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Old 01-05-2010, 02:07 AM   #1
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Unhappy PH and fin rot problems - new to fish.... Help!

Hi everyone,

ok so there's a long and sad story to this but I hope you can bear with me.

In November last year I bought a freshwater Aquastart 320 (28litre tank).
Came with heater, undergravel filter and aquarium gravel. Set it up, washed gravel and put it in, put in the aquarium water conditioner (and bacteria drops) and Let it run for a bit over a week according to instructions.

Against my better judgment I bought too many fish at once (1 Siamese fighter, 1 golden sucking catfish and 10 neon tetras). On the same day I bought a thermometer (mistake #2 - shouldve already bought it).
So of course I cooked my fish in 30 degree celcius heat, poor things. The neons all went over a few days, the siamese nearly a week, but my catfish survived.

During that time I managed to bring the water temp down by using water changes and floating ice in ziplock bags.

Thinking all was well again, a couple of weeks later I bought another fighter and two platys.

But within three days both platys died.

It wasn't until then I was told I should check my ph - it was through the roof -about 8 I think. Quite a pretty blue colour - would like it in other circumstances lol.

Since then, I still have both my Siamese and my catfish (what a trooper) but I'm worried about them because I think they're developing fin rot - have used a multicure for bacterial/fungal infections but nothings changed. I can only think that it's the ph. Have been using ph down (a little at a time) but it would not change. I even took everything out of the tank (2 plastic plants and a castle) just in case they were the cause. No change.

Finally managed to find a good fish shop and the guy tested my gravel saying it was calciumbased and was bringing my ph up.

Ive now changed my gravel and done a water change but two days later the ph is still too alkaline. I think it might have come down a little but it's hard to tell the difference between shades of blue and then your mind starts playing tricks.

I don't think my fish have gotten any worse, but they're not better either. There is a little bit of chasing going on but not enough as far as I can tell to cause both of them to have bad their fins nipped.

I've heard that carbonate hardness can be the cause of ph not coming down but was told not to worry about that but just to use ph down. I've also heard from some people that alkalinity is not too bad, but I've also heard that fighters have to be at ph neutral.

I don't suppose there could be something wrong with the tank itself?

On my home now from work so hopefully when I get home it's come down a little.

Sorry about the length of this post but I've had so much conflicting advice that Im at my wits end thinking "what have I gotten myself into!"

hope someone can help.

Thanks!

L
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:14 AM   #2
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I know you should never use anything like pH down to lower it, as most fish will just acclimate, and lowering the pH like that, as far as I know, just causes a temporary fix and is more harmful to the fish. I have all my fish, including bettas, in a pH of 7.6, and they are just fine. Plus, we have really hard water here.
How often do you change the water, and what temp do you keep it at? What are your other parameters? (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate)
Sometimes the bettas will nip their own fins, as well as other fish. You have to keep their water really, really clean to prevent a bacterial infection from getting in the nipped wounds. Are you sure it's fin nipping and not fin rot? Is there black around the edges of the bettas "nipped" parts?
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:28 AM   #3
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going off what dkpate said, ph down is not a good way to lower ph. Its kind of like putting a bandaid on a cut that requires stitches, or in your case, one that doesnt need the bandaid to begin with... If the ph is at 8, thats fine... wont affect anything except the most sensitive of fish (none of yours are)... Clean water is the best cure for alot of diseases. Fin rot can be cleared up doing lots of water changes, like 50% every day. Maybe even some stress coat or melafix to help regenerate the growth...
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Old 01-05-2010, 04:30 AM   #4
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Hmmmmm..... this contradicts what I've heard.

I've been told that if the ph is too alkaline it makes it difficult for my fish to "breathe" (comparable to breathing into a paper bag or something like that) and they get worn out, stressed, and their life expectancy is shorter.... more prone to disease etc.

I change the water once a week and the temp sits around 25-27 degrees celsius depending on the temp inside my unit.

I'm not sure about my ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels....... I was never told to check them... I guess that's mistake #3 then. I was going to buy stuff to check all that over the weekend but then the guy at the shop told me that I just need to get my ph down.

Would the 50% daily water changes cause my fish more stress?? I don't want to stress them out and make them more sick.
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Old 01-05-2010, 04:36 AM   #5
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I would get an API Master Freshwater test kit if possible, so you can test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be at 0, and the nitrate should be between 5 and 40ppm.
Ok, so your temp is around 77*F. The betta really should be in water around 80*F, but 77* isn't too far away.
Most pet store people will tell you anything to get you to buy more products, because they don't know what they are talking about lol.
The water changes won't stress your fish out. When I had to cycle my tank with fish (because I didn't know) I did 50-70% water changes every single day for 4 weeks.
After your tank cycles, keep doing the once a week changes, that's good.
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:16 AM   #6
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Thanks for your help. Going to try to pick up a kit tomorrow. Really worried about my fish. My catfish is changing to a darker colour - don't think he is happy. My betta is still swimming around ok.

Will have to find the melafix or stress coat that was mentioned too.

Don't wanna lose him after all this - he's survived a lot!
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:31 AM   #7
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Yes, just be careful about which meds you give to the catfish, since he is scaleless. Melafix and Pimafix are fine for them, I used it with my loaches.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:53 PM   #8
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I suspect ammonia do to un-cycled and over crowded tank. For a 7.5 gallon tank, you should only have 5-6 small fish. 1" of fish per 1 gallon of water.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:31 PM   #9
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Do not follow the 1 inch per gallon rule. I would go more by bio-load.
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:10 PM   #10
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The fish shop (another one) just gave me a tri-sulfa tablet to put in the tank (one half today, the other half of the tablet in three days) after doing a 50% water change. She thinks I might have high ammonia after changing the gravel and cleaning the filter at the same time (getting rid of too much bacteria). I've also bought an API master freshwater kit on eBay so should arrive in a couple of days.
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:59 AM   #11
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Update: got home and my golden sucking catfish is dead. *sniff*. He was from my first lot too :-(

Now am in middle of first 50% water change..... we'll see how my betta goes...
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Old 01-06-2010, 03:26 AM   #12
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Awww, sorry to hear about the catfish....Maybe it was the sulfa? Some meds and fixes aren't good for scaleless fish. But I don't know about sulfa.
I wouldn't use anything else to get rid of the ammonia, unless it's Prime. Hope the betta makes it!!!
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:54 AM   #13
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Aww thanks!

No I didn't even have the chance to put the sulfa in yet so it wasn't that.... it was already too late - when I got home from work he was already gone. I knew he wasn't well cos he wasn't moving around much anymore - just hiding in his castle... but I was hoping he'd pull through. The betta is still moving around a fair bit - doesn't seem too fazed by the fin rot yet (I guess cos he has more fin to go through lol), so the meds should work.

This is what I was given in case anyone's interested:
Tri Sulpha Tablets

Anyway, 50% water change, meds in the tank, all done & hope for the best. Looking forward to the kit arriving so I have more of an idea what exactly is going on.
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Old 01-06-2010, 05:07 AM   #14
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Yeah, I am wondering if it could be something bacterial too, because of the fins and death.
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:11 AM   #15
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It is 24 hours since the 50% water change and meds put in. He looks a bit worse, his fins are pretty wilted, he looks more like a female betta at the moment.

Still waiting on the kit to test the water...

As he is the only fish in the tank, do you think it would be a good idea to turn off the filter so he doesn't have to swim against the current? I could do that or I can adjust the head so it hits the side of the tank so it creates less current.
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:32 AM   #16
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Is he having trouble swimming? If he is, I would turn the filter off, take the media out and lay it in the water so it stays wet, and then lower the water level so he doesn't have to swim as far to get to the surface for air.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:12 PM   #17
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Just received my API freshwater testing kit.
Details as follows:

pH: 6.9 (nearly 7)
ammonia: nearly 0 - mostly yellow with a very very slight green tinge
nitrate: 5.0
nitrite: halfway between 25-50

doesn't seem like the water is extremely bad, just a bit of tweaking...

Betta hasn't improved with the meds, I also put some stress coat. He seems happy enough and he hasn't gotten worse as far as I can tell.

What do you think?
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:15 PM   #18
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did you get the nitrite and nitrate reading mixed up in typing them? i hope so. either way, nitrite should be 0, if its not, you need to do some water changes asap. nitrate is ok below 60. test the nitrate and nitrite again. make sure you shake the #2 nitrate bottle very well before using it and make sure to wait the full 5 minutes before reading the results
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:00 PM   #19
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Yeah I mustve mixed the two words up. Oops! Nitrite 5.0, nitrate about 37.

I'll do a water change when I get home from work.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:34 PM   #20
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Yeah, keep doing pwc's until you can get the nitrites to 0. Nitrate is good between 5-40ppm.
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