Causes & Solutions For Avoiding Them
To prevent NTS from occurring, here is a list of things that contribute to the cause of this problem and what you can do to avoid them.
Adding Livestock Too Quickly
When too many new fish, invertebrates, crustaceans, pieces of live rock (especially uncured) and corals, or a combination of any number of these types of livestock are added into an aquarium at one time, it causes a bio-overload on the system.
- Only add 1 or 2 new pieces of any livestock at any given time, only when there is zero ammonia and nitrite present, and wait at least 1 to 2 weeks before adding the next new additions.
It is easy to feed your tank too much food. We all love to watch our fish eat, but overfeeding can lead to excessive waste, which lays on the bottom of the tank as it decomposes.
- Cut back on the amount of food provided during each feeding, or the number/frequency of feedings.
Leaving large chunks of uneaten food, or excess amounts of flake, pellet or other forms of smaller foods that settle on or into the substrate.
- Practice good maintenance procedures by promptly removing large chunks of food, and "lightly" siphon the surface of the substrate weekly, or when needed.
Leaving dead and decomposing organic animal and plant matter in the tank. Once again, practice good maintenance procedures and remove these things promptly, or when needed.
Performing a deep siphon cleaning of the substrate too soon after a new tank has cycled, or too often in an established tank. This pertains to UGFs as well. This procedure strips away and weakens the nitrifying bacteria population that keeps the ammonia/nitrite in check.
Maintenance is important, but there is such a thing as over doing it. Maintenance on newly cycled tanks should be minimal and light to begin with. For established tank maintenance, regular weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or longer in between tasks should be performed, but not all at once!
Rinsing or cleaning too much of the biological filter mediums (i.e. bio-balls, bio-bale, carbon) contained in a wet/dry trickle, canister, or other type of filter used as the sole source for biological filtration at one time. This procedure strips away and weakens the nitrifying bacteria population that keeps the ammonia/nitrite in check.
A cleaning of the bio-media should be done periodically, because if DOCs are allowed to build-up on the material it contributes to nitrate problems in an aquarium. However, it has to be done properly! Refer to our How To Clean Dirty Bio-Balls Instructions & Tips.
Completely removing the bio-media in a wet/dry trickle, canister, or other type of filter used as the sole source for biological filtration at one time. By doing this you may be taking away the main and sometimes one and only bio-base that your aquarium relies on to function properly.
If you have the desire to eliminate the bio-media presently in use, do it slowly. Example: To remove the bio-balls in a wet/dry trickle filter, only take out about a 1/4 portion of them at any one time. After doing so, test for the appearance of ammonia and nitrite for several weeks. If all reads zero after this time, it is ok to repeat the process. If ammonia and nitrite do appear, wait until readings drop back to zero, then wait another week or two after that before repeating the process.