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tom_kauf

Hi from Gold Coast Hinterland - struggling with 600L Freshwater Tank

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Hi from Jimboomba everyone,
I am not a total newbie, but we built a house 18months ago incl a nice in-wall 600L Freshwater Tank. And lately we've really been struggling with it.
For 8+ years we had a 70L Tank (which didn't survive the move), and we managed fine without major interventions.

For a year or so it looked like this (picture attached) without needing much. Just some Macropore at the start to remove the tannins, plus infrequent partial filter cleans and small water changes. But I was working too much and it got even less attention, and now we have a massive BB Algae breakout and poor water values.
I can post a picture if anyone wants to see the current state – it’s not great.

We have not lost any fish, probably because we have relatively hardy inexpensive fish: Clown Loaches, Bala Sharks, Gouramis, Rainbowfish, Congo Tetras, Glass Catfish, multiple Bristlenose.

It has a sump filter (pictures attached), with mix of Green and Black Sponge in the first 2 sections, then Dacron Filter pad, another Black Sponge and Bags of Ceramic Bio Rings.
Not sure what the substrate is – maybe riverbed gravel.
And various plants and driftwood.

I'd really appreciate some advice  :), because I know I’m in over my head.
Both on the Sump Filter setup which was organised by the builder (if I should change anything), and on solutions to the water readings.

Thank you in advance.

LH Sump.jpg

RH Sump.jpg

Aquarium.jpg

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Yesterday’s readings:
pH 6.6
Ammonia 1ppm (that was 0 until a few weeks ago, so I did a partial water change yesterday)
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 160ppm+ (max reading)
Phosphate 5-10ppm

We’ve been using the API Master Water Test Kit, but the pH only goes down to 6. Long story short, last month we bought an Aqua One pH Test Kit that went lower, and it showed 4.5 8O (also as low as it goes). We got the pH back up with some Baking Soda, and seems to be stable now with a bag of Coral Sand in the sump. Amazing that we didn’t lose any fish.

BBA was treated a few months ago with No More Blackbeard. The recommended dose did very little. Double dose worked, but took a month. And it came back once we stopped, even though we did a filter clean. I guess spores are still there.

I’ve read a lot about CO2, but still not sure how to go about it, or if it’s the right thing for our setup.

The aquarium tap comes from the Rainwater, so that may not be helping.

The Light is 9am-10pm, which is a lot but I’ve already reduced it a bit. Maybe off a bit more in the morning, so we can enjoy it in the evening?

And with the setup, we can only do a 5% water change before the pump runs dry, so I usually do 2-3x in a row. But I could try to manually syphon it out, or use our Aqua One Nautilus 1400 Canister Filter that we use for various things like Gravel Vacuuming etc.

This weekend I really need to clean the 1st filter stage again, and the vacuum the gravel.

 

BBA.jpg

Substrate.jpg

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Hello Tom,

Beneficial bacteria will struggle at low pH but adding coral to sump should fix that so just monitor. 

You will go through a lot of coral if using rainwater & CO2 so get some more in advance. 

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Hi  everyone.

And thanks aquaholic99 for the info about the coral sand and beneficial bacteria. Good to know.

No CO2 yet, so I may leave it for now - was just researching it for the BBA.

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Hi tdj5, thanks.

Hi hareysfish, yes lots of driftwood and a few timber logs in the tank (last picture of the 1st post, which shows the whole aquarium). Ah ok, interesting - thanks for the info. We'll see how the pH goes, and we could remove some of the timber is needed.

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You won’t need co2 unless you have lots more plants, and even then it’s really not needed imo.

Your tank looks fine to me, so why all the worry about testing? Let it settle, don’t overfeed the fish. BBA can be a pain in the beginning, but will also settle down eventually.

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Thank you bluebelle, good to know.

The picture above is what it looked like at the start. It now looks like this - pictures below. Combined with the BBA outbreak that we still need to get on top of, it seemed like everything was getting out of hand.

But after reading everyone's posts, I have a bit more confidence again. It was probably a case of all the Driftwood etc causing a pH drop that went undetected due to the Test Kit not going below 6.0. That combined with excess waste in the filter that I have since cleaned out (except for gravel vacuum I still need to do). That killed a lot of the beneficial bacteria, causing the recent rise in Ammonia.

20201111_215726_resized.jpg

20201111_215715_resized.jpg

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How often do you feed the fish? Once every day SPARINGLY is enough. Every second day is better.. Sometimes it helps to change the brand of food. Do you fertilise the few plants? Don’t! Most of the time problems like yours are caused by oversupply of nutrients.Using rainwater is fine (I use nothing else), no need to add anything. I would throw in some inexpensive, fast growing plants (something you can throw out later) to starve out the bba. It may take awhile, but you’ll get there. Since you had this tank for a year without problems, think back about what changed.

And:  waterchanges, at least 20% every fortnight are a must. 

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Hi bluebelle, thanks for the info. We used to feed twice per day but reduced that a few months ago to 1x per day. So we will continue with that. Also the way the filter pickup is, any food that didn't sink and wasn't eaten within 10-15sec, ended up in the filter. I realised a few months ago how much uneaten food was adding to the dirty filter. So we got a feeding ring, and added a switch to the current generator pump so it could be turned off for a few mins while feeding.

We don't fertilise the plants. Good idea regarding fast growing plants. Are there any you can suggest?

Ok, we'll do more water changes.

 

Hi gingerbread, thanks we will do that. Any good aquarium store we can go to on the Brisbane southside or Gold Coast? We have a SAE that we ordered online for our little 30L tank. But that tank barely had any BBA. Our main tank could definitely use some more. And we'd prefer to go to a store.

 

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I would reduce your feeding, missing a day wont kiĺl your fish , 

And maybe drop the light operating hours to 8 hrs per day or less If the tank gets natural light in the morning before you turn the light onas well as your tank light your tank could be getting as much as 16 hrs of light per day

My tank upstairs light comes on at 5pm and off about 10  but gets good natural light in the afternoon

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Billfish is right, too much light is not a good thing, it encourages all sorts of algae. Some cheap plants to soak up nutrients would be Hornwort, Ambulia and Elodea .As for introducing SAE, opinion is divided. They will feed on your fishfood first before nibbling the bba.

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Good point billfish. The living room where the tank is has a big glass sliding door, and windows up high. And it's north facing, so it gets light for more than half the day.

We're not home much in the morning, so I think we'll set the Light timer to only run in the evening like you have.

And we can feed every 2nd day.

 

Thanks bluebelle, we'll find some of those plants. And we'll definitely get the tank in more of an equilibrium and then see how the BBA is. SAEs will be an option, but I can see that they're not the solution to everything.

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And is there any point in having a bag of Activated Carbon in the sump?
I added one recently because I had some laying around, and I’ve always had Carbon come with smaller submerged all-in-one pump/filters. But I’m not sure if our setup needs it.

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