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Old 01-26-2018, 04:11 PM   #1
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Should I start over completely?

I've been struggling with my aquarium for a long time now and am hoping for some advice on how to proceed. Being new to fishkeeping is part of the problem I'm sure, but I do my best to research. I would greatly appreciate any help you can offer!

Short version:
My fish keep dying even though my water parameters appear to be fine. Should I start over from scratch?

Long version:
I started a little over a year ago with a Aqueon 13 LED Widescreen aquarium. It had fake plants/decor and I started with 4 Espei Rasbora, with intentions to add more rasbora and other fish. Did regular water changes - everything went along fine. When I finally got around to adding more fish, I decided to move to a larger tank first (due to a $1 gallon at sale Petco).

In August, I bought and setup a 29G tank. Along with a new filter, I setup my filter from the existing tank to speed up the cycle on the new tank, as I didn't have room for both tanks and I transferred the fish to the new tank after setting it up. For this tank, decided to go with live plants and used eco-complete for the substrate. For the light, I went with a Finnex Planted+ 24/7 30 inch. So I ended up losing 1 rasbora, but the other 3 seemed fine. Did water changes and kept up on testing and everything was okay. I started having issues with algae and my plants went downhill as they got covered.

In September, I bought 6 panda corys from my LFS (first time purchasing from there). One died within a week, then the same pattern continued with the others. I read online that people sometimes have problems with panda corys, but then I started losing my rasbora. I read up on ich, but they didn't have those symptoms. At that time, I treated with PraziPro and Indian Almond Leaves at the advice from an experienced fish keeper. Seemed like that helped and I decided to order more fish, as I was down 1 rasbora and 1 cory. Got them shipped, as I couldn't find any espei locally.

In October, the new fish arrived, and I acclimated them as usual, but I woke up the next day to more loses. I figured it was from shipping - but they continued pretty much the same way as before until I lost all the fish with about 2 weeks. At this point, I only had nerite snails left.

Feeling extremely frustrated and defeated, I just kinda let things sit until about a week ago. I did occasional water changes and cleaned up algae. I also started doing Flourish Excel to hopefully take of the algae, which did help. My plants are still there but pretty scraggly looking. Thinking that maybe it would be fine now, I decided to get more fish. I bought 6 runny nose tetras and 2 amano shrimp at Petco (as I didn't want to go back to the previous LFS). I got them acclimated and in the tank - everyone seemed fine. But, my the next morning one tetra was dead and the others scattered around the bottom - gasping and wandering around. I checked water parameters and everything appeared fine. Ammonia and nitrites were at 0. Nitrates seemed low at 5.

After doing more research, I found that rummy nose are sensitive and can take some time to get settled so I wondered if that was the problem. But the fish looked worse and worse and were not eating. I lost one shrimp so I decided to treat with PraziPro yesterday. This morning, 2 more tetra were dead along with the other shrimp. I tested the water and got the same results as before.

At this point I have 2 tetra left and they aren't looking good. Hanging out at the bottom of the tank and making jerking movements. I feel horrible for the fish and I just don't know what to do. To be honest, part of my thinks I should just call it quits, but at the same time, I don't want to give up. I work from home and I enjoy having an aquarium in my home office. I also built a nice stand for it and have invested in the equipment. I feel like I should be able to figure this out. However, I don't want to keep repeating this pattern! Not fair for the fish and of course, it's wasting money as well.

Assuming my two fish don't make it - should I just start over completely? Sanitize the aquarium and equipment with a bleach solution? Perhaps give up on live plants?

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Old 01-26-2018, 07:44 PM   #2
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I'd do more research on planted tanks. I'm still researching on it before I dive in. There's alot to it to beable to keep your plants and fish healthy all at the same time. Co2 injections, fertilizer, how much to add when to add. It can be touchy to newbies. Could even be the fish you got. I won't start over or quit. Just research things that you think you need to know about. Like the plants, and why they are rugged looking. Test water with the right test kit. Water changes when needed. Anything that looks wrong. Look it up, and pin point. Others will be asking about the plants and your water test levels, and so on. Post it ahead of time so they can help you faster. What type of plants, what your adding for them, and how much, how often, so on. Sorry I can't help much but like I said, I'm still researching on planted tanks before I do it. The more I know the better. Don't start over!
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Old 01-26-2018, 07:53 PM   #3
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Are you using water conditioner? Does your tap water have chlorine? What is the temp of your tank? How long do you leave the lights on a day? What is your pH reading? What kit are you testing your water with?
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Old 01-26-2018, 07:54 PM   #4
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Also, are you washing your plants off before placing them in the tank? Kinda like you would your vegetables and fruit.
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Old 01-26-2018, 08:03 PM   #5
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I suggest scaping your tank with low maintenence plants, like Java Fern and Anubias. No need for bright lights or fertilizers. Attach them to driftwood, or wedge them between rocks. Stock tougher fish, such as Buenos Aires Tetras. They look similar to Rummynose tetras, but are larger and practically bulletproof. Diamond tetras are fairly durable too. You could also go the Swordtail, Mollie route. For algae issues, add a Bristlenose Pleco. My three are algae eating machines.
Relax. Do a little research on water maintenence. There are plenty of links on AA and members that are totally devoted to that subject.
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Old 01-26-2018, 08:10 PM   #6
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I don't have a particular answer for you either. Don't give up on live plants yet. I converted from plastic to real and wish I had started with live! I am choosing to go the low tech option. No fancy light, no Co2, minimal ferts. I have had good luck with Anubias and Java fern. I did learn that I might have had my tank lights on to long for my Java Fern because the leaves were looking "burnt". I also have some crypts that are doing all right.

We started our fish in tank cycle with long fin danios. They are pretty hearty. Maybe you need to consider heartier fish and make sure your water parameters are good before the more sensitive fish are added. I add Stability and Prime with every water change and Stability when we add fish. We test weekly to biweekly with an API master test kit and do regular water changes. If you have a trusted LFS, have you taken a water sample to them to verify your parameters? Sorry for all the random thoughts, just thinking of the things that have helped us.
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Old 01-26-2018, 11:01 PM   #7
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Wow that is a hard one there doesn't seem to be anything in particular you did or didn't do. So I am going to ask questions like I didn't read your whole post. Fish deaths and plants are 2 separate issues.
1. How did you acclimate your fish?
2. What test kit are you using liquid or test strips.
3. How often do you do water changes.
4. How and what are you feeding
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Old 01-27-2018, 04:40 AM   #8
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I am often alone....If you have no clue of diagnosis then I might be inclined to wipe the tank down and start over..A 29 g is no biggy to do this with..
Even if remaining fish survive it is likely IMO they are 'sub clinical' carriers of whatever is in your tank and will likely infect most fish you introduce?
If you choose to keep tank running and the remaining fish live you need to properly diagnose the issue or always worry[at the least]..
I would rather see you enjoy your tank then wonder and worry when the fish will die..
We all get fish issues and sometimes and they can be hard to fix for even the most experienced...
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Old 01-27-2018, 07:17 AM   #9
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As far as the fish sometimes it's very hard to diagnose sometimes so by the time we figure it out it's to late, as far as the plants I will tell you a finnex 24/7 is way to much light without co2 injection, yes there's things you can do to prevent algae but with that strong of a light it will be tricky, another thing is to much light can severely stress your fish out (i read about this when I added more pods to my led track light) which in fact can case health issues, when you say your parameters are good what does that mean? What test kit are you using to test with?

Are there any symptoms with the fish like are they hiding? Are they skittish if so it could be light related which is causes stress , my serpae tetras only come out when I shade the light or turn on the lunars but they are starting to adjust to it better (your light is brighter than mine)

Could you give details of your readings? And what test kit you're using
I read your ammonia and nitrite are 0 but what about

Are you conditioning the new water with seachem prime?
Are you temp matching the new water during pwc before you add it back to the tank?

Another thing is you're getting fish from a chain store which should always be quarantined before adding to your main tank. Well all fish should but especially ones from petco

Are you adding the store water to the tank? If so that's terrible

Are you acclimating and adding the new fish with the lights off? (you should be to reduce stress) leave the lights off for 24 hours

Also you don't want to buy fish in bulk you want to add a few here, a few there not 10 at once.

I wouldn't start over I would see if shading the light makes them stop twitching, lower the light cycle to 4-5 hours a day, monitor fish behavior see if they act better without the extremely bright light beating on them, I would honestly feed small, minimal light on time and I would raise the light higher off the tank or shade it somehow and only have it in 4-5 hours to see if the light is stressing them out.

also pH is very important, if your water is soft your pH can crash when pH crashes fish die, to remedy this you'll need to find out hardness of your tap water with a gh/kh test kit but a lfs might test it for you, not tank water tap water, if it's soft you just need to add some crushed coral to your filter so it don't crash or some limestone.

There's many many things that kill fish but stress/ poor water quality in my opinion is the top 2 reasons.
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Old 01-29-2018, 10:02 AM   #10
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Thanks so much for the replies everyone! Here is some additional information based on your questions.

My tap has chlorine, so I use Prime when doing water changes. The tank temp is right around 79 or 80. I do water changes with a python water changer and I make sure to adjust the water temperature to match the tank before refilling. pH in the tank is 8.2 - I have hard water here and the pH is high right from the tap.

For water tests, I have been using an API Master Test Kit. It's close to 3 years old but bottles have an expiration date of 2020 on them - is it possible I need to replace it? I also have ammonia and 6 in 1 test strips I use sometimes.

I didn't rise off the plants before they went into the tank. They all came from Planted Aquariums Central.

When I acclimated the fish, I floated the bag for 30-60 min then added 1/4-1/2 cup of tank water every 10 min or so, then after the water volume was about double, I netted the fish and placed them in the tank. I also have done drip acclimation for the shrimp and snails.

Originally, I was using a NICREW ClassicLED aquarium light - it has white and blue leds and is 18W. I read that blue LEDs can contribute to brown algae so that's why I switched to the Finnex Planted+ light. Plus I thought that a fancy light should surely do the trick! Light was on 10 hours a day on max mode. I was thinking more light = more plant growth, which I understand now that it's not that simple. Definitely need to do more research on this.

One question - would the 24/7 mode still be too much light without using CO2? I actually really like that mode and it doesn't say at max brightness very long.

Thanks again for the help - I really appreciate it!
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Old 01-29-2018, 11:13 AM   #11
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IMO, it sounds like you are handling all things aquatic just fine. Your 8.2 ph is typical for central Texas as well as in my area, northeast Oklahoma, due to the vast limestone deposits. I
actually think the higher ph is advantageous, buffering the water.
As for potential excessive lighting problems, your snails and the addition of a bristlenose Pleco should be able to handle the resulting algae, within reason.
As for your noted acclimation process, don't over do it. IMO an extra long acclimation can be just as stressful to a fish as a short one. Chances are your tank water is much purer than what is in the bag. IMO, Temperature equality is more important than a water parameter match. I make sure my tank temp. Is just a little warmer than the bagged water. Without going into great detail, my acclimation process rarely goes over 15 min. I don't remember ever losing any during acclimation. Looking back on your fish losses, probably not a tank killing pathogen. Likely some water chemistry imbalance, or even a weakened batch of fish.
It certainly looks that you are on your way to a successful setup.
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