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Bar aquarium assistance please


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These fish have been here for at least 3 years. My wife works at the cafe/restaurant attached to the bar and nobody really has been taking care of them except her feeding them and adding water and me just cleaning glass and decorations on occasion. She noticed the eyes on a couple of them today looked a little cloudy. I'm not sure as I never noticed before. Any suggestions on what it is, if anything. One or two of them are looking a little "ragged" for a lack of a better word.

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Posted (edited)

They are likely getting bacterial infections from lack of care. 

If the water never gets changed only topped of it will become very hard and have lots of nitrates. 

The best thing to do for them is a large water change and don't forget the declore!

Oh, and it looks like there is no air stone in there? A little air for them would be good too.

 

Edited by Wrencher_Scott
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Ya, they are definitely being neglected. I'm gonna head in there and get a big water change done, add an airstone back in(used to have one), it has a canister filter that hasn't been touched in probably 2 years. I'm afraid of what I might find. Maybe I clean the canister put first. Wait a week and do a water change? Thoughts?

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On 6/3/2022 at 12:31 PM, Woogie23 said:

Any suggestions on what it is, if anything. One or two of them are looking a little "ragged" for a lack of a better word.

One of the meds I was looking at yesterday was specifically for treating "cloudy eyes". Yes, this one.  Treatment for popeye.

https://www.aquariumcoop.com/collections/fish-medicine/products/mardel-maracyn

Needless to say I think there's a few things that NEED TO be done right away on this tank.  A SEVERE gravel vac needs to happen and it needs to be done weekly or just remove the substrate. Second to that, I'd recommend using a canister filter, clean it monthly. I'd also recomment removing all the decor and adding something like vallisnaria.  If the fish will destroy it, something like micro sword might work.  Leave the pirate ship if they would like to for theme purposes, but you really need something in there to help with bioload and health of the fish. 

Best thing is probably to rehome these fish and find something more applicable for the tank itself and the care people are willing to provide. It's unfortunate, but it's going to be something where these fish likely will outgrow this tank if they are properly cared for.
 

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On 6/3/2022 at 1:39 PM, Woogie23 said:

Ya, they are definitely being neglected. I'm gonna head in there and get a big water change done, add an airstone back in(used to have one), it has a canister filter that hasn't been touched in probably 2 years. I'm afraid of what I might find. Maybe I clean the canister put first. Wait a week and do a water change? Thoughts?

Ya, clean the filter first but don't over do it. That brown gunk in there is laden with good bacteria. Just rinse it out a bit in tank water. If it is flowing well it is fine even if it looks nasty. 

No need to wait a week to change the water. 

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If you are going to do a large (50% or over) water change in one shot, I would test the tank water first, and test the tap. Make sure they are reasonably close in GH/KH/PH. You may find that the tank water has acidified greatly due to neglect, and has a very low PH with no buffer. If the tap water is harder with a significantly higher PH, you may be better/safer off doing daily 25% water changes for a week to get the tank in order, so as not to "shock" the fish.

I had stumbled upon a very neglected tank at my old workplace. When I tested the water, I could not believe there was a fish living in it; a senior banded Leporinus. Nitrates were around 500ppm, and the PH was around 5.0-5.5. It took me two weeks of doing 20-25% waterchanges to gradually get the tank back close to tap parameters. Once I did, the fish livened up and really colored up too. I still look after the tank weekly. The Leporinus is still the only fish. He's almost 10 years old.

My point being...don't freak if the Nitrates are off the charts. You will get that down sooner than later. It doesn't have to be all in one shot.

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On 6/3/2022 at 5:55 PM, quikv6 said:

My point being...don't freak if the Nitrates are off the charts. You will get that down sooner than later. It doesn't have to be all in one shot.

I didn't even think about testing the tank and tap first and doing smaller water changes for a week. Makes perfect sense. Thanks for the advise everyone. I'm looking forward to helping out these poor fish.

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Posted (edited)

So I have an update here. Cleaned out the filter and gravel vacuumed half the tank while doing a near 50% water change. Cleaned two of the 4 decorations. Got a lot of pics and I'm up for suggestions on what can be better. I am thinking of adding a bunch more media into the canister. I know I need to take out the old carbon bags. Do I replace with more or just put media in those areas?

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Edited by Woogie23
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On 6/7/2022 at 10:11 PM, Woogie23 said:

Do I replace with more or just put media in those areas?

Given the state and use of the tank, I'd always run carbon in it.  It helps with a lot of things and you can fill the basket with both media and carbon.

From the video, it also looks like you have an undergravel filter in the middle of the tank.  I would verify the setup, probably tear it apart and deep clean it, then set it up again.  On the UGF, I'd just remove the little carbon cartridge. It's not needed, especially if you're running it in the canister.

If you want to remove the UGF, Probably a good idea to just replace it with a bubble wall.  Move the heater to a position towards the spraybar / output on the canister to make sure it has adequate flow as well.

PH is almost non-existent. You have no KH as well.  Nitrates are high.  If you can, please test ammonia.

I would continue with water changes, slowly, but constantly to get the water parameters back up. Maybe 30%, every few days is a good way to handle it so the fish can slowly acclimate to new PH.  I'd probably run the Med trio when you do have them stable, but that's a ways off.

I would likely suggest salt as well help their slime coat recover and breathing/respiration while they are going through this stress.  Frozen foods or high quality foods just to make sure they have strength and such.

 

Edit: Given there's no KH. I'd run Crushed Coral and Carbon in the canister compartment.

I would not add the Coral until you have the PH increased via water changes and you really know what's going on with the parameters from the tap.

 

On 6/7/2022 at 10:11 PM, Woogie23 said:

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Bottom Tray: Foam (Coarse, Medium, Fine pad)
2-3 Tray: Media
4th Tray: Crushed Coral / Carbon

 

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Posted (edited)

@Woogie23

I'm with @Flumpweesel100%. I would over time replace EVERYTHING in the filter with course foam. Carbon is useless unless you need to remove a chemical or meds. (and you don't). Carbon is a scam by companies that sell it. 

Replace about half of whatever is in there now with course foam, then the rest in a month or so. Then you don't have to mess with it but maybe every six months or more, and it will give them the best biofiltration.  There is no need for floss or carbon or those silly rings or balls. 

Those poor fish are lucky to have you. 

p.s. You can most likely get the foam on Amazon cheap, don't buy it off the shelf at Petco. 

The water looks fine, just some Nitrate but not a lot. All it will need now is no overfeeding and water changes to keep the nitrate reasonable like 50 or less for them. Those guys can handle much more no doubt but give their little livers a break (or is it kidneys?, lol I don't know maybe both)

Edited by Wrencher_Scott
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Put a new airstone on the UGF and see if you get more air out of it.  Even better, fit the UGF with a powerhead but make sure to do it after hours as it’s likely to push out a bunch of debris.  I would tie a fine mesh filter bag over the opening of the powerhead to catch some of the debris if you decide to add a powerhead.  May not need to clean under the UGF if you switch to a powerhead, it likely will clean it out for you.  

I’m also thinking switch all the canister media gradually over to different grades of foam with coarse foam (about 20-25 ppi) on top to catch big debris, that eventually will get cleaned at least monthly, weekly would be much better.  Then finer foam, around 30 ppi, lower that only gets one layer cleaned per week, trading between the layers.  You may have to add some crushed coral to get your pH up and get your KH up for more pH stability.  Is the tap water KH that low, also?

Your water changes are going to be the best thing you can do for those poor fish.  A couple of the dollars look really skinny, so be prepared that when they get that skinny, they don’t always come back.  Putting a few plants in there, or feeding some veggies, might help them be able to munch at will.  Vallisneria is frequently a favorite for dollars to munch.  Plus some nice meaty foods at least a couple times weekly for more calorie density overall.

It’s going to be a bit uphill to get the tank and fish back on track.  Is the bar owner willing to have someone come in and do maintenance if you can’t continue?  Unless you’re buying the bar, I can’t see how anybody can expect you to do it week after week for free.

 

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Well, I talked them into moving the tank into the lobby area of the restaurant and away from an exit door and a mini basketball hoop.  It'll be good to get it moved. That won't be for a couple weeks at least though. So in the meantime gonna try and get them fed a little better and try to get the PH up as well. I'll work on the UGF after the move I think.

I really appreciate everyone's help! I'm gonna get a shopping list together for everything I need to include some foam, a new airstone (for now),

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On 6/3/2022 at 6:55 PM, quikv6 said:

If you are going to do a large (50% or over) water change in one shot, I would test the tank water first, and test the tap. Make sure they are reasonably close in GH/KH/PH. You may find that the tank water has acidified greatly due to neglect, and has a very low PH with no buffer. If the tap water is harder with a significantly higher PH, you may be better/safer off doing daily 25% water changes for a week to get the tank in order, so as not to "shock" the fish.

I had stumbled upon a very neglected tank at my old workplace. When I tested the water, I could not believe there was a fish living in it; a senior banded Leporinus. Nitrates were around 500ppm, and the PH was around 5.0-5.5. It took me two weeks of doing 20-25% waterchanges to gradually get the tank back close to tap parameters. Once I did, the fish livened up and really colored up too. I still look after the tank weekly. The Leporinus is still the only fish. He's almost 10 years old.

My point being...don't freak if the Nitrates are off the charts. You will get that down sooner than later. It doesn't have to be all in one shot.

Best advice so far!

On 6/7/2022 at 11:11 PM, Woogie23 said:

I know I need to take out the old carbon bags

The carbon bags at this point are home to a lot of beneficial bacteria, so can lay in there with coarse (<20 ppi) sponge to seed the sponge faster, Next maintenance day, take them out.

 

On 6/8/2022 at 5:59 PM, Odd Duck said:

Put a new airstone on the UGF and see if you get more air out of it.  Even better, fit the UGF with a powerhead but make sure to do it after hours as it’s likely to push out a bunch of .  I would tie a fine mesh filter bag over the opening of the powerhead to catch some of the debris if you decide to add a powerhead.  May not need to clean under the UGF if you switch to a powerhead, it likely will clean it out for you.  

I’m also thinking switch all the canister media gradually over to different grades of foam with coarse foam (about 20-25 ppi) on top to catch big debris, that eventually will get cleaned at least monthly, weekly would be much better.  Then finer foam, around 30 ppi, lower that only gets one layer cleaned per week, trading between the layers.  You may have to add some crushed coral to get your pH up and get your KH up for more pH stability.  Is the tap water KH that low, also?

Your water changes are going to be the best thing you can do for those poor fish.  A couple of the dollars look really skinny, so be prepared that when they get that skinny, they don’t always come back.  Putting a few plants in there, or feeding some veggies, might help them be able to munch at will.  Vallisneria is frequently a favorite for dollars to munch.  Plus some nice meaty foods at least a couple times weekly for more calorie density overall.

It’s going to be a bit uphill to get the tank and fish back on track.  Is the bar owner willing to have someone come in and do maintenance if you can’t continue?  Unless you’re buying the bar, I can’t see how anybody can expect you to do it week after week for free.

 

@Woogie23 I have taken care of tanks where a spouse worked before, because as a human being it's our responsibility to take care of creatures dependent on us... like fish in an aquarium in a bar.

If you are deriving joy from bringing the fish back, and it has a side benefit of improving the available hours for your gal, I would recommend easing the owner/manager into paying you for the maintenance. Keep receipts, including a time log. If you do this well, be prepared for people to ask you about your tank maintenance business, as barflys are the best at word of mouth referrals... even when we don't necessarily want the business. Tank maintenance can be a nice side hsutle, and can generate a niche so aquarium supplies become a tax write off.

In the meantime: Stability is key. Much better to keep making smaller water changes until the tank and tap match. Power heads on UGF are a great way to obtain stability, and the canister becomes extra filtration. Adding plants will keep the nitrates down. I'm shocked the nitrates were that low after zero maintenance for 2 years. Indicates the fish have probably been chronically underfed.

Maybe talk to the owner about buying the autofeeder from the Co-op, as long as barflys can't access the autofeeder, that will ensure your hard work taking care of the tank doesn't get sabotaged. I second the recommendation of placing a filter sock over the powerhead when you first hook it up to the UGF. You can tie it in place, and run the power head for 20 minutes to clear the UGF out and improve flow. Then remove the filter sock, rinse off the impeller of the power head, and you will see a marked improvement over the next week.

Increased quality of food will also make a difference. Try sharing a Co-op video with the owner, and recommending frozen foods and high quality pellets and flakes. 

Thank you so much for taking care of these guys!

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On 6/8/2022 at 9:16 PM, Woogie23 said:

Well, I talked them into moving the tank into the lobby area of the restaurant and away from an exit door and a mini basketball hoop.  It'll be good to get it moved. That won't be for a couple weeks at least though. So in the meantime gonna try and get them fed a little better and try to get the PH up as well. I'll work on the UGF after the move I think.

I really appreciate everyone's help! I'm gonna get a shopping list together for everything I need to include some foam, a new airstone (for now),

You might consider crushed coral in the canister. 

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On 6/8/2022 at 9:35 PM, Torrey said:

Best advice so far!

The carbon bags at this point are home to a lot of beneficial bacteria, so can lay in there with coarse (<20 ppi) sponge to seed the sponge faster, Next maintenance day, take them out.

In the meantime: Stability is key. Much better to keep making smaller water changes until the tank and tap match. Power heads on UGF are a great way to obtain stability, and the canister becomes extra filtration. Adding plants will keep the nitrates down. I'm shocked the nitrates were that low after zero maintenance for 2 years. Indicates the fish have probably been chronically underfed.

Stability is always key.  Especially it the fish are stressed or weak from neglect.  Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

 

if you can swing it, try feeding frozen bloodworms every few days.  Should help them gain some weight.

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On 6/3/2022 at 6:09 PM, Woogie23 said:

I didn't even think about testing the tank and tap first and doing smaller water changes for a week. Makes perfect sense. Thanks for the advise everyone. I'm looking forward to helping out these poor fish.

Obviously someone has been adding water from the tap in there for a long time, no need to check the tap. What are you going to do if you feel it's not right anyway? It's a waste of time. Just be sure it has zero chlorine in it, that's all. 

Just go down there once a month or so and do a water change for them for a free drink or two, that's what I'm thinking.

If you fill that canister with course foam you will likely not need to touch it for many months too, just watch the flow. simple. 

It's not like you are breeding Discus or something, this does not need to be complicated. 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/9/2022 at 10:54 AM, Wrencher_Scott said:

Obviously someone has been adding water from the tap in there for a long time, no need to check the tap. What are you going to do if you feel it's not right anyway? It's a waste of time. Just be sure it has zero chlorine in it, that's all. 

Just go down there once a month or so and do a water change for them for a free drink or two, that's what I'm thinking.

If you fill that canister with course foam you will likely not need to touch it for many months too, just watch the flow. simple. 

It's not like you are breeding Discus or something, this does not need to be complicated. 

Kind of what I started thinking. Simplify this a bit. Ill post updates with pics weekly.

My wife has been the one taking care of the tank best she can. As far as feeding and topping off. They had other fish in there. Some were aggressive, I got another employee to take the aggressors out. The silver dollars fins were all chewed up at one point. Glad we resolved that and it looks like all fins are back full. She's been putting in stress coat when adding water. That's been about it. I think key right now is, move tank to better location while getting parameters better. PH needs to go up and get coarse sponges into canister.

Oh also a better feeding regiment. Some greens as suggested above and stuff other than tetra flakes...

Edited by Woogie23
Grammer
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Posted (edited)

Quick update here. All fish doing ok still. Just did another water change today (probably 30%). Changed out the airstone in the UGF and added an airstone to an open ended ait hose under the coral deco in the corner. (It didn't have anything there) Then I thought the lone non silver dollar had died, I found him hiding in the pirate ship. I went ahead and pulled him out. I think I'll put him in my 55. Should be ok I think. Forgot to mention, he's a cherry barb.

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Edited by Woogie23
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On 6/13/2022 at 3:22 PM, Woogie23 said:

Quick update here. All fish doing ok still. Just did another water change today (probably 30%). Changed out the airstone in the UGF and added an airstone to an open ended ait hose under the coral deco in the corner. (It didn't have anything there) Then I thought the lone non silver dollar had died, I found him hiding in the pirate ship. I went ahead and pulled him out. I think I'll put him in my 55. Should be ok I think. Forgot to mention, he's a cherry barb.

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Making progress!  Thanks for the update

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