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Old 12-07-2022, 04:25 PM   #1
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What happened??

Hi all,

I am new to aquariums, and to forum posts. Please forgive me if I'm a bit off on protocol.
About a month ago, I set my environment. Here is what I have.
90gal glass tank
Fluval FX4 canister filter
Fluval Plant 3.0 light
Hydor heater
I have a few live plants, and a couple of wood decorations. All wood decorations are from a well know pet store and not just picked up off the ground (I do know better than that)! The substrate is sand with a couple of mesh bags filled with lava rock underneath to make hills.

One of the sticks started "sprouting" white algae after a couple of days. After doing some research on this, I've found that this is typical of some wood decorations, and that it is harmless to fish, some even eat it. So I went to the pet store, and asked about it. They said to give the tank a week, and then put in a few fish to start working on the cleanup. So I got a couple of bristlenose plecos, 3 lamp eye and 6 neon tetras. I also got 4 shrimp, three of which got killed almost immediately by the lamp eyes, but that's another story. Anyway, the tank just seems to be going downhill. I have green algae all over the place now, the white algae has turned brown/black. The sand is getting a layer of dirtiness on top of it. After two weeks, it looks pretty nasty in there. The water quality is good I think. Is there something I'm missing there?
PH = 7.0
NH3/NH4 = 0
NO2 = 0
NO3 = 0
Temp = 76
I've given the plants the recommended dosage of fertilizer, but they are all turning brown and dying. I worry about the fish a bit, but they all seem fine. There is nothing out of the ordinary about the behavior, nothing to indicate any sickness. In doing a bunch of reading, there are multiple thoughts out there. Some say leave it because it takes time for good bacteria to multiply and start to work. Changing tank water sets this back because you throw out the good with the bad. Another school of thought is to change part of the water as with regular cleaning, but I wonder about this because it might not be going through nitrogen cycle.
I know a new tank goes through a nitrogen cycle which is unavoidable. Maybe this is just that, but how long do I let it go? Not having seen it before, I don't know if this is still normal. It looks like there may be some poo floating around too. In hindsight, it might not have been a good idea to get the fish when I did, but in my defense, I was doing that at the suggestion of the pet store.
Is my filter working properly? Water is cycling through it, and I see the water "blowing" out of the outlet tube, so I suppose it's working? The motor is humming and feels like it's working.

Any help is very much appreciated!!

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Old 12-07-2022, 04:41 PM   #2
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There is a lot going on here.

The white algae is probably mould. Not harmful. Just manually clean it, syphon it out, and it should clear up with time. It might take several months.

Green algae is caused by an imbalance of available nutrients and light. Does the tank get direct sunlight? How long are the tank lights on for? Typically 6 to 8 hours per day of light is sufficient for most plant without causing excessive algae.

The dirty substrate is likely diatoms, sometimes called brown algae. Its a normal stage of a new tank, and will tend to die off once available silicates get used up. Again this can take a few months.

The plants going brown and dying is probably plant melt and is a normal stage plants go through. Commercially grown plants are cultivated “emersed” rather than “submerged”. This way the plants can easily get their carbon requirement from atmospheric CO2. They can be grown quicker which makes the operation much more commercially viable. You take that plant, put it in your aquarium, cut off its source of CO2 and the plant goes into survival mode. It starts to use up its stored carbon and the leafs melt. You may lose all your original growth to melt but new leafs will have a structure more suited to its new environment and get its carbon from the water. Plant melt is a normal stage in aquarium plant growth. To judge the health of a plant look for new growth rather than what might be happening to the original growth, and judge it over extended periods of time.

Exactly what do you understand about the nitrogen cycle? A tank needs to cycle, and there is a process to do this safely with fish living in it. Do you know how to cycle a tank? Cycling a tank typically takes 6 to 8 weeks. It will cycle whether you actively go through the process or not, but if you arent in control of the process waste can build up to harmful levels.
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Old 12-07-2022, 06:38 PM   #3
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I got rid of bad wood and plants in my tanks. I find my fish prefer lower lighting. I have a few fancy Fluval Aquasky LEDs and keep them under 25% capacity. I have that same filter, the FX4. It should adequately filter up to 25O gallons. So good there. They are a pain to pull and clean. I did two yesterday. It sure sounds like yours is properly functioning.

Fish should not be added to a tank that is not fully cycled. All kinds of good online info & YouTube vids on that. The API Freshwater Kit is a good one and videos on proper use on YouTube as well. I have to question your zero nitrates. Never saw that in my tanks. I have 13. My tap water has 5ppm, but even so, I can’t stay much below 20. The nitrate # 2 is a colloidal suspension, meaning powder like particles in the solution, meaning you have to pound it good. I bang mine on the kitchen table. Try pounding yours and retesting. I’ve had to redo so many I messed up! It’s a simple rookie mistake, easily remedied.

The BB, good guy bacteria, are found primarily in the substrate and filter. I do 50-60% water changes weekly and more when I had an algae problem. Did 75% daily for a while.
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Old 12-07-2022, 07:39 PM   #4
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A lot of new driftwood produces the white slime. It is fungus and can be harmless or toxic. The only way to tell is to have it analyzed by a fungus specialist. The harmless fungus gets picked at by shrimp and fish. The toxic fungus kills things in the tank.

If you get fungus on driftwood, take the wood outside and hose the fungus off. Then put the wood back in the tank. Repeat when there is fungus on the wood. Eventually it stops producing it.

------------------

If you post a picture of the tank, we can see what type the algae is and see if you need more plants. I have posted some info about plants in your introductory thread.

------------------

Don't put clean up crews in new tanks because most starve. Things like suckermouth catfish need algae, biofilm and clean driftwood (not covered in fungus) to help their digestion. Most clean up crews should be added after the tank has been running for a couple of months.
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Old 12-07-2022, 08:11 PM   #5
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Thanks for the quick reply! The tank is getting 12 hours of light from my light bar, and is located in my living room. It doesn't get any direct sunlight on the glass, but gets indirect sunlight from curtains being open. So maybe I need to dial back the time the light is on? Do the fish care if the light is on at different times of the day then? Meaning could I have it on for a few hours in the morning and then a few at night?
As for the cycling, I suppose I don't know since I'm in the predicament I'm in. Going from what they told me at the store, and what I read was to simply let it take it's course. It's been 3-4 weeks and things just look like they are going down hill. I'm thinking intervention before fish die.
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Old 12-07-2022, 08:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacky12 View Post
I got rid of bad wood and plants in my tanks. I find my fish prefer lower lighting. I have a few fancy Fluval Aquasky LEDs and keep them under 25% capacity. I have that same filter, the FX4. It should adequately filter up to 25O gallons. So good there. They are a pain to pull and clean. I did two yesterday. It sure sounds like yours is properly functioning.

Fish should not be added to a tank that is not fully cycled. All kinds of good online info & YouTube vids on that. The API Freshwater Kit is a good one and videos on proper use on YouTube as well. I have to question your zero nitrates. Never saw that in my tanks. I have 13. My tap water has 5ppm, but even so, I can’t stay much below 20. The nitrate # 2 is a colloidal suspension, meaning powder like particles in the solution, meaning you have to pound it good. I bang mine on the kitchen table. Try pounding yours and retesting. I’ve had to redo so many I messed up! It’s a simple rookie mistake, easily remedied.

The BB, good guy bacteria, are found primarily in the substrate and filter. I do 50-60% water changes weekly and more when I had an algae problem. Did 75% daily for a while.
Hi Jacky,

Thanks for taking the time to provide some advice! Yeah I'm finding that I shouldn't have put fish in, but again, I went with what they told me at the pet store. Sigh. However, I can't simply pitch them in the garbage and start over! HAHA! I have been testing the water religiously because I'm fearful of what's happening in there! The test kit I'm using is the Fluval "Mini Master Test Kit". I can't comment on why my readings for the tests are what they are. I'm doing the test exactly as per the instructions, waiting the exact time frames outlined in the instructions. I know what you're referring to with the reagent #2 have white crystals/powdery substance. I think I'm pretty good about shaking it, but I'll do it again a little more vigorously.
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Old 12-07-2022, 08:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Colin_T View Post
A lot of new driftwood produces the white slime. It is fungus and can be harmless or toxic. The only way to tell is to have it analyzed by a fungus specialist. The harmless fungus gets picked at by shrimp and fish. The toxic fungus kills things in the tank.

If you get fungus on driftwood, take the wood outside and hose the fungus off. Then put the wood back in the tank. Repeat when there is fungus on the wood. Eventually it stops producing it.

------------------

If you post a picture of the tank, we can see what type the algae is and see if you need more plants. I have posted some info about plants in your introductory thread.

------------------

Don't put clean up crews in new tanks because most starve. Things like suckermouth catfish need algae, biofilm and clean driftwood (not covered in fungus) to help their digestion. Most clean up crews should be added after the tank has been running for a couple of months.
Hi Colin,

Thanks for your post and advice! Yeah I'm regretting putting the fish in, but i was going by what the pet store suggested. I'm hoping they will be ok for food though, there is algae in there for sure, and it's starting to grow on the glass. I'll take the sticks out and clean them. Yeah, I'll take some pictures and post.
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Old 12-07-2022, 08:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dayolddonuts View Post
Thanks for the quick reply! The tank is getting 12 hours of light from my light bar, and is located in my living room. It doesn't get any direct sunlight on the glass, but gets indirect sunlight from curtains being open. So maybe I need to dial back the time the light is on? Do the fish care if the light is on at different times of the day then? Meaning could I have it on for a few hours in the morning and then a few at night?

As for the cycling, I suppose I don't know since I'm in the predicament I'm in. Going from what they told me at the store, and what I read was to simply let it take it's course. It's been 3-4 weeks and things just look like they are going down hill. I'm thinking intervention before fish die.
Just reduce the lighting time by an hour a day and monitor it over a couple of weeks. if you still get algae, reduce it another hour and monitor.

Fish don't need aquarium light and can live in tanks with just the normal light that is in an average room coming through the window or using the light in the ceiling in the room.

Plants need at least 6 hours of bright light per day and it should be continuous (not broken into 2 or more sessions). They can have lights on for up to 16 hours a day but fish and plants need 8 hours of darkness to rest.

If you are only home at night, have the light come on at 2pm and go off at 10pm, or something like that. Put the light on a timer so the fish and plants have a steady circadian rhythm.

------------------

You are doing a fish in cycle. Just do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every couple of days for the next few weeks. By then the filter should have settled down and you can reduce the water change to once a week.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.
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Old 12-08-2022, 03:46 AM   #9
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The nitrogen cycle is the natural processes that go on in your tank that convert ammonia into less harmful substances.

Ammonia gets into your tank through various pathways. Fish waste, decaying uneaten food, and dead, decaying plants are common ammonia sources in an aquarium. Its also possible your tap water is an ammonia source. Chloramine is a common water treatment and when treated with most water conditioners the bond in the chloramine breaks and releases ammonia into the water.

Ammonia can be toxic to fish, depending on how much there is, and what the pH and temperature of your tank water is.

The first stage of the nitrogen cycle is the removal of ammonia. If you have real plants in your tank some of this ammonia will be absorbed as part of their natural growth. Generally though ammonia is consumed by denitrifying bacteria that lives mostly on your filter media. These bacteria consume the ammonia and produce nitrite. Unfortunately nitrite is pretty much as toxic to fish as ammonia.

The second stage of the nitrogen cycle is the removal of nitrite. A different denitrifying bacteria will consume the nitrite and produce nitrate. Nitrate is much less harmful than ammonia and nitrite, and for most aquariums the nitrogen cycle ends there. Excess nitrate is removed through your regular water changes.

A further stage of the nitrogen cycle can also happen, but its difficult to remove all the nitrate from a typical freshwater aquarium. Plants will absorb some nitrate in a similar manner to how it absorbs ammonia to grow. There are also nitrifying bacteria that consumes nitrate and gives off nitrogen gas which will simply offgas from your aquarium. This nitrifying bacteria is difficult to grow in freshwater aquarium.

“Cycling” a tank is the process you go through to grow denitrifying bacteria in your aquarium to consume ammonia and nitrite. You are said to be “cycled” when you have enough bacteria to consume all the ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces and turns all of it into nitrate. If you test the water of a cycled tank you should see 0 ammonia and nitrite and some nitrate.
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Old 12-08-2022, 03:47 AM   #10
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To cycle a tank you need to grow denitrifying bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces. The bacteria needs an ammonia source to grow colonies sufficient in size to consume all the ammonia and resultant nitrite and turn it into nitrate which typically you remove through your regular water changes.

A fish in cycle uses fish waste as an ammonia source and regular water changes are undertaken to ensure that water parameters are maintained at relatively non toxic levels.

Set up your tank. Make sure everything is running smoothly. Make sure you have used a water conditioner product with any tap water you have put in your tank. Seachem Prime is a water conditioner that will also detoxify some ammonia for a day or two, so is a good choice for a water conditioner while cycling a tank with fish.

You should have a test kit. Preferably a liquid test kit. It should test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

In ideal circumstances you should be starting a fishless cycle with a low bioload (number of fish). 1 small fish per 10 gallons/40 litres is a good number of fish, but this can be tweaked a little for fish that are social and don’t do well on their own. Ideally a hardy type of fish. You may have fully stocked (or overstocked) your tank before you knew about cycling. In these circumstances, if its not possible to return fish, you will have to make the best of it.

If you haven’t already done so, add your fish. Acclimate them to the water in your tank before doing so.

Feed lightly to start with. Daily as much as is eaten in 2 minutes, or as much as is eaten in 3 minutes every 2 days. You can increase to full feedings if you are confident your parameters aren’t getting too elevated too quickly and water changes don’t become a daily thing.

Start to regularly test the water for ammonia and nitrite. At least daily. Depending on your bioload you could start to see ammonia quite quickly. Nitrite will likely take a little longer to appear.

Your target should be to keep ammonia + nitrite combined no higher than 0.5ppm by changing water whenever your water parameters exceed this target. 0.5ppm combined is a level of waste that is sufficient for your cycle to establish but relatively safe for your fish.

If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.0ppm nitrite (0.5ppm combined) then leave things be. If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite (0.75ppm combined) then change 1/3 of the water. If you see 0.25ppm ammonia and 0.75ppm nitrite (1.0ppm combined) then change 1/2 the water. If water parameters get worse than these levels it may require multiple daily 50% water changes to maintain safe water conditions. This is more likely to happen with a fully stocked tank.

Remember to add water conditioner whenever you put tap water in the tank.

Over time the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change to maintain your ammonia + nitrite combined target will reduce. You can also start testing for nitrate and should see this rising. If you are finding the ammonia and nitrite in your tests are consistently low, and you aren’t already fully stocked, you can add a few more fish. It may take a few weeks to get to this point.

Once you add a few more fish, continue to regularly test the water and continue to change water if you exceed the 0.5ppm combined ammonia + nitrite target. With added bioload the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change may increase again until your cycle has caught up. Again once you are consistently seeing low ammonia and nitrite you can add some more fish. Rinse and repeat with testing, water changes, and adding fish when safe to do so until you are fully stocked.

You can then cut back on water changes to control nitrate only. Typically you want to keep nitrate no higher than 40ppm, but I would recommend changing some water every 2 weeks even if your water test says you don’t need to.

A fish in cycle from an empty tank to fully stocked can take several months.

A good way to speed up this process would be to put a small amount of filter media from an established filter into your filter, or get a sponge from an established filter and squeeze it into your tank water. Perhaps you have a friend who keeps fish who could let you have some? This will seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow and speed up the process.

Another option is bottled bacteria like Dr Tims One + Only or Tetra Safestart. These products wont instantly cycle a tank as they claim but in a similar manner to adding established filter media they can seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow to establish your cycle. These products are hit and miss as to whether they work at all, but are an option if established filter media isnt obtainable and may speed up the process from several months to several weeks.
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Old 12-08-2022, 08:52 AM   #11
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Hope this helps. The grilled cheese sandwiches are a nice touch!

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Old 12-08-2022, 04:38 PM   #12
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I just want to say thanks to everyone who has contributed. I have a better understanding, and direction on where to take this. Here are a couple of picture links. Let's see if I get this right.



https://drive.google.com/file/d/1q0i...usp=share_link
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Old 12-09-2022, 01:22 PM   #13
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What sort of substrate is in your tank?
It looks yellow.
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Old 12-09-2022, 01:35 PM   #14
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It looks tan to me. Pet Supplies Plus sells sand & some very nice gravel similar to what’s depicted. Their gravel is more like small shiny pebbles in mixed shades of grey & brown.
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Old 12-09-2022, 06:43 PM   #15
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The substrate is pool filter sand. I also used lava rock in mesh bags to build up the hills. I also got a bag of aquarium pebble type substrate, and put some of that in for some contrast.
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