Dealing with Ich and High NO3

This forum is for all health-related questions on Loaches and other freshwater fish.

Moderator: LoachForumModerators

Post Reply
Andreas
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:26 am

Dealing with Ich and High NO3

Post by Andreas » Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:41 am

Hi all,
My first post here... I have 2 tanks and have a wide variety of fish but my favourite are 8 clown loaches which I've had for well over a year. Almost overnight they were covered in whitespot and I tried treating them straight away with Ich Gaurd II for scaleless fish. Within 2 days I had lost all my loaches and a few other fish. The 3 Yoyo loaches survived??

I have just spotted a couple of spots on one of my clown loaches in my other tank a few minutes ago and wondered what to do.

I also used the 6 in 1 Tetra test strips and both tanks recroded the same values...

Cl2 - 0
pH - 6.8
Kh - 6
GH - 8
NO2 - 0
NO3 - 100 mg/l

I have tried doing a couple of 25% water changes but the NO3 remains high. What causes the NO2 to be zero but the NO3 to be so high?

Many thanks in advance

p.s. the active ingredients for Ich Gaurd II are Formalin (37%), victoria green, nitromersol, acriflavine.

I have also tried Tetra ContraSpot in the past (in haf recommended dosage), also with little success.

Diana
Posts: 4675
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:35 am
Location: Near San Franciso

Post by Diana » Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:08 pm

Fish produce ammonia waste.

A small group of beneficial bacteria remove the ammonia and produce nitrite.

A different group of beneficial bacteria remove nitrite and produce nitrate.

There are not any bacteria (that you want in your tank) that deal with nitrate.
There are a couple of ways to remove it:
Live plants will use all the nitrogen products as fertilizer, so there ends up being significantly less nitrate as an end result. I actually have to dose nitrate to keep it in an acceptable range so the plants are not deficient.

You can remove it with water changes. With the constant production you must maintain a steady schedule of water changes.

With the nitrate as high as it is I would want to know what your tap water is like before saying how big a water change is safe. When you have been doing so few or so small a water change to allow the nitrate to get this high other water chemistry idems (GH, KH) may very well be different from the tap water. These changes, when you do a large water change with different water, are not good for the fish.

Please test the tap water right out of the tap, and let some tap water sit for 24-48 hours and test again.

For now, do 20% water changes daily. These are small enough that the chemical changes are not going to harm the fish, and big enough that you will finally get a handle on the nitrate.
Remember that as fast as you are removing it, the fish are still producing it.
If you test right after a 20% water change you will see the nitrate has come down 20%. But the next day right before the next change the fish and bacteria have produced more, and the number might be just about where it was the day before. Hang in there, you will get there.
With each water change vacuum the substrate as well as you can. Decaying waste also contributes to the ammonia>nitrite>nitrate problem.
I am sorry to hear you lost some fish to Ich or the medicine.
With fewer fish in the tank, feed a lot less, and this also will help reduce the nitrogen level.

When I had fish and almost no plants I was doing 50% water changes every week.
Now I have almost as many fish, often bigger ones, and the tanks have lots of plants. Nitrogen is not a problem.

Ich falls to the floor of the tank to reproduce. By vacuuming the floor of the tank daily you are reducing the number of Ich organisms that can reproduce.
I would suggest Rid Ich or the salt and heat method of Ich control.
Whichever way you go, do LOTS of gravel vacuuming.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

Andreas
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:26 am

Post by Andreas » Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:38 pm

I just tested the tap water (before and after adding Nutrafin Cycle and Aqua Safe)

Cl2 - 0
pH - 6.2
KH - 0
GH - 0
NO2 - 0
NO3 - 0

I also just did a 20% water change (the tank is 300 litres) and after 20 minutes I found the readings were exactly the same... now I have to wonder how accurate these test strips are???

Diana
Posts: 4675
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:35 am
Location: Near San Franciso

Post by Diana » Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:13 pm

Tank
Cl2 - 0
pH - 6.8
Kh - 6
GH - 8
NO2 - 0
NO3 - 100 mg/l
Tap
Cl2 - 0
pH - 6.2
KH - 0
GH - 0
NO2 - 0
NO3 - 0
Are your GH and KH readings in degrees or ppm (Milligrams per liter is the same as parts per million)
If they are ppm (mg/l) then there is no problem, the tap and tank are so similar go for as big a water change as you feel comfortable with.
If you are reporting the readings in German degrees of hardness then your tap water is not similar enough to do water changes much larger than about 20%.
To make your tap water safer for larger water changes I would add enough of Seachem Equilibrium to bring the GH of the tap water up to at least 6 degrees.
Add enough baking soda so the KH reads 4 degrees.
Then you could do a 50% water change.
Best to add these things in small amounts in a bucket and test to see that the recipe is right. Lets say you wanted to do a 30% water change, call it 100 liters. I would start with 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of baking soda. This should raise the KH by almost 2 degrees. Test and use this to figure out if you want another teaspoon or a little less. It might not read perfectly right away, it takes time for the baking soda to fully dissolve.
Read the label on whatever form of GH product you can find. If you cannot find anything then use Epsom salt. It is not a complete mix of minerals that fish and plants need, but it is OK to start with for a few days until you can do some more extensive shopping.
Make the recipes a little light at first. Do not add so much that an immediate test gives you the readings you want. The materials may not be fully dissolved. Stir the mix pretty well then test again after a couple of hours, too. Then you can fine tune the mix. Do not worry if it is not perfect. If you were doing a 100% change, then you would want to be a lot more careful.

There has always been a question about the accuracy of the test strips.
However, a 20% water change starting with nitrate at 100 ppm will result in nitrate at 80 ppm. The difference in color between these two readings is so slight that I cannot tell the difference. Also, you might have disturbed some debris while you are vacuuming, and released some ammonia. Then your thoughtful bacteria quickly removed the ammonia and gave you nitrate. Thank them for this, you sure do not want the ammonia in the tank!
Any color in that hot pink/fuchsia/rose range is a problem, and just keep on doing the water changes to bring it down. Continue with daily water changes, but monitor the GH and KH to be sure they do not change by more than about 1 degree per day. The lowest you would want these is about 3 degrees, or about 50-60 ppm.

Forget Cycle. It does not have the proper nitrifying bacteria, if that is why you were adding it. The other things are also not needed in an aquarium.

At this point, here is what I would do:
The treatment for Ich ought to include daily gravel vacs.
I would include a 20% water change with that gravel vac.
Add to the replacement water:
1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of Epsom salt.
Monitor the GH and KH, and if they are stable, or falling slowly, then that is fine. If they are dropping too fast then add a little more baking soda for KH or Epsom salt for GH.
Add whatever medicine you want for Ich, following label directions. With every water change add more medicine. Most of the dye based medicines break down over the course of a day or so, and require daily dosing. I would simply dose the days dose right after a 20% water change.
If you are using the salt and heat method then add to the replacement water as much salt as you have removed with the water change.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

Andreas
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:26 am

Post by Andreas » Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:10 pm

Hi, yes I was talking in degrees when referring to GH and KH.

I have taken your comments on board and am taking action... in the meantime I lost another clown today as well as my Black Ghost :(
The other clown are fluttering and look very nervous... already dreading what I'll find in the morning.

p.s. are you saying that the Aqua Plus and the Cycle aren't needed for water changes? I thought the good bacteria was beneficial and the water treatment necessary?

Thanks so much for your help...

User avatar
palaeodave
Posts: 1370
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2006 5:25 am
Location: London/York

Post by palaeodave » Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:17 pm

All you need to add is a dechlorinator to your new water when dealing with a mature tank, under normal circumstances.
"Science is a lot like sex. Sometimes something useful comes of it, but that’s not the reason we’re doing it" ー R Feynman

Andreas
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:26 am

Post by Andreas » Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:39 pm

palaeodave wrote:All you need to add is a dechlorinator to your new water when dealing with a mature tank, under normal circumstances.
Which I can only assume is much cheaper! :D

Diana
Posts: 4675
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:35 am
Location: Near San Franciso

Post by Diana » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:24 pm

The nitrifying bacteria and many other beneficial microorganisms grow in a film or protein on just about all the surfaces of the tank and filter. It is called a biofilm.

When a tank is first set up the populations of several of these microorganisms rise and fall, then stabilize. When the scientists first started studying this they found several species that seemed to be the nitrifying bacteria, so they bottled and sold them.
Turns out they had ID'd some of the ones that grow for a while then are the population subsides as the real nitrifying bacteria take over.

Most bacteria in a bottle products have the wrong bacteria.
These are easily identified by the instruction to 'add with every water change'

The real nitrifying bacteria are Nitrospiros sp. and a few relatives, and they do not die off unless something kills them. These bacteria are found in Tetra Safe Start and Dr. Tim's One and Only. If something happens and these bacteria are killed, then you can sure add more, it is a good idea. However a normal water change does not remove or kill them.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests