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Old 04-18-2021, 08:08 PM   #1
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Tiger Barbs Dying--at a complete loss...Please Help!!!

Hello all! I joined this forum in hopes I could find some help for my poor tank...

For the past several years, I have had a ten gallon tank with four tiger barbs and a striped raphael catfish. The tank's light recently quit, and since it was one of those all-in-one tank kits that don't allow you to replace the light, I got a new ten-gallon aquarium. Prior to the replacement, I had an algae bloom in my old tank, and I will admit it wasn't the cleanest of tanks...my gravel vacuum had quit and I was struggling to do a proper job with the siphon. Anyways, I set up my new tank day before yesterday. I got new gravel (rinsed it like crazy), but used my plants from my old tank (rinsed those off, too) and a log-like decor from Petco that my catfish was crazy about. I used tap water in my tank, but the water is perfectly safe for the tank--I had it checked recently and it's 100% fine. Slightly basic pH, but I've been using that water for years no issue.

I set up the new tank, and transferred the fish immediately since I discovered that the old one had started to leak...the fish seemed okay, but the catfish didn't hide like normal. The next morning everyone was alive, but a little later that day, the catfish died. My kitty cat, who loves to watch the fishtank and was so excited about me setting up the new tank, was devastated. She was literally staring at the dead catfish and meowing dismally. I checked the water, and it was fine, so I assumed that it was the combination of old age and the stress of the move that killed my catfish (he was probably around 7 years old). I wanted to make sure I had bottom feeders in my tank, so I went to Petco and got two albino corys. I also got three red-eyed tetras and a gold inca snail (there was still algae on my plants and decor). This may be overstocking a little, but I felt confident since my tank was well planted and I had good filtration.

The next morning (this morning) the tank was cloudy. I assumed this was a normal bacterial bloom due to the Seachem Prime and Stability I had dosed the tank with. But one of my barbs had died. Again, my barbs were older (4-6 years) and I chalked it up to stress and old age once again. But this afternoon, yet another barb died...again, old...but I'm not quite happy with the old age theory any more. I feel awful that my poor old fish are dying when all I wanted to do was to give them cleaner, safer conditions with proper lighting and no algae bloom. The new fish are absolutely fine, and the snail seems happy too. I tested my water...absolutely dead normal, with the slightest tinge of ammonia (not even 0.25 ppm).

Below is a rundown of my tank. An * indicates items/fish that were in the original tank.

Tank: 10 gallon
Fish: 4 barbs* (2 died); 1 raphael striped catfish* (died); 2 albino corys; 3 red-eyed tetras; 1 gold inca snail
Substrate: 5 lbs of white gravel mixed with 5 lbs of "snowy river stones" gravel, with glass accents on top (all well washed)
Plants: 4-5 small anubises*; 3-4 small Marimo moss balls*
Heater: set on 74 degrees
Filter: Tetra submerged filter, rated for 10 gallon, with charcoal filter and a biological filter sponge
Decor: large plastic log thing...* was in original tank no issue

Dosed tank with Seachem Prime, Stability, and pH buffer, as well as a dose of Flourish for the plants. Have used all those before with no issue.

Noticed bacterial bloom, really don't think that would hurt the fish...

All the new fish are fine. It's just my old guys that are dying. No clue what would harm my old guys and not the new ones.

(Testing with API Master)
pH: 7.4
ammonia: <0.25 (faintest twinge of green)
nitrite: 0
nitrate: 0

There is no chlorine or anything in the tap water, besides...treated the water...and why is it only affecting the old guys??? I'm installing a bubbler tonight and we'll see what happens.

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Old 04-18-2021, 09:59 PM   #2
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It's possible that your tank cycle has restarted, I have never used those products you mentioned, although I have heard good comments about prime and other articles like that, I have also heard bad comments, so I think you somehow had a spike of ammonia that killed your established fish, although I must say that your 10 gallon tank is overcrowded and poorly managed in terms of species, you need more corydoras and more red-eyed tetras because they are shoal fish and only corydoras are in the margin of your 10 gallons.
I would not have much confidence in the sponge to host bacteria, in fresh water I would opt for ceramic rings, I would use an envelope of liquid bacteria for 40 liters, and would place ceramic rings in your filtration, do tests every 24 hours to make sure your cycle is on course, it's only a theory but it happens often.
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Old 04-18-2021, 10:30 PM   #3
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It's possible that your tank cycle has restarted, I have never used those products you mentioned, although I have heard good comments about prime and other articles like that, I have also heard bad comments, so I think you somehow had a spike of ammonia that killed your established fish, although I must say that your 10 gallon tank is overcrowded and poorly managed in terms of species, you need more corydoras and more red-eyed tetras because they are shoal fish and only corydoras are in the margin of your 10 gallons.
I would not have much confidence in the sponge to host bacteria, in fresh water I would opt for ceramic rings, I would use an envelope of liquid bacteria for 40 liters, and would place ceramic rings in your filtration, do tests every 24 hours to make sure your cycle is on course, it's only a theory but it happens often.
Thank you so much. It's possible there was an ammonia spike, but then why would the old fish only be affected, and why wouldn't the ammonia show up on the test? It showed as yellow with a faint tinge of green, which is definitely less than .25 ppm.

I seem to get conflicting information on what species are good in a 10 gallon, but then again, most of my info before now has come from pet store employees. I don't want to get rid of any fish, but what species/numbers would you recommend for a good community? Right now, space limitations mean I can't get a larger tank.
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Old 04-19-2021, 02:38 AM   #4
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Old tank syndrome? Possibly the water conditions in your old tank wasnt quite as good as you presume, but your established fish had gotten acclimated to it and where fine. Move them to a new tank, with new water, lower nitrate, lower phosphates, changing water hardness, higher pH etc etc. The older fish didnt acclimate, along with age and stress of the move combined and they died? Newer fish that werent acclimatised to your older tanks conditions are fine in the newer water conditions?

An ammonia spike, unless it is stupidly high, like 8 - 10ppm wont kill fish overnight.
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:41 AM   #5
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Old tank syndrome? Possibly the water conditions in your old tank wasnt quite as good as you presume, but your established fish had gotten acclimated to it and where fine. Move them to a new tank, with new water, lower nitrate, lower phosphates, changing water hardness, higher pH etc etc. The older fish didnt acclimate, along with age and stress of the move combined and they died? Newer fish that werent acclimatised to your older tanks conditions are fine in the newer water conditions?

An ammonia spike, unless it is stupidly high, like 8 - 10ppm wont kill fish overnight.
Thanks so much...I feel terrible since most of this seems to be due to my ignorance, and now all my old fish are keeling over due to it. This theory seems to be best-fitting.

Anything I can do to save the two remaining barbs?
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Old 04-19-2021, 09:20 AM   #6
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Its my best theory, kind of the opposite of what normally happens with old tank syndrome where new fish added into an old tank and dont acclimate to the conditions whereas the older fish are used to it and are fine.

Not something i have ever experienced, so i cant offer anything 1st hand. Maybe someone else has and can chip in. I cant find anything online that gives a solution to your problem or similar either. Best i can offer is just let things be. Trying to do something might give your barbs something else to stress about. It doesnt look like you are having too much ammonia and nitrite issues so water changes arent imperative. When you need to do water changes little and often would be the way to go until things settle down. This avoids any more big changes in water conditions until they are used to their new environment.

As i think you are now aware, 10g isnt really big enough for tiger barbs, but i would just let them be now. Are they showing any signs of ill health? I hope they are ok.

Dont beat yourself up, im sure many people have done similar. Hindsight is amazing. In the future, if you are moving fish from one environment to another consider your acclimating. Even there its not 1 size fits all.
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Old 04-19-2021, 06:57 PM   #7
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Thanks, one is still alive and might make it, the other three died along with the catfish. All my new fish are still fine.
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