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New Tank - Dying Fish

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish Emergencies' started by beccasaun84, May 24, 2012.

  1. beccasaun84

    beccasaun84 Member

    May 24, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Hi guys! I'm a newbie here, but in desperate need of some help. I'll fill out the form and go from there:

    Tank size: 36 gallons
    pH: 7.4
    ammonia: .5 - 1 w/API test kit (treated with Nutrafin Cycle for 3 days- currently reading a 1 still- picture below)
    nitrite: 0
    nitrate: 0
    kH: ?
    gH: ?
    tank temp: ? Just realized this morning that our thermometer was broken- have the tank heater set on medium, getting a new thermo today.

    Fish Symptoms (include full description including lesion, color, location, fish behavior): Behavior is the biggest indicator. The fish will kind of float toward the bottom, nose down, then bounce off of it and the sides of the tank, and float back to the top, nose up. The dying fish don't seem to have control over their bodies anymore and spasm as they bounce around the tank. So far, 7 fish have died- 4 were just found floating, the other 3 showed the aforementioned symptoms. Also, all fish seem to be staying near the top of the tank.

    Volume and Frequency of water changes: New tank, only about a week and a half old. One day spent with filter on, water treated, air bubbler on before introducing fish to the tank.

    Chemical Additives or Media in your tank: Added Nutrafin Cycle at the recc. of the PetSmart employee to try and get ammonia down. Have also added Aquafin Water Conditioner and Clarifier previously.

    Tank inhabitants: Currently: 2 - GLOfish, 1 - Molly, 1 - Platty.. DIED: 3 Cardinal Tetras (didn't realize how sensitive they were when we chose them), 3 fancy guppies, 1 Swordtail

    Recent additions to your tank (living or decoration): What we had at start up- Sunken Ship and rock swim through as well as a small submarine, s shell, a castle, and a monster (I have two little ones under 5)

    Exposure to chemicals: beyond what we added? None that I'm aware of.

    Digital photo (include if possible): Attached

    Important facts: We started out with a Marina Cool tank, 2 gallons, and one cardinal and one GLOfish in that tank, about 2 weeks ago. We set it up and let it run for 3 days before adding the fish. A day later we realized they were really struggling in the tank and realized that the filter was entirely too strong for the small tank when one of the fish almost got caught in it as we watched them. So, we found a tank on craigslist- 36 gallons with a lot of extras. Got it that day, cleaned it out well with baking soda and water, and set it up. Got a new filter for it (Tetra Whisper x46), new aerator, and heater. Set it up, including gravel and decor, and let it run for 24 hours. At this point, we had turned off the filter in the other tank to try and save the fish. We did have an aerator in there with them as well. After 24 hours, we switched them over (we didn't know about the drip method at the time, do now though) but we did the water temp acclimation with the bags at least. Anyways, as we were at the pet store, they told us that the fish we chose don't do well alone, and we ended up getting more to allow them to school. Problem was, by the time we got home, the GLOfish was already dead, and the cardinal was struggling. We added the other fish, and have been struggling to keep them alive ever since, experience the above mentioned symptoms. We've seen no signs of changes in coloring, gills, or struggling to breath- beyond the sitting at the top of the tank for long periods of time. I do believe the heater temp was set too high for awhile after we first installed it, but it's since been turned down. And only this morning did I realize that the thermometer was broken as it's still showing a reading of 83 degrees, though I know it's much less then that (buying a new one tonight)
    I have an API test kit and I've been checking the water daily. Even though it was reading fine for the pet store's testers (crap) it was showing high levels of ammonia with my API test kit. So they recommended the Nutrafin Cycle, and this is day 3 of using it, and the ammonia is still reading as high as it was before we even started it. I'm not entirely sure how long it takes to bring it down, but I just had to send another guppy to toilet bowl heaven this morning and it's really bothering all of us to think there may be something else we could do and that they may be suffering. I've read up on the possibility of parasites, of maybe us having shocked them by introducing them to the new tank, to bladder issues, etc. At this point, I'm pretty sure the ammonia is a big factor, but I have no idea what else to do to bring it down.
    We started out huge amateurs (beyond my mom, who has kept a 40+ gallon aquarium for as long as I can remember, with little to no problem- so she has no idea what's wrong with ours) and only getting two fish for our daughter as a reward for good behavior, thinking, "How hard can it be?! We've kept two kids and two cats alive for this many years!" Stupid, arrogant and oh yea, stupid. The fact is, we've fallen in love with these little guys and I'm doing everything in my power to try and save them and help them, and we know having an aquarium is a long term commitment that we'd like to keep. I'm trying to learn as much as I possibly can about it and fix all of our screw ups as best as we can, and I know it's a lot of trial and error, but we really need help here. I'm not sure if I left anything out or not- please ask if I need to go in depth on anything else.
    ANY information is much appreciated. I've added a picture of the tank, as well as the ammonia reading from the test kit.
    Thanks so much everyone!


    Attached Files:

  2. dh058977

    dh058977 Member

    May 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Simple problem that alot of new starters come across and simple to fix in one of two ways (although one is very time consuming!). Your tank is not cycled, so in simple terms the filter hasnt built up the bacteria it needs to process the waste your fish produce. You need to make sure that your Ammonia and Nitrite reading never get above 0.25 (really they should both be 0!)

    You already have a testing kit which is great, you now have 2 options -
    1. Take your fish back and fishless cycle your tank with household Ammonia.
    2. Be prepared to do large water changes every time the Ammonia or Nitrite raises, this would be until your filter is cycled.

    For now the best thing you can do for your fish is a very large water change with dechlorinated water which matches the temp of your tank.
  3. philrag11

    philrag11 Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Likes Received:

    Sounds to me like your tank hasn't properly cycled so with the ammonia levels that high your fish will inevitably die off. The best thing I can suggest is doing an immediate water change 90-95% (obviously temperature matching and adding a de-chlorinator like Seachem Prime or Tetra Aquasafe) then after that have a read of the beginner's guide in particular the section on Fish-in Cycling which is basically what you are going through - http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?/topic/224306-fish-in-cycling/

    I've never done it personally as I was fortunate enough to read this and other forums first and realise that fishless cycling is the only way to go (despite what folks in various pet stores say I'm afraid). I'm sure there are others on the forum who have gone through or are going through fish-in cycling so they will be able to give more helpful advice.

    Good luck with your tank - hopefully you'll get the advice you need on here and be able to save the remaining fish.

  4. fluttermoth

    fluttermoth The current Mrs Treguard ;)
    Staff Member Moderator Global Moderator

    Sep 6, 2010
    Likes Received:
    OP, if your mum still has her tank running, then could you take a piece of media (no more than 1/4) from her filter and put it in your filter?

    That would give you a headstart with the bacteria you need.

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