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Old 08-20-2020, 04:32 PM   #1
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Barbs falling like dominoes

I have a fairly new setup 37 gallon tank. Looks like everything has cycled well, at least all the test strips have looked good. Started off with 5 tiger barbs, 2 a little smaller than the others. The 2 smaller ones died off in a week or so, figured they were bullied by the larger ones. One of the larger ones died off a week or so later after acting weird, doing barrel rolls, swimming face down.

So of course with fish dying off we decided it would be a good idea to add more.

We added 4 each sliver dollars, green barbs, and phantom barbs. Everyone seemed really happy for a couple weeks. Then the 2 tigers went into hiding, and then died off. Figured they were too stressed from the others.

Today (a couple days later) 2 of the green barbs were found dead at the bottom. I observed them in hiding as well the night before. Anyway, these guys are falling like dominoes. Water conditions are still stable, and I'd imagine if the water was an issue they'd be dying off much closer together time wise.

Are they just stressed out? Should they be in larger groups? Do they need more hiding places? They all appear to be non-aggressive towards the others. Haven't observed any weird fungus or anything on the dead ones. Any advice is appreciated. At this rate in another month will have an empty tank. Thanks!

Edit: Did a 25% water change last night, vacuumed out the substrate, slowly siphoned in new de-cholrinated water that was within .5 degrees of the existing. Roughly 79.5F.


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Old 08-20-2020, 06:08 PM   #2
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When you say all the test strips look good, what are your water parameters? I read your previous post and you only mention ammonia and chlorine. pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate would all be useful to know. Despite you saying the tank is cycled, there is nothing in either of your posts to suggest you did anything to cycle the tank.

Also, test strips are known to not be as accurate as liquid test. I would recommend a liquid test kit. They are more accurate and you get 100s of tests out of them, so they are more cost effective in the long run.
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Old 08-20-2020, 07:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for reply. Attached test strips below. Ph looks neutral. Hardness reads 150 I'd say.
Alkalinity looks moderate. Nitrite/nitrate/chlorine all zero. Ammonia was zero also. Will be investing in a master test kit soon.

The 4 silvers and 4 phantoms look happy right now, no acting wierd, the 2 greens are hanging around the top of the tank (bit one was hiding a bit ago) . The greens have seemed to like the top of the tank since day one.

Tank temp is up a to 81 from 79.5, but shut off the a/c earlier today, so ambient temp is about the same. Tank is away from any direct sunlight, so no temp fluctuations there.

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Old 08-20-2020, 08:18 PM   #4
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Your 0 nitrate is what would concern me. It is a sign that your tank isnt cycled and the problems you had really sounds like an uncycled tank. Having fish in the tank these few weeks should have the cycle started now, and if not the water changes are keeping ammonia and nitrite down to managable levels.

Keep up with daily water testing, if you see any ammonia or nitrite, do 25% water change. When you are consistently seeing 0ppm ammonia and nitrite and the nitrate is rising you are cycled enough for the fish you have and you can cut back on the testing.

The other thing that it could be is pH or temperature shock. While the conditions might be good in your tank, if they are significantly different to the water they came out of that could kill them pretty quickly. How are you acclimating the fish before introducing them into your tank? How long where they kept in a bag between the store and your home?
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Old 08-20-2020, 08:40 PM   #5
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They were in bag maybe 30 minutes tops. I acclimated the bags to temp by setting in top of tank for bit, used instant read thermometer to make sure temp was equalized. Then poured into tank. I've since learned that's not the best way. All fish have been in there for 6 days now.

I had the tank set up for roughly 2 weeks before adding any fish. I put in some fish food every day to introduce something to decompose with intent of building up some good bacteria. Also introduced some API live bacteria the second week. There water developed a gray haze a few days after filling. I've learned that this was a bacteria bloom(?) That haze has started to clear significantly the last few days. I also have a bag of fluval biomax media in the pump housing.
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Old 08-21-2020, 04:16 AM   #6
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Barbs falling like dominoes

Fish shop might be able to do a solution / vial test to check numbers. The test strips generally arenít the best (or at least the ones here anyways).

I do find nippy fish do better in schools of ten or more (perhaps unlucky ). But generally the bullied one stands out.
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Old 08-21-2020, 09:41 AM   #7
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I'm expecting the 2 greens that are left not to make it. One of them is already going in to hiding on occasion, and the other will find him and bully him a bit. That would leave 4 phantoms and 4 silver dollars that all appear happy. I'm considering getting 4 more phantoms and silvers and have 2 schools of 8 each. Think trying to have small schools of 4 different fish was not the best plan.
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Old 08-21-2020, 09:43 AM   #8
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Until you are seeing nitrate in your water tests, your tank isnt cycled. Dont keep adding fish.
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Old 08-21-2020, 09:55 AM   #9
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Thank you, for sure Want to make sure the water is good first. Just thinking forward. Would like to have more fish variety, but don't want to create the same stressful situation.
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Old 08-22-2020, 07:29 AM   #10
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Aiken Drum is correct, your tank is not cycled. It takes 3-8 weeks before a tank is cycled and you can add fish. Do not add any more fish. Since you have fish, you should switch to a fish in cycling. Here is some info to help.

https://aquariumscience.org/index.php/2-5-aquarium-fish-in-cycling/
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Old 08-24-2020, 11:38 PM   #11
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Got one more down today. Also noticed this in bottom of tank. Do I have a fungus? Fish themselves look clean far as I can tell.
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Old 09-01-2020, 10:59 AM   #12
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Got a master test kit last week. Did my first test and appears that I have some ammonia starting. 2.5ppm or so. No Nitrites or Nitrates yet. If the ammonia begins to spike before enough good bacteria develop to munch on it, how should I manage that? With partial water changes? Thanks for the advice all, I've learned a ton in short period of time. Wish I knew then what I know now

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Old 09-01-2020, 11:02 AM   #13
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Do you mean 0.25ppm or 2.5ppm? If its really 2.5ppm then you need to be doing 50% water change followed up by another 50% shortly afterwards.
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Old 09-01-2020, 11:20 AM   #14
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Do you mean 0.25ppm or 2.5ppm? If its really 2.5ppm then you need to be doing 50% water change followed up by another 50% shortly afterwards.

Edit: Looking at the attachment you are at 0.25ppm ammonia. More telling is the 0ppm nitrate, showing that your cycle hasnt even started yet. Do 25% water change as soon as you are able. Test daily, if you see any ammonia or nitrite then do 25% water change. This could mean daily water changes for the foreseeable future. When you are consistently seeing 0ppm ammonia and nitrite and your nitrates are steadily rising you are cycled sufficiently for your current stocking and can look to add more if that is your plan.

I would also look to add in some beneficial bacteria with a product like Dr Tims One and Only or Seachem Stability.
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Old 09-01-2020, 01:45 PM   #15
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Yes, that was a typo. Reading is 0.25 ppm. I have added a few doses of API Quick Start in the past, but was also getting zero ammonia readings until recently. If I'm understanding correctly, good bacteria won't develop if there is no ammonia for them to eat, so I'm assuming any bacteria I added had nothing to eat and died out? Is there an ammonia target level that I should try and maintain, that's low enough for the fish and high enough to encourage bacteria growth? My LFS carries Seachem, so I will try some of that. Thanks
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Old 09-01-2020, 01:58 PM   #16
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I wouldnt let it get above 0.25ppm for too long. The general rule is that if your ammonia and nitrite combined is above 0.5ppm that is too high. 0.25ppm ammonia at normal pH wont be harmful to your fish in the short term, but you dont want them living in those conditions when you can avoid it. Nitrite is what will kill off fish quickly.

I would also just like to make sure you did the nitrate test correctly. If you dont shake the heck out of bottle #2 it can produce a false 0ppm reading.

I would also caution that products like quickstart and stability can be a little hit and miss. They have to be stored, transported etc in temperature controlled conditions, and if not they can be pretty much useless, and even if effective wont instantly cycle a tank as advertised.

Never used stability myself, had best results with one + only and some success with fluval cycle.
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Old 09-25-2020, 12:16 PM   #17
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So since last post I visited my LFS and was recommended Brightwell Microbacter7. Been adding 5ml/day for the last 3 weeks. Been doing 50% pwc's 3 times a week. My ammonia had been testing in the 0.25/0.50ppm range consistently. 2 weeks ago I started to see some nitrates in the 0.25ppm range, and the ammonia was staying consistent as before. The other day saw a nitrite spike in the 1.0ppm range and the ammonia looked near zero. Did a 2/3 pwc at that time. I have not seen a nitrate spike yet, but it would appear the cycle is definitely underway. And the best part? Haven't lost any more fish!

I am getting a bit of a brown/orange algae issue in the last 2 weeks or so however. I've cut the in tank light schedule down to zero, so the only light is ambient daylight. Gets 20-30 mins of direct light from the side in the early morning, but nothing else.
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