Unhealthy Old Tank revamp help needed

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FishwithnoEye

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Hello,

I have personally had a 4 fish tanks started from scratch and learned how to cycle. However I have never had to reverse the process or fix OTS.

I inherited a 32 gallon tall fish tank. The owner claimed he never did a water change, and only ever topped off water levels. The substrate is sand, the plants are unknown to me, and the contents are 2 loaches, frog, plecco (albino) and what I think are catfish of some kind.

I have had shell dwellers, cichlids, guppies, and other easy maintainable fish as i am still a beginner in my eyes.

The fish tank was moved to my place and the owner kept less than 3 gallons of the original water. I tested that water and all levels were good except nitrates were a colour I have never seen (they tested it for me at a local fish shop) it was a test strip and it was bright bright pink.

The heater was broke, the filter didn’t work, but the bubbler did…

I now have a heater for the fish set at 75 F, a 40 gallon filter, and basically brand new water treated with SeaChem Prime and SeaChem stability.

I got this fish tank Super Bowl sunday. since then, i have done 10% water changes with the treated stability and prime.

The plants are just melting… the fish and frog are doing well (I think)…

So I’m summary… Old fish tank, very new treated water, old fish, plants dying.

This tank does have a light system that’s on 8 hours a day.

I’m willing to take any advice to ensure the plants and fish don’t die.
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These are the before… with him draining the tank and transporting it like that…

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This is it now…
 
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FishwithnoEye

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Frogs need to come out of the water so lower the water level to atleast 3/4, better half, and make sure there is hardscape out of the water so the frog can take a breathe of air.
This guy had this frog in here for 5 years with no water changes or land mass. he said it was an African dwarf so it does t need it. Not sure what he reallly knows tbh.
 
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FishwithnoEye

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I’m off to the store right now to get the water tested. My old tanks are in CA with friends, I just moved to Illinois so have no equipment at the minute besides an emergency quarantine, net, filter, etc. API test kit arrives Tuesday.
 

Naughts

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For Old Tank Syndrome you are in usual circumstances - you had to do a large 'water change' and there is no working filter.
The fish/frog have survived a big change in parameters. Try to keep their stress levels down to help them recover.
You'll need your own test kit, the API master test kit is a good starter kit. The daily 10% water changes are wise in the meantime as the new filter will not be cycling the ammonia yet. Keep the substrate and decorations to preserve beneficial bacteria. Don't be too eager to clean the glass.
The debris on the plants can be siphoned up with the water changes. The plants look like anubias. The rhizome should not be buried. If it is the plant will rot.
Put black backing on the tank to prevent algae. That position has a lot of direct light.
 
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FishwithnoEye

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For Old Tank Syndrome you are in usual circumstances - you had to do a large 'water change' and there is no working filter.
The fish/frog have survived a big change in parameters. Try to keep their stress levels down to help them recover.
You'll need your own test kit, the API master test kit is a good starter kit. The daily 10% water changes are wise in the meantime as the new filter will not be cycling the ammonia yet. Keep the substrate and decorations to preserve beneficial bacteria. Don't be too eager to clean the glass.
The debris on the plants can be siphoned up with the water changes. The plants look like anubias. The rhizome should not be buried. If it is the plant will rot.
Put black backing on the tank to prevent algae. That position has a lot of direct light.
Understood. thank you.

I usually have the blinds closed, that picture is simply to show what it looks like. It was the only place where the room had good heat so they wouldn’t die from a temperature change (65 in the house) so i upped the heater to 78. Big bill this month.

I haven’t done anything but water changed with the SeaChem products I mentioned. The filter took most of the mulch up with it.

The water parameters above are far better than they were so that good but I’m just waiting and worrying about that ammonia or nitrite or nitrate spike with the new filter.
 

Naughts

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Generally with OTS we would be cautious about removing a lot of water (even though the high nitrates demand it) because the old water will have become very acidic. Changing to clean more basic water can shock the fish, or poison them if ammonia is involved. In acidic water ammonia is the less toxic ammonium.
If you have kept the old substrate, decorations and equipment there will be beneficial bacteria present on every surface. This means the new filter will cycle much quicker and, with the daily water changes, you might avoid any spikes. Don't add any fish until you are certain the cycle is stable.

The fish in picture 1 could be serpae tetra. They are nippy :(

I don't know the fish in picture 2, maybe start a thread to identity it. If it's small it could be a goby but IDK.

I don't know about frogs.

The 4 th picture looks to be a bristlenose pleco.
 

GaryE

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When a tank has reached that stage, conventional wisdom says you change 20% a day for a few weeks, as the mineral buildup from water evaporating will be huge, and big changes could kill the things in the tank. The tank is at an extreme and would need to be coaxed back to normal.
It's too late for that.
I would remove the fish and plants, since you've already crossed that threshold when he moved the tank, rinse everything out and restart.The fish will sit in the remnants of their water and can be drip acclimated (don't return the water to the tank) before going back in. 3 or 4 hours work can give you years of a good tank.
 

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