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i'm at a loss and this is long


Grapevine89
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Ok I bought a 32 gallon about 4 years ago.. When I started I got an angel, pearl gourami and a albino common pleco. I left the tank 2 weeks using the bottle my pet guy gave me and doing nothing else ūüėõ¬†I put them all in the tank and they grew and were happy with my sponge filter and hang on the back and so on. Well I was an armature.. I scrubbed, I cleaned with new water I freaked at algae you name it I did it but the main fish lived. Well a few months in I think ok I'm adding mollies and guppys and corydoras everything died in a month. Then it got bad and my angel started laying eggs and anything I put in the tank she was killing and she eventually started attacking the gourami. Now I was still new and didn't really know what route to take here so I put the angel fish to sleep thinking the gourami is fine and my problems will be ok. Well she also died due to so much injury. Now I have a fresh tank with nothing but 1 catfish cool right.. I give it a good clean and run out and get 6 guppies and 2 African dwarf frogs. Then the tank starts leaking! I get a 20 gal tote I move everyone over Including there water. I reseal the tank and all is good. I put all the decorations back and fill the tank.. But I didn't give it the time it needed to reacclimate¬†so i take 20 gal of brand new fresh water dechlorinated and transfer all the fish over. immediately they are gasping for air and within min I killed them all! I'm not at all feeling like the fish witch. So I take it slow this time I put a new sponge filter in the tank and take out the over the hanging one. I put in the canister media one I and had had in the previous¬†tank¬†and I got some seachem prime and i'm good right? Go get 2 more frogs just start simple... I got some java fern and a few Anubis¬†like ok plants are good been watching lots of co op videos and KGTropicals videos and i'm thinking I got this. Add 5 neon tetras and everything¬†is great no issues everyone is happy. Then I think ok I want a betta for the center piece fish here it's in my daughters room and she will love it. I finally get a test kit.. yes just now. OMG my ammonia is at 8!! I immediately¬†start changing water at like 50% every other day for 2 weeks. And you guess it I look a frog.. So umm asking other fish people now I have got ammo lock to use, I have 3 crypts the java fern and 2 Anubis¬†and some frog bite in there. I have dumped mass amount of bottled bacteria to simulate it's growth. I checked my own water no ammonia.. MY TANK WONT CYCLE! I now do 25% change every week sometimes 2 times if the ammonia gets to high but it is almost¬†always 4 or above when I check.. My 5 gal betta tank no issues runs wonderful has perfectly cycled¬†with an adorbs baby in it. I know places I went wrong but i'm on 3 months with the same fish, adding plants and doing regular¬†water changes shouldnt have cycled?

Edited by Grapevine89
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So let me see if I have this right. You have a 20 gallon with live plants, 5 tetras, and API ammo-lock to keep from killing the tetras, and after 3 months with weekly 25% water changes and no ammonia in your source water you can't get the ammonia to go below 4ppm? You have tried bottled bacteria, and still no luck. But you have another cycled tank also.

So step one I would try taking dirty filter media from the cycled tank and putting it in the high ammonia tank to see if that works better than the bottles. Obviously I would not be scrubbing the walls of the tank or disturbing anything. My next question is what is your substrate and what else do you have in the tank--decor? Also what are the chances you have a dead thing in the tank--fish snail, something rotting? Any chance your daughter has dropped something weird in? (she may be past that age, just checking)

Finally, EXACTLY what did you use to seal the tank when it was leaking? Because the fish mass die off when you put them back makes me think you might have introduced a toxic element somehow.

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ok It's a 29 gal tank. I have 5 neon tetras a betta and an African dwarf frog.

My other tank only has a small sponge filter with a beta I just started so I dont want to mess with that yet.

I have some drift wood and rocks with gravel substrate.

nothing has died since August but every time I test the water im at 6 or 8. 

And nothing has died since the reseal.

I think it's not cycling because the Ammonia is so high and I have no nitrites or nitrates.

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That definitely sounds like something is literally rotting in the tank. I wonder if something could have gotten into/under the gravel or under the driftwood? Rotten eggs can be sulfur/hydrogen sulfide, which is classic in an anerobic bacteria situation--which would mean you have bacteria in there, but something is still just overwhelming it. That is what happens in a swamp or bog. Unless it is just the abundance of ammo-lock or water conditioner making a funny smell...

Have you moved all the driftwood and rocks and checked under them for anything weird? Admittedly I am just making some guesses, but I seem to remember a story of another user finding a dead snail under a piece of driftwood and reporting a horrible smell... Does the driftwood smell or feel really soft?

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Hey @Grapevine89, I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you have this struggling tank! I get it... it can be so discouraging. ūü•ļ

If you stick with @Brandy she will help you figure it out! The worst thing you can do is listen *too* many voices. So...no advice from me, except to keep at it & follow Brandy's advice. ūüėĀūüĎć And keep us updated!

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@akconklin thanks for the big vote of confidence, but troubleshooting is a team sport! I don't know what is wrong, but I just try to ask good questions. It just seems there is no way those fish can make that much waste in a tank that size...How much and what do you feed each day? I would cut back a little until the cycle is sorted.

The reason I asked about tank sealant is that I know some silicone can have antimicrobial inhibitors, and that might interfere with the cycle. I would agree that if you have high ammonia and no nitrate you don't have a functioning cycle.

I have used Seachem stability to attempt to boost a cycle but I am not sure that it works or not, it is not clear to me how the bacteria in bottled solutions would be shelf stable. I wonder if you could find a person with a healthy tank to give you some old filter media? I have schlocky filter floss that I am always able to jump start a tank with now. That would be an easy ask. 

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Just sptiballing so please take this with a huge scoop of salt. Is it possible that the ammo lock is preventing the bacteria from processing ammonia, starving beneficial bacteria in the process (mostly aimed at more experienced fishkeepers here, who have used ammo lock or know how it works)?

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So I'm thinking I'd start with reducing feeding to a minimum. Then I'd search high a low for a corpse or a fish or snail or something.  The rotten eggs smell is likely a anaerobic bacteria pocket. It comes from oxygen starved water staying in place in the substrate. The pockets being disturbed can be dangerous to fish.  How often are you vacuuming the substrate?

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Oh man i feel lime i have been giving so many opposing ideas man! So i woke up and found all the tetras gone but the betta and frog doing solid. So my plan is to go back to my weekly 30% changes... And add nothing til something balances out. The frog and betta shouldnt make too much waste and hopefully the plants can just start catching up to balance everything. I vac the gravel every water change then someone told me not to that i must be removing good bacteria. So i stopped and started vacuuming every other change and everything just hot worse. I also notices the media filter i had isnt pushing the media anymore.. So sigh i guess this is just gunna be a super awesome beta tank for awhile. Oh and the bacteria question i had someone tell me to put a small bottle of quick start in there to eat the ammonia so i did.. And didnt gravel vac for 2 weeks im sure that caused the spike when i did. 

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I think you're on the right track getting away from the bottled "short cuts". They add alot of difficulty and confusion when diagnosing issues. Using Prime or another good water conditioner during water changes should be all you need. A small amount of ammonia is just something we deal with sometimes during "fish-in cycle". If your ammonia is getting too high, a water change should be all you need to do till that beneficial bacteria gets going. If you have questions or concerns, keep coming back here. Alot of experienced people who love to help.

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Sorry if someone else has already said this but the rotting egg smell is most likely from dosing a lot of dechlorinator, they use sulfur in dechlorinators so they can smell pretty bad. Also are you sure your test is still in date and that your shaking them up enough beforehand?

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the dechlorinator makes sense I did a minor water change this morning and im just gunna give it time and see what happens at this point with the one fish and do some less feeding i bet feeding got out of hand from feeding the Beta one food the frog another and the tetras something else.

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7 hours ago, faydout said:

Just sptiballing so please take this with a huge scoop of salt. Is it possible that the ammo lock is preventing the bacteria from processing ammonia, starving beneficial bacteria in the process (mostly aimed at more experienced fishkeepers here, who have used ammo lock or know how it works)?

Ammo lock should not keep the ammonia from being consumed by the bacteria. 

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1 hour ago, Brandy said:

Ammo lock should not keep the ammonia from being consumed by the bacteria. 

I also only got the ammo lock last weeks because nothing was getting the ammonia down Idk I went in and cleaned the sponge filter as Cory shows in his video and I added a bubbler because the other filter I had wasnt pushing air anymore besides that i'm just going to do another water change on sunday and see what it looks like.. Do plant fertilizers do anything weird? I had been adding flourish this last couple weeks too because my plants were getting yellow and brown and then they got better with the fertilizer.

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The fertilizer should not cause problems, and dying brown plants will contribute to ammonia, while healthy plants should help. "Liquid carbon" I would not mess with at this point however. (called flourish EXCEL, it can be confused with regular fertilizer, ask me how I know...lol)

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4 minutes ago, Brandy said:

The fertilizer should not cause problems, and dying brown plants will contribute to ammonia, while healthy plants should help. "Liquid carbon" I would not mess with at this point however. (called flourish EXCEL, it can be confused with regular fertilizer, ask me how I know...lol)

I will say my java fern was fine but the anubias were looking kinda off and then did great and came back wonderfully with some fertilizer. For all intense and purpose though the ammonia test was showing so high all the time my fish looked great til I started messing with additives and couldn't understand why the ammonias were so high,

 

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so, you are getting accurate 0ppm ammonia tests with your tap water and the other tank... I don't think your test kit is likely wrong. What are all the additives you have been adding, and what amounts? I can check and see if anything is likely a problem, but mostly I wouldn't think it would be. Do you have a pic of the tank you can add?

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ok here is my tank now.. last weekend I had a huge fake plant in the back I took out because I planted like 4 crypts and added frogbite. I also glues the ferns to the chola and moved all the substrate to do a good vacuum and it kicked up a bunch so then I did a 25% water change about 3 days later no gravel movement and that when the smell came.

tank.jpg

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I agree with Ben E. best thing I did was take my water to get tested, I too purchased one of the liquid kits and had a hard time telling what exactly the results were reading. Getting my water tested gave me a starting point to work back from.

If possible try test strips. Leaves out human error a bit, plus tends to be easier to understand 

Edited by Taco
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