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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've attached is a screen print of the spreadsheet I use to track my water parameters every week. A couple of questions/concerns I'd like to bounce off you all.
1. My Nitrates are climbing, to 40ppm this week, I've heard that 20-40ppm is normal, but wanted to get everyone's perspective. BTW, I do a 20% water change twice a week, which should help keep the levels down (I'm hoping).
2. My kH is 11 this week, is that getting too high?
3. I use Lake Tanganyika buffer from Seachem, which seems to increase the hardness, but the pH is hanging around 7.6 pH. What do you all think about the buffer?
4. I've almost come to the conclusion the API Ammonia test kit is faulty since it always reads way higher than the other 3 test kits I use, as you can see from the charts. This week the API kit said 0.5ppm, while all the others said essentially 0.0ppm.

Also, I've been cycling the tank since December (5-6 months)

All the best !!!

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
BTW, in the Video I mention the plants on the left are Java Ferns, but I've found out since then that they are Anubias barteri v angustifolia, which is going to be much harder to say !!!

Thanks for the help !!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
swk said:
What's the ph and kh of your tap water?
I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but the pH is low (like about 6) and the kH low also (I'm guessing around 6ppm as well)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yeah, I buffered the water, thanks for pointing that out ... pretty important !!!

Most importantly, the fish are still alive this morning and seem perky !!!

I was worried about doing a 40% change, since I've never done more than 20% before. Hopefully this will work, it seems like the easiest way to keep the nitrates in check.

I also cleaned the filter last night, with chlorine-free water, so that might have been part of the problem, since it was really dirty.

All the best and thanks for all the help !!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks again for the advice, I truly appreciate it !!!

How often do you think I should clean the filter? I'd love to have a second one, but money's a little tight right now to do so. I'm planning on cleaning the filter every two months, is that too long? I've heard of some people going 6 months, which seems really extreme, since mine would clog up WAY before then. Maybe I should clean it every month? BTW, I have a Rena Filstar XP3 canister filter ... http://www.renacanisterfilters.com/rena-filstar-xp3-canister-filter/

Thanks again and have a wonderful day !!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Oh, FYI, I also use Prime when I do my water changes. Which seems to work great. I was so excited when my fry were still alive and perky this morning, even my smaller 3/8" long ones !!! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks again for your words of wisdom !!!

I do have a sponge pre-filter on the inlet I clean every couple of weeks and that really helps, like you suggested.

I also plan on keeping the population in check by giving/selling many of the adolescents back to my local fish store. They give me $2-3 per fish that are about 1 1/2" long as a credit. I haven't been able to find out how often they breed, though ... I assume it's about every 3 months, I'll have to search some more. So far I have 2 breeding pairs on the left half of the tank and assume at some point I might have a breeding pair or pairs on the right side at some point too, which would be pretty neat. It's pretty cool how delineated their territories are in the tank.

Bottom line is it looks like I'm going to have to clean my filter more, eh?

Thanks again !!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
triscuit said:
A couple of things to mention (besides how cool your chart is!)...

Doing 20% twice a week is not as efficient as doing 40% once a week. On a given week, your second water change is only pulling 80% "old" water, and 20% "new" water. You are better off doing larger water changes, and as you can see- your fish don't mind.

Think of it this way- If you have a pitcher of water tainted with food coloring... what's the quickest way of getting the color out? By dumping out the whole pitcher of course, giving it a good rinse, and chances are you'd get most of the dye out. If you were to take one cup of colored water out, and put a clean cup of water in- how many times would you have to do that to get the dye out? Meanwhile, your sister is putting more food color into the pitcher...

So, we shouldn't dump our tanks completely, but you must factor in dilution when figuring out the best water change habits for your tanks.

As far as the other chemistry- buy baking soda and some Epsom salt. I suggest that Sea Chem is making way too much money on their buffers. There are enough trace elements in fish food and tap water not to worry too much about them. I'm not sure what the distinction between dH and gH is on your chart- but general hardness should be a bit higher, which the Epsom salt will fix.

My tanks get 75% water changes almost every week. I use baking soda to raise pH and KH (my water needs about 1 TBS per 10 gallons), and Epsom salt to raise GH (1 tsp per 10 gallons). Your water will need a different dose, but you can get that figured out easily enough. I like Prime or ChlorAmX for water conditioners... My method to avoid shocking the fish with such large water changes is to predissolve the dose of salt, soda, and conditioner in a cup of warm water, and add it as I'm refilling the tank. I use a hose from the nearest faucet, and match the temperature with my hand. With ~8 tanks running, I'm not too fussy about measuring anything exactly.
Thanks for the words of experience !!! I've upped my water changes to ~45% twice a week and it's dropped my Nitrates down to about 15ppm (from ~40ppm), with my first re-test, as of yesterday (it may go down further with subsequent changes). With regard to Seachem, I just bought another bucket of buffer, so I'll use that up first, then try out the Epsom salt you've suggested (I like the idea of pre-dissolving in warm water first ... good idea !!!) . BTW, I also use Prime as a conditioner and so far so good.

I've now had my third batch of fry on Sunday, for a total of about 40 fry. The broods are pretty small right now, since they're their first ones. My oldest fry are about 1" long now already and my smallest/newest about 3/8" long. Pretty fun to watch them grow.

Also, with regard to gH vs. dH (German Hardness) ... for gH I use the API test kit, with the counting the number of drops to change the color, and the dH I have an electronic meter (http://www.marinedepot.com/controll...oint_conductivity_monitor_information-ap.html) and that supposedly measures dH.

CONVERSION TO OTHER SCALES OF HARDNESS
33 microSiemens = 17.9ppm
33 microSiemens = 1dH (German ° hardness)
1dH = 17.9ppm

Thanks again and all the best to everyone !!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I just thought you might want to know that the advice given has resulted in my Nitrates dropping from about 40ppm to about 7.5pmm. I've been doing 50% water changes twice a week for a few weeks now and it's making all the difference in the world.

Thanks and all the best to everyone !!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Thanks for all the great advice again !!!

Yeah, it seems the general consensus on this site is that the more water changes the better, within reason of course. I have one of those hoses that make the water changes really easy (and I use Prime), so it's just a matter of waiting (it usually takes me about 2 hours per change, including my two Daphnia tanks).

Also, since I have a heavily planted tank I'll try to manage the Nitrates around 10ppm, per your advice. I clean out my filter once a month, otherwise it seems to get to clogged up. The one thing I don't do is vacuum too regularly, do not disturb the fish (especially when they're breeding) ... I'm sure there's much to debate on that, but my theory is I'm hoping the plants can use the waste as additional fertilizer.

BTW, I have about 50 fish now, including all the fry (including 7 adults)

All the best to everyone !!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I just remembered, I forgot to mention I sold my two 8" long Plecos about 3 weeks ago, which where creating, obviously, a ton of waste. I'm wondering if part of my Nitrate reduction might be due to their lack of waste creation? Since in reality, I also have so many rocks covering the bottom it's almost impossible to vacuum anyways.

Any thoughts?

Thanks, in advance, for any additional insights ... :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Razzo said:
DJRansome said:
10ppm is good, but if you have a planted tank you don't want to go lower.
I haven't done plants yet. I should try. I want to add some to my kilesa tanks.
BTW, I've had great luck with http://www.aquariumplants.com and have found, at least with the hard water I have, that my Anubias Barteri v Angustifolia, Anubias Hastifolia and Amazon Swords have done really well. I also use Flourish Excel daily and monthly TOTAL pellet fertilizer ... http://www.aquariumplants.com/AquariumPlants_com_s_own_SUBSTRATE_VITALIZATION_p/fert.htm

I hope this helps a little ... all the best :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
dmiller328 said:
Prime will cause a false ammonia reading on your api test kit. Prime works great though!!

I do 40-50% water changes every 7-10 days in my Adult/breeder tanks depending on fish load.If it takes 2 water changes a week to keep the nitrates down, there are either too many fish or overfeeding.I hear from many people that overloading a tank is fine as long as you do massive/many wc but you have to think when a problem happens such as a power outage,the overloaded tank will have a much larger ammonia spike and not enough 02.

Adding another filter will not help with Nitrates.Getting rid of the big plecos was the best thing for sure.If you want an algae eater that does not get that big get a bushynose pleco.
So that's why my Ammonia is so high on my API test kit. I have 4 Ammonia testing kits I've bought to double-check, just in case and the API will always be in the 0.5-1.0ppm range, while the others are 0.0-0.1ppm ... Thank you !!! I've been trying to figure that our for months.

On the Nitrates, I'll see where they stabilize ... I'm betting I'll be able to back off my water changes, though.

This is such a great site ... :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I just checked my water parameters yesterday and my Nitrates stayed at about 7.5ppm, with doing 45% water change twice a week. I think I'm going to try a weekly water change and see how much of a difference that makes in my Nitrates, since it sounds like (with advice from this site) that for my live plants, my Nitrates should be more about 15ppm. My plants are doing well, but they can always do better.

Any thoughts?

All the best ... :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
triscuit said:
50% once a week should be enough. If your plants look good with that, I wouldn't worry too much about your nitrate level. The only tanks I see with zero nitrates are heavily planted ones, where any nitrate produced is quickly assimilated by the plants.

Now- it's time to sit back and enjoy your hard work! :popcorn:
I hope once a week is enough, since I do have a relatively heavily planted tank ... it sure is more fun watching them than changing the water !!!

Thanks ... :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Rick_Lindsey said:
24Tropheus said:
I hear you can usually increase the effectiveness of powered filters by adding a pre-filter (A sponge block on the intake that you clean each week or water-change or any time it starts to block).
I'm not sure about effectiveness, but what this does is keep some of the gunk from getting in your canister. If you look at the big nitrogen cycle picture... any time you feed the tank, you're putting nitrogen into the cycle. when you have nitrates and you do a water change, you're taking nitrogen out of the cycle. There are lots of things in the tank absorbing or eating nitrogen (plants, fish), but when parts of plants die off and decay, they release that nitrogen. Likewise when fish respirate or pee, they release it directly as ammonia. when they poop, that decays into ammonia.

So any organic matter that makes it into your canister filter will get converted to nitrates. You shouldn't see the more toxic ammonia or nitrite because your canister is doing a bang-up job of converting those to the less toxic nitrate (that's it's job, after all).

If you put a pre-filter on the canister intake, though, and clean it off every time you do a water change (maybe get 2 pre-filters and just swap them, that way you can clean the other at your leisure), then you *remove* the nitrogen from the cycle, by removing the organic matter before it has a chance to decay. All the filtration in the world cannot remove nitrogen (de-nitrators aside, as they tend to be finicky beasts). Even a plant filter or algal turf filter isn't really removing the nitrogen -- you do that when you trim the plants or scrape off some of the algae. The only time the total nitrogen ever goes down is when you physically remove it (water change, trimming plants, fishing out a dead fish before it decays, cleaning your pre-filters, cleaning out your canister, etc).

There are lots of approaches to keeping your nitrate low, whether it's limit the nitrogen input (feed less -- which is often the natural outcome of a lighter stocking level), increase the nitrogen removal (more water changes, more frequent filter maintenance) or storing the nitrogen off into plants for later removal(algal turf, planted 'fuge, or even just a heavily planted tank). All are equally valid, and all require varying amounts and different sorts of work.

Sorry for writing a book here... I'll get off my soap (or is that nitrogen?) box.

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)

<edit> LOL, I should learn to make sure there aren't 2 more pages of posts before I reply to something from page 1... looks like everything's under control and my rant was moot, so apologies for the bandwidth! </edit>
Excellent Summary ... Thanks !!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
FYI, just to let everyone know, I've been doing 45% water changes once a week, instead of twice a week, for about 3 weeks now. That, combined with the Plecos being gone, have dropped my Nitrates down to about 5ppm last week !!! Pretty amazing, since they were 40ppm about 2 months ago.

Also, I have about 40 Neolamprologus Brichardi in total, ranging in size from about 1/2" to 3 1/2", with 7 of them being adults. They haven't bred since April/May so I assume they've determined that's enough fish for my 125 gallon tank ... amazing how nature works.

So my plan is to keep with weekly 45% water changes, keep track of my water parameters, and see how it goes.

Thanks for all the help !!! :)
 
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