First time fish keeper - but need some help!

Matt_Lam_97

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Hi all, first time posting here so thought I'd introduce myself! Me and my Mrs have recently bought a 64L tank that's in great condition and nice and clean. It came with everything needed, including filters, heater and lights. We got it Monday evening and got it all set up and ready. We put in our own gravel and a real plant along with some tank rocks and tank ornaments. We put in the correct amount of tap safe and have had the filter running all week after cleaning both sponge filters. The heater is running well at 26 degrees C. We ran a pH stick tester this morning and all the results came back safe. We went to our local fish dealership (I'm sure I'll pick up the correct terminology along the way) and bought some beautiful little fish under recommendation of the owner. We bought two lovely little Black Phantoms who appear to be best buds! Two Dawrf Gouramis, one orange and one blue, and we also bought two guppies, both male, who are also one blue, and one orange, which brings me to the advice we need. The Phantoms and the Gouramis seem to have settled in really well, they were all acclimatised for a good period and seem to be really happy, however the guppies not so much. They seem to be lurking around the back of the filter and look as if they may be losing colour. At first I thought this may have been a lack of oxygen however surely the other fish would be struggling too?! Hopefully we can help them out before it's too late.
Thanks for reading and we look forward to getting into the wonderful world of fishies!
Cheers,
Matt
 

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HaveFishWillTravel

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Hi there, not sure what is going on with your guppies, but here is a question for you. Did you go through the entire Nitrogen Cycle? Have you tested Ammonia, Nitrites, pH, GH, KH and Nitrates and is everything in a good range?
I look up the general requirements and try to find more specific requirements for each of my fishes and/or animals then, attempt to keep the water parameters at what will be an overall healthy environment for everyone.

 
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Matt_Lam_97

Matt_Lam_97

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Hi there, not sure what is going on with your guppies, but here is a question for you. Did you go through the entire Nitrogen Cycle? Have you tested Ammonia, Nitrites, pH, GH, KH and Nitrates and is everything in a good range?
I look up the general requirements and try to find more specific requirements for each of my fishes and/or animals then, attempt to keep the water parameters at what will be an overall healthy environment for everyone.


Yeah the test we took this morning is for pH, KH, GH, NO2, NO3 and Ci2 and they all came back safe. Had they not come back safe we wouldn't have bought anything today. Since my first post the orange guppy has come out and seems to be happy swimming about, maybe they are just getting used to the tank. The other fella is still sat behind the filter but doesn't seem to be gasping for air.
Cheers
 

mrsjoannh13

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Hi, Matt - I'm fairly new as well but might be able to help. I set up a tank for my daughter and got her a glofish tetra (just 1 to start as I didn't want too much bioload). The fish was very stressed for about 24 hours doing a lot of "glass surfing". After a day she settled down but seemed to hide out a lot. Someone on this forum recommended I get the full load of tetras as they are schooling fish. They need at least 5 or 6 to feel secure. Apparently if they don't see enough of their kind it makes their fish brains think a predator is nearby. So I got 4 other tetras and she has basically now become the alpha dog (or fish?) of the tank. You might want to consider getting 4 more guppies (I think that would bring you up to 6) if your tank size can support it since guppies are also schooling fish. Also, I think you mentioned having a plant in the tank. Maybe get a few more? Each of my tetras seem to have claimed a favorite plant. I think they like having their own little territory to hide when they need to feel safe. Just a couple of thoughts. Hope this helps and that your new fish are all doing well!
 
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Matt_Lam_97

Matt_Lam_97

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Hi, Matt - I'm fairly new as well but might be able to help. I set up a tank for my daughter and got her a glofish tetra (just 1 to start as I didn't want too much bioload). The fish was very stressed for about 24 hours doing a lot of "glass surfing". After a day she settled down but seemed to hide out a lot. Someone on this forum recommended I get the full load of tetras as they are schooling fish. They need at least 5 or 6 to feel secure. Apparently if they don't see enough of their kind it makes their fish brains think a predator is nearby. So I got 4 other tetras and she has basically now become the alpha dog (or fish?) of the tank. You might want to consider getting 4 more guppies (I think that would bring you up to 6) if your tank size can support it since guppies are also schooling fish. Also, I think you mentioned having a plant in the tank. Maybe get a few more? Each of my tetras seem to have claimed a favorite plant. I think they like having their own little territory to hide when they need to feel safe. Just a couple of thoughts. Hope this helps and that your new fish are all doing well!
Brilliant! Thanks for your help, definitely onto something there I think, think we were quite reserved on how many to start off with, think we'll go back tomorrow and get a few more - the owner of the shop was very helpful and he did say that it wouldn't be a problem at all getting more! Since I opened this thread the two little guppies have really perked up and seem to be whizzing around with the rest of them now! Maybe I was just panicking!
 

mcordelia

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Guppies as a species also unfortunately often come with "baggage" like parasites etc, so hoping this is not the case but if they don't perk up you may need to look into their health as well.

Before you go out and get more guppies, from what I understand gouramis are best suited to relatively soft water, while guppies are suited to hard or very hard water, so you may have a conflict there. As a beginning aquarist, it is always easiest to try and match your fish to the hardness of your water, instead of taking on the stress of trying to modify your water to suit your fish. If you tested your gh and kh, go ahead and post them here and you will get a lot of advice on what fish are best suited for your water parameters.

Also, I recommend that you keep a very close eye on your ammonia and nitrites for the next few weeks (testing as often as twice a day). If they begin to rise, you will immediately need to do a 50% water change to alleviate chemical stress in your fish. After the levels are no longer spiking you will have an "established" tank, and you will not have to be constantly measuring the values.

By any chance did you use old filter media that had been running recently when you set up the filter? Or did you use all new gravel and media and decorations? If the latter, you are likely going to have some form of nitrogen cycle occur now that you have added fish, since even though the test values read zero to start with, the tank may not have experienced as much ammonia as what the fish are now producing and the bacteria may need a while to catch up.

However, fear not! There are so many wonderful knowledgeable people on these forums willing to help! Keep us posted on how everything goes and let us know what your gh and kh values are and we can help with what fish may be best to help those timid guppies out!
 

Colin_T

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Guppies as a species also unfortunately often come with "baggage" like parasites etc, so hoping this is not the case but if they don't perk up you may need to look into their health as well.
LOL, love it. My fish has baggage. What sort of baggage? Um, ah, worms, gill flukes, external protozoans, anchorworm, fish lice, fungus and Columnaris. Oh that's alright, I thought you meant he had problems with his ex girlfriends. :)

----------------------
For the OP

If you are doing a fish in cycle (letting the filter develop beneficial bacteria while fish are in the tank), just feed them 2-3 times a week and do a 75% water change 4-8 hours after feeding. This will reduce the ammonia levels and help keep the fish alive while the filter develops. After the filter has developed you can reduce the water changes to once a week and feed the fish each day.

Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.
 
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Matt_Lam_97

Matt_Lam_97

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Guppies as a species also unfortunately often come with "baggage" like parasites etc, so hoping this is not the case but if they don't perk up you may need to look into their health as well.

Before you go out and get more guppies, from what I understand gouramis are best suited to relatively soft water, while guppies are suited to hard or very hard water, so you may have a conflict there. As a beginning aquarist, it is always easiest to try and match your fish to the hardness of your water, instead of taking on the stress of trying to modify your water to suit your fish. If you tested your gh and kh, go ahead and post them here and you will get a lot of advice on what fish are best suited for your water parameters.

Also, I recommend that you keep a very close eye on your ammonia and nitrites for the next few weeks (testing as often as twice a day). If they begin to rise, you will immediately need to do a 50% water change to alleviate chemical stress in your fish. After the levels are no longer spiking you will have an "established" tank, and you will not have to be constantly measuring the values.

By any chance did you use old filter media that had been running recently when you set up the filter? Or did you use all new gravel and media and decorations? If the latter, you are likely going to have some form of nitrogen cycle occur now that you have added fish, since even though the test values read zero to start with, the tank may not have experienced as much ammonia as what the fish are now producing and the bacteria may need a while to catch up.

However, fear not! There are so many wonderful knowledgeable people on these forums willing to help! Keep us posted on how everything goes and let us know what your gh and kh values are and we can help with what fish may be best to help those timid guppies out!
Massive thanks for the reply! We replaced the foam filter straight away before we got it running so we had a clean start. The gravel that came with the tank had been cleaned and separated so we ran cold water over it before we put it in and then added a bag of our own pink gravel over the top just to add a bit of colour!
The fella in the shop drew us a graph to explain that the tank will become poisonous over the next few weeks and to keep testing the water but to take him a sample in two weeks for him to test. And that after a few weeks the good bacteria should start developing and it should all level itself out. Will do another test later on and post the results Guppies have definitely perked up this morning, they were front and center when we came down stairs. I'm hoping they are starting to feel a bit more at home now! (Their colours seem to be absolutely glowing again aswell!)
 

Essjay

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You need to test the water every day, a test kit of your own is a lot better than going to the shop every day. Those with liquid reagents and test tubes are better than strips - and they include the vital ammonia test which isn't on 5 or 6 in one strips.


When you washed the old gravel you killed a lot of the bacteria in there, I'm afraid.



Just in case the shop didn't really understand what a fish-in cycling involves:
Fish excrete ammonia, it's their version of urine. Ammonia is toxic to fish. In a mature tank there are bacteria which eat ammonia and they turn it into nitrite, which is also toxic to fish. In a mature tank, another species of bacteria eat this nitrite and they turn it into nitrate. Nitrate isn't as toxic as the other two and we remove it by doing water changes.
In a new tank, there are only a tiny amount of these bacteria from the tap water but not nearly enough. You have to grow a lot more of them. The ammonia eaters grow first as the fish continually excrete it. it is your job to do a water change every time there is a reading above zero or the fish will suffer (many shops tell you to let the ammonia level get quite high but this will burn the fish's skin and gills making it harder for then to get oxygen through their gills). After a week or two enough ammonia eaters will have grown to make enough nitrite for that to show in the test. Now the nitrite eaters can start to grow. But tey always lag behind the ammonia eaters. Water changes must be done every time there is nitrite above zero. Nitrite binds to the fish's red blood cells preventing oxygen from binding. It basically does the same to fish as carbon monoxide does to us. Again the shop may have told you to let nitrite get high but this will damage the fish - it's like us sitting in a room with a faulty gas appliance.

This is why you need to test every day and do a water change if either/or ammonia and nitrite are higher than zero. The amount of water changed needs to be enough to get the level back down to zero.
There are things you can do to help.
As Colin had already mentioned, feed only 2 or 3 times a week. Less food = less ammonia.
Get a lot of live plants, especially floating plants. These take up ammonia as fertiliser and they don't turn it into nitrite or nitrate.
Add Tetra Safe Start. This is one of the two most highly recommended bottled bacteria products (the other one isn't easy to get in the UK)
Use Seachem Prime water conditioner. This detoxifies ammonia and nitrite for 24 hours and will protect the fish between daily water changes.
 

HaveFishWillTravel

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Guppies as a species also unfortunately often come with "baggage" like parasites etc, so hoping this is not the case but if they don't perk up you may need to look into their health as well.

Before you go out and get more guppies, from what I understand gouramis are best suited to relatively soft water, while guppies are suited to hard or very hard water, so you may have a conflict there. As a beginning aquarist, it is always easiest to try and match your fish to the hardness of your water, instead of taking on the stress of trying to modify your water to suit your fish. If you tested your gh and kh, go ahead and post them here and you will get a lot of advice on what fish are best suited for your water parameters.

Also, I recommend that you keep a very close eye on your ammonia and nitrites for the next few weeks (testing as often as twice a day). If they begin to rise, you will immediately need to do a 50% water change to alleviate chemical stress in your fish. After the levels are no longer spiking you will have an "established" tank, and you will not have to be constantly measuring the values.

By any chance did you use old filter media that had been running recently when you set up the filter? Or did you use all new gravel and media and decorations? If the latter, you are likely going to have some form of nitrogen cycle occur now that you have added fish, since even though the test values read zero to start with, the tank may not have experienced as much ammonia as what the fish are now producing and the bacteria may need a while to catch up.

However, fear not! There are so many wonderful knowledgeable people on these forums willing to help! Keep us posted on how everything goes and let us know what your gh and kh values are and we can help with what fish may be best to help those timid guppies out!
You need to test the water every day, a test kit of your own is a lot better than going to the shop every day. Those with liquid reagents and test tubes are better than strips - and they include the vital ammonia test which isn't on 5 or 6 in one strips.


When you washed the old gravel you killed a lot of the bacteria in there, I'm afraid.



Just in case the shop didn't really understand what a fish-in cycling involves:
Fish excrete ammonia, it's their version of urine. Ammonia is toxic to fish. In a mature tank there are bacteria which eat ammonia and they turn it into nitrite, which is also toxic to fish. In a mature tank, another species of bacteria eat this nitrite and they turn it into nitrate. Nitrate isn't as toxic as the other two and we remove it by doing water changes.
In a new tank, there are only a tiny amount of these bacteria from the tap water but not nearly enough. You have to grow a lot more of them. The ammonia eaters grow first as the fish continually excrete it. it is your job to do a water change every time there is a reading above zero or the fish will suffer (many shops tell you to let the ammonia level get quite high but this will burn the fish's skin and gills making it harder for then to get oxygen through their gills). After a week or two enough ammonia eaters will have grown to make enough nitrite for that to show in the test. Now the nitrite eaters can start to grow. But tey always lag behind the ammonia eaters. Water changes must be done every time there is nitrite above zero. Nitrite binds to the fish's red blood cells preventing oxygen from binding. It basically does the same to fish as carbon monoxide does to us. Again the shop may have told you to let nitrite get high but this will damage the fish - it's like us sitting in a room with a faulty gas appliance.

This is why you need to test every day and do a water change if either/or ammonia and nitrite are higher than zero. The amount of water changed needs to be enough to get the level back down to zero.
There are things you can do to help.
As Colin had already mentioned, feed only 2 or 3 times a week. Less food = less ammonia.
Get a lot of live plants, especially floating plants. These take up ammonia as fertiliser and they don't turn it into nitrite or nitrate.
Add Tetra Safe Start. This is one of the two most highly recommended bottled bacteria products (the other one isn't easy to get in the UK)
Use Seachem Prime water conditioner. This detoxifies ammonia and nitrite for 24 hours and will protect the fish between daily water changes.
Very nice presentation of ideas. I love this Forum!
Definitely get your own test kits, it is an investment that you will not regret. Understanding the underwater world that your fishes are living in is the key to your success in providing a safe and healthy aquarium.
 

mcordelia

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@Matt_Lam_97 wanted to check in how you were doing - what are your test numbers today?

and thanks to all y'all who found my terminology amusing, most of the stuff I know can be completely credited to the other fine folks on this forum, shoutout to @Colin_T and @essjay (and a bunch of other people as well)!!!
 
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Matt_Lam_97

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Hey guys! Big update - been a while since I've been on. Ended up doing a ton of hours this week at work so my lovely other half has been tending to our fish! I've not had chance to get on here! We've been testing every day and everything so far still seems safe. Ammonia levels are still safe as we've kept feeding down and they all seem very happy and healthy! The little guppies who at first I worried about are whizzing around in true colours now! We're going to keep an eye on the levels and see how it goes! We're going to get some more live plants tomorrow! Added some Bacteria start aswell to get things moving a bit more, but most importantly, the levels are still safe and the fish seem happy!
 

mcordelia

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Oh good I'm so happy to hear that!!! How awesome of her to be chipping in! Always more rewarding when it's a shared hobby :) hopefully you get to enjoy some r&r this weekend :)
 
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Matt_Lam_97

Matt_Lam_97

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Thanks - Absolutely - I'm ready for my Christmas break in a few weeks! This year's been tough! At least we've got some lovely little fish to brighten the year up ?
 

Utar

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You are one of the lucky ones in that you added fish before cycling and everything went good doing a fish in cycle. It can be done with work in staying on top of water changes and testing the water for ammonia spikes. But others have not been so lucking losing fish to new tank syndrome.
 

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