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Old 09-28-2011, 10:28 PM   #1
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Please help!! Urgent!!

Hi all,
i am new to aquariums, i have spent a lot of time researching etc before i set up my tank. i now firmly believe that my tank has ammonia poisoning, and i have been doing water changes every day (after 3 of 7 fish i put in died.) the fish that died are 2 swordtails (one male and one female) and a columbian tetra. as of now, the rainbow shark, one of the other columbian tetras, and the swordtail are now doing fine after i introduced some aquarium salt and a water change (about 20%) my issue i am having now though, is that one of my columbian tetras is swimming aroundd really strangely, like an airplane doing a dive bomb and spinning, and it sinks to the bottom, and stays there on its side or back for a period of time, then starts to swim around kind of violently with no direction (mainly in circles).

it also has some cottony looking growth on both of its eyeballs, and i was wondering what i can do to save him, especially since 3 other fish have died in the process of getting to this point (since last thursday september 22 2011) the tap water quality i dont think is too great here in WI, so after the water change i did last night (the only one) i added some more conditioner, and aquarium salt and allowed 15-20 minutes to flow through the tank and dissolve. im not sure what to do with the tetra that is dying PLEASE HELP!!
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:38 PM   #2
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Read these:
1.The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling
2.I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?!
Can you give us a reading of your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates?
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:48 PM   #3
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Read these:
1.The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling
2.I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?!
Can you give us a reading of your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates?
the nitrate and nitrite levels were zero, and when the lady tested it at petco, she said it was between 1.0-3.0 for ammonia.
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:50 PM   #4
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my nitrite and nitrate levels are at 0 because it is within the 2 week period of first starting the tank. The lady at petco told me that the ammonia levels are between 1.0-3.0 according to her scale.
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:53 PM   #5
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According to the lady at Petco, my levels are dangerously high and I should take some of her water to help my tank because it's not cycled...when it's been up and running two months cycled smoothly and not a huge problem in water quality. Strips they use are inaccurate.

BUT, if those levels are actually correct, I would try finding a family-owned or mom-and-pop LFS that will give you some seeded media to help speed up your cycle to help you make your tank safer. I would also suggest getting a liquid test kit (API is what most people use) so you can find out more accurately what the levels are.

Good luck!
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:41 PM   #6
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i just went out and bought a bottle of melafix, and started the treatment just now. would i be able to add some food in the tank as well? because this is the time i feed my fish as well. i also bought an air pump so that my tank gets more oxygen as well. unfortunately walmart (since petco isnt open this late) didnt have the test kit available that they have (master test kit for about 17 bucks)
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:02 AM   #7
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For now, all I would do is leave off on feeding for a couple of days and start doing frequent PWCs every day or twice every day if possible.
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Old 09-29-2011, 01:45 AM   #8
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i have bad news i left briefly to go help a friend out with his computer, and i came back and the columbian tetra was on the filter dead i removed him, and i think im going to continue with the medication though for 7 days, and im going to change the water tomorrow too.
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:04 AM   #9
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I'm not trying to be rude, but someone posted a link above that REALLY will help.

And I don't know any PETCO or PetsMart that used Hugh-quality tests. Most use combo strip tests which are horribly inaccurate.

Further- both places will tell consumers that a tank is "cycled" after sitting 24 hours or so... Aaarrrgghhhh! No- cycle hasn't even started. With a tank not being cycled (nitrogen Cycle fully established), you WILL get toxic build up of Ammonia (and then nitrites...). Ammonia is HIGHLY toxic and dies serious gill damage to fish, and causes stress which opens them up go all sorts of diseases that they would otherwise be resistant to.

I think Petco has a 30 day guarantee on fish. I would really co sider taking them all back until you do complete a fishless cycle.
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:19 AM   #10
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yes, i did read them. i set up a tank according to the advice i was given from the guy and lady at petco, and now i am stuck with fish in a tank, and i am finding myself to be a cruel pet owner (unintentionally) because i hate to see these fish suffer so much if the rest of them die, i may give up on aquariums, or ill try the fishless nitro cycle, and start with just one fish. kind of a moment
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:06 PM   #11
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I had no intention of making you feel bad. Many of us here on the board learned the hard way that the big box pet places (like PETCO) jus want to sell fish, and generally are clueless (there are exceptions to that).

I don't know how many fish I am guilty of putting through a painful death due to following pet store advice- but how is a newbie to the hobby suppose to know? Outside of connecting with others in the hobby, the information available at the local retail location is pitiful.

My very first aquarium (over 20 years ago)- I bought a 10 gallon tank, bag of gravel, undergravel filter, air pump tubing and stone, 2 juvenile tiger oscars, a can of shrimp pellets, a bottle of declorinator, and it was all set up with the fish less than 2 hour later!

The struggles I had over the next few months... How those fish survived-- I'm really not certain. When the water got cloudy, i changed as much as I could without drying the gravel (yes- I even took the fish out and out in a cup!). Maybe it was the massive water changes (anywhere from 50-90%+), often daily that saved them. It was well after I had to buy a bigger tank that I even heard a peep about a "nitrogen cycle". And it was probably another year before anyone explained to me why my water was rarely clear and why there were odors, even w/regular cleanings. I had to run a canister with water polishing filter (diatomaceous earth) to keep water clear.

And then a new lfs opened up in our town with an owner who was a hobbiest---

All this to say- don't give up! Just change lots of water until the numbers stay where they belong:

Ammonia- 0
Nitrite - 0 (and don't let it creep up over .25- change water)
Nitrates - less than 50ppm (for some more delicate fish, less than 20ppm)

As has been posted, when your ammonia and nitrite numbers stay zero without having to do a water change to get there- you are cycled. Even then, dont just heavily restock the tank.

Patience is a lesson I have learned through my own trials. I believe many others on here will concur.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:29 PM   #12
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If your ammonia numbers are between 1 and 3, you need to do a massive water change, of at least 75%, before you consider any other forms of treatment.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:23 PM   #13
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If your ammonia numbers are between 1 and 3, you need to do a massive water change, of at least 75%, before you consider any other forms of treatment.
Agreed. You really need to get your own test kit. The API Master liquid test is best; the strips aren't accurate. Any time ammonia and/or nitrite are over .25, do a water change to get them down. WIth ammonia potentially at 3, you'll need to do 2-3 large (60-80%) water changes to get them down to safer levels. If you can get Prime as a dechlorinator it will help detoxify the water between water changes. The problems the fish are having could be ammonia poisoning. You can try treating with the medicine too but it might be tough with all the water changes you'll need to do to keep toxins down. The link above will help; it's in my signature too: new tank with fish. Also "what is cycling" is a good read. Good luck.
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