Beginner issues - Please Help!

GregD

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Hi There -
Brand new to fishkeeping and have read a lot online. So I think I know where I went wrong, but need to confirm before I make the same mistake again.

We started fishkeeping last spring when my daughter’s 1st grade teacher asked us to keep the classroom goldfish over the summer. The experience was great and we learned a lot (and successfully kept the goldfish alive!). Now that school is back, we wanted to take the next step…Here’s what we did:

- purchased a new 29 gallon tank with substrate and live plants
- purchased 10 glofish tetras from local petco
- set up the new tank and added the glofish the same day ALONG WITH API Quick Start that “allows instant addition of fish”. Why did we do this? Because our 7 year old (and me) couldn’t wait and we’re too excited to have new fish in our new aquarium.
- 1 week later, purchased 1 dwarf gourami from a locally owned tropical aquarium store and added him.
- 3 weeks later, we’ve lost 4 fish, including the DG.
We could tell something was wrong with what looked like fin rot and that cotton-looking fungal infection creeping in. Within 2 days of noticing that, the fish are dropping.

I know we didn’t cycle the tank properly, but we’ve been testing and the amonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels are all at or near zero. I’m not even sure where we are within the cycle.

Please help. My daughter is devastated. We assume we’ll lose the rest of the fish. And if so, we will want to try again. What should we do?
 

CarissaT

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Hi, so you are correct, you did a fish-in cycle and added too many at once. Any ammonia at all, or any nitrite, is toxic. That’s why your fish are getting sick. That quick start stuff doesn’t work. To keep your remaining fish alive you should do daily water changes with a gravel vac, sufficient to keep ammonia and nitrite undetectable, at least 30% water changes, more if this isn’t getting you to at or near 0 ammonia afterward. Use Prime for the whole tank every water change if you can get it. This detoxifies ammonia and nitrite. Also feeding should be extremely sparingly, once a day or perhaps not every day, the more you feed, the more ammonia is produced. An established tank usually needs weekly water changes of 30-50% to maintain it.

Don’t add any medications, Don‘t clean or replace your filter media, and Don’t add any more fish until you have confirmed your cycle is complete. You will know this by having 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and probably having detectable nitrates, with no water changes for a full week. At only three weeks in, you’re not there yet. Usually 6 weeks at a minimum.

What kind of filter do you have?
Are you using dechlorinator?
What temperature is the tank?
How many hours a day are you running the light?
What kind of plants do you have? (Or attach pics)

Also for planning purposes once you’re through the cycle, it would be extremely helpful to have the following test results:
pH
actual numbers on ammonia and nitrite (using drops, not test strips)
GH of your tap water
KH of your tap water
 
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GregD

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Hi, so you are correct, you did a fish-in cycle and added too many at once. Any ammonia at all, or any nitrite, is toxic. That’s why your fish are getting sick. That quick start stuff doesn’t work. To keep your remaining fish alive you should do daily water changes with a gravel vac, sufficient to keep ammonia and nitrite undetectable, at least 30% water changes, more if this isn’t getting you to at or near 0 ammonia afterward. Also feeding should be extremely sparingly, once a day or perhaps not every day, the more you feed, the more ammonia is produced.

Don’t add any medications. Don‘t clean or replace your filter media.

What kind of filter do you have?
Are you using dechlorinator?
What temperature is the tank?
How many hours a day are you running the light?
What kind of plants do you have? (Or attach pics)

Also for planning purposes once you’re through the cycle, it would be extremely helpful to have the following test results:
pH
actual numbers on ammonia and nitrite (using drops, not test strips)
GH of your tap water
KH of your tap water
This is incredibly helpful. We have zero ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate according to the ammonia test strip. After 2 fish were lost, I rushed out to get Melafix and Pimafix by API. And we have been feeding twice a day and maybe too much food. So based on these answers what should I do to save the rest? I already have a gravity siphoner that can clean the substrate. Do I change 100% of the water now?

To answer your other questions, I’ve attached a pic of the tank so you can see the plants. Also the filter came with the tank. Aqueon Quietflow 20. The dechlorinator I used is API Aqua Essential. The heater keeps the tank at 78.


See my answers below
 

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GregD

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This is incredibly helpful. We have zero ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate according to the ammonia test strip. After 2 fish were lost, I rushed out to get Melafix and Pimafix by API. And we have been feeding twice a day and maybe too much food. So based on these answers what should I do to save the rest? I already have a gravity siphoner that can clean the substrate. Do I change 100% of the water now?

To answer your other questions, I’ve attached a pic of the tank so you can see the plants. Also the filter came with the tank. Aqueon Quietflow 20. The dechlorinator I used is API Aqua Essential. The heater keeps the tank at 78.


See my answers below

Oh and should have mentioned I started the Melafix and Pimafix yesterday. We only use the light for about 6 hours a day.
 
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GregD

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Hi, so you are correct, you did a fish-in cycle and added too many at once. Any ammonia at all, or any nitrite, is toxic. That’s why your fish are getting sick. That quick start stuff doesn’t work. To keep your remaining fish alive you should do daily water changes with a gravel vac, sufficient to keep ammonia and nitrite undetectable, at least 30% water changes, more if this isn’t getting you to at or near 0 ammonia afterward. Use Prime for the whole tank every water change if you can get it. This detoxifies ammonia and nitrite. Also feeding should be extremely sparingly, once a day or perhaps not every day, the more you feed, the more ammonia is produced. An established tank usually needs weekly water changes of 30-50% to maintain it.

Don’t add any medications, Don‘t clean or replace your filter media, and Don’t add any more fish until you have confirmed your cycle is complete. You will know this by having 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and probably having detectable nitrates, with no water changes for a full week. At only three weeks in, you’re not there yet. Usually 6 weeks at a minimum.

What kind of filter do you have?
Are you using dechlorinator?
What temperature is the tank?
How many hours a day are you running the light?
What kind of plants do you have? (Or attach pics)

Also for planning purposes once you’re through the cycle, it would be extremely helpful to have the following test results:
pH
actual numbers on ammonia and nitrite (using drops, not test strips)
GH of your tap water
KH of your tap water

I’ve now completed a 50% water change and treated the new water with Prime (actually had on hand from caring for the goldfish over the summer). Hopefully this works. I’ll stop using Pimafix and Melafix I guess.

Greg
 

outofwater

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That's a great looking tank! The melafix and pimafix are somewhat polarizing around here, (I've used melafix myself twice) the consensus though is to avoid adding any more chemicals to the tank, or meds; unless one has complete certainty that they're needed.
Fish-in cycles, even with the unfortunate deaths you experienced, might be the best way to start tanks, but that's neither here nor there for your case now.

Keep the feeding to a minimum and once a day for now, I know that's one of the most exciting times, but you want to ensure clean water, you'll find the right amounts as you go along and get to know your fish. Keep the substrate clean and monitor the water daily for another week or two. You could try cutting the strips in half with scissors to save on those, and keep an eye on your local stores and Amazon for deals on the api liquid test kit, definitely more bang for your buck in the long run.

Other than that you're ahead of many who start from scratch, "pet sitting" that goldfish got you into the hobby and got you a good starting experience. Losing fish happens and it's sad for everyone involved, especially kids, but happens with even the best setups and more experience. Good luck!

BTW, if possible take closeup pics of the fish, more experienced members can look at them and point out if they see anything that needs attention
 
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GregD

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That's a great looking tank! The melafix and pimafix are somewhat polarizing around here, (I've used melafix myself twice) the consensus though is to avoid adding any more chemicals to the tank, or meds; unless one has complete certainty that they're needed.
Fish-in cycles, even with the unfortunate deaths you experienced, might be the best way to start tanks, but that's neither here nor there for your case now.

Keep the feeding to a minimum and once a day for now, I know that's one of the most exciting times, but you want to ensure clean water, you'll find the right amounts as you go along and get to know your fish. Keep the substrate clean and monitor the water daily for another week or two. You could try cutting the strips in half with scissors to save on those, and keep an eye on your local stores and Amazon for deals on the api liquid test kit, definitely more bang for your buck in the long run.

Other than that you're ahead of many who start from scratch, "pet sitting" that goldfish got you into the hobby and got you a good starting experience. Losing fish happens and it's sad for everyone involved, especially kids, but happens with even the best setups and more experience. Good luck!

BTW, if possible take closeup pics of the fish, more experienced members can look at them and point out if they see anything that needs attention

Thanks! Really appreciate the advice. So glad I posted on here. Will take fish pics when I can.

Greg
 

wasmewasntit

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Just a bit of advice regarding the "fix" medications

Do not use them on any surface breathing fish such as Gourami, Betta etc

All "fix" medications contain unrefined tea tree oil and that messes up the labrynth organ that surface breathing fish need to survive...essentially they will suffocate if it is used.
 

CarissaT

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This is incredibly helpful. We have zero ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate according to the ammonia test strip. After 2 fish were lost, I rushed out to get Melafix and Pimafix by API. And we have been feeding twice a day and maybe too much food. So based on these answers what should I do to save the rest? I already have a gravity siphoner that can clean the substrate. Do I change 100% of the water now?

To answer your other questions, I’ve attached a pic of the tank so you can see the plants. Also the filter came with the tank. Aqueon Quietflow 20. The dechlorinator I used is API Aqua Essential. The heater keeps the tank at 78.


See my answers below
Good. Definitely get a drop test kit especially for ammonia, since those strips are not very accurate.

No need to do a 100% water change, just keep doing 30-50% every day unless you start getting ammonia readings then bump it up. If you get a drop test kit and it’s showing 0 ammonia, you could go every second day with changes. Also make sure you have as much water in there as you can get safely. Every extra gallon is diluting the toxins better. Keep dosing prime every day based on the water volume in your tank. To figure out the actual volume you can use this calculator - it’s usually surprisingly less than what people call the tank. For instance mine is called a 63 gallon and there are 50 actual gallons of water in it.


You’re on the right track, you very well may have more fish deaths just because the toxins have already weakened them and made them susceptible to disease. But, that‘s unfortunately pretty common with a fish-in cycle. In my experience, tetras can also be somewhat sensitive fish, not the ideal choice for cycling. But you’re doing well in having as many left as you have.

Also just an FYI, with the amount of natural light your tank is getting, when nutrients get going you probably will end up with a bit of an algae bloom. You might end up having to put something black on the back to keep some sunlight out. Natural light is magnitudes brighter than regular aquarium lights even though to our eyes it doesn’t often appear to be the case.
 
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GregD

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Just a bit of advice regarding the "fix" medications

Do not use them on any surface breathing fish such as Gourami, Betta etc

All "fix" medications contain unrefined tea tree oil and that messes up the labrynth organ that surface breathing fish need to survive...essentially they will suffocate if it is used.

Okay wow. I didn’t know the “fix” meds were bad for Gouramis. I’ve only read that they’re bad for Bettas. Good to know and I wonder if my use of those is what killed my DG vs the other issue of incycle… ugh. Now that I recall the DG was looking perfectly fine until after I used those. It was the tetras that we’re doing poorly initially.
 
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GregD

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Good. Definitely get a drop test kit especially for ammonia, since those strips are not very accurate.

No need to do a 100% water change, just keep doing 30-50% every day unless you start getting ammonia readings then bump it up. If you get a drop test kit and it’s showing 0 ammonia, you could go every second day with changes. Also make sure you have as much water in there as you can get safely. Every extra gallon is diluting the toxins better. Keep dosing prime every day based on the water volume in your tank. To figure out the actual volume you can use this calculator - it’s usually surprisingly less than what people call the tank. For instance mine is called a 63 gallon and there are 50 actual gallons of water in it.


You’re on the right track, you very well may have more fish deaths just because the toxins have already weakened them and made them susceptible to disease. But, that‘s unfortunately pretty common with a fish-in cycle. In my experience, tetras can also be somewhat sensitive fish, not the ideal choice for cycling. But you’re doing well in having as many left as you have.

Also just an FYI, with the amount of natural light your tank is getting, when nutrients get going you probably will end up with a bit of an algae bloom. You might end up having to put something black on the back to keep some sunlight out. Natural light is magnitudes brighter than regular aquarium lights even though to our eyes it doesn’t often appear to be the case.

The remaining 8 Glofish tetras seem to be doing better today. The water change yesterday was good and I think the Prime is helping. Didn’t know I should use that daily though. I thought only with new water.
 

Colin_T

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You can use prime to neutralise ammonia in the water but it's only temporary. It lasts about 24 hours and then the ammonia becomes toxic again.

The best way to do a fish in cycle is to reduce feeding to 2-3 times a week and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding. You should also do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, or a nitrate reading above 20pmm. After the filter has cycled, you can increase feeding to once a day and do a 75% water change and gravel clean once a week.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

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You need a picture on the back of the tank to make the fish feel more secure. you can buy them from pet shops, online, or just tape some coloured card or a plastic bag/ bin liner to the outside of the tank.

Some floating plants can help the fish feel more secure and the plants use ammonia so help keep the levels lower. Water Sprite (Ceratopterus thalictroicdes/ cornuta) is a good floating plant that can also be planted in the gravel.

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Avoid dwarf gouramis (Colisa lalius) because they can carry the gourami Iridovirus and fish TB, neither of which can be treated.

Avoid slow moving fishes or fish with long fins. The black widow/ skirt tetras you have are renown fin nippers and will attack slow moving fish or fish with long fins. The problem is made worse by small tanks and low numbers of fish. Tetras should be kept in groups of 10 or more.

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What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?

This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

Depending on what the GH of your water is, will determine what fish you should keep.

Angelfish, discus, most tetras, most barbs, Bettas, gouramis, rasbora, Corydoras and small species of suckermouth catfish all occur in soft water (GH below 150ppm) and a pH below 7.0.

Livebearers (guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies), rainbowfish and goldfish occur in medium hard water with a GH around 200-250ppm and a pH above 7.0.

If you have very hard water (GH above 300ppm) then look at African Rift Lake cichlids, or use distilled or reverse osmosis water to reduce the GH and keep fishes from softer water.
 

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