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Dying fish - we're new to aquariums!

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by Brittany K., May 9, 2019.

  1. Brittany K.

    Brittany K. New Member

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    Hi Everyone!

    Hoping someone can help. Long story... We have a 5 week old 20 gallon tank. This is our second tank...three months ago we started out with a 10 gallon. We had 3 platys and 2 guppies, and one of the platys had babies. 4 survived. We had one platy that seemed sick for several weeks - couldn't swim well, flopped around, stayed on the bottom. But he hung on!

    A few weeks later, the pH fell to below 6, and the ammonia was hovering around .5ppm. No nitrates or nitrites. I did frequent water changes but nothing seemed to help and the other fish started looking...pretty poor. All our ghost shrimp died, then our black racing snail. The pet shop said we was overstocked - the babies had gotten too big. So we upgraded to a 20 gallon 5 weeks ago. Used the same gravel and decorations to help with bacteria.

    Did the transfer really slow. Lost the sick platy in the transfer, but everyone else seemed to do really well. Added 5 neon tetras (mistake - thought everything was kosher!) Still couldn't keep ghost shrimp alive though. Last week, one of our platys (the mom!) started showing the same symptoms - couldn't swim, stayed on bottom. A few days later she died. Last night we lost one of the babies (same symptoms but happened much quicker.) This morning one of the guppies was chilling on the gravel, but seems to have perked up.

    I do weekly cleanings of 25% but am getting ready to do a bigger one now. Water measurements:
    pH stays right around 6.8
    ammonia - stays around .25. Might be creeping up now though
    Nitrites/Nitrates - 0

    We have:
    -3 guppies
    -5 neons
    -1 adult platy, (now) 3 babies - 2 months old

    Thoughts??
     
  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    Any chance of a picture and short 20 second video of the fish and tank?
    If the pictures are too big for the website, set the camera's resolution to its lowest setting and take some more. The lower resolution will make the images smaller and they should fit on this website. Check the pictures on your pc and find a couple that are clear and show the problem, and post them here. Make sure you turn the camera's resolution back up after you have taken the pics otherwise all your pictures will be small.

    If the video is too big for this website, post it on YouTube and copy & paste the link here. We can view it at YouTube. If you are using a mobile phone to take the video, have the phone horizontal so the video takes up the entire screen. If you have the phone vertical, you get video in the middle and black on either side.

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    The fish were probably being poisoned by ammonia, which is caused by anything that breaks down in water. The low pH (6.5) is not helping the guppies and platies but will help reduce the damage the ammonia does.

    Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day until we work out what is going on.
    Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.
     
  3. Brittany K.

    Brittany K. New Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply! Link to the video is below.

    I think I sorted out the cause of the ammonia issue...tested my tap water and it reads 1ppm. Makes sense, although not sure what is causing the low pH (the tap has very high pH).

    I added ammonia lock (in addition to the water conditioner) to the water I just replaced with the change. Did about 60-70% change.

    My questions - how do I deal with this in subsequent water changes? Once my tank is properly cycled, will it be able to process that ammonia?

    This was a gift for my 4yo's birthday, but I think I'm the one that loves it the most out of the family! I'm addicted, and it's so stressful when things aren't well in the tank!

     
  4. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    An aquarium with an established biological filter should be able to deal with 1ppm of ammonia in the new water. However, if ammonia is added to the tank water, it could harm the fish.

    The best way to deal with this is to get a large plastic bucket or storage container and fill it with tap water. Add a dechlorinator and put a filter on the tank. Have Ammogon or Zeolite in the filter and it will adsorb any ammonia in the water. The Ammogon and Zeolite can be recharged after each use by soaking it in salt water. When all the ammonia is gone, you can use the water to do water changes on the tank.

    If you don't want to use a filter and Ammogon, you can put some floating plants in the container of water and they will use the ammonia. When there is no more ammonia you can use the water in the tank.

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    Your tank is milky cloudy and that is an indication of too much uneaten food and not enough water changes and gravel cleaning. Reduce feeding to 2-3 times per week and increase water changes. However, deal with the ammonia in the tap water before doing water changes.

    When the tank has settled down and the ammonia issue has been dealt with, the fish should recover and you should be able to keep shrimp and other organisms in the tank. But sort out the cloudy water and ammonia first.
     
  5. Brittany K.

    Brittany K. New Member

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    Thank you! That's really helpful. Should I switch the tank's filter to one that has Zeolite in it? Or just use that in the "water staging" tank?

    Also, I read that the cloudy water is usually bacteria bloom in new tanks. Could that be it? I've been doing pretty good weekly gravel changes, and although we feed the fish 1x day we don't give them very much. It always seems like a feeding frenzy! We can certainly pull back though.
     
  6. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Leave the current filter in the aquarium and don't muck about with that.

    Get a second filter from the pet shop and put Ammogon or Zeolite in the new filter. You can use an air operated box filter for this. It will be cheaper than buying a power filter and aerate the water and remove the ammonia from the tap water.

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    The milky cloudy water is caused by bacteria eating uneaten food. The easiest way to fix it is to reduce feeding and do big water changes and gravel cleaning. But get the tap water fixed up first.
     

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