You are here

Need HELP with Water Parameters

First of all let me explain as clearly as possible so that I can get help...I'm new and unexperienced and need your help getting established....So I'm counting on you guys!

I had a 37 gallon tank that has had 6 African cichlids in it for nearly 6 months - now re-homed . Did a 50% water change after getting rid of fish but didn't change the filters, just cleaned them in tank water.

On the same day of trade I got a 2 1/2" BP and 4 small serpea tetra and put them in the 37g.

Six days later I got 4 more serpea tetra and 2 small angelfish the same size as the BP.  All doing great together.

Exactly one week later I did a 30% water change but didn't test water.  I always add Prime to new water though.

Now it's coming up to the second week's water change  and I noticed my BP has some stress spots but he is acting normal so I did a water check......this is what I got (and need help understanding)

API 5 in 1 Test Strips:  Nitrates = 0, Nitrites= 0, pH= 6- 6.5, KH=80 (pale green), and GH=180 (purple/blue)

I did put in 1 tsp baking soda and added a piece of driftwood and a few shells.   Should this help? I think the later 2 are off.  What should I do to correct the readings.  Should I be concerned? And when should I test again?

I'm confused on what the readings should be now that I added the angels.  I don't want my fish to suffer because of my inexperience. 

Oh, and my water temperature is a constant 82F and I am planning on upgrading to a 65g very soon.


First: 82*F is a bit on the warm side... but it will help stave-off any illnesses that may be had from introduction with proper quarrantine prior. But if you see signs of anythingf on any of them, pull the carbon from the filter & replace it with zeolyte, because now the whole tank must be treated with whatever medicine is needed. And turn-up the temperasture to 90*F--especially with ick--to help hasten the parasite's cycle. This may take a week or two pass, but when it's done all can be returned to normal.

As for your readings: Zero Nitrites?!? How did you manage that!? It should be less than 40%, and present to help with the bio filtration... but zero? And your pH is a little high (more basic than acidic) for the Angels, but at least it's at a level is where it can be comfortable for the rest of the community without being to uncomfortable for them specifically. Also, I'd like to mention at this point that from what I've read & done, using just one chemical to treat the water during changes never seemed enough to me. That's why with every weekly 50% change I'd measure & add appropriate amounts of API's Stress Coat+, Stress Zyme+ & aquarium salt... per the tank's total capacity, respectively.

As for the BP's stress: It's a new situation for it, and it'll take awhile for it to become accustomed to it... then the spots will fade. But then, if it came form a tank with several other BPs, it may just feel a bit lonely... as this species prefers to be keep in gourps of three at-least, of course. But then, even witrh moving the whole community to a larger tank, 65-gal. will seem a bit undersized for the need of such a large total stock, and adding more will just exaggerate it.

Finally: Tetras in with Angels!? Hope you like seeing your Angels turned into just swimming arrowheads, as Tetras are notorious fin-nippers! Several times--at different superstores--I've seen Angels with their fins reduced to nubs because some careless, know-nothing idiot employee couldn't tell the difference & placed them in with Tetras. I even once rescued a bunch of Angels from one such case, and got them reduced-priced--to what Tetras were selling for--after appealing to a conscientious that was caring to the tanks at that moment. Sadly, only one survive quarrantine... and he fully regrew his fins & eventually bonded with a female I kept him with. That is, I think they bonded....

That's about all I can say & recommend for now... as the hour is late & I need to rest. Good-luck with the keeping of your finned community, and remember: We are more their captors then keeepers in their eyes... so be sure to keep them "well-captivated"!

BTW: That surviving Angel's name was Chop-top... for obvious reasons.

I did another water change today and turned down the heat as recommended.  I added a piece of driftwood and a few shells.  Not sure the shells will help with the hardness or just make it worse.  Anyway I did another reading about 1 hour water change and it looks better.  The pH is pretty close to neutral but my concern is still the water hardness.  It's somewhere between 120 and 180.

I'm going to take a sample to the pet store and recheck it.  My tap water is hard so should I be using distilled water?  I thought distilled water robs the fish of nutrients.  How else can I bring down the GH?

Oh, and your right Mike.  I caught the serpeas nipping at my BP!  They are going back to the store tomorrow.  Maybe that's why the little guy is getting stress spots.  Funny that the store told me that they are safe. The angels are doing great but I'm not going to take any more chances.

When I bring back the serpea maybe I will get another BP (from his own fry).  This way they can grow up together.

My BP and angels ignore eachother so I am thinking that because they are all youngsters it could work.

I hate to have to bring back the angels too ... 


I've found Angelfish & Parrot Cichlids make fine tankmates. When all of mine were in the 40-gal, they got along "swimmingly"! (Ha-ha-ha) Guess it has something to do with them both being cichlids at base... or how they both prey on Neon Tetras, as I have learned.

Getting another BP from the same community as the one you currently own is a great idea. It may take a bit of time for them to get reacquainted, but they'll do fine... providing that one isn't an Alpha-Bully. In-fact: Since the Serpaes are removed from the community, the tank can probably support three BPs... Which is good, because they do best in small groups of 3-5 or more. And since gender on this spicies is so hard for most to define, you might wind-up with two females & one male--and with any luck, the male might not be sterile. It'd be like winning the lottery if you did! 


As for the hardness: Do you know what's used to make soft-water? Salt! So add an amount of aquarium-salt that's measured to you tank's capacity, and add the same with each water change, and that should help. I sure hope you don't find yourself in need of adding a reverse-osmosis system, as even the biggest consummer-level one I've seen has a flow-rate that'll take forever to fill a container large enough to provide enough for a "normal" water-change.