Go Back   Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community > Freshwater > Freshwater & Brackish - Getting Started
Click Here to Login

Join Aquarium Advice Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com
 
Old 01-11-2007, 10:13 AM   #1
Aquarium Advice Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Winchester, Tennessee
Posts: 7
All the wrong stuff - now trying to fix it....

Good Morning,

Another new guy, with the same old, but different problems. Spent 2.5 hours reading through just about every FW thread, did some water tests - and now here's the story for anyone who would like to weigh in (PLEASE!). No doubt a boring story, but read to at least Day 7 to see why my story is a bit different than others.....sorry it's so long, but - as they say - the devil's in the details -

New 20g kit on Dec 27. Set up exactly as in Tetra-Care pamphlet in box, including the parts about using AquaSafe Cl neutralizer, tested tap water hardness (about 25-30) so added two tbs of aquarium salt (hardness now about 75), 1 to 1-1/2 lb gravel per gallon and let filter with BIO element run and temp stabilize (78-79F) for at least 24 hours - and ta-dah put in fish.

Ok, NOW I know that isn't all there is to it.

After about 48 hours of running the filter, I put in the first fish. They were: one swordtail, one orange molly, one albino tiger barb and one 2.5 inch pleco. Waited until the next day for first feeding, then did slow build up to two feedings per day, only the amount they ate in about 2 min. The world was a great place.

Day 3 (Jan 1): Water crystal clear, fish happy, bought a Python gravel cleaner, off to bed at 11:30pm.

Day 4: At 6:30am, water slightly clouded. Fish still happy. LFS says feeding them too much. Used python, got some but not much gunk out. About 5-6g water changed with this cleaning. Added 1/2 tsp AquaSafe and about 1 tsp salts. Changed filter element (did not touch BIO element).

Day 5: Water still cloudy, fish still happy.

Day 6: Swordtail dies. Not a mark on him/her - no scales missing, no fins eaten, no visible slime.

Day 7 (Jan 5): Molly, pleco and albino tiger barb still happy, water still slightly cloudy, and here comes the real story:

A friend of mine is the fish delivery guy for a chain of stores within a 100 mile radius of his home base. Says I can have some free fish if I meet him on this day. He travels around the state, dropping fish off to the pet departments. One of his rules is that once the fish are removed from the main tanks at the home base/hatchery, they can't go back - ever. Another rule is that - sometimes - store inventories aren't properly tracked, and he shows up with a bag full, but the tank for that species is still full. These fish are "rejected" because it would overload that tank. He tries to put them into stores between the reject point and home. If there is "no room at the inn," these fish are now in limbo, soon to be upgraded to fish-hell, in the form of their whole box, full of many bags of many fish, being thrown in a convenient dumpster at the end-of-route store.

I happen to live 2 miles from that end-of-route store.
I also happen to have a great dislike for killing things for no particular reason.
The guy who does this for a living was instantly downgraded from friend to "acquaintance."

Have you guessed what comes next?

Over a 5 hour period, I slowly acclimatized both by temperature and tank-to-shipping water mixing, my rescued critters. Did not add any shipping water to my tank. The list is as follows:
7 Otocinclus/Sucker Catfish (1 to 1-1/2 inch)
6 Corydoras (2 inch)
6 Pleco (3 to 3-1/2 inch)
8 Assorted Fancy Guppies
6 African Dwarf Frogs
4 Spiny Eels (4 to 5 inch)
16 Neon Tetras
12 Ghost Shrimp

I know (again NOW), way too much is an understatement, right?

Two days later, Day 9 (Jan 7): Water still same cloudiness level. Two PWC/gravel cleanings and another filter change later, one little sucker catfish dies. Neons which had been tightly schooling starting, one-by-one, to disorient and leave school. I come to learn this means they have about 4 hours left to live.

Day 10: Lost 6 Neons, the Molly and one frog in last 36 hours. Water remains lightly clouded - no change. Go buy a strip-type test kit. Doesn't check for ammonia, but does come up as follows:
Nitrate: about 5ppm (the color sample gives me 0 and 20, it's >0 for sure)
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Total Hardness: between 75 and 100 ppm (GH)
Total Alkalinity: close to 120 ppm (KH)
pH: about 7.2

Day 11: 4 Neons of 16 remaining. One more frog dies. One eel goes erratic - up out of the gravel, darting about tank wildly - shooting up to the surface a lot (coincidence? or intentional?). Eel dies this day. Was out of house for about 4 hours - eel swimming crazy when I left, stiff as a board and bleached white, laying on bottom when I got back. Water test strip still shows the same values.

Day 12 (Yesterday): Water still tests and looks the same, slightly clouded. Still doing gravel cleanings/PWC roughly each 36 hours, about 5g at a time. By sundown, all neons now dead, another eel starts to go wild.

Day 13 (Today): Last night's erratic eel dies. Water conditions unchanged from previous values.

OK, there's the story. I'm in head-scratching mode now. I can't get the water to clear, and remember - it clouded on me *before* I overloaded the tank, not after. I appear to be producing nitrate (6-7 tests strips all indicated definite non-zero values between 0-15ppm), so even though I didn't cycle this tank deliberately, I suppose it's getting there.
Everybody in my tank:
Plecos
Sucker Catfish
Corys
Guppies
Frogs
Eels
Albino Tiger Barb
Ghost Shrimp
All look and act healthy. But so did all the others - right up until when they died, of course. And as with the Molly way back when, there does not appear to be any foul play involved - no damage inflicted by other fish, no slime or fins/scales missing or unusual looking.......

Someone please help me out on this - I knew, at some level, that I was overloading the tank, and some deaths would result. But I couldn't bring myself to keep some of my rescues and toilet the rest of 'em.

I don't want to lose any more - what do I need to do?

Thanks ahead of time, and feel free to call me a dummy, if necessary - but I'd appreciate something constructive immediately following
Jim
__________________

__________________
hydra70 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 10:39 AM   #2
Sliced Bread
 
neilanh's Avatar


 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 8,482
You're not a dummy, you're just not "in the know" as it were. I'm a newb myself, and this site has taught me a tremendous amount of information in the short few weeks I've been here. Welcome to AA by the way, the people here have so much experience, they can help you through anything.

The first thing you must do is go buy a real test kit. AP master test kit is the preferred.
Chances are, your ammonia levels are extremely high, and that's what's killing your fish. Those little test strips are not accurate enough for a normal tank's maintenance, and definately not accurate enough for what you're doing. It really needs to be a chemical test kit.

Assuming it is the ammonia, you're going to have to PWC like crazy. Probably 2 40% a day for a few days to get things under control, at which point you are going to have to maintain it under 0.5ppm as an maximum level under your tank completes the cycle and there's enough bacteria built up to maintain your bioload. Ammonia is extremely toxic to our fish buddies, so it has to remain in check.

The NitrAtes in your tank are likely direct from your tap water, and not indicative of a tank full of the beneficial bacteria you need.

If you haven't already, go and read the article on the Nitrogen Cycle in the articles section (link at top of this page). That will give you the info on how the cycle works so that you understand what is supposed to happen versus what is happening.
__________________

__________________
~Neilan
In the DC Metro Area? Check out GWAPA and WAMAS
neilanh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 11:08 AM   #3
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
LandGhoti's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Le Midwest
Posts: 935
Welcome to AA!

Yep, Neilanh is right. Your tank is not cycled and with that many fish you will be doing PWCs forever to keep your water's parameters (ie, low ammonia, low nitrites) stable enough to keep the fish living. And that will prolong the cycle for, probably, a couple of months.

The cloudiness is the start of the cycle: ammonia (toxic) building from the fish respiration and waste, and any uneaten food; then the bacteria produced to try and convert it to nitrite (also toxic to fish). The more fish you have, the higher the level of ammonia. Like Neilanh said, read the thread about the nitrogen cycle so you have a better idea of what is going on in your tank.

Test strips are inaccurate; you need to get a liquid test kit. Also like Neilanh said, a lot of us on here use the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit. It tests for pH, high range pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. It takes more time than sticking strips in water, but your readings will be accurate and you'll know how much of everything you have in your tank.

I think the problem with all this is the stupid pamphlet that came with your aquarium. Unfortunately, most companies don't instruct potential aquarium buyers about "the cycle" and the proper way to get a tank started.

You will get all the help you need here for starting your tank, maintaining it, and just about anything else related to fish. This site has been invaluable to me. Good luck!
__________________
29-gallon FW
1 yoyo loach, 2 polkadot loaches, 6 cherry barbs, 2 turquoise rainbows, 1 chinese algae eater, 2 harlequin rasboras; java fern, java moss, hornwort, Asian ambulia
LandGhoti is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 02:22 PM   #4
AA Team Emeritus
 
Jchillin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New York, NY (The Big Apple)
Posts: 14,951
Welcome to AA Hydra.

Yes, your story is indeed different from any that I have ever seen and rightly so. What began as a "small" fish tank undergoing a nitrogen cycle became a group home for homeless fish. You also let on to a possible hidden secret in the hobby that most did not know about.

Along with what the other members have mentioned, you are going to have to scale down your inhabitants quickly. You also have some stock that will not be able to co-habitate with each other for any length of time (Tiger barbs and livebearer's for example).

Of course, the above is going to be a dilemma for you. It's not like you can take the fish to your LFS (since you didn't purchase them). Is there an Aquatic Club or other aquarists in your area that can take them?
__________________
_________________________________
Jchillin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 02:31 PM   #5
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Appleton, WI
Posts: 578
Let me also add to the advice given already - while cycling (which you will be doing for a while), you will also not want to gravel vac. Just change the water out to keep the ammonia (and later the nitrites) under .5ppm. This is critical to your success, and i guarantee, an enormous pain to do (my first cycle lasted 4 months - that's longer than normal, so don't fret).

Secondly, you should be looking either for new homes for some of your fish, or upgrading to a larger tank (probably a 55g or 75g for that amount of fish). If you don't want to upgrade, you probably can get store credit at an LFS once their stock level goes down.

Definitely go get the chemical test kit - it is an absolute necessity for the success of your tank.

And probably the most important lessons in fish keeping - be patient and don't try to change everything at once - Everything takes time, including making permanent changes. If you are putting in an effort, your tank will eventually flourish!!! Good luck and keep asking questions!
__________________
75g FW Planted Community; 55g African Cichlid
29g Biocube SW Reef;12g AP Mantis Shrimp/Brittle Star
2 Cats, 2 Dogs, 5 Turtles
MSU Fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 02:49 PM   #6
Aquarium Advice Freak
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 305
Hi Hydra, and welcome.

Other things that will help in addition to PWCs (personally, I'd do a 50% change now and another 50% later this evening...you won't hurt anything and likely it will help) and finding somewhere else to put the fish...

--minimize feeding (once a day or every other even, this will minimize the fish output without starving them)

--get mulm from an established tank (this has the bacteria you desperately need in it)--get foam or floss from a filter or even gravel--if you don't know anyone with a tank try asking at one of the big chains (I think someone posted recently that Petco had given them used foam)

HTH, keep asking questions and good luck.
__________________
fish 'n' fries is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 02:49 PM   #7
Aquarium Advice Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Winchester, Tennessee
Posts: 7
Thanks all for the info and encouragement.

Have already purchased an AP master test kit - haven't put it in action yet......

Have already done a 40% water change since reading "neilanh's post.

As to peaceful cohabitation - "(Tiger barbs and livebearer's for example)", unless I'm reading wrong, (and according to the compatibility chart here: http://www.liveaquaria.com/general/f...lity_chart.cfm
I shouldn't have any serious problems - especially now that the molly and the swordtail reside in Fish Valhalla........

Follow up question for MSU fan -"you will also not want to gravel vac. Just change the water out to keep the ammonia" - I'm guessing the thought process is that the material accumulating in the gravel will become part of the culture medium for the necessary bacteria?

Also, just found out that a doc's office in town here has an established (5 years+) freshwater tank - any thoughts on snipping a piece of his filter material and putting it in my filter to speed the colonization process?

As always, thanks ahead..........
Jim

getting smarter by the minute!
__________________
hydra70 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 02:59 PM   #8
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
rich311k's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 12,189
Send a message via Yahoo to rich311k
Getting some media is a great idea. Even a good squeeze of the gunk in his filter into a cup will help you out tremendously.
__________________
From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.
rich311k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 03:01 PM   #9
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Belgium
Posts: 1,995
If you can get some of the doctors filter material that should certainly help to speed up your cycle.
I would call around to some lfs' in town to see if they will take some of your fish. I don't think noone will take them just because you didn't buy them there. Maybe propose to donate them for free?
I would get rid of all your plecos, unless there is some way to identify one of them as a dwarf specie (post pics here?). Are you still seeing any ghost shrimp or did they end up as snacks?
Maybe halve the rest of the population and your overstocking issue should be allot less worse.
HTH, and good luck!
__________________
Billsgate is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 05:02 PM   #10
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Appleton, WI
Posts: 578
Follow up question for MSU fan -"you will also not want to gravel vac. Just change the water out to keep the ammonia" - I'm guessing the thought process is that the material accumulating in the gravel will become part of the culture medium for the necessary bacteria?[/quote]

That is correct - the good bacteria in your tank grows on all the surfaces (not in the water column), which is why doing PWC's doesn't affect the bacterial growth. But the bacteria needs to grow, and the substrate is a very good place with an enormous amount of surface area.
__________________
75g FW Planted Community; 55g African Cichlid
29g Biocube SW Reef;12g AP Mantis Shrimp/Brittle Star
2 Cats, 2 Dogs, 5 Turtles
MSU Fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 07:28 PM   #11
Aquarium Advice Apprentice
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 15
I feel your pain hydra,

I to tried to save fish from the dumpster for a friend as you are. I kept them alive with frequent water changes but also made the mistake of vacuuming the gravel initially. I was eventually able to give the orphans to a lfs before any losses. Good luck and welcome!
__________________
blugil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2007, 09:06 PM   #12
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 901
Ok, here is some advice to bandaid the immediate problem....

Call every fish store in driving distance and see if they carry a product called BioSpira. If they do, go get some. Take a small cooler with you to pick it up as it needs to stay cold. Shake and add to tank. This will help save thier lives, save you constant water changes (you still have to do them, but it will get you cycle under control)

Get rid of all the plecos. Take them to the mom and pop fish stores in the area. They will most likely take them in. In fact, try to get down to 10 fish in the tank if you can.

The cloudiness is the bacteria starting to bloom. Pare back on feedings to once every two days til you get things stable.

This should help some.

Good luck!
__________________
Watch our thread! A MyCatsDrool and Travis Simonson Joint Production....55 Tanganyikan Tank. It is hidden in the photography showcase. It is really my tank, but Trav is helping and we live next door from each other...so....

CCTV Has shut its doors. Off the air.
5.5 gal ADA rimless cube, fully planted, killifish breeder. coming soon to a forum near you.
It's called Sex Panther, by Odeon. Illegal in 9 countries. Yep, it's made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good.
MyCatsDrool is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2007, 01:19 PM   #13
Sliced Bread
 
neilanh's Avatar


 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 8,482
If you go get some seed material from the Dr's office, you should ask if he wants some of the fish you need to get rid of!
__________________
~Neilan
In the DC Metro Area? Check out GWAPA and WAMAS
neilanh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2007, 01:15 AM   #14
Aquarium Advice Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Winchester, Tennessee
Posts: 7
Update from me......

No more casualties in the last 18-24 hours. Tank population now down to:
5 guppies
1 albino tiger barb
3 spiny eels
6 dwarf sucker cats
5 dwarf plecos (confirmed that they are dwarf)
5 corys
3 african frogs
8 ghost shrimp

So, from the earlier post, where you saw my total population was 69, I am now down to 36. Quite a bloodbath, but it looks like all the water changes, reduced feedings and getting the ammonia under control that I may be bringing that to an end.

By the way, the ammonia level on my first test was off the top of the scale, >6.0 ppm (Ouch). I am now down between 1 and 2, and continuing the water changes.

Anyone have any thoughts on the ammonia eliminator/reducer/neutralizer chems I see in the stores? Do they really help, or just cause different problems?

Any answer, as always, appreciated.

Jim
__________________
hydra70 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2007, 11:24 AM   #15
Sliced Bread
 
neilanh's Avatar


 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 8,482
You'll find most of us here are against putting chems in the tank unless absolutely necessary. PWCs are your best defense in this case, IMO
__________________
~Neilan
In the DC Metro Area? Check out GWAPA and WAMAS
neilanh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2007, 08:40 PM   #16
Aquarium Advice FINatic
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Sydney
Posts: 775
Send a message via ICQ to zenkatydid Send a message via AIM to zenkatydid Send a message via MSN to zenkatydid
you're on the right track, but you still have way too many fish to sustain in a 20g tank. if the plecos are dwarfs, then you could keep 1, but not all. i would also get rid of all the eels, and 3 of the suckers. i've never kept frogs, but i also think they don't belong in there. the rest are small fish and should do ok, though the barb is questionable as it will likely get aggressive.
__________________
50gal planted - yoyo loaches, BNs, odessa barbs, giant danios
33gal planted - praecox rainbows, gold ram, bolivian rams, sparkling gouramis, licorice gouramis, lots of shrimp
2 x 5gal planted - bettas
zenkatydid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2007, 07:45 AM   #17
Aquarium Advice Regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 62
I totally feel your pain. I started keeping FW fish only two years ago and it took me about a year to get to grips with keeping the water healthy. Someone once told me that if you look after the water then the water will look after your fish. I think this was good advice to me. I actually only feed my fish every other day. They seem happy and healthy with this. The other thing is (and i was really similar abaout it when i first started) for whatever reason, noble or otherwise, you have WAY too many fish for your tank. I've found that overcrowding was the single biggest problem to me what i first started. Once i came to terms with the fact that i couldn't have as many fish as i wanted i seemed to find a nice equilibrium for the tank. (or just bite the bullet and get a bigger tank!)

Good Luck
__________________
Smidge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2007, 08:36 AM   #18
AA Team Emeritus
 
Jchillin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New York, NY (The Big Apple)
Posts: 14,951
Good job in reducing the load but you're gonna have to continue paring it down. Most of your issues are now with the number of messy bottom dweller's you have (27 by your count). Though they are small, they produce a massive amount of waste which is causing your high ammonia levels.

Using chems doesn't solve the problem, just makes it go away for awhile (sort of like taking decongestants when you have a cold. You didn't cure the cold, just made the symptoms a bit more tolerable).

You're on the right track, just a little further until you reach the station.
__________________
_________________________________
Jchillin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2007, 12:16 AM   #19
Aquarium Advice Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Winchester, Tennessee
Posts: 7
Checking back in....HELP again!

But not necessarily going well. I'm a water changing machine by now, twice a day for the last 10 days or so, to keep the ammonia below .5ppm. Haven't lost a fish for over a week, so it must be working.

Now here's the problem: I'm starting to produce nitrite. Lots, approaching 1.0. Have upped the water change volumes, as I have read in other places here on the board that I don't need much nitrite in solution to get the nitrate conversion bacteria going.

In the meantime, are there any suggestions, other than using water change to keep the nitrite levels down, to help my poor fish out? Any way to encourage the nitrobacter to start working for me?
__________________
hydra70 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-25-2007, 08:45 AM   #20
Sliced Bread
 
neilanh's Avatar


 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 8,482
The PWCs are your best defense here still I believe. There are chemicals that claim to help reduce that stuff, but I don't know anything about them, and personally would rather not use them if there was a choice.

Now that the NO2 is starting to show, I suspect you'll slowly stop seeing ammonia at all. Once the NO2 gets back down to 0 is when you'll know you're cycled, and can then go back to regular PWCs. As the ammonia starts to get under control, you might do less gravel vacuumings and just change out the water. Should make the PWC process a little quicker/easier while you're getting your cycle done. I don't think you're there just yet, but it's coming.

Make sure you've got a good amount of aeration, and bump the temp up a little bit if you haven't done these things yet. That will help, just don't go too high on the temp since you are keeping fish.

Good job keeping it up and taking care of your fish the way you are. I can't imaging PWCs twice a day being fun for very long.
__________________

__________________
~Neilan
In the DC Metro Area? Check out GWAPA and WAMAS
neilanh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Help Fix My XP3 theotheragentm Freshwater & Brackish - General Discussion 4 03-05-2007 11:29 AM
How do you fix a Powerhead? Lonewolfblue General Hardware/Equipment Discussion 5 11-30-2006 06:44 AM
how are my levels and how do I fix maryann28 Freshwater & Brackish - General Discussion 4 05-08-2005 09:00 PM
Just curious if there is anything I should fix? noteworthy Freshwater & Brackish - Getting Started 12 02-23-2004 12:35 PM
"What is Wrong and How do I Fix It?" section cweaks Forum Admin & Announcements 7 07-15-2003 04:52 PM







» Photo Contest Winners







All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.