Why do my fish keep dying

Lucymariexo

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Hi,

I seem to be having an issue with my tank and so far every fish I’ve got has died after a few weeks.

I have cycled the tank, checked all levels are ‘good’ and the only issue I can think of is that our water is hard with a PH of 8.

I have had two bettas (not at the same time) but after realising the PH was too high for them and thought this was the issue, I got some guppies instead. Online it stated that guppies can survive in a higher PH of 8. However the same thing has happened again. They seem fine for the first few weeks (all levels stay stable) and then the fish begin to stay at the top, stop eating and get sicker until they die. From what I can tell there is no disease’s. I had 5 guppies all slowly died one after the other over a week and a half. If it was bad water quality wouldn’t they have all got sick and died at the same time?

I did wonder if it was swim bladder with the Bettas but I only fed all my fish once a day and again water levels did not seem concerning. Plus they were not bloated. They just stayed at the top and stopped eating. I also have a heater and live plants in the tank (star grass/ heteranthera zosterifolia). I always use a dechlorinator when doing a change and do a 20% water weekly change with a gravel cleaner. The tank is 22L.

I feel like I have no idea what is causing these fish to die to help solve it. If it is the PH then I may have to just accept that I cannot keep fish.
I’m wondering if anyone has any idea as I’m too nervous to get another fish as I don’t want to kill any more fish.

Thanks
 

Biancah76

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I just saw your post, I will add I'm not an expert and I'm sure you'll get a better reply, but I wonder about the tank cycling. It is harder to maintain stable water conditions the smaller the tank, and I have never attempted to keep anything below 60L, but can I ask if you are/ have been feeding the bacteria colony a little fish food for as long as the tank is empty in between and they can't eat fish waste? If not you might have to start from scratch with cycling. I have a nursery/ Quarantine tank, and it gets a tiny sprinkling of food every day when empty.

If you are using API 5in1 strips it may be you aren't noticing the ammonia spike that comes with ineffective bacteria colony.
I like to give my fish smaller meals a few times a day to make sure they are eating it all, as uneaten fish food can build up and rot in sediment, also playing havoc with levels, don't take it personally, even experienced fishkeepers can make mistakes, it's just magnified when you have a smaller water volume.
Try googling "fishless cycle" and follow the guide for another month, then try a couple of *Male Endlers, they can just as bright and attractive as Guppy's, are also fairly tolerant of high PH, and they are smaller so will have a smaller bioload. If I was setting up a little planted 22L I might consider a cherry shrimp colony instead. You didn't mention which filter you're using, but Marimo Moss balls are good for additional filtering in a smaller tank.

For stocking my tanks, I rely heavily on aqadvisor.com, it will give you a good idea of how many fish per L., I probably wouldn't put more than one guppy in 22L, they like a lot of filter flow and are very energetic swimmers.

Good Luck, don't give up, there are always plenty of people around the forums to help guide you through the beginning learning curve, we've all been there and there is always more to learn!
 
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Rocky998

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Test your tap water for ammonia. There may be chloromines in your water which normal conditioners cannot treat
 

Biancah76

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Aqadvisor will also tell you how much water to change, 20% feels a little low to me, I do at least 40% every 10 days with 60L, more frequently if it has fry or new fish.
 

Wills

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Hi when you say the levels are fine can you give us some numbers. Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate would be good.

How did you cycle the tank before the fish were added? And when you have lost fish have you kept the bacteria alive in anyway before you added the new fish?

Did you get all the fish from the same store and are you happy that they were healthy from the shop? Sometimes big chains can be problematic in the UK for example I've lost trust in pets at home after a number of issues I've faced over the years but there are usually a few shops around people that are worth checking out.

Lastly at 22 litres that is a challenging size to keep not just in terms of fish options but also keeping small bodies of water like that stable is tough. Would you consider a larger tank? Ideally aiming for something in the 100 litre range?

Your high ph is interesting too - do you know your water hardness? If its high too there are definitely options for you to keep but most would need a bigger tank. Though even in the small tank you could look at Endlers, Galaxy Rasbora or Emerald Rasbora. In a bit of a bigger tank smaller central american cichlids, small rainbow fish would be an option or you could look at shell dwelling cichlids from Africa. If you were ever interested in a much bigger tank any of the african cichlid set ups would be perfect too!

Wills
 

Biancah76

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Hi when you say the levels are fine can you give us some numbers. Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate would be good.

How did you cycle the tank before the fish were added? And when you have lost fish have you kept the bacteria alive in anyway before you added the new fish?

Did you get all the fish from the same store and are you happy that they were healthy from the shop? Sometimes big chains can be problematic in the UK for example I've lost trust in pets at home after a number of issues I've faced over the years but there are usually a few shops around people that are worth checking out.

Lastly at 22 litres that is a challenging size to keep not just in terms of fish options but also keeping small bodies of water like that stable is tough. Would you consider a larger tank? Ideally aiming for something in the 100 litre range?

Your high ph is interesting too - do you know your water hardness? If its high too there are definitely options for you to keep but most would need a bigger tank. Though even in the small tank you could look at Endlers, Galaxy Rasbora or Emerald Rasbora. In a bit of a bigger tank smaller central american cichlids, small rainbow fish would be an option or you could look at shell dwelling cichlids from Africa. If you were ever interested in a much bigger tank any of the african cichlid set ups would be perfect too!

Wills
I second the Pets at Home caution, if you have a local gardening centre, sometimes they have better quality fish, failing that sometimes I look for local fishkeepers on ebay or pets4homes, posting them can be stressful, it's better to collect, but as a rule fishkeepers are more passionate about fish health/ happiness than store workers. I'm in Essex if you want to try some red cherry's (just guessing you must be this side of the country if your water is that hard) lol
 

Gemstarkiss

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Try those products.. Chlorine remover, watet conditoner, and a biological booster for 24 hours before adding the fish.. Also a filter that poors water back into the tank, creating bubbles, that way you dont need an air pump. Hope this helps.
Change 30 percent of the water atleast once a month, use the net to stir the residue and poo from the bottom of the tank, to make it float around before the water change, and then after, retreat it with the chlorine remover and conditioner...
This advice is for fresh water fish.

I love to go thrift store shopping and used aquarium decor that i found from a thrift store and didnt bleach it, I only cleaned it with anti bacterial soap and it didnt kill all the germs... Now my fish have the ich :(
So dont make my mistake.. I am treating them with copper, I hope they get better soon. They were very healthy before I added the "new" decorations.
 

Colin_T

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Pictures of the fish and tank?
What sort of filter is on the tank?
How often and how do you clean the filter?

How often do you do water changes and how much do you change?
Do you gravel clean the substrate when you do a water change?
Do you dechlorinate the new water before adding it to the tank?

The GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

Do you have cream, perfume, hand sanitiser, etc on your hands when you work in the tank or feed the fish?
 

Essjay

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Chlorine remover, watet conditoner, and a biological booster
The chlorine remover and water conditioner do the same thing, you don't need both.

I only cleaned it with anti bacterial soap
Anti bac soap should never be used in an aquarium, even washing your hands before putting them in the tank is not good. These soaps can leave a residue which is harmful to fish.

Now my fish have the ich
Ich is caused by a parasite. Many believe the parasite is present in all tanks and it's only when the fish are stressed that they succumb. It would not have been brought into the tank on a piece of decor as any parasite on it would have died before you bought it - unless it was in a tank with infected fish at the thrift store. But if the decor was dry on a shelf, that wasn't the cause of the ich.
 

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