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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I went to store to get my water tested today. The kid said "Your Ph looks good but your nitrates and nitrites are in the danger levels." Ok that makes sense but when I asked what my Ph was he said it was above 7.5. HELLO!! :x I am trying to do a cichlid tank. I know I have to have a 8 at least! Anywho, I also asked how to get my nitrates down and he then suggested that I stop using tap water and use DI water, OK I don't know anything about using DI water. So help me out here. I know that they charge $2.50 for a 5 gal. I have 135 gal. and it's full right now. so do I drain my tank and use the DI water? :-? The chemicals I am using are Nuetral Regulator and Cichlid buffer. But then I run into another problem the Nuetral reg. brings Ph down to 7.5 and the cichlid buffer brings it up. So when I do a water change, do I add the regulator then the cichlid buffer together? :?
I feel like I am going to explode. I need some advise! I am doing Mbunas in this tank. Any and All suggestions are appreciated!

P.s. I didn't get my water tested at Petsmart or Petco. Nice ppl but....
 

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sorry, can't really help you there, but that seems rediculous to buy water for your tank... that will be lots of $$$ to fill a 135 gallon every week or so... you don't have a test kit i presume because you went to a store to get it done... might want to get one, and then you can check your tap water and see what the parameters are and go from there... maybe just buy chemicals that halp the nitrite and nitrate. not sure what is out there, as if my levels are off a bit, i just do a water change... i would start with what your tap water is and go from there...
good luck
 

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Personally, I think the fish would be fine in 7.5 pH water. I guess if you want optimal parameters its another story...
 

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If you are doing Mbunas you should be fine with a pH of 7.5. But I second Venustus19 about getting a test kit of your own. Get one that tests pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, gH & kH. You might find out you don't need to add anything at all to your tapwater (except for chlorine/chloramine) for your fish to be happy.

Weekly water changes will keep your nitrates down. I would do at least 25% to 45% weekly, depending on how many fish &/or live plants you have.

How long has this tank been setup & how many fish do you have now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The tank has been up and going for about a month but it didn't have anything in it because I didn't know what Decor. I wanted and I am do not have any fish in it at this time. I am planning on some real plants (I have a plant tank going with a few of these Vallisneria, Anubias and Java fern as suggested by one of the articles) Right now the plants in there are fake the gravel is river rock, the rock caves are mesquabuck flagstone (81 lbs) Thanks for all ya'lls help. I am going to go buy a testing kit as soon as the kids get home.
 

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I'm confused, I think...

How did you cycle the tank? How many fish, if any, are in the tank, and how long have they been in there? You mentioned mbuna. What is your filtration like?

You mentioned that the tank has been running for a month... how the tank was cycled may have something to do with the presence of nitrite. The cycle could not be complete.

As for getting nitrates down, do a water change... I would also recommend getting a test kit. Then, test your tap water. If there aren't any nitrates in the tap water, it should be fine to use, provided you use it with a good dechlorinator. I personally have used tap water for 20 years, and never had a problem. I do have an RO/DI filter, but this is used for my soft water cichlids.

We do have an article here for a cichlid buffering concoction, but I have not used it. I would do a search of the African cichlid folders, or even post there, for more specifics, if you're interested.

Can I ask why are you using a chemical to bring your pH to 7.5 (Neutral Regulator) and then a buffer to bring it up?
 

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drewzwife said:
Hi all,
I went to store to get my water tested today. The kid said "Your Ph looks good but your nitrates and nitrites are in the danger levels."
In a later post, you mention that you have no fish. If the store guy said water from a tank with no fish (assuming you didn't add fish food or ammonia or somesuch) has dangerously high levels of nitrate and nitrite, then either his test kit is bad, or he's a clueless idiot.

drewzwife said:
Anywho, I also asked how to get my nitrates down and he then suggested that I stop using tap water and use DI water, OK I don't know anything about using DI water. So help me out here. I know that they charge $2.50 for a 5 gal
This right here leads me to believe that the answer to the "clueless or bad test kit" question is "clueless". That or maliciously taking advantage of you. DI water will NOT help with your nitrite/nitrate levels, unless your tap water is coming with lots of nitrate and nitrite in it.

chemicals I am using are Nuetral Regulator and Cichlid buffer.
whoah nelly!!!! Put the neutral regulator back in the closet, and leave it there.

It sounds like you needs yourself a test kit! Is there money in your fishkeeping budget for a master test kit? If so, it's highly recommended! You want ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH at the very least. Preferably something with gH and/or kH tests would be good too. If not, take some water to a *different* store and get it tested (though I'd honestly recommend saving up for the test kit before spending money on fish).

Run some tap water into a cup (or clean bottle, whatever), and set it on your counter for a few hours. Now test it (or get it tested) for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and if you can, hardness. Report back to us with those values and we'll be able to give you some better advice on what to do with your fishtank.

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)

edit
I am going to go buy a testing kit as soon as the kids get home.
Doh, I should learn to read. Ignore the part about "you should buy a testkit" and just get back to us with the readings from your tapwater after it sits for a few hours. Wouldn't hurt to repeat the same measurements on the water in your tank. Also, what sort of water conditioner are you using to remove chlorine/chloramine?
/edit
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
a7oneal, I was told to use the regulator along with the Buffer to get my water right by the people at the store! Of Course, we are figuring out that these people have NO CLUE on cichlids and Seeing how I have only had experince in Tropical and no idea about cichlids.. I was just going on what they said and thought that they knew (teach me to assume) Then I found this site and have learned MORE in just a few days then I did in months of dealing with these people. I have a Rena Px4, along with a power head, 2 heaters. The tank has been up for a month with no fish, no plants, I had only some fake drift would and river rocks in it till this last week end and my kids and husband bought me some fake plants and flagstone :thumb:

Rick, I did retest my tank and found that my Ph is 8.0 :dancing: my Nitrates are 0 :dancing: but my nitrites are .25 :( I also added some aquarium salt so we'll see if that helps! As far as the store guy I think he's more into salt and tropical fish than cichlids :roll: I heard that this business is hurting and I really hope that they successed! but............ I am not sure that I will be doing alot of business there anymore.
Thanks for the advise!

I hope that all this information will help you guys help me get this right. I really want a beautiful tank with great happy fish :fish: That and I think that cichlids are entertaining :lol:
 

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drewzwife said:
Rick, I did retest my tank and found that my Ph is 8.0 :dancing: my Nitrates are 0 :dancing: but my nitrites are .25 :( I also added some aquarium salt so we'll see if that helps! As far as the store guy I think he's more into salt and tropical fish than cichlids :roll: I heard that this business is hurting and I really hope that they successed! but............ I am not sure that I will be doing alot of business there anymore.
Thanks for the advise!

I hope that all this information will help you guys help me get this right. I really want a beautiful tank with great happy fish :fish: That and I think that cichlids are entertaining :lol:
Good news on the tank pH. I think it's still worthwhile to run all the tests on tapwater that has been allowed to rest fora few hours. If you have nitrite in your tapwater (and it sounds like ou do) you'll want to know, and you'll want to know what the pH is out of your tap as well. It can help determine how much buffer you want/need.

How are you planning to cycle your tank? Have you read any of the articles on fishless cycling?

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have some water from the tap sitting out right now :thumb: I will test it before I go to bed here in about half an hour.
I have read some article on fishless cycling. I have some plants growing in a different tank that I am wanting to put in this tank but they are still babies. (really I am waiting for them to have babies so that I have more than one to display) I have some java ferns, vallisneria, and some anubias.
but I am still researching it. I might have a friend that could give me some live rock :-? but I am not sure this is the way to go. She said that she has a lava rock that has been in her tank for 3 yrs and has great bacteria and it will help get my tank going. I am not sure I want to borrow someone rock LOL but if worse come to worse I will do that.
 

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If she has a saltwater tank with liverock then it will all die once it's in your tank so I would not do that. If she has a freshwater tank then it's not actually liverock. As far as getting a rock from her, you still would need to cycle the tank, which I suggest doing now as it will take up to a month to do, so if you want fish within the month it would be a good idea. good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I tested my tap water
Nitrites .25
Nitrates 5.0
Ph 8.0
Ammonia 0.50 but was kinda in between .50 and 1.0

I am going to wait a couple of says and retest the tank.
and I am thinking of using the fishless cycling. I know it will take longer but I am not in a big hurry if it means getting it right.
Let me know if this is the correct way to do this.
(starting to realize that the people I was listening to are not the ones that I need to be learning from :( )
 

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drewzwife said:
I tested my tap water
Nitrites .25
Nitrates 5.0
Ph 8.0
Ammonia 0.50 but was kinda in between .50 and 1.0
Doh! Most unfortunate tapwater you have there :(. You're probably going to need to use an ammonia-neutralizing tap water conditioner (such as Amquel or Prime) to detoxify the water before adding it to a fish-laden fish tank (no need during the fishless cycle). Unfortunately this can skew the readings of some test kits -- I don't know which kit you have, or even which kits will work with the amonnia-detoxifiers, sorry!

Of course, lots of people use Prime (or it's equivalent competitor) as their normal water conditioner anyways, so that's not really any different than the rest of us (I'm a cheapo and have chlorine, not chloramine, so I tend to use the cheap stuff that just gets rid of chlorine and doesn't do anything else).

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)
 

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I am thinking of using the fishless cycling. I know it will take longer but I am not in a big hurry if it means getting it right.
Let me know if this is the correct way to do this.
Doesn't have to take any longer at all. Whether going with fish or fishless isn't what determines the length of time it takes. It's 4-6 weeks either way. Seeding the tank and filters with media or rocks, etc from an established tank is what can really shorten the time.

I'd take up your friend's offer for the lava rock if it's truly from a freshwater tank. You can always take it out later. If your friend has some filter media from a filter, even better, as long as it's a tank with established, healthy inhabitants. IME, it cuts the time to cycle down to about 8-10 days instead of 5-6 weeks.

Only tip on the fishless cycling is not to be as aggressive about adding ammonia as most articles suggest. 5ppm is way too much. 2-3ppm is fine. if you're stocking lightly with juvies, then 1ppm is ok too. Maintain that amount until cycling is complete and you're ready to add fish. Don't halve it as some suggest either. Just start low, stay low.

The plants will consume any nitrogen in the tank including ammonia and nitrite, so they're a good addition.

I would agree that you'll need to go with Prime or Amquel+ once your tank is inhabited to detox the ammonia and nitrite in the tap.
 

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Drewzwife, I think you have been given some very good info by the members here. You can do some further reading in the Library section about fishless cycling.

Do you know which Mbuna you are considering getting? If you aren't looking at an all male tank you should have a ratio of one male to three or four females, as a general rule.

Keep us posted on your progress & if you can, post some pics so we can see your setup.
 

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Yikes on the tap water readings...

I agree with Rick... get yourself a good water conditioner that will help to remove some of that excess.

I also agree with the suggestion to use some old filter media (or the entire filter, for a time). I've been cycling my tanks by running a filter on an established aquarium for several weeks, then I just build the population in my tank slowly, while testing the water for things going out of whack (which usually doesn't happen because I run the filters for so long).

We'll do our best to keep you on the right track and get your fish looking and feeling good. I'd personally rather have someone doing it right and being in the hobby long-term than being one of the folks who quits right away. I was 9 when I started and it was all trial and error with no internet help... :lol: !
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thought I would let you guys see what we are all working so hard to get up and going


It's taken some time to get it up to this point and alot of savings But Like a7oneal said you guys are keeping me on the right track so that I have happy, healthy fish. :thumb:
 
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