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Anyone ever feel like scrapping their tank and starting fresh? (Rant)

Epiphyte

Member
Joined
15 Dec 2020
Messages
111
Location
Hemel Hempstead
Perhaps I'm just getting pissed off because my tank has thrown another curve ball at me. It honestly makes me want to strip the whole thing down and start again.

First off a while ago I was reading into too much nitrates with a double triple dose, so I reduce my dose down to normal triple dose method spread over a week.

After I did this, algae, so much of it. Green spot, green dust, blue green, diatoms, the works. My plants are brown, my gravel is brown, the glass grows algae faster than I can scrape it off. Everything just looks rotten and dead. Apart from my Java ferns which seem to be getting better for some weird reason.

Then I notice one of my fish has a severely curved spine, so I brace myself to deal with potential TB, but everything is still alive a week or two later so I'm hoping it's something benign, but it's in the back of my mind that if it is I will loose most of the tank.

Doing a big water change one of my large (probably 75cm or longer) bits of bogwood makes itself loose (my own poor construction I will admit but I can't fix it now it's in place and flooded) and falls over in the tank. For the life of me I can't get it back to where it belongs and for.it to stay there. My carefully planted tank is now all bent as the log has cleaved it's way through a bunch of stems.

After a while of battling and losing to algae I reverted back to a double triple dose to see if that fixed things. Yes, it seems to, the tank is looking more green than brown at least. Perhaps a small victory.

Then I do a rare water test of all parameters and find I have 0.25ppm of ammonia, probably caused by three of my salt and pepper Cory's on a suicide mission into my Eheim skimmer, a device that had claimed far too many of my fish and pumped their decomposing ammonia filled bodies into the water column. Either that or the die off of algae had caused an ammonia spike.

So daily water changes need to happen, that's fine, it's only 0.25, it'll be sorted fast, it's a big tank (350L) with plenty of filtration. On day three (today) my fish are acting very strangely. A lot of the smaller shoaling fish are uncharacteristically grouping up in darker sections of the tank. Other ones are becoming aggressive to each other, my Amano shrimp come out from the plants for the first time in months swimming in the open. One of my little ember tetras, which I've never lost a single one, starts struggling to swim and stay upright, clearly looking like it was on deaths doorstep.

I re-test for ammonia.... 0.5, verging on 0.75ppm. Another huge water change, perhaps 75%, fish acting normal again, for now at least.

I know this thread has zero point to it and I'm just moaning, but I am a sole fishkeeper so I can't moan to folks I know!

Does anyone else get these periods of everything seeming to go wrong in their tank?

Makes me want to rip everything out and start again. If it wasn't for the fish I have in there which I can't store anywhere I almost certainly would!

Anyway, apologies, rant over.
 

Nuno Gomes

Member
Joined
1 Nov 2018
Messages
154
Location
Portugal
Perhaps I'm just getting pissed off because my tank has thrown another curve ball at me. It honestly makes me want to strip the whole thing down and start again.

First off a while ago I was reading into too much nitrates with a double triple dose, so I reduce my dose down to normal triple dose method spread over a week.

After I did this, algae, so much of it. Green spot, green dust, blue green, diatoms, the works. My plants are brown, my gravel is brown, the glass grows algae faster than I can scrape it off. Everything just looks rotten and dead. Apart from my Java ferns which seem to be getting better for some weird reason.

Then I notice one of my fish has a severely curved spine, so I brace myself to deal with potential TB, but everything is still alive a week or two later so I'm hoping it's something benign, but it's in the back of my mind that if it is I will loose most of the tank.

Doing a big water change one of my large (probably 75cm or longer) bits of bogwood makes itself loose (my own poor construction I will admit but I can't fix it now it's in place and flooded) and falls over in the tank. For the life of me I can't get it back to where it belongs and for.it to stay there. My carefully planted tank is now all bent as the log has cleaved it's way through a bunch of stems.

After a while of battling and losing to algae I reverted back to a double triple dose to see if that fixed things. Yes, it seems to, the tank is looking more green than brown at least. Perhaps a small victory.

Then I do a rare water test of all parameters and find I have 0.25ppm of ammonia, probably caused by three of my salt and pepper Cory's on a suicide mission into my Eheim skimmer, a device that had claimed far too many of my fish and pumped their decomposing ammonia filled bodies into the water column. Either that or the die off of algae had caused an ammonia spike.

So daily water changes need to happen, that's fine, it's only 0.25, it'll be sorted fast, it's a big tank (350L) with plenty of filtration. On day three (today) my fish are acting very strangely. A lot of the smaller shoaling fish are uncharacteristically grouping up in darker sections of the tank. Other ones are becoming aggressive to each other, my Amano shrimp come out from the plants for the first time in months swimming in the open. One of my little ember tetras, which I've never lost a single one, starts struggling to swim and stay upright, clearly looking like it was on deaths doorstep.

I re-test for ammonia.... 0.5, verging on 0.75ppm. Another huge water change, perhaps 75%, fish acting normal again, for now at least.

I know this thread has zero point to it and I'm just moaning, but I am a sole fishkeeper so I can't moan to folks I know!

Does anyone else get these periods of everything seeming to go wrong in their tank?

Makes me want to rip everything out and start again. If it wasn't for the fish I have in there which I can't store anywhere I almost certainly would!

Anyway, apologies, rant over.

If you feel like starting over, start over. Nothing a big ikea storage box won't fix. You can keep your fish in there for days as long as your filter and heater are running. Take your time, clean everything and rescape. It feels hopeless sometimes but I've always managed to turn it back around, I'm sure you will too.
 

Nick potts

Member
Joined
25 Sep 2014
Messages
625
Location
Torbay
If you feel like starting over, start over. Nothing a big ikea storage box won't fix. You can keep your fish in there for days as long as your filter and heater are running. Take your time, clean everything and rescape. It feels hopeless sometimes but I've always managed to turn it back around, I'm sure you will too.
Definitely this.

I don't know if I am odd, but I enjoy the setup and creation of tanks just as much as watching them grow in. If you want to restart it, go for it.
 

Epiphyte

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Thread starter
Joined
15 Dec 2020
Messages
111
Location
Hemel Hempstead
Oh don't get me wrong @Nuno Gomes, I've considered the IKEA tub tank for a while. However I think I would need to keep them in there for a good few weeks if I were to do this properly as I would be replacing all the substrate to better quality soil, which could of course mean I get ammonia issues at the start.

I guess there is no limit how long the fish could stay in a plastic tub, my only real issue is finding one sufficiently large to cope with a well stocked 350L tank worth of fish.
 

aquascape1987

Member
Joined
6 Nov 2014
Messages
371
Location
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Have you had this scape running long? Eg with the current substrate you have in there?

I only ask because I often find that a lot of these issues, I have at the start of a new scape with a new substrate. I think new substrates depending on what they are often leach ammonia to begin with, which I think may have something to do with this.

Especially the brown algae/diatoms. My life saviour last time was to buy two Siamese algae eaters, who got rid of all the diatoms in a matter of a couple of weeks. After that, all of my issues pretty much went away including many that you have listed here associated with the plants

But yes, I have gone through stuff like this and wanted to destroy and start again. I have done in fact, but it’s just a kick in the teeth to get rid of potentially £100s worth of plants to start again, and countless hours of effort spent, not knowing whether or not it’s going to happen again a few more weeks down the line :banghead::banghead:
 

Epiphyte

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Thread starter
Joined
15 Dec 2020
Messages
111
Location
Hemel Hempstead
Have you had this scape running long? Eg with the current substrate you have in there?

I only ask because I often find that a lot of these issues, I have at the start of a new scape with a new substrate. I think new substrates depending on what they are often leach ammonia to begin with, which I think may have something to do with this.

Especially the brown algae/diatoms. My life saviour last time was to buy two Siamese algae eaters, who got rid of all the diatoms in a matter of a couple of weeks. After that, all of my issues pretty much went away including many that you have listed here associated with the plants

But yes, I have gone through stuff like this and wanted to destroy and start again. I have done in fact, but it’s just a kick in the teeth to get rid of potentially £100s worth of plants to start again, and countless hours of effort spent, not knowing whether or not it’s going to happen again a few more weeks down the line :banghead::banghead:
Tank is around 5 months old now. It's been fairly stable up until the last 3-4 weeks where all the problems decided to kick off.

I think I'll see what happens in the next week, otherwise I'll need to find a big tub for my fish
 

Paul Kettless

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Joined
17 Aug 2015
Messages
349
Location
Lowestoft
I feel your pain and we have all been there, so vent away 😂 I had a major crash on a large reef tank many years ago and lost 85 percent of fish and corals. The loss of the fish and corals made me feel very guilty, and just the thought of how much money lost is not even worth thinking about. To this day I still don't really know what went wrong. I did just that and shut the tank down, it was sold within a month and came out of the hobby for 4 years. However, the bug for our fish boxes draws you back in.

Only you know whats best for you, keep us all posted with your plans
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
6,228
Care to list your current fish?

Substrate details?

Are you using Prime?
Read through the Prime FAQ about ammonia testing Seachem - Prime

Though your fish are telling you something is amiss, so you definitely need to do some investigating

If despite daily water changes (50% minimum at that ammonia level) your ammonia continued to rise, I’d remove the fish soonest
Transfer fish to a bin with maybe 25% tank water, and continue daily water changes until the bin seems stable
Thoroughly rinse both filter to remove all debris, then use in fish bin (the Juwel filter) and rescaped tank

I’d also isolate that SAE with severely curved spine, while it may be some congenital defect (that became more obvious as fish matured - how big is fish now? and when purchased? ), and it’s possibly an ammonia affect (rare to see this without preceding effects on fin and skin and gill tissue), nothing has ruled out Mycobacterium sp. (symptoms vary with M sp. and affected fish sp.)
Mycobacterium infection in fish is terminal, home supportive care with various antibiotics (limiting secondary infections) may improve quality of life and longevity, there has been some limited success with commercial treatment trials (but they’re economically unfeasible and still high mortality rates, so recommended treatment is still euthanasia and complete sterilization of the system)
In a community tank usually some species are more susceptible, and some seem “immune” - at least when the affected fish are removed or die fairly quickly
(Note domestic Betta splendens has a high rate of infection with 30-70% of shipped fish positive for some M sp. (latent) infection)

Note that your bogwood may be contributing to algae and (possibly subsequent) ammonia issues - recently there have been a few tanks shut down/rescaped after surprising and overwhelming algae issues which were thought to be related to the large pieces of bogwood (in much smaller tanks than yours)
 

Epiphyte

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Thread starter
Joined
15 Dec 2020
Messages
111
Location
Hemel Hempstead
I feel your pain and we have all been there, so vent away 😂 I had a major crash on a large reef tank many years ago and lost 85 percent of fish and corals. The loss of the fish and corals made me feel very guilty, and just the thought of how much money lost is not even worth thinking about. To this day I still don't really know what went wrong. I did just that and shut the tank down, it was sold within a month and came out of the hobby for 4 years. However, the bug for our fish boxes draws you back in.

Only you know whats best for you, keep us all posted with your plans
Thanks Paul. I realise I'm hardly the first to have these problems but my god is it frustrating. I'm really leaning towards scrapping the tank and starting again. Maybe even a tank change if I can find something suitable.

Care to list your current fish?

Substrate details?

Are you using Prime?
Read through the Prime FAQ about ammonia testing Seachem - Prime

Though your fish are telling you something is amiss, so you definitely need to do some investigating

If despite daily water changes (50% minimum at that ammonia level) your ammonia continued to rise, I’d remove the fish soonest
Transfer fish to a bin with maybe 25% tank water, and continue daily water changes until the bin seems stable
Thoroughly rinse both filter to remove all debris, then use in fish bin (the Juwel filter) and rescaped tank

I’d also isolate that SAE with severely curved spine, while it may be some congenital defect (that became more obvious as fish matured - how big is fish now? and when purchased? ), and it’s possibly an ammonia affect (rare to see this without preceding effects on fin and skin and gill tissue), nothing has ruled out Mycobacterium sp. (symptoms vary with M sp. and affected fish sp.)
Mycobacterium infection in fish is terminal, home supportive care with various antibiotics (limiting secondary infections) may improve quality of life and longevity, there has been some limited success with commercial treatment trials (but they’re economically unfeasible and still high mortality rates, so recommended treatment is still euthanasia and complete sterilization of the system)
In a community tank usually some species are more susceptible, and some seem “immune” - at least when the affected fish are removed or die fairly quickly
(Note domestic Betta splendens has a high rate of infection with 30-70% of shipped fish positive for some M sp. (latent) infection)

Note that your bogwood may be contributing to algae and (possibly subsequent) ammonia issues - recently there have been a few tanks shut down/rescaped after surprising and overwhelming algae issues which were thought to be related to the large pieces of bogwood (in much smaller tanks than yours)
Thanks for your detailed reply @alto. In answer to your questions...

Fish:
6x angels (5 juveniles one nearly mature)
4x nannacara
4x Apistograma
12x Harlequin Rasbora
8x Sterbai Catfish
+ A few other small odds and sods that I've added here and there I've liked. In addition there are perhaps 15 Amano shrimp and 15 Nerite snails. It's a well stocked tank but I don't feel it's overstocked with the extra filter and especially as the Angels are quite small.

Substrate is Seachem Flourite. I bought it all before I really got in to aquascaping as my focus was always on fish, then I discovered aquascaping... I also have root tabs in the substrate. If I rescape the tank I will replace the substrate with Tropica or ADA.

I do use Prime yes and am aware of the false readings with the API test kit. With that said the false readings I've had in the past have been a minor green tint, current readings are noticeably green.

I do have a 80L bin that I use for water changes, I guess I can put the fish in there, I assume they'll be happy enough for a few days. I can maybe ask my LFS if they have some spare room in a tank that I can borrow whilst I fix my issues.

The mycobacterium is concerning me but the fish seems absolutely normal compared to the other SAE in my tank. Both were purchased as juveniles and currently are about 2.5-3" long. The bent one eats fine, swims well and physically looks fine, ignoring the bent spine. I did contact a vet who said she could take a look at it but I'm debating the cost right now.

Bogwood has been in the tank since day dot and, aside of the initial algae + white mould-like stuff in the early days, has been almost entirely algae free. Even now it's really not that bad compared.to plants/gravel/glass. It is something I'll take a look in to however as I'm open to all options right now.
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
6,228
did contact a vet who said she could take a look at it but I'm debating the cost right now.
I’d ask the vet exactly what she might be looking for/doing - my understanding is that Mycobacterium sp. identification is difficult without sacrificing the fish

I agree if he seems very active, Mycobacterium is less likely as the reason for the curvature (most fish would show additional symptoms ... though I don’t recall how much activity change D Walstad noted in her various Rainbow sp as they began to show spinal curvature - she did have the Mycobacterium confirmed in her tanks and just waited on them to pass before cleaning the tanks ); as there are so many fish sp. sold as SAE it’s more difficult to measure “normal” activity & behaviour

I’d expect some noticeable softening of the bogwood if it’s the source of anything - how much can you scrape up with a fingernail?
I was thinking that it’s the source of dissolving organics (contributing to algae and ammonia) rather than covered in algae itself

If you’ve checked the filter (might as well rinse media at same time, I use treated tap water as that’s easy) and there’s minimal debris in the sponges etc, then you can rule that out as a source

I’ve always loved Seachem’s Flourite Red - lots of variation in particle size and colors (not so loved by carpeting plants and a few others, especially compared to aquarium soils)

As you’ve fish to go back in, I’d use Tropica Aquarium Soil rather than Amazonia (re ammonia release and getting fish back in sooner, I’d also recommend Tropica over the much softer Amazonia given your dwarf cichlids and Corydoras)

You can always use ADA Power Sand Special to boost longterm nutrients, also Tropica Nutrition Capsules (scattered the Jurijs mit JS way ;) ) - as some of your fish may dig I’d not use Tropica Growth Substrate or similar nutrient rich bases (I believe the PS is less available)

I’d place the Amano shrimp in a separate bin (you have another shrimp tank?) as fish trapped with limited stimulation often discover an (intense) interest in shrimp, also the snail as their gently waving antennae may also be quite exciting
The mature angel may or may not decide to enliven Life with some rasbora hunting, so again consider the relative sizes
Also if you feed sparingly in the bin (which I normally would recommend) fish may be more motivated to hunt

If the rest of the fish are quite juvenile, you could also house the mature angel in a separate bin with a sponge filter (you can use some of the cycled sponge from your other filters)

If your LFS is open to boarding the fish, I’d do that as it’s the simplest (though I’d still keep shrimp and snails at home)

Your tank does not sound overstocked at all, even once the angels mature (though domestic bred angels can vary considerably in adult size depending on bloodlines)
I would add another 20 Harlequins
 

JoshP12

Member
Joined
8 Dec 2019
Messages
577
Location
Canada
Just want to add that, that is a normal feeling and the experience will make you more versatile in the future.

Thanks for sharing an honest reflection - these are much needed for everyone’s sanity.
 

Easternlethal

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Joined
15 Mar 2016
Messages
187
Location
Hong Kong
I think most people who set up new tanks will be tempted to restart because they tend not to end up like how it was envisaged.

But the process of fixing a tank is where you learn the most imo and nothing is unsalvageable.

You can still turn the tank into what you want with a bit of patience. It's also less work fixing something than restarting because you don't lose all the weeks and months of bacteria and cycling.

Here is a video of an expert fixing a tank which has crashed:


Might give you some inspiration.

Sent from my LM-V405 using Tapatalk
 

john dory

Member
Joined
16 Nov 2014
Messages
410
I've had bogwood disintegrate,before.
When you pull it out..it smells like the rancid silt from the bottom of a silty lake/pond.
Obvious algae magnet.
Better off placed in the garden for woodlice to live in.
 

Zeus.

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Joined
1 Oct 2016
Messages
4,207
Location
Yorkshire,UK
Does anyone else get these periods of everything seeming to go wrong in their tank?

Yes.
Makes me want to rip everything out and start again.

or give up completely :eek::eek::eek: when that happens time to take a very long deep breath, I don't like being beaten by a tank/science, trouble with starting all over again is you never discovered what was the issue, you may find yourself several months down the line in the same position.
 

Emil.

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Joined
18 Feb 2020
Messages
47
Location
Manchester
Sources of ammonia can be many. Disturbed substrate, dead fish, rotting wood, dying plants. Don't give up, I'm sure you'll get to the bottom of it soon and it will be an invaluable experience. Nothing else will scare/worry you in the future.

In the meantime, adding a bit of starter bacteria like seachem stability can't hurt. I'd also focus on making sure that fast-growing plants are doing fine. They are great indicators. Everything else will fall in place eventually. Good luck!
 

Zeus.

Fertz Calc Meister
Joined
1 Oct 2016
Messages
4,207
Location
Yorkshire,UK
Sources of ammonia can be many.
Dosing my 'all' my tanks with Ammonia (Urea) as a source of nitrogen ATM and so far no issues - if ADA and Tropica can get away with it why shouldn't others ;)
 

Wookii

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Joined
13 Nov 2019
Messages
2,172
Location
Nottingham
Does anyone else get these periods of everything seeming to go wrong in their tank?

Yep, with almost every tank.

I've fortunately not suffered your livestock issues, but every tank I've set up has experienced algae issues, or plant growth/stunting/die off issues.

Makes me want to rip everything out and start again. If it wasn't for the fish I have in there which I can't store anywhere I almost certainly would!

Anyway, apologies, rant over.

It does, but often it isn't the answer. The toughest part of a new tank set-up (for me) are the first 3-4 months. After that period, the tanks always seem to settle into their own system stability, and most things seem to go right. I don't know if its the tank achieving biological maturation, or myself getting to the point where I stop messing with it and changing things every week, but they definitely seem to have to go through that initial period of pain and settling.

For some things it puts me off rescaping, as opposed to driving me to want to rescape, as a full reset means you have to start that whole maturation cycle largely from scratch again (even with mature filters etc).
 

dw1305

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UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,329
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
The toughest part of a new tank set-up (for me) are the first 3-4 months. After that period, the tanks always seem to settle into their own system stability, and most things seem to go right. I don't know if its the tank achieving biological maturation, or myself getting to the point where I stop messing with it and changing things every week, but they definitely seem to have to go through that initial period of pain and settling.
Same for me, <"plants and time">. I know that <"good things come to those who wait">, and that it wasn't the same <"when I started keeping fish">.

I think some of the issue is that the advice that people are given is variable (<"in both content and quality">) and often it salves your soul to do something, rather than nothing.

cheers Darrel
 
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