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Sterilizing tank

	I bought a used 29 gallon tank about two months ago. The person sold me
everything, tank + accessories, water, fish, everything. I sold the fish
(Oscars) because I didn't want them. I bought a bunch of rocks and plants
and tried to set up an Apisto tank. The first problem I had was that the
plants kept dying. I didn't have enough light so I bought a double strip
light and put two plant bulbs in it. I had a couple angel fish and a weather
loach in it for a while and everything was fine. So I bought some Apistos.
They kept dying on me. I knew they needed soft water but I didn't know there
was two different types until I bought a test kit. I talked to the people at
my LFS and they kept telling me that only carbonate hardness (KH) mattered,
not general hardness (GH). My GH was around 600 ppm, and I mentioned my
concern to my LFS. They said don't worry. Later I found out (while reading
an article on the Krib web page) GH is what is meant when fish people talk
about soft water! I printed up the article and showed it the owner of the
LFS and he still said it didn't matter. I said screw him and I fixed the GH.
The fish seemed to be fine.
	Starting about a week and a half ago a lot of hair algae (I think) has been
showing up. I have a feeling it is due to a lack of CO2. I was going to buy
an injector early this week.
	I can't get my pH down! I tried adding Seachem acid buffer and got my pH
down to 6. Then in a few days it would go back up to about 7. I fought this
for about a week, no luck stabilizing it. I then filtered it through
Canadian sphagnum peat. Didn't change it. My tank has been like this since
day one.
	Now within the last 24 hours 4 more fish have died! (a female beta, an
angel fish, a weather loach, and a violet goby) My water conditions are:

pH 7.1
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
GH 100 ppm
KH 54 ppm

My first question is: what could be buffering my water so that I can't bring
down the pH?

I think that maybe there was a disease / parasite in the tanks when I bought
them. Is this possible? My fish die with no outward looking problem, so it
has to be internal.

I want to just strip down the tank and start from square one. What would be
the best way to do this? I have 11 fish left in the tank. I have a spare 10
gallon, could I put them in that while clean out the 29, or would that be to
small? Should I just leave then in buckets? What should I use to sterilize
the rocks, gravel, tank, and filter?

I am sorry if this rambled. I am just so frustrated, I don't know what to
do!!!! Any suggestions on any of my questions will be greatly appreciated!


Eric Martina
University of Illinois
Electrical Engineering

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