Ok, this is just a recent observation and I'm looking for opinions.
I've never been able to keep plants alive in my 200l tropical tank. There are not many fish in there now and there is a bit of java fern left that is tied to wood. I have it in my mind that I've read somewhere that if you clean your gravel 'too' well, you can upset your bio filter.
I recently changed the way I perform water changes and now use a pump in and pump out method and haven't hoovered the gravel in 4 weeks. Since I've done this, not only have my nitrates lowered (I've always had a nitrate level around the 50ppm mark despite using nitrate filtered tap water), my java fern has started to sprout a few new leaves. I performed my nitrate test at the end of the week before a water change and it was 5ppm (I did the usual 'bang the hell out of bottle 2' of the API test kit and performed the test as I usually do). I change 30 - 35% in volume per week.
Another thing I've noticed is that I'm getting a lot of green spot algae.
I couldn't find anything similar from browsing the web. I've attached a basic pic of what it was like.
It initially looked like part of the tail pattern but it started to grow "cotton-wooly" and protrude slightly. By the evening time when I got home from work, it was hanging on by a fine thread and then detached. I quickly got the net and fished it out. It looked like a small piece of cotton wool with a small dark bit in the centre. The tail looked ok after this had fallen off but the same started to happen by the next day. I started the esha treatment the first day I noticed it as I thought it may be some sort of bacteria. When I saw it growing back for the second time, the fish was quite still and not moving very much and the day after, he died.
I noticed a small white patch on one of my guppies tails. A day later the white patch fell off and was floating around the tank. The same thing happened again the next day so I got the esha 2000 out. Even though the guppy started to look better physically, he very quickly deteriorated and died. No other fish showed signs but 2 days after treating the tank, I came home to a dead phantom tetra and another guppy laying on the bottom almost dead with no physical signs of illness.
Would using esha 2000 cause weaker fish to die? I can't actually ever remember using it and actually saving the fish that was ill :(.
It's the 200l tank in my profile, there are now 3x red phantom tetra, 3x neon tetra, 5x rummie nose tetra and 6x guppies. (Yes, I know my water is too hard for the tetras but they are over 2 years old and I know a lot more since back then :))
I perform a ~30% water change weekly and gravel hoover. Ammonia / nitrites test 0 and nitrates around 40ppm
My tap water has between 20 to 40ppm of nitrates in depending on the time of year so I use a nitrate filter which brings it down to 0.
I've been having a read around about torn guppy tails. Could it be happening due to high output flow of my spray bar? They do seem to be chasing each other most of the time, could they be doing this to each other?
There are roughly 15 males and I'd say at least 5 have one or multiple torn tails.
Can anyone recommend me a decent digital pH tester that doesn't break the bank?
I'm not convinced with the results from the API master test kit that I'm using. The normal test shows top of the scale (7.6) but I'm having trouble reading the high range due to the colour being so faint. If I hold the test tube slightly away from the test card, it looks like 7.4 but against the card (as I believe you're supposed to take the reading) it looks more like 7.8 or 8. Hence me wanting a digital meter to be sure.
The results I get are exactly the same whether the water is straight from the tap or having been sat for 24 hours. I'm guessing the water company doesn't buffer the water due to it being on the hard/alkaline end of the scale?