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3 yr old blood parrot dies after water change, cannot get tank nitrates/ ammonia back to normal

Hello,

This past January I moved my 2 blood parrots (who were both 4 yrs old) into a Bow Front 54 gallon corner tank. Everything was fine with the set up as far as water readings. It was initially a hard setup because I used sand as a substrate in the new tank whereas I had only used gravel in my previous tanks.

I had read lots about how deadly gasses build up in pockets of air beneath the sand if the sand is not moved around frequently. Since January I had been doing water changes every 2 weeks (between 25% to 50% of the water) and levels read fine. Then, about a week ago, it appears I made a terrible mistake and upset the biological filter and all levels in the tank. I did the usual 50% water change, but I cleaned out the whole entire Bio-Wheel filter system, replaced the biowheel, cleaned off the pot ornaments, and moved the sand around a lot to filter out gasses. All of this cleaning must have been too much for my parrots and the next morning, my smaller one was on his side gasping. He did not survive by afternoon. I did another water change and everything seemed okay...then I noticed the parrot who had survived was laying on his side and looking like he too was about to die. I put him in a bowl and he perked right up. I changed more water, and he has been survivng since Wednesday.

The problem is that my nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels are still waaaay too high. I cannot seem to stabilize the tank no matter what chemicals I add or how much water is changed.

So I guess my questions are:

Can sand be a very problematic substrate in comparison to gravel?
How can I stabilize my tank water quality levels?

I felt like I had known so much and taken such good care of my parrots for the past 4 years....I now feel like a failure. :0( I miss the one who died so much.

Thanks,

Christina

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Comments

so sorry to hear about your parrot, you know what you did wrong, by destroying the biological balance, but we all make mistakes, i recently killed off a Betta by misreading the instructions for dosing with a general tonic,and I,v had fish for years, you need to treat your tank as if it is new and you need to cycle it again, don't change water unless it reaches toxic levels, you need some ammonia for it all to begin, if you change too much your tank will always be cycling, look under the pages at the top for advice or type in "cycling" into our search box to read more, if you now anyone with a healthy tank, get as much gravel as you can in a net and put into your tank, be careful with chemicals as they can cause more problems than they solve,test your water and post results so we can see whats going on,there are alot of people here with knowledge of cycling a tank from scratch

Thanks so much for the advice. After about 2 weeks, I have all levels back to normal in the tank and my 3 year old parrot is in great shape along with the catfish that also survived the unbalance I created. I also tried to introduce 2 new blood parrots in with him after levels were safe for a a couple of days, and they're all getting a long great. I feel so fortunate for this site and the people on it. Thanks for the support.

You should never clean your tank that well...If I were you I would try adding live bacteria..using Dr. Tims or Seachem Stability..but Dr. Tims is the best..

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Sorry to hear about parrots died. Never to clean the entire bio-wheel when cleaning. the bacterias living in there helps reduce the ammonia that is in the water and helps cleaning whatever else is in the water. Your scenario sounds like the cycling effect of setting up the tank the first time. Since you cleaned out the entire bio-wheel, this is what happened to the water.

By now you have learned your hard lesson..:( sorry..

Next time, clean 25% of water and not 50% a week or every two weeks depending on how big your tank is. DO NOT completely clean out the filter system. You can clean/squeeze the dirt from your sponge/filter pad and put it back in. I usually replace the filter pad after 2/3 months since these pads are made to last a long time but you will need to get rid of them at some point. When you change water, put some of the dirty water in a bucket and rinse the filter pad in the bucket. Do not run it under the tap water as it may kill the living bacteria.

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