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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got lazy! I haven't been checking tank water quality and have never cleaned my wet/dry filter in over 1 1/2 years. I never had a problem until now. I noticed 3-days ago one of my Haplochromis Nyererei's eyes was white and bulging. When I did check the water the nitrates were off scale - all other parameters were good. I immediately pulled 50% of the water, shut the tank down and cleaned 1/2 of the bio-balls, the sump, and pump (was so nasty I almost puked.) When I refilled the tank I waited an hour and then rechecked the water quality. The nitrates were still well over 80-ppm. I checked my water source, 0-ppm. I pulled another 10-gallons and refilled, waited two hours and checked the nitrates, they are currently at 80-ppm.

I realize I messed up by not cleaning my wet/dry filter and not staying up with water analysis. I do clean my tank every week, doing a 25-percent water change, and for the longest time I could set my watch to when maintenance needed to be done, just thought that would go on forever - not. Until the problem is resolved I will be checking the water daily.

Should I continue to pull water until I get nitrates under control? Should I treat the tank with a antibiotic? Once I get the nitrates to a proper level should I dose the tank with salt to increase osmotic pressure? I need some sound advice.

Thanks,
W
 

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Consider doing 50% water changes every other day since the nitrate level was so high. I've often heard that you don't want to reduce them too fast so that is why I suggest every other day.

No need to use an antibiotic, the clean water should help the fish recover. I can't advise on using salt as I've never used it.

I'll move this topic to the Illness forum for additional advice.
 

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The only way nitrates will leave is through water changes (unless you have a lot of plants anyway). So you should keep it going until it is very low.

You can do it incrementally to keep ph spike from making water toxic but I would just keep draining and adding until you are down very low anyway. You get the same kind of effect if you do the changes in steps, it just happens in steps instead of incrementally. Your fish can survive a few minutes with chloramine (and the ones that can't would already be dead now).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wanted to thank those who replied. I am new at fish keeping. Most of the tanks I owned were as a child and those fish didn't survive long.
The problems I was experiencing (still am) is the combination of several issues 1. I had fish breeding in my tank and didn't know they were being sucked into the overflow and living/dying there 2. I killed off all of my good nitrifying bacteria when I cleaned the bio balls. 3. The fish I chose for this tank are getting bigger, some have gotten so large I can't get the appropriate net to fit through the acrylic tank openings to get them out and gift them to someone, and last but not least 4. I am an over feeder!
So, I bought a small 10-gallon tank and removed the breeders (Yellow labs) and have to clean the substrate in my 60-gallon twice a week each time with a 30% water change. I added a media reactor to my sump to run activated carbon and use an all-in-one media in the top of my wet/dry. There are several other tricks that I have experimented with to keep my water quality at its peak with an over-stocked tank.
 
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