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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am working really hard with cycling my tanks after my latest disaster. Unfortunately, I am killing fish left and right so this was obviously not the best way to go.

I've gotten through the ammonia stage and now I'm in the nitrite stage. Everywhere I go it says to do water changes. However, I'm concerned that water changes will heighten the ammonia again.

If I do water changes, which chemical should I add to detoxify the tap water: Prime, Ammo-Lock, or Chlor-Out?

Is it not a bit of a contradiction to not use a chemical to balance the existing water when I have to use it to detoxify the tap water?
 

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Do the water changes.
You want the Ammonia to be kept under .25 ppm, and the nitrite to be kept under 1 ppm. THEN use whatever product you want to lock up the remaining ammonia and nitrite to make it less toxic to the fish. The bacteria can still use the locked up version of the nitrogen, and will grow.
When your test results are showing nitrite add 1 teaspoon of sodium chloride per 20 gallons of tank water to reduce the chance of Brown Blood Disease in the fish.

Even better than killing fish, do a fishless cycle. It has been around for many years and works great, especially with a well planted tank.
 

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A very heavily planted tank doesn't suffer from any ammonia problems. The plants use the ammonia as fast as it appears, so there is never a detectable amount of ammonia in the water. That type of "fishless" cycle is fine, but don't do the "fishless" cycle where you add ammonia to the tank on purpose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm having such a problem that it looks like even the plants are dying. I'm down to 10 of the original fish.

I will have to do another water change tomorrow I s'pose.
 

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Ammonia will not cause the plants to die. The first thing to look at is if your light enough for the plants you are keeping. Second, are you fertilizing your plants?

The cause of the ammonia is most than likely too little plants & too many fish in the beginning. When first setting up from day one you need heavy plant mass. Then you can slowly begin to add your fish within the first week.

When cycling a tank you should let the tank finish the cycle (4-8 weeks) before preforming your first water change. But this is not needed in a heavily planted tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am looking into upgrading the light, I'm wavering between T5HO and PC Fluorescent.

I fertilize with regular Flourish and Fluorish Excel as the bottle directs.

I didn't pack the tank with plants under the impression that they would fill in. They are doing quite the opposite. Looking back, I definately had too many fish for a new setup...and they were not hardy breeds.

So the best solution is to up the light, up the ferts, and add more plants?
 

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You need a fertilizer that has Nitrogen (N), Phosphates (P), and Potassium (K). Flourish just has trace minerals. Your plants can't exist without these nutrients. Flourish does have these products. Look at the link below to see them. If you now have low light, which it sounds like you do, you can use fertilizer tablets. They get buried in your gravel and melt slowly. To review plants need: light + nutrients (N, P, K and trace minerals, including iron) + carbon (CO2 or Excell). It you give them all of these things in balance, they will thrive. Your tank needs bacteria to turn the ammonia into a non-lethal source of nitrate so that it won't hurt your fish. The tank cycling is the bacteria growing to a large enough amount for it to do this. Until then, the ammonia will kill your fish. If you have enough plants to "eat up" the ammonia it keeps your fish safe while the bacteria amount is growing. The plants use the ammonia (which would be like the nitrogen fertilizer). You still need light and a carbon source (excel or CO2).

http://www.desertcoralaquatics.com/freshwater-supplies/plant-care-fertilizers/liquid/cat_173.html

Maybe you could use a temporary light to shine on your tank until you can upgrade your lighting AND use fert tabs until you begin your fertilizer dosing. If you don't supply the necessary things your plants will keep dying which will rot and create more ammonia and keep killing your fish.
 

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I am looking into upgrading the light, I'm wavering between T5HO and PC Fluorescent.
I fertilize with regular Flourish and Fluorish Excel as the bottle directs.

I didn't pack the tank with plants under the impression that they would fill in. They are doing quite the opposite. Looking back, I definately had too many fish for a new setup...and they were not hardy breeds.

So the best solution is to up the light, up the ferts, and add more plants?
I just saw your tank description in your sig line and you definately don't have adequate light. Before buying any more plants upgrade your lighting. For the 20G tank you will need at least 30-40 watts for low light plants. In the 29G a wattage of at least 45 watts to 60 watts for low light plants. The ideal amount of light to start off with is 2 wpg (watts per gallon).

I'm afraid the plants you have now will have to pulled out an trashed unless you can upgrade your light within the next week. Some of them may already be to far gone to save anyways.

When you do upgrade the lights then add as many fast growing plants as you can get in there or your budget allows. Then start dosing ferts from day one. TexGirl gave some good info on what you need. Check out this link, it shows the difference between a light, medium & heavily planted tank.

In the meantime you will need to do water changes & add prime to cut back on the ammonia levels to try to save the fish you already have. This is not the norm, but will have to be done since the fish are in there already & the plant mass is not doing well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
It's strange, until this disaster happened and I had to empty the tanks...the plants were growing fine. The swords had even started to pearl. This was all in the same CO2, lighting conditions, etc.

The fish are so damaged that I don't think I can save them at this point. Two more of them just died so I'm down to seven.

As far as the plants go:
1. I need more light for sure, I'll put a lamp up in the meantime
2. I haven't been fertilizing them with N, P, or K.
3. I'm only moderately planted.



My plans for today:
1. Return the dead fish. See if they will take the live fish back because I feel horrendous watching them die.
2. Do a large water change.
3. Start adding REAL ferts.
 

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I see that you trying to get the plants enough light, but those bulbs are probably not the correct spectrum. When getting a another fixture make sure you get bulbs that have a k rating of 5500k-10000k, with the 6500k or 6700k being the most common.

Dosing ferts at this point is really pointless. The lighting is the most important factor & without that the plants will not use up the ferts as they should. I'd just wait until you get the proper lighting.
 

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While Tena is right that the light may not be the right specturm, some light is better than less. Even though it is a different spectrum it will still help. That is what I have read in countless threads. Before I knew anything about spectrum I used cheap bulbs from the hardware store. Anyway you can get plant grow bulbs or look on the side and see what Kelvin they are. Anywhere from 5000 -8000 and even 10000K works. That's a huge span. Chances are your bulbs are in that realm some where.

The reason your plants did well and then crashed is because they used up all the available food in the tank for them. Then they began to starve. Makes sense.

Hang in there until your new lights come. I do also think some ferts is also good. You know you have SOME light in there. You need to give them SOME food too. :D I think your plans for today are good ones! P.S. You are lightly planted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Those are both different types of compact fluorescent lighting, luckily they are both in the spectrum. I managed to hang them over the tank now.

It probably is lightly planted now that you mention it. I spaced everything out to make it look more full, but there's no fooling you!

I did buy the only macro fert available at the store (iron and potassium), i did a 50% water change and only added a few drops of dechlorinator under the impression the plants will eat the ammonia. It's also likely that I have been putting WAY too many chemicals in.
 

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When you do water changes you need to use the full amount of decholorinator recommended on the label. The decholorinator removes chlorine & chloramine, the plants don't.

It's good to hear that the lights are PC's & within the spectrum needed. Depending on the wattage they should help to some extent. But I would be very sparing with the ferts, so the algea don't take over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well by "a few drops of dechlorinator" i mean the three drops per gallon as opposed to putting 10ML of Prime per gallon.

All I can do now is wait and see if this all helped the plants at all.
 

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If you're talking about Seachem's Prime I believe the dosage is 2 drops per gallon for "normal" tap water. Sounds like you put a good amount in. I do believe you're plants will do better.

Chances are your tap water has some phosphates in it. Keep watch on the plants, as you still need Phosphorus. Of course you might think about on-line buying. I do dry ferts. I get them from RexGrigg.com They are about $20 for all 4 ferts that you need. I think that is the "shipped" price. You can't beat the cost and they are VERY easy to dose dry. No mixing and you just us a measuring spoon! It will last for about a year.

You are getting the hang of this thing! Good job! :D
 
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