sarahve1

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Hi everyone, so I am new to the hobby of keeping fish, and also new to this forum (I hope I'm posting this in the right topic)
So we've had fish since somewhere in September 2015. We bought a 17-litre tank (4 gallon) and 12 fish.
What we got: 3 livebearers, platy's to be exact, one of them a red wagtail platy. 
                      5 harlequin rasbora's
                      4 neon tetra's
The tank has always been around 25°C (77°F), but we haven't really ever checked the pH.
Our tank is set up pretty moderately, we have rocks and some real plants, and a filter of course.
So what has happened is that the neon tetra's began dying (2 of them died), after a couple of months. One of the harlequin rasbora's and one platy died too.
Yesterday (16th of June 2016), we went and got 5 new fish. We got 2 skunk loaches, mostly to help with all the snails in the tank,
and 3 more platy's (I think they were golden comet and maybe golden moon ones).
One day went by and the two other tetras died and another platy died (we're left with the red wagtail platy).
Does anyone know what could be the cause of this? We are feeding them flakes every other day, since that is what the shop told us.
Thank you so much if anyone could help me with this!
 

Akasha72

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Hi and welcome, both to the forum and to the hobby
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We're gonna need a bit more information I think. Normally when things are going wrong, or simply don't seem right, the first thing we'd do is to grab our water test kits and run off tests for pH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. When fish are dying for no real obvious reason clues often lie in their water.
 
If you don't have a test kit to hand do you have a local fish store (lfs) that can test it for you? If you do ask them to run off the main four mentioned above and ask them to write down the actual figures. Often they will test for you and say 'it's all fine' when it's actually not so knowing the figures helps us.
 
What size is the tank and are you doing weekly water changes and if so how much? Are you adding dechlorinator to the water to detoxify heavy metals etc.
 
Once we know a bit more we'll be better placed to get you some help. It's all fixable but we need to know the stats first 
 
Hope that helps
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Ninjouzata

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Sorry about your losses :( I think your issue may be that none of these fish belong in that size tank, and having so many of them the water quality is probably quite low.
 
As above, knowing your pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate would help.
Ideally you'll want your own liquid test kit but having the shop check for now so you can get an idea of what is going on would be good.
 
Are the fish showing any symptoms before dying?
 

Fishmanic

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yes, we need to know paramaeers.  I hope you did a fishless cycle before adding fish.   Doing a fish- in cycle can cause the fish to die  especially near the time you put in the fish.  In my opinion,  the skunk loaches will get too big for your small 4 gallon tank.   You are overstocked, especially if the fish are near full grown,  and that can affect water quality and cause high nitrites. and ammonia.     
 
Did the fish show any symptoms before dying ,  like white spots on them, cloudy eyes, issues with the fins deteriorating or any other symptoms.  
 
Get a test kit and test nitrites, nitrates, ammonia and ph.   Api test kit is what most use here.  Stay away from the test strips and they can be inaccurate.  Report the results here.
 

Akasha72

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I missed the tank size ... 17 litres is tiny. I agree it's over stocked
 
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sarahve1

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Thank you guys! I will definitely get the water checked, I will update you when I do. I did indeed seem like the fish store owners did not really care or something. 
When reading information about the fish, I did see that some of them needed a (way) bigger tank. I don't really think we have a place for that so we should probably just alter the amount and type of fish then. 
The owners of the store said we could have 1 fish per liter, so technically 17 fish, but that already seemed way too many for me. 
By the way, we change the filter and 1/3 to 1/2 of the water every three weeks, since that is what the filter packaging said. 
As for the symptoms, I did notice that the tetra's fins were indeed deteriorating and they were losing some of their color. So we knew it wasn't normal, we just waited it out because we didn't really know what to do.
Also, could the two new loaches be too aggressive? 
Anyways, I will follow you guys' tips and let you know how it goes. Thank you again! :)
 
 

Ninjouzata

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Unfortunately a lot of stores don't care and are just interested in the money. Not all of them though.
 
1 fish per liter is definitely not good, sounds similar to the 1" of fish per gallon rule which is also not good.
You're right in that you'll want to change the amount of fish and type..really in this size tank you'll just want a single betta or some shrimp.
 
Also, do not want to change the filter media as that is where a lot of the good bacteria are so that is part of the problem.
It's best to do a water change every week of at least 25%, although with how overly stocked the tank is you'd be wanting to do much larger changes and more often.
 
The loaches could be aggressive due to not being kept in proper numbers, they are best in groups of 6 although much better in 8+ as they form a social hierarchy.
 
I would recommend returning all of the fish (not easiest thing to do, I know), and then doing a fish-less cycle by following THIS.
You'll want a liquid test kit (most use API) and some patience :)

Hope I havn't sounded too negative, just want to help. A lot of us have been in this situation before unfortunately.
 

Munroco

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"1 fish per litre"  What a terrible piece of advice to give anyone. I could keep 260 full grown clown loaches in my tank if this was true. I'd probably have to put some in then squash them down to make more room. I'd find another LFS if I were you.
 

Akasha72

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I agree. A lot of the large chain pet stores are terrible for dishing out bad information. When we have a large tank you can get away with a little over stocking but with such a small tank you can't get away with it. I would agree that this tank is only really big enough for a betta or some shrimp although you could maybe get away with some of the micro species of rasboras, it depends more on the shape of the tank. 
I have a little 25 litre that I use for fry/quarantine/hospital tank. It's a standard oblong tank and it works well for those purposes but if it were a tall hexagon shape it wouldn't work.
 
I think there's a few things wrong here and that boils down to bad advice from the lfs - not your fault at all. 
 
Firstly - never change the filter media unless it is falling apart. All it needs is a light clean in some old tank water - never clean it under the tap or in tap water as the metals can kill the bacteria. 
 
Secondly  - with this stocking I would look to change at least 50% of the water every week (if it is not possible to re-home the current stock)
 
Thirdly - I would look to rehome these fish if that is possible and start again. First you'll need to find out from your water company if your water is naturally soft or hard. If it's soft I'd look at a single betta or the micro species of rasboras. If it's hard I'd look at endlers. All of these fish are colourful enough to give you a nice display but all will do fine in such a small tank.
 
Like Ninjouzata has said - I hope I'm not sounding too negative too :/
 

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