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I am a fish killer :(

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish Emergencies' started by darthjoe, Aug 31, 2003.

  1. darthjoe

    darthjoe Member

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    First off, let me start by saying hello. :D

    Over the past few weeks I've been browsing your forums whenever I have a question about my newly established fish tank. However, it seems I failed to read some of the more important topics. :(

    A little over two weeks ago, my wife and I decided to start a new hobby, so we chose to get a fish tank and fish. I am a newbie to good fish keeping, as my only prior experience was from small tanks that I had as a kid. We started by buying a ten gallon tank and setting the whole thing up. We took all of the obvious precautions such as rinsing all gravel and decorations thoroughly, and dechlorinating the water. Anxious to add fish to our tank, later that day, we went and bought seven Tiger Barbs, a Plecostomus and a Black-Tail shark (at least I was smart enough to see which fish were compatible with each other, and how many of each to get :rolleyes:), and added them all to the tank (which I now realize was a mistake :sad:).

    All of the Barbs seemed healthy up until two days ago, when we noticed two or three of them had ick. The Black-Tail shark had been acting wierd (scratching himself on gravel and plants, not moving much, turned pale, and fins seemed to be stuck to his sides) since we first introduced him to the tank. Now, none of the Barbs are eating, they seem to be "hiding" at the bottom underneath plant leaves...they hardly move around, one of them has a severe case of white spots, two others are very pale, one died this morning, and the three other seem to be normal color and show no signs of ick, but they don't move around or feed either. We thought the Plecostomus was dead too, since he was at the top of the tank on his side, but when we stuck the net in the tank to scoop him up, he swam to the bottom. He's now on the side of the tank, but he isn't "sucking". I fear he will be dead by the end of the day as well. :no: The only thing that seems to be going "good" :unsure:, is that the Black-Tail is moving around more and his color is coming back.

    After reading around, I realized I made a huge mistake in not cycling the tank, and that this has probably led to the death/sickness of my fish. I am confused about a few things:

    1) How to cure ick - I bought some stuff called QuICK Cure. It says to remove the carbon filter and add 1 drop/gallon every day for three days. Online I have read that you should administer the treatment for up to 14 days, along with raising the water temperature to speed up the the reproductive cycle of the bacteria, along with doing water changes. It seems to me that changing the water while the fish are sick, would stress them even more, causing them to get even more ill than they already are. I have been slowly increasing the water temp, however, and applying ten drops of QuICK Cure every night. Any other suggestions?

    2) Water changes. What is the proper way to do this? I know enough to make sure the new water that I am adding is approximately the same temp as the water in the tank, but how much of the water should I change out and how often should I do this? I've read quite a few contradictory statements when it comes to this.

    3) I don't expect my fish to live. As I said before, the Plecostomus will probably be dead later on today, and the barbs aren't eating or moving...the only fish that looks like it will survive is the Black-Tail. If they do die, I'm not going to give up, but what should I do about my tank before I add more fish? Should I continue to treat the water for ick? Should I put the carbon filter back in and let the tank sit for a few weeks? Should I completely empty the tank, get new gravel, and recycle it properly, with no fish?

    4) The whole ammonia, nitrate, nitrite thing confuses me a little. Could anyone explain and expand on cycling for me, and how these things affect fish?

    I know for anyone replying to this, you're probably thinking, "Ugh! Where to start... :S," but any suggestions are welcome at this point.

    Oh yeah...FYI, here's what the water levels are at in my tank, as we speak:

    ph - 7.5
    alkalinity - 120
    hardness - 125
    nitrite- 0
    nitrate - 10

    P.S. As I was typing this out, my Plecostomus died. Time for another toiletbowl funeral. :(
     
  2. smb

    smb Guest

    Top Poster Of Month

    1. I would do it for at least 5-7 days. Actually, the water changes would help in this situation to get rid of the ammonia that is built up also. It will just take you a bit longer sometimes to cycle the tank.


    2. In your case right now, I would do 10% a day or every other day because if you don't you might lose all your fish. In a normally cycled tank it all depends on the fish you have, what/how often you feed and your filtration. We can help you with that once we get past this.

    3. It's great that you won't give up. With everyones help here you'll see how easy it can be.
    I would do a fishless cycle if you have no fish left. It's a lot easier and usually quicker.

    4. Click on the 2 links below in my signature and it will explain it for you. :)


    Keep us updated on the progress. At least you care enough about your fish to worry and come here and ask. We'll all try to get you thru this. :)
     
  3. Alien Anna

    Alien Anna Member

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    Hi Darthjoe. I'm sorry you've had such a miserable introduction to fishkeeping, but as they say, we all learn by our mistakes. Now we need to see what we can do to rescue the situation (and the fish! ).

    Before I go nitpicking everything you've said in your post I wanted to make sure of the priority: the reason your fish are dying is that your tank is not cycled. "Not cycled" means that the ammonia from the fish waste is steadily poisoning your stock and until the beneficial bacteria build-up sufficiently to break it down, you are going to have to work very hard to keep them alive.

    Ammonia, and the by-product nitrite (the second stage of the Cycle) act on the fish by inhibiting respiration. In short, your fish are suffocating. Your plec, unable to swim near the surface where the oxygen concentration is higher, was the first to succumb :-( However, it's an ill-wind - his predicted adult size was anything up to 2.5 ft, which would have been way too big for your tank.

    Your fish are getting sick because their immune systems are below par due to the water poisoning (like humans getting shingles when they're stressed). Therefore, the priority is to get that water quality better.
    1. If at all possible, get some filter floss from a mature tank or pond and put it in your tank in an old stocking. This will contain the beneficial bacteria you need to get the tank cycling more quickly. Some gravel would also be helpful.
    2. Do 10-15% water changes at least daily (twice daily if necessary) until ammonia and nitrites are reading zero.
    3. Get test kits and check your water daily for ammonia and nitrite. Once they are zero you can relax.
    4. Feed bare minimal food every other day until the crisis has passed. This will reduce the amount of ammonia your fish are producing and maybe keep them alive.
    5. Raising the temperature to around 78-80F will not only speed up cycling, it should also help recovery from ick. However, warmer water contains less oxygen so it's a balancing act.

    Treat the ick as instructed on the bottle of Quikcure, except that it would be a good idea to continue the treatment for 14 days to make sure you've really got rid of the problem.

    I don't understand your problem with water changing but get yourself one of those siphon-type gravel cleaners and use that every time you to a water change. But please don't over-clean your gravel at this stage - you need those bacteria to grow. Don't worry too much about temperature - I've never fussed about it myself and my fish have never had a problem. It's not temperature that's killing your fish! You won't need to do daily 10-15% w/c forever, but while your tank has poisons in it, you will.

    Keep going with the cycling - hopefully with the frequent water changes and the ick treatment you won't lose any more fish. Once the tank is cycled it will be relative plain sailing.

    And then all we've got to deal with is what exactly is a "Black tailed shark"? I can't find mention of one in any of my books. Maybe it's a melanic version of the Red-tailed black shark ? A RTBS is definitely far too big for a 10 gal.
     
  4. gadazobe

    gadazobe Retired Moderator
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    Hi and welcome to the forum. Sorry to hear about your problems, but, if you stick with us, we'll do our utmost to help you through this difficult time. You have given us your water parameters, but the most important one at this time is missing - ammonia. The first chemical to be produced by fish waste and excess food is ammonia and this is a killer. Ammonia is then broken down by "good bacteria"to make nitrite which is also a killer and this in turn is broken down to make nitrate which, in low levels, is harmless, but plants thrive on it. Don't break down your tank even if you do lose all your fish (which hopefully won't happen) because the cycling process has already begun so there is no point starting from scratch again. Follow the advice given and do water changes which will help to get the ammonia level down. As already said, this will increase the cycling time but, hopefully, your remaining fish will stay alive. Please, please don't get any new fish untill your tank is cycled. Feed your remaining fish very spareingly during the cycling process.
    By the way, when the time comes for you to restock your tank, please take into consideration that a plec gets way too big for a 10 gallon tank.
    Believe me, we have all been where you're standing now, but this stage will pass and then you can start to enjoy your new hobby :)
     
  5. darthjoe

    darthjoe Member

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    Thanks for the info and suggestions guys. It's a lot easier to list out the problems and have someone explain why it's happening, and what to do for the particular situation, then to try to figure it out on your own by reading internet articles. ;)

    and

    This is exactly some of the info I was looking for...broke down into terms where it makes a little more sense. :thumbs:

    And if I can't do this, do you think that changing out 10% of the water, on a daily basis, will be sufficient?

    I bought a gravel cleaner, but haven't attempted to use it yet. I'll give it a try...any suggestions on the best method for doing so?

    :lol:

    Yeah...brainfart. I meant Red-Tail...I guess I'm just a little worried about my fish...don't know why I was calling him "Black-Tail". :S

    Don't worry...I didn't plan on getting any new fish until I can get my tank stable and hopefully get all of my current fish well. *crosses fingers*

    Thanks for the info about feeding too. ;)
     
  6. smb

    smb Guest

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    Not only sufficient but a must.

    I'll assume you are using pails and not a Python etc?

    Hold the sucking end into the water while holding your thumb over the emptying end. Let the sucking end fill up with water.

    Keep your thumb on the emptying end and raise the sucking end up while slowly and barely letting off the emptying end until all the air is out and the water gets there then close it back up with your thumb.

    Put the sucking end back in the water and while keeping the other end closed, let the sucking end fill completely back up.

    Make sure the emptying end is lower then the cleaning end and let it go and it should be primed.


    I used to line up 4 5g pails so I didn't have to keep messing with priming it every couple minutes.
     
  7. darthjoe

    darthjoe Member

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    Well, I got an ammonia test kit tonight, and the ammonia level is reading about 1.5 ppm. :/

    I did a 10% water change today, and will continue to do so, along with the ick treatment. Hopefully, my fish will get better, and no more will die. I feel bad enough just for putting the poor little things through this. :(

    Also, for the water I'm changing into the tank, should I treat it in any way, or just leave it alone? I've been buying drinking water from the grocery store, since my tap water smells bad...like there is a lot of iron in it or something.

    BTW - Thanks for all of the help so far, guys. ;)
     
  8. ketyana

    ketyana Member

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    very glad to hear things are starting to move in the right direction, best of luck to you and your fish in their fight for life, :thumbs:

    May I just ask one thing though, please do not flush dead fish, they often carry different diseases to native fish, even when they die of posioining and not disease, and they threated these stocks should your water come in contact with them. I know they shouldnt, but on an international scale no water company is perfect :(
     
  9. Alien Anna

    Alien Anna Member

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    The smell of water coming out the tap is usually chlorine. You can get rid of it by using a dechlorinator - just a simple dechlorinator will do, from any pet store, you don't need the fancy stuff with aloe vera and goodness knows what else in it.
     
  10. darthjoe

    darthjoe Member

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    Well, I'm down to 1 Barb and the Red-Tail now. :(

    I've changed out 10% of the water each day for the last few days, but I think things were too far gone by the time I tried to do something about it. I expect the last Barb will probably be dead soon. :/ The RTBS could pull through as he seems to be quite persistent about not letting go. It's been very disheartening and sad to see these fish suffer...especially knowing that I brought this upon them due to my lack of knowledge. :sad:

    As I said before though, I'm not going to give up. :) I've learned quite a bit over the last few days, and plan on getting my water levels stable, so I can buy more fish and have a happy, healthy community. Until then, I'm going to continue with the water changes, and try to at least save my Red-Tail. ;)
     
  11. Alien Anna

    Alien Anna Member

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    Darthjoe - you're doing well but you're probably right about things having gone too far before you got the necessary information. I killed a lot of fish too, before I knew better and the horrifying thing is there are a lot of fish owners out there who think it's perfectly normal to lose 95% of their stock in a year and enjoy weekly visits to the LFS to replace fish they've lost. They almost regard fish as disposable living ornaments! :(

    However, you and I are not like that and in the end, despite some bumps in the road, we end up as better fish keepers.

    For all you know, that shark could be the one that you boast about in years to come "... but do you know, I've still got that old shark to this day".

    If it's any consolation, my sister's first fish were White Cloud Mountain Minnows. She accidently killed them with water poisoning, in her un-cycled tank, after 2 weeks when the kids dropped a whole box of food into the tank. She then bought gold fish, believing them to be hardier. One lived about 6 weeks, the second 4 months. She replaced them with some sort of shabukin (a small variety) and she's had them 18 months so far with no problems at all except it's a small tank and she has to do very frequent water changes. So, once a tank is matured things can go very smoothly indeed if you get the right fish.

    Good luck!
     
  12. darthjoe

    darthjoe Member

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    Just a quick update...I am down to one fish now. :p Not really something to jest about, but I'm not going to sit around and dwell on it constantly. ;)

    Anyways, my RTBS is the only survivor, and to tell the truth, I'm surprised he's made it this far. He spends most of his time laying on his side at the bottom of the tank, or wedged between the silk leaves of one of the fake plants...only eating from the bottom of the tank occasionally in between. It's quite sad to see this...unless this is normal behavior for a RTBS, which I highly doubt. ;)

    I've been changing out 10% of the water, and administering the ick treatments daily. The ammonia levels are down around.25-.5, which is quite a bit lower than the 1.5 ppm I reported in my last post. :thumbs: The Nitrite levels have increased quite drastically to nearly 4.0 ppm, however. So, I have my nitrite spike.

    Hopefully, the ammonia and nitrite will drop to zero before my RTBS dies...he's been very persistant about not giving into being poisoned. :lol: ;)
     
  13. smb

    smb Guest

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    Thank you for the update, darthjoe. It's always nice to hear how things are going. :)

    I'm sorry for your losses. I hope also that the rtbs will make it through it. The poor lil guy. But you're doing your best and hopefully he'll live through the cycling.

    Keep us updated. :)
     
  14. Alien Anna

    Alien Anna Member

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    We're cheering on that RTBS. He'll be a devil to find tank-mates for but I expect he'll be precious to you if he makes it through.

    Great news to hear that you're getting a nitrite spike - your tank is beginning to cycle. Nitrite is considerably less toxic than ammonia so although it goes on for ages, it should be less of a white-knuckle ride for you. Keep doing what you're doing!
     

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