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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, just recently setup my aquarium about three months ago. I started off with a little starter fish(not african cichlid) and a pleco. They both lived in my aquarium for about a month and a half. Then I decided to start african cichlid tank. I started out with adding three african cichlids. Then two weeks later I bout another two african cichlids along with a test kit. I have owned aquariums in the past and never tested the water and I have had them workout on their own for two years. This time, I decided to get a test kit. When I tested my water the first time my amonia level was around 0.50 ppm and it ihas slowly risen to between 4.0-8.0ppm. My nitrite level is 0ppm and my nitrate level used to be very high ( 40-80ppm) but it has dropped to 0ppm. My PH is around 8.4. Currently I still have the pleco, and five afrcan cichlids (Tanganyika's). I have a 40G tank and lately I have been doing about 10-15 gallon water changes every other day. The Amonia still has not gone down. I also use API amonia bloc every other day to keep the amonia non toxic. Also, in the past week, my water has been getting extremely cloudy and the top has a cloudy/milky looking layer. I am using two bubble airstones, I have a fluval 204 filter, and I currently have fake plants and a fake rock cave. I am only feeding them twice a day and the past few days I started feeding them once a day because of the amonia. Please inform me of what is going on? My fish look entirely healthy and they are always active and hungry. I just want to find out asap so I do not lose my fish. Sorry for the long description I just wanted to give you all of the information on my tank's setup. Thanks.
 

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Ok, I'm guessing from what you've described that the tank has gone into or back to a state of what's called 'new tank syndrome'. I know it's not a brand new tank, and should be cycled, but obviously it's not. I'd treat this as starting ntew, since that's what it seems to be doing.

First, a question.

What type of filter(s) and what type of maintenance has been done. Please be specific about what's been rinsed/replace, etc.

Have you made any changes to the tank since it's been set up in the way of decor, substrate, etc?

Can you post a full shot pic of the tank?

What I'd recommend.

Cut feeding back to once lightly every 2-3 days, no more. Yes, they'll be more than fine. The ammonia is a much bigger danger to them than missing a meal.

Do 50% water changes at least once per day. If you can do one morning and one later, do so. Try to get the ammonia level down to 1ppm or so.

Don't make any changes to the system right now.

Don't clean the filters at this point.

I'm not sure what the API ammonia bloc is as I can find no info on it. I'd suggest using the API Ammolock and maybe that's what you are referring to. You are right to use something to detox the ammonia. What you don't want to use is an ammonia remover, as they work too slowly.

Post back as soon as you can with answers to the questions.
 

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Your tank is not cycled. Maybe the bacteria died off, or it never grew in the first place.

Can you get a hold of some used filter media from a friend or the fish store? This will jump start your cycle?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
THanks. Yes its ammolock I was referring to. I added some rocks that were concrete sample rocks. I removed them though because I thought this was the cause for high ammonia. Now theyve been out for two days and *** done a water change since then. Its still as high as before. I have carbon and small white blocks im my cartridges. I rinsed them off a few weeks ago because my output hose was barely flowing. Now it is flowing strong again. Now that u ask that question, maybw it is because I cleaned my filters and rinsed the carbon, pads, and white blocks. If my tank is starting a new cycle, what exactly do I do? Will the cloudiness kill my fish? And is my amonia level extremely dangerous? Thanks for the responses
 

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I agree with the above comments. You the algae eater probably didnt help because there wasnt enough algae for him to go potty a lot and the other fish wasnt enough to help create the amount of bacteria you needed for more fish. Do the 50 water change like Prov said -or Find a pet sore with no sick fish and see if they have a sponge filter like Frank said -or get some Bio in a bottle. The bio in a bottle isnt a hundred % but I heard on here Dr. Tim has good stuff. If you dont have time to order then find what you can at the LPS.
 

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I had an outside filter that I cleaned before and when I turned it on white calcium looking stuff came out and the water turned mucus looking. That is harmless I believe. But you did this early so it probably killed your bacteria.
 

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tjc348 said:
THanks. Yes its ammolock I was referring to. I added some rocks that were concrete sample rocks. I removed them though because I thought this was the cause for high ammonia. Now theyve been out for two days and I've done a water change since then. Its still as high as before. I have carbon and small white blocks im my cartridges. I rinsed them off a few weeks ago because my output hose was barely flowing. Now it is flowing strong again. Now that u ask that question, maybw it is because I cleaned my filters and rinsed the carbon, pads, and white blocks. If my tank is starting a new cycle, what exactly do I do? Will the cloudiness kill my fish? And is my amonia level extremely dangerous? Thanks for the responses
The rocks wouldn't have been the cause of the ammonia. Too aggressive of a filter cleaning would be the reason.

If the flow had slowed that dramatically, it suggests over feeding.

Yes, that ammonia level is potentially dangerous.

What to do.

Aggressive water changes as suggested previously. Vacuum any solids while you're at it, but don't get too aggressive with that. Do a bit at a time.

Don't clean the filters for now, or until you're past this. Well past this, like 30-60 days. If properly feeding, the filter shouldn't need it.

Continue with the Ammolock.

If you can get hold of some media from an established filter (known good disease free), then add it to your filter. Otherwise, consider one of the bacteria in a bottle products.

Cloudiness is not hazardous to the fish, ignore it.

Test daily for ammonia and nitrite and try to keep both down to 1ppm or below.

Actually I think it's been a combination of the filter cleaning and overfeeding. Five fish should be manageable through this if you don't overfeed. If it were my tank, I wouldn't feed at all until ammonia was brought down to 1ppm or less. Then feedings every 3 days until the tank was cycled again. Then a light filter cleaning after another 30 days.
 

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The tank looks fine as far as I can see. Filtration inflow and return are good, the air stone will help. Decor isn't excessive. I'd vacuum around the rocka a bit when doing water changes. Don't tinker at all by rearranging anythhing. Let things settle and get re-established.

It needs a background, by the way. I know, that's the least of your worries right now. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ok, Thank you. So is it safe for me to put the Concrete sample rocks back in to my tank? They are made from concrete but they are supposed to look like stone. They are used one sample panels to advertise stone products. I would like to put them back in if all possible because they looked nice and gave my fish plenty of places to hide, considering I have one fish that constantly picks on the others. Last question, Once my tank is established and is balanced out, how often should I feed my fish (safely)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just now read your post. So I guess it is not safe to put my rocks back in? they were in my tank for about three weeks so I would think they have more bacteria on them than what is in my tank right now.

I know I need a background I took mine off to clean behind it. lol

And what do you mean by vaccumn? I do my water changes with a 1 gallon bottle and continue to dump them into a five gallon bucket.

With the vacumn, do you have to syphen it? suck through the hose and it starts vacumning? Because I have a gravel vacumn thing that I got two years ago with one of my tanks but i never used it.
 

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I'd not make any changes/additions to the tank right now. Might be fine, but that's just me. Up to you.

I feed all my fish once per day, but it's more about the amount than the frequency. You'll get differing views and there's no one right answer, but I think feeding heavily twice per day is more than they need. And it can lead to some serious maintenance requirements. If you power feed, then you'll need to power clean. I've done that when gowing out fry. Fish can become overweight from over feeding. I've seen fat fish. Even if fit and trim, there's only so much that the body can use, and the rest is excreted as waste. If you feed lightly, you can feed more often, but by lightly I mean just enough so that each gets some without gorging themselves. But all that is a generallization. There may be times when it's best to feed more often, so I"m just speaking to your situation. Some of it depends on the food as well. I feed a very nutritious food. I know that if each fish gets a few pellets, at least, per day, they'll do fine and thrive. Will they set size records? No, but that's never my goal.

they were in my tank for about three weeks so I would think they have more bacteria on them than what is in my tank right now.
As long as they didn't dry out. If they were just pulled and are still damp, then yes there are potential advantages to adding them back. If they've dried out, the bacteria are dead.

And what do you mean by vaccumn? I do my water changes with a 1 gallon bottle and continue to dump them into a five gallon bucket.

With the vacumn, do you have to syphen it? suck through the hose and it starts vacumning? Because I have a gravel vacumn thing that I got two years ago with one of my tanks but i never used it.
Gravel vac's are available that are basically a wide tube stuck onto the end of a vinyl hose. You work the tube around the gravel and it pulls the solids out, while leaving the gravel behind. Sounds like that's what you have. I'd break it out use it for your water changes.
 

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Another thought about feeding. With gravel in the tank, you'll need to feed slowly so that it gets eaten before settling into the gravel. I'm guessing when you use the gravel vac, you'll see clouds of dark stuff being pulled out of it. Again, don't worry about getting it all in one water change. Work it out over a few days time.

At some point down the road, you might want to consider sand instead of gravel, but now isn't the time to make that change unless you were in a position to get some filter media or a bottled bacteria product. There are pros and cons to making the change now, if interested.

Which tanganyikans do you have, btw?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sorry, I thought that I had tanganyikan cichlids. I have Malwai Cichlids. I have a yellow one, blue with some dark stripes, an orange one, yellow and black striped one, and a larger one that does not have a while lot of color to it but has white stripes.

I have heard that sand will keep the ph balanced out. So will crushed coral? I would like to change out my gravel for a sand or crushed coral. One, because I prefer the look of sand. two, because it supposible keeps the PH balanced.

My dad is going to stop by one of our local fish stores after he gets off work. He is going to give me a call when he gets there so I can describe to him what type of filter pad/ sponge I am looking for. This store only specializes in aquatics and they have a lot of fish tanks that are usually very clean. They are known to have healthy fish, so hopefully they will have a filter pad/sponge that has established bacteria.

What are the pros of changing from gravel to sand right now? I may ask my dad to pick me up some bags of sand. What kind would you recommend? Also, any colors that would look good with a natural looking stone?

Again, thanks for your help.

and my name is also Tim haha
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The rocks that I had removed from my tank the other day are still darkish in color. They appear to still have moisture inside of them. I would assume that they are probably safe to put back in my tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The reason I said that I think the concrete rocks were the cause for high ammonia is because I took two of the larger rocks out of my tank and put them in a bucket. I filled the bucket up with water and after about ten minutes I tested the water in the bucket for amonia. It did not detect any ammonia in the water. I let the rocks sit in the bucket for a day and checked the water in the bucket again. It showed my amonia was very high. Is this from the rocks?
 

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My dad is going to stop by one of our local fish stores after he gets off work. He is going to give me a call when he gets there so I can describe to him what type of filter pad/ sponge I am looking for. This store only specializes in aquatics and they have a lot of fish tanks that are usually very clean. They are known to have healthy fish, so hopefully they will have a filter pad/sponge that has established bacteria.
Doesn't hurt to ask, but I've not heard of any shops giving this stuff out, and they may give him a strange look or try to sell him something else. :)

I haven't seen sand do anything toward buffering my water. Theoretically true, but in practice, not so much, at least IME.

The pros of changing to sand now in combination with seeding the biofiltration is that you can get past re-establishing the tank now, rather than getting things going again, just to change out all the gravel and risk disrupting things again. Things are pretty much disrupted now. I wouln't do it if you can't seed, as there will undoubtedly be some bacteria on the gravel that you'll lose.

I like light colored sand, but just my personal preference.

The reason I said that I think the concrete rocks were the cause for high ammonia is because I took two of the larger rocks out of my tank and put them in a bucket. I filled the bucket up with water and after about ten minutes I tested the water in the bucket for amonia. It did not detect any ammonia in the water. I let the rocks sit in the bucket for a day and checked the water in the bucket again. It showed my amonia was very high. Is this from the rocks?
In light of this, don't add the rocks until more testing can be done, but I've never heard of rocks being the source of ammonia. Double check the test and the kits. I have heard of concrete raising alkalinity and pH. I think I'd find some different rocks. Landscape supply yards have some real nice ones cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ok, so my dad said that they did not have any filter pads at the fish store. The guy gave him a bottle that has live bacteria in it. Will this take down my ammonia down? I did a 50% water change about an hour ago. Will it be okay to do another one in 6 hours from now?
 

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Depends what it is. Some is more effective than others. Before you open it, post here. If it's one of the known useless products, I'd return it for a refund. I told you they'd manage to sell him something. :)

Will it be okay to do another one in 6 hours from now?
If the fish weren't stressed out by it, yes do another. Everybody's water is different. Do what they can handle to get those levels down.
 
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