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Old 09-25-2011, 09:44 PM   #1
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New tank, fish died; what to do next?

Hi all, sorry if this has been discussed ad nauseum, but I'm not sure exactly what to do next. I started a new 10g tank with 3 platys and despite monitoring the ammonia level and doing regular water changes, they all died. I noticed that two of them had white spots; I'm assuming that was ich. I've definitely learned my lesson and am planning to do fishless cycling before restocking, but I'm not sure what I should do next - do I need to break down the tank, clean everything and start from scratch, or should I just do a water change and keep the filter so as not to lose any bacteria? Also, my ammonia test kit is a few years old; is it possible that the test results could have been showing a falsely low ammount of ammonia? Thanks much in advance.

- Steve
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:51 PM   #2
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what did your ammonia readings say the entire time? was it always low? and those tests do expire which could lead to entirely wrong readings. liquid test kits are highly recommended as they are more reliable than the test strips.

if it were me, i would just break the tank down and rebuild it just to be sure, since the tank is empty again anyway. ich can't survive without a host, so it actually shouldn't be a problem, but it won't hurt to clean it. how long ago was the tank first started?
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Old 09-25-2011, 10:08 PM   #3
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Are you certain you used an ammonia with no soap, scents, etc..??
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Old 09-25-2011, 10:29 PM   #4
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I also have a new tank, 30 gallons, and put in 5 white clouds and a beta. they looked fine for 3 days, but then the clouds started swimming mostly at the top, and then the beta died. What happened? Could there be an ammonia problem already? We did not over feed, nor did we use soap to clean or tap water. We used bottle water and 'tank starter'. There are real plants in the water. what did I do wrong??
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:16 AM   #5
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did either of you cycle your tank? If not this is not an uncommon occurrence when you just add water, miracle bacteria wonder in a bottle and throw in fish...hate to put it so harsh but I don't beat around the bush.
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:38 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by hossgal
I also have a new tank, 30 gallons, and put in 5 white clouds and a beta. they looked fine for 3 days, but then the clouds started swimming mostly at the top, and then the beta died. What happened? Could there be an ammonia problem already? We did not over feed, nor did we use soap to clean or tap water. We used bottle water and 'tank starter'. There are real plants in the water. what did I do wrong??
I think you should make your own thread for better help hoss
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:56 AM   #7
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Swimming on top. Seem to me it was gasping for air.

Edited.sorry i miss read
Did you stress you fish? Your gone have to tell every thing you did to prepared you fish. Including what's you filter setup. Finding what's happen is to go back in time and finding out what you miss or overdue .

Now that you don't have fish. (sorry)Best thing for you is fishless cycle.
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by srudolph View Post
Hi all, sorry if this has been discussed ad nauseum, but I'm not sure exactly what to do next. I started a new 10g tank with 3 platys and despite monitoring the ammonia level and doing regular water changes, they all died. I noticed that two of them had white spots; I'm assuming that was ich. I've definitely learned my lesson and am planning to do fishless cycling before restocking, but I'm not sure what I should do next - do I need to break down the tank, clean everything and start from scratch, or should I just do a water change and keep the filter so as not to lose any bacteria? Also, my ammonia test kit is a few years old; is it possible that the test results could have been showing a falsely low ammount of ammonia? Thanks much in advance.

- Steve
Welcome to the forum, Steve.

Since you were cycling with fish, you did not also add ammonia to the tank, right? I think there's some confusion there.

What test kit are you using? Most use the API master kit (liquid).

White spots were probably ich. Fish get severely stressed when used for cycling and it makes them vulnerable. You may have also purchased sick fish to begin wtih.

Empty out the tank. Rinse with hot bleachy water, then rinse, rinse and rinse again. Do the same with your filter media. You most likely do not have any beneficial bacteria built up.

Definitely do a fishless cycle. It's kinder to everyone and doesn't take all that long. If you can grab some seeded filter media from another tank somewhere, this will help tremendously.
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:57 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by srudolph View Post
Hi all, sorry if this has been discussed ad nauseum, but I'm not sure exactly what to do next. I started a new 10g tank with 3 platys and despite monitoring the ammonia level and doing regular water changes, they all died. I noticed that two of them had white spots; I'm assuming that was ich. I've definitely learned my lesson and am planning to do fishless cycling before restocking, but I'm not sure what I should do next - do I need to break down the tank, clean everything and start from scratch, or should I just do a water change and keep the filter so as not to lose any bacteria? Also, my ammonia test kit is a few years old; is it possible that the test results could have been showing a falsely low ammount of ammonia? Thanks much in advance.

- Steve
Hi, welcome to AA. Sorry about your fish. Lynda gave some good advice. I'd clean out everything in the tank with a very mild bleach solution (or maybe even vinegar to be safer) and then refill the tank and do a fishless cycle with ammonia. As for your test kit, if it's a few years old, get a new one. The API Master liquid test is best if you don't already have it; just check the last 4 numbers on the bottles when you buy them as those are the dates of manufactuer (example: 1210 means it was manufactured in Dec 2010) and make sure they aren't more than 1.5 years old. If you haven't already seen it, there's a link in my signature called "new empty tank" which is a fishless cycling guide that will help you. There's also a link called 'what is cycling' that you may want to read to understand why cycling a tank is important. Good luck!
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:02 AM   #10
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I also have a new tank, 30 gallons, and put in 5 white clouds and a beta. they looked fine for 3 days, but then the clouds started swimming mostly at the top, and then the beta died. What happened? Could there be an ammonia problem already? We did not over feed, nor did we use soap to clean or tap water. We used bottle water and 'tank starter'. There are real plants in the water. what did I do wrong??
Hi Hoss, I agree, you should start your own thread but here's some info:

Yoru tank needs to cycle; they are dying and swimming at the top most likely from ammonia buildup from the fish waste and fish food and yes it builds up quickly. The bacteria in a bottle isn't usually very reliable, I'd stop using it. Right now, do a 70% water change in the tank with a dechlorinator (whatever you have on-hand is fine, but if you can get Prime in the near future it's best) and try to match the temperature of the new water with the tank water (just feel both with your hand). The water change should help for today (do this every day to be safe until you can get a good test kit).

Then get a good liquid test kit; not strips, as they aren't accurate. Strips are cheaper but as I said they aren't accurate adn will cost you more in the long-run as you'll be using them more. The API Master Liquid kit is a bit mroe expensive but it's a lot more accurate and will last longer. Test your water daily for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate. Any time ammonia and/or nitrite reach .25 or over, do a water change to get them down to as close to 0 as possible (this might mean a large water change; it might even mean more than one per day); same with nitrates over 20. Don't add any new fish for a long while until the tank properly cycles.

Also be sure there's some surface movement in the tank either from a filter or powerhead; if not, you may want to invest in an air stone.

There's a link in my signature called "new tank with fish;" its' a guide to cycilng with fish and will give you more information. There's also a link called "what is cycling." If you can return the remaining fish and properly cycle the tank first, that would be best for you and for the fish (it's the link in my signature called 'new empty tank'). If not, then follow the cycilng with fish guide and be diligent with testing the water and doing water changes for the next 3-6 weeks.

Good luck.
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:33 AM   #11
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Hi all, thanks for the helpful replies. I didn't add ammonia to the tank; I had planned to cycle with fish but in hindsight that wasn't such a great idea. I was using the liquid ammonia test kit, but I'm almost certain that it's older than 1.5 years. When I tested the ammonia in the days after the fish were added it only ever got to the lowest or next-highest level on the color chart (yellow to greenish yellow), but the fish for the most part seemed pretty unhappy until I did a water change; that's why I suspected that the test kit was too old, even though I couldn't find any expiration date on the package. I definitely plan to follow the fishless cycling plan once I get everything set back up.
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:54 AM   #12
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the fish for the most part seemed pretty unhappy until I did a water change

Did you remember to add dechlorinator to the water?

Was the new water about the same temp as the tank water?
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Old 09-26-2011, 11:49 AM   #13
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Did you remember to add dechlorinator to the water?

Was the new water about the same temp as the tank water?
Yes to both questions. I also added a pinch of aquarium salt when I did water changes.
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:21 PM   #14
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Salt is really not necessary. I don't think it would've thrown your cycle off, however, the salinity might've been too high for them. Most fish do really well without salt. Others can't handle it at all.
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Old 09-26-2011, 02:17 PM   #15
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It never would have crossed my mind to add salt to a freshwater aquarium, except that the info tag at the store mentioned it (these were Wagtail Platys). I was baffled by this and asked the worker there and he said that salt helps boost their immunity and can't hurt unless you overdo it (I don't think I did).

LyndaB, if you don't mind another question, I currently have a carbon filter in my power filter, but I read in the fishless cycling article that it shouldn't be used. What's your opinion?
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Old 09-26-2011, 02:32 PM   #16
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It never would have crossed my mind to add salt to a freshwater aquarium, except that the info tag at the store mentioned it (these were Wagtail Platys). I was baffled by this and asked the worker there and he said that salt helps boost their immunity and can't hurt unless you overdo it (I don't think I did).

LyndaB, if you don't mind another question, I currently have a carbon filter in my power filter, but I read in the fishless cycling article that it shouldn't be used. What's your opinion?
I know you asked Lynda (don't mean to step in), but I think it was most likely my guide you saw that in. The main point I was making is that carbon is unnecessary except to serve particular purposes like removing medicine or tannins. The carbon cartridges are a sad aspect of our hobby because in most cases it is simply used as a marketing tool so people feel they have to replace something every month at the detriment to your beneficial bacteria (and fish). Since the majority of your bacteria is in the filter, by replacing it every few weeks (when the carbon becomes inactive) like they recommend you're literally tossing a huge portion of your beneficial bacteria into the trash.

The most cost efficient option is to use normal mechanical filter media (often sold in large sheets you cut to size) and never replace it until it's falling apart. The absolute best option is to buy ceramic media like Fluval BioMax or Seachem Matrix. They make fantastic havens for beneficial bacteria...and literally last forever.
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Old 09-26-2011, 03:26 PM   #17
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Thanks Eco........
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:48 PM   #18
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The absolute best option is to buy ceramic media like Fluval BioMax or Seachem Matrix. They make fantastic havens for beneficial bacteria...and literally last forever.
Thanks for the response, eco. That's interesting, for some reason I assumed that those were only used for big ol' canister filters. Would it be possible to use them in my little Whisper 10i filter?
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:57 PM   #19
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Thanks for the response, eco. That's interesting, for some reason I assumed that those were only used for big ol' canister filters. Would it be possible to use them in my little Whisper 10i filter?
Sure! For example, when I set up my quarantine tank, I open up my canister filter, pull out a handful of the Bio-Max, stuff it in a mesh media bag and jam the bag into the little HOB filter that came with the 10 gallon QT. I take a little bit of that blue mechanical filter pad I mentioned, and place that in front of the bio-media to collect any debris and help keep the ceramic media clean.

It might be a tight squeeze, and you won't be able to fit the whole box in there...but since it's a smaller tank you don't need as much of the bio-media anyway simply because not as much beneficial bacteria is needed in the tank as opposed to a larger one.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:25 PM   #20
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Cool, I'll definitely try that. Thanks eco, and everyone who responded.
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