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Old 06-24-2019, 03:23 AM   #1
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New tank- fish dying. Please help!

Yesterday (6/22) I bought the 10 gal. GloFish tank/beginners kit. I also purchased the gravel, a live moss ball and decorations. The person at petsmart assured me that it was okay to get fish same day and that I had everything I needed. I take home 2 glo tetras, 2 glo daino and 1 green lantern platy. They told me to float the bag for 15 min and then dump them in.

The tank took me around 1.5 hours to rinse everything, set up the filter and lights, and put everything together. I added Tetra Aquasafe and filled the tank. By the time I had finished, and was ready to float the bag, 3 fish had died already and I was left with only 2. (1 glo daino and the platy). I called the pet store and they said that the fish might have been suffocating in the bag and to dump them in now. I told them I didn’t think the water was warm enough yet and they said it was better to give them a chance. Well the 2 fish basically died 2 hours later after many cycles of appearing dead but coming back to life.

Today we take the 5 dead fish back, along with a sample of our water, and explain to the same guy that helped us yesterday, what happened. He said that the advice they gave over the phone was wrong and also that they shouldn’t have suffocated in the bag after only 1.5 hours. Our water came back mostly in the clear, except it was slightly too alkaline. He gave us 5 new ones (4 glo tetras and 1 green lantern platy) and told us that this time, to allow the fish to actually float in the tank in the bag. Then to do a 20% water switch and pour the water from the bag in with the fish because that water has been treated and will help make it more acidic. He also gave us the API Quick start and told us to add that before we add the fish.

So we come home, remove some water, put the Quick Start in, and then float the 2 bags. The fish seemed totally fine until the bags began to float in the tank. They kept trying to swim but obviously couldn’t , because of the bag. It was during the float period that we lost 2 of the tetras. Then we do what he said, and slowly dropped the untied bag into the water so the tank water mixed with the bag water and they swam out. The platy drops to the bottom of the tank where he stayed till we pronounced him dead about 30 minutes later. 1 tetra died within an hour. The last remaining tetra is currently still alive but seems to be very stressed. We went to dinner and when we came back, I found him in the bottom corner twitching and not swimming. He stayed that way for about 45 minutes (who knows how long he was doing that before we came home though). I read online that turning off the light might help, so I did and he started swimming immediately. He’s still swimming around but kind of more in an “inching” way. Like a pigeons head when they walk. The fish kinda darts forward a little in order to move. I’m not sure he’s going to make it to morning. If he does, I’ll still feel bad because he’s alone in there and I know they like to have friends.

So anyways, I’ve done a lot of research today and now know that I wasn’t given the best advice through this process. We are way in over our heads. We are committed though, as we have already dropped quite a bit of money on all of this and it was all for our daughter... who thinks the fish are “sleeping”. As frustrating as this has been, I’m actually kind of enjoying the challenge and can now see how people make this into a hobby. I certainly don’t want to kill anymore fish though. I have read up on the nitrogen cycle and cycling tanks. Is it really going to take 4-8 weeks before we can get fish in there? I don’t mind being patient but I wish I knew all this before we brought fish home to begin with... because there’s no way my daughter is going to be able to handle 1-2 months of no fish in this thing after getting so excited. I thought the quick start was supposed to help the cycle sort of happen immediately.

Where do I go from here? What are my next steps to make this go quickly and painlessly? I’ve included the exact parameters of the water, according to the pet stores test, below. Also, I have been adding small pinches of fish food and we do have the live moss ball in there, if that makes a difference. Tank is slightly cloudy and there are some small clusters of bubbles that formed at the top of the waterline(not sure what that’s about). Temp is between 74-75 degrees F.

Ammonia: 0-0.25
Nitrate: 0
Nitrites: 0
Hardness: 75
Total chlorine: 0
Total alkalinity: 20-40
PH: 6.8-7.2
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Old 06-24-2019, 01:19 PM   #2
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Big box stores employees strike again. Your tank wasn't cycled so anyone who tells a beginner to dump fish in a tank and things will be fine has no business giving advice about this hobby.

Anyhow, as you've read, cycling your tank takes 4-8 weeks. Patience in this hobby is definitely needed. There really is no quick fix or everyone would do it. Read, read then read some more. Gain as much knowledge as possible if you are truly interested in making this a hobby.

There is a website called Angels Plus where you can buy media that contains beneficial bacteria. Or if you know anyone with an established tank you can use some of thier filter media or gravel/substrate. You put this media in your filter or at the bottom of your tank. This will seed your tank with Beneficial Bacteria. This is the quickest option to cycle a tank. Then you can add a few fish for a month or so then add a few more later and so on until you got all your fish. Do regular 50% water changes. The first 3-4 weeks I would be changing out 50% every 3 days. Once cycled do 50% once a week. Stick to this schedule for the life of the tank.

Were you using a dechlorinator during all of this?
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Old 06-24-2019, 08:33 PM   #3
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Big box stores employees strike again. Your tank wasn't cycled so anyone who tells a beginner to dump fish in a tank and things will be fine has no business giving advice about this hobby.

Anyhow, as you've read, cycling your tank takes 4-8 weeks. Patience in this hobby is definitely needed. There really is no quick fix or everyone would do it. Read, read then read some more. Gain as much knowledge as possible if you are truly interested in making this a hobby.

There is a website called Angels Plus where you can buy media that contains beneficial bacteria. Or if you know anyone with an established tank you can use some of thier filter media or gravel/substrate. You put this media in your filter or at the bottom of your tank. This will seed your tank with Beneficial Bacteria. This is the quickest option to cycle a tank. Then you can add a few fish for a month or so then add a few more later and so on until you got all your fish. Do regular 50% water changes. The first 3-4 weeks I would be changing out 50% every 3 days. Once cycled do 50% once a week. Stick to this schedule for the life of the tank.

Were you using a dechlorinator during all of this?


I used Tetra Aquasafe which is a dechlorinator. The only friend I know with a fish tank, I believe has a salt water. That wouldnít be a good idea would it?? I suppose I could check out that website!!

So hereís my update to my issue... the one fish has survived. So I have a very lonely neon tetra but he is alive. Does this mean the water is okay? If he died, I was planning on doing a fishless cycle. Would it be be better to get a few more fish and try again since heís surviving? Or to avoid getting any more fish and do a fish in cycle with just him in there... I just feel bad since I know they like to school, and also I feel like one fish would take FOREVER to cycle 10 gallons.
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Old 06-24-2019, 10:27 PM   #4
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Wanted to add that I am stopping by the pet store to grab the water testing kit. I’ll update here with my results.
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Old 06-25-2019, 12:15 AM   #5
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Hello, is anyone out there?! I’m just going to keep talking to myself until someone stumbles upon my post.

I got the API water test kit! Today is day 3 of the tank, still cloudy, and the one little guy is still alive but hasn’t really left his hiding spot.

The levels are as follows:
Nitrate: 0
Nitrite:0
Ammonia: 0-0.25 (hard to tell if it was the 0 or the 0.25. Maybe in the middle?)
PH: 8.2 (yikes).

Should I do a 25% water change? Not sure how the PH spiked so much from yesterday, unless petsmarts test was off.
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Old 06-25-2019, 02:22 AM   #6
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I haven't tried to give advice on this in awhile, but I'll do my best.

A tank which has not cycled could not have possibly killed the fish in the amount of time that you described. What can kill a fish that quickly is a fast change in pH. Your pH is not anything to worry about at this point, as long as it stays at 8.2.

When you acclimate fish to your aquarium you are supposed to float the bags, but you are also supposed to add in small amounts of water from your aquarium to the bag the fish are in. This allows the fish to be exposed to a gradual change in pH as well as temperature.

Another thing that may have killed them this quickly is that perhaps your water has more chlorine than a standard dose of your dechlorinator can neutralize. After a water change when you add dechlorinator be sure to add enough to dose the entire tank, not just the amount of water you replenished. I would do a double dose of dechlorinator from now on just to be safe. Also, consider buying Seachem Prime, which is a great product.

Opinions may vary, but I think fish in cycles are OK as long as your dedicated to testing every day without fail. Anytime Ammonia or Nitrites reaches 0.25 I do 50% water change and add a double dose of prime. This will make the remaining Ammonia and Nitrite non-toxic for the fish. In my opinion you cannot do too many water changes with a fish in cycle. The cycle will take a long time to complete, but the fish will live.

If you decide to do a fishless cycle that is fine too of course, but don't feel pressured to do so. I'm sorry if you already know any or all of this.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:28 AM   #7
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I haven't tried to give advice on this in awhile, but I'll do my best.

A tank which has not cycled could not have possibly killed the fish in the amount of time that you described. What can kill a fish that quickly is a fast change in pH. Your pH is not anything to worry about at this point, as long as it stays at 8.2.

When you acclimate fish to your aquarium you are supposed to float the bags, but you are also supposed to add in small amounts of water from your aquarium to the bag the fish are in. This allows the fish to be exposed to a gradual change in pH as well as temperature.

Another thing that may have killed them this quickly is that perhaps your water has more chlorine than a standard dose of your dechlorinator can neutralize. After a water change when you add dechlorinator be sure to add enough to dose the entire tank, not just the amount of water you replenished. I would do a double dose of dechlorinator from now on just to be safe. Also, consider buying Seachem Prime, which is a great product.

Opinions may vary, but I think fish in cycles are OK as long as your dedicated to testing every day without fail. Anytime Ammonia or Nitrites reaches 0.25 I do 50% water change and add a double dose of prime. This will make the remaining Ammonia and Nitrite non-toxic for the fish. In my opinion you cannot do too many water changes with a fish in cycle. The cycle will take a long time to complete, but the fish will live.

If you decide to do a fishless cycle that is fine too of course, but don't feel pressured to do so. I'm sorry if you already know any or all of this.

Thank you for the response! Iím sure it was something in the transfer that killed them, like you said with the PH. . I did the floating bag thing but didnít learn about the drip process until after they were in there. Iím kind of surprised the one little guy survived, without it! To add though, we did test the water prior to introducing the second round, and the chlorine was at 0. I had dosed the entire tank with Aquasafe the day before, right before the first batch went in. So Iím thinking that did the job for the chlorine factor.

The plan for next time, is to do the drip process for acclimation like you described. Iím testing everyday for the next week and then will maybe try to add one or 2 more, just to give my current living one some friends. He hasnít left his corner in like 30+ hours and I donít want him to be too stressed out. Iím buying prime tomorrow, as I have seen that product recommended quite a bit! Iím glad to hear the PH is okay for now, but I will definitely keep an eye on it.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:39 AM   #8
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Salt water cycles have a different type of beneficial bacteria.

Since you have a fish left you will be doing a fish in cycle. Plan on changing out 50% of the water every 2-3 days. IME, that seems to be the time frame you get before ammonia rises to a testable amount. It's not only the fish waste that raises the ammonia it's also the food you put in the tank. Don't feed more than once a day. Every other day is fine too. You can test the water daily to get an idea of how long you need to go before ammonia and nitrites show up and you need to do a water change.

If you have cloudy water there's a good chance you are experiencing a bacteria bloom. This occurs because your tank isn't cycled and stable. Your water may test out in the acceptable range at any given time then change within hours with spikes in nitrites. They're known to fluctuate, spike or not really show up at all.

Your fish die off could be from pH shock. I personally don't drip acclimate fish and I haven't experienced die off. One fluctuation in pH doesn't do the damage constant pH fluctuations cause to a fish. Most fish you but from a fish shop are in tap water for your area so is probably close to the pH you are at. The only time I'd drip acclimate is if I bought a wild caught fish who spent it's life in low pH and now you are adding it to a high pH.

Temperature acclimation is more important than than pH acclimation IMO. Float the bag for at least 30 minutes. Don't open the bag, when air hits the bag water it raises the ammonia level in the bag water. If you do open the bag, drain out half the water and slowly add in your tank water every 20 minutes or so. Turn off your lights and don't try to feed the fish for 24 hours. They'll feel less stress without tank lights and just room lighting. Only turn the lights on to feed the fish and tank maintenance for the first week.

There's a multitude of techniques to use. These are some of the things I've done with success. Let us know how things come along.

PS......I'm not ignoring you. I work 12 hour shifts on top of family life but I try to come on here as much as possible when I get some time.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:48 AM   #9
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Salt water cycles have a different type of beneficial bacteria.

Since you have a fish left you will be doing a fish in cycle. Plan on changing out 50% of the water every 2-3 days. IME, that seems to be the time frame you get before ammonia rises to a testable amount. It's not only the fish waste that raises the ammonia it's also the food you put in the tank. Don't feed more than once a day. Every other day is fine too. You can test the water daily to get an idea of how long you need to go before ammonia and nitrites show up and you need to do a water change.

If you have cloudy water there's a good chance you are experiencing a bacteria bloom. This occurs because your tank isn't cycled and stable. Your water may test out in the acceptable range at any given time then change within hours with spikes in nitrites. They're known to fluctuate, spike or not really show up at all.

Your fish die off could be from pH shock. I personally don't drip acclimate fish and I haven't experienced die off. One fluctuation in pH doesn't do the damage constant pH fluctuations cause to a fish. Most fish you but from a fish shop are in tap water for your area so is probably close to the pH you are at. The only time I'd drip acclimate is if I bought a wild caught fish who spent it's life in low pH and now you are adding it to a high pH.

Temperature acclimation is more important than than pH acclimation IMO. Float the bag for at least 30 minutes. Don't open the bag, when air hits the bag water it raises the ammonia level in the bag water. If you do open the bag, drain out half the water and slowly add in your tank water every 20 minutes or so. Turn off your lights and don't try to feed the fish for 24 hours. They'll feel less stress without tank lights and just room lighting. Only turn the lights on to feed the fish and tank maintenance for the first week.

There's a multitude of techniques to use. These are some of the things I've done with success. Let us know how things come along.

PS......I'm not ignoring you. I work 12 hour shifts on top of family life but I try to come on here as much as possible when I get some time.

Thank you for the response and info! I will definitely try the 50% water change and keep testing every day to see if I notice any spikes. I have kept the light off all day, because I did notice it seemed to stress him out! I got a heater today so Iím going to get that installed and raise the temp. Do you think itís safe to just pop it in there and let it do itís thing? Will it raise it slowly enough for him?

And also, I wasnít implying you specifically were delayed in response! Iím sorry if it came off that way. I was writing to the whole community in hopes of it bumping my post, and keeping a log of what I was doing as I went so that it was as current as possible when someone did come across it. this whole thing is so new to me and Iím very grateful there are communities available to help, so thank you again!
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Old 06-25-2019, 04:01 AM   #10
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Yes, put the heater in and raise the temp to the target temp. It'll raise it slow enough. 77 degrees is a good temp for the fish you have.

Also, my pH is between 8.2 to 8.4. I keep several different fish from native waters that are acidic or below 7.0 without any problems.

It might be a good idea to test your TDS. You can get digital TDS pens fairly cheap on Amazon. API also sells liquid test bottles for GH and KH which is also good to know. If your KH is low it will cause your pH to swing. A cycling tank can also cause your pH to swing until it is cycled. If you test the pH of your tap water, put it in a cup and let it sit out for 24 hours then test it. That will be the actual pH of your tap water.
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