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FAQs on Freshwater Maintenance/Operation 2

Related Articles: Freshwater Algae & Control, Tips for BeginnerspH, alkalinity, acidity, Treating Tap Water, Freshwater Aquarium Water QualityFreshwater "Scavengers",  

Related FAQs:  Freshwater Maintenance 1, Freshwater Maintenance 3, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

Tickle Me Elmo hi my name Elmo I have a thirty five gallon aquarium and I don't like cleaning it, can you give me some advice on some fish or filters I should use to keep my aquarium clean so I never have to clean it again. <There is no such thing as this. There are means to lessen the amount of time, effort to maintain captive aquatic systems... these are covered on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Back To Square One - II - 03/18/2006 Thanks, Sabrina <Glad to be of service.> Your advice was really helpful. I have since lost no more fish, and they seem to be healthier and happier. I had nowhere to put the zebra danio, so I left him in there for now, with the pink Betta in the mini bow 2.5. I am a little bit frustrated as to why the filter that came with it (the whisper filter, smallest model they make, made for 2-10 gall.) is too strong a current on the lowest setting. I am going to try to buy the Azoo palm filter featured in the Dr. Foster Smith aquarium catalog, that they say is safe for the Betta. <Before you spend your hard-earned bucks on a new filter, try getting a sponge (I like the white filter sponges made for Aqua-Tech filters for this purpose) and cut a slit into the middle of it the long way.  Then slide this makeshift "sleeve" over the intake of your Whisper filter; I think you'll find that it reduces the flow dramatically.> Until then I do every other day water changes of about 20-25percent, and have an airstone hooked up, and strangely, the current on that was too strong as well. I found that if I hang the airstone at the top (for now, till the bigger tank comes), the current is far less strong. So my question on that is (Sorry for so many questions) 1. Will the stone hanging at the top by the airline tubing create the same amount of air/enough air as it would if it were placed at the bottom of the tank? <The purpose of the air stone is to create circulation, and most importantly, a bit of agitation at the surface of the water.  The airstone itself doesn't put air into the water, but this turbulence or movement at the surface allows for better gas exchange - so, basically, making motion at the top gets more air into the water.  If the airstone is at the top, that's fine.  It'll make less circulation in the water, but it'll still agitate the surface.> 2. My snail which is about 1/2'' - 3/4'' has some small cracks at the opening of her shell (where she sticks her tentacles out), is this bad? <Possibly, but there may not be a whole lot you can do about it.  I would keep a very close eye on her and see if you see any strange pits or holes in the shell; if you do, try looking in the freshwater FAQs on WetWebMedia, under invertebrates; you should find some suggestions for aquarium iodine to combat this problem.> 3. The snail spends the entire day constantly moving around to forage for food, does that mean she's not getting enough? <Nah, it's very good that she's active.> What should I feed her if she isn't? A sinking algae wafer from Hikari? <This and other sinking foods would be great - but not too much, and not too often.  Remember to always remove leftovers before they rot or foul your water.> Thanks and sorry again for the trouble-- <No trouble at all.> Holly <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

What is this black stuff?  - 03/11/2006 I have used your site many times and have found an abundance of useful information, but I can't seem to find anything for my particular problem.  (This may be due to the fact that I'm not completely sure *what* my problem is.) <Or not unlikely that there is not much re posted... will never be "finished">   Anyway, I have this black "pepper-y" looking stuff covering the bottom of one of my tanks.  (This particular tank has been a handful recently.)  I recently had a bacterial infection which was treated with Maracyn as per package instruction. <Ah, a good clue>   A few days after  treatment, I noticed these black spotty grains covering the gravel and plants (artificial, by the way).  I removed all of the fish to another tank seeing as how I don't know if this stuff is dangerous. <Not generally in systems with good maintenance...>   My question is, what is this stuff, and how do I get rid of it? <Likely a type or types of blue green et al. algae. Will "go" in time with your system re-centering itself... You can "speed up" the process by doing extra frequent partial water changes, using chemical filtrants (hence removing chemical food)...> I don't mind tearing down the tank, but I'm not sure if I should throw out all of the decorations and sterilize the filter system, or if this is something that I can control without doing so. <Is> The tank is currently empty, as I am not sure if it poses a threat to the fishies. <Some, but not much. There are some algae-eating animals, like many "Plecos" that can be negatively effected, but most fishes, no> Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.  Could this be a strain of algae, another form of bacteria, or something else entirely?  Again, thank you, and kudos on such a wonderful site! -Mandy <I would leave off with a total tear down here if you have time, patience... allow the "good" microbes (they were harmed by the Maracyn/antibiotic) to re-establish themselves, add the chemical filtrant and all should settle itself in your favor in a few to several weeks. Bob Fenner> Salt, Creep in a FW Tank - 3/5/2006 Hi, <<Hi John>> I have a 29-gallon freshwater tank and I have always kept a light concentration of salt (about a teaspoon of aquarium rock salt when I do a 1/4 tank change). <<Why, do your fish require this? Be careful not to add salt unless it benefits the species you keep.>> I always get a crusty formation of salt on the aquarium (filter cover, tank lid, etc.) Is there any way to remove and/or prevent this formation? The formation has proven nearly impossible to strip. <<There are commercially available products available for this. "Salt Creep Eliminator" by Coralife is a popular one.>> Thanks! John <<Glad to help. Lisa.>> White slime on rocks!!! Aquarist version of "White Punks on Dope?"   2/26/06 Hi, I'm just wondering if you could help me with a question...  I have a new 30 gal freshwater aquarium set up  it was up and running for 4 days before I added fish.  To cycle the tank I added 2 Columbian tetra's and 1 rainbow shark. <Mmm, best to not use life/fishes to do such cycling> All fish are doing good but the rocks in the tank are growing a white slime covering. <Neat> All rocks and gravel were washed and boiled and washed again before going into the tank.  I cant find much info on the net regarding this white slime, but what I think I have found is that it's a bacteria maybe caused by over feeding??? <Good possibility. Fancy term is "biofilm"... not altogether undesirable>   I don't know how this could be since I only feed them once a day right now and they were only in the tank for 2 days before the white slime started to appear. <Just that this is a new/sterile environment. Not to worry re>   I have taken some of the rocks that were covered the most out, and re-washed them.  We have 5 tanks and none of them ever had this slime when starting up.  I'm just wondering if you have any idea what this slime is or what I can do about it.   Thanks Shannon <Something about the make up... physical, chemical, biological of this particular system. Would be great (my personal value) to have a microscope, look at the mix of this "slime"... Again, will "go" with time. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Bob Fenner> FW over-fastidiousness  - 2/21/2006 Hi!  I have been pouring over your site for the last few months.  However, I have an ongoing problem that I need some advice on.  I have a 29 gallon freshwater aquarium.  I am using three types of filtration:  1st.  A Marineland Penguin 150 Bio-wheel Power filter (rated 30gal/150gph) with ammo-chips in it.  2nd.  A Marineland Penguin 350 dual Bio-wheel Power filter (rated 75gal/350gph), with the two stock carb filters in the main two slots and two cut to size ammonia filters in the auxiliary slots.  3rd.  A Rena Filstar xp1 canister filter (rated 45gal/240gph), with the standard 30ppi cell-foam pad + 20 ppi cell-foam pad + 2 micofilter pads with ammo-chips in-between (in place of the bio-chem "Zorb" bag), and the Fluval Biomax ceramic cylinders.  The media layers are placed in the order listed in the set up instructions.  I also have two airstones with tank appropriate size airpump.  Both of the airstones have multiple steady and solid bubble/airstreams coming out of them.  One airstone is inside a coral decoration which vents the bubbles from multiple holes in the top.  The other is a large circular disc under the gravel.  I am using fake plants (mostly silk and poly-silk blend, and one plastic), which are aquarium rated plants.  I have two 75 watt heaters, one on each end of the tank, with the Bio wheels in-between them, and the canister intake and out-let on the outside of them.  I started out with the 1 pound/gallon gravel, and quickly realized the mistake.  I removed 2/3 of the gravel, and now have a very light coverage.  There are bare spots under some of the coral decorations (also all fake aquarium rated ones), in order to have a little extra for around some of the plant bases. Most of the plants have weighted bases, and don't need the extra gravel to hold them down, so it is applicable to only two or three.  I also lightly covered the airstone disc (aesthetics) with gravel. The tank water went through the bacterial blooms and has stayed clear  for  over a week now.  The whole system has been up for almost two months.  I use (as directed) API Stresscoat, API Stresszyme, and a water conditioner (API, Jungle, Hagen, etc) each time I do a water change.  I do a minimum change of 25-30 percent once or twice a week, <Once, with a quarter changed out is enough> depending on the test results.  I do liquid or strip tests daily for ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and ph.  The tank temperature (one thermometer on each end of the tank) is consistently at 78 degrees.  The ph is always 8.0, which I know is high, but I couldn't keep it at 7.0.  I would add the ph down (tried several brands), and it always went up within 24 hours.  I stopped trying to adjust it, as I understand that a steady, consistent ph, even if it is higher than optimal, is better than one that is always rising and dropping. <Generally, yes> As to stock, I have 2  Spotted (Trilineatus) Corydoras catfish, 2 Paleatus (Pepper) Corydoras catfish, 3 Aeneus (Bronze) Corydoras catfish (the Cory version, not the larger Brochis splendens), 3 Dwarf Gourami, and 5 Guppies.  I lost a Spotted Cory and 4 Guppies over a three day period 2 or 3 weeks ago.  I pulled the remaining 5 Guppies and put them in a hospital tank with aquarium salt for 4 days.  They have since been back in the main tank.  I believe it was Ammonia Poisoning. <Very typical> Sadly, I didn't catch it before I lost the 5 fish.  I didn't have the Gouramis yet, and the other Corydoras catfish never left the tank, and didn't show any symptoms. I am very careful about not having excess food in the tank.  I feed very lightly twice daily, and they devour everything in 2 or 3 minutes.  I vacuum the gravel every time I do a water change.  I just can't seem to get the Ammonia level to stay at 0.   <... you may be too fastidious re cleaning... Cleanliness is not sterility in biological systems> It never stays at 0 for more than a few days.  Then I get a .25ppm or .50ppm reading.  The next day it is 1ppm.  The highest I've seen it was over 5ppm, and that was my "duh" moment on why I was losing Guppies.  I tried API's Ammo-lock, but have since switched to Amquel Plus +, which specifically claims to 'remove' ammonia.   Anyway, sorry about the slew of info., but I thought the more detail the more accurate the help? <Yes> So, my question(s) is what is the deal with the Ammonia?? <A few approaches... adding some live plants, more gravel, only vacuuming half the bottom per week...> Is there any advise/help you can offer? <Sure> On an aside, I started adding 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of aquarium salt to the tank to aid the Guppies with resisting the ammonia.  I know it is supposed to be 1-2 tablespoons per 5 gallons, but with 7 Corys I didn't dare put a full dose in. <Good> Do you think that the 1 tsp/5ga will be enough for the Guppies, without hurting my Corys? <All the good this can do, yes> Any advise on ratio would also be appreciated!  The only other thing I can think to tell you is that my water hardness (strip test) is soft (usually 25ppm) and my alkalinity (ph buffer) is usually 120-180ppm right after a water change, and 180-300ppm after that.  The liquid GH and KH tests come out around GH-3/KH-6, but sometimes read GH-5/KH-9. The numbers I get do not seem to be based on water changes, and I haven't seen any pattern to the different results.  My fish and I thank you for all the great information on your site!  Heidi. <I would look to a filtered source of water... my choice, reverse osmosis, to blend in with your source/tap here... maybe about half and half... you have too much mineral, alkalinity in your water to use it "straight"... At this juncture, about the best thing you could do is going on holiday... allow the system to "settle in"... your constant tinkering is disallowing the establishment of biological cycling... add the gravel, some floating "grass" type of live plant, cut back on the cleaning. Bob Fenner>

A moving experience   2/14/06 Bob, Thank you for your help.  Another question.  How do you recommend moving across several states with fish?  I have a 12-16 hour drive and want to know the best way to transport my fish and aquarium. Thank you. Orlando <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/movingaq.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> New Tank - Water Flow questions  - 01/12/2006 Hi All! <Doug> I just set up an new 55 gallon tank for my 2 calico fantails (4-5") a common pleco (5") a pictus cat (4") and a Striped Raphael Cat (4") <Mmm, well... the Pleco might go with either group... but the goldfish and tropical catfishes are not really mix-able... temperament or water quality-wise> + 4 snails. I used all live plants (about 12) and two inches of medium size gravel + bag of big white polished rocks. The filtration is from a Penguin 350 Dual Bio-Wheel, a Marineland 550 PWRHD pulling from bottom - to - top and a Marineland 660 Sponge pulling from top - to - bottom. I also went out and bought a special light for plants. I have been changing out about 5-8 gallons of water a week. <Good> My set-up looks really good during the day but at night there seems to be sort of a milky cloud at the top of the aquarium. <More or less "new tank syndrome"... with your filtration, all will settle itself... though the Goldfish... are "messy"> I know I am not overfeeding, and with all the filtration I have + the low amount of fish I was wondering if a UV sterilizer would really do that much to improve the appearance of the water. <Nah> I have an ammonia meter and it has always been in the safe zone. I worry that I did not run the tank in enough (only 48 hours) before I put fish in it.   <Yikes... luckily you have a good volume for dilution...> The fish seem totally happy and healthy, I just want a crystal clear aquarium....should I get a UV pump or take all my fish, plants, rocks etc out and try and restart the cycle with a longer break-in? <Yes.... this is above all what is necessary... time to go by... "This too will clear" my friend. Bob Fenner> Your help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Doug Daniels

Stinky FW system blues... A to middle C  - 01/12/2006 Hello WWM crew <Howdy> I have a 30 gallon tank. Tank contains 1 peacock cichlid. I have 1 marineland emperor 400 and 1 emperor 280 filter. <Product names are proper nouns... capitalized> I hope you can help me. I have read and searched most of the FAQs on WWM website. <Wowzah!> I still can't get rid of this horrid fishy smell coming from the water of the fish tank. I change the carbon and filter every two weeks and do a 25% water change weekly. <Good> the tank is about 8 months old. I have no algae growing. and the nitrate levels are 20ppm. The tank is in a basement where there is little light. Should i just seal off the tank and run a 1" pvc pipe to the outside of the house for ventilation and call it quits? <Heeee!> HELP? p.s. I've also tried every chemical for cloudy and smelly water known to man.  thank you   <Mmm, there are a few things to try that might help... What do you feed this system? Changing this to a more "nutritionally complete" food type (Spectrum, Hikari...) and adding a bit of live plant material (my choice? Egeria/Elodea/Anacharis)... and do check that charcoal... Use activated carbon instead. Bob Fenner> Light brown pinkish stuff in my tank   1/10/06 Hi!  Thank you so much for this forum to ask questions. I have a 60 gallon freshwater tank which right now is the home to 2 swimming frogs and a ground feeder (I do not know what kind).  There were several other fish, but the frogs got to them... <Perhaps Xenopus laevis... African Clawed Frogs...> Anyway, I have recently had a very hard time keeping algae out of the tank and therefore have not replaced my fish to date. I am not sure, but I keep getting these clumps of what look like light brown or pinkish ash.  It almost looks like fish food but the ground feeder will not eat it. Last week I syphoned over 50% of the water trying to clean it out, but 2 days later it started back again. Do you know what this is and/or how to get rid of it? Any assistance would be great. Thanks. <Better maintenance... this is likely a mix of algae, fungus... see WWM re cleaning aquariums, Water Changes. Bob Fenner> Filter Feeders Died After Using Filter  - 01/09/2006 Hi. I have a 55 gallon tank that I use a vortex filter on about once a month or so to polish the water.  It has always worked   great.  Recently I added several bamboo shrimp to the tank, as well as a clam and a muscle.  They were thriving and doing great for over   a month until I ran the Vortex on it.  Within days of running it, I lost two of the shrimp, and the clam.  I was thinking that this might   have been due to the Vortex taking out all of their food supply. Do you think this could be what happened?  If so, is there something   you would recommend that I could add to the tank right after to   replenish the filter feeder's food supply? thanks for the help. Keep up the great work,-Ed < All of the animals you lost are filter feeders. Your Vortex filter is extremely efficient. I think your hunch is probably right that the filter is removing the food supply for these animals. Any type of food that you would need would defeat the purpose of the Vortex filter and result in fine particles of food floating around the tank. You might try taking some fish food and crushing it up into a powder. Add some water to make it into a runny soup type mixture. Take an eye droppers and squirt this mixture right at the filter feeders once a day. I am sure the other fish will eat any excess.-Chuck>

Putrid Aquarium..??  12/5/05 WWM, I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank that I started early in the year. It contains 4 Glowlite Tetras, 4 Black Phantom Tetras, 4 Pristella Tetras, 1 upside-down catfish, 2 Otos and 2 Kuhlii loaches. I'm running a no-name hanging filter and was using the matching cartridges up until a month or so ago, but I found they didn't last long and would clog completely within less than 2 weeks. So I switched to the Whisper brand.  At first, all went well. They could be rinsed more times than the no-name type, therefore could be used for a longer period of time. Then, about a month ago, everything in my tank started getting a green tint to it. Before long, my gravel and everything else in my tank was covered in bright green algae. Now the water is also cloudy and has a green tint to it. I've been doing monthly water changes <Best protocol is weekly> and had never had a problem with this before. My tank gets no direct sunlight whatsoever. I've never really had any algae at all. Also, the last cartridge I changed had become completely covered with algae and was falling apart in less than a week of putting it in. I couldn't help but suspect the filter cartridge switch to be the cause of the problem, <Agreed... did you run both biological filters concurrently for a period of time to allow the replacement to become established?> so as a temporary solution, I'm making my own cartridges, at least until I get the problem under control and to see if they Whisper cartridges were the cause. I don't want to be buying a $4 cartridge every week (because they've been falling apart so quickly), especially if they might be the problem. I've only had the new home-made cartridge in there for a couple days, but no change yet. I just bought the sheet of "Filter Fill", so there's no carbon in there at the moment. I don't know if that will be a problem. <This sounds fine... provided there is still bio-media in the filter that you never change out.> I also bought Tetra Easy Balance to help control phosphates, which I'm really hoping will help. <I would not use this to control phosphates.> Am I on the right track or can you give me different advice? The only thing I've changed is the cartridges, so I can't help but think that they may be the leading cause of the problem. Algae or cloudy water has never been a problem before. <Make sure you understand the "cycling" process of a new tank/filter, and perform weekly water tests for nitrite, ammonia and nitrate. In addition, you should be changing 20 - 50% of the water weekly, not monthly.> Thanks for your time!  Trisha Fulawka <Most welcome. Best regards, John>

Haziness in a Freshwater Tank, Hurricane Aftermath - 11/28/2005 Hello crew, how are you all? <Hello! You got John today... And I'm very well> I have a 55 gallon tank, planted with cichlids. Recently my water has become cloudy. The cloudiness is not algae induced and I would describe it as more of a haze. It is not yellow or green, but more like a subtle hazy white. Close to the surface where you can see the effect of the lights on the water the most, I can almost see the movement of this solute swishing around. Needless to say this haze is quite disappointing compared to the crystal water I used to have. <Understandable> Perhaps it's worth mentioning that I live in Miami and this effect took place after both hurricanes. Is it possible the city's water source has suffered an influx of minerals due to the storms, and if that is the case what solutions can you offer? <Assuming the tank is well-established, and in the absence of any changes (fish additions, changes to cleaning/water changing schedule), this is quite possible. Can you test the parameters of your tap water, or examine it for cloudiness after leaving it to sit for a few hours? Other causes could be lack of regular maintenance of filters, or insufficient gravel vacuuming. Regardless of the cause, my actions would be the same -- add activated carbon to your filter, and change it regularly. Make sure you suck up any settled particulate matter when performing water changes, regularly clean any mechanical filters, and ensure there is enough circulation in the tank to keep the water surface moving.> As always I deeply appreciate the superb advice I have always received from your website.  Be well and Thanks. Jean-Pierre Luque <You too! Good luck. Best regards, John> 

Clearing the Water 11/25/2005 Hi I have a friend that has a 150 gal. fresh water tank and his water is like a brown color and cloudy! I think that it is because he over feeds them.<Possibly, that and lack of regular maintenance.> I have convinced him not to feed them so much now, but my question is can I get his tank clear if I run a vortex xl diatom filter for a hour or so? <This may be a temporary fix, but regular water changes approximately 25% weekly or every 2 weeks should do the trick.> And if so should I add anything to the water while I do this? like algae fix or something along that line? <No, regular water changes should clear it up, I am not a big fan of adding this type of product to my tanks.> I really want to fix this problem for him thanks for the help. <Teach him how to maintain his tank and that should fix the problem.  Best Regards, Gage>

Maintaining Biofiltration with no Fish 11/25/2005 I have a 3 gallon Eclipse tank with BioWheel, heater, 4 or 5 java ferns and airstone that has been set up for over a year now.  It has recently housed a betta. My water parameters are:  ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5.0 Temperature in tank is a consistent 79 degrees.  I am one week away from getting another betta, could you please tell me if I need to do something to maintain the tank for a week (in order to not lose my biological filter)? <Just leave all the filtration and lights running as you would if there were a fish in there, a week is not a long time, your filtration should be fine.  Best Regards, Gage> Thank you, as always. Sue

Worms? Parasites?  11/17/05 Hello, we have a 50 gallon tank that has very small white hair like worms in it. The tank is freshwater and I know they might be Planaria? <Mmm, doubtful...> However all the pictures of Planaria do not look like these creatures. They are as thin as a human hair and only about 1/8" long to maybe 2" long. <Sounds/reads like polychaetes, oligochaetes like Tubificids... use this term in your search tool/s> We do have an over run take full of snails, could this be the problem? <Problem?> There are no fish in there now, so there is no "food" in the tank or rocks. Any suggestions? Thanks, Gina <Improve cleanliness and there will be less worms, snails... neither likely a problem... in terms of livestock health. Bob Fenner>

Guppies, Water Quality, Cycling - (V?) - 09/15/2005 I'll cut out most of the old quoted text for better readability - leaving just enough to maintain reference. [Ahh, good.  New carrots for me.  Brackets, actually.] WWM FAQ Crew wrote: <<Yes, agreed.  I begin to think that your tank has some "stockpile" of organic waste somewhere....  I'd like to see that ammonia hit zero, as well.>> I was able to look under the tank. There is very little waste sitting there. There is some, but most areas I can see the white UGF. Where there is some, it's very light in color and density. [Could be accumulate/ed/ing in the substrate....  I still think this UGF may very likely be part of your problem.] > <<Yes, no worries on the temp at all.>> (which was 80 degrees) I've noticed that the past couple days the daytime (afternoon/evening) temp is going up 2-4 degrees. The new tank is 1/3 in front of a window and the old 20G tank is now in front of that same window (it won't be staying there, though). Is this temp change bad? I don't think I've seen either heater on for days, but I know they used to come on. Air temp right now (almost 2AM) is still about the same. I did turn off the central air a couple weeks ago since I thought the 'dog days' were done, but it's been warmer outside the past few days. I'm sure this is accounting for the temp rise. But again, is this 4 degree fluctuation bad? [Mm, 4 degrees (Fahrenheit, I assume?) is more than I'd like to see, but guppies can handle that.] > <<Yeah, I do wish test kits could be a little more clear/obvious on this point.>> OK, so Ammonia and nitrite should be 0.0. pH should be 7.0 or a little higher. Nitrate should be as low as possible as well? Should be 0 ppm? [It'll likely not get to zero, but as long as you're below 20ppm, you'll be fine.] I've now added some surface plants to the 20G to try to get the nitrate down. They are the type that are really small (1/8" leaves and the roots hang down about 1/2" from the surface), but there are a ton of them. [Sounds like duckweed.  My greatest enemy (grows sooooooo fast!) but an excellent consumer of nitrate.  Goldfish like to eat it, too.] Although now, the fish have to hunt for their food more. I would prefer not having these plants in the new tank. [Understandable!] I didn't want to go with gravel-based plants due to the UGF. That's one reason in favor of no UGF, I guess - I could plant regular plants. [True enough.  Though, you can still have wood- or rock- mounting plants, like Anubias, java fern, java moss....  other floating plants that aren't so insane, like Riccia fluitans, water lettuce....] Anyway, due to the plant situation, I've been thinking about a feeder ring. Good idea? [Sure, you could try this.] I thought about one before since it calms the surface and the food stays up there longer. I'm not big on suction cups and have even thought about making my own from a ring (dog toy, baby toy, whatever I can find that would work, plus some fishing line to hold it in place in a corner or something. Good idea? (opinions on both the ring and the home-brew aspects invited) [Either way will do.  If you use a toy of some sort, or anything else, be absolutely certain there is nothing like paint or flavoring or anything that could dissolve in the water over an extended period of time.] > Anyway, I've started it and will wait until it gets cloudy then clears up which should indicate that the bio cycle is up to speed (or close). > <<Mm, usually the cloudiness (and clearing thereof) is just a bacterial bloom....  Test results will tell you the real tale.  Try to get some "filter goo" and/or gunky, used gravel from your current tank to add to this new tank.  That'll help the cycle immensely.>> Will do on the gravel. I added some to one corner of the new tank (about 8" x 8" x 1" deep) just to get things started a little. I don't want to do a lot until I get the UGF issue decided. The UGF is running, although there is no gravel yet. I can see the effects of the water circulation, as there is a little debris (from the old gravel which needs cleaned) settling in the valleys of the filter.  My new tank has not gotten cloudy yet. It's only been about 4 days, though, since I added the water. You mention tests. Since my tap water is 7.0/0/0/2, what should I be looking for in tests? A rise in nitrate? [First, a rise in ammonia, then nitrite as ammonia falls, then nitrate as nitrite falls.  With the gravel and such, perhaps just a rise in nitrate.  Be sure to "feed" your bacteria a bit....  a few pinches of fish food or a piece of a cocktail shrimp left to decay will do.] > Then, I'll transfer the adults to the 30 Gallon and leave the fry in the 20 gallon tank (although I'll likely upgrade the filter on that one, too - 16 is a lot of fry). > <<Sounds great.>> Well, 15 fry now. I lost one for some reason. Maybe you can help me with the diagnosis. He (the only male out of the lot) [Some of your "females" may yet prove you wrong - males can develop later, as well.  You might get surprised!] :-( just seemed to get 'heavy' - staying near the bottom of the breeder and when he swam he just seemed to sink fast. I was thinking swim bladder infection. [Possibly....  or genetic disorder....] All the other fry seem fine. He was also the runt of the fry - about half the size of most others (that admittedly are girls, hence larger). I also lost my smallest fry of the first batch that were about 4 weeks old. [It is common to lose a few.  I would mark this one up to natural causes - and be on top of those water tests.] Those were in the main part of the tank. It too was the smallest one - some of the 2 week old fry were almost as large as she was. I don't know if another fish got aggressive with her or she got stuck on the filter inlet or what. When I found her she appears to have expired a couple days earlier and she appeared to be partially in 'half' (sorry for the gory details). Maybe a fish thought she was food after she expired - I don't know. [Likely.] All other fish seem fine. They are swimming a lot and just seem 'happy'. [I would just observe, at this point.] The 4 week old fry are nearly full size already.  Am I correct in my understanding that female fry are distinguishable by the same anal fan fin and males by the skinny non-fan fin? I heard that all are born female and sex is determined later. [Mm, kiiiiinda sorta.  I'm not entirely clear on this (been a while since I've worked extensively with guppies), but I believe it's just that juvenile males *look* like females until they begin to develop male attributes.] How much later? [Can be a few months, in some cases.] Can a fan fin change? All the rest of the 2 week old fry have fan anal fins. [Yes, the anal fin can and does change as juvenile males gain male attributes.] > As for the algae, I tried to wipe some off while the water was low. I can't wipe it off with my finger. It must be some kind of super algae! I did get some off with a scraper. > <<Sounds like normal.  If the tank is glass, at least you need not fear scratching it with your algae scrubber.  A bit of "elbow grease" will help.  Just use caution if its an acrylic tank, as acrylic is so easy to scratch.>> I found that out when I was cleaning my new tank, I think. My older tanks are no doubt glass. The new one I'm not sure about, but I think I scratched it (small scratch on side) when I set it on the cement sidewalk when I was hosing it out. Both have a 'green tint' to them which leads me to believe they are glass. [You would know the difference, I think; acrylic is like a plastic.] I would expect acrylic to be clear on the 'ends'. Is it green as well? [Can be] If you think it might be, I won't use the razor blade scraper I always used on my older tanks. [Likely this is a glass tank.  Try a google image search on "acrylic aquarium" to see the difference.] > How long (roughly) until the cycle gets stable? (rough estimate) > <<Highly dependant upon your system....  all are different.  And, again, I am starting to think there may be something "wrong" to be causing you so much trouble with nitrate.>> Here is what I reused: UGF and risers. Everything was cleaned before it was put in storage and again when taken out. Riser tubes and air ducts are clear inside and out. Air tubes (again, all clear). Filter: Was clear, but has some 'gunk'/algae on the inside where the Pleco can't reach. It's air driven and is completely submersible. Three rocks (unknown type) - this may be the most likely source IMHO. They were cleaned, and have no algae on them. Two of these are a shiny mica type substance, and the other is an opaque white one with some rusty spots (it's rock, not algae). They were purchased at a large LFS (20 years ago or more), so I'm sure they are tank safe. A ceramic (glazed) Roman 4-pillar ornament. Again, purchased at the same LFS. A recent addition of the same ornament in blue (purchased used recently at the same LFS). A 4" plastic plant that is older. Has developed some algae since the Pleco can't get at it that much. A new LED clear glass 'quartz shape' ornament. An old bubble strip (again, old but very clean). A new 'tower of Pisa' ornament. A glass 'Shamu' ornament. I think that's all. Oh, the gravel is new (about 8 weeks ago). Now I see why they say a pic is worth a thousand words! :-] [Heh!  True!  None of this sticks out at me as a contributor to the nitrate issue.  The length of the cycle, and how long it takes for your tank to get stable, are more dependant upon the dynamic parts of this system: you, the fish, the water....  food....  It's really impossible to give you a guesstimate as to time.  Your test kits will tell you the story as it unfolds.] (re: Plecos) > <<They're actually a bit more nifty.  They can be found albino or "plain", and have "fronds" on their noses....  hence "bushynose" or "Bristlenose".  Try a google search on either of these for images.>> I saw some in a LFS today. They are cute little guys. [Aren't they great??  Funny little things.] Didn't know they had albino. That will be something to look for. (Re: pH) > It's 7.1 out of the tap, so something must be an issue. > <<Agreed, very much.>> Any ideas what? IOW: What can drop the pH? [Dissolved organics....  Some decor items....  You might try snatching out the old rocks that you added and put them in a clean bucket with tapwater, test the pH in a few days and see if they are the cause.  A lack of buffering capacity in your tapwater can also lead to a dropping pH.] I don't think it's excessive build-up under the UGF since the tank is only about 8 weeks old. Also, I can see under the UGF and in most areas I can see the UGF. Where I can't, there is light colored 'dirt' that is likely food particles created when trying to break up the flakes. Some inevitably turns to dust. I'm still looking for some kind of sorting screen that I can use to separate the flake sizes. I want some 'fry size' (dust) and some adult size flakes. (Boy how I miss that Tetra Min Special Diet Guppy food - it was all adult size flakes out of the can, so no dust in the main tank) [There are some good fry foods available; also, you can just use your regular flake and crush it to a dust with a small mortar and pestle or between two spoons.] > No driftwood. I do have undergravel filters in everything I've ever had - including the new one. While I'm on the topic, how do you clean those without total removal of everything? > <<AHH!  I fear the undergravel filter plates may very well be the culprit - not only of your pH issue, but of your nitrate issue, as well.  Organic material will build up under the filter plates over time and make a pretty awesome amount of "gunk" which, as it decays, can and does increase nitrate and acidity (drops the pH).  You could *try* feeding an airline hose down your lift tubes and start a siphon, and try to pull some of the "gunk" out that way, but in all honesty, when you have that 30 up and running, I would move everyone over and pull those undergravel plates out.  You will be seriously amazed at what you find.  I can almost promise that.>> No, I won't. I had tanks before and remember tearing them down. It was disgusting. [I can almost smell the water and taste the siphon hose....  Eeeeeewwww....] Rather than pull the plates out after everything is up and running, why not do it now before I put the gravel in? :-) [I would!] Thus my next big question: If I remove the UGF, will any waste no longer be drawn top the bottom of the tank? Will it just float until sucked up by the power filter?  While in general I'm leaning toward removal of the UGF, I don't want a 'dirt tank' in terms of things that would otherwise be drawn into the gravel to be vacuumed out later. [Things will still fall to the substrate....  just vacuum as normal.  Things will also be removed via your power filter.  Your tank should look cleaner, and will actually BE cleaner than having all that muck build up under the plates over time.] > Filter pads are not bad, and were replaced a couple weeks ago. I'm getting ready to change it again soon. My bio filter is the air type that uses air to draw the water through the filter. I thought this was better than the power filters I had in the past that put out a huge volume of water out into the tank. I wanted to keep the currents down. This new filter does that but is a power filter. > <<.... is this like a Duetto filter?  Or....?>> It's the Whisper 60. The old one is an underwater 'enclosed tank' that uses a filter/charcoal/filter layer. It draws water in through holes in the top and travels down thought the filter material to the bottom where the air brings it back up the tube in the middle. [My preference here is the Whisper 60.  The little box-type filters that you describe, though they can be effective, are a pain in the butt (IMO) to maintain, and just not as effective.  This is mostly just my opinion.] > Unvacuumed substrate? Is that the gravel filter plastic? > <<??  I'm getting lost, here....  Err, I guess I'll rephrase:  Do you use a gravel vacuum (a big, clear tube attached to a siphon hose) to clean the gravel when you do water changes?>> I just didn't understand the term substrate. (gravel or the plastic UGF)  Yes on the gravel vacuum. Every time I changed water, but from now on I'll do the 50/50 cleaning - cleaning half the gravel each time. [Sounds good.] > OK. I was concerned about the chlorine. > <<Just be sure to use a chlorine/chloramine neutralizer when you add new water.>> It's also OK to leave it sit overnight, right? A friend of mine (who also has a tank) suggested just getting a tank (or barrel, or something that would hold enough water) to use for letting water naturally dechlorinate overnight. [Yes, this is fine - but NOT if you have chloramine added to your local tapwater.  Chloramine is a chemical formed by bonding chlorine with ammonia.  It is just as bad to fish as chlorine, and does NOT evaporate out.  It must be broken into chlorine and ammonia and neutralized.  Many products available that do this.] He also said that in his salt water tank, he uses no UGF or even a power filter. He only has a sponge type filter in (I think he said two) corners to do the filtering. It's air driven. He has some kind of fish that are supposed to be very hard to keep. [A marine tank is another thing entirely - and there are many, many forms of filtration, including "natural" filtration (live sand, live rock, refugiums) which are getting to be standard.  This is almost apples and oranges to freshwater....  If you're interested, definitely take a browse through our marine web:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm .] > I think the live plants are starting to look good if I continue to have high NO3 levels in the new tank. (if the filter doesn't take care of it) > <<Live plants are great.  Look into java moss, java fern, and Anubias sp.  These are low-light, easy maintenance plants.  Your plec won't eat them, either.>> I mentioned the plants I got earlier. More like teeny water lilies that have roots that go down 1/2" [Yup, probably duckweed.  It will help, but it will multiply insanely fast.] > Visible algae? (I have very little visible, and what is visible is very small and sparse) > <<Visible, yes, inasmuch as microscopic floating algae can be when massed together.  Usually a pale or greenish cloudy tinge to the water.>> My water is currently pretty clear with very little cloudiness at all.  There was no green tint until I added the plants. Now, the light is shining through them in about 1/3 the surface area of the tank. [Yeah, that'll do it :) ] I haven't tested the water yet tonight. I expect the ammonia and nitrite levels are nearly 0. The nitrate is always surprising me, though. I wonder if my kit is throwing me off. There is very little color difference on the comparison chart between 20, 40, and 80. 10 is bright orange. 20 is dark orange. 40 is dark red. 80 is a little more orangish than 40 is! 160 is a little darker red than 40. IOW, they don't seem to go 'in order'. [Yikes.  You might possibly want to try a different kit to test this against; I know some of these colorimetric tests can be absolutely frustrating!] > <<Do please make use of all resources available to you....  there is so much information out there....>> So much so that it's hard to digest it all - especially with all the divergent opinions on things such as UGFs. [True.] If I do remove my UGF, would the Whisper 60 be enough to leave it as the sole filtration? [Yes, I believe so.] Thanks again, Sabrina! Joe M. [Sure thing, my friend.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina] Foam on non cycled tank... happens 8/24/05 Hello to all at WWM today! My name is Erin, and I have been using your wonderful website for several months now. And what a help it has been. But with my recent issue, I have not been able to find anything (possible I just never found it) even after much looking. Here is my situation: I have recently bought a 29 gallon tank for my tiger barbs, to give them a bigger and happier home for them to grow in. I bought the tank used from someone here on WWM, that used it as a SW tank. I took it home, cleaned it all out (no soap) and set it up. I was letting it run, when about 24 hours after I set it up, there was layer of bubbly foam on the surface. I had this problem with my first one gallon tank, and did the same procedure of cleaning all the gravel out (again), scrubbing the tank out with a washcloth, and replacing all the water. Again, I have been letting it run before I cycle the tank fishlessly. The tank seemed to be foam-less when I went to bed that night, but when I awoke, it had mysteriously returned. Again. I have no idea what it is or what is creating this foam. The tank right now only has a 300 watt heater, a bubbler, 30 lbs. of gravel and an Eheim filter (sponge only, no filters in it yet) for a 50 gallon tank. Any advice would be appreciated. <Is just a bit of surfactant action with the bit of life/residue... trapping air... I would leave it as is, do some partial water changes weekly... in time it will go. Bob Fenner> Fungus in filter? 8/7/05 I've spent the last 3 hours searching your site for someone with the same problem, but can't find anything similar to my problem. I seem to have a white fuzzy fungus that grows in my power filter that hangs outside my tank... fungus on the filter rather than the fish... isn't that a change?? <Summat> I have 2 tanks, a 35 gallon and a 10 gallon and I have the same problem in both filters.... when I take the cover off the filter, there is a white fuzzy fungus growing on the inside surfaces of the filter. <Interesting> I've had aquariums for most of my 38 yrs and this problem has only just surfaced within the last 4 months... I have taken them both off and given them a thorough cleaning and the problem comes back.  Could there be something in the water quality where I'm at that has changed that could cause this?? <Maybe>   It hasn't seemed to affect the fish.. they are all fine.... but I'm tired of cleaning my filters!! Also, is there something that I can add to the water that would prevent this?? <Likely so... changing the biological make-up of these systems will likely cause the demise, growth of this material. I would suggest adding some live plants. There are many choices, but simpler, "grass", floating types will do... These are discussed on the Planted Tank subweb on WWM> I have kept the covers off the filters and this slows it down, but does not eliminate the problem. Is there some kind of bacteria growing in my filter?? <Possibly... a microscope of a few hundred power would allow you to look... determine if this is a true fungus...> .... Any advice you could offer would be great!! Thanks, Sharon <Do try the plants. Bob Fenner>

FW Tanks not Like the Good Ole Days 7/26/05 Dear Gulls and Buoys, I hope this is the last time I'll need to bother you...you helped me with my Platy question and a question about snails fighting. Two questions: (1) My husband insists that there is no need to ever change any amount of water in a tank. EVER. He claims he had tropical fish for years and "never" changed the water, but kept it in perfect balance "naturally" with plants and his choice of fish/snails/shrimp. I'm getting kind of discouraged because no matter how hard I try, I cannot keep mine in that sort of perfect balance, and now I've had a little Neon die, plus the snails still fight. The water turned slightly cloudy the evening before the Neon died. < Ammonia spike probably from overfeeding.> I did a 25% change, and fed lightly, but in the morning, the poor thing was dead. The others in the school (5 left) seem fine. That day, I did a 50% change. Now, I am doing a 10% change a day, and vacuuming the gravel with a turkey baster whenever someone poops, in an attempt to clear the water. It's slightly hazy, nothing dramatic, BUT... < I have been collecting old aquarium literature for years. The definition of "balanced" may be misleading. Over 100 years ago "Balanced" meant that you had exactly enough plants to provide enough oxygen so no other aeration was needed. This usually resulted in a long low tank with lots of surface area and ambient room temperature that was barely tolerable for most tropical fish. Foods then had almost no nutritional value and most of it was used by the plants as a mild fertilizer. Later "balanced" meant that the ammonia, nitrites and finally the nitrates are all being absorbed by the plants. So a dilution by means of a water change is not needed. Check the water quality. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. If not then you need more good bacteria to break down the fish waste. The nitrates should be under 25 ppm. If it gets too high then you need to dilute the nitrates by doing a water change. If you want to do this naturally then you really need many plants to do this with lots of good lighting. Usually these tanks don't have too many fish and are somewhat boring compared with today's standards. Plants need minerals too. Once the minerals are removed by the plants then they may need to be replenished with fresh tap water. Don't use stem plants, go with crypts and sword plants.> (2) I may have killed the Neon by feeding everyone a bit of egg yolk. I put a little smashed piece in the tank (teeny, teeny piece), and they all just went crazy over it, eating like mad. But I read on your FAQ that egg yolk is not a good idea. They also took some bites (or tried to) from a tiny piece of turkey I dangled in the tank for a few minutes. Did I kill my fish or ruin my tank with these treats, do you think? Signed, Depressed < These questions resemble the ones in the 1950's. Aquarium technology has made great advances in the last 50 years. I recommend that you by a quality fish food and feed you fish only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes once each day. Remove any uneaten food after two minutes. The plants and filter will take care of the fish waste. Go to Marineland.com and check out the articles in Dr. Tim's Library and WetWebMedia to understand aquarium nitrification and filtration. You can get by with out water changes but you are just asking for problems.-Chuck>

Fish Poop 7.21.05 Thank you for your informative article on The Minnows Called Barbs, Danios & Rasboras--I owned three giant Comets and they reproduced a lot and I gave away several generations until I finally got tired of cleaning all the fish poop. Even just ten of them generated a lot of poop.<Yes, fish poop a lot.> I gave them all away and now have no fish. My 6 foot tank stands empty. <Fixed the poop problem.> I would like a hardy fish that does not poop much. Would you recommend Minnows? How many barbs, danios and rasboras should I get for my big tank? thanks, Paul B. <Minnows might be a good idea, small fish small poop, less noticeable.  Avoid Pleco's, they are pooping machines.  Any fish that is constantly eating is going to be constantly pooping.  Large aggressive fish poop less frequently, but in larger quantities.  The number of fish to put in your tank will be a tough balance as well, more fish=more poop.  I have never tried to stock a tank based on poop, or lack of poop; this is fun.  With Barbs, Rasboras, or Danios in a large tank you can have some pretty good size schools.  I'd go with somewhere around 50-70 fish.  The real answer to the poop problem is better filtration and more water flow.  If you add a few power heads towards the bottom of the tank it will keep all the poop, leftover food, funk, detritus, whathaveyou suspended in the water so the filter can pick it up.  Hope this helps, Gage>

Re: sick fish help Hello again! <Shawna> No my tank was not cycled. I did not realize I had to do that. I got a tank from a relative who had to get rid of 16 tanks and lots of fish. Most of the fish given were sick. I received my 4 rainbow fish from him. It was something that just fell into my lap. I had no prep time. Unfortunately I bought some fish not knowing any better and have successfully killed most of them off. I now have... 4 rainbow fish 1 kissing gouramis 1 swordtail 1 albino pleco My water chemistry is all good except for my nitrite level is very high. I have been doing water changes everyday but it doesn't want to come down.  <It will, in time> I was told that would do the trick. I use Stresscoat with every water change. I also have ich I have been treating with ich guard and aquarium salt for a week or more, changing water every day. <These will forestall the establishment of cycling...> The temperature is at 82 degrees and I leave my light off. I think my gouramis has swim bladder his stomach is sunken and he has very little interest in food. My swordtail has black spots all over him but is swimming actively. So my questions are... 1. How long should I be using medication for ich when it doesn't seem to go away? <... I would dispense with using the medication, and simply elevate your water temperature. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > The spots are on the same place for the last week or more. 2. How do I get my nitrite levels down? I bought a vacuum for the rocks last night. I have used it once so far. Lots of crud in the rocks. I haven't been feeding them very much since the nitrite level was high. <... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the Related links above...> 3. If you can't mix medications how do I help the Gouramis with swim bladder? and also the swordtail with black spot? <One thing at a time...> 4. How often do I vacuum the rocks? Everyone tells me something different. <There is an article posted on WWM re...> I know you have probably answered all these questions before and I have been reading a lot on your website. I have 3 little kids and not a lot of time to be on the computer researching. I am way over my head and wondering what I got myself into. Please help! Shawna <There is no help for you unless you read... Stop writing and read. Bob Fenner> 

FW maintenance Hi! All of my fish are now doing GREAT! My molly (Joni) just had babies, we managed to save three and they are growing slowly but steadily! Now Disney, my Mickey mouse platy, looks like her babies will be here in about a week. The water in my aquarium is nasty.  I have a new filter system and do 20% water change once a week, and siphon once a month. When I do either one of those, the water in the bucket is brown and yuck. <Siphon it every week with your water changes... this is what I do> Looking into the aquarium, it looks  cloudy and foggy.  I put the recommended amount of aqua clear, yet it is still nasty. What do I need to do? <Just develop a regular gravel vacuuming routine, watch your feeding, and perhaps add a sprig or two of floating live plants/grass> Also, I am moving, not too far, and I need to know the best way to move my fish! Thanks for all your help! <Maybe take a read on WWM re FW aquarium maintenance, water changes... Bob Fenner> Film on Water (a pet fish in the sky) Hi again...once again, I need to thank you over and over for your quick responses and wonderful website. It's just great to know that you can get help/advice when you need it from the best! My cycled 3 gallon Eclipse tank w/BioWheel has some sort of problem that I just can't seem to fix. The tank houses 1 male Betta and several plants: Java ferns, 1 Red Ludwigia, & 2 tufts of some long grass. The gravel is not the little stuff but bigger natural colored pebbles. My water readings are Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: Between 5.0 and 10, PH is: Between 7.0 and 7.2.  Having plants, I leave the light on 7-10 hours a day. The Betta is in excellent health, eats, blows bubble nests regularly every day, has no torn or frayed fins.  The problem is, every 3 days I develop a film (like floating patches) on the top of the tank. If I view the top of the water with a flashlight they look worse. I do a 10-20 percent water change each week just to get rid of this stuff. Also 1 time per week I vacuum a selected section of the tank and I also have washed my carbon cartridge filter (but not at the same time) because it seems to get a lot of plant debris, etc., which does seem to help more than the water change. I have tried to wick this away with paper towels...it seems to just break up and float around.  Can someone tell me what this is and if there is a better way to get rid of it? Could my plants be causing any of this film? I am afraid that it could harm my Betta eventually. I am also concerned about the continual water changes and filter washing affecting my cycled tank eventually, so far it has not but if this keeps up I am afraid that it will. Thank you again, Sue <Hi Sue. The film is most likely from the Betta's food. It will not cause a problem. In fact if it's causing you to do an extra water change once a week then I would call it a good thing. As long as you do not clean the bio wheel you should not have a problem. The main concern would be a thick layer preventing gas exchange at the surface. Doesn't sound like you're close to that. It dose sound like you have a happy Betta there. Good job. Don>

Need to help themselves re goldfish, WWM Hi There Please can you help me. my husband bought 4 goldfish for our daughter they are in a tank 2ft by 1 ft with a pump and heater we have had them for about 2 and a 1/2 weeks now but in the past 2 to 3 days all they seem to do is lie about on the bottom of the tank they do come up for food but go straight back to the bottom of the tank again can you please advise us what to do as we are both complete beginners at looking after fish regards Fiona <Fiona, please go to our site (URL above) and read re Goldfish Set-ups, Maintenance... your system is not cycled... Bob Fenner>

What's going on with my tank? And your English? I have a 55 gallon tank with 5, 3 inch discus 2 3inch angels, 5 clown loaches, a school of pea puffers, a sultan Pleco and 3 royal pleco's my tank is filtered by the Eheim 2128, <You need more than this canister for filtering here> my tank was running fine till I bought and installed the turbo twist 18 watt uv, I also hooked it up to a Fluval 403 so it didn't interfere with the Eheim and figured to two canister filters are better then one, both filters have 2 bags of Chemi pure. <Ah good> I hooked the uv up in the evening the next morning I found 1 dead discus. when I got home from work all bottom fish were either dead or almost there, and all discus were trying to jump out of water, and doing nothing but trying to stick there nose/lips out to breath air I panic'd so I did a 50 % water change turned to uv off and added bio Spira. I now have one discus swimming in circles. can I uv or too much Chemi pure do that ?????? all my test levels were fine and the fish were lively and never stressed till the day after I started the uv and 2nd canister. what can I be doing wrong?? <Possibly the UV killed too much of the free-floating microbial population too quickly, and/or changed the dissolved oxygen/Redox and pH... Maybe something else has gone on here w/o your notice. I would monitor pH, ammonia, nitrite... leave the UV off for now. Bob Fenner>

No New Tank Problems? By all accounts, I have done everything wrong with my 10 gallon aquarium. < Really? That's pretty hard to do.> For reasons I can't explain, the tank has not succumbed to "New Tank Syndrome". My well water is pH 5.6, KH 40ppm, and GH 25 ppm. On a whim I tested it for nitrates and it was 5.0 ppm. I set up the tank at the first of the year. It ran for three days before I added fish. I bought three platies and five neon tetras from Wal-Mart.  I began monitoring water quality every day. The day after the fish were added, the pH was 6.8, ammonia 0, nitrite 0 and nitrate 0. Temp 78 degrees. Ammonia began to rise and within a week, the fish got ich. I treated for 17 days with Maracide at 1/2 strength and 20% water changes everyday. I lost one platy during this ordeal and ironically, it was the only fish who never appeared to have any spots on it. Ammonia peaked at 1ppm and started to fall. Nitrates began to rise to 10ppm. I have had this tank running for 4 months now and have never seen a nitrite reading other than 0.  The pH seems to be a constant 6.8 even when tested at various times of the day. I am currently changing water every two weeks to account for the fact that I am adding nitrates back into the system with each water change. I test the water frequently and have never had a nitrate reading over 10ppm. I went to a pet store in town to buy another platy about a month following the ich episode. They actually sold me a rosy barb (It was in the platy tank).  I didn't realize this until I got home. The Mom and Pop store doesn't take returns. Surprisingly, the barb gets along with everyone. The tank began to grow brown algae. I drove 45 miles to the not-so-local LFS and bought two Otos. They have been in the tank 6 weeks now and have done a great job on the algae. Having said all this, my real questions are.. What happened with the nitrogen cycle? < When your fish got ich you were doing those water changes that removed most of the waste that the fish were producing the ammonia. The bacteria were still there they were, there just wasn't that much to feed on. It was still going on, just the numbers were so low they did not read on your test kit.> Am I still going to eventually get a nitrite reading other than 0? < Probably not unless you medicate and the medicine kills or inhibits the bacteria.> Does tank aeration increase pH? < No but topping of water that has evaporated will increase the mineral content and will increase the pH.> Will water changes with undoctored well water cause a great enough pH swing to stress fish? <Many times well water has dissolved gases in them like CO2 that is an acid. In 24 hours the CO2 escapes into the air and the pH then goes up. I would recommend that you test your water out of the tap and then let it sit in a bucket for 24 hour and test it again to see what your water is really like.> (It hasn't appeared to thus far). I am baffled because this tank seems to be running against all odds. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks, Jennifer < You are doing fine. Keep up the good work and check back often for the latest.-Chuck>

I think my tank has fleas, and Needs Deodorant? Hi I was reading from the web page and it sounds like my tank has fleas. I have guppies in a 10 gallon tank and there are millions of the little white bug-like things in there I changed the filter today. I have to close my bedroom door (where the tank is ) when I leave the house so my dog doesn't sleep on my pillow all day... anyway to make a long story short when I come home and open my bedroom door I smell a foul odor in there and it has only been since I noticed the bugs. HELP is the tank causing the smell? Thank you, Tonya <Mmm, the "bugs", actually likely small crustaceans of some sort, are more likely "friends" than foes... and not responsible for the tank smell... though related. Your aquarium has either too much food, too little filtration/aeration, and/or maintenance... Do you change part of the water every week? Are you careful to not overfeed? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm re set-up, maintenance... and not worry re the fleas... these will pass when your system is better kept. Bob Fenner> 

FW... semi-fishkeeping Hi my name is Edward and I bought 6 red swordtails 3 males and 3 females, but all of my swordtails started to die one by one in less than 3 days each but there's one female still alive and it's been alive for about 3 to four weeks. Her belly seems fat but I don't know how to tell if she's pregnant or not please tell me?  <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestkindex.htm.  Scroll down to Swordtail FAQs> There's also one more thing I want to tell you I have about 5 more fishes that I don't know what kind of fish they are. The fishes are light gray with black stripes and they are egg layers. Please tell me what kind of fish they are. (THANK YOU) <Please ask where you bought them... then look up re their biology, care on the Net. Bob Fenner>  

New tank, Sage Advice Greetings, I searched the prior posts area and came up with nothing to help me out but did find a wealth of other information. This is my first time to this site, it's great! <Thank you> After a few years of enjoying this hobby with a 90 gallon tank dedicated to a very nasty red devil named Cujo... <Good name> ..that appreciates a finger or thumb whenever he gets the chance; really he jumps out of the tank to attack! And a 125 gallon tank with a pair of 14 inch Arowanas, fat Oscars, a 20" red tailed cat and friends and a 60 gallon tank full of cichlids, I have decided to move up to a "big tank" of 450 gallons.  <You need it!> I am familiar with canister filters (Fluval 400 and Hot Magnum 350) and hang on Aqua 500's Emperor 400's and under gravel units connected to power heads. I have never had a problem with filtration other than to suck up a few small ones when a filter screen got knocked off by an aquatic engineer.  I am now treading in new waters and need help. I need to know the best method of filtration to use with this new tank. I am totally unfamiliar with sump filtration or external pumps. I plan on having about 25 fish, not more than a total of 300" in this tank. It will be acrylic and I can have it configured any way I want. What would you suggest for the best filtration method, can I use a combination of what I have or do I need to use an external system? <You can use what you have... and add to it... more mechanical and biological filtration particularly... there are several options here> Thanks....Bob Irving <I'd do a bit of searching... shops, other hobbyists, the Net... you could go the "powerboat" mentality route with large/r pump/s, a cartridge filter... or mid-stream with big canister filters or outside power filters... hang-ons... To a lighted sump/refugium approach... Bob Fenner> As a trade off of information I offer the following from my personal experience. 1. I have made my own carbon filters out of Queen Size knee highs filled with bulk charcoal. Just use as much as you need; tie off the nylon and cut it. You can tie off the remainder and do it again. That would make four filters out of one pair. I bought a box of 10 pair, the cheapest I could find. Works out to about 3% of store cost if you buy the charcoal in bulk. I purchase mine on EBay, 60# for $50.00. If you leave extra nylon you can make your home made filter slip into just about any configuration like around a canister such as the 350 Hot Magnum. I have also used it in my Aqua 500s and other hang on filters. No rips or tears, not even a run! 2. After fighting with kinked lines on my Vortex filter for over two years I finally gave in and bought some Fluval ribbed replacement hose and modified it to work with the Vortex filter. I purchased the 17 millimeter and had to sleeve it over the original 5/8" plastic hose. It has a nice tight fit with out any clamping or rubber bands, but perhaps the smaller diameter ribbed hose would have been a perfect fit. So many times the hoses were kinked restricting the proper flow and I thought it was the filter that was at fault. The ribbed hose makes it so much easier. I can't believe that Vortex has not improved on this problem.  3. I keep the Vortex in a plastic 6 gallon bucket and take it from tank to tank. I pre-charge the filter from the sink by filling it through the discharge hose while the filter is in the bucket on the floor; then using a gallon container with DM already mixed in water (half full) I insert both hoses and let her rip for a minute until the gallon container is clear. Out come the hoses (both held at the same level) into the bucket to be transported to the tank. Just hang the hoses, plug it in and let it go. Hope these suggestions might help some one else!

Tank Cleaning I'm trying to clean our fish tank. This will be my first time during so. We have 3 tropical fishes and 10 gallon tank. My questions are: 1. While I'm cleaning the tank what am I suppose to do with the fish that is in the tank? <Leave them in the tank. Do not break down everything. Do a partial water change (50% max) using a gravel vac to clean the bottom> 2. My tank water is cloudy, what is the easiest way to change the water? <Same as above. Don> 

GOT FLEAS? Hi, I had recently bought my son his first fish tank, it is a 10 gal. fresh water with a bamboo shrimp, a Plecostomus and a few orange guppy looking fish. We had a really bad algae bloom and now the water is clearing up and when I looked in this morning, I noticed about a bazillion little white-ish gray mite looking bugs all around the corner from top to bottom near the heater. They do not seem to be bothering my fish, I have seen the fish swim through and around them with no problems, what are these things and how do I if I need to get rid of them? Are they harmful to the rest of my fish and shrimp? Any info you can offer would be so helpful. Thanks in advance! Christine < You probably have daphnia or water fleas. They thrive on green water. Usually they are eaten by fish but s few species are very hard bodied and fish don't like them. You could use medication but it would harm your shrimp. I think that they will go away on their own as you tank clears up and they find nothing more to eat.-Chuck>

20 Questions Hello. I am a novice fishkeeper. I have about a 6 gallon tank. Can I keep 1 angelfish in a tank with 2 mollies? < The angelfish is a cichlid and will get up to 4 inches long and pick on your two mollies. Angelfish like soft acidic water while mollies like hard brackish water so they really don't like the same kind of water.> Is that pushing the limits? < Eventually by size.> And could the molly possibly get pregnant and then have babies? < Only if one is a boy and the other is a girl.>  Luckily my sister will be buying a tank around the same size as me soon so I can put some fish there. How long is it from mating to birth with mollies? < Depends on the water temp. At 80 degrees I am thinking it is around 4 to 6 weeks.> And how do I know when to put the molly into the birthing container? < Look at the lower half of the female under the tail. When you see little eyes forming then you know the time is getting near.-Chuck>Thank you for answering all my questions! Katherine 

Cleansing and Disinfecting Empty Tank Dear Jorie...I really appreciate all your helpful recommendations...but I still have a problem.  I disinfected the thank with a mild solution of bleach, along with all the parts - got a new bio wheel, gravel, plastic plants.  I carefully rinsed everything really well, so I conditioned the water with a dechlorinator and I filled the tank about 2 hours ago. There are no fish. pH=7.2, nitrites=0, nitrates=0, ammonia is 0.50ppm. It's even higher than when the fish was in the tank! How can that be? What do I do now? Empty the tank and fill it again? <Have you tested your water straight out of the tap? Perhaps you live in an area with bad source water. Take a measurement of the water immediately after you pour it and I'd guess you are going to get a reading. If that's the case, you will need to invest in some sort of water filter, such as a RO/DI unit (reverse osmosis/de-ionization), or if you want to go a simpler/cheaper route, the Tap Water Filter put out by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. This is basically a DI unit that will rid your source water of harmful toxins so that it is fish-friendly. If you are interested, you can find it at www.drsfostersmith.com. (Note: you'll have to purchase the two supplemental liquid additives ElectroRight and pH Adjust, as the DI process will take many necessary electrolytes and other elements out of the water that fish need for optimal health.> I just don't know what to do and I get more and more frustrated... <This hobby takes a great deal of patience, my friend. I can sympathize with you, as it can be extremely frustrating at times. My suggestion to combat that is to join the chat forum here at WWM...many other folks to share both your woeful and happy fishy stories with (plus other non-fish stories...lots of good folks to befriend on the boards)> I also have another question...the conditioner for the water I have has one measurement to remove chlorine and another one to neutralize chloramine...how do I know how much I should add? sorry to be so annoying but I just don't know what to do. <For now, I'd add more rather than less, simply because there aren't any fish or other living creatures to worry about harming. Give the tank a good amount while rinsing/cleaning. With regards to using the dechlorinator once you have an established tank, I'd suggest using the larger recommended dosage just to be safe...both should be fish friendly, so no worries there.> Thank you very much again...Gisela. <You are welcome. I am very sorry it took me so long to respond to you - things have been quite hectic in my world these days...I promise to do better next time, if you have any follow-up questions:-) Jorie> 

Cleaning Hair Algae With new Technology, Open Wide! Hi , <Hello there> Not sure if anyone has tried this but I have a hair algae problem and was using an old toothbrush and was upsetting the rock with the back and forth motion. So I went to Wally world and got a Colgate Motion toothbrush and an OralB power toothbrush, and this works great for cleaning rock from hair algae. This seems not to disturb the rock as much as the back and forth scrubbing action. The brushes are already pretty much water tight, the OralB did leak a little water so when finished just wiped it out and air dried it . If this is old news just disregard. Later tb <Interesting approach. Thanks for sending this along. Bob Fenner> 

Trigon 350 Hi ! <Hello> My name is Ana and I have been keeping an aquarium for tropical fish for about 2 years (68.5 litres). I have now purchased a Trigon 350 which I will be setting up shortly. I am not sure how often do I need to do water changes. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm> I have read the manual for the aquarium and it advises to change filters, but doesn't mention anything about how often do I need to do water changes. At the moment I change my water every 2 weeks, and I haven't lost any fish for quite some time. Is it the same for the Trigon 350 ? I have done some searches on the Internet and that's when I came across your website. But I haven't found anyone that talks about the actual maintenance of such aquarium. PLEASE HELP ! Regards, Ana (Original from Portugal but now living in London - UK)  <Bob Fenner, living most of the time in Southern California>

Black Ghost Knife, yellow water, killing fishes I have a couple questions for you, I hope you take time in answering mine. I  see you do take a lot of care in the questions people ask. Here's one; I am wanting to buy a black ghost knife fish. Is this fish territorial? I  already have a loach in here and I don't want them to fight. <Likely will get along> Plus we don't want to buy pellets or freeze dried food, so will it survive on flakes? <No> My loach has been surviving for a couple months without those foods. <Won't be healthy on nothing but flakes forever> My second question is, my tank is getting yellowish color really fast and we clean our tank (55 gallon) like once every 2 months. What is up with that? <Need to do more frequent, partial water changes, maybe weekly... and possibly use carbon in your filter flow path> My final question is, my fish seem to be swelling up really badly, and then just die. I put in some medicine.  Is this what you call ich, if so what is it and how do I stop it? Thank you. <... time to study... and adapt a better maintenance schedule... It sounds like your system needs more regular care... likely your fish deaths are due to poor husbandry, a lack of nutrition, perhaps mis-medicating. Take a read over our website: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm re Set-Up, Knifefishes, Maintenance... IF you want to be successful at keeping an aquarium you need to learn more re what it takes to care for it. Bob Fenner>  Something wrong with my thingamajiggy I did a water change about two weeks ago and I can not get my pH levels down. <Mmm, what are they?> The algae in my tank is a bright green. Normally my algae is dark green. I had one fish die last week and other fish look sick. Please let me know what to do. <Ummm, please understand... we need more information than you've provided here to help you... I am assuming this is a freshwater system for instance... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm  see the areas named Set-up, Maintenance? Read through the Algae Control articles, FAQs... Bob Fenner>

Re: Freshwater Community General Questions Hello! I am sorry to bother you again but I find myself being somewhat obsessive about my relatively newfound hobby! Background: 44 gallon pentagon tank, 16 freshwater community fishes (3 pairs various mollies, 2 pair of small tetras, 2 swordtails, 2 platies, 2 kissing gouramis), well planted (Italian Val, Pygmy chain swords, Anubias, Amazon sword, Hygrophila). Water parameters checked regularly: Total Hardness-170ppm; PH-7.6; Ammonia-0; Nitrite-0; Nitrate-20ppm.  Everything seems to have settled in nicely, and the plants and fish seem to be very healthy. However, I have a few general questions.  First: I am trying to provide my fish with as balanced a diet as possible. I use Tetra flake food as the staple diet and every third day I drop some pealed frozen peas into the tank. I have also purchased some freeze- dried Tubifex worms. I used them once and they loved them. I have read since, however, that live Tubifex are notorious carries of disease. Does "freeze drying" make them safe for consumption? <Yes... this process destroys all living pathogens> Second: One of my kissing gouramis (the bigger one) appears to be a bit of a bully towards his smaller brother. <Common> The small one does not seem too disturbed but I am worried that he may get tired of it. Is this typical behavior? Will the smaller one be able to cope? I have read the kissing gouramis get very large. Do they get more aggressive as they get bigger? <Often, yes> As you can see they are in the company of some smaller species and I do not want them to get intimidated. <Almost always just "kiss" their own species... though some individuals have become unholy terrors> Third: Although I attempted to clean them before I put them in the tank, some of my plants apparently were housing snail eggs. I have been finding a couple every few days and am getting pretty tired of reaching into the tank (and a bit worried about the stress it causes my fish!) I read that clown loaches are excellent snail eaters but I also read they get huge. Is my current tank and its population suitable for clown loaches? Or should I go with something smaller like a zebra loach? <You could have Clowns... though they will (over a period of a few years) get too big for this system> Fourth: My tank has been up and running for a month. I tried to locate Marineland's Bio-Spira to cycle the tank but could not. My local aquarium stocks TurboStart 700 which is also live , refrigerated bacteria. I bought it and used it and, as my parameters indicate, it worked quite well. However, my local aquarium recommended that I do not do water change for six weeks just to ensure that a suitable bacteria colony gets established. Is this sound advice? Or should I do a water change now?  <Is a good idea to wait as they suggested> Fifth: Is my water safe enough to add some more "sensitive" fish? Or, should I wait another month? My tanks surface area is 480square inches. Can my tank tolerate maybe ten more small species? <I would wait another month before adding any more> Thank you so much for your time and service. It really is quite remarkable what you do! Sincerely, Walt <Thank you for your thoughtful, well-worded questions. Bob Fenner>

Brown Algae, FW, unpalatable Dear Bob, <J.J.> My 30 gal. high tank of 7 mo. now has suddenly developed brown algae. My Pleco won't eat it and I don't know how to get rid of it. Can you help me?  <I'll try> My nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, pH, and alkalinity are all in the ideal range on my test strips. I don't know where to start. Since my Pleco eats any live plant that I put in the tank all I have are plastic ones. <Mmm, well, regardless of the apparent color, there are algae species, groups that look brown... but are Cyanobacteria, aka Blue Green Algae... this may be (part, all) of this... or some other non-tasty algae.... there are a range of approaches to its control. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the Related files above. Bob Fenner> 

Maracyn II and water changes, weird cichlid mixes, maintenance, I have 3 fish tanks. I change the water in my 55 gallon every 2 months because all that I have in it is an 8 Jack Dempsey. I change the water in my 30 gallon tank at the same time because of the convenience of doing so. <Mmm, I would do partial (10-20%) water changes every week, gravel vacuuming here... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm > In this tank all that I have in it is a 7 blue African cichlid. My last tank is a 55 gallon with 1 - 6 Blue Electric, 1 - 5 Fire mouth, 1 - 5 orange African, and 1 - 5 Discus and I change this one out at the same time as the others. <... a Discus and African cichlid species together? Interesting... very different temperaments, preferred water conditions...> I rarely change the filter; I do so when I notice non-normal filtering action. Is this normal? <For fishkeeping? Not recommended.... better to be "pre-emptive" and clean about as often as water changes... at least rinsing the mechanical filter media> I usually do not have any issues and have been treating my tanks for 2 years this way. However, my Blue Electric developed Dropsy last week.  <Bingo> I caught the disease in time and he is doing better. The most important question is, do I change out the water in this tank after treating for five days?  <Could> The packaging does not indicate to do so but I do not want to stress out the three other fish. Can you help and fill me in on what to do? <I can... time to re-think and start doing those water and filter media changes... weekly. Bob Fenner>

My 55 gallon F/W tank Hi, I'm a freshwater fish enthusiast who is pretty new to the fishkeeping game, and I have a couple of questions I could really use some help with. First let me tell you that my 55 gallon tank has a 5 inch pleco, a 5 inch shubunkin goldfish, a 4 inch Jack Dempsey, a 3 inch albino Oscar, and a huge albino African clawed frog about the size of my hand. I also have two small snails and two small freshwater crabs. Is this overcrowded? < If it is not overcrowded now it soon will be.> I bought them all from the same pet store, whose owner of course assured me each time that all these fish would get along. It was only when I got on the Net that I discovered how territorial and aggressive cichlids could be, not to mention the albino frog, who rules the tank right now and has already eaten some smaller fish. However, I've had the two cichlids in the tank for about a month and everybody seems to get along, as long as I feed them regularly. I have very hard water, and it has an alkalinity of about 300 ppm. Needless to say, the pH is about 8.4+. My nitrite, nitrate and ammonia levels are all acceptable. Are the other levels dangerous? < Ammonia and nitrite should be zero. The nitrates should be under 25 ppm. Extremes of other chemicals should be avoided.> Also, I added some dr. Wellfish's salt to the water, but am curious whether or not this is bad for any of the fish and/or snails and crabs. < Why were you adding it in the first place? What were you trying to accomplish?> Also, how much aquarium gravel should I use? < At least 1/2 inch no more than a couple inches unless you want to get rid of all your fish and try live plants.> I have an in-tank filter that is supposedly rated for a 55 gallon tank. My tank is a little cloudy, but I could be overfeeding. I also have a problem with water evaporation. It seems like every other week or so I need to add a few gallons of water to the tank. I have resisted the urge to mess with the pH; the fish seem ok (they've even survived my girlfriend adding straight tap water to the tank to fill it back up! Yikes!) to recap, my questions are: is my tank overcrowded... < Your fish will grow too big for your tank.> ...can these cichlids get along with Froggy and co.? < Cichlids are territorial and will soon fight for dominance of the entire tank. There will be losers.> Is my water too alkaline for them all? < No they will all do fine in your water> Will aquarium salt hurt my snails, crabs, frog, fish? < A little salt will not hurt, but lots of salt will affect the snails and frog first.> What do I do about water evaporation? < Cover the tank with a plate of glass except for an area to give you access to the tank.> How does this affect cycling? < It does not affect the cycling. It affects the over all water chemistry. By continually adding tap water with its minerals for replacing distilled water that has evaporated you are increasing the hardness of the water.> How much aquarium gravel is necessary (I only have a couple of inches across the bottom; too little)? < That is fine.> Is EasyBalance a good product?  Any answers you could provide would be most appreciated my me and my aquatic pals. thanks.  < Don't know what it is.-Chuck> 

Fluorescent green substance We have a fluorescent green substance growing on the back of our tank. It isn't filamentous, and it isn't out of control, but I need to know what it is and if we need to get rid of it or keep it. Let me know ASAP what I need to do either way.  Wendy <Is this a freshwater system? Much to relate... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

Smelly tank solution - 1/17/05 Hello I recently got a small 5 gallon tank and set it up a couple of days ago. <Wow...this is a difficult tank to keep stable. Are you just beginning in this hobby?>  After a couple of days I began to notice an odd smell coming from the tank. <Were any animals put in this tank? Live rock? Anything other than a heater, substrate, filter and filter media, and water?>  I have a heater and it works and I also have a Whisper 10 gallon filter, that came with the tank as a package at Wal-Mart. I do not know what to do so I was wondering if you could help me know what the smell is so I can eliminate the smell. (I used regular water but I conditioned it when I put it in.) <Well, I would need a little more information but I would recommend doing a water change with conditioned water (heat it to the same temp as the tank water currently and treat it with your favorite tap water conditioner. Do read our site for setting up a freshwater tank or if this is a saltwater tank, please look in the appropriate section on the marine area of our site. So as to address the smell (which just might be ammonia or something of that nature) try adding a filter bag with some carbon. That should do the trick. Do research our site for more information on setting up and maintaining an aquarium (freshwater and salt tanks do differ somewhat in biological needs and there is a little more to understand when undertaking a salt tank.) For salt seek some info here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm for freshwater seek help here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Hope this helps. ~Paul> White patches on driftwood Hi guys. I have a problem with my driftwood. I have been cycling my aquarium fishless for a week now and I have recently noticed some white patches growing on the wood. It looks like a spider's web (long wool-like threads) and is easily detached from the wood. Unfortunately I don't have a microscope to examine it. I have read somewhere that wood that has been introduced in a new aquarium can develop white fungus of the genus Saprolegnia. Could this be the case? I have also read that lighting (how much?) will aid the growth of algae, which feed on the fungal spores. Wouldn't this result in an algae outbreak, regarding the absence of any algae-eating fish? Taking into consideration that brown patches (brown algae?) have already begun covering the aquarium's glass and that the tank cannot accept any fish yet (uncycled), how could I keep the algae under control and in the same time get rid of the ugly white patches?. (Note: Nitrate levels are stuck to 0). Could peat filtration help? Thanks. Spyros <All you need is time. Everything you are describing is normal in a new tank. Don't worry about brown or green algae or the white fungus on the driftwood right now. All will either disappear on their own or can be easily cleaned up after cycling is complete. For right now all you should do is ensure a steady supply of ammonia to feed into the cycle. A small raw shrimp is great. A pinch of fish food every few days will also work. Nitrates will not rise until you establish the two bacterial colonies needed to convert ammonia first into nitrite, then nitrate. As long as you are fishless, do no water changes or clean up until the cycle is in place. About six weeks. Then do a 50% water change and stock a fish or two. Stock slowly to give the bacteria time to adjust to your new bio load. Don>      

Fish that had babies in the tank and got sucked up by the filter Hello, and Thanks. <Hi and you are welcome.  This is Jorie.> We are new to fish and everything that goes into it. One of the fish gave birth to some baby fish and I have seen about 7 Tadpoles in the filter. My question is do I take the filter out and clean the Dead fish off or do I leave them there until I get ready to clean the tank out in about a week or two. <First off, I think you probably are speaking of livebearer fry, not tadpoles (unless you have frogs in the tank!).  You absolutely should remove any and all dead fish, including babies, ASAP, as their decay will pollute the water and cause spikes in ammonia, nitrite and/or nitrate.  Remove the carcasses, clean the filter, and do a large water change.  Are you familiar with the cycling process of the fish tank? I would suggest a book by the name of "The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" by David E. Boruchowitz as an excellent beginning point...will explaining much that is essential to keeping your new fish happy and healthy.  In general, depending on the size of you tank and how heavily stocked it is, you will want to do water changes *at least* once per week, possibly more while the initial phase of cycling is going on (since you've got fish in there already).  I suggest you purchase a water test kit that includes ammonia, nitrite and nitrate tests, as well as pH...the first three are toxins incredibly harmful, even fatal, to fish, and if you are measuring any amounts of any of the three elements at all, you need to do a water change ASAP.> Thank You for your help. Mr. Poje <Hope I helped.  Do check out that book and feel free to ask any follow up questions you may have. Jorie>

FW Maintenance Hello. Dayna Daves here again with yet another set of questions. I wish I could just figure this out! I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank with a Penguin 330 bio-wheel filter. I have 2 Boesemanni Rainbows, 3 Red Iran Rainbows, 3 Dwarf Honey Gouramis, 2 Pearl Gouramis, 1 tiny algae eater, and today, just got rid of a 12"pleco. The tank has been set up for about 3 1/2 months. I did regular testing and all read good! Ammonia=0, Nitrites=0, Nitrates=20. Recently, I  treated the tank for Ick, with Aquari-sol, as there were white spots on some of the fish. We treated as the bottle said, for a week, & got rid of the Ick. During the treatment, I did notice the ammonia level was raising, so I did my partial water changes. Now the treatment is over and the water is cloudy, stinky, and the ammonia is through the roof (8.0)! Yikes I know!! I am trying to get the ammonia out, doing 2 10% water changes in 4 days, renting a Magnum 350 canister filter to use a couple of days, and also using Ammo Lock. The canister filter did help that night, but the next morning it was just as cloudy again. I was wondering why this is happening and what can I do so my lovely fish friends don't die! <When we recommend any treatments we usually warn people that when you treat a tank to get rid of some microorganisms that some of the good bacteria that nitrify may become affected. You case is a good one to point out. You may have killed all of your good bacteria and your tank is going through a new tank syndrome. Right now you need to clean the filter and vacuum the gravel to eliminate all the fish waste. I would vacuum under ornaments and rocks too. The ammo lock is a good idea but water changes are the best way. Do not feed the fish for a couple of days until the ammonia settles down.> We have recently switched to using RO water for the water changes instead of tap. Could that have anything to do with it? < Depending on the pH. If it is below 7 then the ammonia will actually be a less toxic ammonium ion. If the pH is above 7 then you are probably smelling some ammonia ions in the water.> Also, I have heard that sometimes the medication you use for fish can kill the good bacteria in the tank and that the tank will need to re-cycle itself, resulting in cloudy water. Is that true? < Absolutely> When I feed my fish, (once a day) I only feed them a little at a time so that they eat it all and it doesn't settle to cause the ammonia to go up, so that can't be the cause. Also, I use Stress Coat which says that it removes chlorine, neutralizes chloramines and detoxifies heavy metals. Is that okay to pre-treat the new water with? < Yeah but Amquel will reduce the ammonia too.> I am planning on doing a huge water change (50% or so) if you think that would be a good idea. Would that help? < Reducing the ammonia levels with a water change is a good idea.> Should I put my fish in my q-tank just until this get settled? < If the ammonia levels are over 1 ppm then you fish are in danger and should be removed.> Please help. I'm lost and don't know what to do. Sorry for all the questions, and probably sounding like a dummy, but I really do want to provide a nice home for my fish!  Thanks for listening! < Go to Marineland .com and look under the Dr. Tim's library for articles on cycling a new tank.-Chuck> Dayna

It looks like mold! It looks like mold growing in my tank. I'm a beginner and would like info about my moldy tank. I've come in and found some of my fish belly up. There are a few left but they are not eating well. Whatever it is it's growing fast. It looks like black stuff on my plant and brownish green on everything else. Please help! < Your mold is most likely different kinds of algae being fed off of dead fish and a dirty tank. Do a 30% water change and service the filter. Change 30% of the water every week and feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes.-Chuck>

Tiny jumping spiders Hi, I have a weird question. I have a 48 gallon tank with 8 cichlids in there. Tetratec300 power filter, all the water specs seem ok, but I noticed the fish seem very scared and stick close to the bottom, they rarely swim all the way up if at all. They do if they're really hungry and it seems they do it really quickly, meaning, they swim up quickly to pick up the food and swim back down quickly. Now the question is, I see some weird tiny white (clear?) spiders, they are maybe 1mm in length, hard to say whether they're spiders or something else but seeing one very up close I noticed it has about 8 legs. in the beginning I thought it was just air bubbles in the aquarium but now I'm beginning to think it's them! there's a couple dozen of them on the surface of the water and they seem to be jumping up and down! now if they "are" the bubbles in the aquarium, then I have hundreds of them!!! I turned the filter off for a little while to make sure it wasn't the water splashing and I was right, it's tiny little white thingies jumping around!!! How do I get rid of this, I do partial water changes every week but I guess that didn't do anything... help me!!! < These are little springtails and are harmless to the fish. They feed off the fish food when you feed the fish. If you decide to switch to a wet dry filter with a surface skimmer then they will be sucked into the skimmer.-Chuck>

Aquarium Cleaning I had two Oscars that died from hole in the head disease. After my aquarium was empty for a while I decided to clean it with anti-bacterial dishwater liquid. I rinsed it very very well and set it back up with the filter running. Is it ok for me to populate it with fish if I let the water circulate  for a couple of weeks first? < Don't you eat off the dishes after they are washed and rinsed? Of course you do. There is nothing poisonous about soap after it is thoroughly rinsed. Your tank is ready to go. I would recommend that you go to Marineland.com and check out Dr. Tim's library. Look at the article titled the first thirty days to get you going again on the right track.-Chuck>

Cotton Like Substance I have a 10 gallon tank with just a few fish, a Betta and a gold fish I guess. I'm new at this. I just started to notice all this cotton like stuff growing on the gravel on the bottom and artificial plants in the tank. I asked several stores about this, and they gave me your e-mail address. Any ideas what I' m doing wrong or how to fix the problem ?    Chuck <Hi Chuck, Don here. It sounds like you have a load of waste and uneaten food in the gravel. A trip back to the pet store to get a gravel vac is in your future. Use it to remove water when you do water changes. A simple $5 item that everyone should have. It may also be brown algae, normal if this is a new tank. BTW, Bettas and goldfish are not a good mix. Your Betta is a tropical fish that need to be kept at a steady temperature in the high 70's. Goldfish want it around 10 degrees cooler. If you have a heater you may want to return the goldfish and get a few Cory catfish. A fun fish to watch and they will help keep the bottom clean. But they do not eat other fish's waste, so you still need that vac. The goldfish grow very large, a foot or more. Not a good fit in a 10 gallon. Good luck> Arowana and chlorine Hello guys, <Hello...Jorie here> With weekly water change (20%) ,if I don't have space to age water or condition them, how can I transfer tap water into my 125 gallon fish tank, without negatively affecting my baby arowana? <I really don't see how you can get around having separate containers to age/condition the water.> Can I just put the recommended amount of Amquel plus, Novaqua, and aquarium salt into the tank before I use a hose and transfer tap water? <I would definitely suggest against that plan - sounds risky and downright unsafe to the health of your livestock, in my opinion.>   Kordon states that it might take several minutes before Amquel plus and Novaqua completely eliminates chlorine, chloramines, and etc. with that several minutes........will that have negative effects to my baby arowana? <I would think this would have negative effects on any fish.  I think you've pretty much answered your own question, my friend! It isn't worth the risk of harming the fish, if you ask me.> what do you guys recommend?  Any alternatives besides storing water into another tank or several buckets ? <I don't personally have any super-large tanks, so I just use 5 gal. buckets for my fresh and brackish water.  I have heard of people using large Rubbermaid-type trash containers (NOT metal ones) for water aging...perhaps look into this as an option.> Thanks, Antonio <You're welcome. Jorie>

Fluffy white stuff in my gravel I have a 20g tank of sick fish (2 dwarf rainbow, 2 Otos, 4 zebra Danios, 1 Kuhli loach). I have noticed over the last 3 water changes that I have a LOT of debris in the tank. I got the Otos 3 weeks ago, which corresponds with the debris: hmmmm. Lately I notice the debris is all white, and either filamenty or fuzzy. I cant vacuum it all out. I am treating my fish with MelaFix and fluke-tabs. Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20ppm. Do I need to break down my tank to get rid of this stuff? Any advice appreciated!! < Vacuum the gravel and cut back on the food. Vacuum the gravel when doing a water change initially remove the organics that have accumulated in it. Don't just take the stuff off the top but push the tube entirely to the bottom of the tank. Service the filter too. Don't feed for a couple of days. Then only feed enough food so that all of it is entirely consumed in a couple of minutes. Any food left over than should be vacuumed up out of the tank. The bacteria should help break down the fish waste but the medications you keep adding may actually be part of the problem by affecting the good bacteria that break down the fish waste. The white stuff is a fungus that is feeding off the organics in the gravel. The organics must be  removed to successfully remove the fungus. Don't just get a fungus killer because you will be treating the symptom and not the problem.-Chuck> Sincerely, Miriam

Re: fluffy white stuff in my gravel Thank you thank you for a true sounding response. Can I ask you about the fish? < Sure. If you didn't this web site would be pretty boring.> I have a dwarf rainbow that first wasn't eating and isolating herself, then 2 days later had white fluff (just a very little) on her tail fin and stringy white "poop". One day later had red swollen gills. On 5th day isolated her and started Maracyn. By second day looked worse. Panicked and went to fish store, who said antibiotics wont do anything, its an internal parasite. So I bought fluke tabs and MelaFix (which she said is mild and not a potent medicine). I put the sick fish back in the regular tank when I got home because when I did I noticed my Oto had (only) 1 red gill with a patch of white fluff on it. Panicking, I felt the whole tank would come down with disease and put the sick rainbow back in the tank and treated whole tank with fluke tabs and MelaFix. I also scraped the fluff off the Oto, but it grew back within 2 hours. The Oto is still doing normal behavior, except a bit skittish, which seems reasonable after all the prodding I did to it. So, now I wonder if internal parasites IS the problem??? Is it a gill bacteria instead that is affecting my Oto and rainbow slightly differently? Today (one day after fluke tabs) my fish are exactly the same. Ammonia is 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 15ppm, temp 77, ph 7.8, 20 gallon tank, 2 dwarf rainbow, 2 Oto, 4 zebra Danios, 1 Kuhli loach, had tank 4 1/2 months. Should I start a new regime of medicine 9which I am wary of), or should I just do individual salt dips and hope that helps (how much salt in a salt dip??) As for extra food, when I got the Otos, I put an algae wafer in the tank every other day and realize that was too much and why all the detritus. If you can make sense of this you will be so wonderful, I feel everyone is telling me a different story and I am so confused and worried I have already over and mis-medicated my fish. It is amazing the instinct to do SOMETHING, rather than just watch helplessly, even if our/my actions are worse than the problem!! Very grateful for any reply, Miriam < Your store was partially right about your rainbow. It is an internal bacteria infection and should be treated with Metronidazole. The external fungus is feeding on some damaged tissue from your Oto. The fungus may have been a secondary infection from a earlier bacterial attack. I would recommend treating the Oto with a Nitrofuranace type drug. Be aware that any time you medicate a tank it may affect the good bacteria that break down the fish waste so check for ammonia spike during and after treatment. The cause may have been too much food.-Chuck>

10 gal tank gravel cleaning question Hello, Thanks for having a great website!  I apologize if you've already answered the below question, but I couldn't find the answer on your site. I'm new to this hobby and have a question on cleaning the tank. I have a 10 gallon tank that has been running for about 7 weeks now.  I'm using an AquaClear Filter with sponge and charcoal inserts (size for a 5 to 20 gal tank). I cycled before I added fish. The only fish I have in the tank are 2 zebra Danios and 2 striped barbs (all four fish are an inch or less).  I feed them a small amount at night and remove uneaten particles after a few minutes. I have been vacuuming the gravel weekly and doing small water changes 10% (I have been using purified drinking water), but every time I do the water change and vacuum, the water looks worse. It seems like a lot of sediment gets stirred up with the vacuuming and water change and afterwards, the water looks really dirty and cloudy.  It settles down after a few days, but is still cloudy and dirty looking. It never clears.  The fish seem fine, but I feel like vacuuming only makes the tank worse. Do I need to buy the AquaClear Filter sized for the 30 gallon tank?  Or am I not vacuuming correctly? The gravel does go part way up the tube when I'm vacuuming, so I assumed I was doing it correctly. Or do these 4 fish just produce a lot of waste? Thanks for your time! >>>Hello Frances, Hmmm...cleaning the gravel shouldn't upset the tank for more than a few hours, at the most. If you are indeed vacuuming correctly, and it sounds like you are, then it might be a filter issue. Make sure though that you vacuum until no detritus rises from that particular area, then move on. Also, make sure you keep the sponge in the Aquaclear clean by rinsing it in tank water. Do not rinse in tap water as this will kill the bacteria on the sponge. I have a feeling this may be your problem. If not, then the next model up, with a bit higher turnover rate may be the answer. Cheers Jim<<< Getting The Detritus Out- For Good! Greetings, my aquatic friend!   <Hi there!> Although I miss our e-mails, at least you know when you don't hear from me, there are no problems.   <It's okay even if there are problems! That's part of the reason that we're here!> Alas, here's a small one-hence this note.  I was having problems with algae, and so on cleaning day (still sticking to the once a week schedule you suggested, with no checks or movement in between) I changed the water about 20%, plus threw away a piece of driftwood that I think was beyond rising help, and was therefore contributing to the problem. I should mention that I think the problem originated from my fertilizer tabs for the plants, as I had A LOT more detritus in the cleaning where they broke apart. <Yep- detritus is certainly "algae food", and the supplemental plant food probably didn't do much good at that point.> At any rate, I also changed one of the filters, but not both. <A good idea...This way, you don't disrupt the biological filtration to a great extent> Here's the problem:  After I installed the filter, a HUGE load of what looked like household dust when you haven't dusted in ages. It spit all of this stuff back into the water that I had so conscientiously cleaned, now it's around the filter base, and slowly but surely making its way to the bottom of the tank.  I was afraid to do any more, so I just left it alone.  I checked nitrites and ammonia and both were okay, so I decided I better leave things until I wrote to you. Where do I go from here?  Also, am I going to unleash a cloud of debris every time I changed a filter?  It seems like this happened-to a lesser degree-the last time I changed the filter on the other side.   Thanks, Cyndy <Well, Cyndy- it depends what kind of filter media that you're using. If you're using activated carbon, Zeolite, or other "natural" media, a quick rinse before use is generally all that you need to do to get the media ready for use. If you are using a "sponge" or other mechanical media, a gentle squeeze and quick rinse will do it. Either way, it would probably be a good idea to siphon out some of the "dust" that settles in the tank, as it's accumulation can deteriorate water quality over time. Hope this helps! I'll catch you soon! Regards, Scott F.>

Getting The Detritus Out- For Good! (Pt. 2) Scott:  I DID rinse the carbon filter--I think this was stuff that had accumulated (possibly uneaten food sucked through the filter) in the bottom of the filter "pockets" *for lack of a better word. I'm pretty sure it wasn't carbon.  When it came out into the tank was when I pushed the new filter in the pocket.  Also-something just occurred to me-I didn't turn off the filter because I wasn't changing both of the cartridges.  Could that have something to do with this?   <Yep- sounds like some detritus or other material trapped beneath the old filter media. I'd shut the filter off when performing this maintenance, and give the inside of the filter a gentle scrub and rinse. A clean filter works better!> P.S.  Algae is now gone, and tank is once again sparkling-I just want to know for next time.... Cyndy <No problem, Cyndy! There you have my two cents worth! Talk to you soon! Regards, Scott F.>

Jar fish question How long will a fish live in a jar with rocks at the bottom? <Well that depends on the fish, the size of the jar, the kind of water, whether you dechlorinate the water or not and many other things. If you can give me more information maybe I can help you more? MacL>

FW system operation and experiences Hi, Hope you can help!! I have a 46 Gallon freshwater tank with about 10 med to small semi aggressive to aggressive fish...1 Oscar, 1 rope fish, 4 cichlids, 1 algae eater and so on. They all get along and are striving.  My  questions. 1)  I have been feeding them once daily with about 4-6 pellets for the bottom feeders, 1 pinch of flake food for the top feeders, 1 helping of frozen brine shrimp, and at night, 1/2 a helping of blood worms for the rope fish. The Oscar and the cichlids gobble the food up so quickly I feel the other fish aren't getting any.  Am I feeding them too much? < If your nitrates are over 25 ppm then there may be excess food accumulating in the filter. This would be a sign of overfeeding. Are your fish thin? Probably not.> 2)  I just recently got over a bout with ick and lost some fish after treating the water with rid-ick.  The remaining fish look and appear pretty healthy. My water seems to be a bit cloudy.  the nitrite, and nitrate readings seem to be ok. I also have about 6 live plants in the tank that are turning a bit brown and I also have some browning around my tank floor ( a lot).  What could be causing this? < I know that some medications say that they don't affect the good nitrifying bacteria but they all do to some degree. The cloudiness is probably ammonia so check it right away. If you haven't changed you light bulb in a awhile then it might be time. The intensity of florescent bulbs deteriates over time. The green dye in the rid-ich blocks out certain wavelengths that plants need so that could affect them too. Check the ammonia and do a 30% water change and make sure the filter is clean. Small but frequent water changes may be needed to keep the ammonia checked.> 3)  Is it necessary to turn the tanks light off every night? < The plants and fish need a rest period for long term health.> 4)  How often do I do a siphon and water change on this tank per month? < The nitrates should be under 25 ppm. Only you can determine when you need to change the water by checking the water and seeing how long it takes for the nitrates to bounce back up. After a while you will know how much water to change and how often.> 5)  While siphoning the gravel and doing the water change, now do I add the chemicals to remove the chlorine if the water is going from the tap through the siphoning hose into the tank with fish.  Will this harm the fish? < Ideally you want to add all the chemicals to a separate container like a plastic bucket before putting the water directly in the tank.> 6)  Do I feed the rope fish in the dark so that he can actually feed by smell and so that the other always hungry fish will not gobble up his food? < That would be a good idea to make sure he gets enough to eat.> 7)  Does cleaning and siphoning the tank often cause the fish to have ick? < No. Usually cool water stresses the fish and this gives parasites a chance to attack the host.-Chuck> Thanks for your patience through all these question.... Karen White snotty fuzz like snow Hello, Great site! I read and read and then read some more, however I cannot find an answer to my question. Please help as my enthusiasm is fading quickly. I have a 10g tank and a 55g, the latter being just 4 days old. My question concerns the 10g but the problem concerned both tanks at different times. Between the 2 tanks I start and tear everything down every couple of weeks seems like which is very frustrating as I still don't know what to do. Please bear with me, English is my second language, thanks. Brief story: 10g freshwater parameters (<1 month) Ammonia: .5ppm ( I added 1tsp of AmmoLock) Nitrite: 0ppm Nitrate: 0ppm Hardness: 300GH <<There's a decimal place missing here. RMF>> Alkalinity: 300KH <<And here>> pH: 8.4 (I know not to mess with till cycled) Livestock: 3 Female guppies 2 Tiger barbs 1 Cory cat 2 Otto's (with a big belly) 1 Ram snail 1 dwarf frog Few real plants, Amazon sword, Java fern, Tiger lotus, 2 Texas holey stones, gravel, airstone, Whisper filter. These fish accumulated of whatever livestock survived out of groups of fish bought to start either tank.  Everyone gets along great although might seem otherwise and seem pretty healthy, happy fish. My dilemma is the water; I am now convinced that I had to restart tanks repeatedly secondary to cloudy water from what I now believe due to overfeeding, beginner over cleaning enthusiasm and probably over use of chemicals.  Presently I have been doing daily 50% water change for the past 7-10 days, diminished light to less than 6 hrs a day and feeding sparingly twice a day. I cannot get rid of this white fuzz that seems to cover everything, like snow.  Looks like a big blob of snot when I wash the filter (every other day in de-chlorinated water). From what I've read it's a bacteria bloom and not algae, probably from food entrapment etc. The fish nip at it and wonder if can make them sick, sometimes I saw this stringy white slime hanging from anal film, and the barbs wonder aimlessly hitting rocks and glass, now color came back and swimming Ok. My question is; is there anything else I can do besides changing water to get rid of this, sometimes the water get so murky and cloudy in 1 day that I cannot even see the fish. I don't know whether because of daily water changes I am disturbing the needed friendly bacteria and should leave tank alone for awhile, kinda tried that previously for a couple days and it got to be such an eye sore that I start over, but then end up with same problem and have to go thru cycle from day 1.  Please help so I won't end up with the same problem in the 55g which presently is cycling with 1 white cloud (I know I need to get some more) and 1 freshwater fiddler crab. Ok now if the water changes aren't helping much what else can I do? Also if I transfer anything from the 10g to the 55g will it contaminate the other tank? Question about lead in water, I read that you should not put anything metal in the water or else is poison, then how come all the tools, tweezers, scissors etc used in aquaria are metal and also plant anchors are metal ? Please clarify. After I read this I did 100% water change in the 55g because I was using these old stainless steel kitchen salad clamps to pick up dead fish etc.  Any suggestions on plants, having trouble keeping them rooted in substrate, just with the air agitation they keep getting uprooted? Thanks beforehand for your reply, any suggestions appreciated. < Go to Marineland.com and look at Dr. Tim's Library for good articles on your problems. You are doing way too much. I think your problem is ammonia. At the high pH you are running that ammonia is deadly! Look at the article called the "first 30 days " to get your tank established. Then write back and we will get to the other things. Be patient, we are here to help.- Chuck>

Oily Layer on Surface Hi all, <Hello! Ryan with you today> Was wondering if you could help: <Surely> I have noticed a oily layer on the surface of one of my aquariums, I generally try and siphon most of it off when I do my regular water change, but I was wondering if this oily stuff presents a danger to my fish (2x dwarf puffers & 1 Otocinclus). <It's of danger because it's preventing the exchange of oxygen into the water.  Some filters are equipped with a surface skimmer, and maybe better serve your needs.  Tunze?  Good luck, Ryan> Cheers! Liam

Moving a Sick Angel Dear Crew, Hope you can help me out. Making long story short, my wife recently gained custody of her son, and with the son, comes his angelfish. The last survivor of six original angels (bad idea #1) in a 2.5 gal. tank (bad idea #2), it is now about three to four inches long.  Knowing that A) while we didn't create this situation, we're stuck with fixing it, and B) two and a half gallons is NOT enough room for anything to be happy (my Betta has 10gal. mostly to itself), we're setting up the only immediately available aquarium. Unfortunately, there won't be much time to cycle the new tank, as I won't be able to purchase equipment until Thurs. with the angel coming over Fri. (Right now all I have is a bare glass tank and a hood.) My question is this, how do I move the Angel without pushing it over the edge as far as stress is concerned? Will putting it in an uncycled tank be ok considering the conditions it's coming from? (It's already so stressed that it's lost it's stripes, and doesn't have very good vertical orientation.) Or will the pH shock just kill it outright? I haven't been able to test anything, but I can't help but assume ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all high, with a pH of 6 at the highest (there's leftover food and fish waste filling all the void spaces in the gravel.) Any tips for moving or acclimating will be GREATLY appreciated. I've read the articles on moving and acclimating, but some of it is still beyond my comprehension/budget. Can adding live plants do anything to help the cycle go smoother or ease the transition? Maybe approaching it from the standpoint of "I just bought the worst possible fish from the LFS" is most appropriate? If it helps anything, it's moving to a 20 gal. tall. Please help keep me from killing my stepson's finned friend. Much, much thanks, Keith <<Dear Keith; all you need to do is put the angel into a bag (in his own tank water), take him to the new place, and acclimate him thusly: float the bag in the new tank for 10 minutes. After ten minutes the temp should be the same, so open the bag by folding it down as though it were a pant cuff or shirt sleeve...air trapped in the rolled sleeve should keep the bag afloat nicely. Then what you want to do is add a cup of water FROM the new tank INTO the bag every 5 minutes or so, until you double the volume of water in the bag. It SHOULD take you about half an hour or so to do this. Then just let him out of the bag into the new tank. Easy, yes? You should learn this, since you need to acclimate any new fish you will ever buy in this manner. If you are not sure, test the bag for temp, pH and the tank for temp and pH, they should match before you release the fish. Once the fish is in the new tank, you need to test for ammonia (for the first couple of weeks, approx) nitrites (second and third weeks, approx) and finally, nitrates. Since you are already aware that you need to do this, buy yourself some test kits. If buying all three test kits is out of your budget at the moment, start with ammonia, and get the others later on. Hope this helps. -Gwen>>

Re: moving a stressed angel Thanks for the help. All has gone well so far. Had the fish here for almost a week and she's adjusting well, as far as I can tell. Not aggressive, eats well, and even has a really cool color changing trick.  (Ever hear of this before?) I did get an ammonia test kit. Cheap strip-type, but it's better than nothing. Ammonia spike is finally starting to wind down I think. At 6 yesterday morning, now down to 3 tonight, test again tomorrow to be sure. Even at 6ppm, it seemed MUCH happier, though still very shy. Had what I figure to be a bacterial bloom on the second or third day. I have had these before, white cloudy water, etc.. in new tanks. Is this the beneficial bacteria getting started, or another unrelated kind? Water is clear now. Thanks again for all the help. Never had to do this before, and would have felt really guilty, seeing as how I've been deemed the family "Fish Guru." This is one tough fish. Keith. <<You are welcome. Good for you on buying a test kit. The bad news is your prolly need a nitrite test kit now :P But at any rate things seem to be going well for you, so congrats!! Cloudy water is normal, it is another type of bacteria, heterotrophic. Nothing to worry about. One thing I want to mention is that when you do water changes, be sure the water going into the tank is the same temperature as the tank itself. This is most important, buy a good thermometer (they cost three bucks) at your LFS and use the same one to test the tank AND the tap water re-fill water. -Gwen>> 

Vacation lighting Hi Crew, <Hi! Ananda here this morning> With the Memorial day weekend upon us, I was wondering what I should do with my aquarium lighting?  <Put it on a timer. There are timers available where you plug the power cord into the timer, plug the timer into the outlet, and the timer controls the on/off of the device. Just make sure you leave the light switch in the "on" position!> I have a 30G tank with 1 male Siamese fighter, 3 Cory's and 5 cherry barbs. As far as planting, I have green Cabomba, Mayaca, Echinodorus tenellus, water wisteria and some tall hairgrass. <Yep, a timer is definitely in order. I got mine for about $7 each; they're available at hardware stores, discount centers, grocery stores... just make sure you can set it yourself.> The pH is 6.5 and no A/N/N. Should I keep the light on for the 3 days while I'm away or should I keep it off? I'm kinda stuck because my plants are growing well right now and I don't want them to be stunted and I also don't want nasty algae to start growing. Please help Chris <Most people use timers on their lights when they've got plants or photosynthetic critters in the tank. Keeps the light schedule constant, too. --Ananda> 

Almost ready for the fish Hello- Wanted to say you have a wonderfully informative site. I have just a few questions.. I have set up a 10 gal with a power filter and air wand in my office, treating and doing a fishless cycle as we speak.  I have intentions on getting 1 telescope eye (would love to get a pair-but afraid to overcrowd them later as they grow - it would be crowded eventually correct?), and wanted to know about weekend feeding- or lack of.  I work Mon-Fri, and would either need to skip feedings for the entire weekend after giving a bit right before I leave on Friday, or get one of those weekend feeder cubes that dissolve in the tank. I'm not fond of that idea, as I wouldn't be able to monitor the food intake... Will the fish be able to handle skipped meals 2 days in a row?  I am wanting to get some live rootless plants that it could nibble on- any suggestions? < If you keep up on your water changes and service the filter often then you could probably get away with two fish. Don't worry about feeding your fish over the weekend. I don't worry about my fish until I am gone at least a week. they will be fine.> Also- the LFS I go to has a small selection of the fancies- usually 1 1/2 " or so body size- any ideas on just how quickly with good care this fish may reach adult size? < Depends on the temp. At higher water temps the fish eat more and grow faster. Because these are cool water fish I would not go overboard with the heat. Look for foods high in protein. Goldfish sometimes have problems with this kind of food so start them off slowly until they get use to it. Keep the ammonia levels at zero. The nitrite too. The nitrates should be under 25 ppm. The lower the better.> I would love to have a 20 gal, and a nice happy pair however space just will not allow it- can the fish be happy living alone with just human interaction (as much as possible!)? < No problem. -Chuck> Thanks in advance for your help with my questions- I look forward to your responses. -Jo 

Help With Freshwater Tank - Gwen's Response Hello to all at WetWebMedia. Your site is just fantastic!  My name is Laurie, and I came across your site and am so happy to have found you! I need help with my fishy's home. I would be so grateful if you can help me.   I have a 29 gallon, freshwater tank running for about a year. I have 5 platies, 7 neons, and 5 glowlight tetras. I have a Whisper 30 - 60 gallon Power Filter with carbon insert. My gravel is about 2" high. I have a new bubble wand airstone, creating good surface turbulence. I have 5 plants in there. One large Amazon sword. I use the both the Tetra Test Kit, and the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit just to be sure right now of accuracy. Here are my aquarium's water parameters: Temp 77deg. (was 80 but I lowered it gradually) pH 7.0 (finally) KH 2.5 GH 150+ Ammonia 0 (finally) Nitrites .8 (yikes) Nitrates 30 (they may be rising now) I came to the conclusion that my tank must be going through another cycle.  Please let me tell you what I think may have happened.  About a month ago I added medication (Maracyn, Quick- cure, Parasite- clear at different times for a disease I was just couldn't get rid of! All nine of my lemon tetras died. I know...bad move on my part treating the entire tank.  My pH crashed to 5.0 after I stopped the medication. The medication probably killed all the bacteria that was established, and the pH crashing to 5.0 definitely killed more. Well, my ammonia went through the roof . Anyway, to rid the tank of ammonia, I stepped up with the water changes (20% twice weekly...which also brought my pH up to 6.5 (thank goodness). But I still ended up adding Amquel Plus to the system because the ammonia was reading 3.0 - 4.0! You guessed it....after adding Amquel....down went the pH again....this time it sunk to 6.0. (I know now not to add Amquel if your system has a low buffering capacity. To interrupt for a moment here....I have another question....I need to do something about buffering...but I am undecided what to do...adding pH buffers (I know I'll screw up that one), coral, limestone, or replace some of my gravel?    To continue.. ...After going crazy with the twice weekly water changes for a few weeks ....my ammonia is now reading 0, but now the nasty little nitrites are high with a reading of 1.0. So, I decided to do a larger water change of 10 gallons to hopefully get the nitrites down. Today, they were reading .8... but I'm afraid they may steadily rise again. I don't know what to do anymore.  I will not add Amquel Plus (lowers nitrites too) this time! Please help me.....I have my little pets in there and I'm afraid they will all die. Two of the glowlights are panting away now. Will they be recover? Do I keep doing water changes?? What percentage/frequency? It's kind of like a catch-22 situation....I feel like if I do water changes, I may upset the nitrogen cycle, so maybe I should just let it continue till it's done? But, if I don't do them....I'm afraid there will be great fish loss cause the nitrites may get too high again. Chasing them with a net and putting them in my 10 gallon would be great, but I believe will cause more stress than leaving them be. And, the bioload in there will be through the roof! Please please, please help me! I don't know what to do anymore.  My normal routine is gravel vacuuming, only l/3 at a time, once a week.... along with a 20% water change. I treat the replacement water with Aqua Safe. I don't change the filter at the same time that I do the water changes or vacuuming. The filter is changed monthly, and the next change is due May 13.  Should I change the filter now or wait until the cycle is complete? Should I just add some fresh carbon now?? Or, do both??? Also, am I supposed to clean the power filter contraption? I know to clean the lift tube, and I remove algae with a pad from the glass, etc.  I added some gravel from my established 10 gallon tank, and stuck it in a mesh bag behind the filter to help with bacteria and hopefully get this nitrite down. Is that good? Do you think I should insert the 10 gallon filter media into the 29 gallon to help too? (That filter is only about two weeks old).  Should I also add Cycle? I added a little aquarium salt...very little, cause I know tetras don't like salt? Also, I've added Novaqua for the stress.  Sorry for all the questions. Please help me soon before all my little fishies die. Time is running out! Thanks for your time. Laurie PS My power filter produces a strong current...should the knob on the top be pointing directly at the tank, or halfway? The filter is for a 30-60 gallon tank (mine is 29 gal). Also, the bubble wand I just bought...sends little waves along the surface. Please tell me if this is too much current for the fish? I know plants don't like it much, but they are thriving. Thanks soooo much! Laurie <<Hello Laurie. Yes, you are cycling again. Yes, the meds prolly messed your biofiltration. And yes, adding some crushed coral will help stabilize your pH, though cycling tanks often have fluctuating pH, so it will be hard for you to pinpoint your pH accurately for the next little while, anyways. It should stabilize as the tank finishes cycling. Don't bother with it for now, a pH of 7.0 is acceptable. And yes, frequent water changes will lengthen the cycling process, but will also help keep your fish alive. "Prime" is an excellent product that will reduce the toxicity of your nitrites, and again, help save your fish. Along with water changes, it's your best bet. Adding the gravel into your filter will help a bit, but you will still have to cycle. There is not THAT much bacteria on gravel, since bacteria prefer highly oxygenated water, and gravel is pretty stagnant unless there is an undergravel filter pulling water thru it. It's actually pretty impossible to tell you how much actual bacteria is on the gravel, but at this point, hey, every little bit helps!! I would not change the filter until the tank is completely cycled, as I said, you need every bit of bacteria you can get.. so don't touch the filter, not even the carbon. Let it be for now. As for your filter knob, what brand of filter is it? You can gauge for yourself if the current is too strong or not, there really is no "set" current level, as long as the fish are able to swim without being swept around like a Jacuzzi :P Adding a bit of salt is fine, not too much! About a teaspoon per three gallons should suffice. Give 'er take :) Novaqua is a product I have no personal experience with, but I doubt it's helping. *shrug* Can't say either way, what does it claim to do, and what are the ingredients listed on the bottle? -Gwen>> 

Need help with freshwater tank - Chuck's Response Hello to all at WetWebMedia. Your site is just fantastic!  My name is Laurie, and I came across your site and am so happy to have found you! I need help with my fishy's home. I would be so grateful if you can help me.  I have a 29 gallon, freshwater tank running for about a year. I have 5 platies, 7 neons, and 5 glowlight tetras. I have a Whisper 30 - 60 gallon Power Filter with carbon insert. My gravel is about 2" high. I have a new bubble wand airstone, creating good surface turbulence. I have 5 plants in there. One large Amazon sword. I use the both the Tetra Test Kit, and the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit just to be sure right now of accuracy. Here are my aquarium's water parameters: Temp 77deg. (was 80 but I lowered it gradually) pH 7.0 (finally) KH 2.5 GH 150+ Ammonia 0 (finally) Nitrites .8 (yikes) Nitrates 30 (they may be rising now) I came to the conclusion that my tank must be going through another cycle.   Please let me tell you what I think may have happened.  About a month ago I added medication (Maracyn, quick cure, parasite clear at different times for a disease I was just couldn't get rid of! All nine of my lemon tetras died. I know...bad move on my part treating the entire tank.  My pH crashed to 5.0 after I stopped the medication. The medication probably killed all the bacteria that was established,< I think you are right.> and the pH crashing to 5.0 definitely killed more. Well, my ammonia went through the roof . Anyway, to rid the tank of ammonia, I stepped up with the water changes (20% twice weekly... which also brought my pH up to 6.5 (thank goodness). But I still ended up adding Amquel Plus to the system because the ammonia was reading 3.0 - 4.0! You guessed it....after adding Amquel....down went the pH again....this time it sunk to 6.0. (I know now not to add Amquel if your system has a low buffering capacity. To interrupt for a moment here....I have another question.... I need to do something about buffering...but I am undecided what to do...adding pH buffers (I know I'll screw up that one), coral, limestone, or replace some of my gravel?< I would try a buffer by Kent or Seachem. and follow the directions on the bottle.>  To continue.. ...After going crazy with the twice weekly water changes for a few weeks ....my ammonia is now reading 0, but now the nasty little nitrites are high with a reading of 1.0. So, I decided to do a larger water change of 10 gallons to hopefully get the nitrites down. Today, they were reading .8... but I'm afraid they may steadily rise again. I don't know what to do anymore.  I will not add Amquel Plus (lowers nitrites too) this time! Please help me.....I have my little pets in there and I'm afraid they will all die. Two of the glowlights are panting away now. Will they be recover? Do I keep doing water changes?? What percentage/frequency? It's kind of like a catch-22 situation....I feel like if I do water changes, I may upset the nitrogen cycle, so maybe I should just let it continue till it's done? But, if I don't do them....I'm afraid there will be great fish loss cause the nitrites may get too high again. Chasing them with a net and putting them in my 10 gallon would be great, but I believe will cause more stress than leaving them be. And, the bioload in there will be through the roof! Please please, please help me! I don't know what to do anymore. My normal routine is gravel vacuuming, only l/3 at a time, once a week.... along with a 20% water change. I treat the replacement water with Aqua Safe. I don't change the filter at the same time that I do the water changes or vacuuming. The filter is changed monthly, and the next change is due May 13.  Should I change the filter now or wait until the cycle is complete? Should I just add some fresh carbon now?? Or, do both??? Also, am I supposed to clean the power filter contraption? I know to clean the lift tube, and I remove algae with a pad from the glass, etc.  I added some gravel from my established 10 gallon tank, and stuck it in a mesh bag behind the filter to help with bacteria and hopefully get this nitrite down. Is that good? Do you think I should insert the 10 gallon filter media into the 29 gallon to help too? (That filter is only about two weeks old).  Should I also add Cycle? I added a little aquarium salt...very little, cause I know tetras don't like salt? Also, I've added Novaqua for the stress.  Sorry for all the questions. Please help me soon before all my little fishies die. Time is running out! Thanks for your time. Laurie PS My power filter produces a strong current...should the knob on the top be pointing directly at the tank, or halfway? The filter is for a 30-60 gallon tank (mine is 29 gal). Also, the bubble wand I just bought...sends little waves along the surface. Please tell me if this is too much current for the fish? I know plants don't like it much, but they are thriving.  < I think you may be over feeding but here is how we will find out. Don't feed your fish for a couple of days and check the water. You should have no ammonia and no nitrite. If you still have nitrite then there is still some waste in the tank. Service the filter as per the manufacturers recommendations and check the nitrites the next day. There should be no nitrite. If there is then it needs to be coming from somewhere. The next source would be the gravel. Sometimes under rocks and decorations there are pockets of junk that accumulate and need to be removed so try and vacuum under these areas if you have any. Check the water again. You should now not have any ammonia or nitrites because there is no source for them. Start feeding the fish again and watch to make sure all the food is gone in a couple of minutes. Excess food is the first cause for pollution. Check the water in a couple of days. The ammonia levels should be zero and so should your nitrites. If elevated levels begin to start to show up then I would cut back on the feeding until they read zero. The gravel should be more like a fine to medium sand. If it is too coarse then there really is no place for the bacteria to feed and it will trap all kinds of left over food.-Chuck> Thanks soooo much!  Laurie 

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