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First Timer Needs Help With Fishtank Cycling

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Offline Gazzariff

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First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« on: January 10, 2017, 09:37:45 PM »
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Hi everyone I got myself a 64L Interpet tank, with a Fluval U2 filter and Interpet heater, filled it up gave it a dose of tap safe and a dose of ATM Colony and set it away. I let it run for about 3 days with just the gravel substrate, 2 dragon rocks and some java fern and no fish. After a day of cloudy water it has been crystal clear. Then on day 4 I added 5 neon tetras on advice from pets at home (I know now) then after a week I added 2 Cory Julliis. During this time I didn't test the water as I was told I wouldn't get much of a reading!!!!!! Since discovering this forum I bought myself an API test kit and my results are ammonia 0.05. Nitrite 0 nitrate 5.0 these tests were done last night following a 30% water change and then again tonight another 30%water change and tests were exactly the same results. I'm puzzled how the readings are the same following big water changes. I also tested my tap water and it was zero ammonia. So far the fish look ok but I realise I have to get ammonia and nitrite down to zero but don't know how. Please can you point me in the right direction.

Offline fcmf

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2017, 10:20:00 PM »
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Hi Gazzariff,

Glad to read that you're getting yourself on track after the poor advice from PAH, so you've obviously been doing some reading up - well done. You might find the top 4 items on this page http://forums.thinkfish.co.uk/fishtank-filtration-and-cycling/ particularly helpful if you haven't seen them already - you're effectively doing a fish-in cycle.

What is probably happening is that the fish waste is producing the ammonia reading which in turn will convert to nitrite but that process may not have started yet or perhaps the water changes have helped keep the nitrite reading down; as for the nitrate reading, what is the reading for your tap water nitrate? It's also possible the ATM Colony is doing something although the evidence of effectiveness for such items isn't that great. The best way of getting ammonia down to 0 is to continue with the water changes - you could probably do up to 50% rather than 30% daily. An additional option is to use Seachem Prime as your dechlorinator as it renders ammonia, nitrite and nitrate to non-toxic forms for the 24 hours after its use, so would be useful during this fish-in cycling phase.

There are people much more familiar with and better at understanding and explaining this process than me (especially Sue), so, if I were you, I'd probably wait until the morning and see what they think is happening and what they advise.


Offline Andy The Minion

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 10:49:19 PM »
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Welcome to the forum @Gazzariff
Don't worry, you have caught things before they have gone wrong :) Well done !
The best next step is to read Sue's article of fish-cycle
http://forums.thinkfish.co.uk/fishtank-filtration-and-cycling/fish-in-cycling-with-fish-how-to-do-it/
This will guide you through the steps to set the filter up (cycle) There are also a few members willing to donate some material from their filters to speed the process up and you find a list of them in the same section.
For peace of mind do the ammonia calculation (test kits read TAN which is a combined figure) if you do a search for 'calculating the toxicity of ammonia' you will find several sites that have a table that will give the conversion factor for your water temperature and pH and you will find the NH3 (the toxic bit) is much lower than you think. I have the formula but it's just as easy to look at the published tables. The NH3 value should not be above 0.02ppm.
The NitrAte (NO3) is completely fine and the level you see is either from your tap water or it's a colour chart error, I would not be expecting your filter to start producing NitrAte for at least a month, maybe more.
Best of luck, any more questions, just ask :)

@fcmf You beat me to the post button !

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 11:28:12 PM »
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Thanks for the replies guys I forgot to ask do you think I should stop feeding or reduce while I try to get ammonia down. Do you think I should add prime with water changes.

Offline Andy The Minion

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2017, 05:01:34 AM »
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@Gazzariff
You will need to carry on feeding as the cycle process will take weeks to fully complete, plus the tank bacteria also need a food source and the fish waste is part of that. Don't go mad on the food, I don't recall seeing a suggested feeding rate other than the general "enough food to be eaten in 3 min of feeding" The frequent water changes the method uses is the control method to keep the waste lo acceptable levels
Absolutely use prime or another water de-chlorinator, this is part of your fish keeping life from now on and is always used when changing or replacing evaporated water. You will use quite a bit during this initial setup but that is just because of the frequent changes that are needed but after that it is just a small quantity during weekly changes and is one of the lowest cost parts of fish care.

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2017, 08:35:07 AM »
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Many thanks Andy

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2017, 12:52:59 PM »
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Hi everyone it's 4 weeks now since my last post my Amonia levels are at 1.0 now and I'm doing 20% water changes every day dosed with prime to help the fish survive, shall I put off cleaning the gravel and filter until after the tank is cycled and do you think the water changes are ample. So far the fish seem ok so the prime must be doing its stuff.

Offline Sue

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2017, 02:28:06 PM »
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The gravel needs cleaning regularly, you'd be surprised at the amount of debris that builds up there. The only time not to clean gravel is if you have so many plants that you'd damage the roots. You mentioned having just java fern which should be grown attached to decor, so no roots to get in the way. When you siphon the water out just push the wide end into the gravel and watch the bits get sucked up. Since you are doing daily water changes you can do a bit of gravel each day, then once it's all clean you can do it once a week.
And lift up any decor to hoover under there too.

For the filter, if it is covered in brown goo clean it very gently in water you take out during a water change . Squeeze sponges gently till the goo comes off, don't try to get it looking like new.

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2017, 04:15:12 PM »
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Thanks Sue

Offline fish-friends

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2017, 08:03:29 PM »
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Hey, I'm new to fish keeping too, and wasn't given much advice from Pets at home either , but thanks to this forum my water tests are all good and so are my little fishies  :fishy1: good luck with your tank & fish
Samantha

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2017, 08:46:58 AM »
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Thanks Samantha looking forward to being cycled did yours take long

Offline fish-friends

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2017, 08:29:50 PM »
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Hey  :wave:
I'd had my tank a couple of weeks before I added my first 4 tetras and I didn't realise that it wouldn't be cycled yet, I found this forum because one of my tetras started sitting at the bottom moving his mouth rapidly, and I then found out about ammonia and nitrite the hard way, I lost that little fish, but did daily water changes for a week and tested every day too I went down to every other day and then every few days now just once a week, I'm not 100% sure if im ok to say it's fully cycled but I think it's definitely well on its way because I always have 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and only my tap water reading of nitrate  :)
I've since added more flame tetras
Then 2 cherry shrimp
& 2 albino corys and even after adding more fish my water is still reading fine, so I feel like it's cycled. It's now been set up 7 weeks
I added two more corys today and two amano shrimp
One of my new corys is just sat at the bottom looking sad so I was worried it was my tank but my water is fine and so are the rest of the fish, so I think it's stressed from the shop or poorly,
I hope all your fishies are doing well  :fishy1: :fishy1:

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2017, 03:21:58 PM »
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Hi all as mentioned previously I'm doing a fish in cycle and I am six weeks in, I'm keeping the fish ok with daily water changes dosed with Prime. My question is this do you think it would help if I removed one of the carbon foam filter pads in my Fluval U2 and replaced it with another ceramic media one, so I would have one foam/carbon pad and 2 x ceramic media, just a thought.

Offline Sue

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2017, 03:51:20 PM »
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I've never seen the inside of a U2 in the flesh, but according to the manual you should have a box with ceramic rings and a 'clean and clear' cartridge in the middle, next to that on either side should be a two poly-carbon pads and on the outside of those, two foams inside cartridges.

Sponge (aka foam) and ceramic media are both excellent for bacteria to grow on.
The poly part of the poly-carbon pad is not a good home for them, but this does catch tiny bits that go through sponges.
Carbon needs to be replaced regularly as it gets full.
The clean and clear cartridge is supposed to remove phosphate and nitrate. I have no idea if this actually works.

If you want to replace anything, I would swap the clean and clear cartridge inside the centre box for more ceramics and replace the poly-carbon pads with plain filter floss/filter wool, but leave the sponges/foams in place.




Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 04:17:47 PM »
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Thanks Sue

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2017, 01:54:15 PM »
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Hi everyone I'm just checking I'm doing the right things.
I'm 6 weeks into a fish in cycle my readings are Ammonia 0.25 Nitrite zero Nitrate 5.0 and haven't changed since day one.
I am doing 25% Daily water changes with Prime added and I am feeding once every other day, Am I on the right track do you think?

Offline Sue

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2017, 02:14:12 PM »
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The first thing to say is that ammonia can be hard to read. A lot of people report that they have never seen the zero colour even on tanks that have been running for years. Have you tested your tap water to see what the ammonia reading on that is? If that's also 0.25 it could be that you are one of those who always see pale green even when it's zero. Light can also affect the test if you are reading it under fluorescent tubes or energy saving bulbs.
Nessler based ammonia testers (and most of our liquid regent testers are Nessler based) are affected by Prime. From Seachem's Prime FAQs
Quote
A Nessler based kit will not read ammonia properly if you are using Prime®... it will look "off scale", sort of a muddy brown


Since your nitrite is zero, can I suggest you use this ammonia calculator. It tells you how much of your ammonia reading is in the more toxic ammonia form. Since the proportions of ammonia and ammonium are pH and temperature dependant, using a calculator like this is a handy tool for each individual tank.
On the left side, leave the first box as it is. Enter your ammonia, pH and temp (which can be changed to deg C) and set salinity to zero. Then click calculate. The number you want is the lower one on the right hand side, the one labelled NH3 concentration.
If that number is below 0.02 it is safe to leave longer between water changes. You only need to do the next one if your ammonia reading increases until the calculator reaches 0.02.

I suspect that after six weeks you'll find your ammonia reading does not go up even without doing daily water changes. If this is indeed what happens, despite a reading of 0.25 the tank is cycled, and you can start adding more fish, a few at a time.

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2017, 03:06:45 PM »
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Hi Sue Ive done the calculation and the reading I get is 0.0048 whatever that means lol

Offline Sue

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2017, 03:16:31 PM »
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That is well below 0.02 so there isn't enough free ammonia in the tank to harm the fish. I would stop doing water changes every day but continue testing daily. If the ammonia level increases you can use the calculator to see if you are still below that level. Provided your nitrite stays at zero, you only need to do a water change when the calculator-ammonia gets to 0.02. Or after a week whichever comes first.

If you find that your ammonia tester does not go any higher than 0.25 for a week, I'd count that as cycled. As I said earlier, some people never see that yellow colour on the chart but have been running years with no problems so they must be cycled. Being apparently stuck at 0.25 is a well known problem. Provided it stays forever at that reading and never goes up, the consensus is to treat it as though it is zero.

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2017, 03:20:35 PM »
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Once again many thanks for your help I will do as you say and keep you updated

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2017, 08:04:55 PM »
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When I stop the daily water changes do I stop dosing with prime also. Also I'm using an API testing kit am I right in thinkinkig you only use the high rate PH test if the normal PH test reads at the top of that scale, just tested mine tonight and it reads 6.0

Offline fcmf

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2017, 08:25:26 PM »
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I use Seachem Prime as my dechlorinator during the weekly or twice-weekly water change - have done for years with my goldfish (RIP  :'() and for the past 2+ years with my tropical fish. However, @Sue has opted to use other products with fewer additives/ingredients and which I plan to buy once my current bottle has finished - I'm sure she'll be on here later today / tomorrow and can explain this better than I can.

Offline Sue

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2017, 08:47:06 PM »
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Just use Prime when you do a water change.

Stopping the daily water changes but still testing every day is just to see if your ammonia and/or nitrite go up without daily water changes. If nitrite does go up, you need to start doing daily water changes again even if ammonia stays the same. If ammonia goes up, use that calculator to see if that still gives a reading below 0.02 - and do water changes if it does reach 0.02.
If neither go up, the tank is cycled for the fish in there now and you can do weekly maintenance water changes.


When you get more fish, only get a few at a time and test every day after each addition to be on the safe side.


Yes, high range pH tester is only for when the normal one shows the highest colour.

However, with a pH of 6, that's the lowest the normal range tester goes and it could be lower than 6 - even a lot lower.
What is the pH of your tap water, both a freshly run sample and water that has been allowed to stand over night?
A pH that low is not a problem as long as you chose fish capable of living in that pH. But if your tap water turns out to be a lot higher, we need to find out why the tank is so low.

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2017, 07:03:51 AM »
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Well I tested PH this morning
Standing overnight tap water. 7.6
Freshly run 7.6
I did a high range PH test this was 7.4
Tested tank water again this was still at 6.0

Offline Sue

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2017, 09:28:22 AM »
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So why is your tank pH so low?
Do you add anything to the tank other than dechlorinator? Your daily water changes mean that it can't be due to old tank syndrome.


At pH that low your filter bacteria won't grow, so even if the tank is cycled for your current fish you could have problems when you get more fish - though with that pH your total ammonia-ammonium can get quite high before the ammonia part reaches dangerous levels.

I think that besides stopping daily water changes to see if ammonia and/or nitrite increase we also need to get to the bottom of your low pH. I know the natural tendency of tanks is to become acidic, but not by that much and certainly not with 25% daily water changes.

Start at the beginning. Can you list:
Substrate
Decor
Plants (if any live ones, fake ones count as decor)
Brand of filter
Media inside the filter
Brand of dechlorinator
Any other chemicals added to the tank
Fish - species and number

Once we know exactly what is insde you tank we may be able to spot something.

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2017, 10:11:56 AM »
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thakyou so much for this help Sue.

Substrate- Gravel
Décor - 2 x Dragon rocks + 1 Budha Statue
Plants - 3 x moss balls + 4 x java fern( I think) tall straggly things I pushed in the substrate
Filter - Fluval u2 internal filter
Media - 2 x foam/carbon cartridges + ceramic media balls + bio gravel
Seachem Prime with water change + Seachem Stability to boost bacteria growth- 5ml daily
Fish 5 x neon tetra
3 x julii corys
2 x blue rams
2 x galaxy rasboras
2 x harlequin rasboras
2 x scissortail rasboras

Offline Sue

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2017, 10:41:53 AM »
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Nothing stands out there. Except that if the plant is java fern it shouldn't be planted in the substrate. Maybe post a photo of it so it can be definitely identified.

My concern was that you may have had zeolite or some similar product in your filter as that would remove any ammonia leaving nothing to get the bacteria to grow. But as you have a U2, that doesn't have zeolite in it.

The fish in the tank all like low pH so that shouldn't harm them.
The fact that you have neons and rams mean your water must be pretty good as they are both delicate species which often just die, particularly if the water conditions don't suit them - pH, any ammonia or nitrite, high nitrate.


Prime and Stability shouldn't affect your pH - I needed to check that you weren't using pH down or some such chemical  :)




However, you do have problems.
Using the community creator and substituting 6 panda cories for 3 julii, you are 117% stocked, and with insufficient numbers of the shoaling species. You need at least 6 of everything except the rams. But as you are over stocked already, you can't add more fish.

Neons are fine in a 60 litre tank.
Julii cories need a tank at least 90 cm long - though they are probably trilineatus (false julii) which would be OK in your tank. Most shops mislabel these fish.
Rams are OK size wise, but unless you have a bonded pair you could have problems with them fighting
Galaxy rasboras are fine in that size tank but you need a lot more of them. They do better in large shoals of more than 6.
Harlequins - fine in that size tank but you need more than 2
Scissortails - these are the real problem as they grow to 6 inches and need a tank at least 120 cm long and over 250 litres.

Details on these fish here

The best thing you can do is decide which of the suitable species you want to keep and get more of them, and rehome the rest. A shop may possibly take them off you if you get other fish from them.
If you do have a bonded pair of rams they will spawn and the cories will suffer. Cories have no sense of territory and will not learn to stay away from the rams' eggs. They will be picked on by the rams.

Once you have your stocking down to a sensible level with more appropriate numbers of the more suitable fish, you may find your water problems sort themselves out.


Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2017, 11:22:05 AM »
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Thanks Sue I will take your advice and re-home the 2 scissortails, then do I increase BOTH the harlequin and galaxy rasboras to say 8 each

Offline Sue

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2017, 12:46:54 PM »
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That would still leave you over stocked, I'm afraid.

I would also rehome the cories. If they are true jullii they'll get to big for your tank. Even if they are false juliis, I would still rehome them as they are big fish for a 64 litre tank and you'd need six of them as well.

If you were to rehome the cories and scissor tails, get another neon to make six, and increase the galaxies to 10 (they do need bigger shoals) and the harlequins to 6, you would still be at 100% - and in my opinion 80% is a much more realistic figure.

What I would do is have just the rams and two of neons, harlequins and galaxies (more accurately called celestial pearl danios). You would need a minimum of 6 neons, 6 harlequins and 10 galaxies - but only 2 species not all three.

And keep an eye on the rams. If you have 2 males, they will start fighting at some point. Two females may also fight. And an un-bonded male and female may well also fight. Be prepared to take action if this happens.

Offline Gazzariff

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Re: First timer needs help with fishtank cycling
« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2017, 02:17:15 PM »
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ok Sue thanks for your help

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