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Old 10-22-2010, 07:20 PM   #1
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Dying Damsels? Help please.

Sorry to say that my first post is one about my fish dying

Well, I have a brand new tank setup, about 3 weeks old now. I recently added 3 damsels to the tank to start my cycling, and I came home from school today to find that my Domino Damsel was at the bottom of my tank with labored breathing and red coloration on the surface of the gills.
I checked my salinity with two different Hydrometers, both reading out at around 1.024. All my other tests are fine as well. After a trip to Petco, the employee suggested that my salinity was too high, or the other fish didnt play nice with my Domino.

Im leaning more towards the fighting, however I can't be sure. Any advice? Im new to the saltwater world, as I've only ever owned freshwater tanks. I really don't want my other two damsels to die.

Help please? I would greatly appreciate it.
I have a few live rocks, a Convict Damsel, Yellow Tail, and HAD a Domino in the tank.

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Old 10-22-2010, 08:29 PM   #2
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You need to return your fish to the store. What's happening is called ammonia poisoning. That's what is causing the labored breathing/red gills. Do a forum search on fishless cycling. It's more humane and only costs about 2 bucks for some raw shrimp.

"If your wife ever asks how much something was for your tank, just tell her you got it on sale and you had to have it! She'll understand"

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Old 10-22-2010, 08:50 PM   #3
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I had my water tested today at Petco, and I also brought in the fish to get an opinion from the employee. The ammonia levels were fine (I bought live substrate and live rock to cycle the tank before buying damsels). I don't think that is the problem, especially since my other fish are actively swimming, show no symptoms and are readily accepting food.
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Old 10-22-2010, 08:59 PM   #4
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Other fish? OK... what other fish, other than the 3 damsels do you have in the tank, and how many gallons is the tank?

I'm a little confused because you mention getting the damsels to "start the cycling", but then say that you've already cycled the tank. When you cycled the tank before putting in the damsels, did you watch for an ammonia spike, then a nitrite spike, and then eventually see those two things go to zero?

Even with a cycled tank, adding 3 fish immediately to a 3 week old tank is a little too much, too fast. One fish a month - unless you're dealing with a large tank - is a good goal for the first few months.

{Edit: OK... I'm dumb tonight and didn't realize the "other fish" were the other two damsels, so scratch that first question. But how large is the tank?}
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:04 PM   #5
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Its a 29 gallon, and I had the water tested every two-three days after adding liverock and the substrate. I dont have a testkit at home, but according to the PS associate my tank was fine to start adding fish without any issue. And ill have to remember the one fish a month thing. Its surprised how much more delicate marine fish are than freshwater.
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Old 10-23-2010, 12:34 AM   #6
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Unless the PS Associate tested your water every other day during that 3-week cycle, there is absolutely no way for them to know if your tank is cycled. By just using one water sample that has no ammonia/nitrites in it, there's no way to know if you're at the end of a cycle, or if you never started one in the first place. Sorry... bugs the heck out of me when stores say things like that based on one measly water sample.


If you bought fully cured live rock, its very possible you didn't have much of a cycle and the tank was ready for livestock. Sure sounds like an ammonia issue, but it could also just have been a sick fish to start with. Time will tell.

The one fish/month thing is primarily to give your biological filter time to catch up with the new bioload.
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Old 10-23-2010, 03:44 AM   #7
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Cycle your salt tank

Also moving this to the sick fish forum.

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