Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Freshwater Maintenance/Operation 1

Related Articles: General Maintenance, Freshwater Algae & Control, Tips for BeginnerspH, alkalinity, acidity, Treating Tap Water, Freshwater Aquarium Water QualityFreshwater "Scavengers", Algae Control in Freshwater Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Dealing With Algae in Freshwater Aquaria by Neale Monks, (some) Algae (in moderation) Can Be Your Friend, ppt presentation, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, by Bob Fenner, 

Related FAQs:  Freshwater Maintenance 2, Freshwater Maintenance 3, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease,

THE best all-around algae eater for most freshwater tropical systems:  The true SAE (C. siamensis (Smith, 1931))

- Sing it with me now... Oil on the Water... - Hi, I must say that this is an awesome site. I've learned so much from reading all the FAQs and advice given, and best of all, it's FREE! Fan-freaking-tastic, I say. I have a quick question for you guys, and I hope that you can help me out a bit with a problem I'm having. I have a 4 month old 10-gal freshwater aquarium. It has a male Betta, 5 white clouds, and 4 Otos. I think it's a bit overstocked, <Me too...> but I'm going to transfer some of the Otos (and get a few more) for a new 25 gal tank I'm setting up in about 2 weeks (once I move to my new office). Right now I'm running a Whisper filter for filtration and I stuffed an extra panty-hose thing filled with activated carbon in the filter housing to get rid of the yellowish water from my piece of driftwood. Anyway, on to the problem. At some point a few weeks ago, I think some oil (no idea from where, maybe hands?) got into the water and I can't seem to skim it off the top. Every few days I have a little cup that I skim along the surface with and then top off the tank with fresh water - it amounts to a 5-10% water change every few days. My filter extends roughly 6-7 inches below water level, which obviously won't get the oily stuff considering that it floats. Is there anything I can do to get rid of my mini- Valdez spill? <Actually, this surface layer is pretty common and likely a result of biological processes in the tank... not really a cause for huge concern. Could blot it out with a paper towel or two. Will almost always return at some point.> Also, for future reference, is there a particular type of hand soap I should use before sticking my hands in the water for changes, rearranging, etc.? <I like dish soap - is made to rinse off clean, to get those squeaky plates.> Any help or advice you can give me on this would be awesome. Thanks.  Oh, one more question: I keep my tank well filled, and therefore there is little water movement at the surface (the water level is higher than the spout thing on my filter). Should I add an airstone to aerate the water? <Either that or lower the water level enough to allow the outlet to disrupt the surface of the water - will also help deal with that oily sheen.> Thanks again for running such a great site. -Tyler <Cheers, J -- >

New Fish Tank Hello, I want to commend you on your site I like it very much! Well I just bought a 5 gal. aquabriteV acrylic fish tank and I had a few questions for the "Crew" 1. what kinda fish can I put in there! I was thinking about putting in sum Female Bettas but I wasn't sure how many I could put in there! <<Hello. Maybe one or two, even the females will fight if they don't have enough room. Add a few bushy plastic plants to give them places to hide.>> I have a Regent PL-T0515 Power filter that came with the tank( it was a all-in-one deal) and fluorescent lighting,  are Bettas good for such a tank! also what temp should they be at? I hear that acrylic tanks cant have heater b/c they will melt, is this true? <<It's not a good idea to put heaters into small plastic tanks. Bettas CAN live at room temperature, as long as the temp doesn't fluctuate too much.>> If I can put Bettas in there ( providing that they are female) can I put other fish in there such as tetras? I heard that tetras like to be in a group of 6 will this be to many for my tank? <<You would be better off adding white cloud mountain minnows, certain tetras will nip your Bettas fins.>> If you have any tips for a newbie at all this fish stuff let me know!   P.S. my water got a bit cloudy they other day, any reason why? When I got the tank I set it up and have let it run with the filter ever sense! I did a partial water change , was this wrong? <<It's a new tank, you must expect some cloudiness now and then. Once the fish are added, do small partial water changes on a regular basis to keep them healthy :) and get your water tested regularly for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates at your LFS, or buy your own test kits.>> Well sorry for all the questions I am just anxious to get fish but I don't want to buy them and let them die! Thanks, Natali <<You are welcome. Good luck! -Gwen>>

Goldfish and bleach help!!! My son has had 4 goldfish in a 10 gal tank for the last 2+ years. yesterday I took all the fish out and put them in a 1 gal holding tank using water from the main tank. I then emptied the water out and cleaned the tank and gravel with bleach. after cleaning I rinsed completely and reset the tank. <If you do smaller bi-weekly (or even weekly) water changes you will not have to do a complete tank clean.  Goldfish are messy, and if you just keep up on cleaning, and vacuuming the gravel you will have an easier time with it.> I have done the same process every 8 months or so and have never had a problem. This time however all 4 fish died after sitting listless on the bottom of the tank for about 20 minutes. Before I buy more fish and start again do you Have an idea what happened?? And what I should do different// <I do not like getting bleach near my fish tanks.  If I had to guess what had happened I think the fish had been poisoned with bleach that had not been fully washed out from the tank. If you do get more goldfish, and you keep the same cleaning schedule, all you have to do is wash the tank out with warm water rather than bleach.  But, I suggest you alter your schedule and do smaller weekly or bi-weekly water changes and gravel vacuuming. doing that and adding the freshwater will be more beneficial to your fish than letting them live in the same water for 8 months then totally starting over. My other concern is that 10 gallon tanks are far to small to keep goldfish for long periods of time.  They are messy, and require large amounts of water so the tank doesn't become to disgusting to quickly.  I have moved my goldfish to larger tanks and the cleaning schedule is greatly less demanding then it was when they were in tiny tanks!   Hope that helps -Magnus>

Question on cleaning sand substrate, and white growth I have a few questions for ya'll, hoping so much that you can help me out. Tank details: Was a used tank, came with the filter, tank, light, etc.. 60 gallon tank 304 Fluval filter Lighting -- not sure except that the bulb is full spectrum light'¦.so not much help there, unfortunately Fresh water, live plants (duckweed and Anacharis right now) Substrate is silicate sand, gravel, and a few larger rocks, but no UGF Just bought some peat to try out, as well. tank currently has: 3 goldfish (one 5', one 6 ', one 8 inches long) 4 white clouds 3 Ramshorn snails Tubifex worms (enough for goldfish to eat a few and keep the sand a bit aerated, if I understand right.  I restock the worms when it looks like they've all been eaten) My first few questions are more on method than anything else: I am not sure how to clean the substrate.  I have the sand and gravel mixed, rather than the gravel totally covering it, as it seems to make it easier for the fish to get at the worms.  So, I can't vacuum or the sand is totally sucked up. I wasn't sure if vacuuming was still a good idea with a planted aquarium, either.  What's a good way to try to clean the bottom?  A particular creature, a mechanical device, more plants..?  I really like to try and keep it as natural as possible, so if there was a fish, invertebrate, etc'¦ that I could acquire that would help and not overstock, I would appreciate a finger pointing the way to one!  We also have a 20 gallon warm water planted  tank that I am going to start up, so if a creature could be used, if you have any warm freshwater substrate cleaners, I'd love to hear about them as well. One of the reasons I am concerned is because I HAVE to let the food settle to the bottom or my goldfish do not eat.  They were originally fry from a friend's pond.  The pond's fish population was almost completely killed off by a heron, and honest to God, I swear it's given my fish issues:-P  Without live plants floating on top and many, many around the tank to hide in, even with backing, rocks, etc. on the tank, they will stay huddled together in one corner of the tank, scared to death.  Even when at ease, They absolutely refuse to come near the surface, ever'¦.and we've had them for 2 years now, since they were less than an inch long. They aren't scared in general'¦they'll even come near my hand in the water and seem to rub along it whenever I am doing something inside the tank.   I've tried a lot of different things to try to encourage surface, or at least mid-water eating, but have finally given up and just give them sinking pellets, which they enjoy rooting around for, but don't often eat as they fall, even if I am only feeding very small amounts (tried it to see if I was overfeeding, ya know?)  So, as they don't eat them as they fall, the motion of the water always ends up flowing a small pile of them to some oddball place in the tank.  Usually it's found and eaten, every once in a while it's not.  I worry about any I've missed contaminating the tank! And now, onto what is actually a more vital question for me'¦I'm having cloudy water and have recently found a little bunch of food that got shoved under a bit of wood in the tank'¦and it's got some sort of white growth on it.  Looks like each piece of food has acquired a white fuzzy outside about a ¼ inch big. once taken out of the water, it seems almost hair like in consistency.  Is this some type of algae possibly?  Or does it sound more bacterial?   Or could it be both?   We were in a bit of a desperate situation with the goldfish, so, background: They were in a 20 gallon tank and had a growth spurt like they were competing in fish growth Olympics or something, jeesh.  I was saving for a bigger tank, but even as I got it, they were really crowded, I was finding it impossible to keep the tank clean enough, etc'¦  Really worried about them.  I fishless cycled the new tank, and when it was ready, I was going to nicely, slowly introduce the fish one at a time.  However, after I introduced the first one, the 20 gallon situation was suddenly much worse, fish gasping for air at the top of the tank, etc'¦so, I decided that putting them in the new tank together, even if the load was a bit high at first, would be less stressful than keeping them in that old one.  The ammonia level went up to .5 ppm, the nitrite and nitrate level is very low (dipstick'¦lame test, but the nearest stores were out of the more precise ones).  I am trying to control the ammonia levels with water changes of 2-4 gallons every other day (based on how much water I can let sit at a time with the buckets I have!) which seems to be working all right on controlling the ammonia.  The ph was at 7, but dropped to 6.5. I have been using a ph up (can't recall brand) to bring it up to 7 at the moment.  Had a bit of a brown algae bloom as well.  Now that I can actually see the goldfish better out of the 20 gallon tank, I'm pretty sure they have a bacterial infection, based on reading your faq's on that sort of thing. Doesn't look like they have any fungal infections.  So'¦is the cloudy water best taken care of through water changes, or might it be more of an indication of a bacterial problem?  Any suggestions on best way to fix? Now, I want to medicate, but I'm wondered if it would interfere with the biological filter trying to straighten out?  Melaflux (spelling may be wrong) was recommended by our aquarium store owner after hearing our fish's description.     Would it be better to wait for the ammonia readings to stay at 0 without the water changes 3 times a week?  Or is it usually better to medicate first?  Fish look ill in physical appearance, but they are not so ill that their activity levels or swimming ability seems different than normal.  White clouds seem fine.    Thank you in advance for any help you can give me!!! Shauna >>Hello. First, using peat is not necessary with goldfish. Second, Tubifex worms generally come from impure water, are you sure you are using live Tubifex?? Are these cultured? Unless they are being raised in a relatively sterile environment, I would never feed these to my fish. Plants and goldfish are usually a short term arrangement, since goldfish are herbivorous and will eventually mow their way through your plants. They also like to snuffle around in the substrate, I am surprised your plants have not been uprooted yet. You can try adding Malaysian Trumpet Snails, they live in the substrate and are excellent soil-turners. Other than that, I recommend you "surface vac" your substrate regularly. If you can remove uneaten food and fish poop before it has a chance to become "one" with your substrate, all the better. Yes, you will deprive your roots of some nutrients, but you may hopefully prevent future problems this way. It would also be advisable to uproot and re-plant regularly to prevent anoxic substrate problems down the road. I can  hear the plant people wincing when I say that, but this is a goldfish tank, so, you either need to put the goldfish first, and clean it accordingly, or remove the goldfish and make the plants your priority. You can't really do both. Also, why didn't you move the filtration on the 20g onto the larger tank? This would have helped your cycling process. Cloudy water is normal when cycling, also pH fluctuations, do NOT add any pH products, it won't help your fish at this stage! Also, fuzzy, fungus-y food needs to be vacuumed out!!  Keep doing regular water changes, this will slow down the cycle, but it will help keep your fish alive. You can try adding Amrid, or AmmoLock, or any other product at your local fish store, to help with this problem. Please do these things, then describe what your fish look like, their movements, etc. I will try to help you figure out if your fish are actually sick, or are just suffering from the high ammonia problems. -Gwen<<

New tank, Bio-Spira, fungus in tank???? Hello, and I hope you are having a great Friday.  My question is this: I think I may have fungus growing on old food/poop in a new tank I set up a week ago.  I got a 37 gal Oceanic, Fluval 304, new clean gravel, about 6 gallons siphoned water from established aquarium and the rest well water.  Let the whole thing run for 4 days, put in a little food daily then added our 3 goldfish and bio-Spira last Monday.  Ammonia has been .25 to .50, nitrites 0, nitrates 0.  Fish are ok.. but the .50 ammonia freaked me so I did a 30% water change and added another packet of bio-Spira. (yesterday)  I have seen tendrils of ...stuff... not poop, am figuring that this is fungus growing on the uneaten food from the beginning.  There is not a lot if it, but I have seen it.  I did vacuum very lightly (moved 10% of gravel) when I did the 30% change yesterday.   How bad is this stuff for the tank and fish, and the bio-Spira?  The fish are still active, dorsal fins held a little lower and an *very* occasional gasp at surface.  I have their old separate tanks still running in case this one goes down in flames, so to speak.  Just tested ammonia again and it's at .50.  Bloody hell.  Any suggestions?  Will I damaged Wonton, Speckles and Gandolf by these readings?  I don't want to screw up the cycle or my fish. :^(  BTW..."Gandolf" is my daughter's fish.  She's 8.  Hope the real Gandolf, wherever he may be, is not offended. Grin) I really appreciate the work you guys do.  Most of my questions I found already answered on the site, but I am afraid I screwed something up with the "old" water, food and bio-Spira combo I tried. Thanks again!  Laura >>Hello Laura :D First, let's address the old tanks. Why didn't you simply transfer the filter media (floss, sponges, or ceramic rings) out of the old filters and into the Fluval on the new tank? It would have helped IMMENSELY. This would have cycled your new tank instantly, since you would be transferring active bacteria. Second, please vacuum your new tank completely, and remove ALL uneaten food. It is not helping your water quality at all, since uneaten, rotting food WILL contribute to rising ammonia levels. Clean it up! :D Also, Bio-Spira will help, it's one of the only bacteria introducing products I have used with anything close to actual results. But if you cannot use the old filter media, you will need to keep testing the water and doing partial water changes to keep the ammonia levels low enough to not kill your fish. -Gwen

Surface Slick Just wondering what you would do if: I'm kneeling in front of my 77 gal tank and looking up at the surface through the glass and there is some sort of a layer of something on the surface of the water .. <I got drunk and fell down and noticed the film on the top of my 75gal.> It almost looks like oil or something light like it... what could this be and what can I do to avoid this stuff from being here ???? <My first guess would be oils from the foods you are feeding, I get lazy and throw frozen cubes of food in my 75 without thawing them first, I am almost positive that is what caused my problem.  the other thing that comes to mind is aerosol sprays, this could be bad depending upon what was sprayed.  If the film is super thick you can sometimes use a paper towel to soak it up.  More surface disruption will help (air stone or power head), or depending upon the type of tank and filtration you have you might be able to incorporate a surface skimmer to feed your filter with the nasty surface water.  If you think it is from something you recently sprayed, get your siphon and bucket ready for some water changes.  Best Regards, Gage> "Any help is good help"  Thanks, T.J. Struckett Ontario, Canada  -  Cichlid Lover

10 gallon with nothing! Here's a interesting question for someone...I would like to setup a 10 gallon tank, with live plants in a window sill in my house... <With direct light you will have to get used to the idea of scraping algae of the glass surface.> Question is, can I get away with nothing moving water?   <No, you need to have some sort of water movement so the water doesn't get stagnant (not the mention become a breeding ground for mosquitoes).> Due to the location of the tank, there wont really be any way to get power to it.   <You can purchase battery operated air pumps and then you can add an air stone which will at least give you some water movement and help with gas exchange.  If not, then you might want to think of investing in a well made extension cord to fun a filter.> For fish I will go labyrinth I think, and live plants...will I be ok without anything moving water?  That's the only thing I am worried about is the water stagnating with the fish and plants in it. <which will happen unless you want to do daily water changes yourself.  If you do a 5-10% water change daily it should handle the problem of water movement and fresh water with the addition of a battery operated air pump/stone.> Was hoping maybe 2 paradise Gouramis or something, plants will be java fern and maybe some java moss, nothing that requires much. <Paradise fish have a reputation of surviving even the worst tanks.  They are one of the first fish that got the whole aquarium hobby started.  They survived long before people even thought of filtration.  I would seriously consider figuring out some form of filtration for the tank, it will save you the hassle of doing the daily water changes.> Thanks for any input you may have! <Hope that helps.  You might want to look up information on water gardens online, they can give you more ideas how to set up a tank like that in your home.  -Magnus>

Aggressive male Platies. Cleaner crew. Thank you so much for your help.  It's great to have someone so knowledgeable answer my questions in such detail and so quickly! I don't know how I could have missed this web site for the last 1year! Thanks again <No Problem, I'm glad we can be of assistance.> By the way, I was going to get a Pleco to help clean up the waste of the tank and buildup of the yuckies, but seeing that I have overcrowding already, will my glass catfish eat from the bottom?  I haven't seen him do it though. <Your glass catfish really won't clean like a Pleco would.  I would think about adding a few large snails... They really clean the glass and substrate quite well, and don't have that much of an effect on the bioload of the tank.  Think of them as the janitors of the tank. I have seen my guppies pick up food from the bottom however. <If you want to add a fish that is like a Pleco but without the size and mess, then I say you should look at Otocinclus.  It's a cute little fish, they stay small and do a great job on cleaning.  Often called "Otos", they are the little sucker fish that ever seems to over look.  They do great in tropical tanks, and don't get large.  Not to mention, they are pretty cute little fish.   here is a website devoted to them. http://www.otocinclus.com/ Hope that helps. -Magnus>

It's alive.... Alive!! I hate to make a nuisance of myself, but I have a problem that is driving me nuts. I call it "living scum."   It is a growth of tiny little globules that accumulate on the walls of the tank. When they first appeared a few months back, I almost thought they looked like eggs of some kind, but they obviously are not, for they keep reproducing themselves but no creature ever appears that might have hatched from them. <This sounds more than anything like snail eggs.  Might you have anything (loaches, Gourami, Corydoras, *anything*?) that would eat the small snails after they hatch and before they get large enough to really observe?  Do you (to your knowledge) have any adult snails in the tank?> I did write when they first appeared, as I feared they might be harmful to the fish, particularly to the Pleco, who could not help but ingest them. <Mmmm, yummy> But the fish seem to have suffered no harm from them. Shortly after I wrote, the Pleco got busy and seemed to eliminate them from the tank. Then one day the Pleco virtually stopped dining on the tank walls and now seems to get all of its nutrition from rocks and decorations.   <My guess is that enough algae built up on the decor for him to take interest - do you supplement his diet with greens?> The stuff has come back exponentially, and has even jumped from the 90 gallon tank into one of the 55's.   <Hmm, have you moved any plants/decor/rocks/gravel/what-have-ya from tank to tank?> About one hour ago, I scrubbed as much of the stuff of the 90 gallon walls as possible, using an algae cleaning pad. Right now, the walls are again covered with it, though not quite so thickly, and I suspect that after the scrubbing, it was just floating around, waiting for contact and the chance to stick again. Judging from the appearance of the water, I would say there is still more waiting to make contact and stick again (after the scrubbing, I did a vacuum and partial water change).   <Still sounds like it might be snail eggs.... can you get a photograph of these?  Are they clear?  Any other details?> I might note that the Pleco seems to have a couple of sores on its lips, which could well account for its having ceased to clean the tank walls. The thought has occurred to me that the sores might have been caused by its eating this stuff, <Hmm....  Do they look like this:   http://www.microscope-microscope.org/gallery/hydra-187h.jpg ?  If so, hydra they be, and are probably stinging the poor Plec, matey.> but perhaps by dining on the rougher rocks. <How rough are we talking? Very rough decor and substrates should be avoided with soft bellied bottom feeders - this includes stuff like lava rock.> The two clown loaches seem to occasionally nibble at them, but make no real impact.   <Ah HAH!  Clown loaches, great eaters-of-snails!  Though, this doesn't explain why the blobs are multiplying; if there were snails that were too big for the loaches to eat, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a constant amount of snail eggs running around, but increasing?  Strange.  I've also heard of them dining on hydra (as will Gourami, some other fish), so don't rule that out....> I purchased the 90 gallon tank in April. The former owner had kept it as a saltwater tank, whereas I keep it as a freshwater, if that might be a factor.   <Probably not.> Does anybody have any idea what this is? Is there anything I can do about it? What?   <I'm still leaning toward snail eggs, but do check that hydra picture, and break out a magnifying glass to look at the little blobs to compare.  If they're hydra, a miniscule amount of Fenbendazole will do the trick.> I have thought about putting a new Pleco in there. <I don't think that'd be a good idea, especially with the first one having some possible problems, with those sores....> The 55 tank into which it has jumped is the one with the solitary green terror and I fear if I put a Pleco in with him, he will kill it.   <I would think that quite possible.> I scream for help! Pass this one around! Put all of your best minds to work! I have given you a challenge and I know you can help me solve the problem!   <Sure hope to....  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina.> Thanks, Bill

BIG Pleco! 10/28/03 Hi all, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Thanks for your help in the past, I had an ordeal with a little puffer a while back. <I missed that post.  Do you still have the puffer?> I have a 10 gallon tank that I'm having difficulty keeping clean.  The water is always cloudy an often a bit smelly.   <Usually caused by high ammonia & not cycling properly.> I am using both a Penguin Mini BioWheel filter and an undergravel unit.  The stupid BioWheel always gets stuck and won't spin, perhaps due to accumulation of gunk, cleaning doesn't seem to help it spin though.   <I never liked those filters.  Love my AquaClears!> I have those shiny stones in there instead of gravel.   <Gravel has more surface area for good bacteria to grow on.> I have three fish in there.  One 7" chocolate Albino Pleco (I think he is full grown), and two little catfish.   <Whoa!  You're Pleco is way too big for that tank!  He belongs in at least a 55gal+.> I just can't keep this tank clean.  I do methodical water changes.  My temp is 78 degrees, and pH is around 7.0.  Usually the Ammonia level is zero but at the moment it is above 0, maybe .5 ppm or so.  Nitrite is around .25.  I can't keep the waste from the Pleco from accumulating, I guess there is not adequate filtration or something.  Am I fighting a losing battle??   <I definitely think so!  Plecos are giant poop machines.> If the Pleco is too big for the tank I will give it away to a good foster parent with a larger tank. <Good idea, find it a good, big home & I think your problems will be solved.  Most folks have no idea how large some Plecos can get.  I have a couple that are almost 12".  Do an 80% water change & add gravel substrate to the tank.  You can always put the larger stones on top or in one corner if you wish, but that may make it difficult to clean the gravel.>    In the meantime, any suggestions??  I'm getting nervous about my readings because I have used Amquel Plus and Ammo lock. <Save your money & get rid of the Pleco.  That is definitely not an inch/gallon kind of fish!>   Thanks in advance, Frank. <You're Welcome--Pufferpunk>  

Small worms in freshwater tank (11/06/03)  <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon>  We have a 29 gallon regular fish tank, we have 2 angel fish and some small plants, lately the water has started turning green and now we have some kind of small worms on the inside of the tank and was wondering what they are and what we can do about it?  <Well, the water turning green is an algae bloom. That's usually triggered by an excess of nitrates and phosphates. To combat that, you'll want to do more frequent water changes. Also make sure you aren't over-feeding -- if there is any food your fish don't eat, it adds to the phosphates in the tank. You might get a phosphate test (I like the SeaTest/FasTest one for freshwater) and some phosphate remover (like Phosguard) if your phosphates are high even after several water changes. Once you get the nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) out of the tank, the algae should die off, and the worm population should decrease. I'm not sure exactly what you have, but they are most likely not harmful for your fish. --Ananda> 

The Thing from the Plant Lagoon Hello, I'm trying to help out a friend in identifying an odd *thing* growing in her discus set up. She has several chunks of African root in her tank that was "cultured" in the tanks at the store where she bought it. This "cultured" wood had Java moss and a few other plants growing on it. The odd plant-thing just showed up in her tank about two weeks ago (the set up has been running for months). THING (it really deserves a name) looks like a bunch of white, slightly furry threads that develop fringes when they stand up in the water. THING is growing through the gravel, up the root-wood, and along plant roots and stems. The best comparison I can come up with is that it looks  like a wild strand of hairy Java moss growing like a lichen on the tank decorations. It can be picked off of objects, but it is a bit clingy. <Sounds like a nearby plant's roots have found the wood and decided to sink its toes in.  If 'Thing' isn't too scary, gently brush the substrate off and see if you can trace it to something.  Other than that, I *might* suspect a freshwater sponge, perhaps.  Can you get some pics to email to us?> As of today her water quality is way off (she panicked and did a massive cleaning to try to kill THING off a few days ago). She has ammonia, <Fix that....  very toxic.  Water changes until the spike's gone, and watch for nitrite to spike....  The tank might be cycling again from the cleaning.> no nitrites, and low nitrates. Her lights are on about 10 hours a day and her filter is a well loaded canister (bio-ceramic tubes, carbon, Zeolite chips, floss, peat granules). The tank is fed sparingly twice a day and gets small weekly water changes. <All sounds good.> I'm guessing that we have phosphates in our water (Ft. Worth/ Dallas Metropolis), we DO have ammonia (chloramines) <Mm, chloramine is really chlorine and ammonia bonded together; not really ammonia, but still toxic.  Many dechlorinators treat for this (the label will say if it does or not).> and sometimes we have nitrites. The water quality from the tap is 8.2-8.4 depending on the season (summer is BAD), <Hoo, do I ever understand *that*.  My tap comes out around 8.2 in the winter, and get this, *9.4* in the summer.  Horrible to deal with for plant tanks....> off the dip-stick chart for hardness and really alkaline. <The dip-stick type tests are usually unreliable; might want to try a liquid reagent test, so you can figure out your levels a bit more reliably.  Aquarium Pharmaceuticals does the count-the-drops type for KH and GH, so you wouldn't have to worry about it being off the charts> Her tank temperature is 80*F.  I can't find any reference on the Web as to THING's real name or ID. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated. <Heh, even with as painstakingly strict as I am about what goes/stays in my tanks, I'd probably consider 'Thing' a welcome guest unless he became an issue.  I assume it's restricted to a small-ish location (as in, not all over everything in the tank)?  I'd really be interested in pics....  -Sabrina> Thanks,  Mike

Cloudy water (10/11/03) Hi how are you ?   <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I'm having a problem with cloudy water hope you can help. About 4 months back I cleaned out the filter media with  TAP WATER, <Oops. Not a good idea, as I'm sure you've realized -- the chlorine will kill your nitrifying bacteria.> Eheim 2028 pro series. <That's the big boy of the bunch... how big is your tank?> Ever since then I've had a cloudy tank. It's a community tank, food is flake, shrimp pellets  & blood worms. If you have some advice please let me know. <What are your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings? A cloudy tank is a sign of inadequate biological filtration. My bet is that the filter has never had a chance to "catch up" with the fish waste. I would suggest a water change first, perhaps 30-40%. Do try putting your fish on a short fast -- a couple of days will not hurt them -- so that they do not contribute as much ammonia to the water as usual. When you start feeding them again, feed them perhaps half to two-thirds as much as you have been feeding them. I would continue weekly water changes of at least 15%. Hopefully, the water will clear up. If not, you might consider adding more filtration on at least a temporary basis. For that, I'd suggest a bio-wheel type filter. After the bio-wheel is colonized (it'll probably turn a bit darker), you can see if your Eheim can handle the load. If you later take the bio-wheel off of the system, you can keep it ready--to-use by storing it in a hidden corner of the tank.> Thanks much,  Frank <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Film (2 fer) Good morning crew <Yawn!>    Im trying to get rid of this film I have on top of the water. Do you know what this could be ???and how do I get rid of it??? It looks like its an  oil film.   Thanks <Likely "just" dust, perhaps an aerosol as well from the room, air circulating about near the tank. I suggest "dipping" or wicking it off when you do your regular water changes... with a pitcher... or a clean, non-scented paper towel... and maybe using surface disruption from a pump discharge, airstone... to prevent the film from covering (and smothering) your livestock in the meanwhile (this happens pretty often). Bob Fenner>

Film algae - 10/12/03 Good morning crew    Im trying to get rid of this film I have on top of the water. <Need more info here. Salt or fresh? What color is the film?  Do you know what this could be ??? <Yes I do and it is on our webpage in a great many instances. Wanna know what is, eh? I assume you are talking saltwater?? Here you go: http://wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm> and how do I get rid of it??? <Many ways. If it is algae then I recommend to either use a cup to skim the top water layer and replace the water you take out. I also point a power head outlet nozzle to the surface to really churn the water up. Sometimes pre skimmers with a sponge or some other mechanical filtration helps as well. Please look through the link above (a great many additional blue links inside the link) and read up on the many types of algae issues (again, assuming it is marine algae.) Also use the Google search tool at the bottom of our page and go through the findings. Thanks for the question -Paul> looks like its an  oil film.   Thanks

Re: Tank Water Thank You for taking the time to answer. What is the proper cleaning methods for a 10 gallon aquarium, <When you do a water change, put the end of the siphon into the gravel and siphon the gunk out of the bottom of the tank. Do only part of the tank each time, because there are beneficial bacteria living in the substrate.> and as I understand now that even though other fish may not have been affected by dropsy that it is still in the tank, how do I ensure that the others do not come down with this? I completed the antibiotic treatment even after the prior fish died, is this enough or should I treat the water a second time? <Hopefully the first treatment will be enough. Keep the tank clean and the water quality high, feed the fish a variety of good-quality foods, and they're less likely to get sick.> How much gravel should be in a 10 gallon tank, we currently have 1 bag from where we bought the aquarium but it doesn't appear to be quite enough because we cannot get decorations to stay down. <Ah..."one bag" doesn't really tell me how much gravel you have, as gravel is sold in several different sizes of bags. More gravel might help, or you might put plant weights on the artificial plants.> Our sucker fish has tripled in size, and is appearing to be way to big for the tank at this time, how do we resolve that?   <Find someone with a larger tank, or return/exchange him at your local fish store.> Is there any suckers that stay smaller? <For a 10 gallon tank, the only fish that will stay sufficiently small is an Otocinclus species, which are commonly called "Otos". An alternative is algae-eating shrimp, aka Amano shrimp (after the guy who pioneered their use in aquaria), with the scientific name of Caridina japonica. Best of luck with the tank! --Ananda>

Bugs Under Gravel Bed! This is a two part question. The first is about my 40 gal. Cycling for 4 years eclipse hood, Eheim 2026 pro2 canister, heater,  AquaClear 402 power head. I clean about once every two weeks, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, everything is always ok, sometimes there was a nitrate spike but I had some old big Orandas in there for the 4 years. I just put the Orandas in a 75 gal so the 40 is for Rasboras, platys and clown loaches and 1 Pleco. So now that you know this my question is. as I look under the gravel in this aquarium I notice lice looking bugs crawling around everywhere under the gravel. I have the large 1" diameter gravel rocks so you can see this in between the air pockets. I don't remember ever seeing these. I just did a water change a few days ago and noticed them shortly after. So far they are not affecting the fish but I have never seen this and it is creepy. I almost think they are multiplying. I started adding Aquarisol half strength scared to hurt the loaches. <Stop using the Aquarisol - it's probably not going to help much, and really isn't great for the fish.> what are they? <Probably daphnia or something similar.  Essentially harmless (even a yummy food for some fish), but the proliferation of them is indicative of possible problems.  The reason they're there is probably the large diameter gravel - this is very difficult stuff to vacuum, and will pretty much always have 'grunge' in it (fish waste, food, other organic matter).  This 'grunge' is what the little bugs are feeding off.  As long as there's stuff to feed 'em, they'll still be there.  The best thing you can do is replace the huge gravel with something much smaller (pea-sized or slightly less).  Do it slowly, like a bit a week, after very thoroughly vacuuming the portion to be replaced.  I've dealt with trying to vacuum large pebble substrate before, and it's just not something that can happen without some serious effort (and I was always afraid I'd crack the glass, swishing those big rocks around....).  Looks neat, but just isn't worth dealing with, and creates problems, like what you're seeing.  This substrate is likely the major cause for the nitrate spikes (along with the ever-poopy Orandas).  It'll help your system tremendously to replace it.  To get a similar look, use a finer substrate (pea gravel, whatever) and spread some of the larger stones on top, or place piles of them decoratively against driftwood or large rocks.> The second part of this question is my sons eclipse system six has been established for years also and cleaned regularly, use cycle, Amquel every cleaning. I was looking under his gravel which is marbles and though I was looking at dead blood worms but inside the shell of the worm and small round thread like worm crawled out, I noticed they were everywhere. This is not Planaria I know what that looks like these are thread like round worms, really creepy. I have not administered any medications he has 3 apple snails I did not want to hurt them.  What do I do.   <What you're seeing here is almost definitely some sort of nematode (eh, worms).  Like the little bugs, these are likely completely harmless in and of themselves, but again, are indicators of some possible problems.  They're there for the same reason (marbles, too, are pretty difficult to clean in/around/under/between).  I'd suspect you also see nitrate problems here, too?  Same fix for this, as well; slowly (like a bit each week) replace the marbles with pea-sized or slightly smaller gravel substrate, and if you like the marbles, keep a handful or two to pile decoratively once you've got the substrate replaced.  Eliminate the food source of these creatures, and they'll die out.  Once you're all settled with your substrate, gravel vacuum regularly with water changes.  Do be sure to check your filter media, as well, to be sure it's not covered in these little critters, too.> Thanks,  Christie <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Lots of fish, lots of fish waste, and lots of algae - continued Ok, so how many fish should I remove to lighten the bioload and which ones? Thank you! <Well, Thomas, this is really the part that I don't like to be too instructing on.  I know very well how dear our fish can be to us, and suggesting to remove something is never a comfortable issue.  First off, do please double check your nitrate test against another, see if yours is off; I'd really expect it to be more than zero.  So let's recap, here; you have: 8 Leopard Danios, 2 German Rams, 2 Bolivian Rams, 3 Dwarf Gouramis, 2 Angelfish, 2 American Flag fish, 4 Lyre tail Swords, 4 Platies, 4 White Clouds, 6 Neon Tetras, 2 Albino Plecos, and 6 algae eating shrimp in a  58 gallon tank.  My first qualm is with the angelfish in with Neons and white clouds, which will eventually be lunch for the angels, as may the Danios, eventually.  Also, a pair of angels will be likely to try to breed eventually, and will kick the butts of your other fish when they do.  Another point is that platies and swordtails will breed and make tons of little ones for you to deal with (or allow the other fish to eat).  It's really for you to decide what stays and what goes, and depending on what you choose to let go, the number of fish will be different.  Whatever route you take, I'd recommend keeping the Plecs, the shrimp, and the Flagfish, who will hopefully help with the algae.  Again, let me reiterate that I hate telling you to remove some of your fish - I know how attached we can get.  Cutting down on feeding and using canister filtration instead of UGF will also help (this last bit with nitrates and plants in mind).  Wishing you and your tank well,  -Sabrina>

Lots of Fish, Lots of Fish Waste, and Lots of Algae - Continued Again Sabrina, <Thass me!> Perhaps I omitted this fact, but I have a Fluval 304 system.   <No, you did state that.> The UGF is used primarily to foster water flow through the substrate.   <This is actually very bad for plants.> Does that change anything?   <Unfortunately, no.  UGFs will still do some serious nitrate buildup, and that in addition to giving the plants a hard time, well, the nitrates will go to being algae food, more or less.> By the way, I don't plan on getting rid of these fish, just moving them to another tank (I'll set one up because I don't want to get rid of fish!  I get terribly sad whenever one dies, so it's generally out of the question.) <Ahh!  Now THAT's good to hear!!  First off, I'd send the white clouds, Neons, and zebra Danios to another tank, to prevent them becoming angel lunches when the angels get big (not sure if the Danios would ever be at risk, but better safe than sorry, IMO).  I'd probably send a pair of rams and the three Gourami along, as well, to try to make the number of fish (and their waste) manageable.  That'll leave you with 2 angels, 2 rams, 2 Plecs (Bushynoses, were they?), 2 flag fish, 4 swordtails, 4 platies, and six algae eating shrimp in the 58g.  If this is do-able for you, awesome.  If not, then keep on top of weekly water changes, test often for nitrates and phosphates, make use of phosphate absorbing media if necessary, add plants, cut back on hours of lighting (an hour or so at "noon" fish-tank-time for the lights to be off seems to help keep algae down), feed less, gravel vac more, you know the drill.  Best of luck to you in your battle with evil algae!  -Sabrina>

Lots of Fish, Lots of Fish Waste, Lots of Algae, Continued Yet Again Sabrina, <Me!> Thank you for all of your help.  Here's what I've decided to do.  I removed the UGF and boy did that stir up a dust storm!   <I can imagine!> I find the Red Sea Flora Life substrate to be rather messy.   <Yeah, but it's really Good Stuff.> I went through three HOT Magnum filters pulling out all the debris out of the water.   <I can imagine.  Must've been a dust storm in there.  The Seachem Fluorite that I use seems to be a little less dusty than the Flora Life, and I've seen the dust storms that it can produce.> I removed the Platies, the Swords, and one Gourami.   <I'd still remove the other two gouramis, and a pair of Kribs, but of course, that's dependant upon how large of a tank they'd be moved into.> The angels are still rather small, but when they get bigger I'll relocate the Tetras.   <Excellent.> I also removed all of the plants and put them in a separate bucket of tank water and covered it with aluminum foil and towels.  It remained covered for 2 1/2  days.  All of the hair algae seem to have died.   <I'd expect the algae to be able come back, but with all the measures you're taking, you man never have to deal with it again, or if you do, you should be able to keep it at bay enough that your algae eating fishes and shrimp will probably be able to control/eliminate it.> I've begun replanting the tank and I've also added more plants.   <Wonderful.> I also went out and purchased a Carbo-Plus CO2 system.   <I've always wondered how effective these are, and have been tempted to try one, but I'm still pretty happy with my yeast systems.  I do hope you get great results with this, I'm very interested.> I'm also closing the valves on my power heads during the daylight hours to decrease the amount of CO2 I lose.  I open them up and inject oxygen during the nighttime hours.   <All wonderful.> I had been using only one Hagen CO2 system and that really wasn't doing it.  I had a CO2 level of 6 ppm.  I put this in on Saturday afternoon.  When I tested the water at lunch today the CO2 level had climbed to about 09 ppm.  I'm heading towards a target level of about 15 - 20 ppm (any advice here?).   <I'd think 15ppm is a good point to shoot for.  This is partly dependant upon what kind of plants you have.  The only other thing I haven't seen mentioned is lighting, which, of course, is very important to plants - I'll assume, from all else you've done, you've done your homework here too, and have suitable lighting for the plants you keep.> After the water settled down, I did a 10% water change. Right now my pH is good (around 7.0) and my PO4 level is 0.  I still have some nitrates present, but I'm keeping a watchful eye on that.  The ammonia and nitrites are 0 and 0 respectively.  I've also cut down on the amount of food I've been feeding them.  I'm hoping that the increase in CO2 will produce more significant plant growth. <This all sounds absolutely excellent; I'm sure you're on your way to a pretty amazing system.  Great job, and best of luck to you!  -Sabrina>

Lots of Fish, Lots of Fish Waste, Lots of Algae, and More... Plus Lighting Sabrina, <Me again!> My last e-mail, I promise!   <Don't sweat it - send as many as you like :) > My lighting is by Cora Life.  It's their 48" set of 4 fluorescents.  It has four fans embedded in the housing.  I forget the wattage right at the moment, buy my LFS said it should work well for all kinds of plants, including the ones that need a lot of light.   <Something like this?   http://shop.store.yahoo.com/lamps-now/484xcoraqpch.html  Great choice.> I run the lights about 10 to 11 hours per day. <I think you're all set, and off to a wonderful start, and then some.  Well done.  -Sabrina>

Fish, Waste, Nitrates, Algae, Lighting, Continued... Sabrina, <Hi again, Tom> That's the light set-up exactly.  Now since you're encouraging more questions ( :-) ), <Always!> how long do you think it will take for my CO2 levels to increase?  The Carbo-Plus system gets turned on around 7:00 AM and I turn it off around 9:00 PM.  That's about 14 hours.   <I've never used this system, nor known anybody who has used it.  Swing by the forums http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/index.jsp and post in the plants section, see if anyone there is using it; I think we had a fellah who was going to try it out some time ago.  I'm also interested in hearing your results with it.> Also, my NO3 levels are still somewhat elevated, around 20 PPM.  How long will it take for those to come down?   <Water changes will help you nail this.  20ppm isn't awful, but it could certainly be lower.  As the plants settle in again, they'll help as well, but water changes are always a plus.> The Gouramis have completely vacated the tank now. <Reading that, I could only think, "Elvis has left the building"....  I think you'll have some good success with this tank, Tom!  -Sabrina> Tom

Too much heat from lights in an Eclipse tank Hi! <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> You have a fantastic web site!!!! <Thanks, from many people who have contributed.> I have an Eclipse System Six aquarium....I know...only a 6 gallon tank...but I wanted to start off small.  I have had it for about 5 weeks now.  I turn the light on about 5 - 7 hours a day.  When I do, the temp. goes up in the tank approximately 2 to 4 degrees which is no good.  I try to keep it at 78 degrees....but it usually goes up to 82 to 83 degrees.  I have 4 platies and 1 catfish.  All are doing fine!!   <Good to hear... when the platies get bigger, I would suggest a 10 gallon tank for this crew.> So, how do I get the temp. down....I have done approximately 3 water changes because my nitrites were skyrocketing.  I noticed when I do a water change....I can get the temp down to about 77 degrees.  My heater is set on 76....it never comes on at all....I don't know why I even bought it since the light seems to heat the tank.  Any suggestions on how to get and keep the temp. down?   <We had an Eclipse 5 set up for a while, and we saw the same thing. What worked for us was that we opened the little door in the hood when we turned the light on.> And do I need to keep doing weekly water changes to keep nitrites down??   <At five weeks, you shouldn't have any nitrites! Nitrates, yes, and you do need to keep doing water changes to keep those down. But if you have nitrites, that's a pretty good indicator that your tank is overstocked: the BioWheel can't harbor enough nitrifying bacteria to convert all the nitrites to nitrates.> Ammonia levels are good.   <Um. Only if that means they are zero.... :) > Thanks for your help!! <You're welcome. --Ananda>

This Tank Stinks! (Smelly Aquarium) I have a 50 gallon tank with 2 Oscars, 2 cichlids, 1 sucker, 1 6" Koi, 1 other fish...all small (right now).  My tank is two weeks old, high ammonia level and a very strong urine smell coming from it.  I have done frequent partial water changes, added all the right chemicals and have even added those volcanic chips, and of course have cut back on feedings.  None of that has worked.  The smell hits you in the face when you open my living room door and the ammonia level is still high.  What now? Thanks <If it were me, I'd think about lowering the population density in this tank! Also, I'd really kick up the filtration, and employ activated carbon and/or Poly Filter on a regular basis...these corrections should help! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

-Stinky tank!- I have a 50 gallon tank that has a VERY strong urine smell coming from it. <Sounds appetizing> It is only two weeks old and has two small Oscars, two small cichlids, one other small aggressive fish and a sucker fish. Oh yea a Koi that is about 6 inches long.  Of course my ammonia level is high. <Way overstocked> I have added all the right chemicals, made frequent water changes, and added those volcanic chips to my filter.  Even after doing all of that, the smell is still profound and my level is still high. <Cut back feeding to sparse amounts every other day and keep doing water changes to keep the ammonia level down.> The smell is so bad that when you open my front door you can smell it.  Help!!! <If you're feeding lots of feeders or pellets you need to cut way back, the tank was set up far to hastily (shouldn't need an algae eater till a month or two after the tank is set up!) with way too many large waste producing fish. If you could return some of these fish (especially the Koi who will be destroyed by the cichlids), do frequent water changes, and have the appropriate sized filter, you should get out of this mess in a few weeks. Good luck, and next time, do a little research before tossing a few fish in a new tank. -Kevin>

Fun with your goldfish Hi, I have an 8 gallon aquarium with 2 veil tailed goldfish, 2 shubunkins, a Plecostomus and a female platy. (They all get on with each other very well). <Holy woah - zoinks, and zowie!  Far too much bioload going on in there.  Goldfish are large, messy eaters that quickly foul the water.  Granted, they are a durable fish, but they have limits.  General rule of thumb is about 10-15 US gallons per goldfish.  Another yikes - the generic Plecostomus can very easily reach over a foot in length; I've even seen a couple in an enormous tank that were 2 feet in length!  Platies, on the other hand, are a good fish for an 8 gallon tank.  But platies are tropical fish, and need warmer water than the goldfish should be made to live in; the Plecostomus ought to be in warm water as well, but can tolerate the cooler water of the goldfish.  I'm thinking a major upgrade is necessary, here; keep the platy in the 8g, and get a couple more platy friends (1 male per every 2-3 females).  Perhaps a gorgeous, flashy Betta?> I was wondering if there were any fun things I could do with the goldfish? I made a hoop for them to swim through but they were too scared to go anywhere near it, and a put a ping-pong ball in the tank but they ignored it. Do you have any suggestions or advice?! <Mostly, things that will make them happy are live aquarium plants that they can nibble on (Anacharis/elodea is a good choice), and plenty of hiding spaces so they can feel secure enough to be out in the open.  As far as entertainment, well, goldfish really aren't too bright, but they'll quickly learn that you are a source of food, and will get to the point where they will 'beg' at the front of the tank for food, and may be taught to follow your fingers, and even eat out of your hand.> Also, one of my veil-tails sometimes swims very quickly to the surface, breathes in, swims back down and blows out bubbles of air! Is this normal? Should I be worried? Is there a reason for it?! <Could be a problem, but may be normal.  Is the tank filtered/aerated?  Do you treat your water for chlorine/chloramine?  Do you test the water for ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/pH?  Any of these values being out of whack will cause problems.  I'd very, very strongly recommend looking into a much larger tank for your fellahs.  They'd love you for it, and be able to grow happy and healthy.  Please take a look at other goldfish system FAQs - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfishsysfaqs.htm > Thank you very much for your help and sorry for taking up your time, London. <No sorry about it!  That's what we're here for :)  I wish you and your goldfish well. -Sabrina>

Tank Questions and Water Change Regime  - 8/18/03 Thanks for your reply  <Although I didn't reply, we appreciate your kind thanks> My tank is 36 long x 14 width x 16" (sorry not sure how many gallons)  <This is the equation to calculating the volume of your aquarium: Measure the Length x Width x Height = N x .00433 to convert from cubic inches to gallons In this case your tank holds about 35 gallons. =) Easy, eh?> My filter is a Fluval 2 plus I have 2 glow lights (1 for plant growth) If I do a BIG water change surely the temperature of the water would be different, is this ok for the fish or could it stress them out?  <It would stress out the inhabitants of your tank if there was a difference in temperatures. Be sure that you read our water change section on our website here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm plus many other sites in our marine and freshwater maintenance sections. We recommend a separate bucket and air stone to help with off gassing and a heater to regulate and equalize the temp before placing the water into the tank. Usually the process takes about 24 hours or so. Hope this helps - Paul> Thanks again, Debbie

Please Help.   <Sabrina here, I'll certainly try> I was doing very well with my well planted 10 gallon tank for six months until I added a bristle nose Pleco and fed it zucchini.  (microwaved).   <no reason to microwave; give it to him fresh, it'll be healthier for him that way>   I also had four tiger barbs.  PH 6.8 maintained with combination tap water (treated with conditioner) and distilled water because our PH is too high otherwise.  We also condition the water with peat. <sounds good> First, after we used a piece of uncooked zucchini we had a bloom (white).   <probably a bacterial bloom.... did you remove the uneaten zucchini?  If it stays in too long, it can foul the water> Ammonia started to increase so we did a water change of about 30 per cent, added Ammo Lock and some cycle and some Clear biological water clarifier. <the water clarifier is probably unnecessary; I've never used any, myself, I just rely on water changes> It all seemed ok after a couple of days.  We then used some cooked zucchini for the Bristlenose. Within two days the ammonia has soared to over 5.  The nitrites are between 0.3 and 0.5.   <Yeowch!> have done two 33 per cent water changes and the ammonia is not decreasing!  Even right after a water change it appears to be the same. I do not understand why!    <you're still using the Ammo-Lock, right?  That will register ammonia on an ammonia test, even though there's no harmful ammonia in the tank any more, so it's kinda tough to tell> I have lost one Barb.   <could have been the initial ammonia spike> The other three seem ok and the Bristlenose seems ok too.   <good> I did a big gravel vacuum today to ensure any left over food was not rotting. (particularly zucchini).   <good> I added some more ammo lock and a double dose of Cycle. A friend suggested some stress zyme.  I know the fish cannot survive such high ammonia.   <the ammo-lock's almost definitely the culprit on why you're registering ammonia on your test; I think it says it'll do that somewhere on the bottle, too, if you want to check> I also know that if I keep doing water changes then I may just be prolonging the ammonia "spike".   <what with the ammo-lock, you may already be well past the spike, just keep an eye on nitrites, and if you feel the need, keep up with water changes, but omit the ammo-lock, and see if that ammonia value goes down> I have stopped feeding the fish for a couple of days. <won't hurt, but probably unnecessary since most of this is probably attributable to the ammo-lock> What caused the spike?  Was it the zucchini or just the addition of the Bristlenose? <my bet is that the zucchini was left in too long.  I usually drop a piece of veggie in for my Plecs right before bed and pull out any leftovers right after I wake up.  Also, cooking the veggies in the microwave will cause them to break down faster and foul the water far more quickly.  Try a smaller piece of zucchini, and if your Plecs willing to eat while you're awake, when he seems done with it, pull out the remainder; otherwise, try dropping it in right before bed and pull out the leftover first thing in the morning.> What should I do now. ?  It was all going so well until now.   <with all due luck, you'll be back to normal in no time> Thanks <sure thing>

Ammonia Through the Roof, Back Down to Earth Thanks Sabrina.  It seems that you are right about the fact that the ammo lock provides a false reading.  The info on the bottle is not really informative and I will be writing to the company about this.   <Yeah, and I was wrong about the bottle saying anything about testing, anyway, that was Kordon's Amquel (same stuff, different company, basically) that explains it.> My three remaining barbs and Bristlenose seem fine and the nitrite readings are zero so I guess after more gradual water changes should get the Ammo-lock out of the system.  Thanks for your help, my blood pressure is now down to normal! <Great!  Always glad to help.  -Sabrina>

- Leaving Town - Hi, <Hello, JasonC here...> I have recently lost my goldfish so my aquarium is empty at the moment.  I plan to go on holiday soon for two weeks.  Should I keep my Fluval 2 pump running while I am away (even though there are no fish in the  aquarium). <Yeah, I would keep the Fluval running.> I plan to restock my aquarium when I come back. Or should I keep a least one goldfish in (to feed the pump filter) while I am away. <No fish until you return.> Or should I turn the filter off whilst I am away. <No.> Please advise me the best course of action. <When you decide to restock, go very slowly... don't dump all the fish you want in the tank at once.> By the way I haven't had a lot of luck with the fish I have had.  My aquarium is only about 6 weeks old. (three fish have died) 1 of dropsy, 1 of ammonia burns and 1 swim bladder trouble? <Here is some reading for you that should help: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm > Please help. <Cheers, J -- >

What worm be this? Planarian? >>Good day, Michael, Marina to help you here. >I started only 3 weeks ago and bought the following :   a.. 3 small fantail goldfish   b.. Plexiglas tank (4.5 gallons)   c.. air pump   d.. submerged power filter (mechanical filtration only)   e.. gravel siphon cleaner I treat tap water by allowing to stay in a bucket for 24 hours and before carrying out a partial water change I add dechlorinator. >>Very good. >I usually carry out water changes of 50-80% every day but I am planning to build a Plexiglas tank of 70 gallons capacity and add another goldfish.  Tanks in Europe are very expensive -- I bought the 4.5 gallon tank for USD 68 (Euros 57). >>Holy canoli! >Once a week I clean the filter element of the power filter. During the 3rd cleaning I noticed many small red worms in the filter element which were clinging in the sponge and could not be removed by washing with tap water. I fitted a new sponge element in the filter.  The biggest worms were about half an inch long -- please see attached photo.  Can you please advise if these worms are dangerous for my fish and how can I treat the water so that they will not appear again? >>The photo is not very clear, but I am guessing some sort of planarian.  I do not think they will pose any threat to your fish.  I have not had any experience with them, but I think that if you added some salt to the tank it would be enough to prevent them.  This is actually a help to the fish, and is helpful in preventing or alleviating the incidence of some maladies.  Use either Kosher or sea salt (anything that has not been iodized--very common here in the States), at a ratio of 1 teaspoon/gallon.  I believe that one teaspoon U.S. = roughly 5cc.  And 1 gallon (US) = 3.8 liters.  I do hope this helps, and best of luck to you in sunny Athens, Michael!  Marina (in what is *supposed* to be sunny southern California, but it's 62F and RAINING here!  What first day of summer??)

Are there any sand-shifting organisms for fresh water tanks? Hi, I'm in the process of setting up display tank with Discus and plants. I will try to do the deep sand bed thingy that works so great to get rid of nitrates in marine aquariums. One problem is that in marine tank, there are all the organisms living in live sand, plus snails, that will shift the sand so it doesn't go bad... Now, is there anything that I could use in FW aquariums? An organism that will shift sand? <I wouldn't.  Keep the substrate between 1 and 2 inches to keep it from trapping decaying matter.  DSB is only useful in a marine setting.  Regular water changes, combined with proper care and water treatment should be plenty.> Thank you, Luke

Freshwater Maintenance >Marina - >>Bill!  My favorite nuisance.  ;) >Here I am, continuing to be a nuisance - but I have a perplexing question:  On the walls of my 90 gallon, Oscar tank, there are small spots that are a kind of gelatin white and appear to be sacs of some kind. Some of them jiggle in the current. Last week, I cleaned them off as best I could but they are repopulating. I had thought they might be ich, but, as one of my Oscars had been showing signs of ich, I treated the water with salt prior to the first cleaning and from what I have read, if they are ich, they should not be repopulating. The salt level in that tank, according to the cheap measuring instrument that I bought, is at close to 3 ppt. >>No, my friend, not ich.  They sound like eggs of snails or salamanders...though I doubt your Oscars would allow a resident salamander to exist for very long.  If you've got any snails, then that's what I would guess they are.  Ich would not form gelatinous "cases" at all, so no worries about that. >Also, while the chemistry levels all check out fine, the tank has become quite cloudy. A bit of history, whether relevant or not: during one of my rounds of travel earlier in the month, I fear my wife overfed the tank. There was a bit of nitrite in it when I got back, and decayed could be seen food floating about and clinging to one thing or another. Shortly after that, the tank, which has an undergravel filter in addition to a large BioWheel and had been crystal clear, turned cloudy. >>Yes, something akin to "new tank syndrome", which is really a "pelagic" (as opposed to benthic) bacterial bloom.  Whatever you do, don't gravel vac too aggressively, but do perform water changes. >This same thing had once happened in my 29 gallon tank, but once I got the proper amount of food going again, the water cleared up and has since remained crystal clear.  What do you think those white, gelatin-like sac things might be? Will they harm my Plecostomus, who most definitely does ingest them in his/her incessant search for algae? >>No, they're more than likely as good and tasty to him as chicken eggs are to us....Mmmm...eggs.. (I'm hungry!). >Also, an interesting aside: about three evenings ago, I was startled to look into my 55 gallon tank and see my poor Bala shark hanging in a vertical position, twitching about. It had lost his equilibrium and I was certain it would soon perish. The only thing I could think of was that maybe the elevated salt levels in that tank were not so great for the Bala shark, so I moved him into the 29 gallon tank with the tetras and frogs. It took over two days for him to re-establish his equilibrium, but now he is fine, except that his fins appear to have been nipped, because that is how some of those tetras are. >>Indeed, you may be correct.  This loss of equilibrium is one of the things we look for when dipping salties in fresh to determine when enough is enough.  You did the right thing, and may need to reduce the salinity in his tank a wee bit. >By the way - I have started writing my piece, which I have titled "A Drowning in the Aquarium." I don't have much time for it - 15 minutes one day, then maybe another 15 a week or so later, but sooner or later I will complete it and I will email you a copy. You will receive kindly mention within. >>Why thank you, Bill!  Maybe, when written in such a manner, you'll come up with something possibly more interesting than if you sat down to try to write it all at once, yes?  In any event, I very much look forward to receiving it.  Don't worry about the eggs sacs, watch the Bala and the salt, and don't gravel vac too much the cloudy tank, but do perform some large water changes to remove the food the free-floating bacteria are consuming to help get nutrient levels back in check.  Good to hear from you again.  Marina

White fuzzy stuff.. Hi Fellas I have a 55 Gal. Freshwater tank only 8 Tetras and 2 cat fish .There seems to be something like a white fuzzy stuff sort of white semi transparent in color growing all over the bottom of the tank and on some of the rocks. This has been going on for about 5 weeks .Fish seem to be very happy like they have no problem with it. Have had a 55 Gal Tanks for about 35 years have never seen anything like this before. Do you have any ideas what this could be .Sure could use your help. Thanks a lot Bill <Could be anything, decaying matter, etc. Would take out post haste. "when in doubt take it out"  IanB>

Re: Cloudy, light green water! Hi.  I am hoping you can help!  We have a 20 gallon aquarium with one live plant and 5 fish.  We have had the aquarium for 6 months (and our neighbor had it for years before that) and it has always been sparkling clear until about 2 weeks ago.  The water turned a very cloudy, faintly green color!   I am guessing the cause was either: 1)  over-feeding; I had a sick fish that didn't seem to be eating so I started putting in "extra" food for him to get or 2) my plant has been disintegrating and may have polluted the water.   <It's most likely an algae bloom brought on by excess nutrients from when you overfed.> In any case, I have cut back on the food, pulled out the disintegrating plant stems, changed 1/3 of the water every other day, and changed the filter.  There appears to be improvement immediately after the water changes but by the next morning the water is as bad as ever.  I tested the water and there is no problem with nitrates or ammonia. <Keep up the frequent water changes, it's the best way to handle this problem. You can also get a small amount of barley straw and put it in a mesh bag (a nylon stocking works good) and place it in your filter. This helps eliminate the algae/green water.> Can you give me some advice?  Should I change more of the water...like 1/2 or 3/4 of the tank?  It seems like that might be hard on the fish.  Should I buy some sort of algae-killing solution?  I don't like the idea of introducing chemicals into the water.  What would you suggest?  Thanks so much for your help! <Avoid the chemicals, they often cause more problems than they solve. Do smaller, frequent water changes (20% daily will work) for about a week. And try the straw, many people use it in ponds to prevent and control algae blooms. Ronni> FW Water Changes I have one more question for you..  As in the water change.  What do you recommend ? How much water do you drain in a 180 gallon tank ?  How many times a month ?  And every time you do a water change do you add the bio Spira, salt and or anything else you recommend to keep the animal from being sick.  We are getting them this weekend..  The carbon is in and it is being filtered out now so everything will be a ok. <Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Just wanted to say THANKS! Hi Ronni, <Hi there> Thank you so much for all your help I know you get thousands of emails so I'll try to be brief.   <Well, not thousands but some days I'm running behind on them and it feels like it! *G*> Your advice has really helped me get my 2 small aquariums up and running. This is the longest I have ever been able to keep fish alive (2weeks) so far.  I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it.   <I'm glad to have been of service!> Doing twice daily water changes on original tank, ammonia going down still not at 0 but much better.   <Very good.> Second attempt to move babies successful no fatalities. Very excited to see what happens.   <Wonderful!!> If I do well I see larger tank in near future (after lots of research from your sight) (hubby cursing in background!)   <LOL! The hubby will begin to curse every time he sees you walk in the door with a bag from 'that fish place', even after years of this mine still does. :o) And watch out, that first larger tank always leads to another one because you find that perfect fish you can't live without but it's not compatible with the ones in your current tank.> Sorry to rattle on. Thanks for everything maybe I can leave you alone now. <No need to apologize, e-mail anytime you need to!> Thank You, Amy <You're welcome! Ronni>

Re: Floating Nasties Greetings Team! <Mornin'!> I have a few problems. <Me too but unless you're a psychiatrist you won't be able to help'¦> I bought a tank and in previously I have told you of it. I have one fish and a frog in it (a zebra Danio). Tonight there was some stuff floating in the tank so I got my net out and got it. But it pulled the plant from its base to I decided to move things about a bit. I moved the rocks to the left and the plants a little closer together to kind of hide the heater a bit. But when I moved the one plant and rock all this stuff came up from the gravel! Now it looks like there is stuff floating around everywhere. Is this normal when you move the gravel in the tank? <This is normal. Fish waste, excess food, etc. When you do your water changes, using a gravel vacuum will help remove a lot of this.> Also...my Ph is, despite the Ph-Down chemical I've been using, staying always in the blue (alkaline). What are some reasons for this and should I be overly concerned? <As long as the pH is under about 7.8 I wouldn't worry too much about it. The critters may be more comfortable at a lower pH but they're better off in a higher STABLE pH than a constantly fluctuating one. Products like pH down are only temporary fixes and can actually increase fish loss because the fluctuation sends the fish into pH shock.> -Ray in Texas <Ronni in Montana :o)>

Re: First fish tank Hello to all at WWM <Hello!> I have several "stupid" questions.   <The only stupid question is the one that doesn't get asked'¦) I have never had very much luck with fish and I really wish I had found your site and done my homework before I started. I bought a 10g starter kit and bought 3 mollies and 3 neon tetras and 1 Pleco after reading on your site I realize these were not the best choices for beginners.  My question is while I am cycling my new tank how often should I do small water changes? <With this many and these fish (particularly the Neons and Pleco) you are probably going to have to do water changes daily.> I think I have to many fish for my tank and I don't want them to die before it cycles. <Keep an eye on your ammonia and nitrite levels and be vigilant about the water changes.> Should I do this every couple of days or once weekly?  Also when I add the water will I shock my fish with the temp change if it is at room temp?  So far my tank is staying at about 78-80d. <Yes, you will. The water that is put into the tank needs to be the same temp as the water already in the tank. Put a heater in the bucket of water overnight to get it to the right temp.> One last question do I need to remove my fish when I make these small water changes or do I leave them in the tank even when vacuuming the gravel? <Nope, your fish can be left in, just make sure you don't suck them up in the hose/vacuum.> Thank You so much your site and online support are a life saver for those of us who are aquatically challenged. Thanks for your help. Amy <We are all challenged in one way or another, mine is vertically! Ronni>

55 gal Freshwater scum problem - 02/21/03 <Ananda here today...> I have a Fluval 404 in a 55 gal freshwater with about 30 fish: 3 angels, 5 Danios, 5 albino cats, 2 red fin sharks, 2 zebra cats, 1 rainbow, 3 black skirts.    <Hmmm. I'm wondering what the other nine fish are.> I have about 2 inches of aquarium gravel that's probably 5 years old, 2 big bogwoods, several years old. Since about New Years (7 weeks ago), the plants AND snails have all but disappeared. The snail problem was introduced with the plants about 2 years ago, and the plants seemed to be winning, until about Christmas (2 months ago)'¦now both plant and snail population have died back considerably. I figured it was 'a natural cycle.' <Probably not -- only a few types of plants that I know of have a dormancy cycle: some of the Aponogetons.> Snail eggs... that transparent blob'¦are stuck inside the Fluval filter, but used to be visible inside the tank. <Sounds like it is something in the tank, then.> Recently (past month) a dull film appeared on the water's surface. At first it was a fine swirling haze, almost like oil. Even with the water changes, it hasn't gone away and has become a surface 'crust' '¦near the end that has the filtration tubes or when I sprinkle it with food, this surface scum breaks up into irregular angular pieces. At the opposite end, it can hold air bubbles under it, definitely blocking oxygen exchange. What is it? <Something in your tank has had something leach out into the water. Take a clean white paper towel and lay it on top of this stuff to skim it off the water surface.> Today, I notice miniscule white dots or white bubbly fleck-- not those tiny worms, which I've seen before--the worms move, this stuff isn't moving--is growing where the green algae typically builds up (and which I remove monthly) on the bogwood and the sidewalls. <Sounds like it could be a mineral buildup.> It's been about 10 days since the last water change. I'll do it again today, but the green algae has changed to white yuk, plants are dormant'¦I see new growth starting, but not one blade/leaf bigger than ¼ inch remains on any of the plants. <You don't mention your water quality test results... please check these, and if ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates are above zero, consider doing a larger water change than usual. Also check your water hardness.> With every water change, there's a white residue that remains on my outdoor patio (where I drain the water to). I figure this is the media dissolving--those white donut like tubes in the Fluval. <More likely you have a very high mineral load in your tank. Plants aren't all that fond of hard water.> Are plants short lived things that need replacing every other year? <Not usually, no.> Is the film a kind of mineral coming from ???? the Fluval filter media? <I'm not sure, but I doubt that it's the media.> Is the film from geodes--I put 5 slices of geodes in the tank around Christmas time. <Bingo. Geode slices are often dyed -- if yours are, I bet their color is fading, and the dye has leached out into the water. Also, the chemical/mineral makeup of the dye could cause your plant problems and snail deaths. And then there's the mineral makeup of the geode itself.... I would remove these post-haste.> Fish seem OK EXCEPT for one angel who incurred an injury on his tail 3 or 4 months ago'¦and now his tail has ½ disappeared, from the bottom up <This can be a sign of a couple of things. One possibility, which might also explain your problems with the plants, is that the pH is too high. (The high pH might have been caused by the geode slices.) The other is that it's a bacterial infection. Do check the pH of both your tank and your source water. If your tank pH is higher than your source water pH, you should lower the tank pH -- slowly! -- by doing more frequent water changes. Melafix can help your fish regenerate its tail fin.  --Ananda>

Re: Pump Question Thanks Ronni, what about cleaning, how often are you cleaning and changing the water? <Glad to help. Probably not as often as I should be on the water changes. I do partial water changes every couple of weeks and a 100% water change every 4-6 weeks. In your tank, if you were to do 20% weekly you'd be fine. If you have a light on your tank you may notice a lot of green algae, just scrape this away and siphon it up when you do your water change. Ronni>

2/05/03 - Catfish algae??? I recently set up a freshwater tank. <Hi Robyn. Paul this evening. How recent did you set up the tank? a few weeks or months? How big is the tank?>  I put in a couple of yellow molly's, a couple of crabs, and a couple of tetra's.  The PH has been a little high, but I am working on it. <How high is the pH exactly?>  I recently added two silver catfish.<Always a good choice for cleaning the substrate of left over foodstuffs. Be sure they are fed specifically to their needs if there is little waste in your tank. Also if the other fish seem to eat their rations of food leaving little left over for the catfish.> Since the addition of the catfish, I have noticed a brown sediment/growth on the white rocks.<Plant like? Brownish plant matter?> I have tried vacuuming it up, but it appears stuck to the rocks.<Sounds like algae. Please look here for more information on possible reasons for and for possible solutions to this sometime nuisance: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm also look here for information on your particular needs for freshwater setups: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Have a scroll through if you haven't already to see if there is something in there that can help you> It's accumulating fairly quickly, and kind of dirty and ugly.<Maybe for your next water change, you could scrub with an algae brush or clean toothbrush to loosen the debris and then vacuum out if possible. Be sure to make frequent water changes.>  Is it the catfish?< I believe it is not the catfish, but maybe some excess nutrients in your water for which algae feed on.> Is there something I can do to stop it? < See previous responses and check out those links. I predict they will be really useful.> Help. <Let me know if I can do any more to help you. This is sort of a broad topic which may require time, education, and pure hard work and diligence to fix. Learning a little more about good water sources, water preparation, water change practices etc. will go a long way to helping rid this sometimes annoying algae accumulation. Good luck. Paul out> Thanks, <My pleasure, let me know if I can do more to help.> Robyn McKee, RN, BS

- Freshwater Questions - <Greetings, JasonC here...> It occurs to me that whatever is growing on the back wall of my tank may not be algae. It is a rusty-colored growth of some kind. <Algae can be this color.> Also, I notice that there is none growing on the top four inches of the back wall. <Could be the effective range of the lighting.> [I wrote this previously] Recently, I decided to keep fish in a 75-gallon tank in which I formerly kept a fairly large pair of red-eared sliders. The turtles were adopted by someone else about a year ago and the tank has been running with a Fluval 304 all the time the tank has been empty, with no heater and with no maintenance other than topping off the water level. About a month ago I did a 100% water change, vacuumed everything from the gravel and washed the filter and the media with tap water. Assuming bacteria had been killed, I refilled the tank and started the filter. About a week later I added three little tetras and started waiting for the tank to cycle. In the three weeks since, I have noted that ammonia and nitrite levels have remained at zero; pH is 8; general and carbonate hardness both 5; Temperature is 78. I am a novice at this, but after reading quite a bit on your website, I am concluding that the lack of any ammonia so far means the tank in not cycling. <Or that the tetras just aren't contributing 'that' much.> There is a substantial amount of algae growing on the back wall of the tank--only the back wall. The water is clear. The three fish seem to be healthy and happy. 1) Is it possible the system isn't cycling because the bacteria in the gravel/tank were never killed? <I doubt that - with no fish or bioload for a year, there would be no nitrogenous wastes to keep a filter alive.> 2) What should I do about the algae, if anything? <If it bothers you, clean it off.> 3) Should I add more fish now? <You can certainly try... I wouldn't add too many too quickly, however.> Thanks for your help with these questions. Your site has been very helpful already. <Cheers, J -- >

Small freshwater tank maintenance <Ananda here tonight...> I have a question about my aquarium, it is 3 gal., and I only have one red Mickey mouse platy in it.  Air bubbles from my filter have just recently been covering up the top of my water.  Is this a problem?  If so what can I do about it?  Will it harm my fish? Thanks, Rena <When I had a similar problem, I found out it was due to a high concentration of phosphates. While that wouldn't be harmful to your fish, it would help nuisance algae grow! Phosphates are produced by decaying fish food, so you might want to feed your fish a bit less than you have been. Also, more frequent water changes and regular filter changes will help. --Ananda>

Re: Tank maintenance I am baffled, <<Me too most of the time so maybe we can start a club?>> I thought I had this tank maintenance thing down pat.  Here's the situation, any light that you can shed on it and advice for the future would be most appreciated. On Jan. 13 I filled a clean 10 gallon tank with tap water in preparation for doing a 20% water change in my freshwater tank on Jan 23. I prepared the 10 gallon tank by scrubbing it with aquarium salt and rinsing it out well.  I used tap water to rinse off the air stone, heater, and thermometer that went into the bare bottom tank.  The tap water that I used to fill the 10 gallon tank had a pH of 7.5, 0 ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. I left the lid off for two days so the chlorine and chloramine could dissipate, then I put the lid on.  The water has been aerated and heated to 79 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 days (there is no filter in the tank - didn't think I'd need one). Today, Jan. 24 the pH is 7.8 (not a problem), ammonia and nitrates are 0.  The nitrite measures 0.5 ppm.  I did the test twice in case I made a mistake but I got the same results both times.  I tested the tap water in case something was wrong with my test kit and got 0nitrites.  Why did the nitrite go up? What can I do differently in the future to prevent this?  The nitrites in my 30 gallon tank measure 0.  Am I correct that I should NOT use the water in the 10 gallon tank to do a water change? <<Hmm... I'm not actually positive why the nitrites would go up when there's nothing in there that should have made them. Yes, you are correct in assuming that you shouldn't use the water now. Although I doubt it would make enough of a difference to matter I'd be leery of taking the chance. You have several options though. Rather than change the full 20% that you had planned, change just 5-10%. There shouldn't be enough nitrites in this small amount to harm your livestock. Then next week (or when the nitrites/ammonia in your main tank are reading 0) change another 5-10%. You could also start new on the replacement water and let it set for a couple of days or you can wait it out on the current replacement water and see if the nitrites go down and if the ammonia remains at zero. I would personally be tempted to do the latter but that's more of a curiosity thing. Your one other option would be to get some RO water from your LFS and do your water change with that but I would personally do one of the other things mentioned.>> Thanks, <<You're quite welcome. Ronni>> Judy

Freshwater Fish problems...and questions Hi guys, You guys seem really really experienced and was wondering if you could answer some of my questions and help me fix some of my problems.  To help you out more, let me tell you my set up..   Tank: 29 gallon   Heater: Set on 78 degrees   Gravel: Big chunky river rocks, fake plastic plants and center pieces   Fish: 1 clown loach, 3 Bala sharks, 2 Leporinus, 1 rainbow shark, and 1 Pleco, and one weird little spotted frog from Wal-Mart (--wasn't my idea, but seems to be doing ok)   Filter: TetraTec PF150 I set up the tank and let it run for about 2 days before I added the fish. <Yikes! This is way too soon. Did you use some mechanism for establishing biological nutrient cycling?> For about a day everything was going fine and then my Pictus catfish died <This species prefers soft, acidic water of relatively high temperature...> (was replaced with the clown loach) I took a water sample to PetSmart and had it tested, everything was good except for the ammonia (was at stress level), so I added some ammonia detoxifier. <This is only a temporary fix>   All the fish seem to be doing ok after that and about a day later I noticed what has to be ick, this brings me to my current situation.  I'm using cure ick, I hope to god it's going away, I removed the carbon cartridges and am letting the medicine cycle through, is there anything else I can do? <Can you tell me/us what the ingredients are in "cure ick"? Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasitefaqs.htm Many "ich cures" are quite toxic... and unnecessary. Ich can be generally cured by elevating water temperature alone> Also, does my setup and fish choice seem ok? <Mmm, your system is going to be very crowded with the fish stock list you mention... What species of Leporinus do you have? Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/anostomidae1.htm some of these can be "very mean" to other fishes, each other...> Also my Bala sharks and rainbow shark seem to be swimming up and down in the same one corner of the tank, could this be because of where I have my filter outlet current flowing, it s adjustable, so should I try changing the direction the water outlets are pointing to so that they leave that corner, its kind of annoying because all they do is swim up and down, up and down, in the same one small corner of the tank, in front of the water filter, they hardly ever leave except to eat--only the sharks do this.   <Natural behavior from being too crowded... this species grows to be longer than your tank is wide. Please look up Balantiocheilus melanopterus on fishbase.org or see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm> Is there something I can do, and is there anything else I can do about the ick, or should it go away with the cureIck. You guys are great, Thanks, Lonnie <Time to study up a bit, formulate a plan, take a few steps back... I would raise the temperature of your water to the mid 80's F., hold off on any medication, and think about either trading in some of this livestock (the Bala Sharks, Leporinus), or get a much larger system. Now! Bob Fenner>

Additional fish in my 30 gallon freshwater tank Dear Crew, I'm afraid my original message may not have gotten to you, so I am resending. <yes, thank you! First my eyes have laid upon> Dear Anthony (just a wild guess here), <that I'm wild or that I'd simply be here? <G>> My 30 gallon freshwater tank finished cycling almost 3 weeks ago.  It now houses 3 platys, 1 balloon molly, and one female Betta.  pH is 7.8, temp is 79 F, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are 0.   <PS- the livebearers are fine together (liking alkaline and slightly salted water)... but the Betta is out of place (neutral to soft/acidic)> By choice I have only artificial plants.  I would like to add two male dwarf Gouramis - are the Gouramis a good choice?   <hmmm... in the bigger picture I'd advise you to select a water quality (alkaline hard water fishes or acidic softer water fishes, etc). Tetras for the softies, Gouramis for soft to neutral... and livebearers for the high and salted end> Will two males live together peacefully (I want two males because they are prettier than the females and I'm not interested in having the Gouramis reproduce).   <understood... yes, in this tank they are likely to fare reasonably well together> I've read they like plants floating on the surface - <very much so> I'd rather not have this (even artificial ones).  Will they be miserable without that?   <not sure... we should ask one <G>> Should I add some aquarium salt to the water?  How much?   <definitely... 1 TBSPN per ten gallons at least> What brand?   <non-iodized cooking salt is fine> I thought I'd also get 2 or 3 Corydoras sterbai as scavengers -  are they suitable tankmates for this group?   <we are getting back to the soft water versus hard water and acidic versus alkaline loving fishes issue again. Corys will not like the salt or ALK. > I would not plan to get the new additions all at once.  Thought I'd start with the Gouramis if you give me the go ahead.  Any thoughts would be appreciated. Judy <my advise is to pull the livebearers because all else like a similar water quality. Still add the salt as per above. Best regards, Anthony>>

Dealing With Nitrate in Fresh Water I've been reading up on your site (excellent info.... thank you for the opportunity) in an effort to determine my best options in fresh water filtration. I need to find a way to deal with a high waste load (large fish) in a very large display tank. <Okay> While it is evident that wet/dries can be beneficial in the face of large waste loads, one does end up being faced with a Nitrate problem. I guess those problems can be handled with water changes, but when dealing with a huge tank, that isn't often a simple task. What would be some natural options (other than plants) to deal with Nitrate? How about chemical filtration (Polyfilter, etc.)? <This is also an option, as are biological nutrient export methods... like uptake, incorporation by photosynthates... And anaerobic/hypoxic denitrification... similar mechanisms as with saltwater systems. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm> You once suggested a fluidized bed. I know they provide a tremendous amount of biological capability. Did you suggest it because of the potential for denitrification (I guess assuming the bed is tall enough to allow some anaerobic areas)? <Mostly the speedy "forward reaction" of nitrification> My only concern with a FB filter is their delicate nature in the event of a power outage. I wouldn't want to be starting over every few months. I guess I could install some form of battery backup, but I just can't believe that everyone with such a system has a backup power source. Maybe I'm missing something. Am I? <I don't think so. There is imminent risk of loss of nitrifiers with pump failure in FB's... and only a few folks have alternate power sources for such events. Bob Fenner>

Re: reply to my tightrope walking (crowded FW maintenance) Thanks for the reply. I don't think I have too many fish...3 - 5inch pigeon blood discus, 12 cardinals, a spawning pair of Kribs that have fry now living in between java moss, a pair of blue neon borealis, a pair of German blue rams, numerous ghost shrimp ( they grow from an inch to four in no time ), and one crab, and 4 Cory cats. But then again maybe I do? <Zoinks! it sure sounds like a lot to me.> Nitrite test is blue again (aquarium pharmaceuticals test) and nitrate is up to orange 20 to 40ppm but my plants grew about 5inches in the last 3 days. From your website I found out the my bio reactor melts down after an hour, which I never knew of or experienced. I don't remember reading that in the manual.  I had the power off to fix the ceiling fan, and this probably caused the bacteria to die off. What does anyone do if the power goes off, and how long does it take for the bacteria be brought back online? <Depends... in your case, you likely had a ready source of those de-nitrifying bacteria already in the system so that their numbers replenish rather quickly. If you were starting from scratch it would probably take much longer. As far as dealing with power outages, now that you are aware, perhaps you will simply run an extension cord next time. Many hard core reef-tank-keepers have generators, others battery inverter systems. Is really a factor of your budget.> I've had more fish in the tank at a higher temperature 84 degrees with no problems but lowered the temp to 77 degrees when I bought the UV (I got tired of plant meltdown) and my fish, especially the discus (which I don't believe need 86 for a water temp.)  The only reason for that is to fight off  infection or disease but if  you keep the tank and water clean, they seem more colorful and active in lower temps, and the UV helps... <It does, although there can be problems over the long term with a type of immune deficiency. Not much science on this, but much anecdotal evidence.> I don't know how you can keep an oxygen level at that 86  with a plant setup, even if you had aeration going... <Is difficult at those temperatures.> many people don't believe discus should be kept in this environment, mine grew from a quarter size to what they are now if about 18 months and the only time I've lost a discus was to over dosing with iron, they seem to be weak to it. I  try not to overdose anymore.) are doing fine.  I can keep the magnum as a bio system if you think that will work, and what type of power head would work for the sea storm if I needed to power it separately? <The Magnum really isn't a good biological filter and is really designed for mechanical filtration. Most all canisters lose flow as they get dirty. To that end, any filter that needs cleaning will by design make a very poor biological filter because you kill the beneficial bacteria every time you clean it. The sand filter is probably a better device for biological filtration but they also have their own drawbacks - such as rapid die off when the power fails and are also known to produce nitrates in bulk quantities. As far as a pump for the SeaStorm, I would go with what the manufacturer recommends.> Or what type of filtration should I bump up to? <A larger sand filter and frequent water changes to keep the nitrates in check if the plants aren't sucking them up.> I can't use bio wheels because the tanks between two rooms, not  aesthetically pleasing to my wife... so what type of media can I use in the canister that I'm not using now? <None that I can think of... the Magnum is not well-suited to this purpose.> I use Bacter vital by Marc Weiss to seed the filter and the pH is now at 6.4 but I expected it to drop because of what was happening... buffering is at 120ppm and total hardness is still moderate...the fish look great  the fry are happy...that's a good sign... you'd think they'd be the first ones to die...Thing is the rams came in water that was 8.0... I know, I'm not buying there anymore, but no one in the Chicago area has a pH that's lower than 7.6 and I've kept my tank under 7 for three years. How long should I drip the new fish to adjust to my pH? <As slowly as is practical.> The rams had a drip system of my water for about 6 hours, but I haven't had success with rams for about a year now. The Germans are doing great, but their very expensive, and small. I had a pair of large blues spawn continually for over a year two years ago- but buy them now and they go belly up in a week.  Either they're being inbred or dying because they live in 5.5 to 6.0 water in nature and no one knows how to take care of them by the time they get to the stores. <Or they just get beat up in the shipping process.> They had them mixed in with Africans. I have pair of Agassizis, and cacatuoides in a 29 gallon that had been living in the main  tank for over a year, but I pulled them when the Kribs gave birth. They fight now in the 29,  but seldom in  the 55. So I'm keeping you guys for answers, if you'll put up with me. I found your sight very informative and will recommend it to everyone. I think I take care of my fish, no offense taken, <and certainly none was meant.> (I also have a  5 year old -500gallon goldfish and Koi pond, there frozen outside now, and I only lose fish due to egrets or raccoons that wander into my backyard...and a 20 gallon terrarium \with 3 newts and a fire belly toad -and a 120 gallon turtle pond, the red ear sliders are hibernating in 10 inches of mulch and grass...4 turtles at 4years of age)  so your input is most appreciated, but I know of the heavy bio load because I take care of it daily and I feed my fish just once a day, they all nibble on the plants or a shrimp or two if they're hungry. <As long as you are aware of it... the tight rope comment was just meant to illustrate the point that with such a high bio-load, even with careful diligence, disaster lies in wait on either side of the path with little room for error.> I hope this gives you more help to my problem. <Cheers, J -- >

Outgrowing tank What are the signs a fish gives when a fish has outgrown a tank? I have a an albino catfish that we bought at approximately 2 inches and know he's between 12 and 14 inches and have always had him the same 120 gallon tank.  Lately he has been acting a little weird, like if he's frustrated, and also his skin seems to have some light yellow patches.  Please Help. Thank You, David <Hi David, you can usually tell that a fish has outgrown its tank just by the size of the fish, at 12-14in this fish is probably almost as wide as your tank and will begin having problems moving around comfortably.  Water quality is also going to be an issue.  I'm not sure what type of catfish you have, but you may want to start looking for larger tanks, or maybe even ponds.  Albino channel cats for example can exceed 4ft.  Best Regards,  Gage>

Everything's gone wrong, sometimes Set up a new 72 gallon Bow Front 6 weeks ago. Went by the book the best I could I thought. Lost 24 angels, assorted community fish. Now ich.. Live plants all the things that should be in the tank. Should strip it down and start over or try to find someone who really has the right answers? Getting  tired of nothing going right. Thanks, Bob <Sorry to hear about your troubles, I can understand your frustration.  For starters, I would not add any fish until we figure out what the problem is.  It could have been the addition of too many fish too fast.  Start by treating the remaining fish for ich and trying to stabilize their water conditions.  If possible remove the fish to a separate quarantine tank.  You will want to test your water for ph, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Let us know the results of these tests, the temperature of the water, type of filtration and any products that you are using to condition your water.  With this information we should be able to figure out what the problem is.  Best Regards, Gage>

Stripping the tank I have been keeping an aquarium for two years now and I have been regularly performing partial water change as well as gravel cleaning almost every week. However, my friend who also keeps an aquarium told me that sooner or later, I will have to strip my tank and perform a general cleaning. Is this true? <No, not really. You may need to occasionally increase the frequency or amount of your water changes.> If so, how often do I have to do this? <Anything you would do different would be dictated by your tank (depressed pH, high nitrates, disease problems, etc.). There will be clues for you if things need additional assistance.> Thanks in advance for your help, Philip <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Oh no! Odonata!  Hi Bob sorry the pics didn't come through, they are regular .jpg files. <See them now.> Anyways will try again using this email.   You may not be able to reply since we just made some changes to our email server last night.  If possible reply to the other address if this one does not work.   One of the pics is of my gravel, I want your opinion on it for plant growing, I am thinking of mixing some peat and sand for a 1" layer then a 2" layer above it using this existing gravel (UG plate under it atm).   2 Maxi Jet 1000 power heads in the tank along with a magnum 350.   I am looking forward to ditching the UG plates and power heads and adding an Eheim canister to go with the magnum.   <A good idea. At least what I would do. What you have is an odonatan larva... a dragonfly early life stage... a ravenous feeder on fishes, tadpoles, other organisms... I would trap, otherwise catch it out and remove it. Bob Fenner>

Re: brown algae Hi Crew, I have a 20 gal tank that has been set up for about one and a half months.  I have two Bala sharks and two silver dollars.  Fish are happy and water is clear but there is brown algae on every surface.  I scrub it off like the people at Pet Smart said to and it comes back the next day.  How do I get rid of it??? Thanks, Vanessa Jordan <The trick to algae is figuring out what is fueling it, remove the excess nutrients and BLAM-O, no more algae.  You can find a wealth of information on algae control by following the links below. -Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgaefaqs.htm>

Variegated Ivy in small fishbowl like tank (Betta) Hi, Hope you can help. We just set up a small aquarium at work (in our lab) using a 1-gallon glass chromatography tank. We placed a small variegated ivy <The terrestrial species, Hetera canariensis?> cutting in tank and added two small fish, a tiger <Tiger what? Not a Tiger Barb I hope> and Betta. Can we add more ivy plants to tank. The tank is narrow , about 4inches, and the plant cutting hangs very nicely from top. We want to be sure these plants are compatible with fish. <Me too> As we do not have a filter or air source we believe the roots of the plant will provide oxygen to environment. <If it's truly aquatic... but at night it may well cause the demise of the Tiger whatever... The Betta is able to breath atmospherically...> Thanks for your help. Elaine <A few important points: These fishes are tropical species... need relatively warm, constant water temperature... And the plant... need to check to see if it is an underwater species... We have "complete answer" type areas for these concerns on our sites... about Bettas: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/betta_splendens.htm About plants: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/groplts101.htm Please read through these, the associated FAQs files for sufficient background... many folks lose their livestock, quit the hobby over simple lack of pertinent information... don't let this happen to you. Bob Fenner>

Worms in Freshwater Tank I sent the email earlier about the worms in the goldfish tank. <Ok... For future reference, if following up on a previous Q&A, it is always best to send along the original query and response. We get 30-60 emails daily and really need all the correspondence as we have six different people answering to keep up with the volume of mail we get.> I've just read your posted questions and answers. Based on your responses I wanted to note that the high population level of this invertebrate has not been caused by inadequate filtration or gravel siphoning. I have an optimum filter as well as gravel filtration, and I change their water one to two times a month via gravel vacuum. I also had only three inches worth of fish in a twenty gallon tank when these things appeared. So, I really would like to know exactly how I can control their population level, if you do not have enough information to identify them. <My best guess is that you have experienced a bloom of a Tubifex like worm. They are not pathogenic to your fish, but I can categorically state that they are always seen in instances of excess food or fish waste. I understand that this is not the response you wanted to hear, but it is the truth. They feed off of the waste material and uneaten food. If you have neither, they could not live, let alone reproduce to a plague level. Basically, they have to be eating something. A couple of big water changes, thorough vacuuming of the gravel, and a dose of a copper based medication should knock them out for you. Note that the copper is not safe for other invertebrates.> Your time is appreciated! Thank you. Sincerely, Courtney <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

fish help HI, <Scott F. here for you> I recently set up a 55 gallon freshwater tank. The tank was set up about two-three months ago. I recently added 3 cardinal tetra, 3 leopard Danios, 2 kissing Gouramis, and 3 Mickey mouse platies to the tank. The tank had 3 rosy barbs, 2 fancy guppies, 3 zebra Danios, 1 ghost shrimp, 2 bloodfin tetras, and 3 painted glass fish, and two snails prior to the new fish. The old fish had been living well and health for about a month so we decided to add some more the ones I listed first). I should mention that the snails started acting weird and one of them died a week prior. <Curious...> I thought it was because there was not enough algae. The ph is 7.0 and the ammonia is near 0.  <Ammonia should be undetectable in an established tank-do recheck>  The temp is around 78. We put the fish in and everything seemed fine. A day or two later in the morning all but one of the painted glass fish were dead, the tetras were gone, and one guppy was dead. The bodies left floating were missing most of their fins so I couldn't tell if they died of a disease. Nothing else has dead for the last couple of days. HELP what happened, and what am I doing wrong. thanks, Tod Sullivan. <Well, Tod- it could be a number of possibilities: You indicated a slight ammonia reading-that could be the culprit... I suspect that it may not have been a disease. Perhaps you may have some kind of toxin at work in your tank. Was there any possibility of some kind of household chemical, or something like paint or oil getting into the tank? Equipment failure? The rapidity with which your fishes died is disconcerting. You should perform regular water changes and keep tabs on the ammonia and nitrite levels. Be a detective-check your source water, acclimating procedure...Look for anything that seems out of the ordinary. And always be sure to quarantine new fish-it could save your entire tank from diseases! Don't give up! Read about water quality on the wetwebmedia.com site. You'll be fine if you keep questioning and reading. Good luck!>

Fish help (FW, stocking, maintenance) Hi, I recently set up a 55 gallon freshwater tank. The tank was set up about two-three months ago. I recently added 3 cardinal tetras, 3 leopard Danios, 2 kissing Gouramis, and 3 Mickey mouse platies <A bit of a strange mix. The tetras and platies being very peaceful, the Danios and Gouramis much more nippy, the tetras preferring soft, acidic water, and platies hard, alkaline water with a bit of salt, the Gouramis and Danios in between.> to the tank. The tank had 3 rosy barbs, 2 fancy guppies, 3 zebra Danios, 1 ghost shrimp, 2 bloodfin tetras, and 3 painted glass fish, and two snails prior to the new fish. <This is less of an odd mix, but ideally the guppies should be separated.> The old fish had been living well and health for about a month so we decided to add some more (the ones I listed first). I should mention that the snails started acting weird and one of them died a week prior. <Ok...> I thought it was because there was not enough algae. <Possible or the temperature, some of these are pond types that tend to do poorly in tropical aquariums.> The pH is 7.0 and the ammonia is near 0, <The ammonia should be zero, not near.> the temperature is around 78. We put the fish in and everything seemed fine. A day or two later in the morning all but one of the painted glass fish were dead, the tetras were gone, and one guppy was dead. The bodies left floating were missing most of their fins <Hard to say if they were killed by the Gouramis or just nibbled on later.> so I couldn't tell if they died of a disease. Nothing else has dead for the last couple of days. HELP! What happened, and what am I doing wrong? <It is hard to say for sure. I would definitely rethink your stocking plan. It is also possible the new fish brought in some disease. Please take a look through the freshwater sections of www.WetWebMedia.com for further guidance.> Thanks, Tod Sullivan <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

White Slime in FW I own an aquarium maintenance company <Me too!> and have come across this problem three times in my career and can't find anybody who can identify it or solve it. I have a freshwater aquarium that is producing a white slime that covers everything inside of the tank and on the filter pads. Imagine the consistency of snot. The tank had been running for over a year before this began. I feed very sparingly (automatic feeder), <Just a brief word, I hate these. I understand wanting to take the can of food away from your customers, but automatic feeders feed in no relation to how much your fish want. They categorically over or under feed based on your best guess as to how much the fish can consume. Simply put, it is nearly impossible to perfectly adjust an automatic feeder to give the tank exactly the right amount.> have very few fish, and change 25% of the water each month. After unsuccessfully treating it with Kent Poly-Ox and some other fungus/bacteria medication, I bleached the tank. I put new everything in and on it being careful not to reintroduce it back into the aquarium (even put in new fish). Now two months later, the slime is coming back. <This tells me the slime is being encouraged/brought about because of tank conditions. I am still leaning to excess food causing fungus/bacteria to proliferate. The fact that the medications and cleaning agents had no effect does not surprise me. The underlying condition (excess rotting, decaying food, if I am right) was still there and no affected by the treatments.> It will also create a lot of foamy bubbles on the water surface. <Oil from the food?> The aquarium is 55 gallons with an Emperor 400 and an extra powerhead. I also recently added a UV sterilizer. It has a couple of African Cichlids with a crushed coral substrate and Texas Holey Rock decorations. The pH was around 8.8 with ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate all "0". The first time I came across this I gave up. The second eventually went away but still has a hint of it. Thanks, Larry of Aquatic Designs <Good luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Vacuuming gravel Hello, <<Hi Leslie, Craig at your service>> The other day, I was doing a partial water change on my freshwater aquarium (I have a power filter on the outside). Normally, I just poke the surface of the gravel to pick up the waste products. This time, however, I accidentally pushed the gravel vacuumer (don't know if this is the right term) all the way through the gravel (but not through the glass). I was shocked to see the amount of debris I vacuumed up. <<I'll bet!>>  Should I be inserting the vacuumer all the way through the gravel normally? This would be rather inconvenient since I have a lot of plants, but I figure I should be getting rid of as much waste as possible. Thanks, Leslie <<Absolutely vacuum as much of this as you can down to the glass. Be cautious around your plants so you don't harm the root system which can spread and be rather extensive. If this is the case be careful with the vacuum tube and let the siphon do the work. This will use a lot of water at first, but this is good since this waste has been building up. Happy housekeeping! Craig>>

Help I'm scared (freshwater critters) Dear Bob, <Hello Ralph> Please help me. I need advice. I have little white bugs crawling on the glass inside my tank. They are really small and hard to see. They crawl up and down the glass near the gravel. My fish tank has had this problem for quite a while now. My black skirts died all around the same time 6 months ago. The others- iridescent Cat, 5 year old Pleco, and 4 T-bones are doing fine. I don't know if these little bug larva are hurting my fish.  <Not to worry... these animals are very likely innocuous... not harmful... some sort of crustacean probably> Personally I don't want them in my tank. Today I noticed on the hood of the tank, little bugs walking around. They looked like little white ants but smaller. <These are unrelated... some sort of terrestrial insect... you can spray a light oil (like for cooking) on them, wipe them off...> I'm assuming that this is the adult form of what is on the glass. Do you have any idea what they are and how to get rid of them without harming my fish? I've had this problem once before when I used to raise guppies. Is this common?  <Common enough... particularly with folks who use live foods, collect wild livestock...> The fish are not showing any signs of being sick. They seem to eat well also. I tried using two over the counter treatments for bacteria and parasites but the bugs still remain. Please help us. Thank you, Ralph Cordero <There are some fishes you might add that would possibly eat them, some types of filters (like a Diatom) that you might buy or rent from your Local Fish Store... that would take them out... I would not worry re these creatures though... In all likelihood they will "cycle out" of their own accord, disappearing as readily as they appeared. Bob Fenner>

aquarium transportation What is the best way to move a 20gal freshwater setup (about a 1 hour drive)? I have: 1 - Rope Fish 1 - Male Betta 1 - Dojo Loach 1 - Common Pleco 1 - unidentified top-swimmer, bent shape at dorsal fin area. 2 - Gold tetras 2 - Rummy-noses 2 - Elegans Corys <Please peruse, adapt, adopt our old co.s "Action Plan" for moving live systems, posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/movingaq.htm Read it and the associated FAQs (blue links at top) over, make notes, print out the tools checklist, steps to completion... get all together and away you go! Bob Fenner>

Cloudy Water Hello, I have read the FAQ's on your site, so I am sorry if my questions are still redundant. I have a 20H freshwater aquarium with one Pleco, 7 giant Danios, 6 harlequins, and live plants. I've had the tank since June with no major problems. At the end of last week, I replaced the water and cleaned the outside filter at the same time. The water hadn't been changed for two weeks up until that point (I usually do it once a week); the filter probably hadn't been cleaned for probably a month. When I changed the water, I noticed that the water was getting a little cloudy (hence, the filter cleaning), but it has since gotten worse. I probably shouldn't have cleaned the filter at the same time as changing the water (because I have killed off some bacteria), but I would like to know whether I should worry since the cloudiness has gotten worse. Will it go down eventually? How long should I wait before I should really worry? Should I change more water? How do I know if the filter is working? Do I need to change some of the material? It has gravel, carbon, and a sponge. I remember that after I cleaned the filter, I had a problem with the power on the filter (it wasn't sucking up water), but I think I fixed it since it sucks up water and spews out water on the other end. One other thing: when I checked the ammonia and nitrite (or is it nitrate) levels at the end of last week, they were fine (zero). Thanks very much, Leslie Ann Roldan <<Hello Leslie, It sounds like you are on target with your bacteria assessment. You may want to add a bacteria product. I have had much success with Cycle, Algone and other similar products. Regards, Dave Schmottlach>>

Freshwater system operation Hi Bob <<Hello, it's not Bob though, it's JasonC.>> you have a lovely site with many valuable info which I read often. I would like to ask some questions about my new tank. <<Shoot...>> I am new in fish keeping but I am reading a lot in the internet lately. Still there are always many questions that need some answers and I hope that I will get some help. <<I hope I can provide it.>> I got a 110 Lt (30 US gallons) glass tank with an Eheim internal 2012 filter (filtering capacity 220/570 liters/hour), thermostat, gravel and some live plants. I added some rocks and a nice looking piece of wood and a clay pot as a hiding place. The tank is place on a shelf with no direct sunlight and I have the lights on for 10-12 hours a day. The tank is up for 1 1/2 month now and completely cycled. Test readings : PH is 8 GH is 8 ammonia 3 and nitrites < 0,3 (lowest scale in the test ) nitrates 25-30. Tap water : PH 8 GH 8 I do regular water changes, gravel cleaning etc. every week and I treat the tap water with Tetra Aqua safe and I also add Tetra Vital. I have now the following fish : 3 Tiger barbs 4 Zebra Danios 5 Serpae 1 Platy 1 Swordtail  2 small clown loaches 3 small Corys 1 small Bala shark 6 neon tetras 2 Glowlight tetras 2 blue rams (want to keep a tank with many small fish) I feed the fish once a day with flake food. No food leftovers coz the Corys and clowns clean everything. Fish look happy and active forming groups and playing with each other. They are not aggressive even though sometimes the barbs and clowns chase other fish around but do them no harm.  I have some algae problems. Algae on the bottom of the glass...on the rocks and plant leaves. I add some plant nutrient in the water so maybe this helps algae to grow. <<That would be my guess.>> Nothing very serious but it annoys me. Maybe adding some algae eating fish would help me solve the problem ? (any fish suggestions?) <<Not in this tank, it's packed to the gills, pardon the pun.>> I know you will say that my tank is overstocked....but everything is fine till now so I believe that the filter and the water changes I do can handle it. <<That's hardly the point... how would you feel packed into a broom closet with 10 of your closest friends... you probably wouldn't remain friends for very long. Overstocking creates social problems.>> I don't plan to add more fish....but if u tell me I can ...then I will add some cardinal tetras...or some algae eaters and a couple more Corys. I have the 2 blue rams for 3 days now....they are very shy...hiding behind rocks and plants and eating only the flakes that reach the bottom. Is this normal behaviour? <<In a tank as crowded as this, yes.>> And one last question....cant seem to drop my PH from 8.Tap water has 8 as well...and I tested the water from the pet shops from where I buy my fish and their aquarium PH is 7,5-8.  Seems that the whole area here has PH8 so there's nothing to be done. <<You do have some options with this - there are a number of products out there made to increase the acidity of your tank water, usually with catchy names like "pH-down" and the like. These are typically Muriatic or acetic acid [the latter is vinegar, by the way], both are weak acids and will reduce the pH.>> Guess that if fish are happy in the pet shop's tank...with PH8 they will be ok in mine with the same conditions...right? <<Probably not over the long term.>> Hope I didn't ask too much questions and I would like to thank you in advance for your valuable help. George <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Worms? Please help! I have a 55 gal. freshwater tank and just noticed that there are little white sperm looking worms in my tank, what is going on? Please help me! P.S. You guys are the greatest! Any info on this scary matter would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, Nattalie <they are likely Planaria and are quite common from overfeeding or a lack of gravel siphoning. Improve your water changes schedule and servicing of the gravel (use a gravel siphon) and decide if you may be overfeeding (food should never hit the bottom of the aquarium before fishes catch it). Best regards, Anthony>

Eheim Maintenance Hi, Regarding the Eheim Pro II filter model 2028. Many of the marine equipment vendor sites claim that you only have to clean this filter every 3 to 4 months. <Mmm, this can be so... I have two of these units on freshwater systems... and rarely open them> I was under the impression reading your site and others that the filter pads for mechanical filtration should be cleaned much more frequently (perhaps weekly). Is the Eheim really an exception to this advice?? <Not really an exception. Depending on the "job" you intend, have these canister filters set up to do... your particular needs/arrangements of feeding, foods, other filtration... they may only need to be cleaned very intermittently. The best practical advice is to try them and open them up, see if matter is accumulating on the media (on mine it does not much at all)> Would you recommend 2 Eheims, one for mechanical filtration and one for biological filtration( perhaps a wet/ dry model) in a 100 gallon discus tank? <I do recommend two... but would set them up the same (per the excellent media provided and) their packing instructions> My thinking is that the mechanical filter can be cleaned more frequently, and the filter used for bio filtration can be cleaned less frequently as per your sites suggestions. <As stated, I believe you will find as I have that these are so well designed and made that there is very little accumulation of matter on the mechanical media. I would work into a schedule in concert with your regular water changes, of opening one every other week for a while (to access how "dirty" the first media is) and the following interval the other one. Bob Fenner, who really likes these units> Thanks, Bill

Some Questions from a Newbie Hi Guys! <Hello> You have an awesome site. After lurking for the last few weeks I finally have some questions. I recently set up a 10 gallon tank and fishless cycled it. I have a 50W heater and a penguin mini bio-wheel filter (that says it's good up to 20 gal). <All right> Once the tank was cycled I added 2 long finned zebra Danios (their still pretty tiny about 1.5 inches or less) and 2 white clouds. The white clouds originally came from a Aquababies set up (I know, I know) and I inherited them from a friend who was moving out of town about 2 years ago, she had kept them in a 1 gal unfiltered bowl for about a year prior and I moved them up to an also unfiltered 2 gallon. I added the zebras a few months ago and they were all getting along fine. I left these guys alone in my tank for a week but still added a little bit more ammonia daily on the advise of a few different LFS to keep my new bacterium alive. <Yikes... dangerous> Last night I added a black ghost knife fish who I have had on hold at the fish store for a while (he's about 2.5 in btw). <This is not an easy fish to keep for a beginner... needs different water quality than the fishes you presently have, larger quarters, live foods...> My levels have been steady at 0 for the last week. Do you think at this point it's ok to stop adding ammonia?  <Yes!> I don't want my new bacteria friends to die but I don't want to overload them either, especially since I've heard BGK's can be super sensitive to poor water quality. <True> Also I plan on adding a few (3) of the smallest clown loaches I can find after about a week- a week .5 <This tank is too small for these fish> I have been told that with the setup I have this won't be over crowding. <Do a bit more looking about for opinions here. Perhaps the Chatforums (ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/). Don't add anything more to this system at this point> Also I am moving in about 2 months and plan to immediately set up a corner bow front 52 gal I've been eyeing so this wont be a lasting situation (because I know most of my fish will get much bigger than their current couple of inches). <Ah, good to hear/read> I also will be monitoring my water quality frequently and plan to remove the zebras and white clouds if necessary. I have read over and over that clown loaches should be kept at no lower than 78 deg to try and keep the ich away. I would like to keep my tank closer to 80-82 which is apparently a happier temp for them and ok for my BGK. <Good idea> I am concerned that this is too hot for the white clouds and zebra Danios though. Do you think that temp will be to hot for them? <Should be okay in this range.> One more question. I have a gravel vac but have yet to use it. I was told to wait a few weeks before my first water change to give everything a chance to settle in. <Yes> I think that's happened now, do you think I'm ready to do the first 20% water change or should I give it another week? esp. since there has been relatively few fish in the tank? <I'd wait a good month more... too disruptive to change water, stir up the gravel now. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm> Thank you in advance, I'm sure you will be hearing from me lots! Sara <Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Some Questions from a Newbie Thank you so much for your advice! If I remove the Danios and white clouds could I safely add 3 small clown loaches? They will be living in this small tank for only a very short time. <I encourage you to wait till you have moved, have the larger system up and going> When I get the bigger tank I was hoping to have a school of Danios (8-10) of them. Is it unwise to keep them even in this bigger environment with my BGK? <They should all do fine together in the larger tank> What is it about the water parameters that they need different from each other? <Do take a look on Fishbase.org using the common names for the water conditions these species occur in the wild. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for your advice!

Where to go from here? (Freshwater) I set up a 10 gallon aquarium for my 9 year old daughter on her birthday March 4th. We cycled (it took 6 weeks) with 1 platy and 3 mollies. Then began to add more fish slowly. 15 days ago we were enjoying 1 platy, 3 mollies, 1 male dwarf Gourami, and 6 neon's. I was planning to add 1 or 2 very small bottom/algae fish and no more. Then we suddenly lost a female molly to dropsy and the remaining female molly began to attack the Gourami relentlessly. I isolated the Molly in a breeding net, but the Gourami was wounded and within 24 hours showed signs of ick.  <Yikes> I am not certain if this was related or a coincidence. I put a Malachite green treatment in 6 days ago and then we had to leave on a planned trip for 4 days. My house sitter had feeding instructions, but failed to notice that the air pump had stopped pushing air. (my 3 month old pump had a crack in the diaphragm) <Yikes times two!> The timing could not have been worse. No filtration, Ick treatment in the water, and we are out of town. I estimate that 72 hours went by before I got home to intervene.(50% water change, new pump, dead fish removed) We lost 5 neon's, and the Gourami. We now have 1 neon, 1 platy and 2 Mollies. The nitrite was up, but after 48 hours is not detectable. I have no live plants, UGF, water temp is 80 deg., pH 7.4, no signs of ick on the remaining fish. Zero ammonia and nitrites. I tried letting the Molly out but she is picking on everyone now. <Trade her in, or at least isolate in an upper corner with your fish net... sometimes the latter works to "take the vinegar" out of bullies> We had such a promising start, that the rest of my family was wanting a larger tank in the living room. My 9 year old was frustrated by everyone sitting in her room to watch the fish. This last 2 weeks has shattered the enthusiasm, I think we can recover, but I would like to know a couple of things. <Okay> First, I know the pump thing was just fate, but was there anything I could have done to avoid the dropsy, the ick, and the sudden aggression of the Molly? <Mmm, perhaps... the mix of fishes you list actually have quite disparate desired water conditions... Mollies appreciate hard, alkaline water of moderate temperature, and most species a bit of salt... Neons and other small South American Tetras like soft, acidic water of higher temperature... One nice reference for many aquarium-useful species is fishbase.org on the Net... you can insert a common name, get to the species involved and gain insight ahead of purchase as to "mixable" species by physical, chemical environment, likely maximum size, food habits... take a look.> Second, have I made bad choices for fish in the community aquarium, and should I restock with the same mix? (I think the Molly might have to go) <Oh! I would re-do the stock list... If desired, please confer with us here re your "key choice/s" and we'll help you build a collection around them> I am really just looking for some encouragement, I would like to get the enthusiasm back. Thanks, Mark Gilbert <You have mine my friend. Do take a read through our Freshwater section on WetWebMedia.com and take care. Bob Fenner>

Thread/Hair Algae Greetings Wet Webbed Ones! <I just don't even know how to respond to that one...heehee> Here I am again with my weekly question (although it has been over two weeks since my last one! Don't know if cutting down will work - may have to go cold turkey!) Anyway, my 75 litre freshwater planted tank is doing very well - up and running for three months now. Livestock are platies, guppies, cardinal tetras, 2 ram cichlids and Otos (you mentioned before this was not an ideal mix but they seem to be doing very well). Finally managed to encourage the platies to reproduce rather less by turning the temperature down (75 degrees from 78) as I haven't seen any new babies for a few weeks. Toddlers doing fine though. I just have a problem with thread or hair algae which has developed over the last few weeks. No other algae problems at all. The threads attach mainly to the leaves of Anubias (sp?) and java moss, where it forms tangles. I have tried pulling it off the leaves, removing affected leaves and replacing floating plants and although it isn't as prolific as it was, it still grows. I am currently using a phosphate removing "teabag" as my LFS said phosphates were a major contributing factor. We do weekly water changes (25%) using RO water. Water parameters are ammonia 0, nitrate 0, pH 7.4, dKH 7, phosphate < 1ppm. I have read your algae articles and FAQs but couldn't see anything specifically relating to thread algae (if I've missed it, perhaps you could point me in the right direction). Are there any fish that might eat these threads?  <Otocinclus catfish will most likely do the trick... get a handful of them...they are amazing!> Is there anything else I can do to eradicate it? Any suggestions/help would be much appreciated. <a really pleasant fish that most assuredly will help. They are compatible with anything that won't eat them!> Thanks as always! Lesley <Ciao, Bella. Anthony>

Freshwater Questions Hello.  <Anthony Calfo in your service> I've read so many articles and FAQ's on the web over the past few months regarding freshwater tanks, but never any site as helpful and lucid as yours.  <great thanks indeed> Your obvious devotion and patience made me feel I could ask for some helpful advice with our tank. After reading the pet store "brochures" on starting up a tank, we naively thought we were ready and bought a little 10-gallon starter kit, adding (over the course of a few weeks) an angel fish, a couple of zebra Danios, a shark catfish, and Siamese algae eater (all, I'm ashamed to say, ignorantly and on advice of retailer). We had a big problem with high ammonia levels and finally concluded that the tank was too small to regulate water quality.  <yes... too many fish/not enough tank> We replaced it with a 55 gallon tank and good filter.  <outstanding!> The angel fish died. We then found out that the catfish would eventually grow into a large salt water fish. Unfortunately, he died, too--I think possibly from hitting his head on the tank side. He appeared stunned, suddenly dead at the surface of water. Then the algae eater died. Our ammonia problem was immediately resolved in the larger tank. We have detected no ammonia whatsoever in testing and have now had the 55 gallon tank for about two months, with no additional fish loss.  <excellent> I do partial water changes (25%) every week and will soon cut back to every other week. <generous and wise> We had tested our pH all along with the liquid drop kit, and our pH was always high. The water in the tube would turn a deeper blue than even the highest reading on the color chart. After reading more about the Siamese Algae eater, which I so regret not having done prior to acquiring him, I believe that he died because of the pH being so high. <hmmm... doubtful> He also probably starved because our tank had/has no algae, and he only ate algae wafers. <much more likely> Right now, we've got the zebras, a couple of jellybean,  <what is a "jellybean"... not a puffer, eh?> a couple of different types of barbs, Cory catfish, and some tetras. They all seem healthy and active. They eat a combination of flakes, pellets, brine shrimp, blood worms. But I am worried, knowing that not all of these fish are suited to such high pH. <do get a marine test kit and test what this high end reading really is> We got dry strips for testing, hoping for greater accuracy.  <wow... misadvised again my friend. The colorimetric dip test strips are generally complete garbage. I personally wouldn't take them for free. A dry tab test kit would be your first choice for accuracy and shelf life for most test kits> Our well water is very hard---it (and tank water) tested as high as the highest reading on test. But the buffer is coming out low (80), which--according to test---makes pH reading inaccurate. <indeed uncommon if true> I don't know what to do. The products that we buy encourage us to buy more chemical products to "adjust" our water but I do not want to do that because it seems like blindly adding "Ph Down" or "buffer up" might impact water chemistry in ways that I don't know about, could be detrimental and compound the problem.  <yes... an awful solution> Right now, the chemistry may be problematic but the fish are still alive. <agreed> Also, I think our substrate was a mistake. It is the blue gravel. We probably should have gotten soft, round natural stones. Is it possible to remove and replace substrate, or is it best to just leave it as is?  If you have an undergravel filter and the gravel is 3-4" deep... I might leave well enough alone. Otherwise, you should be able to easily switch or remove the gravel with little harm> Change would not be for cosmetic reasons but because fish must prefer something closer to nature. <if color is the only concern then it is not that big of a deal> Thank you so much for your time and consideration! <use a high range pH test kit to clarify the situation. You may simply need to mix in some soft/filtered water with each water change to temper the high pH. Look into an R/O or DI water filter if necessary. Best regards, Anthony> Sandra

Please Help Me Keep My Fish Alive (FW maintenance) Hi my name is Maria and about two months ago I set up a 37gl fish tank, the problem is that I never had a fish tank before and I guess I was suppose to start with a small tank but I got my tank for my birthday and when I saw the big tank I decided that I want it to keep it. <Bigger tanks are inherently more stable than smaller and usually easier to care for.> Anyway when I started to put my tank together I set everything two weeks before I add any fish to the tank my tank includes 2 heaters, an undergravel filter, two power heads, a bio-wheel, a thermometer, gravel, and some fancy rocks. when I finally decided to add fish to my tank I had one Betta, two tiger barbs, two green barbs, two Bala sharks, two red fins sharks, two Plecostomus, and one Rafael <First, the Betta is a poor choice to mix with these other fish. Secondly, it sounds like you bought too many fish too quickly. A common mistake with new tank owners. Please perform a quick search of the WWM site looking for information on cycling a freshwater aquarium and initial stocking. Lastly, far too many algae eaters competing against one another for very limited foods. Anymore than one is unnecessary and generally not a good idea to add any for the first several months.> but after a couple of weeks one of the tiger barbs die and then one of the algae eaters die then the two Bala sharks die and the other tiger barb and the two green barbs and the other algae eater and the Betta and I don't know what to do. when I test the waters ph level came up with to much ALKALINE so yesterday I put some water conditioner, bacteria starter and water clarifier but today when I test the water aging came up the same. so my question is what is going on? what can I do to help my fish? <Do look up the cycling articles I mentioned above. Also, pH is not your main concern or danger right now. Ammonia and nitrite are. I would also look for the various book reviews on WWM and select one for a freshwater beginner.> what is alkaline? <It refers to your pH of the water being basic, greater than 7.> would plants help? <No> I'm sorry for making this message so long please help me. Thank you, Maria <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Phosphates in Freshwater Tank Hello again! Hope Bob is enjoying himself in Oz. Just had some friends come back from there - they said it was fantastic! Anyway, I have a question about our little tropical tank. You may remember that it is a 15 (UK) gallon, planted tank housing Otos, cardinal tetras, platies, guppies, a pair of ram cichlids and a catfish (black with gold spots) - sorry, don't know "official" name (and numerous baby fish!) <Sorry, but I do not remember it. We get flooded with emails, particularly when Bob goes away. Good that you gave the summary though.> I am having a problem with phosphates at the moment. It's not coming from the source water, which is RO water (we've tested to make sure) so I am assuming that it must be coming from whatever the plants were "potted" in prior to us planting them in our tank - some sort of fertilizer I presume. I do add liquid fertilizer to the tank once a week but I only add about a teaspoonful (well under the recommended dose) and the product says that it doesn't have phosphates anyway (well, it would say that wouldn't it!) <First test your RO water to be sure. If that is in fact zero, add some of your liquid fertilizer to a gallon of RO water and test that.> Anyway, I am currently addressing the situation by using Phos-Zorb (or some such) which sits in a "teabag" placed in the water flow. This has reduced the phosphates to practically nil (together with weekly 25% water changes) but it is a little unsightly. It has to sit externally because it won't fit in the filter. When I remove it for any length of time, the phosphates increase, which is why I suspect it's coming from the plants' potting material. Do you think this is where the phosphates are coming from or could there be another explanation? <There are also phosphates in fish food.> The other thing is that with the teabag sitting in the water flow (as stated on the instructions) it cuts down the surface movement of the water and I am worried that this will have an effect on the oxygen exchange. I have tested the tank for dissolved oxygen and the reading was 9 which I understand is fine - is this correct? The fish are all fine - no gasping at the surface or anything, in fact, they do nothing but breed at the moment. <I would be more concerned with the proliferation of fish and their oxygen demand.> I do not want to have to use this teabag indefinitely so would like to know the source of these phosphates. If it is coming from the plants' potting material, I am hoping that eventually it will all dissipate over time. Any ideas how much time this will take? <I am not sure that is the source. If it is, I would remove it. I believe you are talking about that wool-like substance that potted plants come rooted in.> Thank you, as always, for your helpful advice. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> I do wish you could all come to the UK to give some of your talks/presentations, you would be most welcome! Lesley <Bob and Anthony are off to Germany for the big Interzoo show in a month or so, leaving me behind to answer all of the daily questions.>

Phosphates in Freshwater Tank II Wow! Talk about prompt reply! You're either having a very late night or very early morning - do you guys ever sleep? <Not much lately. I am a new father and I have always had a problem in that I do not fall back to sleep once awaken. A very bad mix.> Anyway, thank you very much for thoughts, I will test the RO water with added fertilizer as you suggest and take it from there. If necessary, I will have to remove more of the potting material from all of the plants (bum!) A larger tank is already in the pipeline for my ever-growing fish population explosion! <That is the addictive nature of the hobby.> Thank you so much once again! <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Newly Set Up Tropical Tank Hi Guys! <Well Helloooooo, Lesley!> You've kindly advised me before regarding our marine tank, however, this time my query relates to my new freshwater/tropical tank (obviously, I am working backwards - will be buying goldfish next!) <I have an ant farm and some silly putty back-ordered for you instead> Two weeks ago I set up a 15 (UK) gallon tank (Mirabella 70). The tank has built in filters.  <novel idea...at least on paper> It has live plants and last week I added 6 assorted platies (as advised by my LFS). (As a matter of interest, the fish store I bought the tank from is using their display model - of the same tank - as a micro reef set up with two clowns and a few corals). <which might indicate that they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed...OR... that they are really talented aquarists> Anyway, a few days before I got the fish, I noticed the beginnings of a brown algal bloom on the plant leaves, decor and glass. I am assuming this is part of the natural "cycling" process (as with the marine tank). Is this correct? <usually, yes> As I have seen them eat algae from the leaves and as I have been advised to do so by my LFS,  <they advised you to eat algae from the leaves too?!?> I am under feeding the platies to encourage this "browsing" on algae. No food reaches the bottom - it's eaten in seconds!  <sounds like normal feeding...food should never hit the bottom before active community fish consume it... otherwise it is considered overfeeding... but I do agree with your premise altogether> However, although they have eaten quite a lot of algae from the leaves, the plants still seem to be covered in it. I am worried that the algae will prevent the plants from photosynthesizing (hope I've spelt that correctly!) <do look into buying a small Otocinclus "catfish". Wonderful and peaceful and HARDY scavenger that will correct this problem right quick> Am I correct in assuming that the algae will start to recede once the "cycling" process is over or do I have a real problem?  <correct...but necessarily before harm is done to the plants> Is there anything else I can do meantime? (I have reserved two Suckermouth fish at the LFS for when my tank is more "mature" - a zebra Plec and a "spotty" one - sorry, I was so taken by it's beauty I didn't catch what it was called! It is black with small gold spots). <hehe... I'm starting to have serious doubts about the advice you are being given by your LFS...neither of the two Plecos that you have mentioned above eat algae!!! Incredibly, you have picked two of the few exceptions in this family of catfish. If you weren't informed that they are not obligate grazers...then you were going to watch two expensive fish slowly starve to death from a nutritive deficiency (it would take months...perhaps more than a year). The Peckoltia type "Zebra" and the Panaque type "gold spot/nugget" eat an extraordinary amount of meaty foods (bloodworms top the list) and are miserable algae grazers. Do keep these two beauties... but still consider some real algae grazers, the tiny Otocinclus, as well and promptly> I would also confess that I am adding plant fertilizer (containing iron) as advised by my LFS which I appreciate will be feeding the algae too! <indeed> I have read over your freshwater algae articles and FAQs but they don't seem to relate to a newly set up tank like mine. The only other fish I want to add are a shoal of neon tetras and a few guppies. <really an awkward mix...they like two very different water qualities. Best to stick with the slightly hardened, slightly salted water for the livebearers if the platies will stay (with the guppies)...or, run a more neutral to soft/acidic water south American display for the tetras/catfish> The platies are doing well and are swimming happily with all their fins extended. <excellent> Any advice you could give would be much appreciated. <OK... don't count on votes from the Russian or French judges> Many thanks. Lesley <with kind regards, Anthony>

Unidentified tiny white tubes (?) in freshwater aquarium I notice today tiny white curved things, maximum about 1/4 inch long in my 7 gallon tank. In cross section maybe circular but can't really see. Noticed on java moss, substrate, and on top of heater in 78 degree freshwater tank with java moss, java fern, bronze Corydoras and couple of tetras. This tank had fish deaths (female Bettas and a neon tetra) about 1 week ago with white slime or fuzz on Bettas faces, treated unsuccessfully with Furan 2--at least did not save the Bettas. <Mmm, the fuzzy stuff sounds like a true fungus... Furan compounds don't treat such... Most likely a "water quality" issue here...> Remaining fish appear healthy. Have you any idea what these things could be? <Opportunistic worms of some species... These are most everywhere, come to notice (higher populations) in circumstances of more food, less circulation of water, lower predation pressure... Most likely no problem, and will "go away" with improved water conditions, gravel vacuuming, time...> I wondered about skin or shell remnant or some sort of eggs. I got the ones I could see out and have them in a jar, and have done a partial water change. Also have a small unidentified snail which has made it's way in. Thanks for any thoughts you may have re this! <Please do read over this section on tank troubleshooting: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm to gain (perhaps) a more well-rounded approach to understanding what is/might be going on in your system. I wouldn't worry about these "recruits"... perhaps hand-remove the snail. Bob Fenner>

My new fish Hi, I was wandering if you could tell me what the average temperature for an aquarium should be. I have a two gallon tank with two black-tipped sharks. I have a thermometer on the side of the tank, but am not sure what temp. to keep the tank. Thank you! <More important than an actual set temperature is keeping it stable... not changing more than a couple of degrees an hour or so... For these types of fishes, the mid seventies is best in my opinion and experience. Do keep a cover on almost the whole top as this will help you maintain a more steady temperature and prevent your sharks from jumping out! They're very good at this. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/minnowsharks.htm Bob Fenner>

Problem (floating bits in tank) I have a 10 gallon tank, and the problem I have is, I always have little things floating in the water. ( It looks like little pieces of food but its not) I have an underground filter in and I have tried everything and nothing seems to clear it up. I even took everything out and cleaned it and as soon as the water is back in the floaters are back. What could be the problem and how can I fix it? Thanks <Hmm, well, could be that this floating matter is some sort of artifact from foods/feeding... maybe even some small type/s of life that crop up on their own in aquariums... perhaps dust et al. from outside in suspension... About the best one thing you might do is add a small outside power filter to your ten gallon system. A hang on the back open type would likely sieve out these particles. In addition, adding a bit of live plant material would change your water chemistry, aid in precipitating such material. Could also be that your gravel over the filter plates is too shallow, too large of diameter... Time alone might see this "snow" fall out. I would not add a chemical remedy to try and solve this matter. Bob Fenner>

Using rain water for changes Good web site. <Thank you> Just a question re water changes. Is there any potential problems with using the water collecting rain from the roof of my house into a covered water butt for the water changes? <Yes, unfortunately... dust et al. coming off the roof area with the water, the aggregate pollution that such rain can contain, problems of storage (bugs, algae...) and moving such saved water about are the principal downsides of such collection practices. OTOH sometimes this water is superior for particular ornamental aquatics uses... I have saved such "free water" around the world for potable purposes as well as breeding, rearing soft, acidic water organisms, foods... Do get, use test kits for aspects of water quality that concern your applications. Bob Fenner> Cheers Martin

Help with cloudy water........ Hi Robert, I really hate to bother you with this question, but............I have a 135 gal. tank, which I have written to you about before. My problem is that I cannot get this tank to have clear water. There is either a haze or it is cloudy. On Sat. I did a 50% water change, and today the water is very cloudy, so today I changed the fiber floss, the carbon, and the fiber felt in my Fluval 403. Still cloudy.......am I just being impatient?? here are the specs for my tank: Eheim 2028 with Eheim media Fluval 403 with carbon, sponge, fiber floss, and fiber felt 2- six inch air stones ran by a Rena air 400 15 different live plants Fish: 1 3" Green Terror 1 2" Green Terror 1 2" Peacock 3 1" Tiger Barbs 1 3" Pl*co 3 2" Angels 2 1" rusty Zebras 1 2" Bumblebee 2 2" Jack Dempseys What do you think I should do? Do I need more filtration? More air? I added the plants hoping that they would help, but didn't really see a different. How long do you think it will take this tank to clear up? I'm sorry for all the questions, but I am relatively new to the ART of fish keeping, and believe me it is an ART. Any help you can give me will be very appreciated. And I will try to be more patient. Sincerely, Shirley <Thanks for all the data... and not to worry too much here... you are correct in needing likely to just be patient... fifty percent water changes are way too much though... and you are likely the principal "cause" here in allowing/making the water less than clear... do leave your filter media be and only change ten percent of the water (yes, with even this messy crew) at any given time (and only about once a week...) and don't change the filter media entirely (lift an "upper" bit out and wash it, and place the lower bit left inside as the new upper... and only change one canister filter in any given time frame... Lastly do consider getting some simple floating plants here... I know the fishes will tear them up... but a bit of Anacharis/Elodea, Water Sprite, or Foxtail/Myriophyllum... among others covered on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com will be great allies in keeping your water clean, and your livestock healthy. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with cloudy water........ Thank you very much for the quick reply. Since I wrote you last, I have had mass death in this 135 gal. tank. Lost 7-8 fish, I think due to stress, they start acting erratic, and then just die. If I net them quickly as they start to act erratic and place in my 20gal tank, I can save them. Was able to save my big green terror this way, but lost the other and several others.  <Agree with you, likely due to stress...> Also my sword plants are turning yellow, why is this?  <Some essential nutrient missing (likely nitrogen as nitrate), and/or inadequate light (intensity, quality)... there are other possibilities.> Am just considering waiting this thing out, not replacing any new fish until tank is completely clear. Please advise. Look forward to hearing from you. And I will buy the floating plants today and place in tank. thanks again. <Do think you're doing the right thing by "waiting it out"... this system will settle, cycle with just some time going by... don't forestall this happening by changing much of anything. Bob Fenner> Shirley

White worms on glass there are whitish or grayish little worms on the glass of my tank, no live plants but 1 snail, 1 sucker mouth fish and 3 Oscars, I cant see any worms on the fish but they are on the glass, they are small and I know they should not be there, the fish store where I buy my supplies said "quick cure" will get rid of them, I started that today and added aquarium salt for a 55 gallon tank, will this work? and I know every time I add feeder fish this could happen, but I don't understand why, I don't mix water and the feeder fish only last a hour or 2 and I only add feeder fish once a week <This is (or these are) likely some type of worm/s and very probably not deleterious at all... I would not add Quick Cure or actually much in the way of salts either... do your best to just keep up water quality (enhanced filtration, frequent partial water changes, gravel vacuuming... and cut back on the use of feeder goldfish. My take on the latter should be read... posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Goldfish Hi I know this may sound a really stupid question but its the first time I have ever kept fish so here goes:- <Okay> I have a fresh water, cold water aquarium with 4 gold fish in it, I have recently bought an under-gravel filter and I don't know how to clean or maintain it, please could you give me some input it will be greatly appreciated. thank you. <Sure... and let me assure you... many folks start with goldfish, and if they live long and well enough, they go through tropical freshwater, oddballs, marines, reefs and end up back with... goldfish. Now, first off, I'd like to actually dissuade you from using an undergravel filter with these fish... sorry about this, but these messy fishes are much better off with other technology (the best? An outside power filter), as an undergravel tends to make their water become acidic (they prefer more steady, about-neutral pH conditions)... and is hard to keep up with, with such heavy feeders... Do look into/onto the Internet and some of the simple booklets on goldfish care, as these can be long-lived pets given regular care.> Can you send me an e-mail to this address xxxxx <Certainly> Thank you, lib <Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Ammonia My question is I have a 29 gallon tank and I am having a problem with the ammonia it is about 3ppm. I have cycled the water just recently and did it again when I say the ammonia high. How can I bring down the ammonia? Thank Jon <Not much information here... freshwater? marine, brackish...Gear, history of the set-up... Best that there is no livestock present, and to let "time go by" (don't feed the livestock if the ammonia is anywhere near even just 1.0ppm... Perhaps look at the "cycling" products offered commercially, add some live plants if freshwater, some live rock if marine... Some old water, filter media, gravel from a friendly aquarist or fish store (that is disease and pest free)... and patience. Do not add livestock otherwise! And no feeding... this will only add to the pollution at this point. Please read over the set-up sections for what this type of system is on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com  Bob Fenner>

"I hate that cloudy water..." why is my water cloudy. The store where I had my water checked said it was fine, but my water is still cloudy. >> Either your system is "cycling", establishing itself in the way of new bacterial populations... and/or it's overfed/under filtered... best to go slow on stocking, feeding till it clears (which it will) over the next few days, weeks... for marines, some live rock use, for freshwater, some live plants... will speed up the processes. Bob Fenner

And still more Cloudy water Bob, I am a beginner. I have only a 5 gallon aquarium. I set up the aquarium, installed a Tetra power filter, and treated the water with Tetra AquaSafe. One week ago, I introduced three swordtails and a very small catfish to the aquarium. Almost immediately the water became very cloudy. It is still cloudy a week later. Yesterday, I replaced about a gallon of water. This seemed to help a little, but not much. I also replaced the filter. The water is still cloudy. Will it eventually clear up or am I doing something wrong? Thanks >> Nothing wrong... and the water will clear... once the "balance" of bacteria become established... In the meanwhile be careful about how much you feed those fishes... very small amounts more frequently will help them get through the "clearing process". There are bacterial products you can add to your system as well... Bob Fenner

Green the tank has been setup since Dec.26 I have green murky water I don't know if my other mail got sent so I am sending another one my tank is fresh water not salt but I thought you may be able to offer some help the tanks occupants are as follows: 4 Neons 4 black skirt tetras 1 female Betta 3 angels My equipment is a aqua-tech 20-40 filter and a regent 1000 air pump which I know is not efficient for my size tank I have to clean the glass every morning because the algae grows overnight I have cleaned the gravel 2 times this week I think what caused it was water too hot (now at 72) too many hours with light on and over feeding I don't know if my other mail got to you so I mailed a new one also I would like my mail sent to this address  >> Hmm could be a bunch of things, including the present suspended algae problem, keeping the tank from "cycling" completely. Do yourself a favor and slant the odds in your favor by installing some simple live plants. Either Water Sprite (Ceratopteris) or some Anacharis (Elodea), Foxtail (Myriophyllum)... just let these float in your tank... and wait another two weeks... Magic? No, science...  Bob Fenner

My goldfish Sorry Bob, I punched in the wrong address.  By the way, if we have a water softener we wouldn't need to add the salt right? And what about the water conditioner? And how often should my daughter change the water in her tank? Thanks, Steve >> Ah, there you are! No, please do add the salt... the stuff for recharging your water softener is fine... The ions that come all the way through your softened water are not what you/the goldfish needs. And please do get/use a water conditioner (to remove the sanitizer, mostly chloramine in the US). There are many brands, but something like Novaqua, StressCoat... a one-shot water preparation for new tapwater... even if it is already going through some sort of water filtering process in your home. And a good practice for water changes for goldfish in a small container is once a week... always on the same day... maybe with house plants, other routine to make this a regular regimen... Just a reminder, no soaps, detergents, ammoniated cleaners or sponges et al. that have come in contact with them... a little "kit" of a net, plastic container (to shift the livestock to while cleaning, changing water) that can be dedicated to the purpose is great.  BTW, if those red spots develop into something you can actually see (like a forked tail or worm-like process) please "ring" me back for more info. Bob Fenner

aquarium water I AM HAVING A PROBLEM WITH CLOUDY WATER. I CHANGE THE WATER AND PUT IN ALL THE RIGHT CHEMICALS BUT IT GETS CLOUDY ALMOST IMMEDIATELY!!! I HAVE HAD MY TANKS FOR ALMOST TWO YEARS AND I'M NOT DOING ANYTHING ANY DIFFERENT. THE TANKS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN CRYSTAL CLEAR AFTER A WATER CHANGE IN THE PAST. I TAKE OUT ABOUT 25% OF THE WATER WHEN I CHANGE IT. I HAVE A 30 GALLON AND A 40 GALLON TANK. IN THE 30 GALLON I HAVE 2 PLECOS, 2 FANCY GOLDFISH, 1 GOLDFISH,1 ROSY,1 UPSIDE-DOWN CATFISH AND A TINFOIL BARB. IN THE 40 GALLON I HAVE 3 KOI AND 2 GOLDFISH. I FEED THEM ALL TWICE A DAY AND NO MORE THAN THEY CAN EAT IN A COUPLE OF MINUTES. PLEASE HELP, I'VE TRIED EVERYTHING !!! THANK YOU, MOLLIE <A few things to try: first and foremost get and use a designated container for mixing your new (change) water and conditioner (chemical preparation you use for removing sanitizer). Put the new water in, treat it and leave it for a good week before using it. Second, do look into the type of food you're using. Some formulations tend to cloud the water by spurring bacterial growth in the water.  Lastly, do consider getting some live plant material... Foxtail (Myriophyllum) and Hornwort (Ceratophyllum) are not that tasty to goldfish, Koi... Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: