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Discussion Starter #1
When I tell you this story, some will say "can't be" others will be angry, still more will feel sorry. I tell you that I this is true and I am trying like hell.

I have a wife an two kids. Both kids have asthma (just diagnosed) so we gave up two cats and a dog. Everyone was depressed. We decided to get an aquarium and keep fish. Dad says its a piece of cake. So off we go to the LFS. They talked us into a 55 gal., stealth heater, Emperor 400 bio wheel filter, some fake plants, a wrecked ship, and some fish (6 at first to cycle all platys and the molly). I have amquel for the water aging and aquarium salt (1/2 tbl per 5 gallon bucket) so said the LFS.

This tank is now 12 weeks old. I didn't know anything about fish and have had the hardest time in the past three months. Wife was out one day about a month ago and bought some tetras and a platy. Everyone is in the tank and living though not without extraordinary effort (or maybe not) on my part. Now here's the story.

The first month went by fine then fish started getting sick (only 6 in the tank). I bought an API test kit for ammonia (little strips) and according to the test Ammonia was 6.0. I change 50% water everyday for a week. Got ammonia down to 1.0 and then added one dose of Amquel. One week later...ick. Went to LFS and they gave me Rid-ick+ and directions to treat (remove carbon, full dose daily until three days after spots gone, slowly raise temp to 90, continue salt at 1/2 tbl, and 25% water changes daily, put back carbon). The ick went away. Temp slowly returned to 78 over several days.

Two weeks later I come home to more fish in the tank (good grief now what). One week after that fin rot in my guppy and black skirt tetra. Back to LFS. Gave me Melafix with instructions to use (Remove carbon, full dase daily for seven days, 25% water changes daily, put back carbon). Fin rot is gone now. But fish fins are not yet fully restored but getting better daily.

2 month point now. During this time, ammonia keeps spiking to 6.0 and I'm changing water like crazy when it does. Went to LFS. They gave me Safe Start and told me dump in the whole bottle. Two weeks have gone by (still fighting the heck out of Ammonia) and ICK is back. So, I guess it is back to treatment again.

How can Ick come back if I killed it a month ago?

I am only feeding fish enough food that its gone in like 20 seconds and they seem like pirannahs looking for more. I used the Safe Start and change water like mad (25% a day) but can't control ammonia. In three months, there is no nitrite AT ALL showing up on my little test strips by Jungle Labs. Am I using the right strips? Can I do anything different to help cycle the tank? I am assuming that the med treatments are hindering the cycling process.

The fish seem to be very vigorous despite the water change battle over ammonia. I did not know anything about fishless cycling or this would not have been a conversation at all. I want to think I am doing the right things to keep the little fellas alive but I would have thought the tank would be more stable at this point. Any ideas. My LFS seems to just keep selling me stuff.

BTW, wife is banned from buying fish for now.

Your wisdom, beat downs, bad mouthing, and especially help is appreciated. Let er rip. I am exhausted.

Charles
 

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Ok lets start with the ich.
(from my research)
Ich is a parasite that all fish carry they just dont always show it. they carry it in the form of small eggs on their scales. when they get really stressed the eggs are released, fall to the ground, hatch reattach to the fish and this is the point where you can start seeing them.
My best guess is that the fish your wife brought home in between the first ich and fin rot are the ones who brought it in. My way of keeping my tank disease free is find a LFS where you trust their water and dont buy from anyone else.

As far as the ammonia goes changing that much water is keeping your tank from fully cycling. so first off. make sure your test kit is accurate. strips dont always do the best job. if its not the test kit first off get those goldfish out of your tank all they do is swim around and produce ammonia. then to get the ammonia back down i would recommend is using a chemical like ammo-out (i think thats what it is called it comes in a white bottle with a red and orange label and works wonders) or using some ammonia removing chips.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If I understand you right, I should reduce my water changes to allow the tank to cycle. What makes sense? I was changing so much water to get the Ammonia ppm down. If I use the chips or Ammo-out, what ppm should I be after? You need some for the cycle to work right?

Hey thanks for responding by the way. Any help is appreciated. My number one goal is to keep the little fellas living while the tank stabilizes out. This is what the strips say as of today.

(API test strip)
Ammonia - Higher than 3.0 but less than 6.0

(Jungle Laboratories 6 in 1 strips)
Nitrate - a bit higher than 0 but less than 20
Nitrite - 0
Hardness - 150
Chlorine - 0
Akalinity - 125
PH - 7.4

What is the test kit that I should using...?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok lets start with the ich.
My best guess is that the fish your wife brought home in between the first ich and fin rot are the ones who brought it in.
She got her fish from my local Petsmart. So, maybe I should avoid them. Fish at my LFS look healthy but so do Petsmart. :eek:
 

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If I understand you right, I should reduce my water changes to allow the tank to cycle. What makes sense? I was changing so much water to get the Ammonia ppm down. If I use the chips or Ammo-out, what ppm should I be after? You need some for the cycle to work right?/QUOTE]

I'm not sure how much the chips will take it down exactly but the ammo-out will lower the ammonia 1ppm each dose thats why i like it so much.
 

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She got her fish from my local Petsmart. So, maybe I should avoid them. Fish at my LFS look healthy but so do Petsmart. :eek:
I dont know about your Petsmart but mine is a good place to get fish i would get my freshwater fish there but there's just arent big enough, my fish would eat them. One of the ways i tell how good a stores fish are is i ask what kind of filters they are running and ask them if they treat any of their tanks when they get new fish. the store i get my saltwater fish from treats his tanks everytime he gets new fish.
 

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it will show up as long as there is some in the water
from my experience your ammonia should be at 0ppm once the tank is cycled. i dont even test for it anymore
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Phil,

That's great. I look forward to that day. In the meantime, I'm off to the LFS for some ammo-out and a test kit from ammonia that's better than a strip.

What's a good ppm to shoot for during cycling? How many water changes should I being doing at this point? Is any test kit ok?
 

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use a test kit with drops
API makes a good one
as far as a good value during cycling 3.5 sounds tolerable but the lower the better
 

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Your fish are getting ich and other disease because they are being stressed by the ammonia spikes. We need to address the ammonia first.

Most people do a 25% water change every week. Have you been doing that?

When you do a water change you need to add a dechlorinator each time. Amquel and Prime are my choice becauase not only do they get rid of chlorine and chloramine....they detoxify ammonia, nitrite, nitrates and other metals. This means that even if you have it it will not be toxic. Cheaper dechlorinator will get rid of chlorine from chloramines but leave the other half which is....AMMONIA! They actually make your tank worse.

Now why do you have another ammonia spike? Most likely it is due to your ich medicine. It probably killed all your good bacteria which your LFS forgot to mention. As soon as you finish a treatment you should add Carbon back in to remove the medication, then do a large water change. Then keep an eye out for ammonia and nitrite spike and do daily water changes (15-25%) and dechlorinater treatments to keep your fish happy.

You don't need ammo chips if you have a good dechlorinator. ;) My choice of test kits under a budget would be Red Sea or API. Strips are not very accurate. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Your fish are getting ich and other disease because they are being stressed by the ammonia spikes. We need to address the ammonia first.

Most people do a 25% water change every week. Have you been doing that?
Yes. I am actually changing 10 gallons out of the 55 every other day to keep ammonia under control. Any less and ammonia goes sky high (according to my little API strip). So that would be 30 to 40 gallons per week depending on how the days fall.

When you do a water change you need to add a dechlorinator each time. Amquel and Prime are my choice becauase not only do they get rid of chlorine and chloramine....they detoxify ammonia, nitrite, nitrates and other metals. This means that even if you have it it will not be toxic. Cheaper dechlorinator will get rid of chlorine from chloramines but leave the other half which is....AMMONIA! They actually make your tank worse.
Thanks. I did say in my original post that I use Amquel religiously. I have even dosed the tank a couple of times to try and remove ammonia with it. Is that a bad thing to do?

Now why do you have another ammonia spike? Most likely it is due to your ich medicine. It probably killed all your good bacteria which your LFS forgot to mention.
Actually, I told the LFS about the ick and he told me Rid Ick+, and later Melafix for the fin rot, would not hurt my biological filter. So, I numbly follow his advice.

As soon as you finish a treatment you should add Carbon back in to remove the medication, then do a large water change.
I do add back carbon after each treatment of meds. Plus I change water like carzy (see above).

If I'm doing all this...what am I still doing wrong? Off to my LFS for a test kit. bbl
 

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I think you missed the reply that said the test strip is inaccurate and will show even the ammonia that has been neutralized by the Amquel or Prime and you need a liquid type test kit to get real ammonia information.
 

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Melafix is pretty mild, but I doubt any Ich medicine is. I still think a lot of your beneficial bacteria died from this medication, causing a new cycle.

Check your amquel bottle to make sure that it detoxifies ammonia. If so, there is usually a higher dose they recommend for ammonia and nitrite spikes. At least that is how it works for Prime, which is what I use. If so, keep in mind that although you may get an ammonia reading via the test kit, it should be non-toxic to the fish. Don't panic as long as they are not all breathing at the top.

My first question above was trying to understand how your got your first ammonia spike after the first month of the fish being fine. That is why I asked if you had been doing weekly changes at that point. I realize that you are doing daily changes now.

BTW how many total fish do you currently have/had?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I bought some Ammo-Lock at Petsmart along with the test kits. Drop kit for Ammonia says 2-4 ppm ph is 7.4. I have been using Amquel (which does eliminate ammonia) so is the reading locked up ammonia or real harmful stuff? Should I use the Ammo-Lock now?

I have 12 fish total.

1 molly
4 platys
1 guppy
1 pleco
2 neon tetras
1 blackskirt terta
1 fancy terta (orange with black top fin)
1 painted tetra (looks like someone painted it green)

btw, I only lost one in nearly three months... Never leave a man or fish behind!!
 

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I think you missed the reply that said the test strip is inaccurate and will show even the ammonia that has been neutralized by the Amquel or Prime and you need a liquid type test kit to get real ammonia information.
I bought an API kit (drop type) and it measures 2-4 ppm.
 

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I bought an API kit (drop type) and it measures 2-4 ppm.
If you want to be absolutely sure, next time before you add any chemicals, test your water, fill two large glasses with water from the aquarium, put a few drops of ammolock in one cup, a few drops of Amquel in the other cup and then test both cups. If the test comes out the same, your test kit shows both harmful and non-harmful ammonia. If not, you know you can trust the test kit to show only harmful ammonia.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's a great idea. I'll do that test and then I'll know. I like to be confident that what I think is going on really is.
 

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I'll be darned. I tested the water straight and got 2-4 ppm. Then I added Ammo-Lock to the water in my cup and got 0 ppm. So, what happens to the ammonia. The bottle says the bio filter will get it.
 

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Amquel and Prime detoxify it, not tie it up like ammo lock. You will still see a reading but it is a false positive. Only a few test kits can actually tell the difference between detoxified and not. Seachem's test kit works for Prime, however, I like to know the levels with other kits so that I know I still have an ammonia problem...even if it is detoxified.

Ammo lock is an ok solution, but it is tying up the ammonia that your bacteria need in order to re-start the cycle, whereas Prime and Amquel are not. Plus once the ammonia cycle is complete, you may get a nitrite spike which Prime and Amquel can detoxify....not sure if Ammo lock can? Lastly Ammo-lock is like carbon in that once it is "full" it will start leeching the bad stuff back into the water. Just keep all this in mind when trying to decide between what to use.
 
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