Help! My fish are all dying

Tigernewbie

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I am very new to aquariums and though I have the best intentions, I don't understand a lot of what's happening in my tank. I've had a group of 5 tiger barbs for about 5 weeks now. I've had a couple die and I have replaced them. Yesterday the fish we're fine so I did a scheduled regular water change of around 20%. The fish all started acting poorly. Hiding behind the filter and floating towards the top. I went and bought an API water testing kit and bought prime concentrated conditioner. After all the water tests the ammonia was high and so was the pH. I put in the prime and today one is dead and the rest are not looking too hot. I again did the water tests and found nitrite 0, ammonia 1ppm, PH high 7.4 and PH 7.6. I am lost as to what I need to do. I added more prime and I'm about to just forget this whole thing and throw a goldfish in a bowl (as they seem to live years that way for me). Can anybody help me?
 

essjay

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Water changes are your best friend at the moment. You need to do them big enough and often enough to keep both ammonia and nitrite at zero. Use prime at the recommended dose for the new water only at each water change.
I would start by doing a 50% water change, making sure that the new water is the same temperature as the tank water. Then test for ammonia and nitrite. If they are above zero, do another water change. Depending how big the tank is you may need to do a water change every day, the important things is to stop the fish being poisoned by ammonia and nitrite.
Don't get any new fish until both ammonia and nitrite stay at zero for a week without needing water changes.


Once you've done the water changes, here is some reading for you to explain things. http://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/ The first part explains about why we need to grow bacteria in the tank, though the second part is about growing them before you get fish which you can't do as you already have fish. What your job is now is to remove the poisonous ammonia and nitrite until you tank has grown enough bacteria to do the job for you.
 
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Tigernewbie

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Water changes are your best friend at the moment. You need to do them big enough and often enough to keep both ammonia and nitrite at zero. Use prime at the recommended dose for the new water only at each water change.
I would start by doing a 50% water change, making sure that the new water is the same temperature as the tank water. Then test for ammonia and nitrite. If they are above zero, do another water change. Depending how big the tank is you may need to do a water change every day, the important things is to stop the fish being poisoned by ammonia and nitrite.
Don't get any new fish until both ammonia and nitrite stay at zero for a week without needing water changes.


Once you've done the water changes, here is some reading for you to explain things. http://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/ The first part explains about why we need to grow bacteria in the tank, though the second part is about growing them before you get fish which you can't do as you already have fish. What your job is now is to remove the poisonous ammonia and nitrite until you tank has grown enough bacteria to do the job for you.
Do I need to test the water after using prime? I have a 29 gallon heated to 76 degrees. I've read about the nitrogen cycle I am just started to get burned out
 
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Tigernewbie

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Do I need to test the water after using prime? I have a 29 gallon heated to 76 degrees. I've read about the nitrogen cycle I am just started to get burned out
I mean do I treat the water, do the water change, then immediately test for nitrate and ammonia or wait to test for hours days etc ?
 

Karen_2656

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When I first bought my tank it was so dirty, i did a 25-50% water change every day until I was fine again! Trust me when you have a new tank you have a lot of deaths at the start, just keep changing your water and you will be fine [emoji4][emoji4]


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essjay

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Test the water straight after the water change to make sure that ammonia and nitrite are low enough. Prime detoxifies them but they can still be detected by the testers. Prime should detoxify small amounts of ammonia and nitrite but the effect wears off after about 36 hours so you'll need to do a water change and add Prime for the new water within that time.
 

Byron

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Essjay has covered your immediate issue. Looking forward, what is the tank size? Tiger Barbs should be in a group of at least ten or more, in a 29/30 gallon tank, minimum. So when this present issue is resolved, keep this in mind. In smaller tanks or in fewer numbers, the TB may well nip one another to the point of serious health issues if not death.
 
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Tigernewbie

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Essjay has covered your immediate issue. Looking forward, what is the tank size? Tiger Barbs should be in a group of at least ten or more, in a 29/30 gallon tank, minimum. So when this present issue is resolved, keep this in mind. In smaller tanks or in fewer numbers, the TB may well nip one another to the point of serious health issues if not death.
I have 5....now 4 in a 29 gallon tank. I've been trying to keep around 6 but my tank is a death trap and I don't want to buy more until I get it figured out
 
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Tigernewbie

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So i should just do huge water changes everyday until my numbers look better?
 

Byron

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I have 5....now 4 in a 29 gallon tank. I've been trying to keep around 6 but my tank is a death trap and I don't want to buy more until I get it figured out
Agreed, wait until this issue is resolved before looking at more. But if you want to stay with Tiger Barb, I would then get 10-12 and that will be the fish for this tank. Some substrate level fish (cories for example) are OK, but no other upper fish with the TB.

So i should just do huge water changes everyday until my numbers look better?
Yes, every day should be sufficient. As essjay mentioned, Prime detoxifies ammonia and nitrite but both are temporary; Seachem say the effectiveness is 36-48 hours. I tend to be on the safe side and deem it 24 hours, so test every morning and change if ammonia or nitrite are not zero. And as essjay also noted, while Prime detoxifies these substances, our aquarium tests will still show them. But once they are gone, zero.
 
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Tigernewbie

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I took out five gallons and put in fresh water with the prime in it..... Just tested nitrite and ammonia and nitrite is 0 but ammonia stayed the same at apx .50ppm. so I need to change more water then?
 

Byron

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I took out five gallons and put in fresh water with the prime in it..... Just tested nitrite and ammonia and nitrite is 0 but ammonia stayed the same at apx .50ppm. so I need to change more water then?
I would recommend a larger water change, about half the tank. That will cut the ammonia/nitrite, whichever, in half to start with. Then use Prime for that volume, or a bit more won't hurt here. Then tomorrow, if ammonia or nitrite still show, another 50% W/C with Prime.

There will be no ammonia or nitrite in the fresh water obviously, so the detoxifying aspect of Prime will work on what is in the tank, and half/half achieves this without overdosing Prime.
 
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Tigernewbie

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I would recommend a larger water change, about half the tank. That will cut the ammonia/nitrite, whichever, in half to start with. Then use Prime for that volume, or a bit more won't hurt here. Then tomorrow, if ammonia or nitrite still show, another 50% W/C wiith Prime.
Thank you so much!! I want to keep these alive so bad!
 

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