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RE: Carbon&neons

Subject: Neon Tetra and Carbon.

First I'll list my tank info:

25 gal
moderate plants
20 in fishes
ammonia - none detected
nitrite - none detected
pH - between 7.0 and 7.5 (I need a better test kit)
magnum 350 pro (I reduced the output to slow down the flow)
DIY CO2 - yeast

ok, now for some questions and advice

I have 5 neons and one of them is starting to loose the red color, is there
any way to treat this safely in a planted tank? How bad is this disease? I
mean does it infect other fishes.
     Could be diet also...... not a disease. Bad/loss color tends to mean
stress very generally. Many medications work well with planted tanks but I
haven't had a disease in a planted tank for many years(And I'm very happy
with plant tanks because of this!).
If you can get the plants growing well, the fish do well also IMO. Try
varying the diet. Don't rush to treat the tank with med's, look for the
"reason" behind the fish's stress. A water change is always a good starting
point. Look up in a disease manual for pic ID's of Disease to see if there
are any matches. Stay away from copper based medications. I'd need more info
to tell what this is, color loss by itself doesn't indicate disease.

Second (I tried to search the archive on this but did not find the answer):
Right now I am running the Magnum 350 with only the micron filter with the
foam around it, I also have the two bio-wheels running.  I wanted to know if
this is good, or should I switch back to using the carbon in the filter, I
had read on some newsgroup that carbon and plants don't mix (this was before
I found out about the APD, thanks Dave Gomberg). 
    Old carbon make a great Bio-filter media for Magnums. The new fresh
carbon yanks out many nutrients from what many believe but is fine to use. I
haven't found it makes a whole lot of difference. Later, after it is spent,
the carbon is good for Bio-media and doesn't clog as much as the micron
filters do. To help your tank you might want to add a spray bar but on the
bottom or 1/2 way down your back wall instead of near the surface. This will
spread out the flow and reduce CO2 loss. Shoot for little to no surface

Another question: Can anyone suggest a good pH test kit, that is not too
expensive.  The one I have now makes it difficult to tell the colors apart,
and some of the other test kits only went up in .5 increments. 
Red Sea makes a cheap one. (.2 increments)
Getting a good handle on the CO2 levels will solve most folks problems. You
want the PH to go down a bit say in the 6.6-7.0 range and stay there. Hope
this helps.
Tom Barr 

Steve Bansee