Is my tank just "dirty", and why?

OP
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Hedgely

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Your tank is overstocked. Did you cycle your tank? How many water changes do you do?
@I Like Rare Fish
Really? I'm going off AqAdvisor and it calculates to 70% stocking capacity for a 20g long. The CPDs were not really planned, I took them in as rescues from my neighbor a couple months ago. Would it help to add a sponge filter as second filter, or do I need to relocate fish? Happy to hear any advise.

I did do a fishless cycle with ammonia/fish food for one month. Tank is now more than 6 months old.

Water changes 30% per week.
 

OliveFish05

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Aqueon filter cartridges are absolute trash. Mine started deteriorating after only 2 months in use. :dunno:
I have never tried that brand! I don’t really care for cartridges, I enjoy being able to pick and choose my media with my AquaClear media. I just have 4 sponges :rofl:
 

Byron

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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!

From the photo...what are the light specs? There may be an issue with spectrum.

I am not a fan of these "soils" as plants do not need them, but I won't go into that as it is in the tank. But do not use buffers, pH adjusters, or similar. These things do weaken fish as they get inside them, and while they may not (but they can) kill the fish, they are weakening the fish and making life more difficult, and stressful.

I checked the fish species, and you have some issues here, I will get to that below. With some adjustments, the lower pH and zero KH will be ideal for the very soft water species. My tanks run zero GH/KH and the pH in some is well below 5. BTW, what is the GH?

Really? I'm going off AqAdvisor and it calculates to 70% stocking capacity for a 20g long. The CPDs were not really planned, I took them in as rescues from my neighbor a couple months ago. Would it help to add a sponge filter as second filter, or do I need to relocate fish? Happy to hear any advise.

I did do a fishless cycle with ammonia/fish food for one month. Tank is now more than 6 months old.

Water changes 30% per week.

The overstocking is not so much numbers as combination of fish that really should not be together. This always impacts on the biology, likely stresses some of the fish, and here again lads to other problems.

I would remove or not replace the Florida Flag Fish. They really need a larger space.

The CPD I understand, but they would be better with a larger group (20 or more) in a 20g tank [more data here: Celestichthys margaritatus – Celestial Pearl ‘Danio’ (Danio margaritatus) — Seriously Fish ].

Second filter does not help as the tank size and the species requirements (numbers, etc) and their compatibility all factor in, and this has nothing to do with filtration. This is why stocking sites are so near-useless, they cannot possibly factor all that really matters to fish health.

I would up the W/C to 50% minimum, once a week. If you want to know why, check out my article which was just posted today. Pleased to answer any questions I can.
 

coriesinhawaii

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I have never tried that brand! I don’t really care for cartridges, I enjoy being able to pick and choose my media with my AquaClear media. I just have 4 sponges :rofl:
All filter cartridges seem to be useless to me. I don’t think they’re designed with biological filtration in mind. More as a mechanical filtration I think. They wear out quickly. I think they’re more of a money maker for the company because you have to keep replacing them. And I always had to cut the filter to dump out the carbon so it wouldn’t remove the vitamins I add to the tank. I agree it would be better to just replace it with another sponge cut to size and wala—you have yourself some extra filter media if you need it.
 

Dajuyu

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Your tank is overstocked. Did you cycle your tank? How many water changes do you do?
Overstocked tank needs more frequent water change, I do twice a week ... yeah and thats for my 120G Community tank.
More frequent water changed means lesser percentage of water change that you can do ... as oppose to 1 WC at one go.

And yeah being careful and safe does make a differentce.

I have one of my buddies having 100G tank and only stock em with several Neon Tetra only ... not even a handful of them . I always say that she is indeed very paranoid ... well maybe its just me .
 

Slaphppy7

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All filter cartridges seem to be useless to me. I don’t think they’re designed with biological filtration in mind. More as a mechanical filtration I think. They wear out quickly. I think they’re more of a money maker for the company because you have to keep replacing them. And I always had to cut the filter to dump out the carbon so it wouldn’t remove the vitamins I add to the tank. I agree it would be better to just replace it with another sponge cut to size and wala—you have yourself some extra filter media if you need it.
+1 to this, I personally use bagged ceramic media in my filters, lasts for years
 

Avel1896

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I personaly use Aquario NeoMedia in my filter. You can choose between "soft" "pure" (neutral), "hard" and "premium".
It is €15/liter.
I would by no means change it for any other media.
 
OP
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Hedgely

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From the photo...what are the light specs? There may be an issue with spectrum.

I am not a fan of these "soils" as plants do not need them, but I won't go into that as it is in the tank. But do not use buffers, pH adjusters, or similar. These things do weaken fish as they get inside them, and while they may not (but they can) kill the fish, they are weakening the fish and making life more difficult, and stressful.

I checked the fish species, and you have some issues here, I will get to that below. With some adjustments, the lower pH and zero KH will be ideal for the very soft water species. My tanks run zero GH/KH and the pH in some is well below 5. BTW, what is the GH?



The overstocking is not so much numbers as combination of fish that really should not be together. This always impacts on the biology, likely stresses some of the fish, and here again lads to other problems.

I would remove or not replace the Florida Flag Fish. They really need a larger space.

The CPD I understand, but they would be better with a larger group (20 or more) in a 20g tank [more data here: Celestichthys margaritatus – Celestial Pearl ‘Danio’ (Danio margaritatus) — Seriously Fish ].

Second filter does not help as the tank size and the species requirements (numbers, etc) and their compatibility all factor in, and this has nothing to do with filtration. This is why stocking sites are so near-useless, they cannot possibly factor all that really matters to fish health.

I would up the W/C to 50% minimum, once a week. If you want to know why, check out my article which was just posted today. Pleased to answer any questions I can.
Hey @Byron,

Thanks for your long reply, for some reason I didn't get a notification so I just saw it now.

My light is a Zoo Med T8 Flora Sun light for plant growth. GH is 150.

Just wanted to give a quick reply, will answer in more detail tomorrow!
 

Byron

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My light is a Zoo Med T8 Flora Sun light for plant growth.

I know the ZooMed series, I use them in T8 along with the Life-Glo 6500K. If you have just one T8 tube in the fixture, the best tube is the Ultra Sun 6500K. If you have two tubes in the fixture, you can use one UltraSun 6500K and one Tropic Sun 5500K. The Tropic Sun has a tad more red, which is good for plants, but with just one tube the 6500K is your best bet.

Another basically identical tube is the Hagen Life-Glo 6500K. I now use these because it is difficult to get ZooMed here.

The so-called "plant" tubes like the Flora Sun are less in intensity, and while they have the red and blue they lack sufficient green. You will have better plant growth with the other two.

Here's a link to the ZooMed data:
T8 Ultra Sun® Super Daylight | Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc.
 
OP
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Hedgely

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From the photo...what are the light specs? There may be an issue with spectrum.

I am not a fan of these "soils" as plants do not need them, but I won't go into that as it is in the tank. But do not use buffers, pH adjusters, or similar. These things do weaken fish as they get inside them, and while they may not (but they can) kill the fish, they are weakening the fish and making life more difficult, and stressful.

I checked the fish species, and you have some issues here, I will get to that below. With some adjustments, the lower pH and zero KH will be ideal for the very soft water species. My tanks run zero GH/KH and the pH in some is well below 5. BTW, what is the GH?



The overstocking is not so much numbers as combination of fish that really should not be together. This always impacts on the biology, likely stresses some of the fish, and here again lads to other problems.

I would remove or not replace the Florida Flag Fish. They really need a larger space.

The CPD I understand, but they would be better with a larger group (20 or more) in a 20g tank [more data here: Celestichthys margaritatus – Celestial Pearl ‘Danio’ (Danio margaritatus) — Seriously Fish ].

Second filter does not help as the tank size and the species requirements (numbers, etc) and their compatibility all factor in, and this has nothing to do with filtration. This is why stocking sites are so near-useless, they cannot possibly factor all that really matters to fish health.

I would up the W/C to 50% minimum, once a week. If you want to know why, check out my article which was just posted today. Pleased to answer any questions I can.
Hi @Byron, thanks again! :)

Re soil and pH/hardness: It's funny, I started adding the buffers because somebody at a forum advised me to do so (I don't think it was in this one). The reason was that low pH/hardness could lead to pH swings and ammonia spikes, and that could cause my fish to get sick. But I'm more than happy to stop adding them. They were just carbonates, so no harsh chemicals, but the less the better.

Re fish stocking: Got it with the flag fish. What would you recommend with the other fish? Both CPD and rainbows (and also the sparklers to some extend) like to be in bigger groups but I don't really have room for that, right? The sparkling gourami, would you suggest I keep only a pair of those and rehome the others? Also, could you point me toward some of the fish suitable for my very soft water?

Re tank light: I have just one fixture. I'll probably keep the flora sun for now but will definitely get the 6500 and/or 5500 if I set up another tank, thanks for that! Do fish need green light?

Sorry again for the thousand questions, and thank you for helping me out!
 
OP
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Hedgely

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Thanks everyone for their input regarding the filter media! I have two cartridges, one with ceramic media, and one with the filter pad. Definitely going to exchange the latter for sponges once I'm through.
 

Byron

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Re tank light: I have just one fixture. I'll probably keep the flora sun for now but will definitely get the 6500 and/or 5500 if I set up another tank, thanks for that! Do fish need green light?

Fine, but over time the lack of sufficient intensity and the lack of green will cause the plants to react negatively. For the cost of a new tube it would seem worth it to replace it with the ZooMed UltraSun or the Hagen Life-Glo.

Re soil and pH/hardness: It's funny, I started adding the buffers because somebody at a forum advised me to do so (I don't think it was in this one). The reason was that low pH/hardness could lead to pH swings and ammonia spikes, and that could cause my fish to get sick. But I'm more than happy to stop adding them. They were just carbonates, so no harsh chemicals, but the less the better.

It depends upon the fish species, the GH and KH, and then the aquascaping elements that might impact the water chemistry. Fish requiring harder water would never be healthy without raising the GH, pH, and probably buffering, depending. But soft water fish are different.

Ammonia spikes are unlikely, unless there is some other problem in the tank. The pH will stabilize according to the factors involved; there is a natural pH fluctuation diurnally in nature and in tanks with live plants, and this does no harm to the fish.

The sparkling gourami, would you suggest I keep only a pair of those and rehome the others?

This fish is more interesting in a small group, say five. Males will "croak" as they display to each other with females present:
This species is sometimes confused with its cousin, the Croaking Gourami, Trichopsis vittata. Both species make "croaking" sounds, like a rapid series of clicks, when excited and during courtship, and these can easily be heard outside the aquarium. In a 1992 study, Friedrich Ladich et.al. determined that this sound is important not only in breeding displays but also in antagonistic displays of males to establish dominance. The "croak" is a series of double pulses generated by rapid beating of the pectoral fins. Another study by Ladich in 1998 established that the sounds vary according to the individual fish and the sound frequency had a role in determining the outcome of the encounter between rival fish.​
I tend to think it is more interesting to have fish be "natural" like this, but that requires providing what they require to do so.

Both CPD and rainbows (and also the sparklers to some extend) like to be in bigger groups but I don't really have room for that, right?

Larger groups, absolutely, if the fish are to be considered. This tank with these fish is not sufficient space.
 

Jan Cavalieri

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AquaClear instructions are to replace the carbon filter monthly. Replace the sponge every two months and replace the biobeads every 3 months. That doesn't sound like a recipe for keeping a tank cycled. Not sure what they are thinking. But my sponges only last 3-4 months and they get rinsed monthly in dirty tank water (usually the last bucket since it's the least dirty and ickey. My sponges deteriorate because they sit on the bottom of the filter basket. When I take that basket out each week there is a HUGE layer of gunk cloging up the filter completely by the end of the week. I'm phasing out all my Aqua clear filters and am slowly replacing them with canister filters but I'll only have 2 tanks on canester filers.

Anyway the OP's numbers on the aquarium are not bad at all. I suspect the PH is too low for some species that prefer a 7-7.5 but they should alclimate to a 6.5. Are you buying all your fish from the same location? If so, I would buy somewhere else. Especially if you are buying from a Petsmart or Petco fish store - some have better staff than other that are good at recognizing when they have diseased fish in a tank and will close down the entire tank while they treat the other firh but I suspect many of the kids they have running these places aren't well-schooled on fish diseases. They take out the ones that have died and keep selling the others. As far as I can tell my fish have never had a disease but have died from 1. A couple of major slip-ups during a water change, don't know if my assistant forgot to add declorinator or if she forgot to add the PH adjuster (it adjusts my 9,4 PH to 7) but you have to put about 1/8th teaspoon in each bucket or it's like dumping PH 9.4 on the fishes heads, - we will never know what really happened, but I lost 15-17 fish with each accident. 2. Swim Bladder disease, a couple of times they actually got over it but 90% of the time they died within 24-48 hours. Now I give them a day or so and then euthanize unless they've improved - I bet I've lost a good 20 fish to swim bladder issues. 3. My latest "cloudy tank syndrome" that killed 5 rainbow fish but left the loaches alone. This followed a water change, which due to the PH chemical always makes the water a little cloudy for about 1 hour then it settles to sparkling clear. This time it never cleared and actually got thicker. Once Rainbow fish started dying I quickly moved the remaining Rainbows to another tank and they have been just fine. Then that tank, about 2 days after a water change, suddenly turned cloudy but no deaths - it's nearly clear 5 days later and tomorrow is water change day for my tanks that are just now getting over their cloudyness, 4. Stress or death by another fish - I had an evil Danio that ate the fins off of one of my timid Dwarf Gourami which died. I should have euthanized the Danio right then. He then started chasing his school mates one by one until they would drop dead - killed 5 and he was the only one left. I put him in my 6 gallon tank alone, then with group of Rasbora (another schooling fish) he left them alone and tried to school with them, they then tormented him until I found him dead one day,

Anyway I've never had an illness or disease in 3 yrs. I now buy all my fish online from places that actually breed their fish so they know quite well when a group is sick and will tell you and ask you to wait until the next group is ready. Arizonaaquaticgardens.com, LiveAquaria.com and now Imperialtropicals (they are a big breeder supplying many stores with fish and their overnight shipping is about $20 less than the others) . But I would recommend that you try one of those. Imperial Tropicals has super healthy fish but you get them when they are very very small - and if you have fish with big mouths you'll need to keep them in a quarantine or small tank until they are big enough to go into the larger tank with full-grown fish. If all your fish have tiny mouths you can put them with them (unless you quarantine your fish for 2 weeks - always a good idea but sometimes impossible to do in practice). So my guess is that you are either overstocked and fish are dying from the stress or they are too hot (rarely does too cold cause a problem unless they are very cold) 78-80 degrees is a good temperature, or you are just getting shoddy sickly fish from local fish stores. And it's not just the big box stores that have shoddy fish, but we have an EVIL small local fish store that tried to convince me a Cichlid was a Gourami - I bet he laughed about that - I was a newbie. He also has people pay to watch the pirannha eat feeder fish (mainly goldfish) which just makes me sick. And there is NO warning on the OPEN tank that these are dangerous fish, I bought five fish from him that day - all 5 died by the next day, except the cichlid which I put in with my peaceful full-size Gourami - luckily he wasn't overly aggressive but there were some bad moments. I rehomed him and the other Gourami when they all reached 8" and my biggest tank at the time was 29 gallons.
 

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