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FAQs on Freshwater Maintenance/Operation 5

Related Articles: Freshwater Algae & Control, Tips for Beginners, pH, alkalinity, acidity, Treating Tap Water, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality,

Related FAQs: Freshwater Maintenance 1, Freshwater Maintenance 2, Freshwater Maintenance 3, Freshwater Maintenance 4, Freshwater Maintenance 6, & Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease, Freshwater "Scavengers",

Low pH
What causes low pH in fish tank?      6/21/17
<Mmm; life processes mostly... are reductive... acidic; and a lack of alkalinity/upward (pH) buffering capacity. As time goes by metabolic processes nick at alkaline (higher pH) reserve and pH drops>
What is best way to raise it?
<Water changes, alkaline decor like "natural gravel", commercial preparations or home made ones... Read here re:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
Our 10 gallon tank has only one fish in it, a Betta.
Thanks!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Weird growth in tank     6/12/17
Good evening,
<Howsit Dev?>
A friend in the aquatics business suggested your forum because he wasn't sure about an odd growth in my first tank. It's on it's 3rd week of setting up. No fish have been added yet. But with this odd growth in my tank I'm not entirely sure in a couple weeks that I should. I have removed it from the tank.
<Mmm; looks like a sponge off hand; perhaps a bit of Moneran or Protist opportunistic growth; all transient... not to worry>
Hopefully you all can tell me if I'm doing something wrong to cause something that could be harmful to the ecosystem so I can straighten out everything before I add my first fish.
Thanks,
Devin
<What's that spiel from Star Trek... I'd go ahead boldly. Bob Fenner>

fresh water tank. Coating on inside glass panels        5/24/17
Hi, I have a 30 gallon tank. Two fancy tail guppies. Change filter every 30 days. My water is crystal clear but tank sides all the way around have a cloudy residue. I can wipe off with finger but is hard to remove with a
towel. Do I need to drain and re do whole tank?
<Mmm; maybe... being both lazy and adventurous myself, I'd first try a "razor blade" type aquarium scraper, or a single edged razor blade itself>
My fish are happy and healthy. Close to bearing young. My filter is running on high. I have a bright light on during the day and soft light at night. Help. Karen
<I suspect the material here is biological in nature... rather than a simple/r chemical "scale" type problem... as your fishes are healthy as you state. Bob Fenner>
Re: fresh water tank       3/25/17

Thank you!
<Welcome. Have seen/experienced such "light-white" glass (and acrylic) coatings at times... as the system "matures", other organism groups supplant... Bob Fenner>

A lot of poops?      2/20/17
Hey crew! I have a quick question with a photo attached.. I've done a large water change not too long ago to get rid of this weird 'slime' that keeps growing on my wood
<Mmm; not weird, but yes to slime of sorts>

but I also noticed that there was a lot. I mean a lot of poops (I think) everywhere and on everything. I have some shrimp with my Betta. And I've also added a plant that may have carried some snails as well.. any idea as to what this slime is and the cause of the fast growth?
<Yes; decomposition... Like the joke about Beethoven after he croaked>

As well as the fast accumulation of this poop?? Thanks so much hope to hear back from you soon!
<Well; you could try to (dry out, coat w/ chemically inert) seal this wood; but if not; it will continue to degrade till it's all gone. DO keep up w/ regular/weekly water changes, lest the decomp. over-foul your water. Bob Fenner>

Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled      11/19/16
Dear Crew:
<Fuzz.... Ah, Lor!>
I want to thank you for your informative site. I've enjoyed reading the many articles, and your responses to requests for "help".
<Ah good; perhaps you'll join us one day>
I have an issue I can't identify, and would love your input.
<Ok>
I have a 29g freshwater setup, with a OTB Marineland Penguin/BioWheel 200, and two airstones on opposite corners in the back. I have many live plants, mainly Java fern, and Anubias, I think. The plants have been thriving for about five years, spreading all over, and producing "plantlets" on their leaves. There is one small piece of Mopani wood (half buried in the sand), four resin ornaments ("caves"), one ceramic sign, and a mesh bag with crushed coral I have used for a couple years to help keep the pH from dropping. I have white aquarium sand as the substrate. I cannot grow Java
moss, though it does well in a 2.5g I have at work.
<These are good clues... five year set up, white (chemically inert, likely silicate) sand... poor Java Moss growth... Need data re your water quality, what you use as a routine for fertilization....>
Due to water source issues (company, not well water), I wound up breaking down the tank on October 17th, and starting over. At that time, after a partial water change, there was a pH crash, and a spike in the ammonia levels that apparently killed my dwarf BN Pleco, a couple Zebra Danios, a Julii Corydoras, and one of my Kuhli Loaches. That was when I put the surviving fish in a bucket, and started over, doing a thorough cleaning of everything.
<Mmm...>
I have been testing my water and doing daily water changes since then, 50% or a little more every evening, depending on the ammonia number. I use liquid drop water test kits. I have used SeaChem Prime for water changes, but started alternating that with Neutral Regulator a couple weeks ago after the tank water crashed below 6 pH during the cycling,
<What sort of hardness (KH, GH) do you have here; in your system and source water?>
and I saw that the tap water being added during changes was over 7.6 pH.
<Well; pH and hardness are not always stair-stepped linked. DO read Neale's pieces on WWM re hardness; consider adding a level teaspoon of baking soda>
The pH is now holding about 7.2, ammonia is steady at .25 (could be the Prime, we have chloramines in our tap water), Nitrites have dropped to 0 after spiking to 5.0 for a few days, and Nitrates are now testing about 10 daily, and staying there.
<So; this system s/b cycled>
The temp stays at 80F. I am getting a little algae growth on the resin ornaments, but also a rust/orange colored
growth, neither of which is tall, just barely noticeable.
<Perhaps diatoms, dinoflagellates... maybe Cyanobacteria though. Can ascertain with a look at a sample and low/er power scope>
It doesn't worry me, though I've never seen any growth of that color before. I have reduced the water changes to every 3-4 days, and now am only doing a water change of 25% or so each time, the amount depending on the water test numbers.
The surviving fish (2 Albino Corys, 4 Kuhli Loaches, 2 Glowlight Tetras) were acting healthy, moving about, searching for food, just a week or so ago, but now they are mostly hiding again, the tetras are pale, and I've noticed a fine gray dust all over the plants. Yesterday I gently "shook" the plants with the siphon during the water change, to help remove the sediment, if that is what it is. I also took the sponge off the filter intake, and rinsed it out thoroughly. There was a lot of "dust" in it.
<Cycling die-off mostly... some inorganic precipitation>
Today I noticed the "dust" is all across the back of the tank, almost as if it's attached to cobwebs on the glass, moving in the water currents. A lot of this dust is back on the sponge I have over the filter intake, and on the plants as well. I have attached photographs to illustrate.
<Decomposition?>
The water smells "fine", no "dead fish" smell.
<Still...>
I have been feeding literally 2-3 flakes of fish food, and 3-4 shrimp pellets daily, and some nights I add an algae wafer after the light goes off. The food is always gone in the morning.
<I'd cut this back to half for now>
What do you think is this gray dust, and what do I need to do, if anything?
<As above; and I'd keep doing the shake, siphoning...>
Sorry for the length of this email, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible to help you to determine the source of the "dust".
<Again, sampling, scoping will/would help... adding more circulation, filtration if you have it (perhaps a canister filter)>
Thank you, again.
Lor
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>


Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled      11/21/16
Dear Crew:
<Fuzz>
I want to thank you for your informative site. I've enjoyed reading the many articles, and your responses to requests for "help".
<Ah good; perhaps you'll join us one day>
I have an issue I can't identify, and would love your input.
<Ok>
I have a 29g freshwater setup, with a OTB Marineland Penguin/BioWheel 200, and two airstones on opposite corners in the back. I have many live plants, mainly Java fern, and Anubias, I think. The plants have been thriving for
about five years, spreading all over, and producing "plantlets" on their leaves. There is one small piece of Mopani wood (half buried in the sand), four resin ornaments ("caves"), one ceramic sign, and a mesh bag with crushed coral I have used for a couple years to help keep the pH from dropping. I have white aquarium sand as the substrate. I cannot grow Java moss, though it does well in a 2.5g I have at work.
<These are good clues... five year set up, white (chemically inert, likely silicate) sand... poor Java Moss growth... Need data re your water quality, what you use as a routine for fertilization....>
Due to water source issues (company, not well water), I wound up breaking down the tank on October 17th, and starting over. At that time, after a partial water change, there was a pH crash, and a spike in the ammonia levels that apparently killed my dwarf BN Pleco, a couple Zebra Danios, a Julii Corydoras, and one of my Kuhli Loaches. That was when I put the surviving fish in a bucket, and started over, doing a thorough cleaning of everything.
<Mmm...>
I have been testing my water and doing daily water changes since then, 50% or a little more every evening, depending on the ammonia number. I use liquid drop water test kits. I have used SeaChem Prime for water changes, but started alternating that with Neutral Regulator a couple weeks ago after the tank water crashed below 6 pH during the cycling,
<What sort of hardness (KH, GH) do you have here; in your system and source water?>
and I saw that the tap water being added during changes was over 7.6 pH.
<Well; pH and hardness are not always stair-stepped linked>
The pH is now holding about 7.2, ammonia is steady at .25 (could be the Prime, we have chloramines in our tap water), Nitrites have dropped to 0 after spiking to 5.0 for a few days, and Nitrates are now testing about 10 daily, and staying there.
<So; this system s/b cycled>
The temp stays at 80F. I am getting a little algae growth on the resin ornaments, but also a rust/orange colored
growth, neither of which is tall, just barely noticeable.
<Perhaps diatoms, dinoflagellates... maybe Cyanobacteria though. Can ascertain with a look at a sample and low/er power scope>
It doesn't worry me,
though I've never seen any growth of that color before. I have reduced the water changes to every 3-4 days, and now am only doing a water change of 25% or so each time, the amount depending on the water test numbers.
The surviving fish (2 Albino Corys, 4 Kuhli Loaches, 2 Glowlight Tetras) were acting healthy, moving about, searching for food, just a week or so ago, but now they are mostly hiding again, the tetras are pale, and I've noticed a fine gray dust all over the plants. Yesterday I gently "shook" the plants with the siphon during the water change, to help remove the sediment, if that is what it is. I also took the sponge off the filter intake, and rinsed it out thoroughly. There was a lot of "dust" in it.
<Cycling die-off mostly... some inorganic precipitation>
Today I noticed the "dust" is all across the back of the tank, almost as if it's attached to cobwebs on the glass, moving in the water currents. A lot of this dust is back on the sponge I have over the filter intake, and on the plants as well. I have attached photographs to illustrate.
<Decomposition?>
The water smells "fine", no "dead fish" smell.
<Still...>
I have been feeding literally 2-3 flakes of fish food, and 3-4 shrimp pellets daily, and some nights I add an algae wafer after the light goes off. The food is always gone in the morning.
<I'd cut this back to half for now>
What do you think is this gray dust, and what do I need to do, if anything?
<As above; and I'd keep doing the shake, siphoning...>
Sorry for the length of this email, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible to help you to determine the source of the "dust".
<Again, sampling, scoping will/would help... adding more circulation, filtration if you have it (perhaps a canister filter)>
Thank you, again.
Lor
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled      11/21/16

Good Afternoon Crew/Bob:
<Howdy Lor>
Here are my answers to your questions from yesterday:
> <Ah good; perhaps you'll join us one day>
Would love to, but I don't see a "join" option, anywhere on the site.
Perhaps it does not show on a mobile device? :(
<<Ah, was referring to you joining the WWM Crew responding to queries!>>
> <These are good clues... five year set up, white (chemically inert, likely
> silicate) sand... poor Java Moss growth... Need data re your water
quality,
> what you use as a routine for fertilization....>
I have never used fertilizer, everything grows beautifully, except the Java moss.
<<Do you have sufficient iron?>>
I have my lights on a timer for 13 hours a day. I have a single fluorescent bulb: brand name FloraSun, 17 watt, T8. It says 5000K, high intensity in blue and red on the package (yes, I kept the cardboard sleeve).
> <What sort of hardness (KH, GH) do you have here; in your system and source
> water?>
I did a KH test today, before and after a 20% water change, and both times the second drop of solution turned the sample yellow, or a 35.8 ppm KH reading, as per the instructions. The tap water reading is the same. I do not have a GH test kit. Yet.
<<I see>>
> <Decomposition?>
> The water smells "fine", no "dead fish" smell.
> <Still...>
During today's 20% WC, I siphoned the dust off of intake sponge and the plants, also shaking them to see if a dead loach could be found. I also checked all the ornaments, saw 2 live Kuhli loaches, but no evidence of deceased fish. The other fish are all accounted for. In the past I have thought that my loaches had died, but they always turned up alive during a
"deep cleaning". They may be under the sand.
<<I would stir, vacuum about half the tank sand per week>>
As per your suggestion, I will cut back a little on the food. I do skip feeding the fish for a day here and there.
<<Good>>
> <Again, sampling, scoping will/would help... adding more circulation,
> filtration if you have it (perhaps a canister filter)>
I have only the Marineland 200, and the two air-stones.
Would a powerhead help? Or should I bite the bullet and invest in a canister?
<<I'd add either one>>
The closest decent LFS is an hour's drive from where I live, and I doubt Petco/PetSmart do scoping. Suggestions?
<<Mmm; there are some inexpensive microscopes... digital, USB drive... made for children to adults... Some are reviewed (by me, others) on WWM>
Thank you, again!
Lor
<Thank you for your further sharing. BobF>

Re: Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled     11/22/16
Good Afternoon Crew/Bob:
<Howdy Lor>
Here are my answers to your questions from yesterday:
> <Ah good; perhaps you'll join us one day>
Would love to, but I don't see a "join" option, anywhere on the site.
Perhaps it does not show on a mobile device? :(
<<Ah, was referring to you joining the WWM Crew responding to queries!>>
> <These are good clues... five year set up, white (chemically inert, likely
> silicate) sand... poor Java Moss growth... Need data re your water quality,
> what you use as a routine for fertilization....>
I have never used fertilizer, everything grows beautifully, except the Java moss.
<<Do you have sufficient iron?>>
I have my lights on a timer for 13 hours a day. I have a single fluorescent bulb: brand name FloraSun, 17 watt, T8. It says 5000K, high intensity in blue and red on the package (yes, I kept the cardboard sleeve).
> <What sort of hardness (KH, GH) do you have here; in your system and source water?>
I did a KH test today, before and after a 20% water change, and both times the second drop of solution turned the sample yellow, or a 35.8 ppm KH reading, as per the instructions. The tap water reading is the same. I do
not have a GH test kit. Yet.
<<I see>>
> <Decomposition?>
> The water smells "fine", no "dead fish" smell.
> <Still...>
During today's 20% WC, I siphoned the dust off of intake sponge and the plants, also shaking them to see if a dead loach could be found. I also checked all the ornaments, saw 2 live Kuhli loaches, but no evidence of deceased fish. The other fish are all accounted for. In the past I have thought that my loaches had died, but they always turned up alive during a
"deep cleaning". They may be under the sand.
<<I would stir, vacuum about half the tank sand per week>>
As per your suggestion, I will cut back a little on the food. I do skip feeding the fish for a day here and there.
<<Good>>
> <Again, sampling, scoping will/would help... adding more circulation, filtration if you have it (perhaps a canister filter)>
I have only the Marineland 200, and the two air-stones.
Would a powerhead help? Or should I bite the bullet and invest in a canister?
<<I'd add either one>>
The closest decent LFS is an hour's drive from where I live, and I doubt Petco/PetSmart do scoping. Suggestions?
<<Mmm; there are some inexpensive microscopes... digital, USB drive... made for children to adults... Some are reviewed (by me, others) on WWM>
Thank you, again!
Lor
<Thank you for your further sharing. BobF>

UPDATE: Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled
Good Morning WWM Crew:
<And to you, too.>
It's been a week since I LAST received your assistance (thank you!!!), so I thought I'd give you an update. The sediment issue has cleared up! Yes!
<Good news.>

One factor might have been the air stone that I decided to replace. It appeared to have dark growth on one edge, but turned out to be crumbling, slimy. I don't recall having that happen to an air stone before.
<Hmm... does depend on the type, and some do seem, shall we say, biodegradable.>
The Java Moss is growing back (!) from a few shreds still attached to a resin object. Apparently they were "not quite dead".
<Indeed.>
The other plants (Java fern, Anubias) had some darkened leaves, brown, almost black, and brittle, which I have removed. I suspect this is from the pH crash/ammonia issues, or perhaps from the salt water "swish" I gave them when I broke down the tank several weeks ago. They do show new growth, so I am not concerned at this point. I will continue to observe.
<Quite so.>
The water parameters are holding somewhat steady, though the pH still has a tendency to inch down into the 6.6 or lower range:
Ammonia .25
<Higher than it should be; do review stocking, feeding frequency, amount of biological media available.>
Nitrites 0
<Good.>
Nitrates 10-20 (I do a water change of at least 25% at 20+)
<Sounds fine.>
I do believe the continued Ammonia reading is due to my use of SeaChem Prime. I have been testing the water daily, and add a teaspoon of Neutral Regulator (1/3 of the dose for my tank size) when the pH drops to 6.6, to keep it from going lower.
<pH drops tend to be down to low carbonate hardness, so review this. Adding a pH buffer can help here, though adding a small amount of carbonate hardness in the form of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is cheaper and easier. Something like a quarter to half a teaspoon per 20 litres/5 US gallons should be about right. Try a bucketful of water, and see how much it takes to get a carbonate hardness around 3-5 degrees KH. Otherwise, if you want to keep soft water fish that like acidic conditions, then simply add pH buffer that "fixes" the pH at either 7 or 6.5, depending on the needs of your fish.>
As NR is phosphate-based, I have added a two hour "nap" (off) to the light timer during the day, to help keep the algae growth under control. This method has worked for me in the past.
<Me too.>
I made the 45 mile (one way, about an hour) drive to a very good LFS yesterday, a family-run business that is in their 3rd generation (now 50 years!). Their tests of my water sample revealed the following:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10
Hardness 75
<Quite soft water.>
Alkalinity 40
<Ah, this is very low.>
pH 6.8
<Which explains the low pH.>
I did not think to ask her about iron, sorry.
QUESTION: what do you think of the Hardness and Alkalinity results?
<See above.>
Now...a confession, of sorts...I brought home the following, as I'd planned...for the most part...and as I'd researched previously with AqAdvisor (see all my justification? Ha!):
2 Albino Bristlenose Plecos (currently each are <1" long, I meant to buy one, but...)
4 Glowlight Tetras (a total of 6 in the tank now, and they are schooling, woo!!!)
2 Albino Corys (a total of 4 in the tank now, hope they will also school)
1 Kuhli loach (he was all by himself at the store, he now has 2-4 buddies, somewhere in the sand)
5 Olive Nerite snails
Vallisneria grass (I was told to lower the tank temp to 76F, as this plant tends to "melt" at 80F, am in the process of lowering it)
<Vallisneria doesn't like soft water either, so wouldn't be my recommendation here. I'd suggest one of the Crinum species, such as Crinum thaianum if you want something with long leaves, or else an Aponogeton species, though these are pretty much annuals under aquarium conditions.>
With all these additions, AqAdvisor says I have "satisfactory" filtration, but since you suggested it, I have been contemplating adding a small canister as a supplement to my OTB. I have read your section on canisters, but would appreciate your input on the idea of adding one to my setup, brands to avoid, etc. I saw a simple canister on Amazon.com, here:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000YJ0M1E/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
<Seems a nice system, and VERY cheap. But to be honest for 10-20 gallon tanks, I find internal canisters from a reputable manufacturer better bets.
Easier to clean, use, and in the case of Fluval and especially Eheim, availability of spare parts is very simple. The Eheim Aquaball series for example is great value and runs very well.>
For your convenience I'm including our previous communication below, remove as you like.
And thanks for the "join" invite. I don't feel at all qualified to give much advice except maybe to total newbies ;) but maybe later on...
Lor
<Indeed. Glad to help, Neale.>

Re: UPDATE: Sediment Issues -Old Tank, Newly Cycled       12/1/16
Neale (and Crew):
<Lor,>
Just letting you know, as per your suggestion, I found and ordered a new Eheim Aquaball 2208 internal canister for 30 USD on EBay. :)
<Cool. Nice little filter.>
I plan to try the baking soda buffer method you mentioned, just did not get to it over the weekend:
QUESTIONS: If my KH test turns yellow after the second drop of solution, which is about 38-40 alkalinity, how does this equate to the 3-5 "degrees" KH that you mentioned, above?
<All this is on WWM and elsewhere; would direct you here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
Where you will find a table for interconverting degrees KH into equivalent mg/l quantities of calcium carbonate (or more rarely, calcium oxide - check the units on your test kit). For sure 38-40 mg/l would be very low carbonate hardness.>
And what is a pH buffer "fix"? The Neutral Regulator? My knowledge of chemistry is solely from researching for my aquariums, so excuse me if I appear dense.
<Fixing the pH is a non-scientific term; it simply means attempting to fix, or steady, the pH at a certain point. In other words, to prevent wild fluctuations. Slight variation is normal and harmless, say, from pH 7.5 to 7.2 between water changes; but dropping from pH 7.5 to 6.5, for example, would be bad.>
Is there any other method to help with the soft water aside from adding baking soda or other buffer such as Neutral Regulator?
<Not really. Acidification happens because fish and plants produce wastes of various kinds that tend to be acidic chemicals. So between water changes, aquaria tend to become more acidic. Inhibiting this is any background alkalinity, alkalinity being chemicals that 'soak up' acidic chemicals, neutralising them, and so preventing acidification from happening. If you have typical chalk aquifer hard water with a high carbonate hardness, then the alkalinity is so great that any and all acidic molecules will be mopped up between water changes. So hard water tanks usually have a very stable pH. But if you have (or choose to use) soft water, such alkalinity is absent. That makes such tanks prone to pH drops between water changes. Of course acidification happens at a rate proportional to the amount of livestock and the frequency of water changes, so lightly-stocked tanks that get frequent water changes may experience little by way of a pH drop. Still, most aquarists keeping soft, acidic systems will stabilise pH by using a commercial pH buffer (often called
Discus buffer after the fish kept this way most often). These use a weak acid, phosphoric acid (if I recall correctly), to act as the buffer, fixing the pH at 6.5 or 6.0, depending on the formulation. Alternatively, if you're keeping a mixed community tank and don't need particularly acidic conditions, adding a little sodium bicarbonate can do the trick, usually
fixing the pH around 7.2-7.5 if used in small quantities. Some experimentation will be required to find the exact number of teaspoons needed for your water, but such an approach is cheaper than commercial buffers so favoured by those who aren't keeping specialist fish like Discus or Cardinals that need acidic water.>
I've read that adding crushed coral can help. I have some in the aquarium in a mesh bag, and it has shrunk over the last year or so. If it does help, could I put some in the canister or OTB filter?
<Crushed coral is basically calcium carbonate, so again, raises carbonate hardness. The problem here is that coral dissolves very slowly (it may take weeks before any measurable effect) and that in turn makes using crushed coral unpredictable (you can add a lump and find a couple weeks later the pH has gone as high as 8.0). Consequently, adding crushed coral, seashells, and coral sand are viable approaches in tanks where a high pH isn't a
problem, even desirable, but not the best way to handle mixed species community tanks. In other words, fine for Mbuna, Tanganyikans, Central Americans and livebearers, but not appropriate where tetras, barbs, and catfish are being kept.>
Also, I've read that increasing aeration will help remove CO2 and increase the pH.
<Correct, but only matters if you're adding a lot of CO2 to the system. CO2 dissolves in water to form carbonic acid, while bubbling or splashing the water causes the carbonic acid to break down into CO2 again and 'evaporate' into the air. Managing pH this way is irrelevant to most aquarists because CO2 concentration in the water is never very high. But folks keeping planted tanks where they *add* CO2 from external cylinders or generators may cause the water's pH to drop more than it should, so getting the balance between water movement and CO2 fertilisation is important.>
True? If so, adding the internal canister might help, hmm? Thanks again for all your help.
Lor
P.S. Truncate previous message below as needed.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Hello and Thank You. FW maint.; plt sel.      11/2/16
Dear Neale,
<Maria,>
You probably do not recognize my name or email address but you have been in correspondence with my husband Tom Sisk.
<Yes; do recall.>
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support in setting up our aquarium tanks. It was quite a struggle until you pointed us into the right direction with the filters. Without this guidance I would have given up.
Daily water changes and dying fish was just getting too much.
<Oh boy, yes!>
That is history. No more ammonia, no nitrite just the pesky nitrate. I do water changes once weekly now with nitrates hovering around 10 ppm.
<This sounds much easier to manage.>
We have 6 pretty big baby mollies, big enough to swim around with the big girls. (Big girls equals 5 female mollies; also one male platy named Max; one Pleco of undetermined gender called Harvey). Yesterday I saw a couple of very young fray. Strangely enough they look black even though we do not have a black Molly. We will see...
<Indeed! Being hybrids, Molly offspring can be unpredictable, even more so if you buy adult females that might have mated with males other than the ones in your aquarium.>
Also got my sword, Fred, two female companions which together with the nitrate leads to the question about floating plants. Do you have a recommendation in regards to floating plants fit for a 20g tank and a pretty high pH of 8.2?
<The two I'd look at first are Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) and the floating form of the Indian Fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides). Sometimes the latter is sold in the non-floating form that has fine, ferny leaves rather than the flat, floating leaves we're after. Don't worry, although the finely divided, fern-like leaves won't be happy and may die back, they'll be replaced with the proper floating form. Trim any above-the-waterline fine ferny leaves that appear, and you'll mostly get a lovely green mass of floating leaves extended a couple of inches below the waterline. I like these two species because they do well under aquarium hoods. Most other floating plants get "burned" under the lights, and don't thrive. But these two species are pretty good.>
(The mollies, Max and Harvey share the 38g tank. Fred, his two girls, four Fabio's, and Junior, the Pleco live in the 20g tank. Both tanks are well within the 1 inch fish per gallon rule at least for now. )
<Quite so. Long term though, Bristlenose Plecs are better choices for tanks below 55 gallons; whereas Common Plecs really need more than 55 gallons, if not 75+.>
Regards, Maria
<Thanks for writing back, and glad you're enjoying the hobby! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hello and Thank You      11/2/16

Thank you, Neale. I will check out the plant suggestion.
<Cool.>
One clarification: both Plecos are Bristlenose. I just do not know whether the are female or male. I am suspecting they are both female because they do not have pronounced bristles.
<Understood, and thanks for the clarification. Most people who say "Plec" or "Pleco" are describing the big Pterygoplichthys species. So it's good to know you're keeping the much smaller Ancistrus. Sexing isn't too hard for
adults, but young specimens of either sex can be lacking in the bristle department! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hello and Thank You; FW pH      11/6/16

Dear Neale,
Would you be able to guide me in regards to my pH? Currently it seems to stabilize around 8.2. would you recommend lowering the pH or should I leave it alone? Also, are weekly water changes of about 20% too much?
Regards, Maria
<Hello Maria. You'll need to remind me what you're keeping. Hardy community fish will be better at pH 8.2 than they would be experiencing unstable pH levels, so by default, do nothing. Indeed, livebearers, goldfish, rainbowfish and other "hardness-loving" species will be perfectly content at pH 8.2; the hardier barbs, tetras, danios and catfish will be okay,
though unlikely to breed or perhaps live quite so long. Adding pH-down products is a big no-no because they create unstable conditions. But if you have the facility to mix very hard tap water 50/50 with, say, rainwater or deionised water, you will probably end up with medium hardness water with a pH around 7.5. This is what I do (using rainwater because it's free and plentiful in the UK) and most, perhaps all standard community species will thrive at 10 degrees dH, pH 7.5. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Hello and Thank You. FW maint.       11/7/16

Dear Neale,
<Maria,>
I have two tanks:
20 gallon: 3 swordtail, 4 danios, one Bristlenose.
<Swords, Platies and Mollies absolutely fine at pH 8.2. Farmed Danios will probably be okay, and ditto Bristlenose cats. If it was going to harm either species, it will do so within a few weeks of introduction. If you've had them a year or more, they're probably fine.>
40 gallon: mollies , one platy, and one Bristlenose.
Met a guy yesterday who thought 8.2 was too high and I definitely should not change 20% of water every week.
<Discuss with this guy the best way the two of you can control (reduce) hardness. Changing the pH directly is POINTLESS. Fish don't really "feel" pH; they feel the osmotic affect of the total dissolved solids (TDS). For sure pH is related to TDS, and the higher the TDS, the higher pH tends to be. But if you get a high pH reading on your test kit, your next step is to check the general (at minimum) and carbonate hardness (ideally). Likely your have what we call "liquid rock", water with a very high TDS, which translates as very high general and/or carbonate hardness. Probably both, because carbonate hardness is the one that raises pH the most. Your fishkeeping friend needs to discuss with you the best ways to reduce hardness given your budget, time, mobility, etc. Simply adding a pH-down product is NOT the answer, though pretty much every pet shop will gladly sell you such products.>
Ammonium is 0 to trace, nitrite is 0, nitrates go up to 30 ppm during the week. I am probably feeding a bit more than I should.
<All sounds fine. Fish care most immediately about water quality and temperature; water chemistry is somewhat secondary, and oddly enough, hard water fish resent low hardness more noticeable (more quickly) than soft
water fish resent high hardness. What tends to happen is hard water fish in soft water simply get sick (fungus, Finrot, etc) and die quickly. Soft water fish in hard water may or may not thrive, and exhibit shorter lifespans and a failure to breed. Of course this refers to "hardy" soft water fish like farmed Corydoras and Angels rather than the super-sensitive species such as Ram Cichlids and wild-caught Cardinals.>
Regards, Maria
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Hello and Thank You      11/7/16

Neale, thank you for the reassurance.
<Welcome.>
I will continue what I have been doing: leave the pH alone and change my water every week or ten days. The danios have been in the tank from the beginning (about 10 months) and have survived high ammonium and nitrite.
They seem to be doing fine, active, hungry.
<Cool.>
The Bristlenose Plecos have been in the tanks at least three months or more, they are active and eating like there is no tomorrow. Very protective of their zucchini. All seems to be fine and I would hate to start changing all over.
<I agree with your analysis.>
Money is not a problem but time is. I am a professional project manager and my time is very valuable as there is not a lot. The water is hard, I know that, but I could get one of those kits to get an actual number.
<Useful; meantime, just "carry on" with what you're doing. If you're fishkeeping properly, it should be very low impact in terms of time and money. It's only expensive and time-consuming if things are going amiss!>
Next purchase will be an assassin snail. The 40g is overrun by snails....
<Ah, yes. Very useful little animals. But do physically remove as many snails as possible first. Assassin Snails are much better at keeping small snail populations suppressed than destroying large populations.>
Maria
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Hello and Thank You      11/7/16

Neale, read your article about snails. We have gravel in the aquarium, does this mean that the assassin snail will not work for us?
<Assassin snails will live in tanks with gravel, but they might need extra hiding places (such as hollow ornaments) because they like to hide out of sight a lot of the time. I keep some in a tank with slate chippings and they're fine.>
Regards, Maria
<Cheers, Neale.>

HOB filters in 55 gallon tank off since July 13th      8/5/16
Hi,
<Jas>
I figured this might be a less conventional question.
My AquaClear 70 HOB, Cascade 150 HOB, Odyssea 130 Hang on the back Canister
Filter, and CAP-1200 Internal Filter have been off since July 13th, leaving only my other Internal Filter as the only filter running (since the HOBs were damaged in an electrical fire while the CAP-1200 got clogged up). Do you think this could cause any potential problems in regard to bacteria infections and other diseases?
<Mmm; other factors may well be important... stock/ing, foods/feeding, water changes and other maint. procedures....>
It seems now my 9 or 10 inch Tilapia has hole in the head (Hexamita) as of 7-10 days ago. Will the bacteria in the
HOB filters die off while the filters are not running.
<In time yes; die back population wise, out entirely w/o water>
How quickly will they die off?
<A pretty standard pop. curve for Monerans... quickly at first... ninety some percent w/in a day....>
The media in my AquaClear 70 in particular may have gotten a little dry (since I had to take out the motor unit a few times to take photos of it to send to the manufacturer) so some of the bacteria in there probably died.
Thanks,
Jason
<Will repopulate about as quickly. I'd add, fire up at least one, some redundant filtration/filter here. Increase maintenance otherwise. Bob Fenner>

newly cycled tank, fungus, low NO3     6/12/16
Neale,
Thank you very much! I'll start with the Ancistrus and get some Amazon Frogbit or water sprite, even though algae has yet to rear its ugly head.
<Glad to help.>
I do have a follow-up question, if I may. There is quite a bit of white fuzz growing on the rotting food and, to a lesser extent, on the bogwood. I presume this is some sort of fungus. Attached is a photograph of it growing on some crab meat; a few Betta pellets and grains of sand are entangled in the fuzz.
<Likely fungus and/or bacteria. Quite predictable where "fresh" wood is used. Not a problem in itself, but will add to the bio-loading the filter has to deal with. So best to remove such wood, allow to rot elsewhere, e.g., in a bucket in the garden for a few months, then use. Or else chuck out and use something pre-cured. Wood from the beach is usually good.>
Strangely, despite six weeks of cycling without a water change, nitrates tested this morning (using an API liquid test kit) at less than 5 ppm. They were at 5 ppm when I first used the liquid kit five days ago and appear to have gone down, despite an average of 50 Betta pellets per day having been dropped into the tank in the meantime. Ammonia and nitrates are zero.
<Agreed; odd. I would certainly give the tank a thorough clean and complete water change. I'd check the filter and rinse the media in tap water of the same temperature as the aquarium. I'd siphon out any/all of this fungus and uneaten food. But then I'd assume the filter had cycled by now, and act accordingly. Zero ammonia and nitrite are what you expect from a mature tank at this stage.>
I'm not sure what is going on, which makes me a bit nervous about putting fish in the tank. It seems unlikely that the plants are consuming all the nitrogenous waste themselves. Could the fungus be consuming the nitrogenous waste and turning it into more white fuzz?
<Possibly, but I don't know. They're saprotrophic, and these organisms usually break down complex organic compounds and release CO2 and ammonia ions in exchange.>
If so, should I be concerned about this?
<See above; I wouldn't be overly concerned provided ammonia and nitrite have been zero for some days, weeks at this point.>
Again, thank you for your help.
Matt
<Going forwards, act as if the tank was being cycled with fish. Add one or two small Ancistrus, feed sparingly, and don't feed at all if ammonia or nitrite rise above zero. Cheers, Neale.>

 

Nice to meet you / Question; cloudy FW, slime     2/25/16
Hello Bob,
<Alan>
> Hope this email finds you well. It was so great meeting you at the last tropical fish meeting.
<Ahh!>
> I was wondering if I could pick your brain and see if there is anything you can recommend or point me in the right direction.
<Ok>
There is this fish tank that I have with five zebra Danios in it. The fish look fine but all around the cable of the heater, suction cups and around the walls of the tank there's this very fine layer of cloudy film. Water is cloudy too. I have done water changes but The problem remains. I've left the water alone and the problem still remains.
<Yes; have occasioned such "growths" over the years; as have others>
It's been months so I don't believe this is a bacterial bloom.
<A mix of Protists, Monerans...>
I have asked my fellow aquarists only to get mixed opinions. I was wondering if you recommend that I take a sample of this film with a swab and look it under a microscope.
<Yes! A sample scraped by the tilted edge of a glass slide, this smeared on to the middle of another, then topped w/ a glass slip cover, a drop of water allowed to capillate between... higher power... 400X plus...>
Then again, I don't have a microscope and I don't know what I should be looking for. Can you please help me? What can I do?
<Call around the local LFS; ask if they have such a 'scope, service... Otherwise, there are a few approaches to speeding up the "cycling" of such life. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/cloudywaterfw.htm>
Regards,
> Alan

Keeping tank water in a good condition. FW maint.         2/5/16
Hi I have a 120ltr tank with 2 Dalmatian Molly's 8neon tetras 3 guppies, 2 female one male, I clean my tank every week and use easy balance to keep the water in good condition, is this enough?
<Alongside an aquarium filter and periodic water changes, should be fine.>
Please advise. The water is very clean, I don't clean the tank ornaments every week as the Molly's like algae, I hope I'm doing ok, the fish seem very healthy and happy, the only problem I have is one of the Dalmatian Molly's is attacking the neons and I'm worried that it will kill them, hoping to hear from you soon,
<Male Mollies can be aggressive, unfortunately. One problem is that Neons prefer different conditions to Mollies, and the two species rarely do well in the same aquarium because of that. Sick Neons are an easy target for aggressive fish because sick Neons become listless and move about very little.>
many thanks, Norma.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

For Neale Monks. FW... fish hlth.... hazy tank...        2/4/16
Hello Neale,
<Byron,>
I am following up on the issue we discussed in late November-December concerning the fish in my 90g tank that were flashing, simultaneous with hazy water. I followed your suggestion of one week with salt and elevated temperature, and as I reported thereafter, that seemed to help. You advised that some flashing might be observed until such time as the gills
were back to normal, so I have been monitoring this over the past few weeks.
The problem still seems to be present. It is three-fold: the water turns cloudy, such as a bacterial bloom; some of the fish remain in the filter stream; some begin flashing.
The barbs are the worst for flashing, but the loaches have begun again.
The barbs remain in the filter stream, as do the Lemon Tetra, but the Congo Tetra seem unaffected. And the water is hazy. All of this happens simultaneously, so there must be a connection.
You will remember that I have previously treated for gill flukes (Prazi-Pro) and ich/velvet (latest was the salt/heat), and used antibiotics over a period of weeks back in September-October to deal with assumed bacterial gill issues. Major water changes seem to help some, but only for a day. I also tore this tank down completely back in October, replacing all wood, filter media and substrate (thinking something might be present in one or more of these). Nothing has worked.
Should I do another salt treatment? Or something else? I am still puzzled as to how the cloudy water fits into this, if it is a parasite; how could a parasite cause cloudy water?
<Not that I'm aware of. Cloudy water means two, maybe three things. The first is silt. Usually happens when a new substrate is used, often sand. A filter aid (flocculant) alongside filter wool fixes this. The second thing is a diatom bloom. Commoner in marine tanks than freshwater to be honest.
But can happen in freshwater. Associated with strong light, lack of higher plant growth, and usually (but not always) unstable water conditions including water quality of course but also chemistry aspects too. Normally fades away but can often come back weeks later. A UV-filter fixes this quite nicely and quickly, but reviewing the causes and acting accordingly can work too. Finally, there are bacterial blooms. Very much associated with unstable water chemistry and varying water quality this is classically a symptom of new tanks. Difficult to tell apart from diatom blooms but often the situations are different. Again, UV can help, but oftentimes bacterial blooms die back when the filter matures or the tank settles down. Because blooms of either type are triggered by environmental factors that can also stress fish, such as fluctuating pH levels, blooms can be
associated with "flashing" behaviour and other signs of stress without actually causing the fish direct harm. Make sense? So I'd be trying to pin down what might not be stable or optimal in the tank, whether pH, hardness, CO2, O2, temperature, light intensity... potentially even periodic exposure to things like direct sunlight, copper in the tap water. The fact the fish
concentrate in the filter flow may suggest they're less than happy -- wild fish in the wrong situation will often try and migrate away, which is essentially what they thing they're doing swimming into the filter flow.>
I await your advice, with appreciation.
Byron.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: For Neale Monks (Bob, know anything about antibiotics to treat marine bacterial blooms?)         2/5/16

<<Mmm; generally not a good idea... better to seek out the reason for the bloom and fix (e.g. too much or improper food, inadequate filtration, circulation...) RMF>>
Thanks Neale, very much.
<Welcome.>
I’ll recap what we worked on previously to address some of the possibles you mention.
<Cool.>
Silt. This issue was occurring with the previous fine gravel substrate, which had been in this tank for over four years when I changed it last October. This flashing/cloudy water issue has been around in this one tank for well over a year now, so I wouldn’t put this down to the newer sand. I don’t like liquid clarifiers but as a last resort a while back I did try Seachem’s Clarity which made things worse for days until I did a water change (the fish didn’t seem too happy with this stuff), but a few weeks later API’s Accu-Clear did clear it overnight. Not sure if this means anything. This cloudiness appears overnight, with perfectly clear water one day, and next morning hazy.
<Which sounds a lot like some sort of bloom. Which... hard to say. Do you have access to a decent light microscope? Diatoms are pretty obvious. Bacteria, less so.>
The temperature is extremely stable in this tank; it has an Eheim Pro II with the heating element, and the temp has never varied more than a decimal place or two (it is set on 24.5 C and it varies from 25.4 up to 25.5).
<Good.>
As for pH, on your advice I have buffered it with aragonite, and it has consistently tested 6.4-6.6 since last November. I no longer test every day since doing so for four weeks showed no fluctuation, and periodic tests since and prior to water changes have been the same. And I have two API test kits so the same result with both. GH is near zero, in all my tanks, and always has been for 15+ years here so I would not assume this an issue in only one tank, suddenly.
<I'm a bit freaked by the idea of zero general hardness whilst using aragonite (presumably to raise carbonate hardness). Your pH is also a lot lower than I'd recommended for casual fishkeeping. Of course, it's ideal for soft water fish, but do bear in mind biological filtration is sub-optimal below 7, and said to be close to nonexistent below 6.>
Copper we eliminated by my using the API Tap Water Conditioner, although I do add some in the Flourish Comprehensive Supplement, but my other 6 tanks are all getting the same dose per volume and with the same tap water and water changes. Last autumn I had stopped all plant additives on advice of someone wondering if there was some sort of chemical interaction, for 2 months, with no impact on the problem.
<How did the plants do?>
The tank is planted, and the plants are doing well, including the floating Ceratopteris cornuta that grows like a weed. I thin it every week during the water change (which is 60-70% of the tank now, normally 50%). Good surface movement from the filter should avoid any oxygen/CO2 issues (?). I sent you a photo last December, and you saw no issue. Another oddity. When I rebuilt this tank, I moved the fish into the 70g which had been running for several years with sand and plants. I had moved out the fish into other tanks (part of a plan to rebuild this and another tank) and as it was then empty of fish, I used it for these. Within a couple days, it too clouded up. Which suggested to me that the fish were “carrying” the problem, though again that makes little sense. ??
I don’t know what has not been investigated to date, but I must be missing something.
Byron.
<You could simply tackle the symptom with a UV steriliser. These work a treat, used correctly. Some people have dosed marine tanks with antibiotics to treat bacterial blooms, so that might be an option as well. Don't know the details myself... Bob? Diatoms tend to settle down as other plants take over, but they can/do flare where something isn't right -- whether directly sunlight, nitrate, phosphate, pH, etc. Hard to pin down given what you've said, but the reality is that bacterial and algal blooms *aren't* normal in stable aquaria. Outside of newly set-up tanks, bacterial blooms simply don't happen in well-run tanks, only ones with serious (usually dead fish-level) problems. Diatoms usually bloom where there's some combination of excess light and excess nitrate, so again, usually not a problem in a healthy tank. One last cause is chemical interactions, typically those following the use of pH buffers, where some type of insoluble chemical (like a precipitate) has been produced, and that floats around the tank because it's too small to settle out. Now, the fact you're using a carbonate hardness buffer but have very acidic conditions surely indicates there's A LOT of chemical reaction going on between acids and bases, so I'd be tempted to phase out the aragonite in favour of a commercial Discus Buffer pitched at the same pH, 6.5, as you've got now. It might well be that the aragonite approach, for some reason, isn't working here, and the Discus Buffer approach will work better. For a start, I'm not sure I'd have recommended using aragonite to maintain a pH below 7; if I did, that was remiss of me. Carbonate hardness is useful in tanks above pH 7, and below pH 7, it's more logical to maintain a low carbonate hardness (say, 1-2 degrees KH) but using a commercial buffer to steady the pH between water changes. Make sense? Cheers, Neale.>
Re: For Neale Monks (Bob, know anything about antibiotics to treat marine bacterial blooms?)         2/5/16

Thanks again Neale. I am about to head out the door, so this will not be detailed but just wanted to respond to a couple things quickly. Will digest this fully tomorrow.
<Cool.>
You did not suggest aragonite. You were wondering if the pH fluctuated. I had said that it has been running around 6.2 to 6.6 in this tank for months, and you said that may or may not be reliable, so I used the aragonite (which I have done some time back, also with dolomite which was better) and it has remained consistent at 6.4 to 6.6, which I am taking to mean the pH is steady and thus not fluctuating causing the problem.
<Indeed; this sort of pH is definitely "within the range" you'd expect in an aquarium. Aragonite, being CaCO3, will primarily affect carbonate hardness.>
I was using Seachem’s Equilibrium for a couple years, to add more hard mineral for the plants, and the GH then was around 6 to 7 dGH. The fish didn’t seem to have any issues. I only stopped this on the advice of another person, re the possible interaction of additives. The flashing and cloudiness was an issue then, for several months, and has not changed since I stopped the Equilibrium last September.
<Understood.>
On the plant response to fewer or no additives, there was a noticeable decline, but not as much as I would have expected. I tested this out in the other tanks too, and have since eliminated the Equilibrium in all tanks, and reduced the liquid fertilizers or re-jigged them. I have no plant issues that bother me. I just want to get whatever is in this tank resolved. I just cannot figure out why it is only this tank, or more exactly, only this group of fish, that are having this issue. I have several smaller tanks with a pH around 5, or lower perhaps, can’t measure below 5, and zero GH/KH, and the fish are thriving, spawning all over the place. I’m raising pygmy Corys and Farlowella vittata, and fry of several species from pencils to tetras to Corys appear regularly, those that survive egg predation anyway, or get trapped in the canister filter and are rescued.
<All sounds great!>
More later, must dash. B.
<Cheers, Neale.>
For Neale Monks (and Bob Fenner)      2/6/15

Neale (and Bob, since you were brought into this discussion by Neale):
[Neale]: You could simply tackle the symptom with a UV steriliser. These work a treat, used correctly. Some people have dosed marine tanks with antibiotics to treat bacterial blooms, so that might be an option as well. Don't know the details myself... Bob?
<I prev. responded to this. Would NOT use anti-microbials...>
I could buy a UV unit,....
<UV use is covered completely on WWM. Are you able to use the search tool or indices? B>

Re: Geophagus suraminensis bullying Geophagus winemilleri... Other       2/17/15
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I bought some giant Hikari algae wafers...I already have a bag of carnivorous catfish pellets at home, but I never opened it. I guess I could use it too.
<Surely.>
I found some duckweed growing in a planted tank at my LFS, so they gave me it for free. I also bought a breeding net to let it grow out in the tank for now (I can't put it outside quite yet--the temperature dropped abruptly into the 50s this morning). What concerned me about bugs laying eggs in the bucket outside is breeding mosquitoes. There's West Nile virus in Houston, and it spreads via mosquitoes. If I cover the bucket with plastic wrap and punch air holes in it, would that be okay, or would it block out some wavelengths important to the plants?
<Would work, but overheating is a risk without a breeze of air across the water. Worth a shot though!>
I have an under gravel plate in my tank by default (since I have an under gravel filter) and there's no ammonia or nitrite in my tank in spite of all the Geophagus' digging, so I don't think the digging will cause the bottom
of the tank to give out or crash the bio filter. I'm more worried about one of the rocks tipping over and trapping him...but I guess I can just move the gravel level under the rocks again.
<Indeed, or replace the plants with more stable, less weighty objects such as hollow ceramic rocks or bogwood roots.>
Thank you,
Lynnie
P.S. I think I'll send you any more questions in a separate thread from now on...it's not really about one Geophagus bullying another right now anymore.
<Bob F. will be most relieved! Cheers, Neale.><<Ah yes. B>>

waste sediment forming too quickly on aquarium ornaments       1/6/15
I recently had to change to a new power filter when my old one died. The inlet tube doesn't extend as far down into the tank as the previous one but the outlet pressure from the spray bar is a lot stronger.
I have a problem now with waste sediment coating the plastic plants and ornaments in the tank (Pleco ate all the real plants).
<What they do; and part of alls' purpose>
I didn't have this problem before, now I seem to be cleaning the ornaments after about a week.
The gravel on the bottom of the tank is cleaner though with almost no waste on it.
What can I do to prevent the waste forming so quickly on the plastic plants and ornaments? Why the change?
<Did you change food/s? Likely something to do with the "balance" afforded by having the/some live plants before. I'd look into getting/having some simple ones that aren't as palatable... like Hornwort/Ceratophyllum... see WWM re>
Advice please
Regards
AK
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

simply checking in...
and wishing you and yours lovely surprises throughout the coming year!
I have missed our fishy chats.        12/21/14  Note: make chatting page
<Oh! Well, they're not precisely what the WWM Daily FAQ is all about, but for you, I'll make an exception...>
The only news here is that Skingo, one of two ghost shrimp, was visible on Sunday night and not on Monday morning. There were no remains. I cannot understand what happened, unless it was just his time.
<Indeed. I tend to keep shrimps as a population, focusing on reproduction and mortality rather than specific individuals. But I understand not all shrimps breed in aquaria, so that isn't always an option.>
I *have* re-introduced treated tap water (1/2 gallon out of 2, each weekly change). And, in error, I had cleaned out the plastic piece which sits in front of the carbon filter. (I have the system that came with the 15 gallon tank - a Tetra Whisper that sits outside the tank) I was looking on line that day and saw that one is not to do this as it may cause a spike in ammonia.
In a bit of a panic, I ran over to my most excellent fish consultant who tested the water thoroughly and determined that all was well. So, I don't know if Skingo found this combination overwhelming, er... what... In any event, I was sad.
<Indeed.>
On a happier note, I see that our Japanese mates have discovered a fantastic new fish in the Mariana Trench at the new depth-for-life of 26,000 ft + below ! It is white and thought to be of the snailfish family....we know nothing of what is...
<Is indeed a remarkable fish. More curious yet that some Liparidae live in tidepools. So while exclusively marine, their depth range is astonishing.>
The movement of this fellow is mesmerizing. Like tissue paper. Do have a look. So beautiful! And such a charming face...like a puppy...
<Do look into temperate zone marine fishkeeping. An underrated branch of the hobby. But the variety of livestock is amazing, and if you're able to collect your own, you can build fascinating collections of fish and invertebrates for not a lot of money. I think you'll find Blennies especially charming if you like Liparids.>
Happy Holidays to you and yours Neale, and be well...
The Best,
Grace
<Merry Christmas to you too, Grace! Neale.>

Methane buildup       12/16/14
Hi there. I have a 200 gallon goldfish tank, with about 2 to 3 inches of sand for substrate. I have heard here in there about problems with methane build up
<Mmm, usually hydrogen sulfide... but...>
in the sand and I am wondering what is your suggestion I do to prevent this? I don't want my fish dying due to a methane build up. Thank you so much for your help!
Lindsey
<Right; all you need to is when doing regular (weekly) maintenance, is gravel vacuum the tank during water changes... Yep; vacuuming to waste the water while systematically going through the gravel... about 20-25% of the water.
Cheers and happy holidays. Bob Fenner>

What on earth is this thing? (BOB, any ideas?)<<Not much... exogenous... looks like a toy dropped in the tank. B>>     11/18/14
Hello crew!
Today I was looking in my freshwater tank (which is stocked with mollies, balloon mollies, danios and an Opaline gourami) when I noticed this very strange growth on a decoration. It is a yellow color, and its...weird. I've
never seen one before. What could it be? It doesn't resemble any algae I've ever seen. In fact, it looks rather anemone-like despite the freshwater, being bubbly and seemingly soft.
<Really not sure. It's pretty whatever it is! I don't think it's a Hydra-type Cnidarian; it looks too big for that. My instinct is some sort of fungus, but these normally appear in freshwater tanks only on decaying organic matter, typically uncured wood. I've asked Bob for a second opinion here. I wouldn't be too worried as its unlikely to be dangerous to your fish, but you might want to remove it anyway, perhaps place it in a jam jar of water on a windowsill for a while to see if it "does" anything. Does it have a distinctive smell or texture?>
I have trumpet snails, as well, but again- in all the years I've had them, I've never seen this before. Could it harm my tank? I just had a tremendously painful loss of my beloved scat due to sudden temperature shock, thanks to heater failure and a bitterly cold night.
<Was the Scat in this tank? Scats are brackish/marine fish and won't do well otherwise. They're normally very hardy fish kept in brackish/marine conditions.>
My heart is already broken; I can't stand another loss. I have attached photos of the "thing" for your reference.
Thank you!
<Welcome, Neale.>

cropped, enlarged, optimized

Re: What on earth is this thing? (BOB, any ideas?)      11/19/14
I haven't noticed this "thing" move at all; its stationary. What's weird is the decoration its on isn't wood at all, its standard tank decor. As for my scat, no, he wasn't in this tank. He was in a different, brackish setup and
got horrible temperature shock. I though maybe he'd pull through when I began raising the temperature slowly, but sadly he didn't. I'm still at a loss about it. I'll keep an eye on this thing and see what it does, if anything. Thanks, though! Let me know if anyone gets any ideas.
Tori
<Cool. Would remove, smell, examine, think carefully before returning. If "alive" perhaps putting in a floating breeding trap would be safer? Neale.>

ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!   /RMF       10/10/14
Please help! Love you guys! Please let me know what you think.
Thanks!!!!!!!
I have a very stable 6 gallon freshwater tank with 3 invertebrate, 2 pygmy Corys and 3 moss balls (no snails). Nothing new added in last 6+ months or more ... I don't have my current tank parameters as my local fish store checks my water weekly so I can avoid amateur fishkeeping issues that I've experienced so far. R/O water with a pinch of SeaChem equilibrium for the moss balls and shrimp shell shedding (I have "soft acidic" water).
Everything is always great when they check my parameters (my Betta didn't like the bigger tank that I got him unfortunately so I'm stuck leaving this as a dedicated empty tank to transfer him into when I travel). I minimally feed the tank 2 times/week (catfish pellets & algae pellets) and clean up after 20 minutes.
1) Pest #1: Can you identify if these are copepods or daphnia or seed shrimp?
<Look like what saltwater macro photographers call "lady bugs", Amphipods>

The pygmy Corys were recommended to eat those but they can't get the population down and my weekly cleaning isn't putting a dent in them. LFS said it's a sign of a healthy tank...? Because of the shrimp I don't want to treat the tank. But was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to get rid of these in the future if possible?
<Most any copper medicine treatment... DO pay careful attention to dosing>
I understand that there is a live food benefit for the pygmies so is this a good/minor situation? Would you get rid of them?
<I like their looks... wouldn't get rid of them>
2). Pest #2: The MAJOR issue I'm having now is the TONS of gelatinous, rectangular clumps of ??? floating up from the sand substrate. They don't seem to move at all. They are driving me insane. Over the last few weeks, I have been cleaning the tank with a net at least 3 times/day and I can't get rid of them. Do you know what they are?
<Need a better resolved image>
And what I should do to minimize? I'm working so hard for clear water and I can't achieve it. Because of the 6 gallon size, it's hard to thoroughly vacuum the whole tank before 25% of the water has been removed for my weekly changes. Sometimes they look like they have one long hair coming off one end ... but they don't all look like that. They appear light gray in water but look darker once I pull them out with my net. These pics are the globs in my net. What do I do??? They don't stick to the glass.
<... likely just a thorough cleaning, including gravel rinse/wash. Bob Fenner>
ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
     /Neale       10/10/14
Please help! Love you guys! Please let me know what you think.
Thanks!!!!!!!
I have a very stable 6 gallon freshwater tank with 3 invertebrate, 2 pygmy Corys and 3 moss balls (no snails). Nothing new added in last 6+ months or more ... I don't have my current tank parameters as my local fish store checks my water weekly so I can avoid amateur fishkeeping issues that I've experienced so far. R/O water with a pinch of SeaChem equilibrium for the moss balls and shrimp shell shedding (I have "soft acidic" water).
Everything is always great when they check my parameters (my Betta didn't like the bigger tank that I got him unfortunately so I'm stuck leaving this as a dedicated empty tank to transfer him into when I travel). I minimally feed the tank 2 times/week (catfish pellets & algae pellets) and clean up after 20 minutes.
<Doesn't sound like a lot of food for the poor catfish. Any reason you aren't feeding, say, 5 times a week?>
1) Pest #1: Can you identify if these are copepods or daphnia or seed shrimp? The pygmy Corys were recommended to eat those but they can't get the population down and my weekly cleaning isn't putting a dent in them. LFS said it's a sign of a healthy tank...? Because of the shrimp I don't want to treat the tank. But was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to get rid of these in the future if possible? I understand that there is a live food benefit for the pygmies so is this a good/minor situation?
Would you get rid of them?
<Honestly, the photo is too small/blurry to be sure. But if they move about quickly, perhaps in "hops" before settling down, my guess would be either copepods, isopods or Ostracods.
None of these are harmful, indeed, they surely are an indicator of pretty good water quality. Some will be being consumed by your Corydoras and Shrimps, but mostly they'll be doing a useful service clearing up the substrate and eating up algae. Absolutely nothing to worry about. If they aren't move, or if they do, it's so slow you only notice from day to day that they're not in the same place, then Hydra is a possibility, but the shape doesn't look right for that.>
2). Pest #2: The MAJOR issue I'm having now is the TONS of gelatinous, rectangular clumps of ??? floating up from the sand substrate. They don't seem to move at all. They are driving me insane. Over the last few weeks, I have been cleaning the tank with a net at least 3 times/day and I can't get rid of them. Do you know what they are? And what I should do to minimize?
I'm working so hard for clear water and I can't achieve it. Because of the 6 gallon size, it's hard to thoroughly vacuum the whole tank before 25% of the water has been removed for my weekly changes. Sometimes they look like they have one long hair coming off one end ... but they don't all look like
that. They appear light gray in water but look darker once I pull them out with my net. These pics are the globs in my net. What do I do??? They don't stick to the glass.
<Really difficult to say without seeing them in the flesh or at least in a clear, sharp, well magnified photo.
But some possibilities are: (1) Faecal pellets and/or lumps of silt. Obviously harmless, but brisker water turnover rate will help by removing them from the water column before they get stuck to anything else in the tank. Faecal pellets can be easily squished with your fingers and will decompose into tinier fragments. Silt sometimes binds into lumps where there's a source of binding material such as excess fish body slime or large amounts of bacteria including blue-green 'algae'. Obviously neither move or do anything under their own volition, so placing a few in a small, shallow container of water like a watch glass should reveal their non-living status. (2) Hydra. Not completely harmless (a menace in breeding tanks) but generally not a worry, and indeed eaten by many fish (famously, many gouramis and Bettas). Easily identified close up by their tree-like branching structure, tentacles, and very slow
movement.
(3) Freshwater Sponges. Don't move about, but usually have a uniform texture and appearance, unlike faecal pellets. Hold their shape when touched, not easily squished, may even feel gritty and flexible. Harmless, though as filter feeders, if they're a lot of them, it's a sign the water is rich in suspended food particles, which may ring alarm bells for other reasons. (4) Flatworms. Appearance as the name says! Mobile, often move away from light. Can't think of any more off the top of my head! In short, it's unlikely you have a problem here, but reviewing conditions in the tank including filter turnover rate may be helpful. Would remind you that repeatedly doing "deep cleans" can unsettle the tank, making problems worse, especially if plants and/or filter bacteria are disturbed, so a moment of reflection rather than action is worthwhile. Have asked Bob F. if these objects ring any bells for him. Cheers, Neale.>

Insect larvae pouches...?

Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!       10/10/14
Hi Bob, Good evening! Thanks for your fassst response.
<Welcome>
Here are a few more pics of the floating gelatinous crud IN water (pest #2)
... I've tried to use a microscope but there aren't any other defining features.
<There may not be... these could be more of a physical rather than biological phenomenon... though likely have some mix of Protists as principal make up; gluing together>
Do you have a recommendation on your proper "gravel wash" procedure?
<I think there's some posted on WWM. Use the search too there>
I just Googled that and people are doing it all kinds of weird ways. How do I prevent destroying the bacteria in the sand substrate?
<By not being too industrious>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
       10/10/14
I'm ON IT. Thanks again Bob. You ROCK.
<And roll!>

Fwd: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!     10/19/14
Hi Bob, How's your day?!
<Mighty fine, 'cept the weather Kristy. Thanks>
Just checking in on the mystery of my 100's of rectangular gelatinous clumps (don't move) that keep floating up from the sand substrate in an established Fluval 6G freshwater tank ... CLEAR water (except for seed shrimp) and normal water parameters (soft acidic) ... with only 2 pygmy Corys and 3 algae eating shrimp 3 moss balls. Again tank has been minimally fed 2-3x's week for over 4 mth.s due to seed shrimp issue. Neale mentioned
something about how the clumps smash ... if you press your finger on them they disintegrate (smear) and are not spongy.
<Mmm; yes; I saw>
To confirm, you recommended that I wash the sand ... I DID wash the sand with gallons of filtered drinking water (not tap) and then replaced in the tank PLUS 25% water change. IT LOOKED Fabulous. The next am, I noticed the clumps starting to float up from sand substrate again but not as many...YET. So, I took my filter apart and rinsed everything with R/O water which took a TON of "accumulation" out from the bottom of the filter below the sponge ... was careful to just slightly rinse the sponge. Also, rinsed the 3 moss balls in another bowl of R/O water and the water ran clear on them and as they weren't dirty/smelly as some report. I figured all the goop in the bottom of the filter was the culprit. However, now I'm back up to removing via net at least 50 clumps EVERY FEW HOURS (several times a day). They've increased over the week. When I net them out I do not upset the sand substrate as I net around mid-tank level. I have a sponge cover over my filter intake because of the shrimp. Filtration on medium. These clumps float up when the Corys or shrimp pass and when I swing the net around.
What do you think? How do I get rid of this stuff. It's not fecal matter because nothing has changed over past 4+ months. Also, the sand, filter, moss balls, and a few rocks are rinsed. HELP! And thanks again.
<Same as before... perhaps adding another particulate filter (a hang-on power?) will "do the trick" here. Bob Fenner>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!     10/19/14

Ok thank you. I'm confused about how this can develop in an established and now rinsed tank literally overnight. Have a beautiful day !
<I'd still be looking at these zots under a microscope... B>

Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!  Now washing gravel SOP   10/10/14
Hi Bob, Good evening! Thanks for your fassst response.
<Welcome>
Here are a few more pics of the floating gelatinous crud IN water (pest #2)
... I've tried to use a microscope but there aren't any other defining features.
<There may not be... these could be more of a physical rather than biological phenomenon... though likely have some mix of Protists as principal make up; gluing together>
Do you have a recommendation on your proper "gravel wash" procedure?
<I think there's some posted on WWM. Use the search too there>
I just Googled that and people are doing it all kinds of weird ways. How do I prevent destroying the bacteria in the sand substrate?
<By not being too industrious>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
       10/10/14
I'm ON IT. Thanks again Bob. You ROCK.
<And roll!>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?! Washing gravel
Hi There, Thanks again for trying to help me. The reason I don't feed the pygmy Corys more than 2 times/week is because they are constantly eating pest #1 (live food). That's what I was told to do because my tank is filled with what seems to be seed shrimp?
<Are some sort of small crustacean>
And the shrimp don't eat them according to my LFS because they are shrimp-related...and mine eat algae.
Would you please be so kind as to give me a proper link for the correct way to "wash sand substrate in an established freshwater tank?"
<Let me see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/CreatingSWFOAQArt.htm
Scroll down... Though for marine, the operation is the same>
That's what Bob recommended last night and I spent 4 hours reading everyone's various methods and they are all different because people are trying to switch one substrate for a "new" substrate. Not WASH their existing substrate. So, what is the correct method?
<The bucket, freshwater from tap, swishing about by hand... >
Please advise. I cannot find a clear set of directions.
Thanks!
<Welcome. B>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
       10/11/14
Thanks ... To confirm, take Existing sand + bucket tap water & rinse several times then replace in tank? Would you recommend water 25% weekly water change at same time or wait how many days? Thanks again!
And have a stellar day.
<The change is good at this percentage every week; and now with the gravel  wash.>
Re: ARRRRGH PESTS! Rectangular Gelatinous Clumps?!
      10/11/14
Beautiful. Thank YOU!
<Welcome>

Angelfish Repro./ Synodontis eupterus,HLLE, Bacterial or Fungal/ Mystery Spiny Eel ID FW    7/5/14
Greetings WetWebMedia Crew, Hope everyone is having a good weekend out there. I've recently been given a few fish and aquariums. I'm trying to sort out comp. species as they were quite mixed.(although no serious aggression). I first separated out a pair of giant super veil Angelfish, nearly full grown, to a cycled 75g. These fish are lip locking, but not a lot of aggression aside from that. I am hoping they are mating, but cant really tell. One is larger but I cant any see repro. organs. Any tips sexing these fish?
<With Angelfish, when they spawn, that's about the only time you can sex them. Lots of supposed tricks and tips in the books, like the shape of the forehead, but none really works reliably. Male genital papillae are narrower and pointed; female equivalent is shorter, wider and blunter. But these are only visible a few hours (female) to a couple days (male) before spawning, so not particularly useful.>
Also my water supply is "hard" will these fish still breed in such?
<Spawn yes, eggs hatch and fry survive, possibly not. Farmed Angels are more adaptable than wild Angels, but they do breed best in soft water.>
Next I separated a Featherfin Synodontis eupterus, This fish came from a separate tank as angels, and looked a little infected (white along lat line and few other spots on head and body, barbels but not fins. I know a lot of these infections are bacterial, but this looked like fungus. I am unable to send pic, but by species (also this cat came from a tank that was being over fed) what is more likely? Aside from infection and HLLE the cats looks good, very active, good color, intact fins. What are your recommended
treatments?
<Time, good water quality, observation. Synodontis scratch easily, but infections are rare, so unless you're sure there's Finrot or Fungus, hold off medicating.>
The other problem I have is Syno cat (6in and thick) is in quarantine with a 5in giant gourami (very healthy removed from his breeder tank due to violence he was the alpha of the school, 2 month time out). This Syno is stalking the gourami, but not nipping at this point, but none the less freaking out the gourami. I've seen the Syno touch the gourami with barbell but no bite. The Syno has taken a upside down stance when pursuing. Do you think this will escalate?
<May simply be hungry; make sure the Synodontis has enough to eat. Good quality algae wafers and sinking pellets make a good staple for these fish, plus all the usual frozen invertebrates.>
Also this fish came from a tank of golden barbs, should I add them back?
<If you want. Giant Gouramis get huge though, and may eventually view these as food.>
Now the next tank included 2 panda Cory, guppies of all sizes and 2 spiny eels. The tank is heavily planted with smooth rock work and a thick sand bottom. Everything from this tank looked very healthy, it was an outdoor tank, and had a good little ecosystem IMO. I have never cared for spiny eels, although I have researched their care and am quite familiar. My question is I have yet to see these fish, so I'm unsure on species.
<Indeed. Without a description or photo, can't do much to help. The commonest species are Mastacembelus armatus and Macrognathus siamensis, but there are a handful of other species regularly traded as well.>
They were originally sold as "spiny eel" When I moved the tank I left sand and plants intact, only drained 75% of water. Seemed to be a smooth transition as I live close by and used existing water. I have a moonlight LED and have been checking at night periodically. Do you think these fish are so that cryptic to not be seen. I am going on day three, I do have a good cover and hoping they are hiding in sand. These have lived together for 5yrs in a 20g(on the small side, but hate to move, as it is such well planted tank with micro fauna/flora, but I do have unused larger tanks available) . Do you see any conflicts? Thanks guys for the great information and safe fishkeeping. Aloha Brandon
<Spiny Eels range from the gregarious to the territorial, and the larger species are predatory towards bite-size fish. Your main problem will be feeding them, assuming you understand about their need for sand and a tight-fitting hood. Much on WWM about maintenance of Spiny Eels so no need to repeat here. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish Repro./ Synodontis eupterus. HLLE, Bacterial or Fungal/ Mystery Spiny Eel ID FW    7/5/14
Thanks for the quick response Neale. Very good article, Truth about spiny eels by the way. Aloha Brandon
<Most welcome and thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Help Community freshwater tank. Gen. maint. f'        2/7/14
HI,
<Donya>
I am hoping you can help me. Thank you very much for your help and your time. I really appreciate it.  I have a 10 gallon tank. There is about 2- 3 inches of space to the top of the tank. I have an apple snail, Otocinclus and 5 neon tetras. It is a filtered aquarium with 3 different live plants.
<I see these in your pix>
<<Yes; I did not mention, encourage keeping the Otos in a group... the system is too small...>>
 The plants have not been eaten or hurt at all. The fish do not bother the snail and everyone seems to be getting along and doing well. We did not expect all tetras to live this long, so we do realize that it is a bit crowded. So far so good. Our tank maintains 72 degrees temp.
<A bit cool for the Oto; but fine all the way around for what you have>
I have a few questions. Can this combination thrive together based on species?
<Yes>
My snail is white/yellowish color he/she is very active and currently eats the algae wafers we feed the Oto. He is also a climber and is often on the walls and travels around quite a bit. His shell looks to be thinning at the front by his face. I have attached a picture. It is almost become transparent. Is this normal?
<Not abnormal in captivity. Some folks add materials to the tank, water to "harden" it. You can search, read about this practice on WWM>
  Is that new growth or is it thinning? We do not see any cracks or holes in his shell.
<Mostly new growth>
I understand that the snails have calcium requirements and what do you suggest to add calcium to the water if it is determined through a water analyses that we need calcium. 
<From simple Baking Soda to Cuttlebone or such. Again; archived on WWM>
I prefer to add the right food instead of chemicals. We added a slice of blanched cucumber and kale at different times. The kale was not touched, but the Oto loved the cucumber. We did not see any trace that the snail had any.
<There are other vegetables... Zucchini, bits of eggplant...>
The tetras are a happy bunch and seem to take turns swimming through the current of the tank. The filter is strong and pours a nice return stream into the tank and the tetras take turns lining up one by one swimming through it all day long. Its very fun to watch. It makes me think though are they doing this for oxygen? Or for entertainment? Both?
<Life>
Also, where the snail curls to a point, it is very dark inside his shell.
Is this normal?
<Yes>
Please see photo. Much darker there than the rest of the shell. I have assumed this is his body wrapped in the shell. Just want to make sure.
About 72 degrees temp.
Ph 7-8
Hardness 10 or more dH
5 or more kH
<These readings are fine; I would not add chemicals to increase hardness; but simply stick to a regular (weekly) partial water change regimen>
It is very important to me that they have a healthy environment. Any suggestions you have would help a lot.
<Enjoy yourself; keep learning, sharing>
Thank you very much.
Thank you,
Donya F. Smith
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help Community freshwater tank     2/7/14
Thank you so much!
Thank you,
Donya F. Smith
<Ah, welcome. BobF>

Re: Plecos/ and new tank. Now tank temp. and maint...    2/3/14
Okay will do, hay do you know what temp my community should be set at. i
have an angel, some sterbai Corys a pair of Bolivian rams, and a flash
Pleco. I'm going to a fish store today to buy a stick on thermometer.
also
i saw a poop vac at Petland i plan on using it to help keep waste
production from the l204 down. Right now for water changes i change over
50% once a month.
<These are also posted on WWM. Are you unable to find or use the search tool? I would aim for the low eighties F., and change a smaller percentage weekly... AS gone over and over on the site. WWM/we are not a bb... B>

How often should I change the water/ filter maintenance..– 6/24/13
Right now I do about a 50% or more percent water change every Saturday. the fish seems to like it and does well But Kim says this is too much, because of water bills. How much water can you/should you change in a tank And how often?
<Assuming an aquarium is not overstocked and you aren't overfeeding the fish, you should be fine with 25% every week. I deliberately under stock tanks and use lots of fast-growing floating plants, and this keeps nitrate levels very low. As a result, some of my tanks get water changes 3-4 weeks apart. Your own mileage will vary. A lot depends on the fish being kept -- most cichlids for example are much more sensitive to "old" water
(basically, nitrate above 20 mg/l) than common barbs and catfish.>
Also I've not done anything to my sponge filter since i set it up about 4 months ago do I need to clean the filter too. would i kill the good bacteria i really don't want to do that.
<Empty some aquarium water into a bucket, and clean the sponge filter in there. Bacteria will be left alone. In reality filter bacteria are actually quite tough, and even a luke-warm tap shouldn't cause any real problems.
Cheers, Neale.>

FW, reading     5/6/13
Hello again.. i have another question to ask.. ok like i said i have a 500 gallon freshwater fish tank.. Ok well i have added sand to my tank bout 10 days  ago. So at first it was really cloudy but it settled but now it still has a  touch of cloudiness to it... So would you have an idea what could be causing  this . My pump is a 2000 gallon a hr.. so i know my pump are good ones for  the size of my tank.. Thank You for your time again...
<Could be a few things; but most likely particulates and/or incomplete recycling....
Please follow directions: Search, read on WWM ahead of writing us... Start here this time:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cloudywaterfw.htm
BobF>

Easy Balance and cycling questions 10/16/12
Hi folks
<Gordon>
Right, I'll ask the quick one first. I recently bought a new 70 litre tank and it came with whatever Tetra's version of tap safe is, a small tub of food and some mystery product called "Easy Balance" that claims I only need to do water changes once every six months if I use it. It also seems to "stabilise pH and KH". Is this stuff snake-oil, consignable only to the bin or is it worth using it until the bottle is empty? I'm always hesitant to believe extraordinary claims and anything that mucks with my water chemistry makes me uneasy.
<Personally, I'd probably donate it to a local fish club for the next auction. Nothing can replace water changes in my opinion.>
I won't buy any more of it, anyway, since I'm not paying for something that elbow grease can accomplish just as easily, just curious.
<Set up another small tank and play with it if you are curious.>
The purpose of the tank was to set up the Betta Splendens "Sorority" scenario as per this thread (amongst others):
http://www.ultimatebettas.com/index.php?showtopic=12193 
I know it's a risk but I am keeping a really close eye on them and have backup nanos to use as hospital tanks or outright isolation tanks. So far, I've not seen any real open aggression, just a few nips, chases and a bit of flaring. No worse than Danios, so far. Fingers crossed! I've got some lovely specimens too, with some of them really similar in colouration to wild betas.
<Females can often live in a sorority tank. Depends on the individuals.>
Into this new tank went a mature bubbler filter and a new All Pond Solutions 600 litres per hour internal filter.  I rubbed the wetted media from the 600lph over mature filter media from my other tanks. The media from each mature filter was also rinsed in the new aquarium's water with the "pumps running". I want to go with the 600lph since the trick to this setup seems to be slight overstocking to disperse aggression. I thought over filtering might not be a bad plan in this situation!
<Just watch your water currents. Bettas are still water fish.>
I didn't expect the bubbler to keep up with 8 female betas in a 70 litre tank, but I didn't expect it too be too harsh on them either, especially with frequent partial water changes (plan was 10% per day, depending on analysis) and light feeding. Sort of an "assisted" fish in cycle. Well, it seems like the bubbler is keeping up after all, two weeks in and not a jot of ammonia in my daily tests. I'm now feeding normal amounts and doing my standard 20% weekly water change. The issue I have is that I'm not sure how long to leave the bubbler running in parallel with the new filter. Normally I'd set up a tank with a new filter, go fishless and be able to monitor the cycle but this isn't really an option here.
<I have a sponge filter going in all my tanks in tandem with HOB filters, unless I don't want currents, then it's only sponge filters.  I think you can just use common sense here. Just turn it off for a few days and leave it in the tank so you don't lose the bacteria. If trouble starts, turn it back on.>
Just as an aside, so far I really like these internal filters from All Pond Solutions for Betta setups. They come with an optional spray bar that you can adjust the angle of egress on. The spray bar really reduces the force of water and with the outlet holes angled toward the back of the tank it does so even further. I have another smaller one cycling in another tank to use with my male Betta. I can get rid of the ugly home-made baffle on the outside of his internal filter soon. Still, they are dirt cheap, so I'll be interested to see how much life I get out of them.
<Have not used them myself.>
Anyroad, thanks for any advice you can give, both on the new filter cycle issue, the Easy Balance and anything else you might spot that I've overlooked. Also, thanks again for all the help you've given me in the past.
<I think you are right on track.>
Cheers
<Rick>
Re: Easy Balance and cycling questions 10/16/12     10/18/12
Hi Rick
<Gord>
Thanks for your input. I always like an experiment, so I might just do that!
I'll stick the bubbler in it's final destination (a soon-to-be cherry shrimp nano) and once I'm sure the Bettas are fine then go ahead with that.
Thanks again, your advice and reassurance is very much appreciated.
<Let us know how it turns out.>
Cheers
Gord
<Rick>

Oxygen level in sealed tank - 5/9/2012
Hello, I recently ( 4 weeks ago) set up a 102 gal tank (probably 90 gal of water). It is a freshwater setup and I used gravel, decorations and seeded filter from my 55 gallon which I replaced with this new tank. Tank has bulkheads in it so I set up two Fluval 400 series filters. Higher outside corner bulkheads have returns with spray bars, inside lower more centered bulkheads have the intakes set up. Canisters are below tank but within the limit for height, only 12" lift difference between intake and return bulkheads. Tank is acrylic and has plastic tops to seal it.
WWM: Presumably not sealed completely? Air must get in somehow, and likewise power cables for the heater, pipes from the filter.
I have had no issues with water parameters, ammonia and nitrites are 0, nitrates about 10-15, ph is in neutral range. I have the tank lightly planted and only add liquid carbon.
WWM: If the tank is lightly planted, the carbon is probably redundant.
I have two Rena 400's attached to 12" bubble wands that come on when the daytime lights go off. Currently have 1-48" Coralife 10000K bulb and 1-48" 6500K full spectrum.
WWM: How are the plants doing? My guess is indifferently, unless you stick to low-light species. For a tank this size, depth you will probably need 4 tubes the full length of the hood.
Night light is a 36" (puts out a purplish look). Plants I do have are low light - java ferns,
WWM: The ferns at the back look like "umbrella ferns" -- a non-aquatic species with long, thin woody stems and finely-divided leaves. These die underwater.
Vallisneria,
WWM: These prefer bright light.
Anubias and a wisteria.
WWM: Hygrophila difformis? Definitely a bright light species!
I wanted mainly a livestock tank but wanted some live and plastic plants as accents. Mixed 40 lbs of Eco Complete in with existing gravel. Livestock is as follows: 1-8" black ghost (my favourite),
WWM: Difficult to maintain.
3 4" clown loaches,
WWM: May eat plants; do need some green foods to prevent this.
4 Corys, 1 Flagtail porthole catfish (only because I can't find any more to give him company), 7 Rummynose tetras, 3 white skirt tetras, 4 angels, 2 Siamese algae eaters, 1-5" Pleco who I plan on rehoming because of my plants,
WWM: Good!
and my new additions: 2 rope fish ( or reedfish).
WWM: Lovely fish. Difficult to feed though; research thoroughly.
Matured size fish include the ghost, clowns, tetras, and the Flagtail cat, which I have had for several years, other fish will probably do some growing. Have never had an issue with my rummynoses "disappearing" - ghost behaves himself.
WWM: Good.
Due to the rope fish, this tank is sealed pretty tight and I am concerned about oxygen levels given the canister filters. I know that plants help out in lighted hours, and bubble wands in dark hours, but it is pretty much sealed.
WWM: Unlikely the "seal" is enough to keep air out.
The tank dimensions are: 64"L x 15"W x 24"H. Should I be concerned about oxygen levels
WWM: No. But keep the tank understocked and not too warm (definitely not above 25 C/77 F).
- I have about 3" of airspace between lids and water level? Picture is enclosed. Cindy
WWM: Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.
?
Re: Oxygen level in sealed tank - 5/9/2012 Hi Neal,
WWM: Cindy.
Thanks for getting back to me.
WWM: Most welcome.
I am addressing the issues you pointed out. There is one 1" hole for the heater that I have plugged up except for the area of the power cable. Intakes from bulkheads, output to spray bars but does not pick up any air outside of tank lid, airline tubes to bubble wands fit tightly at small drilled holes in top.
WWM: That hole should be big enough. If you can though, add another, and cover with plastic mesh or gauze to stop animals (fish) getting out.
Regarding the plants, the one you see as an umbrella is plastic, all live plants are the smaller ones seen in the front and a XL Anubias in the back are real. All had a little waste within the first couple weeks but all are showing new growth, Vallisneria directly under bulb has now grown to top of the water level.
WWM: Fine. But do remember plants store starch, and can often put forth weeks of growth without from these reserves. You may be fine with the lights you have. But honestly, I've never found Water Wisteria easy to grow, and certainly not under dim/mediocre lighting.
I have had the black ghost several years now and he lives in the ceramic stump w/mushroom horizontal pieces that is on the right side of the tank, he pretty much takes up the entire length of it now. My clown loaches reside in the stump with him. No problem so far with anyone munching on the plants, I feed a variety of frozen, freeze dried, pellet, flake in protein and vegetable based versions. Also feed fresh veggies (peas, zucchini). Finding what the Ropefish will eat has been challenging, the first one I got (a female) just wouldn't eat anything, even frozen bloodworms, until I put a freeze dried tubeflex cube in her area - bingo. I just got a male and he loves frozen shrimp (not brine shrimp, pieces of regular shrimp - I buy the small bags of frozen salad shrimp).
WWM: Do use more than shrimps. Shrimp contains Thiaminase, which destroys vitamin B1. Fine as an occasional treat -- once a week, say -- but the rest of the time use Thiaminase-free foods, e.g., tilapia fillet (cheap!), cockles, earthworms.
I do, however, have to feed by either placing food very near their den or actually inside it after everyone else is full. A little trying so far.
WWM: Yes.
I am hoping they may try a few other options once they have been settled in for a few weeks. I have been keeping temp at 79 degrees, Corys seem OK with this, but is it too warm for oxygen concerns?
WWM: I would turn it down a notch, but if everyone is fine, you may want to leave things be. Unless there's a damn good reason otherwise, virtually all tropical fish will be best kept at 25 C/77 F, and some (Neons, Danios, Platies, most Corydoras species) are actually better kept somewhat cooler, 22-24 C/72-75 F. Cooler water = more oxygen and less expense! Clown Loaches do prefer warm water though, which is why I wouldn't keep them below 25 C/77 F.
I appreciate all your help. Cindy
WWM: Good luck, Neale.

Something funky in my tank
Something funky in my tank (bacteria; Whitespot) 12/1/11

Hi there!
I am a little concerned, I have a 200gallon tank with 1bgk, 6 mollies, 3 platys, 2 Corydoras, 2 gouramis, 8 ghost shrimp & 6 black skirt tetras. I recently noticed I have this white stuff growing on my tank glass. It seems to be attached, but sways with the movement of the water. Originally I thought it was an algae build up so I just cleaned the glass & went on with my weekly water changes. Its back this week and seems to be more than the last week, also it seems that now my all my fish have lil white spots like grains of salt on them. What can I do to treat my tank & not harm my bgk or my shrimp? Can you help?
Ashley
<Hello Ashley. The wafting, thread-like stuff is fungus and/or bacteria and/or "blue-green" algae (Cyanobacteria). Telling these three things apart if difficult, but in short, fungus tends to grow on rotting things like (improperly cured) bogwood, dead fish and faeces. It doesn't grow on plastic or rocks. Bacteria will grow anywhere, and whereas fungi tend to look like cotton wool threads, bacteria have a slimy, matted, often fibrous appearance. Regular bacteria become a pest in tanks that aren't properly cleaned, because they're feeding on organic muck of various kinds.
Blue-green algae are also bacteria, despite their name, and tend to grow where there is light and nutrients but poor plant growth. Poor water circulation favour all kinds of bacteria. Chances are your tank doesn't have enough cleaning and indifferent water circulation (air-powered filters and hang-on-the-back filters are notorious for this). The fact your fish have Whitespot now also suggests environmental stress. Review water quality carefully, my guess is that your filtration just isn't as good as you think. The salt/heat method is the safest approach where Apteronotus or shrimps are being kept, as copper and formalin will quickly kill them.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/SaltUseIchF.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

55 Gallon Help, FW... maint. 9/28/11
I have a 55 gal. tank with 2 Giant Danios, 3 Bala Sharks, 2 Plecostomus and 1 Senegal Bichir. I am currently feeding them with flakes, sinking algae pellets and shrimp pellets. I use a sand substrate with 6 fake plants and 3 large lava rocks. I use 2 Aqueon 30 gal filters and keep my water temp around 82 degrees F.
<Insanely warm. For this mix of things, the default 25 C/77 F is ample, and perhaps even a degree cooler in winter.>
I do a 20 percent water change once a week and a 50 percent change once a month, and I have a few questions.
<Fire away.>
1) Is this set-up ok for the fish that I have?
<For now, yes, but the Bala Sharks will get MUCH too large for this tank within a year or so, and the Plecostomus will turn a 55-gallon tank into a swamp, and wouldn't be my recommendation for this system. A plain vanilla Ancistrus (Bristlenose Cat) makes infinitely more sense. Ancistrus are better algae eaters as well as smaller and less messy.>
2) My Bichir seems healthy but I wondering if feeder fish or some other type of food would be better than shrimp pellets?
<Never, ever use feeder fish. They're the single best way to introduce parasites into your aquarium. Bichirs do best on a varied diet based around Thiaminase-free foods such as earthworms, tilapia fillet, Pollack fillet, and cockles. Occasionally, you can use foods that contain Thiaminase, such as mussels, prawns and shrimps, but these must be no more than 25% of their diet.>
3) What fish would be a good addition? Because my tank seems rather empty.
<It will soon be overstocked, so cool your rockets.>
4) What is the best way to clean my sand?
<You shouldn't need to. Given the sand need only be 1 cm/0.5 inches deep, the catfish will sift out any uneaten food without problems. So if you find detritus sitting on top of the sand, then that's a sign your filtration isn't sufficiently strong. For a mix of species like this, anything less than 8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour would be inadequate; in other words, for your 55 gallon tank, your filter needs to be rated at not less than 440 gallons/hour.>
5) How often should I change my sand?
<Never.>
Thanks,
Dana
<Glad to help, Neale.>

White fuzzy film/fungus (?) in newly cycled puffer tank 9/12/11
Hi Crew,
I love your site and can usually find the answers I need but am struggling and concerned by this one. I recently upgraded to a bigger tank and passed on my 65L tank to my boyfriend, who bought a new silent filter for it as we want to keep it in our bedroom. We have been cycling the tank and maturing the new filter using squeezing from my old filter sponges (I still need the old filter in my new tank while my new filter establishes), fish food flakes and a load of gunk washed from the old gravel substrate (he has created an aquascape using sand so didn't want to take the gravel). We also added Nutrafin Cycle bacteria and after that Interpet Filter Start. There are lots of plants in there and also some tadpole snails for a few days before we were sure the tank was cycled (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and, after water change a trace of nitrate).
A couple of days before we added the puffers (and the snails, nothing living in there at this point apart from plants) I suddenly noticed an alarming amount of what appears to be mould on a large piece of drift wood - this mould is very fluffy, rising probably about half a centimetre from the wood, and also some white mould completely covering the sucker pads that are holding the heater in place. The white mould on the sucker pads was actually wafting around on the surface of the pads in the water current.
We then introduced the tadpole snails...... they seemed unfazed.... possibly even enjoyed the mould and were frequently observed passing through it and apparently eating it.
With the tank being cycled my boyfriend was keen to get his dwarf puffers so he used a syphon to remove all visible trace of the mould from the wood and suction pads, and as much of the partially decomposed fish food as he could, collected the puffers and introduced them yesterday.
However, today I notice that the white mould has regrown on the suction pads and on the wood! The dwarf puffers seem to love the wood and 'peck' it quite a lot...... It even appears that they might be eating the mould?!
My question is, there being so much mould in the tank, are the puffers in danger? Could they become infected by it? If so what can we do to get rid of it without harming the puffers? Suctioning only seemed to solve the problem for 2 days!
Thank you for any suggestions you can make.
Jo
<White fungus develops on wood that hasn't been cured. It can also grow on uneaten food and fish faeces. If you see fungus in the tank, it's almost certain your tank is "dirty" in the sense that the filter isn't adequate for the size/numbers of fish being kept, and that you aren't keeping it clean. Review filtration, scale back feeding, remove uneaten food and any organic matter, stir the gravel weekly and siphon out detritus, and generally improve the cleanliness of the aquarium. Do contrast fungus (which is white and fluffy) with bacterial threads (which are usually grey and distinctly slimy and smelly when removed from the water). Also recognise blue-green algae that, despite their name, can be all sorts of colours. Bacterial threads grow for the same reason as fungi, but are even more worrying in terms of cleanliness. Blue-green algae favour tanks with poor or too much lighting, minimal water movement, and high nitrate and phosphate levels. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: White fuzzy film/fungus (?) in newly cycled puffer tank 9/13/11

Thanks Neale,
<Most welcome.>
The fungus appeared before we had introduced the fish - only 3 baby dwarf puffers in a 65L tank which has a Fluval U2 filter. As far as my research reveals we are understocked and have more than adequate filtration.
<Okay.>
I guess it makes sense then that the method of fishless cycling we used (fish food and fish poo from my tank) resulted in growth of fungus while the filter was maturing. The readings for water cleanliness are good (no ammonia, no nitrates and lowest reading of nitrate).
<Cool.>
But what about the fungus? Will it harm the fish?
<No.>
Why won't it go away???
<It will, once all organic matter is consumed. Usually fungus grows on uncured wood. Throw out such wood, or at least cure elsewhere, like in a bucket in the garden.>
Is there still some rotting waste in there?
<If fungus, the threads only grow through organic matter. Think of mould on old bread. Fungus won't grow on inorganic matter unless there's something there for them to eat. Now, blue-green algae will grow anywhere there is sluggish water flow and adequate light. So do think about that.>
And if so, why is the fungus growing on the suction pads????? And not on the actual waste????
I'm worried I will come home to find them infected with the same fungus as they are new to the tank so presumably slightly weakened....
Jo
<Cheers, Neale.>

Mysterious substance in freshwater tank 8/23/11
Tank: 45 gallon hexagon its been setup for 3 weeks, its well aerated, I have an Aqueon quite flow 30 ( it only came with a single carbon cartridge so I added a bio-media bag) it sat for 3 years and before that I used it for 2 1\2 years. It has a sand substrate bottom and minimal gravel. Lots of rocks
and 2 caves.
Lighting: single 15 watt aquarium bulb 14 to 16 hours a day.
<Very little lighting; do bear in mind what Mbuna need to eat, green algae, and act accordingly. A good amount is around 1 watt per gallon if you aren't growing plants.>
pH. balance: 6.6 ( rapidly dropped was 7.8 until water change 2 days ago)
<Lethal for Mbuna and Rift Valley cichlids generally. Please read up on what these fish need!
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/StkgLkMalawiTksArtBailey.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/MalawiPeacocksAulonocaraMaryB.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/DwarfMbunaArtMaryB.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_2/malawian_cichlids.htm
It sounds like you have very little, if any, carbonate hardness is the pH can drop from 7.8 to 6.6 within two days.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
How do you prepare aquarium water? What Rift Valley salt mix do you use? Do you have calcareous media in the filter? How often do you clean that media?>
Ammonia: 0 ( it was .05 until water change 2 days ago, I added AmmoLock to the water and ammonia remover bag to the filter)
Nitrites: ?
Nitrates: ?
<Why aren't you tracking at least nitrite? Essential when starting a new aquarium!>
Fish in tank: ( I know its to many for being uncycled)
1x johanni
1x Malawi eye biter
<Doesn't really belong here.>
1x acei
1x ahli
1x striped julie
<Tanganyikan cichlid; doesn't belong here at all.>
1x pearly white compricep
<Nor does this.>
1x Mbuna hybrid
1x gar fish
<Why????>
2x peacock ( 1 jacobfreibergi and 1 ?)
<Shouldn't be kept with Mbuna.>
Problem:
<Just the one problem! Surprised really. Your tank sounds like it has lots of potential problems. I guess you're a lucky person!>
About 6 days ago I noticed this white jelly fish\cobweb looking substance on the glass so I cleaned it and the next day it was back. I waited a couple days cleaned the glass and it came back the next day. Then cleaned the glass very thoroughly and did a water change and it came back the very next day, now I noticed it on the rocks too. I have city water so I added stress coat to remove chlorine and chloramines, aquarium salt too. My water is very clear but has little white things floating in it ( I believe it is this substance, how can it not be) however this substance DOES NOT move on its own but does move in the current from the pump. It is on all 6 sides of the tank and all rocks and structures. I don't know what it is and haven't treated for anything ( don't want to treat for a disease they don't have. I'm stumped and don't know what to do. Not sure if it harmful to the fish or not. You can't see it from a distance, only if u are 2 inches away and purposely looking for it. I had Planaria in a separate tank and this is not Planaria. I don't see ANY worms at all. Please help and thank u very much.
<This white stuff is likely bacterial in origin; my guess would be that this tank experiences dramatic changes in water chemistry and quality, and together with the high stocking and doubtless heavy feeding, you've got the perfect situation for bacterial blooms. Diatoms may be in the mix too. In any event, such things aren't uncommon in (dare I say it) not terribly well set-up aquaria, in part because you've added far too much livestock far too quickly. Do read the articles linked above, and in particular pay close attention to what Mary Bailey suggests with regard to Mbuna, Dwarf Mbuna, and Rift Valley cichlids generally. Your selection of fish will eventually mature and try to kill off one another, until you're left with a few dominant fish and the rest will be either dead or battered. There are lots of books about Rift Valley cichlids, and you can start by learning the difference between Malawian and Tanganyikan species, and why you DON'T keep them in the same aquarium. Then find out what Mbuna are, and why you DON'T keep them with Peacocks or other non-Mbuna Malawians. Then bone up on water chemistry, in particular carbonate hardness and how to keep a high pH in a Rift Valley cichlid system. Once you've done all of that, you'll see where you're going wrong, and as if by magic, you'll see why your tank is working, and what you need to do to fix it. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

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