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Advice on a nigh-on invincible cherry barb

Discussion in 'Tropical Discussion' started by Gamma3, Jun 8, 2019.

  1. Gamma3

    Gamma3 New Member

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    Here's the background:

    I recently bought my first tank after an introduction to goldfish that went very well when I was younger, given that my own goldfish outgrew the tank and was granted the freedom of an aunt's pond.

    A 45 litre tank seemed like a sensible option for the table I had, and as it came with it's own coldwater setuo I only needed to find a suitable heater to help create a tropical environment.

    I cycled this tank for two weeks with treated tapwater, gravel and moss balls, and then went to the local pet shop to ask about introducing shrimp and snails prior to fish. Naturally I went home with three female cherry barbs because the staff convinced me I was an idiot for waiting so long.

    The first three days went surprisingly well and then my hang on filter was accidentally turned off for maybe twenty minutes before I noticed all three fish gasping for air at the top of the tank.

    I turned the filter on, cleaned it, did a fifty percent water change with treated tap water, and removed the lone fish who'd rolled over and unortunately not recovered but the other two looked to have settled.

    The next morning, the remaining two barbs were again gasping for air, although they seemed to find some felief near the marimo balls. I did another tap water water change, and when one of the two laid down on the gravel I made for the pet shop with some water for testing. Apparently, it was all good on the nitrates and pH front. I returned home with live pondweed having planned to plant some eelgrass that's still not been delivered a week after expected. And another thermometer to check the accuracy of the heater.

    With the survivor still heaving for breath and with crimson gills, I tried another change with rainwater, thinking maybe it was the chlorine treatment. I dropped the water level to minimum to increase the disturbance the filter made. pH is still 7.4. Temperature consistent at 25 degrees celcius, although I tried a stint at 24 to see if it helped.

    I've got an air pump and a stronger filter in the post to try and up the oxygen.

    Two days after that lark, and the one poor barb left is somehow still alive. She's breathing more than I would like but moving around a lot more, and her gills look maybe a little less inflamed. She likes the weeds atleast. Problem is, she hasn't eaten flakes for three days, and she isn't interested. I think she's eating the moss balls.

    How do I get her to eat? When can I even get a few shrimp or snails to deal with the flakes that she isn't eating? Can I get her a few other cherry barbs for company anytime soon?

    So much frustration. Does anyone have any more concrete ideas about what was wrong, and how I can prevent it?

    Thanks
     
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  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    When fish start breathing heavily and die it is normally poisoning from something in the water.

    I assume you dechlorinate the new water before adding it to the tank?

    Do you use a fish only bucket or any bucket from the house?
    You should get a couple of new buckets and use a permanent marker to write "FISH ONLY" on them. Keep those buckets near the tank and only use them for the fish.

    Make sure you don't have any creams, oil, grease, perfume, or anything else on your hands/ arms when working in the tank or feeding the fish. This includes residue from anti-bacterial soaps that might be used in the house.

    Make sure nobody is smoking, painting, using perfume, deodorant or anything that produces vapors in the room.

    -------------------------
    Don't worry too much about the fish not eating, it won't starve to death. However, the fact the fish has stopped eating, would indicate there is something wrong with the water.

    When you had the water tested, did they check the ammonia and nitrite as well as the nitrate and pH?

    -------------------------
    Normally I would say do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate each day for a week. However, if you do not have a clean bucket, I would invest in one first. Fill the bucket with tap water, add dechlorinator and aerate for at least 5 minutes (preferably 30 minutes). Then use that water to fill the tank.

    If you use rain water, make sure it's clean and free of chemicals, and make sure it doesn't come from a galvanised rainwater tank.

    Don't bother feeding the fish until it breaths more normally and is swimming about better.
     
  3. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    Two things jump out at me:

    1). What did you cycle the tank with? Fish food, ammonia? Did you do water testing during this time to watch as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate climbed/dropped? I have a feeling your tank isn’t cycled. It normally does take at least 4 weeks minimum to cycle and often 8 weeks or longer. In that case, your fish could be dying from ammonia/nitrate poisoning. I don’t trust fish stores to test my water. You didn’t mention what the ammonia tested at. I would purchase a API Freshwater test kit and test my own water.
    2.) When you cleaned the filter did you clean it with tap water? If so, the chlorine would have killed any beneficial bacteria that had built up causing the tank to lose its cycle.
    I would do 75% water changes daily to keep toxic levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate down. Red gills could be ammonia poisoning. Read on the Nitrogen Cycle for freshwater fish. I don’t think you understand the process and the purpose for it. We’re here to help. Good luck!
     
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  4. Gamma3

    Gamma3 New Member

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    Ammonia is less than 0.02 which means, from what I understand, that I need to cycle it longer to get those levels to rise and encorage bacteria growth. Up to this point I have been changing the water daily since the first dead fish, and your advice is encouraging me to continue doing so instead of changing every other day.

    If cleaning the filter with tap water kills all that bacteria, what do you do when you need a new filter? Soak it in a bucket of the current tank water?

    Although my bucket was one bought a decade ago and forgotten about, I cleaned it to within an inch of it's life so I think it's ok? I was worried that the decoration I have smelled a little of paint initially, but I rinsed that over and over again and soaked it for a day, and that seemed to help.

    It does sound like I'm not leaving my treated water long enough before changing it, so I'll leave it for 30 mins now.

    The pet store I used was pretty commercial and I doubt they'll want to accept a possibly sick fish back while I cycle this tank more from the beginning because yes, I rinsed the filter under a tap yesterday and I'm such an idiot. And yes, while I have something to monitor ammonia add pH, I need to do a proper cycle and watch nitrites rise and fall.

    At least the fish will produce the ammonia.

    Oh this poor fish.

    On the bright side, I returned from buying an air stone for the pump and found her happy as larry, which means maybe if I keep on top of this she'll make it through.

    Sorry for being naive about this.
     
  5. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    We all started out naive and still are about certain things. Daily water changes should help a lot. The fish may not be making a lot of ammonia but if you are feeding then left over food will help produce ammonia. Measure your ammonia and it it isn’t rising then you may have to add a couple more hardy fish. Good luck and please keep us posted! :) Oh, clean your filter in tank water every 2 weeks to clean it.
     
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  6. Gamma3

    Gamma3 New Member

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    I am much happier about this now =) Thank you for the help, and I will definitely keep you posted.
     
  7. Gamma3

    Gamma3 New Member

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    oh, and the testing kit I need is en route, for tomorrow, so I can stop relying on the pet store.
     
  8. PheonixKingZ

    PheonixKingZ Fish Herder
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    Hi, and welcome to the forum! :hi:

    It is a good idea to get a test kit, so you can test your water at home.

    Please go vote for the Tank of the month contest! (Do so, by clicking the banner at the top of the screen). Thank you! :thanks:
     
  9. Gamma3

    Gamma3 New Member

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    Just an update: I returned the cherry barbs to the store and I went in to cycle the tank a little longer with a little pure ammonia, and added some nitrifying bacteria to see if I could speed it up a little. The ammonia was dealt with pretty quickly and the nitrate/nitrite levels were decent, and with the dropped water level and a higher powered filter I added a male and female cherry shrimp - but the gaps in my filter were too wide. The male got really, really excited around the female and flew into the filter, and I don't know whether the femme fatale wanted to investigate but she met the same fate before I could wrap the killing machine in sponge.

    They did seem very happy before their unfortunate end, so I returned to the pet shop. I wanted to see if a larger shoal of fish was much more comfortable, so now there are five ember tetra who are very happy at mid level although one of them keeps doing his own thing. I wanted six, but I am unsure whether driving back with a lone tetra will be stressful, and I want the ability to drop the water level without cramping the fish.

    I have just added a very placid midnight blue elephant ear betta, and again he seems much happier than he was in the barren miniature tank in store, he hasn't shown much interest in the tetras beyond a quick drive by, and they quickly shoaled up. I'll keep an eye on him anyway.
     

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