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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, i've just started an aquarium and am having difficulty keeping it clean or at least clean looking. It seems that almost every 2 days i am suctioning off the bottom to get rid of fish poop etc. The rocks all have a nice layer of algae growing on them and the glass - well thank god for a magnetic algae scrubber! I'd be interested to find out what some people with much more experience than i would suggest my problem is or how i can solve it - looking at the "journals and photographs" section it seems that i am cleaning my tank much more frequently than most. I'll start with a run down of my specs:

Type of setup - mbuna



Tank Volume - 90 Gal (48" long x 18" deep x 24" high)

Filtration Type - Eheim Professional 3 model 2075 Specifications:
  • Aquarium Size: 60 - 150 Gallons[/*]
  • Flow Rate: 1250 l/h (this equals 330 gallons/hour which means roughly 3.5 tank changeovers/hour) [/*]
  • Power Consumption: 16 Watts[/*]
  • All Filtration media included: Mech Pro, Bio Mech, Substrat Pro, and filter pads (fine and coarse).[/*]

Lighting Type - 1 x 48" Aqualite T5 HO with 2 bulbs - white 6000 and roselite both 54W - light is usually on approximately 12 hours a day (pretty sure this needs to be shortened - even read about 1 guy who turns it off for 2-3 hours in middle of day which would be preferable as i'd like it to be on later at night so it can be enjoyed)

Substrate Type - play sand (filtered) approx 1-2 inches deep

Decor -
  • ome island huts that the fish love to hid inside and underneath[/*]
  • a few lava rocks but mostly granite (all items were either boiled or scrubbed prior to introduction - total weight ..? not sure maybe 60 - 100 lbs[/*]
  • As for plants - 2 amazon swords that are starting to turn black on edges and Giant vallis(?) that seems to be growing a few inches a day![/*]

Water chemistry - need to test: pH, KH, GH, temp

Maintenance - 30-40% water change every 2-3 days using gravel vac to suck off the **** from the top of the sand. Just cleaned the filter completely for the first time after 1.5 months - however i notice the intake and exit tubes have algal growth in them and will have to scrub them with a long brush soon (other suggestions?), scrub inside of glass once a week with magnetic algae scrubber.

Feeding - Omega One - Super color Veggie Kelp Pellets (read that my mbuna are vegetarians) - fed twice a day morning and night the following - a few small pinches most of which is ate before it hits the bottom of the tank - Freeze-dried tubifex worms flakes - small pinch on surface (for the tetras) done right after the cichlids start to feed.

Fish - oddly enough i'm not 100% on my cichlid species as my lfs keeps things confusing. This is what i think i have ... will post pix so correct me if i'm wrong.

  • 2 x Metriaclima callainos - Cobalt Zebra[/*]
  • 2 x Labidochromis caeruleus - Yellow Labs[/*]
  • 2 x elongatus mdoka - [/*]
  • 2 x Metriaclima estherae - red zebra (orange females)[/*]

Also...

  • 5 x Synodontis eupterus catfish (roughly 2.5 inches in length)[/*]
  • 5 x Red eye tetra[/*]
  • 2 x black neon tetra[/*]
  • 8 x Otocinclus (all under 1.5")[/*]

Additional comments - all the fish seem to get along - i rarely see any of the cichlids bothering the tetras (they were left over from a smaller 1st tank) or the Oto's. The catfish stay hidden mostly under rocks or inside my huts during daylight hours. My biggest problem with this tank is the water recently starts to get fuzzy within the first 24 hours of a 40% water change and bottom suck. The glass seems to keep getting algae growth and the outflow from the filter seems to be less than what i think it should be - only shooting out maybe 18" when lifted above water line.

Brief history of the tank - tank is less than 2 months old.

picture of bottom dirt 24 hours after tank was cleaned and vacuumed:


Not 100% on this species


Ditto:


Ditto:


Here's my sword damaged on edges:


Thanks for any suggestions!
 

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Im reading this from my phone so sorry if I missed this but it seems you need more circulation.. id put a pump off to the left side hitting the front glass to spread out the flow from the front to the back and kick that stuff up into the water column ... I use aqueon 950 and a 1250 in my 90 and my bottom stays really clean. I only have one deadspot.
 

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Cromak said:
Im reading this from my phone so sorry if I missed this but it seems you need more circulation.. id put a pump off to the left side hitting the front glass to spread out the flow from the front to the back and kick that stuff up into the water column ... I use aqueon 950 and a 1250 in my 90 and my bottom stays really clean. I only have one deadspot.
+1 on this two. I have two canister filters and 2 powerheads and hardly ever see fish poo even with quite a few fish in there. Get one good one even line a koralia or other circulator for a broader flow so not to blow your sand around too much and play with that to get more current.

As for the algae and cloudiness I would try cutting your light back for sure. Even with plants I would think 8 hours would be plenty. If you want to watch them more at night dont turn them on till later in the day. Also if your Nitrates are high maybe do more WC's get them down to a reasonable level so the algae doesnt have as much to feed on.
Are you fertilizing? Maybe too much if you are?

I would try this kind of stuff first and see that improves anything. Im no pro by any means but just seemed like a few of the simple things that may help, please anyone correct me if I am wrong.
 

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More oxygen in the tank would be good. Powerheads will work. Cut back on water changes unless your nitrates are high. Do weekly water changes of 15-25 percent. Don't over feed your fish. Is sunlight hitting the tank?
 

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I would have to disagree with Chunkanese. Water changes should be done based on your water chemisty and your tank's requirements. No rule, such as 15-25% a week, works for every tank. Changing more than 60% of your water a week is not unheard of in Mbuna tanks.

+1 on trying to add another filter.

As to what your fish are, the blueish one is most likely a cobalt blue zebra, the orange one a red zebra. The vaguely striped one is hard to guess, for me at least. Those black blotches are not weird, looks like algae to me. Could also be your fish having a nibble.
 

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I went through the same for the 1st few months of my new tank. It will get better once it gets established,
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the suggestions. While the tank is in a fairly well lit room it is not exposed to direct sunlight. I have cut back the "micro nutrients" added for plants and will try both cutting back light time to 8 hours and a power head. Thanks also for the stab at species identification - best I can figure is yes - cobalt blue, red zebra (orange female... i have 2) and the striped one i think is an elongatus mdoka or at least an elongatus sp.

Cheers! :thumb:
 

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Nina_b said:
Changing more than 60% of your water a week is not unheard of in Mbuna tanks.
Sure, based on heavy stocking. This stocking isn't heavy. Given the load, I would say Chunkanese was right when recommending 15-25%/week - but that is an estimation of course. Measuring nitrates before & after water changes is the only way to determine what your tank needs

You already stated: Water changes should be done based on your water chemisty and your tank's requirements.

Nina_b said:
+1 on trying to add another filter.
Why? That filter will suffice (even if the tank were heavily stocked, which it isn't).

I do agree with getting more water circulation to keep the detrius off the sand.

btw, GREAT post, listing everything we need to know to help out!
 

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Another bit that might help. If you add a timer to the lights and cut them off for a couple hours while you are not there to watch the fish tends to interrupt the algae but not bother the plants. I've not verified this but that is what I've read. Seems like a simple trick to try and it did seem to help in my tank. Also adding MORE plants is a way to soak up more of the nitrates making water changes needed less often. Some of the really fast growing plants in temporary pots got me by while my other plants got started. Once I got lots of plants going, the need for water changes dropped way down. Most likely cutting back on feeding will help also. Keep in mind that fish eat because it is instinct, not because they are hungry. Fish will continue to eat even when they have so many pellets in their mouth that they can't close it!
 

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I wouldn't cut all lights using a timer, you may confuse the fish's day/night cycle.

Reducing the quantity (time or amount) of light should help though as others have stated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
PfunMo said:
...adding MORE plants is a way to soak up more of the nitrates making water changes needed less often. Some of the really fast growing plants in temporary pots got me by while my other plants got started. Once I got lots of plants going, the need for water changes dropped way down.
I definitely want to add more plants, just trying in stages, but good advice.

PfunMo said:
Most likely cutting back on feeding will help also. Keep in mind that fish eat because it is instinct, not because they are hungry. Fish will continue to eat even when they have so many pellets in their mouth that they can't close it!
Yeah, i'll cut back a bit, but already i just pinch in the granules - enough so that they eat them before they get to the bottom - 2 or 3 pinches like that and once they start hitting the bottom, i stop - hard to say how much, but they are actually only feeding for what may be 20 seconds or so. Then i put a pinch of flakes on the surface for the tetras. At night i'll drop in 1-2 tabs for the catfish before bed every other night.

Glaneon said:
I wouldn't cut all lights using a timer, you may confuse the fish's day/night cycle.

Reducing the quantity (time or amount) of light should help though as others have stated.
I was a little worried about this too, but since the room is fairly bright anyway, it might just be like a sudden cloudy day to the fish. Regardless, i will likely just reduce the light to being on between noon and 8pm. Once the wife goes back to work (on maternity leave now so she's my light switch) i'll have to invest in a timer to do even this :lol:
 

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PfunMo said:
Another bit that might help. If you add a timer to the lights and cut them off for a couple hours while you are not there to watch the fish tends to interrupt the algae but not bother the plants. I've not verified this but that is what I've read. Seems like a simple trick to try and it did seem to help in my tank.
+1

In her book "The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium," Diana Walstad advocates doing your light cycle in exactly this manner. She calls it the "Siesta Regimen." Her support for this practice is based on the fact that when your lights are on for a prolonged period, in a planted tank photosynthesis depletes CO2. Turning the lights off for a few hours allows for a regeneration of CO2 (it apparently rebounds fairly quickly). This is important when dealing with algae because algae is better at utilizing scarce CO2 resources than plants are and therefore gets an edge on the plants when CO2 is becoming depleted. Letting the CO2 regenerate eliminates this advantage for the algae and puts the plants on a more level playing field so that they can continue to compete for other nutrients in the tank.

I've been running the lights on my tank with the Siesta Regimen since setting it up and my tropheus don't seem bothered in the least. I don't think their day/night cycle gets confused (in my tank's case at least) because during the siesta they're not in total darkness like they are at night. There is still natural light in the room. It's just much darker in the tank (as it might be when the sky clouds over) than it is with the aquarium lights on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Good info :thumb:

Yeah the siesta regimen may cause circadian rhythms to go out of whack if the tank were located in a dark basement but mine as you can probably tell from my pic is in a brightly lit main floor living room. Like I said think I'll get a timer and give this a try.

Cheers!
 

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When we first start keeping fish it is common for us to want to apply human thought to fish. As we get a little more knowledge about fish we see that many times what the fish think and what we think are not the same at all. If the fish had their way the lights would stay off all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok for what it's worth, here's my test results before and after a 50% water change:

Ph - before 8.0 - after 7.8
Ammonia - before 0.25 ppm - after 0
Nitrite - before 0.25 ppm - after 0
Nitrate - before 40 ppm - after 20 ppm
 

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Aedes said:
Just cleaned the filter completely for the first time after 1.5 months
I wondered about this statement.

Aedes said:
Ok for what it's worth, here's my test results before and after a 50% water change:

Ph - before 8.0 - after 7.8
Ammonia - before 0.25 ppm - after 0
Nitrite - before 0.25 ppm - after 0
Nitrate - before 40 ppm - after 20 ppm
I'm guessing the beneficial bacteria in your filter got killed during the filter cleaning and the tank is going through a cycle. I'd monitor the parameters closely until you are consistently getting 0 readings on the ammonia and nitrites. I'd use a water conditioner like Prime to reduce the impact of the ammonia/nitrites on the fish and also feed very lightly until this gets resolved.

Any idea why your pH level dropped after the water change?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sorry, the tank was having issues before the filter cleaning - Anything is possible but all media inside the filter was washed only in aquarium water so as not to kill off the bacteria - as for the ph, I don't imagine these kits are 100% accurate and being off only 0.2 wouldn't concern me. The other readings do.
 
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