Habitat - Indoor :: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

Turtle tank setups and other indoor configurations.

Post Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:43 am   Searchem Prime, "new tank"

Still a newbie as to aquariums and I made an amateur mistake. Needed to change the bio-filter material and I rinsed the lava rock and other medium with tap water. I know, I know use tank water only to rinse bio-filter material. Damage has been done.

So I am starting over in getting my bio-filter working. How long does it take to establish a working bio-filter? How often and how much of the water should I change to keep the numbers in a safe range and let the filter to start working?

In a move to "speed up" the process, I purchased Searchem Prime and Searchem Stability. The issue I have with the Prime is the awful smell that does not go away. It makes the area of the house smell. I can say that is does remove Chlorine and Chloramines instantly. I can change 1/3 to 1/2 my tank water and see no difference in the condition of the water. If I use Zoo Med Reptisafe the water in the tank clears up within hours. Showing me that it is not removing the Chlorine and Chloramines.

Testing also takes a special kit, not the standard type. I use the API Freshwater Master Test Kit which does a pretty good job.

Stability helps to remove the film on the top of the water, but I am not sure it did much else. I was hoping it would kick start the bio-filter, but I am not sure that is its primary use.

Anyone with experience with Searchem Prime? Does the smell ever good away? Could the smell be something else even though it only started after adding the Prime? Using the API test kit all looks good other than high ammonia. The color of the test is not muddy as stated as a possible incompatibility issue with the test and Prime. Will be changing about 5 gallons daily with the Zoo Med Reptisafe to help with the possible high ammonia.

Suggesting of a good, but non-smelly product to remove Chlorine and Chloramines instantly? The water company does use Chloramines, so letting it sit for 24 hours does not help.

How about a product that is good at getting a bio-filter started? Using Marineland Zeolite blend with activated carbon a long with lava rocks.

Is aeration in the tank needed and how much?

Thank you for your help!
rick52768
 
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Gender: Male

Post Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:00 pm   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

Needed to change bio media ??? Cheap Bio media last for a year even two. Bio home media type even much/ much longer that's if it's protected with a pad. Never change "all" at one time that's where all your good bacteria is. Or "seed" the new before removing the old , just let it float in media bag for a few weeks to collect the good bacteria in the water. Check the date on the prime may be old. I never ever had a smell problem with it back in the days I use it. Way to many chemicals being used , the mix could be causing that film. After five decades in this hobby I today never use any chemicals ! Start a cycle with a few cheap fish to get the ammonia going and nature does the rest along with correct percentage on the water changes. I found chemicals used will give you an unstable cycle and take long to correct. Using proper amount of carbon for your size tank to remove what's causing the smell and will take care of the chlorine / chloramines ! No chemicals for me ! Carbon will not effect the cycling. Aeration is not needed as long as you have an adequate filter/pump. Depending on what you have in tank will help hold the good (aerobic ) bacteria. It attaches itself to rocks gravel decorations and most of all a good bio media in filter ! What type of filter you have , most filter's are sold with media for fish and one must adjust for a turtle. What size tank you have. The larger like over 50 gallons will help a cycle start better than smaller.

For the first week or two only need to check the ammonia level. Once you start to read ammonia you need to adjust water changes to maintain the ammonia at 0.25 ppm and 0.50 ppm , will be enough to encourage bacteria growth . May take a few weeks it's a slow process with trial and error ! Next stage start checking the nitrites to see if they are present. Once you start seeing nitrites go up you have the bacteria that are consuming the ammonia present. There will be spikes with the reading , when readings are stable you on your way. You may at this point need to do every three day's a partial water change to keep them acceptable. All those chemical to me just gives one an unstable cycle , patience is the key.

Cycling bottom line if done correctly will take 6-8 weeks . 1/3 to 1/2 is too much on water changes , start at 10% and monitor with test kit to find correct percentage needed for "your" amount of water. Do not put any "good" fish if any you planning to keep in tank ( will die) , I used cheap guppies to start the ammonia cycle and if survived could be my turtle food. ( OR ) A turtle breaths like use so can be in the tank as it cycles helps ammonia level start ( must test water to maintain the 0.25ppm to 0.50ppm readings on the ammonia) and for a RES no real concern they are hardy. Got to remember that the bacteria need ammonia at proper levels for there food , too large water changes will kill any cycle starting and also give you a lot of algae blooms / cloudy water. Once ammonia and nitrite are down to (0) your tank is cycled. A filter will not remove "nitrates" what the ammonia to nitrite to nitrate cycle does is to be able to convert the bad to a product that can be removed in the correct percentages on water changes to maintain a cycle ! Also a cycle help's any filter work better by "dissolving waste" from a solid . Take's time to "maintain" one to so finding the correct (%) on water changes may take a while , start small 10 , 12 , 14 … percentages until you find what gives you a ( 0 ) reading across the board on "all " your readings (ammonia , nitrite and nitrate ) is a job well done. That's your goal !!! Remember 30-40-50 % water changes kills off any cycle , there are time's in life smaller is better , especially for a water cycle.

""If"" you know of an safe established tank the "seeding method" work's a little faster. Read up on that too.
litefoot
 
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 9:15 am   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

Thank you for your reply. I will go with small water changes. Never though carbon would take care of the chlorine and chloramines, but that makes sense. It is what us human use for our drinking water to remove the same chemicals.

I misspoke when I said I changed my media, it was really carbon that I replaced with the Zeolite blend with activated carbon. I know this is a hard question, but how long does the carbon last for turtle use. Also, other than using only tank water to clean the bio media, what methods work in cleaning off the sludge? I rinse out the pads, both course and fine type normally with tank water. Probably, not worth the chore. Is a lot of sludge buildup in the pads and media normal?

The film on the water was when I was only using the Zoo Med Reptisafe. Not sure if it was the cause, or it was something else. I plan to follow your advice and go the no chemical route.

Even Searchem states that Prime smells of sulfur. Either way, it is not for me as the tank never smelled that bad on its own.

My tank is only 35 gallons, which I know is small. My turtle is a male and fairly small, plus I have a large above the tank basking area. So all 35 gallons are open. This of course does not provide the extra volume that would help during the starter cycle.

I did have a DIY 5 gallon food grade bucket bio-filter for a while. It work well, but just became to much to handle. I have a Pentax all in one filter and pump which works (worked) well. Cleaning solids seems to be a bit of a challenge. It has good suction and exiting pressure, so I think it is just current flow or tank placement.

Media is lava rock, bio rings and the Zeolite and carbon blend. The lava rock and bio rings were washed originally in tank water well enough to no longer see any cloudiness of small particles. Thinking about adding more carbon through the use of a under the sink, changeable media, water filter on the output side of the Pentax filter. Also, I only have the one plastic plant in the tank in a effort to keep the tank clean. Sounds like that could be counterproductive. What kind of turtle-proof items should I add to the tank. Thinking about large enough pebbles that will not fit in his mouth, but then manual cleaning of the tank bottom with be needed. Anything ideas on items that he can play with or entertain himself?

Without even reading on the seeding method, I can conjure the premise. I will ask around as I do not know any fellow aquarium folks, hence my nativity. If do find anyone, I will read up.

Thanks once again for the help.
rick52768
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 30, 2017
Gender: Male

Post Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 9:56 am   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

The carbon , as it does it's job well it does get saturated with toxins and will leach back into the tank in 6-8 weeks. Must be changed regularly.
Once you achieve a cycled tank to help control the waters parameters that sludge will go away as long as scheduled maintenance is done.
Please start reading the "MSDS" on products especially reptisafe. Not all products for reptiles are adequate for turtles.
Also a well established cycle will help break down the solid waste so a filter can work better.
Plastic plants are ok , winter time when my live plants slow down I use them. There are live plants that will help with a cycle and remove things to help clear the water but your turtle will eat them as a food source. A separate plant tank some use to keep up with a turtle.
That filter even the biggest one has a very small media area. On your next upgrade look first for one with the largest media area then look at flow rate (gph). Also get one that you can use your own media bags and setup to what works for a turtle better. Those pre-made things they sell are a waste to me and cost way too much. Buying in bulk making you own save's so much money. If one achieves a well cycled tank and sets up a filter with 90% bio media with a some course to medium pads on top of it to protect the bio media a cycle does most of the work. My FX6 is setup that way and I could go several months before I have to clean it even longer if I want and will still be ok. Once I have a good cycle and do proper water changes I don't even use/ need carbon so that's also why I can go so long between maintenance. I have 125 gallons for Piggley and with my 10% or less water changes no problems with any chemicals in the water supply. Within an hour it's cycled safely with my FX6 being small water changes , during that time I let Piggley play around the house. But he normally stays under my feet trying to help with his tanks maintenance. Now that is done for me in winter with "chlorine" from the city BUT in summer when they use "chloramine's" I use carbon then to remove it. It's placed on top so I just open filter remove it and close , takes 3 minutes and all back to normal again. Not too many filter's are great at removing solid waste not even my FX6 thats why a cycle disolving the solid waste is a great help and will not clog up filter media with all that solid waste. A course to medium pad is all that's needed to protect bio media NOTE for those who use a fine pad or a polishing pad's they will clog up very very fast so maintenance is needed every week or sooner. Yes they help for clear water but extra maintenance is not for me. You also know how we all just love doing maintenance. haha... BUT thats my way , yes your weekly or bi-weekly water changes still need to be done to keep the cycle going to make my way ( old timer way) work. Most that see a video of Piggley's tank says "wow" how clean / clear ! Water cycles do work if maintained well. Nothing will get one out of doing water changes thats what keeps a well cycled tank up and running. This works for me very well it also keeps all my testing across the board all at (0) ammonia , nitrite and nitrate all ( 0 ) . That's a truly cycled tank !
A bare bottom will help on the maintenance but I use large river rock's a turtle can not eat ( Piggley also like's playing with them ) , also helps hold that good bacteria one needs. Little harder to vac clean but I have my way around that problem.
On maintenance do not try and remove that grayish junk you see on the bio media , yes remove that bulk trash but the grayish stuff is the good bacteria you trying to grow.
litefoot
 
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Location: New Orleans
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Post Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:38 pm   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

Sorry taking so long to reply as you have always been quick to reply to my questions.

I started down the road with my diy 5 gallon bucket filter based on the fx6 or similar setup. Bigger tank is likely my next purchase when I have the money to spare and the larger filter will then be a requirement for sure.

As to reptisafe, it clearly states that it in meant for turtles and even has a picture of one of the bottle. But I will dig deeper for the MSDS sheet.

Btw, the smell from the Prime went away after 3-4 days. The water is clear, the numbers are all good minus the ammonia. So I am continuing to do the water changes which is keeping Bunny safe.

I use my own bags and media in the Pentax and believe it or not, it does pretty good. That is before I rinsed it. I think the change I seen likely came from a overdo carbon media. Thanks for pointing out that the carbon can let the toxics leach back out. As to slime build up in the filter media, not sure if I would call what I have as gray or very light brown.

Had some moss balls which did not live long enough to do much in filtering. I turtles are kin to dachshunds as both are hard on stuff.
rick52768
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 30, 2017
Gender: Male

Post Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:00 pm   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

DIY is good , worked for me for many years. Just to dam old now to build so the FX6.
Sounds like you back on your way to getting a cycled tank.
I have not used any chemicals for a few decades works for me very well. If you like them go with them.
The ammonia will spike before it settles just give it time then the nitrite's will start to show up. You are on your way.
litefoot
 
Posts: 1585
Joined: Nov 7, 2016
Location: New Orleans
Gender: Male

Post Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:14 am   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

I completely understand the patients to issues that can come with diy. Hence the reason to move to the pump and filter combo. Too many irons in the fire the keep up with the diy for now.

Decades, wow this is my first turtle or actually my first aquarium at all. Bunny was a rescue from the backyard fountain. Even though the pump out there has a small louver cover his paw got caught. With not being much bigger than a quarter and a swollen paw and barely able to open his eye, I wanted him back in good health before releasing. We got too close to him and him to us to release him back to wild. He still darts away at times being feral, but after a year he knows how to beg and get attention. We already picked out his Godfather in case he outlives us.

Especially with that much experience I want to thank you for helping me. I try to do the same when I can with my experiences and glad to see those that care to do to same.
rick52768
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 30, 2017
Gender: Male

Post Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:27 pm   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

The best advice I can pass on is to observe well. A turtle by the way it does things is it's way to teach you what it want's and or needs. It may not always fit the style tank you want or even your feng shui of the house. It will be what your turtle wants. You are studying and asking the correct questions that is great just starting out. Be open for change , what's best to keep your turtle happy and healthy. You can not learn all in one year but it does come to you in time. All my time and I am still learning. New products means more research . My / our advice may not always be what someone wants to do or hear but it's always about the turtles to us. What's best for them. Over 5 decades in this hobby. Prevention , observing and keeping turtles happy has gotten me to this point. There was hurt/loss and to this day still hurts with my lost in 2005. No big illnesses in my time but "Hurricane Katrina" . In my hay-day I had a large in ground pond with several turtles and 6 - 150 gallon stock tanks . Put all the turtles in the pond thinking all would be safe from the winds. Several level's broke , 9' of water sat on the pond for 21 days. Lost all , most at the time were in there late 30's from babies I raised. Took two years to rebuild on a new lot , life started all over again .... an I just retired in 2005. Later I got Piggley , only one and inside , just to dam old for more. Could not see my life without a turtle. Those lost would be in there 40's now but what great memories I have. Hope you never have a natural disaster hit you , if so think of your Bunny too. If my Katrina would of been a regular storm I would still have all my friends today. People always say things happen for a reason … I would of never met/raised my Piggley my pet/friend/child and yes he's in my "will". Turtles are great pets , and you will fall in love with your Bunny !
litefoot
 
Posts: 1585
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:07 pm   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

I feel for your loss as mother nature can be very cruel.

Bunny is named after a cat that pasted away just a few days before Bunny arrived. A friend stated it was Bunny the cat being reincarnated as a turtle, hence the name Bunny. Now why we had a cat named Bunny is a whole other story. She was soft and fluffy like a bunny.

I will try my best to learn and follow Bunny's needs and not my own. Thought about making a tank that is also a coffee table. That will allow more room to roam, cool open space above and fit in better with the house decor..If it gives you a better understanding that I care, we were not cat people when I took in Bunny the cat birth mother Ms. Kitty. We kept all but two of the litter Those two were taken by a friend to raise.
rick52768
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 30, 2017
Gender: Male

Post Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:01 pm   Re: Searchem Prime, "new tank"

All my turtles were named after cartoon characters back in my days. Piggley was named by the grandkids after the Piggley Winks Show. They said he was just like him even gave the same look when he got caught doing something wrong. So Piggley !

You will be a good parent !
litefoot
 
Posts: 1585
Joined: Nov 7, 2016
Location: New Orleans
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