Questions about a long established tank - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Questions about a long established tank

Hi ya'll,


So I set up my 40gal long tank last year, and brought with it plants and fish and media from my 20gal long that had already been cycled. My plants have been doing great, but my snails have been dying quite a bit. So I stopped testing way back and just decided to do it tonight since my snails have been dying. I got some weird readings....


0 ppm Nitrite (yay!)
40 ppm Nitrate
.50 ppm Ammonia
6.4 ph



I have a number of amazon swords and some moss that grows like crazy, and my fish seem to be alright. I have black mollies, a betta, a school of neon tetra and some emerald corys. I might have been overfeeding, but I'm concerned about everybody getting theirs lol.



But it seems my ph is too low and my nitrates are too high. my ammonia is looking suspicious too. Anybody know what might be causing this, and how I can reverse it?

My fish:
Prism ♂ | Sunny ♀
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 11:54 PM
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Possibly overfeeding, possibly over stocking, possibly old tank syndrome or a combination of all 3.
The nitrifying bacteria canít handle the amount of waste being produced, be it uneaten fish food from over feeding or fish excrement from overstocking will lead to an ammonia build up.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 05:46 AM
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How often are you doing water changes? And what are you using to treat the water when you do the water changes. Even old tanks need to be tested daily and the water changes done each week of 25% and 50% per month. The dying snails could be of old age. snails generally live about 1 year depending on the size they were when introduced into the tank. If you have taken them from an established tank where the food was plentiful to a tank that had little or no food then this is a very good reason for your loss. It would also give you the readings that you have because of the dead snails in the tank. Also if there is dead plant matter or like said above, over feeding and the fish waste will also add to the problem.

i would recommend doing a 50% water change with conditioned water. Change out the filter pad. and start dosing with either Stability or something similar to build up the B.B. again. If you use prime and test right after treating the water you will get false readings in your testing. Prime will lock up ammonia so the B.B. can break it down and it does treat the heavy metals and chlorine But if you test right away after a water change The readings of ammonia With API Master kit will give you a reading of total ammonia not just toxic. This is why it is recommended to use a SeaChem ammonia alert in all tanks (it only tests for toxic ammonia NH3) So if this is in the tank and you have a reading of .05 PPM Then your Toxic ammonia levels are very high. and a water change needs to be done right away. But if you only see a reading of 0.02 on the Ammonia alert and are doing a wet test and getting readings higher than that, you are getting a total ammonia reading.

So recommendations at this point is to Do a 50% water change, condition the water you are replacing, change the filter pad (or at least rinse it well in old tank water) clean the substrate, remove all dead snails, and dead plant matter, add an ammonia alert, Wait 48 hours and then test again.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 07:46 AM
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While I agree with most of the above, I would not change out a filter pad until it is practically falling apart as it contains a majority of the beneficial bacteria. Instead, rinse it in old or treated tank water. When the pad starts to deteriorate, add a second but do not throw out the old. In three weeks or so the new pad should have enough nitrifying bacteria to maintain the cycle. Then you can throw out the old.

If you have ceramic rings or a foam pad you never need to replace those.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, that's a lot of good information. As for water changes, I do about a 30-40% every week. Treat with Prime, API leafzone and co2 booster. I also use sponge filters and I wonder if they're just not doing the trick anymore. I've been thinking of switching to a regular filter and using Seachem purigen.

The snails though were pretty young. I'd bought three more to replace a REALLY old one that died (I know he died of old age though) and they all three died. I have a nerite snail and an assassin snail still hanging in there though. And a bunch of baby snails that don't seem to make it to a decent size (probably because of my assassin snail tbh).

I think the overstocking might be it though. There's not a lot of dead plant matter, but I can't count my black mollies. They multiplied a few times and I'm sure there's at least 20. 10 black neon tetra, 4 emerald cories, a nerite snail, an assassin snail, and now a betta.

I'm concerned about the pH still though -- is it too low?
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 01:12 PM
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Do you ever rinse the sponges out in old tank or treated fresh water? If not, then mulm builds and the sponges stop working efficiently. I'd leave the pH alone. Better to be constantly low than fluctuating.

Check here for stocking:

AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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hahahaha oh.

My fish:
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 01:46 PM
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Yep, I'd say a bit overstocked.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 02:26 PM
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Being that over stocked is a real good reason for the water parameters are off. I do over stock my community tanks but not by that much. When I do, I also over filter them. When over filtering the tank I would look for a filter that would filter an 80 to 100 gallon tank. When I had my 29 gallon setup I used a Marineland canister filter ( Magniflow 220 ) which would filter a 55 gallon tank and then I put in a Tetra whisper 60.. Yeah it's a bit of overkill but then again The water was crystal clear and I never lost a fish.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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yeah i'm thinking of upgrading the filter tbh. i've got sponge filters but i kind of want to give a regular filter a try.


anyway, i found a new home for about 75% of my molly stock, so i counted just 14 mollies left (there had to be at least 30 in there... and all remaining are female so no more babies). i'm now at 84% stock. i also accidentally chose the wrong species on aqadvisor.


but yay! hopefully that helps the parameters.

My fish:
Prism ♂ | Sunny ♀
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