Fish Tank Hell

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MMx2 created the topic: Fish Tank Hell

Many problems.. unknown solutions.

Let me try to explain my tank, water & fish. I have 6-7" oscar, a large sucker fish, some form of unknown catfish and a 3" Firemouth (I call it FireBelly since its more red underneath).

The oscar seems fine.. He is the king of the tank of course. The sucker fish does what he wants while the other two are usually hiding under something.
The firemouth has recently become...sick I guess I could say. He/she has cloudy eyes and his scales seem to be in bad shape. He has a few areas where they seem to be breaking up.

My tank could be part of the problem. Its also in bad shape. Ive been working on it for awhile now and it seems Im getting nowhere. My Nitrate is very high (which im using Amquel+) the amquel doesnt seem to hardly touch it though. The Nitrite is looking good. Chlorine and ammonia levels are good. The alkalinity is very low and my ph is very low. Also.. my hardness is very very high. Im not sure how to get rid of my hard water. Ive done 25% and more water changes with store bought spring water and it doesnt seem to touch the hardness of my water. Ive also tried to get my ph up, using a couple different conditioners, but..still low.

What should I do??
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OFL replied the topic: Re:Fish Tank Hell

We need to know how big your tank is. Also, how often do you change the water? What is your feeding regime?

Exactly what is the pH? not sure you mean by chlorine is okay, you shouldn't have any chlorine. You get rid of this by using a water conditioner

Anyway, please get back with the tank size and then maybe we can start trying to help. I'm sort of guessing it's going to be quite small

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MMx2 replied the topic: Re:Fish Tank Hell

The tank is 55g.. yes, quite small. I have a 150g on order.

I feed a mixture of cichlid crisps, flakes and oscar grow pellets. Usually twice a day.

I made a 50% water change 2 weeks ago.

The chlorine is 0.
The ph is very low, around 6.2 Ive used almost a whole bottle of ph increase. Not much result.

I was thinking it was due to my extremely hardness level, which my test strips say is 'very hard'.
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metoo replied the topic: Re:Fish Tank Hell

Ok, let's see what can be done ;)

About the pH, I wouldn't mess with it, especially not with that pH increasing stuff. Provided it is stable at 6.2 I'd just leave it like that. Not sure what catfish you've got but I'd think any of the fish could live fine with that pH, same goes for the water hardness. And yes, the hardness puffers the pH anyway.

I'd rather suspect high nitrates or so to be the culprit ... and what exactly are your ammonia and nitrite readings? If not zero, then that isn't ok. Nitrates should be below 40 ppm, preferably below 20. Unless your tap water comes with very high nitrates, you can simply lower the Nitrate levels by changing water. With a tank of that size and an Oscar and a large pleco in it, I'd recommend water changes of 30-40% weekly or even bi-weekly. Also make sure you don't feed more than what they eat in a few minutes, I'd say once a day is enough even, or just less if feeding twice. Any leftovers and the fishes' waste will pollute the water and can as well influence the pH. Do you vacuum the gravel along with the water changes? Or have you got an undergravel filter that might have "gone bad" in the sense of being clogged? And what kind of filtration are you using anyway?

For the firemouth I'd think keeping the water clean by plenty of water changes could help already. This means more changes than what I said in general, best daily ones till your ammonia/nitrite/nitrate readings are all in an acceptable range. If you want to treat it with medication it would still be good to have the nitrate problem solved before, then some anti-bacterial treatment would be my choice if not avoidable.

Keep us posted and good luck!

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MMx2 replied the topic: Re:Fish Tank Hell

First of all, thanks for your time answering my questions.

The water I 'usually' use is well water. It is very hard.. I have access to water down the road that is spring water I can transport. I really cant afford to buy spring water all the time from the store. Would this be a worthwhile solution for my extremely hard water? As it would also, I think, help the pH.

The nitrates are at unacceptable levels. I have used over 16oz of Amquel+ (removes nitrate, nitrate, ammonia, chlorine & chloramines) and smells bad too. Does not seem to touch the nitrate level. My quick dip strips say nitrate is around 80ppm. Nitrite is .5ppm or below. Hardness is above 250ppm. Chlorine is below .5ppm. Alkalinity is low, <20ppm. As well as low pH, again at or below 6.2. Ammonia is also less than .5.

So looks like water is good other than extremely hard and out of control nitrates.

I believe I need to feed less and remove some gravel from the tank. From what Ive read I have about twice as much as I should have, between 1" in some places and 2" in others. My oscar likes to rearrange sometimes.

When I change the water I do vacuum the gravel. I use a whisper filter that came with the tank when I bought it. It is a fairly large filter, about 1/3 the length of the tank. It uses 2 filters and 2 bio-filters(??).

I will start by doing water changes multiple times a week and slowing on the feeding. The only problem I have with feeding is that when I feed flakes, the oscar hits them so hard the water is disturbed so much it makes all the flakes fall at once. Which is partly good, cause my firemouth hardly leaves his cave. He darts out and catches the flakes the oscar leaves. All the food is gone within a few minutes.. but.. half of it is probably on the bottom of the tank rather than eaten by the fish. Its hard for me to gauge if Im feeding enough.

So.. water.. should I not use my well water anymore?
I can transport 20-30 gallons of water in jugs if needed. Ive seen a 'pillow' that supposedly help hard water?? This was at thatfishplace.com

Should I be feeding something else other than what I listed in my previous post?

Sorry for the long posts.. any help will be appreciated.
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delboybully replied the topic: Re:Fish Tank Hell

I would just use you standard water. Firemouths and oscar can and do live fine in hard water. And forget those pillows too.

You problem is almost certainly down to poor water quality. You need to get your nitrate down to below 40 or ideally below 20. To do this do a 50% water change everyday until your nitrate is acceptable. I would also add an anti-bacteria to help cure your firemouth. Also when changing water you need to clean the gravel with a gravel cleaner.

Once your levels are back to normal i would do a 50% water change every week. Test you water a day before the next water change and if the nitrates are above 40 then increase your water changes to twice a week

Only feed what your fish will eat in 2 or 3 mins. And dont bother with flake, its just too small. Try cichlid pellets and also check out other threads for other food.

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