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Old 11-30-2018, 01:51 AM   #1
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Nothing but Problems

I'm hesitant to post on here due to earlier posts in other forums where no one actually read what I posted and screamed at me for paragraphs on end for keeping fish in a bowl, but here goes:


The problem Now: I have 7 fish in a 20 gallon tank, 1 of my 3 White Cloud Minnows has started listing towards her tail(they're all about as big as they'll get--not tiny like neon tetras). She's tilted upwards. Was fine three days ago. Is it swim bladder, can this be fixed? She eats goldfish flakes, there are two small goldfish in the tank as well--all get along well. Heat set to 72. Had them since June, always healthy. I know other people say flakes are bad, but several people have said their minnows eat them with zero problems. Fish shop feeds them the same thing. PLease read on for the horrible history of my tank.



Our ongoing hellish nightmare of a problem: Long story, as short as possible. Some idiots gave out goldfish at a trivia night. I took two home to keep them from certain death. I had a tank throughout my entire childhood, many fish lived close to ten years with nothing fancy(filter and tank, never tested). While I cycled a tank for them, I kept them in a bowl, no other choice. This is where other forum people would stop reading and lecture me for ten paragraphs. I work with animals constantly, many exotics, never had a fish problem before, but it has been years since I had a tank. The new tank wouldn't cycle. I tracked down a couple of knowledgeable locals, they gave me some starter bacteria. It backfired. Tank smelled awful. Found another expert, water changes, constant testing and couldn't get it to zero. I started over, still no zero. This went on for two months. He suggested just using a few minnows to start as my levels weren't terrible. One week, all was well. Then nitrite skyrockets, then nitrates. All eventually self corrected in a few days. guy was always right. I switched gradually from plastic to live plants. Got a decent light, plants were growing everywhere. I don't know all the names, but creeping charlie, hornswort, red wendth, moss ball, vallisneria, something that looks like a spiral grass. They all grew, I had to throw out tons of plants. Life was good, all plants growing, fish healthy. Then, orange brown spots appeared on the glass, the glass would appear foggy, then a spot would appear, about one cm in diameter and grow until removed. I cleaned them, they regrew in two days. Then, I noticed my tank had partial sunlight on it for maybe 30 minutes/day due to changing sun pattern. I moved it, no sun hits it. The stuff kept growing. Store guy showed me a tank he had with it, named it(I forgot). He said it wasn't technically algae, but harmless to fish. Do a few larger water changes, it will go away. it didn't. Most of the substrate was covered. Filter, everything. He gave me two algae eaters(Cory) and said to use phosGuard in the filter. They are helping a lot. However, now every plant that had the orange/brown spots(plants still growing with brown spots but some were stunted) have either 100% died or been covered in black spots. They look nothing like the brown spots, much smaller like blackspot on a rose. The red wendth did have some spots like this from week two in our house. It spawned a new plant, I chucked the original, it took two months for the new plant to show the spots. The Creeping charlie is gone, leaves curled and died. The spiral plants quit regenerating and turned brownish, any new growth is clear, not green. Removed the hornswort as it shed constantly. Vallisneria rotted off and new shoots are clear, all covered in black. My whole tank is dying, why? Will all my fish die? For Now it's only one fish. She was the smallest from the beginning. Not quite as active. I see zero evidence of the goldfish bullying her. One of the other minnows occasionally goes after her to chase her, but he does that to everyone. Some pest snails have also taken up residence. i was told unless their numbers are large, they are harmless. This has been so much more trouble than it was worth. When I clean it, most of the dirt is all plant waste, not animal. Filters are disgusting in two weeks. Again, when plants and fish were healthy, very little dirt in tank.We cannot afford to start over with yet another new tank and filter and substrate and plants. it took two months to cycle this tank. This guy has never steered me wrong. His shop is so clean, all fish very healthy, none of his plants are turning black and dying.


Please help.
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Old 11-30-2018, 02:08 AM   #2
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Hi Katiestl,
Welcome to the community.

People can rant and rave on occasion. Most people here are really helpful, and caring.

Sometimes though more caring of fish than the fishkeeper. Some are very direct in giving advice.

Brown spots could be from Diatoms.

You have a huge number of questions and issues all in one block.

Some basics will need to be answered.

What kind of light bulb do you have and how long is it on? Often a long tube light will lose it's spectrum/better ability for growing plants and need to be replaced.

What are the parameters of the tank.

Here are a couple threads for fish-in cycling...
Fish-in Cycling: Step over into the dark side - Aquarium Advice

I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?! - Aquarium Advice

fishless
The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling - Aquarium Advice

Water parameters?
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, GH (general hardness), KH (alkalinity /calcium)?
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Old 11-30-2018, 02:55 AM   #3
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I second diatoms??? They will turn plant leaves blackish color.

I'll add......are you using a fertilizer? Liquid or root tabs?
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Old 11-30-2018, 04:54 AM   #4
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Nothing but Problems

It sounds simple to me. When a tank is Ďcleaní it is undisturbed. You have a functioning biological filter. Everything breaks down very quickly to its simplest form (mulm). During the process the plants are being fed.

Sometimes we can damage the biofilter unintentionally by adding certain products, changing too much water and not adding enough dechlorinator, vaccuming the gravel or pulling rooted plants out.

If you damage the biofilter stuff doesnít break down in the same way and the filter becomes dirty as it clogs with a backlog of partially decaying plant matter. This draws on oxygen and can create spikes in harmful nitrogen. Plants will not grow in a tank like this.

Guess what you have to do now? Resist the urge to intervene and wait it out. Leave the aquarium undisturbed until the biofilter returns. Once that happens things will start chugging along again.

In future trim plants. No need to uproot unless absolutely necessary. When you trim this is a form of nutrient export and can help reduce the amount of water changes you do. It sounds to me like you went through a period of instability when getting rid of plants and may have been doing too much all at once.
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Old 11-30-2018, 10:07 PM   #5
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Thanks for answering:


OK--So the fish is now worse, she lies on her side at the bottom, struggling to get to the top to eat? Again, I've been waiting out aquarium problems since June. So, yes I believe diatoms are what he said. They originally only affected the glass/rocks. Then, I noticed a brownish orange color on plants. I had gorgeous plants that were growing so fast I had to trim once a week. They are all low-light plants that Aqua guy said would not need much in the way of fertilizer. My research showed the same. he said maybe an iron supplement. If I can keep orchids alive, this should not be this hard. So, the red wendth had black spots first, all other plants healthy for 3 months until I noticed brownish orange on the creeping charlie. The plants slowly died off. Leaves fell off, new ones grew in stunted. The spiral plant is Echinodorus and started having the blades turn orange brown, not as in dying, but covered in stuff. Slowly it began to lose green color, they quit sprouting new plants. The anubias slowly became shaded with rust colored patches. It is rooted to a log, I never disturb it. Only it, the vallisneria, Echinodorus and Wendth have true roots. The other plants are floating and all have the same problem. Root systems are well established on all plants. The healthiest Echinodorus has been uprooted by a jerk goldfish 3 times and is the healthiest plant in there.

My tank is a 20 gallon tall. The light is Current Freshwater LED, I have a glass top. I set the light to UV or white/red for about 8 hours a day. No sunlight hits the tank now, room is northwest, not very bright. The moss from the log is attaching to my glass, which is annoying, but the brown spots are much less than before. I did find some under the gravel. I can't really clean it.


I have 3 gold WhiteCloud Minnows.
2 Cory and 2 small comets.

All fish get along fine. A few pest snails are also in there, but everyone has told me they will only destroy plants if there are large numbers. All plants and fish(except goldfish) are from the same store. All plants looked healthy when purchased and grew quickly for months. The new grass has been destroyed and quickly breaks off and dies as soon as it sprouts.



I only have tests for Nitrite/Nitrate/ammonia. I use Ph neutralizer for my dechlorinator, so in theory, that should be fine. It always tests normal at aqua store. My nitrates run high, I can't seem to change this. Right now they're between a 20-40, usually they run 10-20. Nitrites are zero as is Ammonia(blue and yellow on tests). Water changes make Nitrates worse, so they aren't the answer. I just changed 40% water three days ago. Neutral Regulator is what our store uses for dechlorinator, so we did too. They said its impossible to overdo it. I added it to all water placed back into the tank.
I keep the thermometer at 72.5. Without it, the water stays room temp at 71.5. I only upped the temp for the Cory fish.


The tank is cycled, I can't lower Nitrates. Our tap water is neither hard nor soft here--according to plumbers.
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Old 12-01-2018, 01:40 AM   #6
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Changing the position of the tank away from the window did change the light it was getting. Healthy plants use up more nutrients/ fish waste than dying decaying ones.
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Old 12-03-2018, 09:48 PM   #7
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I'm not sure at all what the last post meant. Yes, I moved the tank 4 months ago as the brown spots first appeared in areas that sunlight hit. And? It did nothing, they already established. It was clear to me that the sunlight caused the spots. I had a beautiful clear tank with healthy plants. Plus, I have a light on the tan that is perfectly suited to growing plants. Plus, I have low light plants. They were trimmed and cared for.



No one has responded to anything else I wrote when they asked questions, so this forum is about as useful as other fish forums. This is not bio filter related cycling. I didn't pull plants, they all died and floated to the top or disintegrated into a million pieces. I do not think the black spots are diatoms, whatever the larger brown/rust spots were(I was told those were diatoms), the corys ate them. Again, all plants are dying, not cycling. Evey blade of grass has disintergrated and broken off. The new growth stopped months ago. I stuck a new floating plant in and it is dying. All new growth that had already occurred turned clear and "melted" away into nothing. The filter is disgusting and full of black plant matter--not fish poop. The first few months, the filter didnt even look like it needed to be changed when I changed it. PLease, someone read my previous reply for info. Reading beginner websites isnt going to do anything, I already did all that months ago. Should I just kill the fish? She is dying. This life is a nightmare. I've spent the last month caring for ill relatives, put my dog down 3 days ago and came home to find a dying fish. I need a break here.
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Old 12-03-2018, 11:07 PM   #8
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Sorry but if you don't like the help you are getting and you think the site is useless then why are you still here? People are trying to help you and have no clue what you have done or read in the past. Everyone is starting at the basics and moving from there because that's usually a good way to figure out what's going on with your tank.
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:15 AM   #9
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So you have fish and plant problems........

If your fish are becoming ill then you have water quality issues more than likely. A few questions.....why are you using a pH neutralizer? What is your pH? Is it under 7 and acidic? Swings in pH can harm and or kill fish. Chemical water treatments are tricky because you don't really know if you are dosing exactly the same every time plus other variables that can affect pH and trying to control it. It's why most people find more natural ways to stabilize pH. I wasn't aware that pH neutralizer was a water dechlorinator??? If so what's the brand? I'd suggest using Seachem Prime for your dechlorinator. If you have low pH there's other options to raise it naturally (I'll wait for this answer first).

Second issue.....your plants could be dying from a general lack of nutrients in your water or a lack of fertilizer (micro and macro). I'm no plant expert but I do keep low light plants and I do use liquid fertilizer. You said you have grass?? Most grass that I know of requires high light, C02 and fertilizer to grow. Also, when your plants decay and breakdown in your tank this raises TDS (total dissolved solids). Some fish maybe sensitive to this. This swing of TDS can also make fish ill.

Thirdly, never take the advice of most fish store employees. I did the same when I was new and it took me 6 months to unf*ck myself. Best thing to do is go on forums and ask questions from experienced fish keepers and planted tank keepers. Read articles and books on fish and plants. Understand natural environments of the fish and plants you keep. Grab a book on fish diseases and familiarize yourself with it to know the basics. Know medications to treat disease. The great thing about this hobby is gaining knowledge as you go. There's something to learn from everyone. Just be patient and gain as much knowledge as you can either on your own or on here or similar forums and with books. It's hard for us to automatically know exactly what you've done or not done to your tank without being there with you or even seeing what you got going on.
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Old 12-05-2018, 03:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumnsky View Post
Changing the position of the tank away from the window did change the light bit was getting. Healthy plants use up more nutrients/ fish waste than dying decaying ones.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiestl View Post
I'm not sure at all what the last post meant. Yes, I moved the tank 4 months ago as the brown spots first appeared in areas that sunlight hit. And? It did nothing, they already established. It was clear to me that the sunlight caused the spots. I had a beautiful clear tank with healthy plants. Plus, I have a light on the tan that is perfectly suited to growing plants. Plus, I have low light plants. They were trimmed and cared for.



No one has responded to anything else I wrote when they asked questions, so this forum is about as useful as other fish forums. This is not bio filter related cycling. I didn't pull plants, they all died and floated to the top or disintegrated into a million pieces. I do not think the black spots are diatoms, whatever the larger brown/rust spots were(I was told those were diatoms), the corys ate them. Again, all plants are dying, not cycling. Evey blade of grass has disintergrated and broken off. The new growth stopped months ago. I stuck a new floating plant in and it is dying. All new growth that had already occurred turned clear and "melted" away into nothing. The filter is disgusting and full of black plant matter--not fish poop. The first few months, the filter didnt even look like it needed to be changed when I changed it. PLease, someone read my previous reply for info. Reading beginner websites isnt going to do anything, I already did all that months ago. Should I just kill the fish? She is dying. This life is a nightmare. I've spent the last month caring for ill relatives, put my dog down 3 days ago and came home to find a dying fish. I need a break here.
It sounds like a heavy load you have right now, I am sorry it seems there wasn't an answer for the tank.

My comment about moving the tank was that the additional light coming from the window could have caused good growth and algae spots. When moving the tank away from the window if the diatoms were bad, it could decrease plant leaves ability to absorb light and nutrients, coupled with the loss of sunlight as well. Plus a reduction of light causing plants to begin dying.

Dying plants cause water quality issues, which cause fish illnesses.

It is true, at the start, none of us here know if you actually know what cycled means frequently we are told, I cycled my tank and my fish are dying/sick, and we find out the cycle was 24 hours or one week...

The basics are there to help make sure you were able to get as much information as possible and sometimes one realizes they missed a HUGE thing, something like removing and replacing the filter pad and then experiencing a sick fish explosion/ dead fish disaster.

When you have a giant block of text it is not possible to catch each and every question, or to realize which question is the most important.

If the biggest question is what can you do for that one fish, I will re read the beginning and see if there is a clear answer.

Many things generally hold the answer. Moving the tank, change of light, possibly change in food, or not enough water changes to dilute the residual leftovers of food or poop. A fish can become stressed by even one missed pwc if it is in a sensitive way, which can cause a low resistance and illness to take hold. Even a spike in unsafe water parameter or a bully fish or one overfeeding. Can push a fish past a point it can maintain health. That is another reason why we ask more questions as well. To possibly be of better help.
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