First tank trouble

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Discuss all topics related to freshwater and planted tanks.

Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:39 am

First tank trouble

by 5thbeliever

Hey guys,

I've just started the hobby and up until now I've been very pleased with the results. As a student, I'm on a shoestring budget, so I've started with a very basic setup (10 gallon tank, one filter.)

The tank has been in action for a month now and contains 6 plants, 11 tetras, a male betta and 1 pleco. Suddenly, I've had very murky (green) water (see attached picture.) I have done weekly 25% water changes as well as a 60 % water change 3 days ago in an attempt to clear up the water, but to no avail, the water is still a murky green. I wash out the filter wool in the removed tank water to conserve the bacterial population.

I suspect I may have been overfeeding so I've cut down on the quantity of food given. I have the fluorescent light on for roughly 11 hours a day.

Also, my first bio ball finished a couple of weeks ago. I was under the impression that these were used only to boost the initial cycling process. Is this the case, or should I replace these as they run out?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

Posts: 382
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:26 am

by jdak702

You could try running some carbon and turning off the light for a full day. Usually algae doesn't like going without a light. Probably overfed. I'm not sure what you mean by done with bio ball though. What is on the bottom of your tank? Gravel? Are you using a syphon to clean it?

Posts: 625
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 12:37 pm

by mro2you2

off topic, PK can handle your question but Im glad that that you havent had any problems till know but that pleco is going to get about a foot.

Have you cleaned the top window where light goes through. If I dont clean it often It gives my tank a yellow tint to it. This may be a stupid answer but hey.

Posts: 625
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 12:37 pm

by mro2you2

PK is the super smart one with the gars. All hale guru PK.... :) im in for it now.

Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:38 am

by bennyphan

I second that notation of PK being the GURU, let me take a stab at this and see if I had learn anything from PK.

First, you won't want to clean out the filter entirely, you want to leave some beneficial bacteria in the tank.

Have you tested the water for Nitrite and Nitrate? You usually want to keep the Nitrate level under 20 to be safe. Anything above that can make your fish ill and or even death. Nitrate level usually results in over feeding the fish. The more food you give them, the more feces you get. In combination of nitrate and the florescent light being on for that amount of hours will cause algae to grow.

I really would not recommend using chemical to solve the issue, for its just a temporary fix. It will come back, and probably come back even harder since chemicals kill beneficial bacteria.

I would recommend doing another 50% water change. To lower down your Nitrate level, decrease the amount of light you are using to kill the algae you have growing in the tank. Decrease the amount of food/amount of time you feed. And continue to do your weekly water change. Test your tank weekly and monitor the Nitrite and Nitrate level.

"Preparing my critic from PK"

Posts: 164
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:31 pm

by esparzar1

I agree with what some of the others said. Do a 50% water change and continue to monitor water levels. The algae looks green which isn't a bad thing. Having green algae in your tank is a sign of a healthy tank. You said that the tank is only 1 month old? It's really not surprising to have heavy doses of algae due to being a new tank. I am surprised it's not brown algae. Usually you will get brown vs. green algae in a newly established tank. How big is your filter? Even in a 10 gal tank I would over filtrate (maybe get something rated for a 30 or 40 gal tank)I would probably only run the lights 8-10 hrs as opposed to 12 hrs per day. Hope this helps..........and like they said PK can tell ya better than me!

Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:38 am

by bennyphan

Esparzar1 makes a good point. On my 10 gal tank I have 2 TopFin 10-15 gal filtration systems. on my 55 Gal I have TopFin 60 and Marineland 350 (up to 70 gal). Over filtering never hurts! :)

Posts: 1306
Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2008 1:24 pm

by yasherkoach

First, the 11 tetras are producing a heck of a lot of fish poop, it is probably overwhelming the processes of bacteria in your tank. I agree with the others, you need to get a hang on the back filter, possibly with a bio-wheel, get a filter system that handles at least 100 gph, that way, you flush the water 10 times through the filter an hour.

The other thing, the tank is going through its nitrogen cycle. So the bacteria has yet to accumulate in order to keep up with the bio-load.

When I first got into this hobby, I used aqua rechargers, it helps to speed up the initial process to cycle the tank (in reference to your bio-balls). But I have found over time that it is best to cycle the tank without any additives. You just need fish to jumpstart the process and plenty water changes.

Also you are correct, overfeeding is also adding to your problem. When you overfeed, between any decomposition of foodstuffs and the fish poops (11 tetras especially), the bacteria in the already stressed filter is overwhelmed to the max. So cut down on the food.

I realize you are on a budget, but you can handle this situation without spending money except for a better filter system. 20 gallons would be optimum for 11 tetras, not only cause larger tanks give you some leeway to play with in case of troubles (The water column tends to absorb more of any of the problem) but also the tetras need room to dart about, they prefer faster swimming currents.

One other thing before I let you go or else Peter adds to this, your live plants must compete with the algae, and if the plants are overwhelmed, then the algae wins.

Remember, this is a new tank. You will run into problems. Prevention is key. Cut back on the feeding, cut back on the lighting to 8-10 hours per day, get another filter that runs at least 100 gph preferably witha bio-wheel intact, continue with the water changes (40% per week), get yourself some test kits (liquid is better but a little more expensive so you can monitor the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and ph - the 4 most important chemicals to be tested), and observe.

Hope this helps...let us know how it progresses

Posts: 1980
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:04 am

by Peterkarig3210

You guys are too much. I am constantly having problems that come up though I've concentrated on freshwater tanks for years. Thanks though.

I wouldn't be freaked out about the green water. I do agree with what others here have said and don't have much else I can think of to add.

You seem to get the jist of keeping a colony of bacteria alive, which is key. I'd say you're over feeding and need more filtration. Add a second filter, or maybe get a coarse foam cilindrical sponge that can go over the filter intake. This will provide extra surfaces for bacteria and help keep your main filter from mucking up and suffocating much of it's bacterial population.

It will need cleaning maybe every 2 or so days, or when the flow drops significantly. They need to be really cleaned well as they seem to hold on to a lot of gunk even with numerous squeezes. I fill mine with water and smack it against the sink, bucket, or whatever, and this seems to dislodge more gunk.

Yep.....feed much less than the fish will eat if they're allowed to gorge themselves and they'll be healthy and happy.

Your plant population is just starting out and is pretty sparse at this point. As the plants fill out the tank bacteria will grow on them as well which will aid at cycling the waste.

Never heard of the "bio-ball" you mentioned, but most people don't even think any added bacteria really helps anyway.

You may need more light. Most 10 gallon tank kits don't provide enough light for most plants. you may want to look at SHO type screw in plant bulbs, or whatever you can do to increace light. I used hardware store floureescents myself, but I don't mind the jurry rigged look, or, grow only low-light plants such as anubias, java fern, java moss, and some others. gives some good info on plants with pics. If your plants are dieing the nitrates will go up too.

How about a test kit? pH, nitrates, and even ammonia, and nitrites are the main tests. An aquarium store usually can test your water for free too.

Hope this helps. PK

PS........I'm only one of quite a few who know a little and are still learning, still get frustrated, and still kill fish and have algae issues at times.

Peace out.

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Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 9:48 pm

by natalie265

...and also periodically lets his tank heat up to over 90 degrees :D (i'm here to help keep you humble, PK)

First tank trouble

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