red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP!

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red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP!

Postby billberet » Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:16 am

hey everyone,
New Member, long time fish lover. :)

i need some fresh pair of eyes. help me to see if i am missing anything.
OK here we go, and please forgive my spelling, i tend to type phonetically.

I have a 90 gal freshwater with a fluval fx5 canister running inline with a UV light.
for substrate i use crushed coral.

the fish i have
1 - 9 yr old RTC (red tail cat)
1 - 9 yr old ID shark
1 - 4 yr old parrot fish, i had 2 but the RTC found a way to eat one.

the tank has been established for 6 years, no issues.

I wanted to remove my CC and replace with sand, i use silica pool filtration sand, which is GREAT for any bottom dwellers.
I begin to remove the CC slowly, about 20 lbs a day, after i got it all out i let the tank recover, leaving everyone alone. all seemed fine till the tank went white (bacteria bloom), they used up all the oxygen and my fish were belly up, literally. so i turned on my UV and added extra air stones to compensate. a few 40% water changes and the tank finally cleared. with all the dead bacteria, it must have all collected in my filter cause next my filter crashed. i took it apart and i had to clean everything out, which means i destroyed my biological filter.

i added my sand in, and i am currently tring to cycle my tank again.
it's been one week. my RTC has stopped eating and has become very active, swimming near the top of the tank.
my ammonia level is 1ppm
my nitrite is 0
my nitrate is 20
ph is 7.4
Temp is 76 deg F


i still have no idea how i have a nitrite of 0 when i have so much ammonia and my nitrate is 20.
the bacteria should be breaking down the ammonia to create nitrite, then the bacteria forms to break the nitrite to nitrate...
so i have ammonia and nitrate, but yet no nitrite.
I under stand if i have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite and 20 nitrate, but i don't get my scenario. (scratches head)
i have not added any chems, or even salt.

What am i missing here?!?!?!?! my RTC was always still at the bottom, but now he swims constantly.
is this a trait of this fish, some people say they are active swimmers, and some say they stay still for long periods of time?
I think it's a problem cause he stopped eating too, i put a goldfish up to his mouth and he wouldn't take it.

any suggestions on what to do?
i have another week to go till my tank is cycled, i do a 20% water change every other day, or even every day, if i see the ammonia rising.
i know i have to keep some ammonia in the tank so the bacteria can feed off it to create nitrite, it's funny how my nitrite has never left 0


:)
thanks for listening to my rant.
Last edited by billberet on Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:05 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:21 am

test results, always the same
Image
PH steady, amonia always around 1, no nitrite, nitrate around 20



Fish are enjoying the sand, this was about a week ago
Image

just waiting for things to settle in before i do more work
Image
Image

here is the final design
Image
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby englishmx » Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:48 am

As you started over again from scratch a week ago it will take 2/3 weeks for NitrIte to show and much longer than the 2 weeks you stated to fully cycle the tank.

In the mean time I would be water changing dependant on the test results keeping the Ammonia as low as possible :) I would guess that the RTS is unhappy and not eating due to the current Ammonia content in the water
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:08 pm

that was my thought as well, i've been doing 20% water changes, daily, tring to keep the ammonia at .5
but no matter how many i do, the levels always seem to stay at 1

what about chems to drop the ammonia down?
i've always been a naturalist, never using anything but natural items to treat my tanks.

i know i cannot do more than a 50 % water change due to shocking the fish.
but how many 'daily' water changes can i do? before it starts doing damage, like doing more than 50% water change.


in the past, i've only done water changes once every other week, now i've done 5 changes in 7 days.
sorry, so the question i am asking is how many water changes become too many?????
i am going to have to get a dechlorinator, and do my water changes from a bucket.
i'm sure my water changes are killing the biological filter, keeping my ammonia high.
:) off to the pet store.
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:23 pm

ok i bought some ammo lock to handle the ammonia till the cycle is complete
i also got Nutrafin aqua plus, to treat the water i am going to use my my water changes.
this should help me with my dechlorination of the new water.

and finally, nutrafin cycle, so i can create the bacteria quickly, since i am going to remove their food source when the ammo lock kicks in.
now all i have to do is HURRY UP to WAIT!! lol
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby Carylnz » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:46 pm

Note the Ammolock will give you false test readings as it does not get rid of ammonia, just binds it so it still records on your tests.
My home forum is The NZ Fishroom http://www.fnzas.org.nz
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:45 pm

Understood.
I'm just using it for the sole purpose of protecting the rtc. At least till the tank is cycled.

Could you elaborate a little further on the false test readings. i know the ammo lock just 'locks' the ammonia so it is nontoxic, it does not remove it, or convert it into nitrite. Then the ammonia can be consumed by the biological filter.
at least, that's my understanding of it.
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby Carylnz » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:21 am

It means that sometimes you get a higher ammonia reading than you actually have so the water may not be as toxic as you think. It also makes it harder to work out how the cycle is going.
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:26 am

i think my API test kit is salicylate based (which I believe it is), it should still be able to detect the ammonia, despite it being bound by ammolock.
but i'm still under the assumption that the test will give a false positive. now i have to determine how long it will take till the readings are true.

it's not looking for the fish, the parrot is now turning pale and sitting at the bottom of the tank, and the RTC is getting pale as well while swimming at the top of the tank.
i hope they can survive this cycle process. this is stressing me out just as much as the fish :)
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby englishmx » Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:38 pm

Personally I would not use ammo lock. If your fish are looking pale, I would be doing some 'massive' water changes. The presence of the Ammonia will be doing more harm than the effect of the water changes
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:15 pm

my thoughts exactly, i only used the ammo lock once, and i'm not going to use it again.
but won't multiple water changes destroy my biological, and i'll be on a downward spiral?

1) amonia grows, bacteria forms
2) water change with tap,
3) biological dies from chlorine from tap water
4) return to 1


i started a bucket treatment, but it's not enough water movement.
i fill 3 5gal buckets with water, treat with nutrafin plus, then dump bucket into tank.
but i feel this is barely scratching the surface in volume.

what are your thoughts?
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:52 pm

ok here is what i just did, 40% water change.

i drained the tank 40%

filled 3 5gal buckets and added nutrafin plus to treat the bucket, then dumped all 3 buckets in the tank.

ph of my tap is same as tank, 7.6
temp of the bucket water is same as tank 76deg
ammonia = 0 (naturally)
chlorine = ? (i added 2 pumps of Nutrafin aqua plus, each pump can treat 5gal, so i put enought to treat 10 gal in a 5 gal bucket)
the aqua plus is to dechlorinate the buckets.

i'll do another ammonia test tonight to see if it drops below 1ppm
i'm hoping this way of doing water changes will not destroy my biological filter.


I tried nutrafin cycle to add bacteria, but i have no idea if the bottle is alive or dead.
i'm assuming it was a waste of money to buy.


did i miss anything?
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby englishmx » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:12 am

Sounds good Bill, the Nutrafin cycle is a waste of time & money in my opinion.

Another thought is to cut down on the feeding a bit utill the Ammonia is under control, that will help with the bio-load
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:54 pm

unfortunately that is not a problem, the fish are not eating anyway.
i put a piece of krill on a stick and tried to put it in the RTC's mouth, no success.
normally he would gobble it up. and now he's swimming constantly.
nothing worse than trying to cycle a tank with your prise fish!!!!!


thanks for the help, it's always good to have a second pair of eyes look at my issue.
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Re: red tail cat in a cycled freshwater aquarium - NEED HELP

Postby billberet » Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:31 pm

i had my first death, ID shark is now gone.
the RTC's eyes are all cut up, and getting paler

i borrowed some bacteria from a buddy and put in my tank to help 'jump start' the process.
very depressing to see fish die you have had for a decade.

i'll keep doing my water changes and hope for the best.
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