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Raven1126

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“Santa” (my mother)got my 5 year old fish for Christmas. I have 2 rescued dogs and a cat but I’ve never had fish. We now have a 20 gallon community tank. There is a female betta (who is the one I am most worried about), cory cats, glow tetras (who the people at the store said would be perfect and easy going but are kind of bullies), a lemon bn pleco and 2 snails. The temperature has been at 79, I have used 4 different ph test kits and took pictures because I’m not understanding how I’m getting 4 different numbers! The only good thing is it’s consistent. Whatever the ph actually is, it isn’t fluctuating.

We had an algae bloom (I think) roughly 2 weeks ago. The ph spiked but has now been steady. The ammonia, nitrate and nitrite are all at 0ppm. I have been doing at least 25% water changes every other day or so. I first noticed an issue with my betta. She started loosing her color and turned like a silver color. I went out and bought a 10 gallon tank that is now set up but I don’t know what to treat them with or how.

From everything I have read over the last 3 days it looks like velvet. I know from most of what I’ve read it’s not typically that but when I used the flash light to look I noticed the corydoras are starting to look like they are getting some around their heads. My betta is still eating and swimming. She was laying on the bottom with one of the catfish yesterday but aside from rubbing herself on leaves and plants doesn’t seem very sick except for the way she looks.

There is so much information out here my head feels like it’s going to explode. I am a lover of all living beings and this is really upsetting me. I am freaking out and I can’t sleep until I know I am doing what’s best. The woman at Petco told me to buy the microbe-lift Artemis’s but I wonder if that wasn’t just to make a sale because they were out of everything else? The first thing I did was call the store because that was where I got the fish but most of the employees I have encountered have no idea what’s going on. They completely let her (mother) overstock the tank, didn’t know about the fish and can never seem to answer my questions. I went to the local store this morning hoping I would have better luck but through my research knew more than the “fish expert” about the products I was looking for. She told me she had never even heard of velvet! That may not be what it is but it seems the most likely from what I have read. At this point the light has been off all day, I turned the heat up to 82 over the course of the day and the tank is covered with a towel.

I will upload some pics but I feel like it’s really hard to see. The betta was white with bright red and blue spots and now she is all silver. I plan on moving her to her own tank because the glow fish are rude and bump her and I think they stress her out but I’m assuming that if she has something I need to treat the whole tank.

I also bought them all kinds of expensive food because I researched what each needed to be healthy and happy so I don’t think that’s the problem unless there was bacteria in any of the frozen blood worms or brine shrimp. I also have hakari carnivore pellets, algae sinking wafers, daphnia, repashy (community plus) and have put freeze dried seaweed, fresh zucchini and spinach in at different times for bn pleco.

Thank you in advance
 

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wasmewasntit

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First of all....calm down.....

Lets get the basics....

When did you set up the aquarium?
Did you fully cycle the aquarium before adding the fish?
What exactly is the aquarium stocked with (species/number)?

Things to bear in mind....

Cycling an aquarium is not an overnight thing, nor can it be done in a few days (despite what the storeperson might tell you - they are after commissions on sales, afterall)

Without fish you can take anywhere from 7 to 9 weeks or with fish you can take anywhere from 8 to 14 weeks to complete the cycle process.

Your water.......if you go to your water supplier's website, enter your zip/postal code it will give you a full chemistry of the water in your area. This is vital information to have as it will tell you exactly which fish you can or cannot care for. Fish should never be forced to tolerate the wrong water. It causes a heightened proneness to illness and disease and can shorten their lifespan. So getting the water chemistry is a must do thing before buying fish really.

That will do to begin with...find all that information first and then people here can get to grips with what might be happening. Oh and stop adding anything except the water conditioner.
 
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Raven1126

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It was set up on Christmas Eve with no fish for the first week. They said to bring a sample of the water in to make sure it was ok but you are correct they just wanted to push a sale. So maybe it is not cycled yet?

I put that stuff it yesterday but after doing more research I didn’t put it in today. I will go look up the water information and get back to you on that.

1 betta, 4 corydoras, 4 glow tetras, 1 blue eyed lemon bn pleco and 2 mystery snails. All though now that I am typing this out one of the snails did die a couple days after we got him. The water was all testing fine though. I got another tank today to separate some so they won’t feel too crowded but obviously haven’t moved anything into it yet.

I have been trying to breathe and calm down but I don’t even kill bugs. I bring spiders outside (and they creep me out). The thought that I could be responsible for all these fish being sick or dying is putting me in a tail spin. I should have said NO to my mother. She never says no to grandkids about anything and was at the store with him before I could interject. I only delayed her by a few days because it was the week of Christmas.

Thank you so much for your reply.
 

wasmewasntit

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OK...lets get you some important reading that WILL help you.

You are not the first person who has come here with massive storeperson induced difficulties...and you will not be the last either, I can assure you of that.

Have a good read of this linked page.....and then within the page you will see how to do a "fish-in cycle"

Read it all thoroughly and if at all stuck about anything in there, then ask...don't sit twiddling thumbs and getting stressed out.


You MAY lose fish, so be prepared for that. You might try and take the fish back to the store, it is doubtful that they will refund but they might give a credit note. Please do not add any medications or ammonia locking additives as both will stall and potentially ruin the cycle processes.

Your first point of call is to read up on the link above and ask questions where you don't understand anything, OK.

You're not dealing with this on your own and what is happening is not your fault.
 
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Raven1126

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OK...lets get you some important reading that WILL help you.

You are not the first person who has come here with massive storeperson induced difficulties...and you will not be the last either, I can assure you of that.

Have a good read of this linked page.....and then within the page you will see how to do a "fish-in cycle"

Read it all thoroughly and if at all stuck about anything in there, then ask...don't sit twiddling thumbs and getting stressed out.


You MAY lose fish, so be prepared for that. You might try and take the fish back to the store, it is doubtful that they will refund but they might give a credit note. Please do not add any medications or ammonia locking additives as both will stall and potentially ruin the cycle processes.

Your first point of call is to read up on the link above and ask questions where you don't understand anything, OK.

You're not dealing with this on your own and what is happening is not your fault.
Thank you so much again! So I read the link and all the link on the page and wonder if my tank may actually be cycled by now. I have the filter that came with the tank and I also bought a sponge filter that makes the bubbles. Hopefully the good bacteria are living on there 🤞. All the readings have been at 0.0ppm. I have the ph and ammonia detectors that hang in the tank but I also have test strips and the api master test kit.

I am also horrified by the drinking water. It said there were 11 chemicals that were above the range and then 24 others that were in there, but not high. And then I noticed the data was only from 2015 to 2019 and when I kept clicking on the one from 2021 it wasn’t pulling everything up so I have to keep trying to do that.

I bought 2 -5 gallon buckets ( 1 for dirty water and 1 that I put the tap water in to condition it before adding it into the tank), a gravel vac, conditioner, tetra easy balance plus and stress zyme all in the week or weeks after getting the tank. I also bought one of those nature boxes that have the leaves and bark from the almond tree to naturally help with ph. I also realized last night when I was trying to set up the new tank that the careless (not my preferred word to describe these pet store associates) employee from a major chain store sold me the wrong sand for my tank. It is sand for a marine tank with bacteria in it that is supposed to keep the ph around 8. There isn’t too much of it in the community tank but in hindsight that is probably why my ph is consistently high! I’m not sure if that stuff is just a gimmick or what.

There is soooo much conflicting information online and in chain pet stores that I don’t know what to believe anymore. I also forgot to mention that I have a few plants in the tank as well. There is what was marketed as grass seed floating at the top because the cat fish pull it up and then it floats, Java fern, Amazon swords and a little container of bulbs I bought and planted that are just starting to grow (I will have to take a look and see but I think one was onion and one was a water lily possibly).

I also took out the filter pad from the top fin filter (and threw it away) when I put that medicine in because the girl who sold the medicine told me to but I probably should have saved it because it must have had a lot of my good bacteria on it 🤦🏼‍♀️.

Thank you again for all your time and help. I really appreciate it. 💜 Just to give you an idea of the kind of crazy person I am I will tell you I did Reiki (energy healing) on the tank last night before I finally went to bed. Everything I have done has been with the best intentions, I just hope my fish will make it and be happy.
 

wasmewasntit

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It can be quite scary when you read the water company's chemistry for the water out of the tap

Hardness - this is important as to giving you the type of fish that your water it best suited for. Despite what most think, water is not only water when deciding on the fish. Some fish thrive in soft water and others in hard water, fish tend to suffer and live shorter lives if put into the wrong water. The water company report should tell you which water type you have.

pH - again the pH from the tap should be on the report. The substrate, is likely to cause an issue here if, as you say, it is a marine substrate. Ideally the substrate for freshwater should be inert.

The bulbs shouldn't be planted as such....they will rot if the bulb itself is below the substrate (I have several bulbs in my aquariums scattered here and there...the fish play five aside football with them alot). When they start to grow out, their roots will anchor themselves into the substrate.

You only need one water dechlorinator. Try to find one that does not have things like Aloe Vera or Tea Tree additives. The Betta will suffocate if anything is used with those or any other "herbal" ingredients. The Betta is a surface breathing fish, they have a labrynth organ that gets destroyed by Tea Tree herbal elements in aquarium additives and other fish slowly build up gill damage from Aloe Vera since that does not dissipate or be removed when doing water changes. Anything that has "FIX" in its name, avoid like the plague, they are packed with herbal elements that are bad for fish. There are certain dechlorinators that carry herbal elements that allegedly calm new fish etc, they calm them to death...literally to death.

A basic dechlorinator is all you need when doing your weekly water changes. Ideally water changes average 50%....more if there is a recognised issue in the chemistry.
 
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Raven1126

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Ok. The package said stick them in up to 3/4 but to keep uncovered on top but should I just pull them up and let them float around? I don’t want any rotting!

Why would that moron sell me the medicine with tea tree when the betta was my biggest concern?!?! This is why I joined here. Those people ( and myself) have no clue what they are doing. They shouldn’t even be allowed to make recommendations. In my field if I don’t know the answer to something I don’t pretend and give people misinformation.

So what do you think is the problem with Snowflake ( the betta)? I don’t want her to be in pain or suffering in there. Could that happen if she was just stressed out by the bully glowfish? I bought that other tank incase I needed to quarantine but ultimately to move her. She is fine not aggressive towards the others but I do think they stress her out. But I’m worried it’s more of some kind of bacterial infection.
 

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Wasmewasntit has taken you through the basics. If you don't already have one, a test kit which tests for ammonia and nitrite is important as these two are fish killers.
After almost a month, you should be through the ammonia stage but you probably have nitrite in the water. as it takes a couple of months to grow all the necessary bacteria, and the nitrite eaters can't even start to grow until there are enough ammonia eaters to make nitrite.
However, you have live plants which will help as they use ammonia as fertiliser and they turn it into protein rather than nitrite.

When the store tested the water after the first week, it would have been perfect as there were no fish in there yet to make it 'unperfect'. This is something store workers seem to have no concept about.


Fish rubbing on plants - called flashing - can be due to a few things. These do include velvet and ich but also irritation caused by ammonia and nitrite in the water. For ID, ich looks as though the fish have been sprinkled in salt, and if you shine a flash-light on the fish when it's dark in the room and no tank lights are on, if the fish have a gold sheen on them, that's velvet.

conditioner, tetra easy balance plus and stress zyme
You need water conditioner - which one do you have? Conditioner is all you need to add.
Forget the Easy balance, it does nothing useful.
Stress Zyme is also not useful. All the bacteria you need grow naturally, and that includes a lot more than just the ammonia and nitrite eaters.




It is sand for a marine tank with bacteria in it that is supposed to keep the ph around 8.
Is it possible to remove this sand? Marine sand is not good for freshwater tanks. The cheapest substrate is actually play sand. Our American members will help you choose the best brand, but I think the one they usually recommend is sold at Lowes.
If you want to change the substrate we can help you do that.



Glo-fish tetras are genetically modified skirt/widow tetras (different names, same fish). These are known as fin nippers and this is worse when there aren't enough of them. 10 is now the minimum number for shoaling fish like tetras with 12 to 15 being better for known fin nippers. But skirt/widow tetras are big fish and I'm not sure a 20 gallon is big enough for that many.
 
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Raven1126

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Wasmewasntit has taken you through the basics. If you don't already have one, a test kit which tests for ammonia and nitrite is important as these two are fish killers.
After almost a month, you should be through the ammonia stage but you probably have nitrite in the water. as it takes a couple of months to grow all the necessary bacteria, and the nitrite eaters can't even start to grow until there are enough ammonia eaters to make nitrite.
However, you have live plants which will help as they use ammonia as fertiliser and they turn it into protein rather than nitrite.

When the store tested the water after the first week, it would have been perfect as there were no fish in there yet to make it 'unperfect'. This is something store workers seem to have no concept about.


Fish rubbing on plants - called flashing - can be due to a few things. These do include velvet and ich but also irritation caused by ammonia and nitrite in the water. For ID, ich looks as though the fish have been sprinkled in salt, and if you shine a flash-light on the fish when it's dark in the room and no tank lights are on, if the fish have a gold sheen on them, that's velvet.


You need water conditioner - which one do you have? Conditioner is all you need to add.
Forget the Easy balance, it does nothing useful.
Stress Zyme is also not useful. All the bacteria you need grow naturally, and that includes a lot more than just the ammonia and nitrite eaters.





Is it possible to remove this sand? Marine sand is not good for freshwater tanks. The cheapest substrate is actually play sand. Our American members will help you choose the best brand, but I think the one they usually recommend is sold at Lowes.
If you want to change the substrate we can help you do that.



Glo-fish tetras are genetically modified skirt/widow tetras (different names, same fish). These are known as fin nippers and this is worse when there aren't enough of them. 10 is now the minimum number for shoaling fish like tetras with 12 to 15 being better for known fin nippers. But skirt/widow tetras are big fish and I'm not sure a 20 gallon is big enough for that many.
They sold me the top fin water conditioner that is what I have used every time I add tap water. I have searchem ammonia and ph tester that stay in the tank with little suction cups, the api 5 in 1 test strips and a fresh water master test kit.

I had purchased the sand because I read it was better for the corydoras but should have read the bag more throughly. They gave it to me at the pet store and i didn’t do my due diligence because at the time i assumed (which I know better than to do) that
They knew more than I did, because I was just starting out. it wasn’t until I just tried to set up my new tank and went to use the sand that I actually fully read it and realize that it says that it keeps the pH around eight which for this tank from what I’m told is too high. Most of what I’ve read says to keep it around seven for a community of fish that I have in there.

I’m not sure if you can tell by the pictures or not but that shining of the flashlight in the dark with that kind of iridescent shining goldish silver is what makes me think that it is velvet.


There isn’t much sand in the 20 gallon tank. At this point there is mostly gravel. Because because they had a roast. I would still like to change it out and put the sand if it’s better for the beta in the Corey Doris but I read disturbing everything under there might cause spikes and things and if there’s already a problem in the tank I don’t want to stress them out even further.
 

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I think changing the sand would be less stressful than leaving the marine sand in the tank if that's the cause of the high pH. What is the pH of your tap water, both freshly run and a glass of water that's been allowed to stand overnight (which allows any dissolved gasses to gas out)?
From what I understand, marine sand is made from aragonite. This is a mineral made of calcium carbonate which will increase the hardness and pH of your tank water. Since you have soft water fish, this is not a good idea.


Sand, soft smooth sand, is better for cories. They feed by taking a mouthful of sand, sifting out the food and expelling the sand through their gills. They can't do this with gravel.
Gravel also allows food particles to become trapped between the grains where it decomposes and bacteria settle in, bacteria which can infect the barbels of cories.


I also took out the filter pad from the top fin filter (and threw it away) when I put that medicine in because the girl who sold the medicine told me to but I probably should have saved it because it must have had a lot of my good bacteria on it 🤦🏼‍♀️.
I missed this earlier.

Carbon adsorbs things like medication so if a filter has carbon containing cartridges they need to be removed so they don't remove the medication. But carbon isn't actually needed anyway. If you still have cartridges in there, you can cut them open and throw away the carbon but keep the 'bag' part. If it is possible with your filter, a better option is to buy some filter sponge, any make, and cut it to the same shape as a cartridge. Then place it against the now empty filter cartridge 'bag' and put that in the filter. Sponge just needs squeezing in old tank water during a water change, and will last for years. And it doesn't need to be removed when medicating the tank.










To your original post - if only the betta seems to be suffering, something in the tank is tressing that one fish and none of the others. My money is on the tetras. Skirt/widow tetras, be they the normal black, or the white form or the Glo versions, are nippy fish. They are not being nasty or bullying, it's just the way they are. Many shoaling species have a hierarchy with one or perhaps two fish at the top and they keep the others in their place by nipping. When there aren't enough of them, they include other species in the nipping. This is the reason it is always recommended to have a big shoal of nippy fish in the hope there will be enough of them to leave the other species alone, though it doesn't always work. 12 to 15 is the usual recommended minimum number, and with just 4, they'll nip other fish as well as their own species.
 

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@wasmewasntit has got the cycling issues covered. Water changes when nitrite or ammonia shows for a few weeks, you sound dedicated to do them as required.

You also identified the betta is being pushed around and showing stress. Put her in the 10 gallon on her own. It won't be cycled so you will need to change the water every day or two, but the stress will be reduced. Betta like warm water (78-80°), gentle water movement, and live plants, especially surface plants. They also like their own space so don't be tempted to add tankmates.

I don't think velvet is likely, it is pretty rare and the cycling issues explain the rubbing and colour change. So I recommend putting the temperature back down (74-75°) on the Cory/ tetra tank.

The substrate change can wait a couple of weeks until you feel things are more stable.
 
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Raven1126

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I think changing the sand would be less stressful than leaving the marine sand in the tank if that's the cause of the high pH. What is the pH of your tap water, both freshly run and a glass of water that's been allowed to stand overnight (which allows any dissolved gasses to gas out)?
From what I understand, marine sand is made from aragonite. This is a mineral made of calcium carbonate which will increase the hardness and pH of your tank water. Since you have soft water fish, this is not a good idea.


Sand, soft smooth sand, is better for cories. They feed by taking a mouthful of sand, sifting out the food and expelling the sand through their gills. They can't do this with gravel.
Gravel also allows food particles to become trapped between the grains where it decomposes and bacteria settle in, bacteria which can infect the barbels of cories.



I missed this earlier.

Carbon adsorbs things like medication so if a filter has carbon containing cartridges they need to be removed so they don't remove the medication. But carbon isn't actually needed anyway. If you still have cartridges in there, you can cut them open and throw away the carbon but keep the 'bag' part. If it is possible with your filter, a better option is to buy some filter sponge, any make, and cut it to the same shape as a cartridge. Then place it against the now empty filter cartridge 'bag' and put that in the filter. Sponge just needs squeezing in old tank water during a water change, and will last for years. And it doesn't need to be removed when medicating the tank.










To your original post - if only the betta seems to be suffering, something in the tank is tressing that one fish and none of the others. My money is on the tetras. Skirt/widow tetras, be they the normal black, or the white form or the Glo versions, are nippy fish. They are not being nasty or bullying, it's just the way they are. Many shoaling species have a hierarchy with one or perhaps two fish at the top and they keep the others in their place by nipping. When there aren't enough of them, they include other species in the nipping. This is the reason it is always recommended to have a big shoal of nippy fish in the hope there will be enough of them to leave the other species alone, though it doesn't always work. 12 to 15 is the usual recommended minimum number, and with just 4, they'll nip other fish as well as their own species.
Ok. I just tested water from the tap and water that I treated yesterday with conditioner. The ph looks to be 6.8 - 7. I also tested everything else ammonia, nitrite and nitrate with the master test kit and the strip. The ammonia looks fine all around, the others are completely fine on the strip and maybe a little elevated on the other. Should I change more water again?
 

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Raven1126

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@wasmewasntit has got the cycling issues covered. Water changes when nitrite or ammonia shows for a few weeks, you sound dedicated to do them as required.

You also identified the betta is being pushed around and showing stress. Put her in the 10 gallon on her own. It won't be cycled so you will need to change the water every day or two, but the stress will be reduced. Betta like warm water (78-80°), gentle water movement, and live plants, especially surface plants. They also like their own space so don't be tempted to add tankmates.

I don't think velvet is likely, it is pretty rare and the cycling issues explain the rubbing and colour change. So I recommend putting the temperature back down (74-75°) on the Cory/ tetra tank.

The substrate change can wait a couple of weeks until you feel things are more stable.
So it’s ok to move her to the new tank I just set up as long as it’s warm enough? These are the pics of her from just now with the light.
 

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Raven1126

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I also just tested everything in the new tank and it all seems good for now.
 

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Naughts

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So it’s ok to move her to the new tank I just set up as long as it’s warm enough? These are the pics of her from just now with the light.
Yes, as long as you are happy with the frequent water changes.
At the moment she can't escape the tetras which is highly stressful. You have the other tank ready so go for it.
If the substrate is inert she will prefer the lower pH too.
 

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