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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello. I have been a live plant/Discus aquarium hobbyist for 20 years. I recently bought a 125 gallon acrylic with built in wet/dry filter (in the back of the tank). I set it up for cycling 5 weeks ago. I followed my normal cycle procedures, adding a few plants, two Amazon swords, three small Anubius, and a piece of driftwood with java moss growing on it. I also added 15 Rasbora Hex. I watched the cycle for the first three weeks, and saw the normal levels (ammonia raised, then began dropping, nitrites began to raise, then finally nitrates).

The cycle seemed to finish about the third week mark ammonia 0, ph 6.5, nitrites and nitrates 0.0. I then added 50 cardinals, 15 panda cory cats, and 5 Dwarf Blue Rams. Everything was very healthy and happy. About a week later (at the four week mark) I added 10 small discus and three more amazon sword plants, a couple of hygro, and four java fern. Everything still seemed to be happy and healthy. Water crystal clear, plants growing, fish happy and eating all week.

At the beginning of the 5th week, I did a scheduled 25% water change (straight water change, not disturbing the gravel). I prune the dead leaves and remove dying plant matter at bottom of tank. then just suck water out and water in. I've found that in the past this works very well. Every other month I do a light gravel vacuum with the water change....Anyways, the next morning after doing the water change, the water was cloudier than usual. I thought it would go away after a day or so, figuring it was just the introduction of the new water. Well, it just kept getting cloudier and cloudier by the hour. I tested the water and the ammonia was 8+ YIKES.

At first I thought the test kit was bad, because all of the fish were doing great, even the Discus. So I bought another test kit. Still tested 8.0 ammonia. I checked the PH and it was bright yellow, seemed to be lower than 6.0. This alarmed me because I always keep it at about 6.8. My tap water is 7.5 and the driftwood brings it down to about 6.8. This is the way I've always done my discus/plant tanks for the past 20 years with no problem. This tank seemed to be following the same track, until this ammonia problem.

So I did a 50% water change and cleaned the filter sponges and replaced the strainer pad. Added Ammolock, Prime, and StressCoat. The PH and Ammonia were back to normal (levels 6.8 and .5). The water was also a little clearer. The next morning the levels were back to dangerous, but the fish were all doing fine. So, I did another 50% water change. Levels returned to normal and water began clearing up. The next day the water was still clear, fish all still doing fine, but ammonia back up to 8+ and ph back down below 6.0.

I started talking to various tropical fish store owners in the area, research online, and reading some old plant/discus fish books I have. This all led me to believe I had a PH crash going on. I suspected that the introduction to a large volume of fish and plants at one time caused an ammonia spike and acid production caused a ph crash. Figuring the ph crash killed off a lot of the biological bacteria, I did another 50% water change and added the alloted amount of Safestart (supposed to be nitrosomonoas and and nitrobacters). They guarantee the tank to be ready to stock with fish after adding this. I hoped that this would replace any of the bacteria that died from the ph crash. I also added some Neutral regulator 7.0 from Seachem. This has seemed to help as the ph doesn't drop overnight, but it is still going down below 6.5 and the ammonia is back to 8+...

All the while the fish are doing great!!! I have stopped the water changes after adding the safestart thinking that the tank may need to go through another cycle with this new added bacteria. Its been a couple of days now and the water is crystal clear, all fish and plants still doing great. I've cut down my feeding and remove any dead leaves as I see them. But the levels are not changing. Ammonia still 8+ ph going to the 6.0 mark 0 nitrites and 0 nitrates.

So at this point I'm not sure if I should continue with the water changes or just leave the tank alone for a couple of weeks and let it balance out. There is something driving the PH down abnormally fast in relation to my past tanks, and the ph buffer does not seem to be working all that well. The thing that is weird is that the fish are all fine. No deaths whatsoever. I'm guessing not to worry about the ammonia because of the ammolock. But I'm worried that another ph crash will kill my biological bacteria and that I may come home to a dead tank one day.. Yet everyday, the fish are happy and healthy.

Some people say I should continue doing at least 25% water changes daily until pH stabilizes and continue using ammolock until ammonia levels come down. Others say I should leave the tank alone and let it go through its normal cycle process, because it is really not finished cycling, possibly the water changes are causing prolonged cycling process.

So I don’t know if the fish are doing well because I’ve been doing the water changes, or despite them.
I was wondering what you all thought about this situation. Any suggestions or ideas? Leave it alone? Continue water changing? Add crushed coral? Remove some fish? Add anything else to the aquarium?
 

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Looks like a problem. I would recommend that you continue doing water changes and let it set its course.. really i would also add some plants to reduce the ammonia levels. if it still doesnt start to go down, start using chemicals that will bring the levels down. what kind of water are you adding?, id make sure your using R/O or the water levels will be drastically different each time, spikes and drops. let me know!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have swords and hygro covering the back of the aquarium. I could add some small plants in front, but there's limited room. I've been adding ammolock daily. I also add Prime and StressCoat. Any other chemicals you had in mind? I think I'm going to try adding some crushed coral in the filter tonight and see if that helps keep the ph up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Also, about the water changes...50% daily?? What about the safestart stuff, do you think I have to continue adding that every time I do a water change?? (its expensive!).
 

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i use prime and after a good week or so, the ammonia level is wayy lower... id do 50 % every other day.. id also add a carbon bag and im not familiar with the safestart stuff your talking about
 

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Genreally even when I seeded a tank with old dirty gravel and dirty rings in a filter, when adding plants, all those things that we do to get the cycling process going quicker it still take 7 to 8 weeeks to cycle the tank COMPLETELY. When you add the new fish you added more bio load (ammonia) which means the bio colony needs to increase to match. You have a pretty big tank there, so you have alot of water to dilute your water thats why the fish seem to be doing great.. IMO you had not cycled completely. 50% water change is to much, 20% from the bottom of the water would be better, don't vacume the gravel and test daily. you want to keep the level safe for the fish you have stocked, but enough there for the bio colony to grow.....

In a couple of weeks you will see that everything is good. The Ph crash could be cause the the KH and GH of the water, so check that. It has a direct relation to the echange rate of oxygen and CO2, and the amount of oxygen is in the water. and effect the PH... If you discover you Kh to be 2 or below you can add baking soda to raise it. Do this very slowly and with alot of caution. as changing the KH will make a major swing up in the Ph.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay, I think you're right. It is still in the middle of cycle. What was confusing me was the ph dropping problem. I've never seen that before so I was getting worried. The fact that it was going from 7.6 to below 6.0 overnight was alarming. I've added some crushed coral in a bag and the ph has stabilized at 6.6. The ammonia is coming down now. Thanks for all of the suggestions!!:)
 

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I had a sim problem in a tank and found this product called Biozyme. It took care of the problem real fast. I keep it on hand and use it when ever I clean a filter to recover my biological filtration fast. It's by a company called Aquarium Products INC. It's great stuff and they make it for saltwater as well.
Biozyme is a revolutionary product utilizing dried culters of hetrophic bacteria and enzymes fixed on bran. It reduces "New Tank Syndrome" by rapidly establishing nitrifying bacteria which reacts instantly upon contact with water. Biozyme also helps increase a filter's effectiveness and reduce organic build-up in gravel beds. It reactivates aquariums that are damaged by medications. Uses beta oxidation, not dissolved oxygen from the aquarium. 8 grams treats 500 gallons

8 grams 6pcs
 
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