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Old 09-13-2008, 01:24 PM   #1
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Unhappy New to the aquarium thing-fish dying

Hi. I am not a fan of caging any living thing so I have never had an aquarium, but a neighbor moved and left her one fish so of course I brought it home. The aquarium is a 5 gallon hexagon shape and contained one fish that I researched and found to be some sort of tetra. Thought he was probably lonely since they are schooling fish so went to petsmart and looked for fish that looked like him but found none so I bought 2 neon tetra's and a guppy. Everything going fine, cleaned the tank according to petsmart advice. The last time I went to clean it I unplugged the filter as always and when I went to plug it back in it wouldn't work. Hubby said it wouldn't hurt the fish, just make the tank dirtier faster. Boy it got dirty fast. 3 days later I wake up and one neon is dead. Panicked, went to petsmart to buy a new filter. Didn't have the one that goes w/ my aquarium but was sold another one to work on aquariums up to 10 gallons. Brought that home, cleaned the tank again (I only remove half the water every time) but still murky. 2 days after new filter put in, guppy is dead and other 2 fish don't look too good, colors fading, not hungry, etc. That was 2 days ago, tank has cleared up, fish look better, but I'm wondering what is happening to my fishies?? I don't want another funeral! What else can I do to make sure they are healthy and happy? Also, aside from all this, I soon realized that the neons were not going to hang out with the lone bigger tetra. Will schooling fish only hang out w/ others that are just like them? Thank you so much!

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Old 09-13-2008, 02:36 PM   #2
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I'm going to say with the combination of moving ( maybe stirred up some gunk from the substrate?), adding several fish at once, and having the filter down for a while caused an ammonia spike / another cycle. Also if you took the filter cartrige out and tossed it , you've lost a lot of beneficial bacteria to help keep waste down. Cloudy water is usually sign of an algae bloom ( excess nutrients, waste etc) and/or just general bad water conditions.

My best advice would be to get a test kit to test ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The first two should be at zero! Then, once you've figured out where that stands, do several large water changes to make sure you've got the water where it should be. Let everyone know, they'll certainly be able to help you out.

As for the tetras, I think that only the same species would probably school together. Though, I'd hazard to guess 5 gals is probably too small for even those small schooling fish.. to have a school.

I would also suggest getting a QT tank in the future ( to prevent disease and to inspect any new additions) and taking it slow on tank additions. Also make sure to feed lightly! good luck!
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Old 09-13-2008, 02:38 PM   #3
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Do you have a test kit? If so, you should test for the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. It is possible the malfunction of your filter caused a spike which did the fish in.

If you post a picture, I'm sure someone on here could ID your fish so you can keep looking for a couple of fish just like it.
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Old 09-13-2008, 05:32 PM   #4
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thank you so much! I will get a test kit. Is 3 too many fish to add at once? And what would that have to do w/them dying? So if there was an ammonia spike and then I put the new filter in, would that help to bring it back to normal?
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Old 09-13-2008, 06:06 PM   #5
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If you used the filter media from your old filter (and it had not dried up) then it would help get the ammonia back down, but still not in a timely manner. You would need to do a partial water change as well. If you did not used filter media from the old filter, (as stated earlier) you lost a lot of the good bacteria to help clean things up.
3 fish in a 5 gallon tank at once with a new filter is too many at once. 1 new fish at this point is too much until your filter is reseeded (newly populated with the good bacteria.)
You could get some Bio Spira. They have both the refridgerated and shelf version now. Typically only "pet stores" carry the refridgerated. I have not yet checked to see if Petco/Petsmart carry the shelf version. (meaning it is in a bottle on the shelf like Prime or start right).
Are you using a dechlorinator for the water you are putting into the tank?
Maybe add some aquarium salt to the tank, this will help them destress a bit.
Good luck
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:38 PM   #6
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Ok, I am zero informed about most of what you just wrote, Musket. I use AquaSafe, which makes tap water safe for fish. The 3 new fish were put in the take several weeks before the filter went bad. So I guess not having a filter for a few days will allow lots of bacteria to grow and ALSO keep good bacteria in the water?? I will look for the bio spira. If i go into petsmart and ask for aq. salt, they will know what i'm talking about? And the filter I now have is pretty strong, I guess. Makes some bubbles when the h20 spills over which the lady at the store said would be enough oxygen. My husband bought a little bar that suctions to the tank that creates bubbles up the whole back side of the tank. Any way they are getting too much oxygen? Thanks again! Oh, I was going to take a pic of the one tetra I couldn't find a match for. How do I post a pic on this site???
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:39 PM   #7
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I mean TANK, not take. duh.
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Old 09-13-2008, 09:14 PM   #8
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Sometimes when you start a new tank (Like when the filter broke) the water tends to be murky for a bit until your first water change. After that, the murkiness should be gone.
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Old 09-13-2008, 09:19 PM   #9
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Good bacteria grows on gravel, the sides of the aquarium, and mostly on the filter cartridge. Any time you remove the filter cartridge, you risk getting rid of the good bacteria in your tank. Until the bacteria reproduces and migrates back onto the filter media, you could experience a spike in the ammonia or nitrite levels in your tank.

Petsmart will know about aquarium salt. You might have to go to a specialty fish shop to find bio-spira.

I doubt you have too much oxygen in the water, so I wouldn't worry about it.

To post a pic, you can host it on a site like photobucket and use the http:// link. You could upload it to your profile on this site as well.
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Old 09-13-2008, 09:45 PM   #10
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Thanks! Y'all are helping me so much. So my next question is: when fish get sick, do they lose their color(s)? After the neon tetra died, the other tetras looked " pale" but now look fine. The guppy was fine up until 4 or 5 hrs. since I last looked at it, but never lost its color. I feel so bad! Like I'm a fish killer!
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Old 09-13-2008, 10:20 PM   #11
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Neons tend to lose their color when they get sick. Some other fish will also lose some color and look pale if they are weak or stressed. Poor coloration is a good sign that you should check your water conditions or do a partial water change.
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