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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 65gal tank that has been setup for a year almost 2. I have been thinking about what kind of fish to put in it. Over the past month I've decided to go with mbuna cichlids. When we first got the tank we purchased some guppies which turned out to be more guppies, then some more and more. I gave some away to family and some died. I am not sure why they died, except the water quality would be my guess. I also had some neons in there too and they lasted almost a year. I wasn't doing normal water changes, I was when I first go the tank, but after awhile with school I lacked in the aquarium maintenance dept.

Ok more about the tank, 65 gal, tall I believe, I don't have the dimensions ( currently at work ). I have a biowheel 400 ( I think that is what it is) and a rena x3 canister filter which seems to be on the fits. It is working, but the water has more particles floating around in it than ever before. I haven't done my water change for this week yet, I may do that tonight. I do around 30% water change when I do them and have started doing them weekly since I have decided to go with mbuna's.

I have sand as my substrate, a few rocks in there. I want to get more to have places for them to hide and such. I think this is where I am clueless. I haven't tested my water for months maybe the last time I checked it was a year ago. I know most people suggest a 48" long aquarium, but I am stuck with what I purchased and its 36" in length, 18 width I think.. I'm not sure on the depth.

Any advised you could provide would be helpful. I am still a beginner and want to have success with this tank.

Oh yea, currently in the tank, I have 2 guppies ( one male and one female ), 2 plecos and about a 1000 ( ok maybe not that many) trumpet snails.
 

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First thing to do is test the nitrate level in your tank. If it's been a year since you tested, it will probably be off the charts. If it is my honest opinion is that you should tear the tank down, clean the sand, clean the filters, replace the filter media and start fresh with new water. This process will wipe out the good bacteria that builds up in tanks, so you will have to Cycle the tank before adding your new africans, there are some good articles on cycling in the library section of this site.

If you think this sounds too extreme think about the amount of OC's trapped in a system that hasn't been properly maintained for two years, you could do 75% w/c's for weeks without the nitrates dropping, and trying to do thorough cleaning while "keeping the cycle" would be more trouble than starting over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have thought about doing this. Would give me a chance to kill some snails. I have done filter changes through this time. The sand was added probably about 6 months ago after removing the old substrate.
 

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If you have any doubt's just start it over clean. It will be better for the fish from the start and in the long run, and give you a chance to get on a better maintenance schedule.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So I have tested my aquarium

Ammonia = 0
Nitrites = 0
Nitrate = 0

and ph I'm not sure how to read.

PH - high test came back 8.4 - 8.6
ph - low test or normal came back at 7.6
 

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Something is wrong here, ammonia and nitrite should be 0, but there is no way a tank set up for over a month let alone a year could have 0 nitrate. What kind of test did you use?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Freshwater master kit. I got it when I got my tank. I've been thinking of getting the strips that several tests on one strip.
 

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The strips aren't very accurate, and one of two things happened when you tested. 1. you're test kit is expired, or 2. You didn't shake the number 2 nitrate solution for a minute before you added the drops to the tube. ( this is probably what happened)

You have to fill the tube with 5ml water, add 10 drops #1 nitrate solution, and shake for 5-10 seconds to mix it with the water. Then shake the #2 nitrate bottle for 30sec-1min. then add 10 drops, and shake the tube for 1 full minute, then compare the color card for an accurate reading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Date on one of the bottles is from 08, others are from 09 so it is very possible it is out of date. I'm going to Petsmart this morning to have my water tested and see if it comes back the same.

I did a water change last night about 60%. I moved some sand around and I think I have bits of dead fish in the tank which I was able to get most of it out. Those darn snails.

Taking it down might be a more feasible option.
 

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Test must not be any good, even with a 60% change, if there bits of fish or other junk in there, you would see nitrates for sure, but anyway, tearing down and cleaning is still the best course of action. Make sure you pick up a new master kit so you can monitor the cycle when you start over.
 

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pharrix said:
Date on one of the bottles is from 08, others are from 09 so it is very possible it is out of date. I'm going to Petsmart this morning to have my water tested and see if it comes back the same.

I did a water change last night about 60%. I moved some sand around and I think I have bits of dead fish in the tank which I was able to get most of it out. Those darn snails.

Taking it down might be a more feasible option.
I'd replace the kits. I'd also remove and rinse all substrate and rocks, etc. Clean the filter, but there's not reason to be so aggresive with it that you lose any bacteria that are there.

You might consider using a product to kill off all the snails first. This would be the time to do that.

Then put it all back together and fishless cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Petsmart says water is fine.. all with in the safe areas..

I got some work ahead of me.. I'll do it this weekend, got a 10gal I can use for the fish. Any suggestions of how to clean the sand?
 

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Any suggestions of how to clean the sand?
Siphon it out, and then rinse just as you would when cleaning new sand. I use a 5 gallon bucket. Add some water, stir it around, and pour it off. Repeat a few times. You can use any kind of hose to siphon it out of the tank. It's very easy to do. I do this occasionally on established tanks.
 

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pharrix said:
Thanks. I will do this, this weekend.
I'd suggest first rehoming the existing fish, then killing off the snails, then the teardown and clean, next fishless cycle, and then restock.
 

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Why are you starting over? Obviously your nittrates can't be zero, but you have tested them several times and it seems like nitrates are not a problem. A good gravel vaccuming should take care of the sand. And the trumpet snails are a fishkeepers best friend. I wouldn't be surpised if there were 1,000 snails in there. If you are going to start over, you should get a 4 to 6 foot tank if you have the room. I think your experience with mbuna will be much better with a larger tank. With a 3 foot long tank, I think that most people on this forum would reccommend that you only get 3 different species at the maximum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've been thinking about cleaning everything and removing the fish, killing the snails and starting over basically. I'm ordering a new test kit. I have rocks mixed in with my sand which I am not liking. Call it a newbie mistake or I got into a hurry and didn't care at the time and dumped the sand in there. I have not started over. As for me getting a new tank, that is not an option at this time.

Here is a pick of the tank in its current state.

 
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