Is my tank just "dirty", and why?

Hedgely

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Hi peeps!

I do love my 20 gallon planted tank, however I keep losing fish from time to time and don't really know why. Is my tank just "dirty", and why?

Tank setup and maintenance:
The tank has been established for more than half a year, and for a long time I had no casualties. It has aquasoil, is densely planted, driftwood, rocks, Marineland penguin 200 filter, Eheim heater 75 watt at 75F. The filter has an extra cartridge with media for beneficial bacteria. I do 30% water changes and deep gravel clean once a week. If fish look bad, I do larger water changes more often. Use API stress coat to condition the water.
Every time I check the water parameters, they are the same:
Nitrate 10, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, chlorine 0, GH 150, KH 20, pH 6.5.

Inhabitants and problems:
4 sparkling gourami, 5 pseudomugil gertrudae, 3 otocinclus, 2 nerite snails, 5 CPD, now only 1 florida flag fish
A couple months ago I had a spell where I lost some of my sparklers (they seemed weak, disoriented, slow, sank to the bottom and were dead the next day), now I am having a spell where I'm losing the flag fish (clamped fins, hang out at bottom and dead the next day - some developed stringy poop after clamped fins but no parasite medications helped - not prazi, not metro, not flubendazole). In between one CPD also passed, seemed bloated, otherwise unclear symptoms.

Is my tank really that dirty and what can I do to improve? One thing I want to note is that I don't have a quarantine tank, and tend to add new additions directly from a reputable source. But could it really be that every single one of my new additions is sick??

Thanks for your input!!!
 
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Hedgely

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What new additions have you added, and how recently?
I added the flag fish about 6 weeks ago, and they just started clamping their fins and dying a littke over a week ago.

Around the same time I added two to my existing three getrudae and nothing happened to those (same source).

I had the sparklers for many months. Some died shortly after I had added two chameleon fish (those died within two days), so in this case I thought they brought some disease in, and I never figured out what it was, likely bacterial.

Forgot to mention my CPDs. One also passed randomly outside of new additions.

I just don't want to see any more dead fish. :'(
 

didz04

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I made a thread about mud fertilizer and they mentioned that it may only be good for planted only tanks or with plants and only a few fish in as it can be harmful to fish.I'm assuming the aquasoil is basically mud fertilizer?
 

Colin_T

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Do you clean your filter media in straight tap water
No, I usually just replace it with a new one from the box, but I rinse that in dechlorinated water before installing it
You shouldn't replace filter media. Just squeeze them out in a bucket of tank water and re-use them. Tip the bucket of dirt water on the lawn.

If the filter pad/ cartridge has carbon or something in it, cut the top of the pad and tip the stuff out into the bin, then squeeze the pad out in a bucket of tank water.

You can buy sponges from other brands of power filter and use a pair of scissors to cut the sponge so it fits in your filter. Sponges get squeezed out in a bucket of tank water and re-used. Sponges will last 10+ years.

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You need to provide pictures of the fish
 

Byron

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Post #5 may have picked up on something...can you link to this aquasoil item so we can see what it is and allegedly does?

The test numbers look good, though nitrates at 10 are high for plants as described...could we have a photo of the entire tank to see the plant load?

Introducing disease with new fish is a real concern, and that could have been the issue a couple of times. But even so, reducing "possible" detrimental effects of this or that on the fish will help prevent them from succumbing easily to many other issues they can often fight off.
 
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Hedgely

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Hi everyone,

First of all, thank you so much for your time and all the replies, I'm taking every single one seriously!

@didz04 and @Byron
Good point with the aquasoil. The product is called "Ada Aqua Soil Amazonia" and has been recommended for planted tanks worldwide... Here is the link: http://www.petzonesd.com/ada-aqua-soil-amazonia-powder-9l/
It does make the water quite acidic (pH <6.2 and KH o) so I'm adding a bit of Seachem alkaline and acid buffer (phosphate-free) each water change to bring the pH to 6.5 and KH up to 20 to buffer a little bit against pH swings. Picture of the full tank attached!

@Colin_T
Okay, I will wash the filter cartridge in aquarium water from now on, or get a sponge filter. But I still wanted to clarify that the bio-wheel and second cartridge with porous media remain in the tank at all times. Pictures of the fish attached!
 

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