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MFF last won the day on January 7

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  1. MFF

    Aquael Glossy Tanks

    Red Sea also does some nice plug & play tanks. Living Reef aquariums down the Coast had some other nice options late last year, can't recall the brand name. Just like a Red Sea but significantly cheaper, and better constructed. Definitely available in a white selection of colours to please your good lady.
  2. Good to hear the tap water tested fine. With your water source being unfiltered rain water (off your roof?) I would continue testing this regularly, i.e. before each water change, as it may have spikes of ammonia and other nasties. Fresh rain water will always be good to use, but once it's been on the roof and the gutters, who knows. Likely to be variable. Ammonia/Nitrite at zero is excellent - your nitrate conversion cycle seems to have caught up. As long as you don't overfeed, you shouldn't have further troubles with that. Might want to test Ammonia once a month just to confirm it's all ok. Of course, if your fish are showing signs of stress, test everything immediately. On the nitrate - this is much less harmful than the others, and for freshwater fish, a level at 40 is tolerable, but not ideal. The nitrate level does build over time as it is the end point of the nitrate cycle. So eventually it needs to be removed one way or the other. The best way is if you're growing live plants AND they are successful at pulling nitrates out. Depends on how many plants, and their growth rate, and I really don't know a reliable way to ensure this. In the past, I've had tanks where this worked (not at all clear on what made it work), but at the moment my plants are not growing quickly enough. Not even close. There are filter pads that claim to work, but I don't really believe this because nitrate is extremely soluble. So the default option is water changes for nitrate. Your original reading was 100 - however, the test kit is not at all accurate, or is extremely difficult to read, at high levels. So this might have been even more. If you now have 40 ppm, after 2 water changes of 50%, you might have started off at 160. Very hard to tell on the colour chart between 100 and 160. Given your history here, and your uncertainty about the current reading, I would do one further 50% water change about 1 week after the last change. Then, a day or two after the water change test for nitrate again, and it should be clearly below 40ppm. At that point, you can revert to your normal routine water changes, whatever schedule you decide on. For my tanks, I measure nitrate weekly, and as long as they are clearly below 40 ppm, I leave them be. Once it is clearly above 40, then I do a 30% water change. I'm finding for my tanks, and my feeding regime (i.e. YMMV), I end up changing 30% once every 4 weeks, for each tank. Approximately. Stability is normally the key, and that's why often just leaving the tank alone to "fix itself" is often the best strategy, combined with appropriate water changes. In general, I've found this to be better than chasing specific numbers and adding various chemicals to try to reach the target. Unless there is a very specific issue, AND you are 100% positive what the issue is, best just leave it alone, or maybe just an extra water change.
  3. Bird poop can be very high in ammonia. I'd be interested in the results of your test. With the sporadic rain we get here, you might want to monitor the quality of the water supply regularly - especially before a water change. The contamination may vary much more than a municipal supply.
  4. Yes, .25ppm for Ammonia is too high. This should essentially be zero on any liquid test kit. The nitrates are also very high, but I'd be more concerned about the ammonia. What you need to do to fix the ammonia will automatically fix the nitrate anyway. Fish can get used to non-ideal conditions, but I would NOT be happy with your numbers. Definitely do a 50% water change ASAP, and then probably another 50% within a day or two. Also measure the ammonia and nitrate in your tap water, these should come out "low". If ammonia or nitrate are "very high" in your tap water, then you may have other issues. If Ammonia in the aquarium is not (close to) zero, there is a problem with your cycle. I would not add any chemicals - in my experience this just gets you more problems down the road. After two 50% water changes, measure the levels again. Nitrate should be down to around 25ppm (if your reading of 100pm is accurate and your tap water has typical levels of nitrate - i.e. very low), which is acceptable (my tanks run up to 40ppm approx before I do water changes). The important one is ammonia, which should be down to around 0.10 ppm. This won't come down to the same degree as nitrate, because there is a non-zero level of ammonia in the tap water, especially after adding the dechlorinator which frees up ammonia from the chloramine. In the short term, 0.10 for ammonia is tolerable, but you really want to get your bacterial filtration working properly again which should reduce this number. So monitor the ammonia level (in particular) and if it rises, your cycle is not ready, so you may need more water changes to avoid putting your fish in danger. Once the tank is stable, both ammonia and nitrite should be essentially zero on any liquid test, and they should stay on zero, thanks to the bacteriological action. The nitrate will slowly build up over time, and when it gets high (my definition: 40ppm or thereabouts) then a partial water change is the only way to export the nitrate. For reference, my tap water measures about 0.09 to 0.10 ppm in ammonia (using a Seneye meter) once I add the dechlorinator and let it sit for a while. My tanks though have ammonia at 0.02 or lower. (The Seneye meter is much more accurate than the liquid tests, unfortunately it only does ammonia and pH). The tanks are lower than tap water because the bacterial filtration brings it down.
  5. Generally live plants do help with water quality, in the sense that it is easier to keep everything in balance. Filter cleaning - as someone else has said also, NEVER rinse in tap water, ONLY in aquarium water. I just rinse the bio media and squeeze out the worst of the crap from the sponges/foams. You're not looking to get these clinically clean, just get rid of the build up of crap that obstructs water flow. This is the biggest issue with the polish pad - it can get gunked up quickly and obstruct water flow. Feeding - I feed my tanks once a day, and only as much as can be eaten in 30 seconds (cichlids) or 2-3 minutes (discus). With your fish - small tropicals - there should not be any food dropping to the bottom. If there is, then you're over-feeding. A fish's stomach is about the size of their eye.
  6. Agree with previous two comments, and also - the filter does not need to be cleaned out that often. If you clean everything at the same time, you run the risk of knocking your bacterial colonies about. I clean my canister filters about once in 6 months. Watch the overfeeding. With a big bubble curtain, you're almost certainly getting enough oxygen in the water, both directly from the bubbles and also from the surface agitation it causes. One other possible cause for smelly water is plant matter that is decomposing in the tank. Doesn't need much of it to cause a smell.
  7. There is an API Nitrate test kit (and a Nitrite one also, but you want the Nitrate). Costs about $20, roughly. Any decent LFS should have it. The Master Test Kit includes a bunch of other stuff that is also useful (pH, ammonia etc) if you don't already have them. Vacuuming gravel - I do this every time I change water - about 3-6 weeks depending on which tank you're talking about. Don't deep clean all the gravel - just part of if, and the entire surface.
  8. You're going to get LOTS of different answers to this one!! Personally, I hate doing water changes, so I do them as little as possible. Your tank seems a bit under normal capacity - in terms of fish load. That helps to reduce the frequency of water changes. I would never do more than 50% water change as a routine, and probably more like 25%-30% each time. (Certain emergency situations I would do more, up to 90%, but those situations don't - shouldn't - come up often at all.) That's the easy part of the question. Frequency - You can monitor the nitrAte levels, and decide from there. Much depends on whether the tank is planted, how much you feed them, how long the tank has been set up, how much algae you have growing (and whether you want the algae). I would guess - without having seen your tank - one 25-30% change every 3 or 4 weeks should be sufficient, and depending on the answers to the issues mentioned just now could be even less. Others will no doubt disagree, and "standard" advice would be "at least every fortnight". Pic of tank?
  9. Hi Anna. I'm using almond leaves at present, but I don't find it moves pH much. Gives the water a nice colour, and won't hurt the pH, but I would not rely on this to move the pH more than 0.1 or so. Have never used peat moss. Rainwater is pure H2O (in Australia anyway) so there are no minerals in rain water either. And RODI similarly has all ions (minerals) removed. Hence my saying only use 50/50 with tap water. The demineralised water from Woolies as l2h suggests would be essentially the same as either (pure) rainwater or RODI. M
  10. No worries Anna. Don't know if you can purchase rainwater. Might be easier to purchase an RO or an RO/DI unit and make your own. That's if you really can't put a bucket out when it rains to catch some. But the rainwater is not essential, just a good idea if you can get it. I would not do more than 50% rain/RODI water though. Even with my discus I do 50% tap water/ 50% RODI. Probably also a good idea to monitor the pH of the tank water, but just once a day, at the same time of day. What you're looking for is stability, rather than any specific value.
  11. Yup, those fish are all fine, even the neons. I wouldn't do anything, really. Just stop adding chemicals, let the water be. You've recently done a water change, so leave it alone until the next change. Then, using 50/50 rainwater is a good idea as johnbetta said, that will help to lower pH and also to dilute any chemicals. If you don't have any driftwood yet, I'd add some for stability (and aesthetics if you choose carefully). Other than that, just let it settle.
  12. Hi Anna. Welcome, and hopefully you can get some help. Be aware you will likely hear different suggestions as well. First off, don't go chasing numbers. If you get your fish used to tap water - whatever the parameters are - then they will be fine. Saves you work trying to adjust it all the time also. Fish can deal with parameters outside their supposed "ideal" conditions, but they prefer stability over quick, large changes. Let the water be what it is. You didn't mention your water source, but if it is Brisbane tap water, that should be fine for most fish. I've found Brisbane water - where I am - to have a relatively stable pH around 7.8, so definitely on the high side of neutral. Second - try to avoid adding stuff to the tank, unless absolutely necessary. Buffers can just make your life difficult in the long run. Yes pH changes during the day, as long as your fish are coping, I wouldn't worry too much. If you think the pH is a little high, you're better off doing some natural modification like putting in a few chunks of driftwood (after curing, if you wish) which will tend to bring the pH down a little and also will help to stabilise the tank. Having said this, there are certain additives that are essential - dechlorinator to new water being the main one. You didn't mention the types of fish you keep, just "tropicals". Most of these are tank-bred rather than wild caught, and are quite tolerant of a range of conditions. Good luck. Michael
  13. No, I think two species is good. I'll end up with rummynose and black neons. With serpae though - they can be a bit nippy towards other fish. With a large school, might be OK, but definitely something to watch. You don't want them going after the apisto fins.
  14. My tank is the same size, I have 10 discus, 6 angels, 4 peppermint bristlenose, 2 bettas (1M1F - there were more F but he didn't approve of them), and about 60 tetras. Tank does not look full at all, but as the discus and angels mature, I think this is probably sufficient. Might get 1 apistogramma pair, and might get a few more tetras. Definitely agree with gingerbeer that a large group of tetras of the same species looks much better than a few of everything. I've got 4 species, because I collected them from my other tanks, but longer term, as the flames and pristellas die off, I will be replacing with more of the 2 main species - rummynose and black neons. Say 40 rummynose and 30 black neons will look cool.
  15. Good on you for keeping a group of clown loaches. Too often I see just a single one in a tank, and they really do much better in a small group. Having said that, these fish get to be 12-15cm quite quickly, and then continue growing albeit quite slowly. I have seen one old fellow at about 40cms. They are also very active fish and fast swimmers. Even when small, a 40L tank is nowhere near big enough. You didn't say how big the "new larger tank" is, but for me, the 400L would be about the minimum size for a group of YOUNG clown loaches. Angels also do much better in a group, and they also can get very large - think 20cms plus from top to bottom (including fins). Once you get the 400L set up, there should be no problem keeping all these fish together, and adding a few more angels and other things also. In a few years, the clown loaches will outgrow even this tank, but you should have quite a bit of knowledge and experience by then. In the meantime, if you're keeping the loaches in a VERY small tank temporarily, be aware that in such a confined space there may well be accidents. They have nowhere to run and hide. Provide as many hiding spots as you can - some PVC tubes for example are good as they take up very little room but provide a place for the loaches to "escape" the angel and each other. The more hiding spots they have, the more likely they are to survive this temporary incarceration.