to make the pieces large enough to peak her interest. Again, Brine shrimp is high roughage and very helpful with "cleaning out" fish. DO NOT USE dried or freeze dried foods as these will help block her up not clean her out. Keep us posted.
Thank you. Yes, I do feed frozen krill sometimes and she takes those. I do have some Monster Medley (dried shrimp and mealworms) but I can hold off on that for now. She doesnít love it anyway.

She did poop overnight, not a lot but some. Which is great.

Fish still seems depressed and miserable. I just canít figure it out. Itís really been a rough couple months with zero improvement. There must be something bothering her that I havenít stumbled upon.

JS
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