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New tank issues...


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I have a 29gallon tank that's challenging.  Weeks 2-4 I was doing a water change of about 6 gallons once a week, I'm always treating water with conditioner and adding bacterial supplement with w/c.  The filter is a TopFin Silenstream HOB on maximum flow with cut-to-size sponge, a pre-filter sponge, a bag of bioballs (and currently zeolite, but was previously carbon), and I have a Tetra Whisper 1-3gal in there to keep it cycled for another project I have in mind.  Tank also has an airstone with a gentle stream of bubbles.

Week 1, set up tank, add bag of gravel from existing tank and bacterial supplement over the week (Seachem Stability).  Add a moss ball, Java Moss.

Week 2, move over half of media from well seasoned (5 years) tank into filter, move over half of fish (1 betta, 3 black neon tetras) add leafy plants and a few small single stem plants.

Week 3, Add 3 glowlight tetras, a small handful of and salivinia.

Week 4, Add 3 glowlight tetras

Week 5, Add 4 guppies and larger stem plant - this is where the problem starts.  A couple days after this, 3 glowlight tetras are showing fin rot, one looks to have a bacterial infection, pull out all the glowlight tetras to a hospital tank, treat them.  Test the 29 gal, slightly elevated ammonia at 0.3ppm.  Do a 50% water change, add extra bacterial supplement, salt at 1tbsp per 5 gals.  Ammonia drops.  Reduced feeding.

Week 6 - One fish has a single ich spot, betta has whiteish coating on head, a guppy has clamped fins.  Pull out carbon and treat with Jungle Lifeguard All-In-One (limited choices here in Canada).  Lose a guppy the next day.  Lose another one 2 days later.  Other fish improving.  Test water 24h after treatment completed, ammonia at to 1.3-2.6ppm (hard to read the colour on these tests), do a 60% water change, add 3/4cup zeolite in filter, everyone seems happier.

Week 7 (this week) - Population is now 1 betta, 3 black neons, 2 guppies and a few bladder snails.  Test ammonia 36h after week 6 w/c, still elevated at 0.6-1.2ppm, do 50% w/c.  Next day do 40% w/c, refresh zeolite, down to 0.3ppm.  My w/c percentages are based on how full the tank looked when I remembered to stopped the syphon, nothing scientific going on there.  Add Guppy Grass.  Test the next day (yesterday) and the ammonia is at 0.3-0.6ppm, a guppy has clamped fins and betta is being a more aggressive than usual. The water seems cloudier.  Add Melafix and bacterial supplement, check for melting/browning plants and pull a few little leaves out.  All fish accounted for.


All along my tests for everything other than ammonia are normal for my water, a bit softer than my well established (5 years) tank.


The plants are all growing, especially the Java Moss.  The only plants that were dying were salivinia, I suspect they are sensitive to salt, I yanked the browning ones out to prevent any ammonia coming from them.


I think the initial health issue with the glowlight tetras was likely caused by a bit of ammonia due to extra bioload along with some bacterial thing they brought with them (definitely quarantining from now on!) but since then, is it possible that the All-In-One treatment reduced the bacteria in the tank?  With plant growth, and first signs of algae on the decor items, the cycle *has* to be happening right??  But why is my water clouding and I'm reading ammonia, even with the reduced bioload and much reduced feeding compared to when the glowlight tetras and 2 extra guppies were in there?  Frustrating...  With only 6 fish and a bunch of plants I feel like this tank should barely need my attention, and yet the cloudy water screams "test me, change me".  With ammonia currently at 0.3-0.6ppm (less than 0.01ppm NH3 based on my pH of 7.1 and temp of 77F), should I be doing water changes or allowing it to stimulate more bacteria and test daily to keep on top of any increase?


In this same time period I've also set up a 2.5 gallon tank, which theoretically should be the harder one to manage, and it's golden, with 4 ember tetras and an african dwarf frog, which seems like a higher bioload for the size of the tank.  I really wish I hadn't had to treat the 29 gal tank, I feel like it really messed things up.


Advice welcome! 🙂

Edited by CanadaAmanda
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47 minutes ago, CanadaAmanda said:

With plant growth, and first signs of algae on the decor items, the cycle *has* to be happening right??  But why is my water clouding and I'm reading ammonia, even with the reduced bioload

New tanks can be a pain, but you'll come out of it as time really is the secret sauce for setting up a new tank. The cloudy water would make a ton of sense as it could well be a bacterial bloom as the bacteria tries to replicate to catch up with the abundance of food (ammonia). The ammonia would also be a great fertilizer and fuel the plants/algae growth as they consume it.

With time the bacteria will stabilize, the plants/algae will slow down as the plant mass exceeds the production of ammonia and you'll start to settle in to a seasoned tank. Think of the cloudy water as a sign that you are one step closer to the end and not as a set back 🙂


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I agree with Ken! Time will sort things out. In the meantime you may be doing a lot of water changes to keep up with the ammonia, but that shouldn’t last too much longer. I do agree with you that it’s possible the treatment killed off some bacteria. With the cloudy water though, it seems “clear” 😜 that the bacteria are catching up!

If it were me, I wouldn’t add any more bacteria supplements. Those typically only have a few species of bacteria in them, while a proper seasoned tank will have thousands of different species. Diversity is your friend here, because all those different kinds of bacteria specialize in slightly different foods, micro environments, etc. and over time the balance will become perfectly situated for your tank and bio load. Adding a gob of generic bacteria isn’t going to help at this point, and it could even be hindering the growth of the more specialized buggers. 

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1 hour ago, CanadaAmanda said:

My other tank is 6 gallons.

What’s the benefit of putting water from another tank in this one?  The gravel, decor and filter media are what houses the beneficial bacteria.

That what I had always heard too, But after reading this paper I am not as sure as used to. Apparently the beneficial bacteria prefer the surfaces of aquatics plants over anything else. It seems plants enter into a beneficial relationship with bacteria and help provide the oxygen and organic carbon the bacteria need.

So in addition to starting all my new tanks with water from an old tank, I also move many plants over too.


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This sounds like what happened in my tank.. If I had to guess you added to much to soon and with the illness and the throw off everything just collapsed.  White fuzzy stuff could be fungus as well. I would do a good vaccum and then just monitor your ammonia levels. umm another thing I had to figure out. If you have plants especially. If your using a good water conditioner chances are you have ammonia but it's already been neutralized with the conditioner. Give your tank time to rebalance I promise it will bounce back. Took me 4 months and to many fish to realize you need to just have patience more then anything. Maybe try adding some media from your small tank again then do your water changes and see if good things happen.


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