I am new to owning a home aquarium and i am in urgent
need of some advice from any veterans out there.
I recently purchased a 64 litre Interpet fish pod which came with a thermostat heater, thermometer and CF2 cartridge filter. I set the tank up as instructed, introduced my substrate (after rinsing thoroughly); I also put some fake plants in and a stone-head ornament which were also rinsed before putting in the tank.
As expected, the tank was initially slightly clouded but that soon cleared up within 24hrs and i waited a further 5 days before i excitedly visited my local pet store to purchase my first fish. Note: During this time the temperature has never dropped below 24 degrees or gone above 25 degrees which i was advised is the 'ideal' temperature for tropical fish.
After much discussion with the expert regarding 'beginner fish' i opted to purchase x6 Lemon Tetras. She also mentioned that i should get some real plants in the near future to help with the oxygenation within the tank thus helping the integration of the fish.
I took the fish home and introduced them to the tank as instructed - leave them in the bag for 30mins, cut a small hole into the bag to allow both waters to merge, then set them free after a further 30mins. And, as requested, i returned to the pet store 2 days later and replaced the fake plants with 3 real plants.
Q. Also it has just occurred to me that the plants came with a small plastic pot which i removed but they also had a 'spongey' base which i took as being there to protect the roots and okay to leave - should i have removed this also?!
The fish seemed relatively happy in their new environment for 2-3 days but yesterday was where my real problems have begun. Note: During this time i have fed the fish twice daily; i was careful not to overfeed.
Q. How much is too much?
I received and entirely new filter from the website i bought the tank from after a minor dispute and used this as an opportunity to replace the cartridge and algae-away pad in my existing filter (the cartridge was very grey and beginning to turn brown in places so i felt the need for a change). The leaflet advised of a straight swap and no need to rinse the pad or do anything particular before replacing). I did however use some Filter Start.
Q. Do i put the Filter Start directly into the filter itself or just in the tank water?
It was within 2-3hrs of this exchange that one of my fish began acting erratically, swimming to the top of the tank and back down, mainly on it's side. Sadly the fish died as i was frantically trying to re-read my many leaflets and online forums for a quick fix. I noticed that the remaining fish were also breathing much quicker than i'd previously observed.
Q. Could this be a lack of oxygen in the tank and if so i how can i increase it further? Or have i perhaps inadvertently created an huge imbalance in the tank by swapping the filter cartridge?
I'd considered reverting back to the original filter cartridge but i didn't want to risk even further stress on the fish. I did however perform an immediate 30% water change within the tank and included TapSafe. I also removed as much excess 'debris' as i could find.
Overnight another fish has died and i am left both saddened and confused as to what has caused this to happen. Is it one specific thing or several smaller errors i have made? In any case i need some help/advice!
Thank you in advance.