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Thread: Hello and a couple of questions

  1. #31
    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Indeed. It's wonderful to have a new member who does a good job researching and trying how to overcome obstacles. If you want it enough you will find a way. I can't wait to see what is coming.
    Mama Bear

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    Registered Member Pudmuppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Thanks everyone for their comments! It really does help to have such a helpful group!

    As I've mentioned before, I tend to over think things, waffle a bit and ask too many questions...

    So I'm very concerned about my water. I've been doing some testing and on average after 12-24 hours my readings are-
    Ph 6.4 (out of tap 8.4)
    Ammonia .5ppm
    Nitrite .25ppm
    Nitrates 5ppm

    I'm really not happy with those readings but apparently that's quite normal for tap water these days? I am going to add some other tests to my arsenal too, like kh, gh and I am going to buy another brand ammonia kit just to compare. Am I worrying too much for these readings?


    I'm trying to work out if this is a feasible venture for me, considering how much I work, my dogs and other fish, hobbies and husband! Though I do love a busy life

    Now I'm wondering/hopeful if the below is the way for both healthy happy discus and have a happy life (and husband).

    * Buy the biggest discus I can afford! Probably 3.5-4.5" if not bigger . A group of six as I'm going to be double/triple my budget. Can get more from the same source in the future. Buy them bigger, healthier, easier to keep. I'd rather grow out from small but if it's the difference between this working out and not then I'll do it.

    * A big barrel (40-60gal) in my garage for aging, add a large internal filter to this for both aeration and to build up a bacteria colony to start breaking down the ammonia and nitrites.

    * Get an ro machine to help, although this will only be 20 gallons or so.

    * Water changes 2-3 times a week of around 40 gallons which is 50% each time. More if I can, but 3 times seems probable. Spot cleaning detritus daily.

    * Keep them bare bottom for the first couple of months or more while I get used to keeping them and then once more confident, add a thin layer of sand and some more decor and a little bit of greenery. I prefer hardscape over greenery so it would only be a little green.

    Thoughts? If this seems like it's not enough then I'll probably have to sadly hold up my hands in defeat for now and step away. I always want to do things properly and it may be that for now, my needs and the Discus' needs don't match.

    Are there any types I should avoid/seem weaker? I'm particularly interested in snakeskin/Turks, pigeon bloods/rafflesia, Cobalt blue. I'll happily switch to sturdier types!
    Last edited by Pudmuppy; 07-07-2019 at 11:39 AM. Reason: typed wrong readings info

  3. #33
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    The parameters don't seem so ideal, but it's far from giving up I believe.

    I don't think you need to culture beneficial bacteria in your aging tank.
    Your dechlorinator (Prime/Safe) would do the same job.
    What does suck is, you'd end up with higher nitrate tank eventually.
    (some here swear by <5ppm nitrate).
    In which,,, guess what, more frequent water change

    In that case, RO would help a lot, I guess.
    Water change is not just a chore, it's my life now...

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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Everyone has good advice. I try the simple approach. Maybe to begin with bare tank with driftwood. The forum sponsors had a certain responsibility to provide quality fish so I'd stay with them. Yes, some strains are more hardy than others. I spoke to Kenny this past week. During our discussion he advised to consider one stronger variety rather than one that would require more maintenance. Maybe find out which fish are going to be stronger in the 3 to 4 inch sizes and begin with those. I wonder about water. For certain a changing schedule is the right thing to do. My fish are happy with the 45% per week that I maintain. I don't age but rather use Prime, but that is just me. I also wonder about when a shipment arrives the fish are shipped to me in a completely different water chemistry than that of their new home. They go from the water in their bag to the tank and seem to be okay with that abrupt change.

  5. #35
    Registered Member Pudmuppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Thanks everyone, I am in the process of deciding what I want to do - my tank will be purchased after we paint the walls in that room, so we don't have to attempt to move it around! Hoping to deal with the painting in the next couple of weeks, so I have a good month to decide, I think.

    Am currently working out the best place to put a water ageing tank, probably the garage, as whatever fish I end up keeping, I want to age the water to deal with the huge PH drop.

    Am going to go to the LFS on Saturday and see what readings they get from my tap water - just did a Seachem Ammonia test from 24 hour aged water and got 0 free ammonia and I think over 5ppm total ammonia - it turned purple on the dot, and the card only goes up to blue I am trying to work out if this is a concern, or if I keep up with 3 or more 50% water changes a week whether the ammonia won't matter. Also trying to decide if I have the time to deal with all the extra work, possible heartache, and if I am trying to get these fish to live in inappropriate conditions. Wondering if I should try something else for a while (more goldfish is certainly very, very tempting...) and then once I have had time to get to know the water and possibly buy a biiig RO filter, try Discus for sure.

    I am trying a new LFS on Saturday that apparently has a lot of huge display tanks of various species, so if anything, I may get inspired by a different set up, as I know that if I hold my hands up in (temporary?) defeat with discus that I will be pretty cut up about it! Watch this space, I will update once I have had a third party test done!

  6. #36
    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    I have never given this recommendation before. It's always advisable for newbies to get large fish to start because newbies make mistakes. But in your case, with your crazy water I think that you start with a group of 6 small ones. My reason is that you know so much more than most newbies. The large fish would be a big investment and if one of the big beautiful ones started getting sick and then died your heart would be broken.
    Mama Bear

  7. #37
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Your pH level changes out of the tap are not a concern. Going from 8+ out of the tap to 7.4 after ageing would be no problem if the 7.4 level does not change much as your nitrates increase (nitrates won't change unless you have fish in your tank and a good biofilter). In a tank with a good biofilter, you will have no ammonia or nitrites because they will converted to nitrates by your biofilter. The nitrates need to be removed when they get over 10 ppm for good healthy discus which is why you need change water often.

    You need to test your GH and KH. It is your hardness (GH) and carbonate (KH) levels that will let you understand what is causing the pH swing out of the tap. It is also the carb and hardness levels that you can use to control the pH swings if you need to do so. Harder water is easer to stabilize than softer water. In the past, many discus owners tried for softer water because they thought the discus would only do well in very soft water. However, this has been proven wrong. Very soft water is only needed for hatching fry, and it does not eve have to be very soft in many cases.

    Api has a good GH and KH Kit. the worst thing you have in you water is the nitrites. It doesn't take much of this to harm fish. If you have a good biofilter, the levels of nitrites you have will be quickly eliminated.

    I don't know how you can go from pH8.2 0 nitrites and 0 nitrates and 1ppm ammonia to PH 7.4, nitrites .25, nitrates 0, ammonia 1ppm. Increasing nitrates would require more ammonia (which should go down as nitrites increase). Check your bucket for contamination if that is what you got. Ammonia can make pH high, but the small amount of ammonia you have should not do that.

    Anyway, I think your water conditions can be fixed with out spending much money.

    Al Light

  8. #38
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    I posted on your other thread with my thoughts. My guess is your utility uses NaOH to prevent pipe corrosion and chloramines for disinfection. This explains the pH drop after aging, and the high ammonia reading (test kits for total ammonia convert ammonia to chloramine before measuring).

    I would get a GH and KH kit and maybe even a TDS probe, you likely have wonderful soft source water that your utility has to fiddle with to make sure the lead pipes don't corrode.

    Snxtif/Cyrus is correct that you can just use Safe/Prime to detoxify the ammonia but personally if I had a choice between:
    Option 1. 0 NH3, 0 NO2 and 15 NO3 water vs
    Option 2. 5 NH3, 0 NO2 and 0 NO3 with prime/safe

    I would chose option 1 every single time and I don't think I would be alone in that choice. I think you will get option 1 if you have a cycled sponge filter in your aging barrel.

    Some believe that nitrate is better thought of as a marker for other bioaccumulating chemicals that hinder growth. Nitrate is just easy to test for and bioaccumulate similarly. You will never achieve 0 ppm nitrate because of your source water but if you are doing large frequent water changes you will be removing all the other gunk, understanding that your baseline nitrate reading might be 10 or 20 ppm.

  9. #39
    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    I knew that you would understand the problem and have the best suggestion because you really really know water! I'm glad I didn't have to PM you.

    Ally, If I were you I would do as he suggests in the number one option. I'd still start with 2 1/2 to 3 inch fish in your case. You could put a divider in the tank so they wouldn't be lost in a large tank. I know the least expensive way to do it.

    I have faith in you. You can do this.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Take a look at the Mercury. $38.00 is not too much to ask for a quality fish.

  11. #41
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Hi everyone!

    Well, I am still here and still stubborn. Thanks everyone for so much help so far, am starting to understand water far more than I ever have before! I am reading tons and your clear comments above have really helped.

    I went to the LFS and they are strictly on RO water themselves - they specialise in marines and african cichlids so just automatically do RO so they couldn't help too much, but they did test my water (API) and got exactly the same results as I did, so now I am pretty sure it's funky water not funky test kit.

    Yesterday, I set up a 5 gallon tank I had kicking around, cleaned it and seeded its filter with some media from my goldfish tank, added Prime. Going to take daily/twice daily readings and see what happens. I am pretty sure it will go through the usual new tank spike though so may not get completely accurate results at first.

    So last night straight after setting up the results were:
    PH 7.6 (lower than every other tap test I have done, because why be consistent...?)
    Ammonia 1ppm
    Nitrites .25ppm
    Nitrates 5ppm

    This morning ( 12h aged)
    PH 6 (Whut. It's never dropped before 6.4 before today...)
    Ammonia .5ppm
    Nitrites .25ppm
    Nitrates 5ppm

    So a significant change in both PH - which is annoying, because it always used to be 8.0 dropping to 6.4 consistently overnight, now it has gone from 7.8 to 6.... and in ammonia, however I think that will be the Prime locking it up - yet no raise in nitrates.

    I am writing everything down to see if I can find the pattern, and start to understand the process a bit better. I am also really, really hoping to see the ammonia obliterated.

    Going to look more into RO water and what the actual cost of running one for frequent water changes would be here. I really don't want to go this route because of the waste water, but I can probably use this water in the garden and a bit for my goldfish if the ammonia can be removed by the filter quickly.

    Still trying desperately to get this to work! Going to see what the results are of the small empty tank over the next couple of weeks. If that ammonia goes away, I am laughing!

    Should I feed the empty tank at all? Or will the bacteria feast happily on just the ammonia already present?

  12. #42
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Do you think you could get your LFS to test the GH and KH of the water from either straight out of the tap or from your goldfish tank?

    It might take a little while for them to go away but the (small) drop in the ammonia is promising! I would wait until your ammonia and nitrite readings are 0 then do a 100% WC (you can use this water for your goldfish) and repeat to see how quickly you can drop the more hazardous species to 0. The bacteria that are doing the converting to nitrite then nitrate also use some KH from your water or CO2 from the air. Once you know your KH, if it is low (1-2) it might be worth adding a bag of crushed coral to your aging tank and future discus tank filters to prevent a pH crash.

  13. #43
    Registered Member Pudmuppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesW View Post
    Do you think you could get your LFS to test the GH and KH of the water from either straight out of the tap or from your goldfish tank?

    It might take a little while for them to go away but the (small) drop in the ammonia is promising! I would wait until your ammonia and nitrite readings are 0 then do a 100% WC (you can use this water for your goldfish) and repeat to see how quickly you can drop the more hazardous species to 0. The bacteria that are doing the converting to nitrite then nitrate also use some KH from your water or CO2 from the air. Once you know your KH, if it is low (1-2) it might be worth adding a bag of crushed coral to your aging tank and future discus tank filters to prevent a pH crash.
    Thanks James - I have actually ordered my own GH and KH kit so that should hopefully arrive tomorrow! Do you think the ammonia drop could be from the Prime? I will be watching the water very closely I will do the 100% wc when it hits 0 as suggested. I already have some coral kicking around as I use a small amount for the goldies already, so that's easily done. Watch this space!

  14. #44
    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    You will get this all figured out and have a beautiful tank full of Discus. I'm addicted to this thread so I'll be watching as you figure things out.

    Isn't this forum amazing. When one of us doesn't know something, someone else does. I love it when people come here wanting to learn and the right smart person who love to teach shows up at the nick if time.

    I'm proud of you, too. When you want something you go after finding a way like a Pit Bull. You're ferocious. Heck if I'd have been in your shoes I'd have just stuck with Gold Fish.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Hello and a couple of questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pudmuppy View Post
    Thanks James - I have actually ordered my own GH and KH kit so that should hopefully arrive tomorrow! Do you think the ammonia drop could be from the Prime? I will be watching the water very closely I will do the 100% wc when it hits 0 as suggested. I already have some coral kicking around as I use a small amount for the goldies already, so that's easily done. Watch this space!
    Was the ammonia test total or free?

    Prime convert ammonia to a third non-toxic version that is slowly decomposed over ~24h and releases free ammonia back into the water and it is consumed by the filter as soon as it is released. A total ammonia test kit, accelerates the release so the ammonia locked up by prime is still detected by the test kit.

    TLDR: If you used a total ammonia test kit the ammonia drop isn't from the Prime. If you used a 'free' ammonia kit then the ammonia drop could be from the Prime, I don't know how that one works.

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