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Old 08-19-2011, 01:39 AM   #1
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Fish not doing so hot. :( Please help!

Hey everyone, so I have had my 30 gallon freshwater aquarium set up for about a week now with the filter and heater going, added water conditioner (Prime brand) and some beneficial bacteria agent as well. Figured it was about time I get a couple fish in the tank since the water test I had the aquarium store do came back great and the guy told me a week of filtering should be enough time for the water to support some fish now.

Anyway, I had this helpful guy at the aquarium store pick out 4 small-ish/medium fish for my 30 gallon tank. We decided to go with:

1 small Red and White Comet
1 small Yellow Koi
1 tiny African Frog
1 small Powder Blue Gourami

Got them home, and let their bags acclimate for 10 or 15 minutes, slowly added a little aquarium water to their bags every couple of minutes. Finally released them all into the aquarium and things were looking fine. Gave them a tiny bit of food (flakes) and a couple small pellets for the frog. They all ate eagerly and seemed great. I took a short nap for about 30 minutes and awoke to see the poor Koi swimming slowly on it's side, dying. The Gourami and the Comet where swimming slower too, only on the bottom of the tank too. The African Frog was tucked under a rock, not moving - but he darted across the tank when I moved the rock. Luckily my roommate has a more established fish tank with some Glo Fish and a couple other non-aggressives. I quickly transferred the dying Koi to his tank and after about 10 minutes he was happy and back to normal again. A few minutes later, the Comet started swimming sideways too, and would come to the surface often as if trying to get air. I transferred him to my roommate's tank too, and he was suddenly better as well. The Gourami is swimming slower than when I originally put it in, but so far is not showing signs of dying or swimming sideways. The frog is hard to tell since he doesn't move a lot to begin with.

Anyway, I noticed when I first added the fish, the water become much cloudier after they were done eating and had been in the tank for 15 minutes or so.

I just did a 50% water change fresh from the tap and added a little more water conditioner to compensate - the water has become mostly clear again but is not totally clear. The Gourami is still ok... swimming slowly, mostly near the bottom of the tank. Frog is still chilling under the rock. I'm afraid to transfer the Koi and Comet back over in case they start dying again for whatever unknown reason that I can't figure out.

Any ideas what this could be? Are the Koi and Comet just more sensitive and the Gourami is just a hardier fish? And any ideas how to get the water to be clear? Do I just have to wait 2 weeks for the filter to pump everything out?

Thanks everyone, you're the best!

-Ross
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:02 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Razzo View Post
Hey everyone, so I have had my 30 gallon freshwater aquarium set up for about a week now with the filter and heater going, added water conditioner (Prime brand) and some beneficial bacteria agent as well. Figured it was about time I get a couple fish in the tank since the water test I had the aquarium store do came back great and the guy told me a week of filtering should be enough time for the water to support some fish now.

A week is not sufficient enough to get a tank growing enough bacteria. It could take around a month or two to get properly established. I'm guessing that the product didn't work unless it's Tetra SafeStart or some other proven one. When they said the water test was great, did they tell you the exact levels? The levels that are considered safe by the LFS (especially big chain ones) and the ones of fish are highly different.

Anyway, I had this helpful guy at the aquarium store pick out 4 small-ish/medium fish for my 30 gallon tank. We decided to go with:

1 small Red and White Comet
1 small Yellow Koi
1 tiny African Frog
1 small Powder Blue Gourami

That tank is WAY overstocked! Koi get two feet long! That comet could easily surpass the one foot mark as well! If you can rehome them immediately. You've overloaded your bioload as is!

Got them home, and let their bags acclimate for 10 or 15 minutes, slowly added a little aquarium water to their bags every couple of minutes. Finally released them all into the aquarium and things were looking fine. Gave them a tiny bit of food (flakes) and a couple small pellets for the frog. They all ate eagerly and seemed great. Did you by any chance net them out of the bags or did you just dump them in the fish tank? I took a short nap for about 30 minutes and awoke to see the poor Koi swimming slowly on it's side, dying. The Gourami and the Comet where swimming slower too, only on the bottom of the tank too. The African Frog was tucked under a rock, not moving - but he darted across the tank when I moved the rock. Luckily my roommate has a more established fish tank with some Glo Fish and a couple other non-aggressives. I quickly transferred the dying Koi to his tank and after about 10 minutes he was happy and back to normal again. We need to know the levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates ASAP. A few minutes later, the Comet started swimming sideways too, and would come to the surface often as if trying to get air. I transferred him to my roommate's tank too, and he was suddenly better as well. The Gourami is swimming slower than when I originally put it in, but so far is not showing signs of dying or swimming sideways. The frog is hard to tell since he doesn't move a lot to begin with.

Anyway, I noticed when I first added the fish, the water become much cloudier after they were done eating and had been in the tank for 15 minutes or so.

Bacterial bloom. It happens when your tank is not cycled, I suggest reading these two links and returning the fish:
1. The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling
2. I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?!

I just did a 50% water change fresh from the tap and added a little more water conditioner to compensate - the water has become mostly clear again but is not totally clear. The Gourami is still ok... swimming slowly, mostly near the bottom of the tank. Frog is still chilling under the rock. I'm afraid to transfer the Koi and Comet back over in case they start dying again for whatever unknown reason that I can't figure out.

Any ideas what this could be? Are the Koi and Comet just more sensitive and the Gourami is just a hardier fish? And any ideas how to get the water to be clear? Do I just have to wait 2 weeks for the filter to pump everything out?

IMO dwarf gouramis are sensitive, you could throw a comet in a 50 degree pool and it would survive. They have been poisoned by a toxin in a tank. WE NEED to know the exact levels.

Thanks everyone, you're the best!

-Ross
I wrote in bold red. Good luck!
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:11 AM   #3
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The water test - the guy told me that the pH balance was normal and that there were not any of the bad chemicals present (ammonia, etc).

Hmmm... that's kind of upsetting that the guy didn't tell me that the Koi can get that large! I told him I had a 30 gallon and he said it would be fine in there as long as I don't fill it with 15 other fish.

When I released the fish I allowed some of their bag water to go into the aquarium water - I figured their water was probably more established than mine and would help the stabilizing process.

I'll have to go to Petco tomorrow and have them test for the levels of chemicals, hopefully they can give me exact numbers.
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:33 AM   #4
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Hello

To drive the point home, cycling is establishing a biological filter in your fish tank. Many beginning aquarist don't know about this and your fish tank will suffer new fish tank syndrome. Basically the crap/dung/bodily discharges of your fish are killing them. Nature has a way to combat called the biological filter which turn harmless dung or ammonia and nitrites to nitrates which is relatively harmful in small amounts. I suggest you study the links provided by the user and implement this in your fish tank. Happy fish keeping!
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Old 08-19-2011, 04:31 AM   #5
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Hi
Make sure you read those links. They are life savers! Nearly all of us have made this mistake when starting out. I know I did. I suggest you google the types of fish you have and find out some info on them like what size they will grow to, what size tank they need and what water conditions they need. Goldfish and tropical fish need different water temperatures to begin with.
Good luck and happy fish keeping.
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:30 AM   #6
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[QUOTE=Razzo;1505017]The water test - the guy told me that the pH balance was normal and that there were not any of the bad chemicals present (ammonia, etc).
This is what happens when you listen to pet store employees from Petco. pH balance is not normal and can in fact kill your fish if you add too much because of added chemicals that are harmful to fish. If he was using strips to test we could all be guessing, strips are almost little to not accurate.
Hmmm... that's kind of upsetting that the guy didn't tell me that the Koi can get that large! I told him I had a 30 gallon and he said it would be fine in there as long as I don't fill it with 15 other fish.
Don't worry, we all fall for this. We've all listened to the LFS and made some mistake, but it's our job to fix it. 15 other fish!?! You would already be overstocked with the koi!
When I released the fish I allowed some of their bag water to go into the aquarium water - I figured their water was probably more established than mine and would help the stabilizing process.
That's not good. Petco is not exactly the best with their fish and that can definitely release something into your tank that you don't want.
I'll have to go to Petco tomorrow and have them test for the levels of chemicals, hopefully they can give me exact numbers.Unfortunately they can't, all they use is strips which is guess work. IMO buy an API Freshwater Master Test Kit, super accurate and will provide you with lots of tests.[/QUOTE]

I wrote in bold red again. Make sure to read those links!
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:41 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Razzo View Post
The water test - the guy told me that the pH balance was normal and that there were not any of the bad chemicals present (ammonia, etc).

Hmmm... that's kind of upsetting that the guy didn't tell me that the Koi can get that large! I told him I had a 30 gallon and he said it would be fine in there as long as I don't fill it with 15 other fish.

When I released the fish I allowed some of their bag water to go into the aquarium water - I figured their water was probably more established than mine and would help the stabilizing process.

I'll have to go to Petco tomorrow and have them test for the levels of chemicals, hopefully they can give me exact numbers.
You aren't the first and sadly, you won't be the last customer that an lfs employee has misled. There are some exceptions to the rule but not enough by a long shot. Your best bet is to always do your research PRIOR to even setting foot in the store. Or, take a pad/pen with you and write down the names of the species that interest you. Then, come back and do your research. But never buy without having read up on whatever it is you're purchasing.

You've been given great information above. There is a huge learning curve at the beginning of taking up fishkeeping. When you tuck the major stuff under your belt, then it becomes much easier and more enjoyable. Hang in there!
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:14 AM   #8
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Have to agree with bruinsbro1997 and LyndaB .. they've given straight up info ... so no need for any despair ... you've come to the right place

Invest in the API test master kit and Seachem Prime ... That should be the ONLY two chemicals you should need use on a regular basis ... other than meds .. but hopefully you wont have to go there.

Good luck!
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:12 PM   #9
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I forgot to mention - I bought none of these fish at Petco or Petsmart - I doubt those stores even carry the Powder Blues. Anyway, I bought them at Aqualand Aquarium center, a huge fish specialty store in Minneapolis. They have tanks of all kinds and fish of all kinds. Most of the reviews I read online about the store say that the staff are very knowledgable and know what they're doing and give good advice.

Part of the reason I bought what the guy recommended was that he did actually seem very smart and he could answer some of my very specific questions almost instantly and he didn't seem like he was bullshitting or making things up out of the air. There were many fish I wanted to buy prior to these four that he told me "don't waste your money on that one, because it will almost certainly die in a tank that is not very well established". So we finally settled on the Gourami, Koi, Comet and African Frog because he said these four fish were a little less picky about their environment compared to a lot of other fish species.

On the fish: Gourami is still doing ok as of this morning - swimming around more than yesterday (finally comes away from the ground too). Frog still remains stationary 99.9% of the time, which from what I read is pretty normal unless there is food in the tank or another fish startles them. I still have the Koi and Comet in my roommate's tank which is more established and they are doing fine over there. I am still afraid to transfer them back to mine since I have no idea what will happen - the Gourami is not really a good judge of the water quality since he was basically fine (from his visual cues) form the very beginning, even when the Koi and Comet seemed to be dying. I read up on the cycling - and while I understand how it works, it seems impossible to do without the measuring equipment to test the chemical levels constantly. Sadly I don't really have a lot of money to invest in the master test kit (which I remember being a little bit pricey in my opinion for what it does...) Not sure what to do now as far as the Comet and Koi go because it seems like you all are recommending that I not have them at all because the 30gallon will be too small for them after a while? I know Aqualand has a return policy on fish that don't make it within the first few days, I'm not sure however if they will take a return on a living fish that I was just too naive (blush) to know not to buy for this size tank. I suppose I could always play the "well your employee told me it would be ok" card, but I don't want to get anyone in trouble at work - that's not my goal here. I just want a tank that is moving in the right direction to hold a few nice fish.
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:18 PM   #10
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I don't really have a lot of money to invest in the master test kit (which I remember being a little bit pricey in my opinion for what it does...)
You can buy the API master kit on-line for about $23. It lasts for hundreds of tests, and those test results are accurate ones.
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:20 PM   #11
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I'm a broke college student here, so anything more than 20 dollars seems like an investment to me. Like I said, I'm going to call Aqualand up and see if they will refund me for the Koi and Comet, even though they're still alive and well... maybe they will take them back, who knows. If they will then I should be able to use that money to buy the test kit.
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:30 PM   #12
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It happens, its the same way on forums, there are some that seem to know what they are talking about but if you really know your stuff or start digging you'll find out that much is hollow rhetoric. Couldn't agree more with Lynda, do your research first, I liken it to going to buy a dog but not knowing whether it is a great dane or a chihuahua.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:31 PM   #13
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You have been given some excellent advice in this thread, especially the parts about buying and using a master test kit at home, and about not relying on pet store employees for information. The test kit will help us all get you thru the cycle, so really try to get one.

My concern is that you mentioned in your original post that the koi and comet started looking bad after being in your new tank for 30 minutes...that is not enough time to build up a toxic level of ammonia. Something else was wrong. The gourami is hanging in there? Koi and comets are somewhat related...maybe something is in there that they could not handle, but that your gourami is more resistant to. What do you have in the tank? Decorations, plants, gravels? List everything you have. How did you clean/prepare the tank before you put water in? What are you using for a water conditioner?

By the way, when you get the cycle started, you may be able to use some of your roommate's used filter media in your filter to jump start the good bacteria. That will speed up the process considerably. The two links given to you by bruinsbro are WELL worth reading.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:50 PM   #14
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I was in the same boat as you when I got started. I got a tank and immediately started filling it with fish that the LFS said were ok for its volume. Only found out after coming here i was not doing my fish any favors and I am now in the process of cycling my tank.

Here is a link that is really good for figuring out what you can safely stock for your tank volume.

AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor

Good luck!
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:39 AM   #15
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I forgot to mention - I bought none of these fish at Petco or Petsmart - I doubt those stores even carry the Powder Blues.

FWIW, I purchased my powder blue at Petco.
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