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Old 09-04-2011, 09:49 PM   #1
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Unhappy New to forum and very frustrated with my tank!

Hi! I'm new here, and I'm really in need of some advice, because I'm about to lose my mind.

I've only been keeping an aquarium for about a year, but it's very addictive. I started out with a 5 gallon tank (a big mistake, I learned rather quickly), but I now have a 10 gallon tank, 25 gallon tank, and a 3 gallon tank with my betta fish in it. My little sister got the old 5 gallon tank and put a betta in it. My frustration today (and for the past few months) is over my 25 gallon tank.

I set it up back around late March and was a good girl and restrained myself from adding fish for an entire week to cycle the tank. Since it was in the living room, I let my two sisters help in choosing the fish that would be stocked in it. We stocked it with a few mollies and platys, if I recall correctly.

I've tried all sorts of fish in this tank since then (mollies, platys, swordtails, tiger barbs, gourami, albino corycats), and no matter what, they die. I check the water levels (I have a API master kit), perhaps not as often as I should, but whenever I do, they're fine, even if I just had a fish die. Some lived for a two or three months, but lately almost everything I put in there dies well within the two week warranty the pet store has on the fish. My rainbow fish and my newest golden gourami (the first one died a couple of weeks ago) are the only ones who have made it through the 14 day warranty recently.

I just had an albino corycat and a lyretail silver molly die today. My other albino corycat isn't looking well. I have one platy that I can't find. The other inhabitants of this tank are the following: 2 platys, 2 female mollies, 1 golden gourami, and 1 Lake Katubu rainbowfish.

There are only a couple of things I can think of that might be killing these fish other than some mysterious disease (they have no physical signs of disease even at death). One is that I have two decorations that are hooked up to an air pump, so the water is agitated at all times. The other is that I think we might have been adding too much aquarium salt to the water (my youngest sister helps with the tank. She is 12, and is unfortunately not the most mathematically inclined individual and doesn't quite understand the concepts of water/chemical ratios, etc quite yet.)

Another thing that I should mention is that I've been having a terrible time keeping plants alive in this tank as well. I've had wonderful experiences with plants from the same PetSmart that I buy them from (they're all the same brand there) in my 10 gallon tank--that tank is a beautiful example of how the smallest sized plants they offer there can grow and flourish. But in the 25 gallon tank, I've had the exact opposite results.

I will also mention that our water is very hard in this area and has a very high pH (8.2). The PetSmart I buy my fish and plants from is within walking distance (my apartment complex is literately behind them) so I know they have the exact same water supply as I do. I have attempted to use a faucet purifier for the aquarium water, but it has made no difference to the pH according to my master kit's results, and the test strips the pet store uses showed that the hardness hadn't changed either.

My tank:

Inhabitants: 3 platys (one is MIA), 1 golden gourami, 1 Lake Katubu rainbowfish, 2 female dalmation mollies.

Size: 25 gallons
Filtration: Marineland Penguin 150B (with two cartridges) and Tetra Whisper 10I

Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrites: 0 ppm
Nitrates: 5 ppm
pH: 8.2
Temperature: 78 F

Thank you so much, and I really look forward to posting here in the future! Hopefully about a tank that's doing well!
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:54 PM   #2
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Hmmmmm, That's a hard one. How often do you add fish? Welcome to Aquarium Advice!
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:05 PM   #3
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Stop adding salt, as it isn't necessary, and if you are adding too much, detrimental to fish and plants. How often do you change water and how much at a time?
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:08 PM   #4
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Stop adding salt, as it isn't necessary, and if you are adding too much, detrimental to fish and plants. How often do you change water and how much at a time?
I would agree. I believe it is good to use a little salt when treating for ich though.... On the other hand I hear mollies do best with a little salt, hmmm
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:08 PM   #5
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Hmmmmm, That's a hard one. How often do you add fish? Welcome to Aquarium Advice!
Well, honestly, I've just been exchanging the ones that die, since they were within warranty. I try not to add any extras beyond that, though I did add the albino corycats as extras this time partly to help clean up the waste that had been collecting in the gravel.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:10 PM   #6
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Stop adding salt, as it isn't necessary, and if you are adding too much, detrimental to fish and plants. How often do you change water and how much at a time?
We change the water about once a week, about 4-5 gallons at a time, so about a 20% water change.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:15 PM   #7
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How often do you do water changes (oops, saw you just answer that above). I assume you're using a water conditioner?

A couple things to note as well...letting the tank run empty for a week isn't cycling (regardless of what the pet store calls it). Cycling a tank is the process of establishing colonies of beneficial bacteria which will convert the toxins your fish produce into a less toxic form. That is most likely the cause for any deaths during the first couple months of the tank being set up.

How often do you change your filter cartridges? This is another thing stores advise which leads to trouble. The majority of the beneficial bacteria I mentioned before lives in your filter media, and if it is switched out you lose a large portion which causes toxin spikes which can be responsible for fish death. Make sure you simply swish the filters around in water you remove from the tank during pwc's, and only replace them when they are literally falling apart.

Your levels look good now, but a combination of these things over time can cause problems. I agree to stop using aquarium salt unless you know what you are treating specifically.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:30 PM   #8
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To everyone who recommended not adding more salt: Thanks! I will certainly try that--we changed about 5 gallons today, and did not add any salt, so we're at least on our way to lowering the salt concentration. I don't want to do it to fast and shock the fish. At what rate should I try to attempt to lower the salt concentration, or should I just do it with the weekly water changes?





Quote:
Originally Posted by eco23 View Post
How often do you do water changes (oops, saw you just answer that above). I assume you're using a water conditioner?

A couple things to note as well...letting the tank run empty for a week isn't cycling (regardless of what the pet store calls it). Cycling a tank is the process of establishing colonies of beneficial bacteria which will convert the toxins your fish produce into a less toxic form. That is most likely the cause for any deaths during the first couple months of the tank being set up.

How often do you change your filter cartridges? This is another thing stores advise which leads to trouble. The majority of the beneficial bacteria I mentioned before lives in your filter media, and if it is switched out you lose a large portion which causes toxin spikes which can be responsible for fish death. Make sure you simply swish the filters around in water you remove from the tank during pwc's, and only replace them when they are literally falling apart.

Your levels look good now, but a combination of these things over time can cause problems. I agree to stop using aquarium salt unless you know what you are treating specifically.
Yes, I'm using water conditioner. I always ask my sister if she added it whenever she changes the water to.

Yeah, I was at least somewhat aware of that then, though I unfortunately didn't have any good established media at the point to put in there to help with that. I wasn't aware of it a year ago with my first tank, but I know that now, at least!

I actually rarely change the cartridge. They're expensive, and I keep getting mixed messages how often you really should change them. The argument you gave for not switching it out unless you absolutely have to made the most sense to me (yay, microbiology course!), so I chose to not do so very often. Though the way my filter system is set up, whenever one of the cartridges gets to the falling apart point, there is still the other cartridge, the biowheel, and the other, smaller filtration system that I put in.
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