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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had previously started the discussion in another thread but after understanding that the problem is related to water quality, I am starting this new thread with correct topic.

I bought my first aquarium (75L) in July 2022 and without cycling put 12 colour widow tetras (glofish) and 2 suckercats (plecos) in it. Within first 2 months one tetra and 1 pleco died without showing any symptoms. In the last 2 months I lost 4 tetras (glofish) and the other pleco. All the 4 tetras showed swim bladder disease symptoms before dying.

I have been feeding bits and flakes.
Lot of green algae has been coming in last 1-2 months on glass and substrate (gravel).
A simple filter is used where water is pumped up and then drips down a sponge kept in a open tray.
Water is kept at 25-27 deg C. Earlier in summers would be slightly warmer.
Only plastic plants are there. No live plants.

Since the tap water here is very hard, I use only RO water. I change 50% water every about 20 days by siphoning from gravel.

After loosing the last fish, for the first time I decided to check water parameters, and this was on 13 Jan, about 23 days after previous water change:

Ammonia: 0.25 (API kit)
Nitrite: 0 (strip)
Nitrate: 25-50 (strip test)
Ph: ~7 (strip)

In the other thread I was advised that the problem seems to have come from overfeeding, under water changing, too much stocking too fast, ultimately leading to some ammonia and tank not cycled.

Remedy was to change water, neutralize ammonia using Prime or other such conditioner and doing a Fish in cycle.

On 14 Jan, I:
1) cleaned the algae from gravel by churning the gravel with hand in the tank and siphoning the dirt and lots of algae.
2) did 50% water change
3) replaced the filter sponge as it got too dirty.

Next day on 15 Jan water parameters were:
Ammonia: 0.25 (API kit)
Nitrite: 0 (strip)
Nitrate: 25-50 (strip)
PH: ~7 (strip)

So the water change of 50% had no effect on water quality.

Again tested on 17 Jan:
Ammonia: 0 - 0.25 (API)
Nitrate: 20-40 (API)

Ammonia reduced slightly. Nitrate also reduced slightly but different test was used.

Again tested on 19 Jan:
Ammonia: 0 - 0.25 (maybe 0.15-0.20) (API kit)
Nitrite: 0 (API)
Nitrite: 0 (strip)
Nitrate: 40 (API)
Nitrate: 50 (strip)
Ph: 6.5 (strip)

Ammonia and nitrate were almost the same as last test. Nitrite remained zero. And pH seemed to have reduced a bit.

I tested my source fresh RO water:
Ammonia: 1.5 - 2.0 (API)
Nitrite: 0 (strip)
Nitrate: 20-40 (API)
Nitrate: 25-50 (near 50) (strip)
Ph: 6.2 - 6.5 (strip)

And the tap water (coming from a borewell and also feeding the RO):
Ammonia: 4.0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 50-100
Ph: 8

Seems that the Ammonia is just not reducing. Due to low pH the NH3 should be very low.

Can anybody help me what I should do immediately and what should be done in the long run regularly? Should I run a fish in cycle? But with my fresh RO water having such high ammonia and nitrate how to control the expected spike after water change? Prime just helps for 24-36 hours.

Please help.
 

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See, this is an example why you should join a forum before you toss fish in. I would relocate the fish to a quarantine tank I guess. Don't add fish in until after the ammonia spike yo unless they're cheap and good for cycling. pH. too high right now. nitrates I wanna say is too high, and Ammonia tooooooooo hiigighihihihghgh. pah. Prime it for Fishy's sake!!!! PLEAASEE!! or relocate the fish They really shouldn't be in that tank just yet!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Start doing water changes everyday to get ammonia down. Is there a reason you are using ro water? At least 50%. Use prime to help detoxify .
I am using RO water because the tap water is very hard and leaves tough white deposits on the glass. I tried tap water once and the deposits were extremely hard to remove.
I can do daily water changes of 50% but the fresh RO water, as stated in my first post, has 1.5-2.0 ammonia and 20-40 nitrate, which I fear might increase the ammonia and nitrate levels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Start doing water changes everyday to get ammonia down. Is there a reason you are using ro water? At least 50%. Use prime to help detoxify .
And Prime I believe helps for only 24 - 36 hours. What after that? In my tank, I have noticed that the 0.25 ammonia doesnt get to zero even after 4-5 days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
See, this is an example why you should join a forum before you toss fish in. I would relocate the fish to a quarantine tank I guess. Don't add fish in until after the ammonia spike yo unless they're cheap and good for cycling. pH. too high right now. nitrates I wanna say is too high, and Ammonia tooooooooo hiigighihihihghgh. pah. Prime it for Fishy's sake!!!! PLEAASEE!! or relocate the fish They really shouldn't be in that tank just yet!
A point to note is that I have been using the same water since beginning (July 22) and the problems started only in November 22. No such problem from July till November. And ammonia is stead at 0.25 or just under 0.25, but not getting to zero.
So need to find a way to bring Ammonia to zero and reduce nitrates as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You can use it daily, till the filter starts processing the ammonia. Water changes will reduce nitrates, a 50% water change will reduce nitrates by 50%.
My filter doesnt seem to be processing the ammonia properly. Its been at 0.25 or just under since 5-6 days, even with a 50% water change once. Also, nitrates havent reduced.
I can do a water change daily and also add Prime daily, but do you think it will help ultimately, more so since the fresh RO water has 1.5 - 2.0 ammonia and 20-40 nitrates?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you are using ro with those readings have you checked the inserts, they may need replaced. Shouldn't have readings like that. What are your readings out of tap?
Yes I will get the RO checked by an expert.
Tap water (coming from a borewell), which also feeds this RO is:
Ammonia: 4.0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 50-100
Ph: 8

This is even worse. So the RO is doing something but not eliminating ammonia and nitrate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Got the RO checked. They are not able to control ammonia and nitrate although there is an activated carbon filter that was replaced recently.

Now getting some prepacked RO water from grocery. Will test and post here. If good then will use that in future.
 

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See, this is an example why you should join a forum before you toss fish in. I would relocate the fish to a quarantine tank I guess. Don't add fish in until after the ammonia spike yo unless they're cheap and good for cycling. pH. too high right now. nitrates I wanna say is too high, and Ammonia tooooooooo hiigighihihihghgh. pah. Prime it for Fishy's sake!!!! PLEAASEE!! or relocate the fish They really shouldn't be in that tank just yet!
While I can appreciate that you want to help, shaming the OP for lack of knowledge isn't the way. Also, use real words please, nobody can take you seriously if you type like a child.

OP, DO NOT relocate the fish. The cycle is establishing, and if you remove the biofilter's food source (the fish), you'll crash it, and be back to square one with that tank. Your issue seems to be with the source water.

Here's a hot take for you: don't do anything except test and detoxify for a week. Don't change any more water, since you know that's the issue. Since your source water contains so much ammonia, and your tank contains relatively little comparatively, I bet inside that week, you won't have any ammonia showing in the tank.

RO water contains no minerals, so you need to re-mineralize it. Are you? That could be the real reason your fish are dying. Actually, since you said your latest PH reading was 6.5, I'd put money on it, as at lower PHs, ammonia is bound into ammonium, which isn't toxic to your fish at low levels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Here's a hot take for you: don't do anything except test and detoxify for a week. Don't change any more water, since you know that's the issue. Since your source water contains so much ammonia, and your tank contains relatively little comparatively, I bet inside that week, you won't have any ammonia showing in the tank.
Looks like the perfect strategy. But,
1) I have algae starting to grow and feel that in a weeks time there will be lots of it on the gravel and glass. Algae was last cleaned on 14 Jan alongwith 50% water change. Will that do any harm and is there any way to stop the growth during this time as I will not be changing water? Or we just forget about algae for the time being?
2) Last water change was done on 14 Jan. On 15 Jan ammonia was 0.25 and yesterday it was slightly below 0.25, so not much change in 6 days. Do we still hope that another 1 week with detoxification will bring it down?

RO water contains no minerals, so you need to re-mineralize it. Are you? That could be the real reason your fish are dying.
This could well be a reason, if the fish need minerals to survive. I am not re-mineralizing the water. Can you suggest how to do so? Do fish need minerals to survive? If so, we will do detoxification, re-mineralization and testing for a week.

Then see how it goes.
 

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Yes, fish need minerals, just like every other living thing. The easiest way that I know of is to mix tap water in with your RO water, the ratio depending on what you ultimately want your parameters to be. It'll probably take some practice to get right.

Algae itself isn't harmful to the tank, and since you're not keeping live plants, it's actually helpful in that algae is photosynthetic, so it's helping both oxygenate the water as well as remove excess nutrients. I would leave it for now, and once you get the tank parameters stabilized, start dealing with it.

As for time frame, a week might not be long enough overall, but it would be long enough to see if it's working or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Okay. So we forget about re-mineralizing for now as it would require water change (adding tap water) and my tap water has even higher ammonia of 4.0 ppm.

If there is some supplement that can be added then it can be tried.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I will use Prime to detoxify for a week while testing every 48 hours.
The instructions state 5ml Prime for 200L water. My tank is 75L. Should I put 2ml every day directly in the tank? Would that be good?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Today I got some water to test from the municipality. This water should have some minerals as its not RO. And this water can be easily used in the future for the tank. Results:
Ammonia 0.10 - 0.15 API
Nitrite 0 API
Nitrate 0-5 API
Free chlorine 0.5 strip
Bromine 0.5 strip
Ph 7-7.2

Looks like this water is best suited.

With this water being easily available, should strategy still be to detoxify and test for a week (with no water change) or change 50% water (using this new source) and then detoxify and test for a week? Algae problem can then be handled later.
 
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