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I have a 29 gallon aquarium with 6 flame tetras, 2 smaller mystery apple snails and 2 other bottom feeders (brown, spotted, with dorsal spike and main fin spikes). Usually I see my 6 flame tetras cooped up in the low corners of my tank. The water temperature is perfect, and I am working hard to get the perfect pH level, but when I look at my fish, they’re always either low and close to the walls, or lower and in the 2 back corners! Are they OK? They sometimes swim in the open, but for a short amount of time. Please help! I love my fish!

My nitrate and nitrite levels are both 0 (safe on the test strip), my water hardness is hard because I have well water, my alkalinity level is 300 (not safe on the test strip), my pH is 8.4 (not safe either); that’s why I’m using Easy Balance Plus, once a week to help keep my fish safe!

I obviously have a heater, thermometer, and filter. My filter is called Aqueon and it is only for 10 gallon tanks. I have had my tank sense March 29th. I clean my tank once a week, that includes turning up the gravel. However, once a month I will deep clean; that includes taking the decor out, and really washing all of the gunk off (I always turn up the gravel).

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The first thing to do when you do the regular water changes is to replace part of your well water with bottled water - demineralized water or distilled water (to get the pH and hardness down). You might try 50% well water and 50% bottled water.

You need to stop using Easy Balance Plus and replace this with AquaSafe or another type of water treatment (Easy Balance Plus brings the pH up and you need to get the pH down into the 7,5 range).

Your filter needs to be upgraded to one that is appropriate for the size of your tank; your tank is 100 liters, so you need to get a filter for a 150-200 liters tank to be safe it can handle the waste products.

When you do the water changes, use an aquarium vacuum to clean the gravel once a month. You do not need to clean the decorations unless they look dirty.

Your filter does only need to be cleaned when you can see reduced waterflow from it (it works best if there is some gunk in it). Use water from your tank when you clean the filter.

When/if you change the filter to a new one, you need to run both filters in parallel for at least two weeks to seed the new filter with nitrifying bacteria.

Your next water changes need to be done like this: change 10% water weekly, replace with bottled-demineralized-distilled water only (you can use rain water too if you live in an unpolluted area, but this is risky). Another option is to buy reverse osmosis water (demineralized water).

When you have replaced 50% of the water after five weeks, you continue the changes by using 50/50% well/bottled water.

If you have lots of plants in a well illuminated tank, you can cut down on the water changes, but you will need to cut back the plants from time to time (keep an eye on the nitrate and change water if it goes up to 20 mg/l).

REMEMBER: ALL CHANGES IN WATER PARAMETERS NEED TO BE GRADUAL so your fish can adapt to the new conditions. And you need to adjust the % of well/bottled water to fit your situation.

I do not answer the fish part of your question here directly, but the thing is: if your water quality is good, your fish will be fine too.

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