Hey Everyone! New to the forum, kind of a long post and probably in the wrong thread. I don't normally post things, but am in need of advice.
I'm a Dad who got a 20 Gallon tank about 2 months ago because the kids really wanted some fish. I used to keep fish in College, so I have some experience (20 years ago) with good success, I think I recall loosing only 1 fish. (had 2 Angels, 3 Tiger barbs, 2 green barbs, 2 clown loaches, and a plex in a 20 gal
) and had that tank running for a few years. But this go around, I seem to have started off wrong.
Set up the tank and let it sit for a week or so to get temp right. Added some bacteria (don't think that stuff works) and added 3 x-ray tetras (what the kids wanted). Left them in the tank for about a week then added 2 Otos and two more x-rays, left all that in the tank for a couple of weeks. Lost the runt x-ray within a couple of days, but he looked bad from the start.
Added a snail, 2 dwarf gourami's (both male, probably a mistake, don't listen to the pet store employees), and 3 red wag Platties (apparently 2 males and on female, I know right! What is this guy thinking!) All was well for a couple of weeks, then the tank started cycling, I was checking, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels with strips. (I know, those things don't work). Went through ammonia going up slightly, then nitrites, then nitrates got high. Went through a period of changing water daily to get nitrates down. During this period, I lost 1 oto and 3 more of the X-ray tetras. But the tank cycled and seemed to level off.
Everything was good for a couple of weeks, then the snail kicked the bucket. A couple of days later, one of the Gouramis went. A few days went by and two days ago the other Gourami seemed to have lost his bearings and was swimming erratically, in circles, upside down, tail down, tail up, but mostly laying on one side on the bottom then finally died. All remaining fish seem fine (3 platties and 1 oto) except for the x-ray, who's only problem seems to be weight loss because the platties won't let him eat. Thinking of isolating him until he gets bigger.
Went to get an API master test kit and tested water.
20 Gallon Top Fin Kit tank, with LED
hood, Topfin 20 filter and the heater that came int he kit. No live plants, but several fake ones.
Temp = 78
Ammonia = 0 (maybe .25 - it's difficult to tell)
Nitrite = 0
Ph = 8.2
Changing 20-25% water weekly and have sucked some stuff out of the bottom once when doing the daily water changes with nitrate.
Is the fish fallout just due to the tank cycling and high nitrates? The PH? I don't see any other signs of disease in the tank, and didn't on any of the fish that died. I have read a little about Dwarf Gourami Disease, but haven't found good information about it or if there is a cure. The wife and I liked the Gouramis and they added good color to the tank.
Any advice appreciated, but please don't badger me because I killed all these fish. I already feel bad enough and want to get this tank in good health so I can add some more fish.