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Matt Armstrong

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  1. @Razberry910, perhaps you could buffer your hatching water with a touch of baking soda? From https://www.tfhmagazine.com/articles/freshwater/a-scientific-economic-and-commonsense-approach-to-brine-shrimp-hatching (which is an interesting read, with experienced and reputable authors):
  2. Forgot to mention that I do agree with @jwcarlson with respect to Pothos lighting. If your tank is in a dark corner the Pothos will be light limited, and won't be able to suck as much nutrients. I've got a Pothos (planted in soil) in a fairly dark room and it grows slowly. Good luck!
  3. When I was dosing ferts using the EI method (which basically aggressively replenishes water column ferts often), and had plants growing in an aquasoil substrate, but no CO2, the submersed plants were still growing fine despite a sizable Pothos growing quickly out the top as well. When I kinda got bored maintaining that tank and stopped dosing ferts consistently, and the aquasoil became depleted, the only plants that survived were Anubias and the Pothos, and the growth of both slowed considerably. Even the Java ferns eventually melted away, leaving only Anubias and the Pothos roots in the water.
  4. An update on this treatment regime: I moved all fish from this tank to a bare bottom 10G quarantine tank and began treating as described above. So far, I observe no change in any of the fish, for better or worse. The one Bloodfin tetra still has a compromised swim bladder but it hasn't gotten worse or better. One interesting behavioral thing I have noticed. The Bloodfin tetras (Aphyocharax anisitsi) appear to happily feed at all levels of the tank. They are primary top and mid-water feeders, but they will also orient themselves vertically and peck at the substrate. That is, except for this one tetra with the swim bladder issue. It is "tail heavy" and doesn't seem able to do this, and it also doesn't seem to feed quite as effectively since it must constantly correct the tendency for its tail to drop. These tetras are also "thrown off" by the bare bottom tank and even after weeks still seem to swim against the bare bottom in the belief they can still swim deeper. In contrast, the Inpaichthys kerri tetras (Blue/Purple Emperor Tetra) almost completely ignore the tank bottom, rarely feed off it, and routinely beat the Bloodfin tetras to food at the upper levels.
  5. Not sure tetras will be different. Just read last night about a guy who uses outside summer tubs to breed all sorts of tetras. If a fish is happy it'll breed, and babies seem to survive better outside (probably because lots of small live food and hiding spots are available).
  6. People should do research, yes. But, reality is, very few people in this hobby research all aspects of every fish they've ever purchased. So, the LFS has both an opportunity and a role in helping customers avoid landmines. Chinese Algae Eaters are almost trick fish. They're most often sold small, on display with tetras and other small fish, yet they get large and markedly change in behavior over their life time. We could have a long discussion about this, but I don't think the purpose, ethically speaking, of an LFS is to make money above all other considerations. They have animal welfare to consider as well. Even if making money were their only consideration, educating customers would help them do that, as their customers would come to trust them and become loyal customers. The best ones already do this, at least as much as they can.
  7. The LFS also has an opportunity to educate people, too.
  8. Established filters don't generally cause or release nitrates just by being dirty. "Mulm" alone does not "rot" and produce waste. It is generally the end result of the decomposition process. Feel free to rinse your media in water, maybe in a bucket with water siphoned from your aquarium, but replacing it just before a vacation is a risk (your care taker may then be dealing with a tank with a compromised biological filtration capacity, with Ammonia and Nitrite spikes, which are much worse). It seems like your aquarium is well cycled (zero Ammonia, zero Nitrites), so apart from rinsing media I'd leave the filter alone. I'd first look to these causes: Dead fish, which you've done. Dead plants. Don't under estimate how much nitrogen can be released by rotting plant material. Trim leaves that are browning. Over feeding. So easy to do... Overdoing it on plant fertilization. (@mmiller2001's suggestion that the root tabs could be releasing Nitrates is something to look at, especially with all the gravel vacuuming you have done recently). Expired or otherwise faulty test kits. 40-80 ppm of Nitrates is not an emergency. Unless your fish are showing distress I would keep doing frequent water changes and monitor. Bad test kits happen more often than you might think. Both liquid and test strips can expire, and even new test strips can just be "bad". I recently solved a case of mysterious test results by getting a new liquid test kit, which I found gave me results that actually made sense.
  9. I was surprised to learn how much melting crypt leaves can contribute to the nitrogen cycle. Half to just see what would happen, I put 4 newly purchased crypts (from ACO, online) in a new 10G, put a light on a timer, added a sponge filter, and didn't touch it for a month. Some leaves melted and I measured high spikes of Ammonia and Nitrites through the month as the filter cycled. It has been about a month, the crypts are no longer melting and are growing, but the cycle isn't completely done yet, but I have >80ppm nitrates in that tank.
  10. Long story short: I have a tetra that has two symptoms that started out subtle and have become slowly but progressively worse over a span of two months. I'd like advice as to how to proceed. Primarily: Should I treat with salt or meds? Which ones? Should I treat the whole tank or just the one fish? I included a video at the end showing this fish's balance issue (in a tank with the filters off). Symptoms: This tetra started off thinner than the other two, and has become concave near its pelvic fins. This tetra has a balance issue. Its tail end "sinks" when it rests. It must work much harder than its species-mates to maintain its position in the tank. This tetra otherwise behaves "normally". It eats as eagerly as the others, shoals with them, etc. Tank parameters are: pH: 7.6 to 7.8 (stable, same as my tap) Nitrates: As high as 40-80 (I can't tell the difference between 40 and 80 with the API test kit) but I've reduced this to <20ppm with water changes recently. I've stopped dosing ACO "Easy Green" for now, but initially I dosed enough to raise this to 40ppm as recommended. Also, I suspect the "half decomposing" Amazon Sword was a larger source of Nitrates than I realized at the start -- I now prune and remove all decomposing leaves weekly. 3-5 dGH 3 dKH 0 Nitrites 0 Ammonia 76F A few weeks ago, trying to help this fish, I put this tank through the ACO Quarantine procedure at https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/how-to-treat-sick-aquarium-fish. No change in this one fish's symptoms. This did impact the Nitrogen cycle in the tank, and I went through a few days where some fish showed stress, and Ammonia and Nitrites were non-zero. I gave them some relief by dosing Prime daily until the cycle re-established itself in about three days. This is a 20 gallon tank, which I took on from another person at the end of November. It came with 3 Bloodfin Tetras (Aphyocharax anisitsi), three "Kerri Tetra" (aka Blue/Purple Emperor Tetra Inpaichthys kerri), and a Bristlenose. It also had zero filtration, one sad and half decomposing Amazon sword failing to root in 1/2" of gravel, a rarely used and very dim old fluorescent canopy, and a heater set at 78F. I've since added the smallest Eheim canister filter (which I already had), a sponge filter, a descent light, and four more Inpaichthys kerri, which evened out their intera-species aggression (before these, I'd never seen one tetra bully another so much that it went and hid in a corner!). From the start, one of the Bloodfin Tetras looked stunted, with a smaller than usual head, and "shiny" eye sockets when viewed from the front and top (compared to the other two, this stunted fish has less flesh around its eyes). This fish appears otherwise healthy. See if you can spot it in the video, but I'm not worried about this fish. Another of the Bloodfin Tetras is the subject here. This one was thin when I got it, which I initially thought suggested it was a male. I then noticed that its tail "sank" more than the others -- it must constantly work to stay horizontal. This has progressed, slowly, to become ever so slightly worse over two months. This fish has also gone from thin to skinny to concave. Other than this, behaviorally, it acts normally, eats, etc. The third Bloodfin is fat and appears happy. The behavior is hard to capture in pictures, but is pretty clear in a video. The fish I'm worried about is the one whose caudal (tail) fin is lower than the rest of its body. The filters and air were off for this filming.
  11. My first and only African Cichlid tank was 75G and I kept it simple and probably "boring" for someone who is really into them: a group of six Labidochromis caeruleus and another group of six Pseudotropheus cyaneorhabdos. Both of these species are very commonly available (hence "boring"), but as a first dip into these fish I think this is a plus. The contrasting colors of these two species was great. A fun tank to watch. Looking at it, my tank and mix of species looked a lot like the tank Zenzo pointed to!
  12. To my future self: The aquascaped nature aquarium, dutch aquarium, etc., are all beautiful and awesome, but you dont' have much artistic talent and don't like high maintenance tanks. Go see them, watch videos about them, and leave it at that. Go with easy low light plants. Which means: No need for super-bright "plant" LEDs, CO2, etc. Which means: Your favorite pant will become all Anubias sp., followed by Java Ferns, Java Mosses, Crypts, and Bucephalandra sp. Control Algae with less light, primarily. Dose ferts, but sparingly, since your tanks are running in slow-motion compared to most advice you'll read about. Avoid CO2. Everything is slower, calmer, less growth, less pruning, etc. Do the dirted tank thing once, for fun. They're great fun at the start, then they aren't.
  13. Agreed! Just be sure to keep them in a school or aggression might be a problem. Not to other fish, but to themselves. I adopted a tank with 3 kerri tetras. At those numbers one of the kerri's was dominant and the other two were constantly being chased and/or hiding. Adding 4 more kerri's evened out the aggression and now they are a source of constant movement and energy in the tank. They stay fairly small, so in a 29 you could stock many.
  14. Could it be that the dead fishes are the cause of the measured ammonia spikes, at least in some cases? Even in established aquariums an undiscovered dead fish, hiding under a rock or behind a plant, is a plausible cause for a newly discovered ammonia spike. In some of the Aquarium Co-Op videos Cory talks about what fish go through before they get to us. In a class on aquarium science it might be interesting to cover these aspects of the industry/hobby. After hearing some of the details I am amazed they survive as well as they do. Videos about Otocinclus (often wild caught and ill fed for many weeks) or "Neon Tetra Disease" (where he describes how mass produced tetras are raised) come to mind. It might prepare the students for the eventual, and essentially inevitable, eventually that death will occur in their tanks. I once put a group of 12 Rummy-nose tetras into a new 45G "cycled" aquarium. It was using a canister filter from an established tank. Two died within a day for no obvious reason. The remaining tetras weren't showing consistent bright red noses for a good month or two, and then went on to live apparently happy lives for many years. There is definitely more than just the nitrogen cycle that impacts the health of fish in the aquarium.
  15. Hi @GinaSue, A few things come to mind. Compared to 35 years ago, the the focus has shifted away from a reliance on specific pH values in typical community aquariums, and instead focus on maintaining stable ph vales. The specific pH values are usually most relevant only to breeding, or species with "special needs" such as African Cichlids). Your typical Tetra or Corydoras can live a fine life in Seattle's tap water pH. With Seattle water (which is soft), and a 2 month water change schedule, a planted tank may well have low Nitrates but is also likely to also have very low KH. KH is consumed by biological cycle in the aquarium, which is why it drops over time. Simply topping off with Seattle tap water over two months will not make up for this. This is why the Aquarium Co-op store adds crushed coral to their substrate. In my experience, in a lightly stocked aquarium regular (weekly or bi-weekly) water changes also suffice to replenish KH. In these tanks I'm doing water changes to replenish KH and other minerals (for the plants), and not to reduce Nitrates (which can stay at zero due to the plants). As far as the Aquarium Co-op test strips are concerned I have to say...with some disappointment..that I either have a bad batch or they aren't as accurate as some say. I'm in Port Townsend, WA, which has water similar to Seattle: KH and GH in the 3-4 dH range, and a "24H rested tap water" pH or 7.6-7.8. The co-op test strips don't measure this accurately. They say my pH is 6.8 and GH is high. The API "test tube" tests give me results that make more sense. I still use the strips as a quick check, with the idea that if there is a huge change I'll know it quickly, but I don't consider the results "accurate." A good summary of these issues is here:
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