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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 150 gallon cichlid tank with 22 peacocks of varying sizes from fry to full adults and 3 catfish. This tank has been set up for about 4 months and was upgraded from a 75 gallon (set up for over a year) with the same rock, filters (hob seachem tidal 110 and a magniflow 160) and gravel from that tank. I did add a new additional magniflow 160 to the 150 tank when I upgraded. I tested the water then and everything was fine. The last few days I noticed one of the fish was loosing some of its color and then actually died. I had become lax about testing since everything was on "autopilot". Tested yesterday and ammonia and nitrites were zero but the nitrates were off the chart. I did a 50% water change yesterday and then did another 50% today and the test kit still look like it is slightly over 160ppm. Should I keep doing 50% water changes daily to bring it down or should I be more aggressive or slow down since they are somewhat acclimated to the high nitrates? I typically do 25% water changes a week and clean the filters once a month and feed twice daily. I know now I need to do more frequent filter cleanings and cut my feedings from twice a day to once a day. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Since the fish tolerated the first 2 50% water changes well, keep doing 50% daily until nitrates are 10ppm.
 

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On top of the water changes, seachem has some products that could help with nitrates. seachem prime supposedly makes ammonia, nitrites, nitrates non-toxic, whereas seachem purigen is just something you put in your filter that lowers ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. I've never used these for nitrates, but they've worked wonders for nitrites and ammonia for me in the past, and the seachem site says they work for nitrates too.

Also, the water changes should bring it down fast. 50% water change should cut the nitrates in half.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the suggestions. After the 3rd water change I'm still at 160ppm. Is that possible that I started at ~400 ppm? I have tested the water out of the tap and it is 0 so I don't think it's bad test kit.
Also, when I had the smaller tank I would always siphon when cleaning. When I upgraded it it too tall for a regular length python to easily reach the bottom. The other problem is when I upgraded I added some really fine sand on top of the crushed coral I had. I ordered a longer gravel tube but any suggestions to not suck up all the finer substrate when syphoning or do you guys typically clean the gravel when you do water changes?
 

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The first thing is to get the nitrates down, keep changing water.

I do clean the substrate every time...you may have to remove the substrate so debris can't filter down when you are unable to plunge the siphon to the bottom because of the fine material.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So after a week and a half of daily 50% water changes I got the nitrates down under 20. However, we then had to leave to go out of town for a week so I had the house sitter feed very lightly 5 of the 7 days we were gone. When I got back and tested the water it is almost back up to 160ppm. When am doing the water changes I am getting some stuff from the substrate but not a lot. Same with the filters when I clean them. Any other suggestions or ideas of why the nitrates would spike so quickly???
 

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How deep is your substrate? You mentioned you are using crushed coral AND added fine sand on top of it.

What type (flake, pellet, etc.) and brand of food are you using? If using pellets, what size are they?

Any chance you can post some pics of the tank showing the decor, rocks, etc. just to get an idea of the tank set up? If you have a lot of rocks or decorations, it's possible food and debris is getting trapped around those structures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The substrate is about 2-3 inches deep but of course they like to redecorate all the time. I am feeding tetra cichlid floating pellets and they eat them all in less than 20 seconds. I also feed a VERY small pinch of cobalt ultra flakes a couple times a week so that the small babies can get something. I attached a picture of the aquarium. Let me know if for some reason it doesn't go through. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The pellets are for medium to large cichlids but are fairly small compared to other brands I have used.
 

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Your pic came through beautifully, thanks for posting it!!!!

I was expecting to see a 72" long tank but I guess I was wrong! What are your tank dimensions?

It is very possible some debris is trapped in that substrate and maybe under the rocks if you don't usually flatten it out or remove the rocks during substrate cleaning. Maybe try removing some of the substrate so that you have less than 1.5" and see if that makes a difference. Since your tank is tall, it may be easier to remove substrate when the water level is lower using a square shape Tupperware type container or if you have a large diameter hose (5/8"+), siphoning it out into a bucket would be much easier.

I'm wondering if the food you are feeding is contributing to the increase in nitrate due to the ingredients? There is quite a bit of wheat, potato and corn products as the 1st few ingredients.

Have you tried any other brands of pellets such as NLS (New Life Spectrum), Cobalt, Northfin, etc.? I like to look at the ingredient list to see more fish, krill, shrimp, etc. as the 1st few ingredients and choose accordingly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The tank is 24"L x 48"W x 30"H. I will try to move the rock and try cleaning under it today and see if there is much debris. I'll also try a different diet to see if that helps. Thanks
 

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Sounds good!!

When you do start trying a new food, it may take a few tries for the fish to accept it so buy it before you run out of the existing food. I like the 2mm size and 3mm size pellets for adult Mbuna, Haps and Aulonocara (Peacocks) fish using the NLS brand but that is just my experience.

A pellet size to large requires the fish to chew, spit out, chew, spit out until they can handle it well. A pellet too small may get lost in the tank and not eaten at all. Fry can usually find pieces in the tank or you can lightly crush too large pellets for them. I only use smaller pellets for fry or small juveniles when they are in their own tanks to raise them up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I ordered the NLS this am and I also decided to place some Pothos in the HOB filter to see if that would help any as well.
 

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vtdvm said:
So after a week and a half of daily 50% water changes I got the nitrates down under 20. However, we then had to leave to go out of town for a week so I had the house sitter feed very lightly 5 of the 7 days we were gone. When I got back and tested the water it is almost back up to 160ppm. When am doing the water changes I am getting some stuff from the substrate but not a lot. Same with the filters when I clean them. Any other suggestions or ideas of why the nitrates would spike so quickly???
I learned the hard way, but you really don't need to feed the fish when you are gone for seven days. Anymore, if I'm out of town for 7-10 days, I don't bother having anyone feed my fish. I do have my sister periodically check the house to make sure everything is ok. (No floods, dead fish, pumps are running). Even my fry are fine. ****, come to think of it, I only feed my frontosa tank once or twice a week.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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