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Old 04-29-2011, 11:59 PM   #1
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pretty sure fish is dying...

I posted the other day about a lethargic molly in our tank, and sadly, things seem to be getting worse. It's a new tank--10 gallons--and it's in week 5 of cycling. The fish started hanging out at the bottom 2 days ago. I performed a 10% water change on Monday, then had water levels tested at the store and was told ammonia was high, but no numbers were given to me (I know...I need to buy a test kit and will do so tomorrow). The next day I goofed...I rinsed out the filter. I posted here about that and was given advice to perform a larger water change, so I did 20% change. Today I had the water tested at a different store and was told the ammonia was high (1.0) but the nitrites were even higher (I forget the number but it was purple...nt good, right?). I was then told I should do a large water change, up to 50%. I went home and immediately did that. Tonight, the molly is way worse. She's hanging out in a fake plant, like she's hiding, and not moving at all. She's breathing but I'm afraid this is the end for her. Did I do something horribly wrong, or is it the nitrites that are getting to her? There's another molly in the tank but she's doing fine.

Do you think there's any hope for this poor fish?
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:40 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollymama
I posted the other day about a lethargic molly in our tank, and sadly, things seem to be getting worse. It's a new tank--10 gallons--and it's in week 5 of cycling. The fish started hanging out at the bottom 2 days ago. I performed a 10% water change on Monday, then had water levels tested at the store and was told ammonia was high, but no numbers were given to me (I know...I need to buy a test kit and will do so tomorrow). The next day I goofed...I rinsed out the filter. I posted here about that and was given advice to perform a larger water change, so I did 20% change. Today I had the water tested at a different store and was told the ammonia was high (1.0) but the nitrites were even higher (I forget the number but it was purple...nt good, right?). I was then told I should do a large water change, up to 50%. I went home and immediately did that. Tonight, the molly is way worse. She's hanging out in a fake plant, like she's hiding, and not moving at all. She's breathing but I'm afraid this is the end for her. Did I do something horribly wrong, or is it the nitrites that are getting to her? There's another molly in the tank but she's doing fine.

Do you think there's any hope for this poor fish?
Welcome to AA. We'll do everything we can to help, but I know you're in a tough situation. You're definitely dealing with ammonia and nitrIte poisoning. Here's what you'll need to do to get your fish through the cycling.

First you've gotta do a major water change...I'm talking about an immediate 75% pwc or two back to back 50% changes. You've got to get the ammo below .25 and keep it there. Make sure you use a dechlorinator. We recommend Prime, it also temporarily detoxifies the ammo.

Second, you've got to get an API master test kit so you can monitor your levels on a daily basis.

Third, you've got to do daily 50% pwc's to keep the ammo down until the tank cycles. Make sure you always use a dechlorinator when you change water.

This link will help you tremendously - http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ow-116287.html

We'll help you and your fish all we can. Good luck!
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:08 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for your response...I really appreciate your help. One question...can I keep the fish in the tank if I do a 75% water change? The water will get pretty low, and from what I read changing the water stresses the fish, too. I'm committed to doing this, I just want to make sure I don't freak them out because their water seems to be temporarily disappearing.

Also...what's your take on adding salt? Another poster recommended doing so...I'm heading to the store first thing tomorrow to buy the kit and new dechlorinator (the stuff I have I got used, so maybe it's not fully functional?). I can pick up salt as well if needed.
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollymama
Thank you so much for your response...I really appreciate your help. One question...can I keep the fish in the tank if I do a 75% water change? The water will get pretty low, and from what I read changing the water stresses the fish, too. I'm committed to doing this, I just want to make sure I don't freak them out because their water seems to be temporarily disappearing.

Also...what's your take on adding salt? Another poster recommended doing so...I'm heading to the store first thing tomorrow to buy the kit and new dechlorinator (the stuff I have I got used, so maybe it's not fully functional?). I can pick up salt as well if needed.
I'm happy to help. Major water changes can stress your fish a bit, but you've got to weigh the risks vs rewards. At the point you're at now it's really the only option. Once the tank is cycled and healthy, 25% water changes are going to be a weekly thing regardless as part of your maintenance. It's really a choice between having your fishes gills being burned and scarred (sorry to sound so severe), or having them a little worried that they're water is going down. If your fish don't survive the strain of a massive pwc, they unfortunately weren't going to survive regardless.

Aquarium salt can help a fish heal and I believe restores electrolytes. A product called Stress Coat both helps replaces their slime coat, helps them heal as well as dechlorinating the water, so it's something worth looking in to. Some fish are not tolerant to salt, so you should research the compatibility of your fish with salt. sorry, I don't know off the top of my head which types can take it and which can't.

What type of dechlorinator do you have now? At this point I'd risk it and do the massive pwc ASAP to get the ammo and no2 levels into a safe level as long as you have any type of dechlorinator.

So, go ahead and do either the 75% or the two back to back 50% pwc's as soon as you can because every second the fish are in there right now, they are in trouble.

You're doing the absolute right thing asking here, and I commend you for making the effort to help your fish.

Never blame yourself...it's the idiots at the lfs who either don't care or are untrained to help people care for their fish. This situation will help you become a wonderful fish keeper in the future.
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:41 AM   #5
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Just one more thing to add... The 100% absolute best thing to do would be to either return the fish to the lfs if possible, or even better... find a friend who can temporarily take your fish for you until your tank cycles. The best, easiest, most humane and efficient way to cycle a tank is by doing a "fishless cycle". I'm somewhat of a resident expert on fishless cycling and I'd be more than happy to help you all the way through the process. The link in my signature is an article I wrote that details fishless cycling and what is involved.

It can be a hard decision to return your fish because many people become attached to them, and honestly you don't know if the next home they go to will be better or worse than they are in now. We can get you through it with the fish in the tank (make sure you follow the thread I linked in my first post), but if you have someone who can look after your fish for a while...fishless cycling is the way to go.
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:55 AM   #6
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Hey mollymama, I'm on the US east coast and it's 2am so I'm turning in for the night. I'll check back in with you tomorrow, but in the mean time make sure you do the massive pwc if you've got any type of dechlorinator. Talk to you tomorrow, good night and good luck!
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:14 PM   #7
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Hi mollymama, how're the fish doing?
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:48 PM   #8
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Thanks for checking in! It's been a very busy morning and I'm rushing to get my daughter to a bday party now so this is just a short update: situation is pretty much the same. I did the 75% water change this morning. I hope it just takes time for them to realize there's fresher water in the tank? Anyway, thanks again and I'll be on here again later with more info!
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Old 04-30-2011, 03:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollymama
Thanks for checking in! It's been a very busy morning and I'm rushing to get my daughter to a bday party now so this is just a short update: situation is pretty much the same. I did the 75% water change this morning. I hope it just takes time for them to realize there's fresher water in the tank? Anyway, thanks again and I'll be on here again later with more info!
Okay, good deal. Try to pick up the API Freshwater Master Test Kit while you're out. It's absolutely vital to have. When you test the water make sure you are always keeping the ammo under .25. I'd also recommend picking up some of that Seachem Prime I mentioned to dechlorinate the water and detoxify some ammo and no2.

Unfortunately, even though the water may be less toxic for the fish after the pwc, the fish has still suffered injury to their gills because of the high levels of ammonia that were in the tank. Adding the aquarium salt and/or stress coat will help them heal some...sadly, the damage is only reversible to a point :-( You're going to have to expect the fish to have a much shorter life span than a fish that was put into a cycled tank.

As I said before, don't beat yourself up as it's the lfs's fault for not educating you. I came up with rules to buying fish or supplies at the lfs...

1. Don't listen to the guy at the lfs.
2. Remember to never listen to the guy at the lfs.
3. Whatever the guy at the lfs says...do the opposite.

From here on out I'd defer to the cycling with fish article I linked before...that should help you the rest of the way.

I wish you and your fishies the best of luck.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:21 PM   #10
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I'm thinking I agree with you about the lfs! Talk about conflicting information! I don't think they even train at the same place.

So...I got the kit. And the results are not good. Here's what I came up with:

pH - 7.6
ammonia - 1.0-2.0
nitrite - 2.0-5.0
nitrate - 5.0

Everything seems super high. I did have some trouble matching colors...maybe it takes a while to get used to reading the color sheet? It seems, though, that since I did a major change this morning (75%) the levels really shouldn't be quite so high. Thoughts? Anyway, I will continue to do 50% water changes daily and hope for the best.

I should add that this is my daughter's tank (although obviously it's me who's doing the tough maintenance). She just turned 5 and we got it for her for her bday. I know this sounds horrible, but even though I know it would probably be best to return the fish to the store, I don't think I can do it. She just wouldn't understand. And knowing now how much those guys don't seem to know as much as you'd think...I don't know that the fish would be any better off!

I'm still trying to figure out where I went wrong. While I understand the tank has to cycle, I just don't see how these levels could have gotten so high. My daughter hasn't overfed them...I've observed feedings since she got them. MOst, if not all, of the food has been consumed. I didn't do a water change, though, until the 2nd week, and then again the 4th week. (Instructions per pet store and friends who have tanks.) Maybe this was a major contributing factor. And we only have 2 fish so the tank isn't overstocked.

I also bought some salt and will try that (they're mollies btw) with the water change tomorrow.

Thanks again, eco, for your input!! I'll update any changes tomorrow.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:46 PM   #11
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Your having your nitrite spike! Your nitrites are going to be super high for a week or so, and then they'll drop to 0 literally overnight! That means two 75% changes a day to keep down the levels, but this is the toughest part on your fish, and then it's over.
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:47 PM   #12
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Some fish produce larger bioloads than others, but I honestly don't know how much waste mollys produce. It's just the fact that the waste has been building up over time and without a cycled tank it continues to add up and raise the levels to extremes.

I'd say you've got to do more big pwc's as soon as you can. Any ammonia level over .25 can be devastating to a fish and you're priority has to get it down. The nitrIte level is also very toxic, but the fact there are nitrItes and nitrAtes at all shows that your tank is well on it's way to being cycled.

Another thing worth checking is the ammo, no2 and no3 levels directly from the tap. It may contain high levels itself which is causing some of these high numbers. If you picked up a bottle of Prime it will help temporarily detoxify the ammo until the next pwc. The ammo is still there and available for the bacteria, so it won't slow down your cycle.
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Old 05-01-2011, 12:56 AM   #13
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That's funny...my husband suggested testing our tap water and I just finished that. Our levels are naturally high, it seems, so maybe that does have something to do with it.

Ok, so another question...would it be ok to move the fish to another tank while this one finishes cycling? I don't know of anyone who could take our fish, but we do have a second, empty 10 gallon tank. We don't have another filter, though. Could they live temporarily w/o a filter? I know it's not the best situation, but I do remember keeping goldfish in a bowl as a kid. And I realize that a new, temporary tank with fish would begin a cycling process as well, so maybe moving them from the current tank, to a new one, and back again would just instigate more stress.

I have dechlorinator, it's AquaSafe by Tetra Aqua. But maybe I should pick up the stuff to help with the slime coating as well.

So, tomorrow I'm off to do another big water change, add salt, test the levels, and watch and wait.

Homedog...did you have fish that survived this cycling process? Any success stories would be great at this point. I'm just hoping to save these fish. If we do this again in the future, a fishless cycle will be what we do!!
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Old 05-01-2011, 01:04 AM   #14
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Coming back to add that I just read thru your fishless cycling piece, eco...great, great info. I'm learning so much!
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:41 AM   #15
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Most of My fish would have survived without harm, but the bad water quality opened them up to disease, and they caught ick. They all died from the ick except for one, and I still have him today! The moral of my story is to keep up with water changes to keep your fish healthy.
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:44 AM   #16
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As for your plan... That wouldn't really work... You'd just wind up putting them in a more stressful situation, as they would have to go through a second ammonia spike, and they'd be stressed out as is from being moved.
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