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Old 03-01-2015, 08:48 AM   #1
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Question Can I add to my 20 gal tank? Please advise~

Hi all! I have a planted 20 gal acrylic tank. I regularly check the levels (nitrites, nitrates, chlorine, Ph, etc) and all are good. I have 7 neon tetras, 2 "tequila sunrise" guppies, 2 glofish, 2 yellow mystery snails and 1 or 2 baby mystery snails. I really would like to add more fish but wanted to check with the seasoned veterans if this can be done safely. A month ago, I had 2 beautiful dalmation mollies however they both died within a few days of each other. I'd had them for a few months and they seemed to be thriving and healthy and died rather unexpectedly. I tested the water and the nitrIte level was through the roof. I was horrified and felt very responsible.I followed the instructions on how to correct that problem and after a few significant water changes we are back to healthy conditions. I am very careful and attentive to my aquarium, and even though I was doing regular 30% changes, I felt that I had somehow dropped the ball resulting in the loss of these two fish. Anyway, as mentioned before, I would love to add a couple more fish and wondering if this can be done safely. I realise that dalmatians are not a good option now. What do you think? Thank you so much for your suggestions.

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Old 03-01-2015, 08:55 AM   #2
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Hi welcome to AA!

With regular water changes it is very uncommon to see nitrite appear.

1. How long has the tank been set up?

2. Did you cycle the tank?

3. Before adding any fish it's important to ensure the tank is cycled and healthy. If it is uncycled, ammonia and nitrite can rise and cause fish deaths like you have experienced.

After we make sure your tank is healthy, www.AqAdvisor.com is a wonderful website for stocking for those still new/fairly new to the hobby.

Hope this helps and again we welcome you!


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Old 03-01-2015, 09:05 AM   #3
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Your Tank

Hello Jer...

You have a small tank and so the fish you have is plenty. I wouldn't add more. As you've experienced, the water can become toxic in a short time. A 20 gallon tank needs 50 percent water changes every 4 to 5 days to keep dissolved wastes out of the tank. A weekly 30 percent change still leaves a great deal of dissolved waste in the water. Add to this, the fact that water loses it's ability to support life the longer it stays in the tank and goes through the filtration process.

A Mollie is the most sensitive of the livebearers to changes in the water. I'm not really surprised you lost them. They need a much larger tank with more water to dilute mistakes in tank management.

If you want to get more fish, then get a larger tank. Save the small tanks for some time in the future when you have more experience in the water keeping hobby.

"Fear not, my young apprentice. Just change the tank water."
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Old 03-01-2015, 11:53 AM   #4
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The presence of nitrites indicates over stocking, over feeding, inadequate bio filtration, inadequate water changes or a combination of the above.
What kind of filter are you running? Does it have cartridges? If so, do you change them or simply rinse and reuse them? If it is the former, then you might be removing the beneficial bacteria responsible for converting the nitrogenous wastes to nitrates. If you rinse them, use water that was removed during a water change.
If over feeding, then feed less. And yes to the water changes.

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