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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello and thanks for reading my post,
I have a 29 gal tank that has been running for I know 7 years. Under gravel filter with power head. Lightly stocked : right now 2 cory cats a few guppies 2 black tetras one of which has been in for 2 years. Deal is new fish just die in a few days with no real warning. Hapy today dead tomorrow. Did H2o test : high nitrates (offf the chart) hard water alkaline ph. Did 1/3 water change, gravel vac, and filter constantly with new Aqua tech power filter that is said to have a nitrate reducing "bio mesh filter ".

Rechecked the H2o and still HIGH nitrates after doing the above in one day. Now I know there is a lot of sediment under the undergravel filter. Should this be suspect? I have had some plant bulbs in for some time that have not sprouted- I have removed them. I do have 4 live plants from bulbs that have grown well to a point then start to look anemic. I have just installed a new light tube 500k I think.

I have both power head and Aqua - Tec running at this time. What is my source of high nitrates? Should I tear down the tank and start over ? Pleas adise! Vinny
 

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my guess would be the undergravel filter. it has been my experience with them that they are nitrate factories. since it is nearly impossible to clean under them the mulm builds and builds and soon you are having problems like the one you are describing. for that reason i dont use them any more. i usually try to get enough filtration on my tanks at double the recommended size. so if i have a 29 gallon tank i use either one filter rated for a 60 gallon or two rated for 30 gallons each. IMO i would remove the UGF.

it could also be your water maintenance, how often do you do partial water changes and how much water do you change out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not often do I do a water change. I add water often we have a dry climate .The water never looks dirty or cloudy. I never have too much stock. Would the age old debris under the filter be the culprit??

Vinny
 

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its probably a combination of both the UGF and not enough water changes.
like i said earlier the UGF is a nitrate factory. add to that not enough water changes and you get high nitrates. water changes is the best way to keep nitrates at liveable levels for you fish. as water evaporates nitrates concentrate in the water. if you dont take some water out and add fresh water on a regular basis the nitrates keep building and building until they are at toxic levels for your fish.

i would recommend another 30% water change today and tomorrow, and continue to change water daily until the levels are under 40ppm. after that i usually change 30% water once a week. its the best and some say the only way to effectively keep the nitrates down.
 

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Not often do I do a water change. I add water often we have a dry climate .The water never looks dirty or cloudy. I never have too much stock. Would the age old debris under the filter be the culprit??

Vinny
Absolutely. As mommy says, UGF's really are nitrate factories. Get rid of it, get yourself a nice canister or HOB filter and vacuum all the gravel really well.

You should really be doing water changes and gravel vacuuming once a week or at least every other to keep nitrates in check (you want under 40 ppm although 10-20 is better).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow I have never had this prob before- back in the day under gravel was the way to go. Like I said I am pretty old school I guess. Thanks for the input
 

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after 7 years I think your tank is doing fine with or with out nitrates.

To get the nitrates down I always recommend increasing the nitrate producers and in FW that means live plants.

But to me the bottom line is that with a 7 year tank and thriving fish it seems nitrates are not much of a concern.


my .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks , I need to be clear - I have had high mortality in recent new additions to my tank ie red tailed shark, some guppies,plecostomas a few others over about 6 weeks. But for my 2 year old lone black tetra all have died with out symptoms . I had 2 raphael cats for over a year -large fish- one day just died.

I have added a better light and some plants. Also i am using a stick water test kit. Thanks for all the feedback
 

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Thanks , I need to be clear - I have had high mortality in recent new additions to my tank ie red tailed shark, some guppies,plecostomas a few others over about 6 weeks. But for my 2 year old lone black tetra all have died with out symptoms . I had 2 raphael cats for over a year -large fish- one day just died.

I have added a better light and some plants. Also i am using a stick water test kit. Thanks for all the feedback
If you can afford them you might try the api liquid test kits.

I recommend anacharis or vals for plants and lots of them. They, especially the anacharis, are very fast growing and therefore rapidly condition the tank.

One of the first effects of plants is a rise in just before lights out pH. that is because the plants consume carbon dioxide which increased pH. Lowering carbon dioxide also is healthy for the fish.

Another effect of plants is that they prefer to consume ammonia over nitrates. So new additions which result in increased carbon dioxide and ammonia simply feed the plants. Creating a much better environment for the fish. Plants also bioaccumulate (filter out) various toxins like copper and the like.

I think you will find out that if you can get the plants thriving and growing, the fish will do much better.


my .02
 
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not well versed in UG filters, but would a reverse powerhead one work better?
I don't know about better but it could work IMHO.

Some power heads are designed like that and I used one in the reverse mode but didn't like it.

There are also some brands that have an attachment to do the reverse flow. Those I have seen have very large sponge filters to trap crud before going down the tubes.

Perhaps people like paul b that use reversed UGFs can help

my .02
 

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The fact that you have a UGF is not the problem but the fact that you are running it incorrectly is.
There is nothing you can do now except remove the thing and suck out all the detritus below it and there will be a lot.
Then you need to run the UG filter very slow, as slow as you can but in reverse and you also need to put a sponge filter on the intake of it.
My reef has been running successfully this way since about 1974 or so and I only need to change some water 5 or 6 times a year.
My nitrates are below 5 and I only cleaned under the UG filter plate after 25 years of continous running. I mainly did that to see what was growing under there. It was red tubeworms, millions of them and hey are a good sign.
 

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I run UGF filters with no problems, without them the tank crashed more often.

Run it in reverse, get a marineland 660R powerhead, its out of the box RUGF ready. sponge, elbow and a 10 foot cord.

I run mine RUGF thru the bottom, on the other side I have an AC70 sucking from under the plate so it creates a circular motion in current in the tank. its new to me got an idea and tried it, so far exceptionally good.

UGF plates are not bad nor a problem. I used to do the no plate deal, yeah I went back to the plate and am not going back, infact I got custom fit/cut plates for my tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks to all that have taken the time to give me advice.:)

Even after a couple of partial H20 changes my nitrate levels indicate high. My few plants (some kind of lilly? from bulbs) are doing great. I plan to add more plants-however I now have this brown algae that is covering my substrate and rocks.

So, I think it best to tear everything down-clean and rebuild. I have never seen the reverse flow type power heads but I am looking into that system. Adjustable flow would be nice - any advice on make and model would be good.

Will report results

Thanks all !

>V<
 
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