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Good Day, eh?

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Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: Kaputnik » Sat May 21, 2011 01:19

Hello,

I'm a couple months into a Malawian Cichlid tank (36 gal). I started the tank with some goldfish to get the Ammonia-Nitrogen cycle going for about 3 weeks, testing the water every week for PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, & Nitrate. At this point I was just running two power heads with pre-filters: one to provide O2 with a nice roiling flow at the surface of the water, and another to circulate that all throughout the tank at a good clip (assuming since I had a few inches of cichlid sub straight and a good amount of well pitted basalt the good flow would make use of all that surface area) as I was getting testable amounts of nitrite and nitrates, I assumed the beneficial bacteria were getting a foothold and I moved the goldfish to a smaller secondary tank in preparation for some cichlids.

Then in talking with my local tropical fish shop owner, he told me the setup would not be adequate and I would at least need to get an under gravel filter in place to dramatically increase the available surface area. Given that my power heads already came with adapters to run reverse flow under gravel, I installed: an under gravel filter, fiberglass screen, bonded filter media, another screen, two layers of egg crate (to support my rocks), cichlid sub straight(fills up the egg crate), a screen over that (to keep them from digging), and a couple centimeters more of sub straight over that (yes, it's probably over-engineered, but we are doing this for fun, right?).

I then added baking soda to the water until it reached ~8.3, I added mineral salts per the directions (1Tb /5gal) to increase water hardness, and set the temperature to 76 F.

I introduced 5 juvenile cichlids into the tank and I continued testing every week. For feeding I give them what they can eat in 30 seconds 3 times per day to reduce any uneaten food causing more ammonia. I did at least a 30% water change every week, and did see a spike in nitrates (~40 PPM) about 3 weeks later and one fish went wonkey and died (it could have been a digestive issue, but I don't think it was bloat from what I've read). After the next water change the levels of ammonia, and nitrite went nearly undetectable, with nitrate levels never again exceeding ~5 PPM.

Things went on without incident for about another month until the water started getting foggy. I read that it was probably a bacterial or algae bloom (though probably not algae as the tank gets no sun and even the corner it is in is pretty dark – except for my hood light – and I reduced that to about only 10 hrs/day - just in case) and not to panic, but to continue water changes until beneficial bacteria built up enough. Unfortunately, I’ve been doing water changes now for about 5 more weeks without any long-term improvement. After a water change, it gets a little better (I can see maybe 20 cm into the tank) and then clouds up in another day or two (to the point where I can only see about 10 cm into the tank).

Anyway, that should give you an idea what I’m doing and where I am at with this. Any advice or theories are welcome.

Cheers!
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Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: Kaputnik » Sat May 21, 2011 03:25

Oh, one more thing - two weeks ago I bought a biowheel type filter since I didn't yet have a chemical filter, and I wanted to starve-out whatever is clouding the water. It doesn't seem to have made any difference to the visibility. The fish all seem fine.
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Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: Rdwh » Sat May 21, 2011 20:52

A nice welcome post. Thank you. I'm pleased you have joined the forum, welcome to you
Lakemalawi.co.uk The number one resource centre on Malawi Cichlids.
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Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: PaulCheeseman » Sun May 22, 2011 09:26

Hi and welcome to the forum :)

If I get you right, the cloudy is still there after 5 weeks of water changing?

Do you have anything in your tank that could be leeching sometning back into the water? rocks, ornaments, wrong sealer if they are fixed?

I would start off with at least 50-60% changes, say 3 over a week, (just get the water as good as you can before putting it in the tank)

For now, dont add anymore salts or bicarb for now. To get the water to 8.3 I would think would take a huge amount of bicarb, as that isnt far off the PH of bicarb on its own! It could be that there is too much and its suspended in the water and not disolved. I personally only take PH to 8.0

What water flow do you have, what media do you have in your filters?

What parameters is your tap water? test and post the parameters please.

Paul :Mbuna
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Jacques Cousteau
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Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: Sam » Sun May 22, 2011 10:11

Welcome :good:
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Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: Clare » Sun May 22, 2011 15:47

Hello and welcome to the forum. I am sorry you are facing problems so early into the hobby. I do think that the lfs could have given you much better advice.

Clare
 

Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: paul » Sun May 22, 2011 22:13

hi welcome to the forum sure the right advise to help u will be found on here

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Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: stuart clark » Wed May 25, 2011 13:57

Hi and welcome to the forum

Stu

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Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: Kaputnik » Thu Jun 02, 2011 05:20

Thanks for the welcome everyone!

@Paul - it could be too much bicarb and salts. I was using about 1 tablespoon (15ml) or bicarb per 5 gallons, and the same for the mineral salts and I do get some evaporation. I think I saw someone else with that issue as I was poking around here, and occured to me I should start diluting. I've been a lot more agressive with the water changes over the last two weeks. I went to just removing clorine, and getting the water to the right temperature. I did three 30% changes three days in a row, and this past weekend I did two 50% changes. The water is much more clear, especially this past week, with little or no increse in cloudiness. Interestingly, the Ph has not budged down from the 8.3 area - I do have a lot of shell in the sub straight that's probably pulling it up. It's good to know it can come down to 8.0, though.

I am using two types of rock in the tank: about a dozen egg-sized river rocks - unsealed - mostly gist, quartz, and granite, then for structure and hiding places I'm using some basalt - it's got lots concavities and tiny pits (the pitting looks a bit like pumice). I've also got 3 "cichlid rocks" of the sort you see in the aquarium catelogs.

The power heads are both Marineland submersible 660Rs each with measured flow up to 170 gal/hour, one running the RUGF, and one providing O2 by forcing water to up to roil a bit at the surface and that action causes a cyclic flow through the whole tank. Those are mechanical and biological at the pre filters, and the RUGF is a high surface-area bio. The biowheel I just added has a mech - chem (charcoal) replaceable and, of course a bio wheel (there's enough room for two replaceble filters so I could probably have a little something else in there if I need to).

I know my tap water is ~7.6-7.8 Ph, but I don't have a kit for hardness. What other parameters should I be looking for? Should I try and get a kit, or is this the sort of thing I should just ask my local water department?
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Re: Good Day, eh?

PostAuthor: Kaputnik » Thu Jun 02, 2011 06:09

I just found this on the local water web page: http://sunnyvale.ca.gov/LinkClick.aspx? ... &tabid=565

Starting on Page 2 of 3 there's a large table of different chemicals in the water. My tap water is the SCVWD column.

I have been using Prime by Seachem which claims to remove chlorine, cloramine, ammonia, and detoxify nitrite and nitrate.
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