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Old 03-30-2005, 03:16 PM   #1
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Beginner Woes & Questions - Strange fish movement

Hello, First time poster

I have decided to make the jump into marine fish-only aquariums. After a lot of research (and I mean A LOT) I decided to buy my equipment and begin my new hobby.

About a week ago I purchased a 55 gal tank, 2 power filters (300gph each), a heater, sand, a few tufa rocks and all the required salt/test kits/nets/ect... your basic beginner marine setup from what I understand.

I set the tank up according to resources I found online and waited 2 days before I introduced my 2 fish to the system. I tested for PH, Ammonia, calcium, Nitrate, and Nitrite (I didn’t expect to find any nitrite, nitrate, or ammonia but I figured better safe than sorry ) I have fairly hard water naturally and my calcium level was just under 400ppm and my PH was about 8.5, wich is a little high I believe.

Once all the chemical levels were acceptable I decided to go with 2 damsels. My first choice being a 3-stripe damsel and secondly a true yellow-tail damsel. Both fish were introduced to the tank in typical fashion (again, from what I understand) by letting the bag they came in float in the water for about 20 min then slowly taking water from the tank and pouring it into the bag. I did not put the water from the pet store into my tank. Both fish were wild caught.

One thing i did notice is that my 3-stripe had some minor tail damage. It looked as though something took bites of it. I assumed it was from territorial battles at the pet store or just stress.

They took to the tank wonderfully. Very bold fish. Each took to a rock on separate sides of the tank and established territory.. anytime one would invade the others rock there would be a warning "dart" towards the offender. I hear these fish can be some-what territorial :P

After about 3 days my 3-stripe began to act strangely. He would bolt that the slightest sound around the tank (foot steps usually). But when he would bolt, he would dive straight into the substrate and grind his head along the sand as if he couldn’t judge where he was going. He was breathing VERY fast but never went to the top of the tank, not even for food (flake food). I immediately tested all my chemical levels once again and these were the results.

SG 1.0023
Nitrate, Nitrite were 0
trace amounts of Ammonia (<.5) (first signs of cycling, wich I was very excited about.)
my PH was still slightly high (8.5). (is this acceptable? or should I lower it to 8.3?)
My temp was a steady 78 degrees every time I checked.

On the fourth day when I woke up my 3-stripe was caught in the current of one of my powerheads. He was unable to swim in any direction very well.. often he would dive into the substrate or swim sideways pointing straight up (tail in the substrate). His breathing had increased even more. I took a good look and there were NO signs of anything strange.. no redness around the gills, no white around the tail (wich had actually healed a little), no signs of anything physically wrong, nothing. He was just completely freaking out. He calmed down a little and actually began to swim normally then went into hiding so I went to bed. During all this, my other damsel was fine, he ever showed any signs of abnormal behavior. On the fifth day, he was dead and caught in the current again poor lil fella

So.. my first question is this: what killed my fish so rapidly?

secondly: I hear that putting a peal-and-eat shrimp in your tank and letting it rot can accelerate the initial cycling process. Would it be acceptable (though morbid) to leave my fish in my tank to accelerate cycling? (assuming he didn’t die from a virus or parasite)

Thanks for the help!

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Old 03-30-2005, 03:50 PM   #2
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First, welcome to the forum.
trace amounts of Ammonia (<.5)
That may be what got him, hard to tell. could be a number of things really. Hopefully it wan't a parasite.
IMO, I would take back the other damsel and cycle fishless. I know its boring, but more humane and very effective.

my PH was still slightly high (8.5). (is this acceptable? or should I lower it to 8.3?)
Not all that high, should lower on its own over time.

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Old 03-31-2005, 09:32 PM   #3
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You do have a ground probe in your tank,right. Sometimes some charged water will cause fish to be jumpy and erratic. Just an idea. Have a good one
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Old 03-31-2005, 09:49 PM   #4
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I would take the live fish out leave the dead one in add a couple shrimp from the grocer
and wait until your cycle is complete before adding anything else
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beginner, movement, strange

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