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First Problem With New Tank

Author Topic: First problem with new tank  (Read 4894 times)

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Offline Mad_BMS

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First problem with new tank
« on: November 01, 2014, 09:27:23 AM »
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Hi folks

Woke up yesterday to a tank of bacterial bloom and an ammonia spike. The 7 Tetras (now 6) gasping for air at top of tank and 3 Cory's OK but lethargic at bottom. Anyway got the Tetras out into an emergency 'pot' and performed 2 - 20% water changes in the morning with about an 90 mins between them ammonia was reading between 2 and 4 at this point. As cycling I wanted to try and avoid 'Ammo lock'. However testing in the early afternoon it had shot up again (as green as it could get >8) and the 'fog' was much thicker. I then did a 40% change and as ammonia was still up at 4 added ammo lock. Today the bloom is much the same but fish are far more active and happier looking. I have not tested yet but would assume the ammonia will still be reading high and therefore going to do another water change. Is there anything else I can do? Thanks

Offline Sue

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2014, 11:06:59 AM »
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The bloom first - if it is white, it is a bacterial bloom (green blooms are algae). These are different bacteria from the ones we want to grow in the filter; they live free floating in the water and multiply very quickly. We see the bacteria as the mistiness. The bloom bacteria live on organic chemicals, and there are plenty of those in a new tank - the plasticiser leaching out of all the new plastic things; chemicals in the corner sealant etc. It is impossible to get rid of the bloom as they multiply faster than we can get rid of them but once they have eaten all their food supply they will die off. Because every tank is different, it is impossible to say how long this will take.
The bloom itself is not harmful to fish, but the bacteria do use oxygen and are in competition with fish for this. Make sure the filter outflow is circulating the water well (ripples on the water surface) to encourage maximum gas exchange - oxygen getting into the water.


Although fish gasping at the surface indicates not enough oxygen in the water, it is also a symptom of ammonia and/or nitrite in the water.
With your ammonia levels, water changes are a must. You must keep it below 0.25ppm, and when you get nitrite, that too must be kept below 0.25. If necessary, you can empty almost all the water leaving just enough depth for the fish to be able to swim upright. Yes, it is stressful for the fish but swimming in ammonia is worse. Provided you dechlorinate the new water and warm it to the same as the tank water the fish will not suffer. You need to do this as many times as necessary to get the ammonia down below 0.25; wait half an hour after the first water change to allow the new water to mix with the old, then tst again. If it's still above 0.25, do another water change. Test again after half an hour, and if necessary do another water change and so on until the reading is below 0.25.
While you are waiting for the half hour before the next test, read this. It explains what you need to do to keep your fish alive.

Ammo lock and similar products convert the ammonia to a less harmful form, but the effect only lasts about 24 hours. Our test kits cannot distinguish between the toxic and non-toxic forms so your reading will still show quite high after adding the ammo lock. This is only a temporary fix; the effect wears off quickly. Water changes are a much more effective way of controlling water conditions.

Try feeding the fish less. Less food = less ammonia. Feed them once every two or even three days until you get the ammonia under control.



You have 6 tetras and 3 cories now. Can I ask what tank size they are in? The smaller the tank, the faster the ammonia level will go up.

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2014, 01:50:23 PM »
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Thanks Sue your reply is much what I expected. The tank is a 340L and I thought I would cope with the Tetras have been in around a month, the Cory's added last Saturday. I was having a snail problem and hoped they would help control them and bought them before tank had fully cycled a mistake I guess.

Anyway this morning ammonia was back up from 2 to 4 and I performed a 60% change which in this size of tank makes me wish I had started smaller :). I have just tested again and the level is now just below 1.0 so will do another change now. The ammonia did appear to spike with the bacterial bloom though can that contribute to ammonia as well?

Offline Sue

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2014, 02:23:31 PM »
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Do you have any live plants in the tank which are not in the best of health? Or been over feeding the fish? Both dying plant matter and decaying fish food decompose to make ammonia and they are also a good source of organic matter for the bloom bacteria. If you do have dying plants, remove the iffy leaves. And if you've been overfeeding, cut back.
6 tetras and 3 cories in that size tank shouldn't push the ammonia that high. If you'd said a 34 litre tank, I would have said it was too many fish too soon causing the problem but not at ten times that size.


Ammonia exists in two forms in the tank, ammonia and ammonium - and ammonium is less toxic than ammonia. Our test kits measure both of them combined so they don't tell us how much is in each form. The proportion varies with both pH and temperature and it is possible to calculate how much is in the toxic form. Here is a calculator.
Leave the first box set at NH (NH3 + NH4); enter your ammonia reading in the second box; set salinity to zero; enter your pH and temp in the last two boxes. Then click calculate. You want the figure in the second box on the right side (NH3 concentration). That figure needs to be 0.02 or below (and yes, I do mean 0.02). Knowing the amount of toxic ammonia will help you tailor the water changes on a tank that size.


If you get an nitrite spike after the ammonia is under control, there is no safe form of nitrite, and it is more toxic at low pH, the opposite of ammonia. Common salt can be used to mitigate the effects of nitrite; although cories are salt sensitive, the amount used is very small. If you do get nitrite, ask for the dose rate.

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2014, 04:07:31 PM »
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Hi Sue
My thoughts exactly that so few fish could produce that much ammonia in a big tank. However they have! I have been changing water 15% regularly and keeping ammonia between <0.25 and 0.5 for the month I have had the Tetras until yesterday morning when I had both bloom and spike. Never detected any nitrite never mind nitrate yet so know I have not fully cycled.

I have fair amount of what appears to be healthy plant life Indian Fern, something similar to amazon sword and a tall fast growing and branching plant. I took all of this one out this morning and made sure only healthy plants were replanted. Is it possible for ammonia to come back from external filter if there is a lot of organic material in there?

I am now almost through another 60% change and notice that the Cory's activity has now increased we thought they were completely nocturnal last few days. Would not like to keep up this volume of change so will use calculator thanks again.

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2014, 06:14:49 PM »
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OK testing below 0.5 which using calculator means I can get way with it until tomorrow morning  :D however do you know a good chiropractor ;D

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2014, 09:11:00 AM »
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Bloom very dense again this morning and pH has dropped  from 7.2 to 6.8 which is in fact good. However ammonia is back up to 4 so still not under control. Been no feeding now for 2 days. Only thing I have not mentioned is I also have a large amount of bog wood in tank could this be contributing in any way?

My thought today is to remove all my plants and store in water somewhere and see if this helps. I cleaned the filter on Saturday by rinsing in tank water should I replace all the water in the external filter as well?

In the meantime about to start another large water change.

Offline Dominika

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2014, 12:06:54 PM »
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Hiya

My first post here :)

I'm not an expert (only started keeping fish around 7 months ago) but I don't think removing plants is a good idea. They eat ammonia and nitrate, so they're helping you at the moment. What substrate are you using? Some soils may leech ammonia into the water.

Offline Richard W

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2014, 12:09:56 PM »
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I agree, what is the logic behind taking out plants?

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2014, 01:58:45 PM »
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I just don't know where ammonia is coming from as Sue agreed unlikely from the 9 fish and I sure cannot keep going on 2 big water changes a day. Sue mentioned dying plant material and the main one I have taken out has very rapid growth but have noticed it seems to lose small leafs nearer bottom so wondered if this was the culprit. Anyway I have removed 2 bits of bog wood as I felt I had too much anyway shop never warned me how much it would swell when soaked and also the weed as I called it. Have just finished a 75-80% change and will see how it goes. Did not realise plants ate ammonia though thanks for that, don't have nitrate as yet. Hoping this will mean less food for the bacterial bloom as well.

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2014, 02:01:19 PM »
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Sorry forgot to say it is a sand/gravel substrate not soil that I am using.

Offline Richard W

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2014, 02:21:42 PM »
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Plants will do much more good than harm. The amount of ammonia produced by dying plant material will be very small unless you have a tank full of dead plants. As well as using up ammonia, they also help to stabilise pH. You say that a pH drop from 7.2 to 6.8 is a good thing, but I don't see why. Your pH should be stable. You also say that you don't have nitrate yet. Unless you are adding RO or similar pure water, that is very unlikely as all tap water will contain a greater or lesser amount of nitrate, certainly enough to detect with a test kit. The very high ammonia results and no nitrate (if that's what you really mean) does make me wonder about your test results.

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2014, 03:04:17 PM »
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Hi Richard
My pH was stable at 7.4 until this weekend as were the ammonia and nitrite tests ammonia no greater than 0.5 but usually under 0.25. Reason I said that pH drop was good was ammonia less toxic however would love to be stable again. Sorry may have misled you but I was only testing for nitrate occasionally as I have not had nitrite yet but have not had a positive nitrate using API test kit. We do have high quality water in this region though accept that nitrate is difficult test at home. I am confident that the ammonia is spiking by the difference in behaviour of fish following major water changes though whether the death I had was ammonia related or oxygen deprivation caused by bloom overnight on Friday I will never know.

I have been keeping a control of water from current test to use when doing next test so I can be sure I am seeing either a rise or fall as I read about problems reading the colour test for ammonia at night. After this last change it is pH 7.0 and ammonia .5 I will do a nitrite and nitrate when I test again in couple hours. Was grasping at straws removing the weed as it is mainly healthy so will return it if makes no difference. 

Offline ColinB

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2014, 03:20:17 PM »
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Hiya

My first post here :)

I'm not an expert (only started keeping fish around 7 months ago) but I don't think removing plants is a good idea. They eat ammonia and nitrate, so they're helping you at the moment. What substrate are you using? Some soils may leech ammonia into the water.
[/quote

Welcome to the forum, Dominika. It's good to have you around.

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Offline Richard W

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2014, 03:28:20 PM »
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This is quite a conundrum. The bacterial bloom must be part of the problem, it would seem possible that dying bacteria are responsible for the ammonia spike, but why the bacteria are blooming is another question. The bog wood may have contributed to this. At the same time, if a large part of the gravel was covered with bogwood, the gravel underneath may have gone anaerobic which could lead to denitrifying bacteria being active, which basically reverse the action of the nitrifying bacteria in the filter.

Did you check the nitrate levels on your water supplier web site? It's worth knowing what your tap water baseline is.

For those of us interested in the science, this is a fascinating issue, though obviously a considerable problem for you  :)

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2014, 05:47:01 PM »
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this is how i mature filters 3 of them
were mine one was for a friend
of mine that wanted a filter ready to go
on his tank i matured these filters in 9 days
with ammonia and evolution aquarium pure
i have a log of it somewhere

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2014, 07:12:45 PM »
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all these filters are over 1000 liters per hour

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2014, 08:22:58 PM »
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It is indeed Richard and agree, I do not believe in coincidence and that the bloom is responsible. It was extremely dense on Friday morning (wife pointed out I had lost a day it was overnight Thursday that the bloom occurred). Scottish water say PCV for nitrite = 0.5 mg NO2/l PCV for nitrate = 50 mg NO3/l  for my area which is very low I believe. The bloom continues in that I cannot see fish clearly at back of tank but so much better than Friday.

Just tested again 30 mins ago and there is an increase but less than 1 rather than jumping to >1 or 2 as before so it appears to have slowed however still to high. I will use ammo lock again tonight and do another 80% in morning. Removal of 2 pieces of bog wood may be reason, I had placed it so that the wood was only standing on branches on the gravel creating caves that the Cory's were enjoying. I was using my syphon to hoover the gravel under the wood and did remove quite a lot of dirt Friday. The piece that is left is now too big to remove through the glass cover on top of tank so hope I do not need to but is about half what was there before.

My wife has suggested Gumtree for her new piece of furniture but I did point out the size was a compromise between my choice and the even larger tank Linda fancied :yikes: Fortunately I have the time to see this through hopefully soon! Thanks for your interest.

Bifster interesting setup but a bit OTT for me at this stage :D wish you lived next door though!

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2014, 08:29:23 PM »
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easy way to clear a bacterial bloom is a pint of
untreated tap water 12 hours later the bloom will of gone
 

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2014, 08:33:30 PM »
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Bifster interesting setup but a bit OTT for me at this stage :D wish you lived next door though!


if you need advice just ask me i am willing to give advice

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2014, 08:43:52 PM »
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Thanks Bifster but on Friday morning when fish were looking as if they would die used untreated water for the first change and while it did calm down it did not clear. May have been reason for the big spike to 8 though if the dead bacteria cause that???

Any advice you think would help would be great but is there anything other than the water changes at moment? I guess my cycle will be screwed as well and will be starting again now.

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2014, 10:04:17 PM »
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evolution aquarium pure works wonders in settling
tank in well worth a punt tenner a tub

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2014, 10:44:09 PM »
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Ta will give it a try once crisis is over.

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2014, 11:53:28 PM »
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it will help sort the crisis out it contain enzymes
and friendly bacteria suspended in a special jell
works wonders i would get some tomorrow put about
ten pieces in test 24 hours later you will get a surprise   

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2014, 11:46:59 AM »
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Well good news ammonia did not rise much overnight though tank still cloudy. A 50% change has me below .25 yeh. Will go and get Evolution Aquarium Pure now Biffster and give it a go looking forward to surprise ;D

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #25 on: November 03, 2014, 11:52:07 AM »
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it clears cloudy tanks

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2014, 04:25:31 PM »
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Hi Folks

Used the Aqua pure yesterday Biffster tank is clearing though bit to go yet at least I can see the fish now when at back of tank. Ammonia increase now very small but still got up to 0.5 so did another 50% change. However pH is not stable yet coming up to 7.4 after change and dropping to 6.8 by next day. Have replaced all the plants but decided not to reintroduce the bog wood I removed as the piece that is left is enough. Cory's are far more active today cleaning the bog wood seem to like that area and perhaps the plants being replaced help. Think I am winning the battle but did not realise the work involved in this fishkeeping lark cannot remember this effort as I boy but perhaps we did not look after our water so well in those days :))
Thanks again all for help
Tom

Offline Sue

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #27 on: November 04, 2014, 06:53:26 PM »
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There is a school of thought that says water companies have got better at killing bacteria in recent decades. Since the source of the filter bacteria is the water supply, maybe it's that fewer of them are making it through to our tanks.
Then there are the fish. There are more species available now, and most of the newer ones are more delicate. And the ones that have been available for decades are often now bred in fish farms where they can be dosed heavily with antibiotics, then when they are put into tanks with no antibiotics they fall prey to every infection going. And some breeders use any fish for breeding from regardless of the health of the fish, resulting in weaker fish appearing in the shops.

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #28 on: November 04, 2014, 08:58:59 PM »
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yes filter bacteria as been reduced by the water company's getting better
at dealing with it

but weak and pale sickly looking fish is down to line breeding of fish and
inter breeding siblings with siblings and vice a versa and most of the weaknesses being genetic
i once saw a line breeding program it shocked me a bit how poor quality the fish were i try to buy
wild caught fish if i can   

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #29 on: November 05, 2014, 09:28:05 AM »
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My fish have been pretty resilient getting through this cannot complain about them but they may be complaining about me!

Reading further about water quality I note that I also have very soft water and therefore may be lacking carbonates. Should I add crushed coral to see if pH stabilises and possibly tank cycles quicker?
Thanks
PS ammonia has stayed below 0.25 for first time overnight and water clarity improved again.

Offline biffster

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #30 on: November 05, 2014, 11:19:22 AM »
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ammonia is less toxic in low ph acid water i use crushed cockle shell
as a ph stabilizer its great stuff i have used it for years as it can rise
ph slowly and naturally well worth checking out




ps mad bms how do you clean your filters out
what size tank and filter do you have ???

Offline Sue

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #31 on: November 05, 2014, 01:31:34 PM »
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The filter bacteria do need carbonate in the water to multiply. If you have very soft water (ie low GH) it is likely you'll also have low KH. You could take a sample of tapwater to a shop and ask them to test the KH.

If you do have low KH, crushed shells, as biffster says, will increase KH, GH and pH slightly. As will anything made of calcium carbonate such as limestone and coral. If there's room for it, a bag of crushed coral in the filter would do the job.

The other thing you could think about is using remineralisation salts of the kind added to RO water. This would necessitate using the salts at every water change though as swings in GH in particular are bad for fish.

I have KH 3, and since he lives only a few miles from me I expect biffster also has low KH. This was only a problem several years ago when I got very lazy and didn't do water changes for two or three weeks - and suffered a pH crash. Doing water changes every week without fail has kept things stable since then.

Offline Mad_BMS

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2014, 01:13:40 PM »
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Thanks both sorry about delay in replying as tank was behaving went out yesterday :cheers:

Biffster I have an Aqua Oak 340L tank with a JBL CristalProfi filter. I am rinsing filters in removed tank water about once a fortnight though did do it an extra time when this occurred. Hope that is enough.

Using a JBL stick test both Kh and Gh are very low but pH has settled at 7.2 today before I did a further 60-70% change this morning as ammonia although less than 1.0 was rising again. I am away Friday to Sunday so wanted to make sure would be ok though my son who is also a new fishkeeper is going to check tank on Saturday.

The water is now absolutely clear and I removed a scum from surface while doing change so hopefully I will get back to weekly small changes until cycle completes. I will also get some coral or limestone to put in filter.
Thanks again

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Re: First problem with new tank
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2014, 01:14:50 PM »
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Sorry it is a 1501 CristalProfi filter

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