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Old 10-05-2008, 08:05 PM   #1
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What is the problem here?

Here's our fish story:

We got a 20 gallon tank and cycled it for two weeks. We then purchased (using names because some find it easier to remember them/it makes them easier to be called) The Governer (cherry barb), Glam (red cobra guppy), and Odin and Pan (harlequin rasboras).

Odin (harlequin rasbora) died ten days later. After Odin died we changed the water 20 percent. About two days later we purchased six new fish; Diva (red flame guppy), Popstar (german yellow guppy), Kilo and Byte (hastatus dwarf cory), Pilot (a replacement harlequin rasbora) and Geoffrey Leonard (upside down cat).

The very next day, Diva died, seemingly for no reason as we tested the water (not test strips) for Nitrites and Ammonia and it was all clear, completely.

Two days after Diva died, Glam died. How ironic (note my username). Glam died a few hours ago. We checked the water again-- all clear. We make sure they eat all of their food and keep as little at the bottom as possible.

We don't need any sarcastic remarks; we're NOT careless and we're doing everything we've been told AS BEST as we can. We check on them constantly and love them a lot, so we don't need any random accusations of just buying them to stare at or whatever. We're new but we're not careless or stupid; we just want to save the rest of them.

Thank you for all your help. We just want to know if anyone has any idea WHY this is suddenly occurring. Things were going perfectly before, but now they just keep dropping. Do their species not mix well together? Could they have been sick? Is it the tank?

ADDITIONAL DETAILS ON EACH OF THEM. YOU CAN SKIP OVER THIS IF YOU DON'T THINK IT'S RELATED TO THE SPECIFIC FISH OR THEIR "PERSONALITIES", ETC:

The Governer (cherry barb): He's the most aggressive and chases the smaller ones around. People might suggest that he stresses the fish, but the ones that died were never victims of his mildly psychotic behavior.

Glam: Glam was always sort of anti-social and liked being in corners and in shadows; perhaps he was sick, but he lived a while and at points he seemed more social.

Odin, Pan and Pilot: as harlequin rasboras they are/were (in Odin's case) very peaceful and social. Nothing odd.

Diva: He seemed completely fine. He and the other two guppies were often together once he and Popstar (the two new ones) were released. They were getting along very well but eventually he sort of split off from them. his colours were VERY bright and he acted very normally for the day he survived. His death was a shock.

Popstar: The last guppy alive, seems very healthy and happy.

Kilo and Byte: As I said in my last thead, they physically LIE at the bottom but they are not dead. They just behave very strangely like that.

Geoffrey Leonard: Bottomfeeds normally, active, slow-moving, not very social with the others.
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Old 10-05-2008, 08:20 PM   #2
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Hm.

Did you buy your tank new or used?
Have you treated anything in the tank with a chemical?
Do you have live or fake plants? Driftwood?
What are you using to dechlorinate the water?
I know you were working on a nitrate test kit- have you gotten one yet?
Are pH and temperature constant?
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Old 10-05-2008, 08:53 PM   #3
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By all clear do you mean that the test results are 0? If not what were the actual numbers? It's always best to post actual numbers as people may interpret the results differently.

For the fish that died, did you note anything odd about their behavior? Hiding a lot? Rapidly moving gills? Staying very close to the surface? That sort of thing?

How are you acclimating your fish? Do you know whether or not the store's water is similar to yours or not?
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Old 10-05-2008, 08:58 PM   #4
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Hm.

Did you buy your tank new or used?
Have you treated anything in the tank with a chemical?
Do you have live or fake plants? Driftwood?
What are you using to dechlorinate the water?
I know you were working on a nitrate test kit- have you gotten one yet?
Are pH and temperature constant?
We bought our tank new.

We put "bio support" in it once after Odin died as it was suggested to help the tank cycle/put the good bacteria in the tank.

Fake plants, no driftwood.

We have a water conditioner that removes chlorine from the tank water and the aforementioned bio support that we put in once.

No, we haven't gotten the nitrate test kit yet, but we will as soon as possible. And if the results indicate nitrate, I guess we know the problem.

The pH and temperature are constant.
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Old 10-05-2008, 09:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Purrbox View Post
By all clear do you mean that the test results are 0? If not what were the actual numbers? It's always best to post actual numbers as people may interpret the results differently.

For the fish that died, did you note anything odd about their behavior? Hiding a lot? Rapidly moving gills? Staying very close to the surface? That sort of thing?

How are you acclimating your fish? Do you know whether or not the store's water is similar to yours or not?
Yes, I mean 0. As in, no indication of either of the chemicals.

Regarding their behavior, Glam stayed very close to the surface a lot, but so did Diva and so does Popstar, so we figured it was guppy behavior. Does this mean Popstar is on his way out too? He seems very happy and is really normal otherwise. Glam always hid a lot, too, but he always hid ever since we got him and he was perfectly fine for all this time up until the unexpected death today.
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Old 10-05-2008, 09:05 PM   #6
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I don't believe nitrate is the problem.

You cycled the tank for 2 weeks (a normal cycle where you see ammonia, then nitrItes, then nitrAtes) lasts for 4 weeks usually.

And you stocked the tank too fast, further increasing the bioload.

That would be why the fish died, IMO.

What kind of test kit are you using? Have you ever had ammonia show up on the test kit....or nitrite? If not, then there is a problem there. I've never heard of bio support, so I don't know if its one of those that actually works. There are several products out there that claim to work, but have shown to not work. I would be interested to know if you have any nitrates, when you get a test. A cycled tank will always have nitrates....so you want those....ammonia and nitrites you don't want (unless you are cycling.....and then you want to keep them low with fish, but you do want them to know the tank is cycling).


I also see you have some schooling fish that you don't have schools for (Rasboras, Cherry Barb, Cories) so that would explain some of their behaviors. Cories don't usually do a whole lot, but they are pretty active when you have a nice group of them (I'd suggest no less than 6).

I hope you can get the tank straightened out.
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Old 10-05-2008, 09:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by longliveglam View Post
Regarding their behavior, Glam stayed very close to the surface a lot, but so did Diva and so does Popstar, so we figured it was guppy behavior. Does this mean Popstar is on his way out too? He seems very happy and is really normal otherwise. Glam always hid a lot, too, but he always hid ever since we got him and he was perfectly fine for all this time up until the unexpected death today.
Some fish just like to swim at the top levels of the aquarium, and this is perfectly fine. However if you have a fish that normally swims in the other parts of the aquarium that suddenly starts hanging out right at the surface (nose right below the waterline) usually accompanied by rapidly moving gills, this can be an indication that the oxygen level is too low or that they are having a hard time breathing.

I'm asking about changes in behavior or behavior that seems to indicate that the fish isn't feeling well. This could be differences since you've had them, or differences from what you saw at the store.
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Old 10-05-2008, 09:57 PM   #8
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Hello longliveglam. I'm sorry to hear of your troubles.
First let me just say that every single person on this forum, myself included, has been exactly in your shoes. So you will get no sarcasm or scolding here.
I've jumped in simply to offer a few things to help to save your fish.
I agree 100% with justonemore20 who has accurately described what has happened.
Be advised that there realistically no such thing as an instant cycle. Not meaning to knock any product such as Bio Support or even Bio Spira, but personally I find it hard to believe that "live" bacteria can survive in a sealed air tight bottle without oxygen. But, I am not a scientist nor a chemist, just a hobbyist.
I truly believe your tank is not indeed cycled. Although I am a believer and advocate of fishless cycling, you can however cycle with fish. If you have not already, I urge you to read the articles on the Nitrogen Cycle. It will give you a clearer picture of what should be happening. I also urge you to get the test kit for NitrAtes. These test kits will be very invaluable now and going forward.
Once you get the test kit, I would first test your tap water. Not to imply there is anything wrong with it, just to eliminate any possibility.
As an immediate attempt to help your fish right now, I would do a 20-30% water change and temporarily fill to only an inch or so from the top, in order to provide a little splash to oxygenize the water. IMO both of these things can certainly do no harm.
Once you get that test for NitrAtes (ASAP) a lot of good folks will jump in and coach you along.

I hope this was somewhat helpful
Good luck
Bob
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:17 PM   #9
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It also might be good to know what your pH is... if it's very basic or alkaline then that could be an issue.
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:21 PM   #10
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Thank you for all this information, all of you. I must admit that after reading all of it, it is a bit overwhelming and I'm still sort of fuzzy on what we should do immediately.

We will do as you suggested, RJRofFL, and change 20 percent of the water either tonight or tomorrow. A lot of you are urging us to get the nitrate test, so we will.

We WANT nitrates, correct? Is it really terrible that we have no nitrites or ammonia? I've been under the impression that we don't want these chemicals near our fish.

Another question I have is this: the store told us that we could only have up to around 10 fish. This is why we've gotten such small amounts; for example, only to corys and two harlequin rasboras. We felt very limited with the different types we could have, which is why we only got doubles of some, at most.

ANOTHER question: JustOneMore20, what do you mean by "stocked the tank too fast"? Are you saying they died because we put too many fish in at once? They all died at sort of different times, so it confuses me. For example, Odin and Glam are the two "originals" (part of the first group of four) that have died, and Odin was first to go, Glam last.

Another sort of hypothetical question...Let's say they all begin to die within the week (hopefully it doesn't come to this). What should be our first step? Will the tank then be in good enough condition to bring in the "first" group of fish? And they'll be more successful because we'll have waited longer? Or is that wrong?

Sorry for all the questions. I'll keep this thread updated, hopefully with results of a nitrate test. Thank you.

-Longlivegl- ....I really need to change my screen name. Glam was initially my favourite, you see. >> Now it will be...Longlivepopstar. I really hope he makes it, in particular. I'm very attached to him. Now I'm rambling. Just putting the word in there in case Popstar conveniently goes next.

Thanks again.
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:25 PM   #11
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Usually (I say usually ) a high or low pH doesn't matter unless you're trying to breed, then maybe it becomes an issue. Otherwise, the fish can adapt to the pH of your tapwater, as long as they were acclimated correctly. A drip acclimation is best if there is a big difference in the pH of your water and the store. pH manipulations (trying to raise or lower the pH with chemicals) are only going to stress the fish, and you, since it's difficult to consistently change the pH of your water. A pH-lowering product is most likely an acid, and putting an acid into the water every day is bound to cause some fish health problems. So for now, I suggest reading up on the nitrogen cycle, like others have suggested, and keeping up with water changes until your tank cycles (and then do maintenance water changes once a week). Then you can get a reading of your pH, but you probably won't have to take any action on it.
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:37 PM   #12
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A cycled tank has 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrites, and up to 20ppm nitrates, if you are asking (a little hard to tell). At this point you should be seeing low amounts of ammonia and nitrites because your tank is still cycling, and most likely no nitrates (or very few). 'Cycling' products oftentimes don't work, and if they do, they are only AIDS- they do not instantly cycle your tank but will shorten it's cycling time, basically, if they work at all.

You are limited with how many fish you can have in a 20gal (although 10 is not necessarily accurate depending on the fish)- it's better to have more of fewer kinds of fish (say, two or three schools of small fish like tetras or cories) than fewer of more kinds of fish... does that make sense? Most fish that work in that size tank are schooling fish and should be kept as such if possible. There are exceptions of course (bettas can occasionally be kept in community tanks, but only one of them).

By 'stocking the tank too quickly' we mean that you overloaded your (developing) biofilter- the bacteria that turn wastes into nitrites and nitrates. Most people who cycle with fish use one or two and then very gradually add more after the tank is cycled, allowing time for the biofilter to grow and adapt to the larger bioload (the number of fish- although each kind of fish has a different impact; some are messier than others). So basically you added more fish than your biofilter was able to handle and unfortunately you're seeing the results- dying/ill/weak fish. It doesn't matter when they died- it depends on how well (or poorly) they were able to handle the water quality, if they were already weakened from poor water at the store, how they were acclimated, etc. There are a lot of variables here in determining precisely why which fish died but it is a pretty safe guess it's due to an overloaded biofilter.

Does that make more sense?
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Old 10-05-2008, 10:46 PM   #13
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What you need to do immediately:
Get test kits for ammonia, nitrIte, and nitrAte. You'll see how they rise and fall in a cycling tank from reading this article, if you haven't already:

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/articl...le-/Page1.html

A google search for "aquarium cycling with fish" will probably retrieve a lot of good info too.

Test for ammonia daily and do a water change of 50% or even up to 90% as long as the ammonia level is above .25 ppm. Do a smaller change if the ammonia is lower on the scale, and a bigger change if the ammonia is higher. A rough guideline: Change 50% if you see from .25 to .75 ppm ammonia. Change 75% if you see 1 ppm. Change 90% if it's higher than 1 ppm. When the ammonia level falls to 0, the nitrIte will rise and spike. Nitrite is also dangerous to fish and you'll have to do frequent water changes to diminish its harmful effects on the fish. When ammonia and nitrite are 0, and nitrates are at least 10 ppm, you can begin to relax .

Don't change or rinse any of the filter media during this cycling time - you don't want to disturb the establishing biological filter (the good bacteria).
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:25 PM   #14
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If they've been put into the tank too fast, what should I do regarding that? There are now only...six fish in the tank-- no, seven. The Governor and Pan have been there since the beginning. But with regards to the other ones that are newer, has the tank cycled enough for them? Is it really the old ones that are in danger?

Sorry if that question makes it seem as though I haven't read anything. I've read all of it. It's a lot of unfamiliar terms to take in at once, but I'm doing the best I can. How can we best help the ones we have? Or are they pretty much doomed? OR can I not get an answer until I provide the nitrate level?
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:34 PM   #15
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NitrAtes will tell you if nitrItes are being broken down. If there is a nitrAte reading, that tells you the proper bacteria are growing.
What to do now: Follow An t-iasg's advice regarding water changes and ammonia levels.
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:36 PM   #16
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Test for ammonia daily and do a water change of 50% or even up to 90% as long as the ammonia level is above .25 ppm. Do a smaller change if the ammonia is lower on the scale, and a bigger change if the ammonia is higher. A rough guideline: Change 50% if you see from .25 to .75 ppm ammonia. Change 75% if you see 1 ppm. Change 90% if it's higher than 1 ppm.
This is how you will have the most luck keeping your current fish alive and healthy. This may mean daily water changes, as has been mentioned before on other threads.

This bears repeating, emphasis mine:
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Don't change or rinse any of the filter media during this cycling time - you don't want to disturb the establishing biological filter (the good bacteria).
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:24 AM   #17
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The Governor and Pan have been there since the beginning. But with regards to the other ones that are newer, has the tank cycled enough for them? Is it really the old ones that are in danger?
Just wanted to add, some fish are weaker or dont do as well with ammonia/nitrite. These are things that should only be seen if your cycling unless the tank crashes. Some medications can wipe out the beneficial bacteria(bio filter), also replacing old filter material with new ones.

Anyway, if all the fish are exposed to ammonia at lower levels for short time periods, they prob wont all die, but some may. Any of them because of being stressed by this can also be more susceptible to other probs like infections.

Do you have a heater on your tank? temp changes also stress fish
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Old 10-06-2008, 01:45 AM   #18
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I understand that the water change according to the ammonia levels is being stressed by a lot of you, but what if there is no ammonia at all, as is the case with our fish? Do I leave them be? What can I do otherwise? Nothing until I get a nitrate reading?
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Old 10-06-2008, 01:51 AM   #19
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when the tank is cycled and ammonia/nitrite are 0, then you normally just get in a habit of changing 10% per week or 25% every 2 weeks.

Or watching nitrates, when they raise to ~40ppm then its time to do a WC. Then see how long it takes to come back to 40ppm. That would lay out yor water change schedule and amount.

Many like to change a little more(ofter and/or amount) to keep the levels lower.

But if fish are dying, its best to do frequent WC's just to rule that out. Also try not feeding as much as this just adds to the issues. Many feed 1x per day and skip a day or 2 once a week. Fish can go for over a week w/o food and dont likely eat everyday in the wild.

Again do you have a heater?

Watch your fish closely and see if they have any spots on them or are having trouble breathing. Also if they lack good color they are likely stressed.
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Old 10-06-2008, 03:18 AM   #20
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No, no heater. As things stand right now, we have no nitrites or ammonia. Should we leave the water alone? Or will frequent water changes really help? I worry about the water changes with everyone's talk of cycling. If it hasn't cycled properly, shouldn't I leave the water as it is to speed that up?

Anyway, their colours seem good. Popstar (german yellow guppy) has bright beautiful colours but has always had a tiny teal coloured spot on his tailfin that's just...there. He had that since before we put him in the tank. Is this concerning?
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