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Problem:- I bought a 160l tropical freshwater tank in March. Filled it up and let it run for a week (added gravel) as recommended by the pet shop -probably should have left it for longer but didn't realise at the time.

I added 3x corydoras & 1x Betta.

Waited a bit over a week then added 5x tetras & a couple of plants, waited another week then added 5x danios & 2x grass plants. I was told that this amount of fish would be fine in a 160L tank.

All was good for a week or so - then things started going down hill. The ammonia skyrocketed from 0.25 to 4.0 and ph went from 8.0 to 6.4. I upped the 30% weekly water changes from 1x per week to 2-3x per week (using water conditioner)

Then the water turned cloudy - literally could not see a damn fish in the water. Then one by one the fish started to die.

I bought ammo lock to try and save the little guys, added that daily and it maybe helped a little but now after nearly three months I only have the poor Betta left.

I read some forums & tried just leaving the tank be and stopped doing so many water changes in hope that it would cycle.

Then a layer of red algae? (I think) came along. Most of the plants started to look unwell so pulled them out. I have one plant which thrived and grew new shoots which I have since separated and replanted in hope that they will grow.

Please please help, I just don't know what else I can do. Almost at the point of selling the lot :(

Ph:- 7.6

Ammonia:- 8.0

Nitrate:- 0

Nitrite:- 0

Gh:- not sure

Kh:- not sure

Size of tank:- 160L

Temperature °C:- 28

Been running for:- almost 3 months

Filtration:-Canister that came with the tank.

Filter/Sponge:- carbon, cotton wool, other bits & pieces.

Fish in tank:- one lonely Betta

Plants in Tank:-

Feeding:- 1x every 2 days

Recent Medication Treatments:- ammo lock, water cond

Last water change:- 1 week ago

Water change every Week

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Since you have only the betta left it might be best to rehome him and start from scratch if you can't locate the problem

Could even be something rotting in the filter

If i was you i'd totally clean everything and start the cycle again by adding a pinch of fish food and watch till it cycles

That's just me

Good luck

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Interesting, any chance of a picture of the canister?

Or even just the brand/model

Just a checklist, not an interogation I promise :)

1) is the canister running 24 hours a day? As in not being turned off for extended periods.

2) when cleaning the canister, is it always being cleaned in water taken from the aquarium, and never in tapwater?

3) when you water change are you adding the dechlorinator before you start to top the aquarium up?

4) brand and amount of dechlorinator added?

5) fill up with hose, or with buckets?

6) is there plenty of surface agitation/rippling being caused by the canister filter out put?

We will get to the bottom of this dont worry.

We all love a good mystery here.

Short story is that there is ammonia not being consumed by the sticky bacteria that live in your filter.

This is feeding the floating bacteria which has exploded in number to the point the water is now milky.

Generally we add more filtration, or better biological media to the existing filter.

Combined with adding less food to the aquarium.

This results in a higher population of ammonia eating microbes in your filter/s

and less ammonia being created daily.

Once ammonia eaters in filters get back in balance with ammonia being produced......... we can then begin to slowly restock the aquarium.

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Hey [MENTION=5455]Donny[/MENTION]

In 3) is it that necessary to chlorinate in the bucket instead of the aquarium after adding the water?

4) are there certain brands to avoid?

5) What's the diff between adding via bucket or hose?

Just curious mate :)

And i sent you a pm in regards to a canister i'm looking to buy if ya have time, i can see you're busy lol

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If you add by bucket you add dechlorinator into bucket first, using the amount needed for the bucket volume.

If you add by hose, you add the dechlorinator to the aquariums BEFORE you start to top up, and you use enough dechlorinator for the total aquariums volume. Also worth running the hose for a bit before you start.

If you add chlorinated water to an aquarium, it will destroy your good microbes. Especially if filters are running at the time.

Unless you have already added a good amount of dechlorinator to the aquarium and let it mix in.

Most of us add a bit extra than the dose reccomended for our tanks volume.

More expensive but less effort.

Adding with a hose aint ideal, but thats what happens when we all live such hectic lives.

As to brands, I am more curious if the correct dose is being used.

Speaking of which, in this case its surely worth giving the tapwater an ammonia test too.

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Thanks for the comprehensive answer, one moew question

Why dose for the entire tank instead of just the water added when dosing afterwards?

To compensate for all the other stuff in the water that can interfere with the dechlorinator chemicals, as well as the delay in total combination of chlorine/dechlorinator in the mixture.

But mainly because thats the manufactorer reccomendation.

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Ceramic rings - yes, I'm not sure what the other one is sorry. The filter and media all came with the tank (is a Blue Planet tank)

Blue Planet tanks dont usually come with the best biological filter media.

An easy fix would be to add an airpump and an internal air powered sponge filter.

They aint pretty, but will solve your ammonia problem.

And give you some breathing space to get this canister optimized.

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The cloudy water is a normal part of a cycling tank and can go from cloudy to clear in a couple of days

Your temp is probably a bit high for the danios and Cory's I'd head more to the 25 degree range

If you are adding a clarifier to the water to clear it ,it will hamper the cycling process

What filter media and is there any biological components in the canister

Chinese algae eaters will help to control the algae

The algae appears when there is too much phosphates in the water ,usually from over feeding

If you are filling the tank by hose you may be killing the bacteria with the chlorine you will have to dose the tank for volume not the amount of water you replace ,buckets are better

Hang in there once it's running properly this will all be a memory ,albeit a bad one ,plenty of help here

DONT turn your canister off for any long periods ,that will kill the bacteria and it will all start again

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I had a similar problem when I first got into fish got told all was sweet by the pet shop added fish NEK MINIT tanks was white fish all dead jumped on the trusty forum to find out WTF was going on and it turned out my filtration was no where near enough got a new canister and internal filter and bammmm was perfect once cycled!! I'd be checking the filtration a lot of shops don't understand biological and mechanical filtration, there like car salesman selling a product that don't know much about, but in saying that there's a lot of good 1's out there!!

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Thank you so much! I've definitely came to the right place for advice. I'll take some water into a couple of pet shops for testing and buy a second filter. I'm pretty much willing to do anything to get this tank ready!

I have been using API water conditioner but I had been adding it after I had topped up the water (via bucket) and swirled it around.

I've not used any plant fertilisers or water clarifier. I did use a small amount of algaefix when I had the red algae which cleared most of it up. My tank constantly goes through bacterial bloom cycles. It will be cloudy for a week then clear up for a week then do it all again.

I've pulled out or pruned any plants that looked even slightly sick. Have added fake "Betta plant" for the Betta to laze upon.

I have cleaned out my filter 3x. First & second time I washed it out using the tank water third time I used cold tap water because the water & filter media was red from the algae - will use tank water from now on.

Any brand preference for filter? What media should I have in my filter? I want to get this right!

Also I plan to have a couple of discus eventually so that's why the temp is in the higher range.

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If you add by bucket you add dechlorinator into bucket first, using the amount needed for the bucket volume.

If you add by hose, you add the dechlorinator to the aquariums BEFORE you start to top up, and you use enough dechlorinator for the total aquariums volume. Also worth running the hose for a bit before you start.

If you add chlorinated water to an aquarium, it will destroy your good microbes. Especially if filters are running at the time.

Unless you have already added a good amount of dechlorinator to the aquarium and let it mix in.

Most of us add a bit extra than the dose reccomended for our tanks volume.

More expensive but less effort.

Adding with a hose aint ideal, but thats what happens when we all live such hectic lives.

As to brands, I am more curious if the correct dose is being used.

Speaking of which, in this case its surely worth giving the tapwater an ammonia test too.

See comment below. Sorry I forgot to "quote" you when I posted!

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See comment below. Sorry I forgot to "quote" you when I posted!

Thats no problem.

:D

You are unfortunately not special...... in that you are doing what most new fish keepers do, and try to keep your aquarium too clean.

Ammonias worst enemy is the good bacteria that eats it and lives inside your filter.

The worst enemy of the good bacteria that lives inside the filter, is the chlorine thats in tapwater.

We need to keep them apart as much as possible.

Bacteria and algae all love ammonia.

So the trick is to really look after that sticky bacteria inside the filter.

That way theres no ammonia left over for the floaty bacteria or the different algaes to eat.

If theres no food for them, their population cant explode.

The 3 golden rules that I reccomend following........ until you have enough experience to know how to break them are..........

1) Don't change more than 50% of your aquariums water at a time.

2) Always add dechlorinator before you add in water to top back up the aquarium. Either enough to treat the bucket full. Or enough to treat the entire aquariums volume into the aquarium itself.

3) Always clean filter material in a bucket of water taken from the aquarium the filter is running on. Never clean it in tap water.

If you want to become a guru, theres a very simple first step to take.

Get a note book and record what is going on. Write down test results, so you can see if readings are going up or down. Write down water changes and how much you changed. Write down fish you bought and where. Heck staple reciepts to pages. Basically collect data. You want data so you can problem solve AND others can assist you in doing it. But you also want to know why things worked when they did! Even knowing how long a tin of fish food lasts is helpful. Or what temperature the aquarium was when your discus spawned.

You have the right attitude to do well in this hobby.

We all take a few knocks at the start, but it wont be long before it all seems just too easy for you.

And then we shall see you in the marine section of the forum asking about breeding octopus.

Hopefully anyway XD

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Thats no problem.

:D

You are unfortunately not special...... in that you are doing what most new fish keepers do, and try to keep your aquarium too clean.

Ammonias worst enemy is the good bacteria that eats it and lives inside your filter.

The worst enemy of the good bacteria that lives inside the filter, is the chlorine thats in tapwater.

We need to keep them apart as much as possible.

Bacteria and algae all love ammonia.

So the trick is to really look after that sticky bacteria inside the filter.

That way theres no ammonia left over for the floaty bacteria or the different algaes to eat.

If theres no food for them, their population cant explode.

The 3 golden rules that I reccomend following........ until you have enough experience to know how to break them are..........

1) Don't change more than 50% of your aquariums water at a time.

2) Always add dechlorinator before you add in water to top back up the aquarium. Either enough to treat the bucket full. Or enough to treat the entire aquariums volume into the aquarium itself.

3) Always clean filter material in a bucket of water taken from the aquarium the filter is running on. Never clean it in tap water.

If you want to become a guru, theres a very simple first step to take.

Get a note book and record what is going on. Write down test results, so you can see if readings are going up or down. Write down water changes and how much you changed. Write down fish you bought and where. Heck staple reciepts to pages. Basically collect data. You want data so you can problem solve AND others can assist you in doing it. But you also want to know why things worked when they did! Even knowing how long a tin of fish food lasts is helpful. Or what temperature the aquarium was when your discus spawned.

You have the right attitude to do well in this hobby.

We all take a few knocks at the start, but it wont be long before it all seems just too easy for you.

And then we shall see you in the marine section of the forum asking about breeding octopus.

Hopefully anyway XD

Things are on the improve! So stoked! I bought the air pump & sponge filter, am guard and I pinched some used filter media from my parents tank and bam! Next day nitrites were 0.25 and nitrate 5.0 (first time I've had a reading) tested again today and nitrate is still 5.0 but nitrites 0 and ammonia has dropped from 8.0 to 5.0. Thanks again!

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