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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was gone for 9 days on vacation and had my neighbors coming over to take care of the house. I showed both the daughter and mother how much to feed them and when to feed them.

When I got back, the house smelled. I walk into my living room and my tank is green with food floating everwhere. My tank smelled from rotting fish food and clogged filters.

They literally used more food in 9 days than I had fed my fish in 2 years. I feed them 4 types of food. My Cichlid flakes canister was empty. My two floating pellets bags were nearly empty, and my sinking pellets were all but gone.

I couldn't believe it! Piles of food at the bottom of my tank. Food floating everywhere. Plants just thick with food stuck in the leaves. My filters were clogged. I can't believe how much food they dumped in the tank, and how clueless they were when they saw the uneaten food floating through the tank. :x

I need some advice on how to recover my tank. Here is what I have:

80 gallon tank
2 Rena XP3 filters
3 Yellow labs
2 Bertonis
6 assorted Peacocks
1 Pleco

I have initally done a 40% water change to do some heavy cleaning. I took out some of my holey rock and all my plastic plants to clean them. I plan on re-inserting them into the tank in a couple of days.

Since doing that water change, my fish have perked up, but there is still quite a bit of junk in the tank. I was planning on doing another 25-33% water change two or three days after this.

Anyway, any advice would be GREATLY appreciated! Advice on water changes, cleaning, etc.

I've had a great tank for the last 2 years, and many of my fish I transferred from my old tank, so things have been stable up to this point.

Thanks for you help!

Rich
 

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I would do daily 90% water changes 1x-2x daily with vacuming.(will not harm beneficial bacteria) Don't wait, go as fast as possible. And next time, just don't feed the fish, they can easly go 9 days. Just think, holding females go for a month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow... 90% water change! I was going to be risky and do a 50-60% change tonight.

The tank is 100% better than it was, but there is a way to go. Still lots of food waste to clean up.

Last time I just had a friend drop in a vacation feeder about half way through my trip and it worked fine.

Lesson learned - Don't let strangers and inexperienced touch the tank.

Thanks,

Rich
 

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I'm not the expert but 90% seems a bit extreme to me.

To me it looks like your on the right track

I would think a 50% WC with vac, then another 50% a day or two later with vac, should do the trick.

I would also check my water specs the following day

A clean tank is a happy tank
Good Luck
 

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Whether or not you decide to do the huge water changes, 50% daily will get things under control.
I personally don't do anything bigger than 75% but it is up to you.
A good dechlor product is very important with these types of water changes.

You still need to remove all of the uneaten food, so get a net or whatever and remove whatever you couldn't with the gravel vac.
Try to only clean the mechanical media in your filters and use tank water to clean it not tap water.
If you have to clean the biological media also do so in tank water but do one filter per session of cleaning and don't be too aggressive.

I won't delve too much into what should have been done in preparing for your absence, but your biggest mistake was leaving multiple full containers of food.
Ideally you should have premeasured the amounts and marked when to feed.
You undertand how to feed but they see they are still hungry and kept feeding.
Sorry about your dilemma, I hope all the fish turn out ok and things get better quickly.
 

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:-? Please you guys, tell me why it is risky. beneficial bacteria resides in the filter and substrate, not the water column. Name one risk.... I think is risky not to vacuum all the gunk off right away.....
 

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It may be risky because you are cleaning everything all the time, it could become a sensitve system.
By constantly cleaning the substrate and filters you are creating a lot of disturbance to the bio-filter.
It is just a safety practice, you don't want to create a new problem on top of what is already going on.

I would have more confidence doing a 100% water change if the system was very well established and not going through some extreme water quality issue that required aggressive cleanings of the substrate and filters.
Whenever I do large water changes that is all I do, just change water.
No cleanings of the filters or substrate.
 

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I have a plan for the next time I have to have someone feed my fish if I am gone. What I plan on doing is asking the pharmacy for a couple of those pill dispensers that has a compartment for everyday of the week, (they will give you one, or you can buy them). Then, before I go, fill each daily compartment with the amount of food for that day. I have a few tanks, so one dispenser per tank. Then hide the food. That way, my neighbor would be giving the correct amount and correct food per tank and not be tempted to over feed because if she did she would run out early.

Sound like a good plan? :)

This is what I am talking about using, they come in 3 sizes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Dizzcat,

That's a good idea... using that weekly pill dispenser.

Even though I showed my neighbors two times how to feed the fish, the best thing I could have done is either:

1) pre-measure the food
2) Have them drop in a vacation food once or twice while I was gone
3) Take Josmoloco's advice and don't feed them at all if the trip is short enough

An auto-feeder wouldn't work on my tank because my hood won't accomodate one.

Josmoloco, the only reason I said it was "risky" is because it goes against what most manuals say about water changes. The only thing I would think that would be risky is that these fish have been through a shock over the last 9 days, and water changes are somewhat stressful on the fish, so I was trying to do something that both solves the problem by getting all the rotting food out ASAP, as well as not to add too much extra stress by doing large percentage water changes.

I'm am by no means a Cichlid expert, I was just trying to think through a plan to get this done ASAP and keep fish stress at a minimum.

Anyway, I appreciate all the feedback. I've now completed 2 water changes that have things looking up. I'd say about 80% of the rotting food is gone. I've also thrown away the plastic plants. They really had an odor to them, almost as if they absorbed the bad water.

Thanks again,

Rich
 

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Check the water parameters on the tank...

This is how you determine how many water changes you need to do. It's not unheard of in situations like this to do multiple water changes a day.

If it's a well established tank, a 90% water change won't hurt, but if the tank has been in bad shape parameter wise for a few days, the shock of the big water change might set the fish back a bit, so I would recommend multiple smaller water changes until the parameters are acceptable and the tank is clean - even if this means more than one water change a day.

If your ammonia and nitrites are up, you're doing damage to your fish long term.
 
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