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new tank syndrome when you didn't think it should happen

Posted By: Dr. Momfish <alexp@idirect.com>
Date: Sunday, 18 April 1999, at 10:05 p.m.

This is not a loach-related problem but I thought it might be somewhat enlightening. It certainly was to me.

Last week-end I set up a new 54 gallon tank. I planted it with over 70 new plants and added substrate fertilizers and laterite. I used washed playbox sand.

I was not planning on adding any fish for at least a month, but things happen and unfortunately I had to re-locate 4 pygmy corys, 14 cardinal tetras and 4 golden phantom tetras.

Now, that does not seem like a lot does it? Especially when I took an old established Fluval 203 from one of my other tanks and hooked it up to this one.

Well, yesterday my fish didn't eat. Nor today. So I took an ammonia reading and it wasn't sky high, but definitely there. The nitrite was 1ppm.

It seems that because the Fluval 203 was in a super heavily planted tank, the plants were taking up all the ammonia before it ever reached the filter and there were not enough bacteria in the filter to handle the bioload in the new tank. I did a 60% water change today and I'm going to continue with this on a daily basis until things settle down. I'm also not going to put any food in the tank for a couple of days because the fish are not feeling too happy and they won't eat it anyway.

So, when I read sometimes that people go out and set up a new tank and then put loaches in it right away, it's no wonder that the fish come down with ick or die. Loaches are deep bodied fish, in general, and produce a lot more urea than a few pygmy corys or cardinal tetras!

This is why authors of books recommend "test fish" like Zebra Danios. Put in a few and they will get the biological filter going. Then add slowly and don't just plunk in a couple of 6 inch loaches and wonder why on earth they roll over and die.
 

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