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Old 03-01-2016, 06:09 AM   #1
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Beginner Help Required!

Hi,

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.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:49 AM   #2
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Hello

Firstly don't despair, we all make mistakes in this hobby and will continue to do so. What your fish store expert should have told you is that a new tank needs to go through the nitrogen cycle before the parameters stabilise and are safer fish.

The nitrogen cycle involves culturing necessary bacteria within the tank that detoxify harmful nitrogen compounds. The three nitrogen compounds we are interested in are ammonia (very toxic) nitrite (toxic in high volumes and nitrate (toxic in very high volumes)

There are 3 types of bacteria that do this job and you do not have to do anything special in order to make this happen except provide the starting form of ammonia. The idea is that you want 0ppm (parts per million - same as mg/l milligrams per litre) ammonia 0ppm nitrite and a reading of around 40ppm nitrates. In order to read these levels you will need an API liquid test kit.

You can do this cycle with fish or without fish. Fishless cycles involve adding pure ammonia like the one you get from ace hardware stores or Kleen off ammonia from eBay if you are from the UK and adding it to the tank and allowing the tank to go through this process. The process normally takes about 5 weeks to complete.

If you use fish then you have to be more careful. Instead of using pure ammonia, the first of our bacteria break down organics in the water which produces ammonia (very toxic) organics can be in the form of fish waste, food and decaying leaf litter etc. Ammonia is also produced directly from the fish.

The thing about ammonia toxicity is that it is dependent on your waters temperature and ph. The higher the temperature and ph the more toxic the ammonia. The lower ph and temperature means there is less free toxic ammonia in the water because it converts to ammonium which is non toxic. Generally ammonia reading of 0.25ppm is harmless but if you have hard water with higher Ph's then this could cause a problem.

Now 6 small tetras in 64 litres of water isn't going to cause me much concern, the bioload (amount of potential toxins and organics produced) by these fish is relatively low and you have a decent volume of water to dilute these. The problem you have encountered is the fish food and subsequent fish waste followed by the removal of your culturing material (filter cartridge) the second set of bacteria are responsible for consuming ammonia which produces nitrite as a byproduct. They are cultured quickly and are efficient enough to have protected your fish initially. You were probably culturing the last lot of bacteria that are responsible for consuming the nitrites which creates nitrate. Since nitrates are not so toxic in smaller quantities when dilute them with a weekly water change.

Because you removed the filter and your culture this left ammonia to build up to toxic levels.

My advice would be to:

1) buy a liquid test kit.
2) put the old cartridge back in if its still wet.
3) continue changing 30% water every other day.
4) feed sparingly once a day
5) add more live plants (they feed off ammonia).

When the cycle completes you will be safe to add more fish (but not too many because you may overwhelm the bacteria)

Good luck


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Old 03-01-2016, 07:51 AM   #3
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Here is a link to some articles in the Getting Started section. Please look over these when you get a chance: Articles to Help you Get Started with your Aquarium


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Old 03-01-2016, 08:26 AM   #4
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Welcome to the wonderful world of fish keeping!

I'm not much of a freshwater guy but I think I can still offer you a bit of help.

From what I can read here it seems a couple bits of crucial information were left out to help lead you to success. It's pretty common that newer fish keepers run into misguided information they got from the local pet or fish store.

The very first and most crucial step is that it seems you didn't cycle your tank properly. It's very important that you let your tank go through the full nitrogen cycle. You have a couple different options for this process which include fish in cycling or fishless. Sense the cycle is harsh on the fish it's recommended to do fishless. We should have some really good articles on how to cycle your tank as well as other beginner guides.
This is something you really cannot skip without leading to failure.

The next thing I should mention is the filter. After the nitrogen cycle completes you'll have a better understanding how filter media works..aside from removing particles from the water. Even though the tank seems to be relatively new it probably didn't help to completely change the filter media. After your cycle beneficial bacteria colonizes the filter media and other surfaces in the tank which creates a stable healthy environment for our fish. Most of this bacteria is within our filters, so once you remove it the tank takes a huge hit. If your filter media begins to clog it's best to rinse it in the water you remove from your tank during a water change then replace the same media back into the filter. If you want to upgrade to a new filter then you can take your brand new filter media and let it sit in your tank until it's "seeded" and ready to replace your old one. I would say it's always a good idea to give new items of any kind a rinse before it goes on or in the tank.

I'm not sure what filter start is exactly but I'm guessing it's a beneficial bacteria product. I've never really used many chemicals or additives so I'm not sure where it's recommended you add this. I'm also not really sure if it actually helps or not. Either way it won't reduce the need to properly cycle the tank.

A couple tips I have on acclimating new fish to your tank although I don't necessarily disagree with what you did...but I try my very best to never add fish store water to my tank. Temperature acclimating your new fish is extremely important so your definitely doing that right. And acclimating your fish to your water parameters is absolutely important. I'd recommend a different technique that I use for everything called drip acclimating. It's really pretty simple and I could describe it but I think it would probably be better to just check out a YouTube video on how it's done. It's really very simple but much easier in my opinion and it keeps the fish store water out of yours.

Feeding is a pretty well debated topic and you'll get varied answers. I think in a newer setup it's probably best to keep feedings low. This will help you avoid huge algae and water parameter problems. It's really something you have to watch and tweak yourself. Some people feed 1-5 times a day..maybe more. Some people feed every other to every few days. It all depends on what you believe is best for your tank and the animals you keep. Some fish will have more strict needs to survive so it's best to research to make sure a fish fits your tank. Whenever you feed ensure that you don't have left over food settling at the bottom of the tank.

As for oxygen in the water..if your filter is creating a good amount of turbulence at the water surface then the water should be oxygenating well. If you see fish gasping at the surface you'll know you have a problem.


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Old 03-01-2016, 10:28 AM   #5
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Thank you very much for taking the time to respond in detail, it is very much appreciated
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:12 AM   #6
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Hold on

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saeran View Post
Hi,

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.
Okay so Before you get a big tank start out with a 10 or 20 Gallon tank with some tropical freshwater fish thats where i began and im slowly gettting used to this and where did you buy your fish? i buy mine from the fish room a local fish store petsmart or petco are just a way to kill your fish start out small then move on big.
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:06 PM   #7
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Cycle with fish if any survive. Quickly get a bottle of API Quick Start or Seachem Prime. either product contains the live nitrifing bacteria They consume the ammonia and convert to nitrite and then to nitrate which is food for the live plants. This would have helped from day one. Why would the dealer sell you fish and not explained the nitrogen cycle? So one water Change and add bacteria for seven days in a row and also every time you add fish or do a water change. Feed lightly once a day Wait a few days and test the water. I used this method and the tank cycled in 2 weeks. None of my fish died. And everything is perfect. I do a partial water change (about 35 percent). Once a week. Hope this helps. Be brave and carry on.


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