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Water Change Problem


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#1 eddieperth

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 06:01 PM

Hello all!  Longtime reader, first time poster

 

I have a 4x2x2 lo-tech planted aquarium.  Aquarium has been set up for a year now.  Fish and plants generally thriving and growing. Water parameters stay at or near perfection, though the tank tends to be acidic. (Typically about 6.4pH)

 

The Problem:

 

The last two times I've done a major water change (approx. 30-40%), the tank water has gone cloudy, and within 24hours the fish are gasping at the top of the tank. Both times when I have tested the water, the Nitrite reading was high. (testing at other times shows it at/near 0)

 

I am mystified as to what might be going on and would welcome any input/ideas as to how to address this!

My only idea is that perhaps something in the tap water is killing off some of the beneficial bacteria???

 

Additional info that might help:

I live in Kingsley which is NOR.

I do not disturb the substrate when I change water.

I use water directly from the tap without letting it stand (no idea if city of Joondalup uses Chlorine or Chloromine), which I then treat with water conditioner in the bucket before pouring in tank.

Filtration is cannister filter filled with bio balls and a sponge.  I do not run an airstone.

Tank is not overstocked- 5 rainbows, 2 juvie angelfish, 5 corys, 2 juvie plecos, 3 platies, 2 kribs

 

If more info or pics are needed, let me know!  Thanks in advance for any help!



#2 dazzabozza

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 06:22 PM

Tried running the same tests directly from the tap?  In some hotter months the water corp may draw from underground bores.

 

Seachem Prime may be of use to help neutralise the nitrite if it's intermittent.



#3 eddieperth

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 09:19 PM

Tried running the same tests directly from the tap?  In some hotter months the water corp may draw from underground bores.

 

Seachem Prime may be of use to help neutralise the nitrite if it's intermittent.

 

Thanks Dazza! Yeah I've tested the tap water for Nitrites and pH. results are 0 and 7.0 respectively.

 

And yeah after the last time, I got some Prime to ease the impact on the fish.  I think for the next change I'll also draw the water a few days in advance...otherwise, I don't have any ideas



#4 Mattia

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 11:01 PM

Silly question : try to smell your prime... does it smell bad?

#5 eddieperth

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 11:48 AM

Silly question : try to smell your prime... does it smell bad?

Thanks Mattia....it smells fine. I didn't start using Prime until after the problem started



#6 Mr_docfish

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 08:14 PM

From what I understand, you top up the tank then add the water conditioner that has been mixed in a bucket... If this is the case, next time, try adding the required amount of water conditioner to the emptied aquarium before topping up with water. Also, if you are using a garden hose to top it up, flush the contents of the hose first before adding water to the tank (plasticisers in the hose can be toxic)
Basically, something toxic is coming through your tap water that is killing off your filter bacteria, causing a spike in ammonia or nitrite.... or so it seems.
So try to change the methods of your water change and see if that improves the situation.

#7 eddieperth

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 08:05 AM

From what I understand, you top up the tank then add the water conditioner that has been mixed in a bucket... If this is the case, next time, try adding the required amount of water conditioner to the emptied aquarium before topping up with water. Also, if you are using a garden hose to top it up, flush the contents of the hose first before adding water to the tank (plasticisers in the hose can be toxic)
Basically, something toxic is coming through your tap water that is killing off your filter bacteria, causing a spike in ammonia or nitrite.... or so it seems.
So try to change the methods of your water change and see if that improves the situation.

 

You are definitely thinking along the same lines as me, Docfish!  Thanks for your input

I agree that it seems these major water changes are causing a bacteria die back.  After the latest incident, I've been monitoring nitrites and they were back to 0 within about 4 days, which makes me think that not all of the bacteria are dying, but enough to cause a spike.

 

I add the conditioner to the bucket of new water, just before putting it in the tank.  I figure that ensures it mixing well, and have never had issues with this method in the past.

 

Also, I don't use a garden hose, but fill buckets in utility sink.  I have been letting the tap run for 20seconds or so before filling.

 

I'm due to make another small water change today.  I have a small aquarium that I use for extra plants....I think I'll use water out of this tank to top up the main tank just to give the fish a break.



#8 Jules

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 08:27 AM

I read interestingly on a stingray forum, that some people turn off all filters and sumps whilst doing a water change, then fill up the tank (with a garden hose) and chlorinate it all within th aquarium, wait 5-10minutes for the water and chlorinator to mix through etc (still having internal pumps on for water movement) and then switching the filters on. Apparently this reduces chlorines and chloramines running into filter media and killing bacteria, hence causing ammonia spikes.

 

I for one have been using this method lately and have noticed my water doesn't have a cloudiness it used to for a few hours after a water change, cant say it works, or if it was micro bubbles from the filters being on when the tanks half drained, but maybe try that?

 

Also Seachem Prime shouldn't smell fine - it should have a kind of Sulphur smell form the sodium thisulphate in it :D



#9 Spiesie

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 10:34 AM

Do you clean your canister filter when you are doing your water changes?

 

Not sure if Bio Balls is the best media in a canister. They tend to work best in a wet/dry trickle filter where they are heavily oxygenated.

 

Perhaps the bio balls is not holding enough beneficial bacteria to handle any small change. It might be a good idea to systematically change over to something like Marine Pure spheres/Eheim substrat/etc.



#10 ice

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 03:02 PM

Jules i also use that method, i turn my canister off but leave the lower powerhead on and turn the top powerhead on once the water is refilled. I add my prime to the water before filling and then another small dose after and let the powerheads circulate the water for 10 minutes prior to turning the canister back on. Water is usually crystal clear and I've never had a problem with filter cultures dying off as a result. Pays to be anal about these things!



#11 humbug

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 06:52 PM

What water conditioner were you using before you switched to Prime? 

Ollie's theory sounds good, but here's another.  Perhaps your water supply contains chloramine.  If you are using a basic water conditioner (a thiosulphate based one) it will break the chloramine down to chlorine and ammonia, and "remove" the chlorine, but leave the ammonia.  Perhaps the BB are able to deal with that level of ammonia relatively quickly ie within your 24hrs, but take more time to accommodate the resulting nitrite, causing a nitrite spike.






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