Advice for newbie whose fish died? :( - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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  • 1 Post By brownmane
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post #1 of 8 Old 01-24-2014, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for newbie whose fish died? :(

Hi All,

My family has recently gotten in to freshwater tropical fish. We started when my son wanted to get a fish, so we got a betta. But we kind of jumped in to this (with no preparation), to disastorous results. I have been reading on this forum for a while to try to figure out what happened. I have a suspicion but am not quite sure. and I still have lots of questions.

We have a 10-gallon tank, and we started with a betta, 2 ottos, an african dwarf frog and a golden mystery snail (about 5 months ago). some time after that we added 2 rasboras. I have an AquaClear 50 filter, keep the tank at 78-80 degrees and was doing ~25% water changes about once a week (I add Prime water conditioner to the water before putting it in the tank). things seemed to be going swimmingly, until about 2 or 3 months ago one of the rasboras died. after a while we decided to get another one, and ended up getting three more because we were told that rasboras were schooling fish and like to have others of their kind. about a week or two after adding the new rasboras, eveyone started dying. all we have left now are the 2 ottos, the frog and the snail.

I have been reading a lot about cycling the tank, which is something we didn't do. Also, when we started, I didn't know about testing the water, so in hindsight I have no idea what was going on with it. My suspicion is that the collapse might be due to that? I was wondering if what happened was that we didn't cycle the tank before putting the fish in, then when the rasbora died and I replaced the filter media I made things worse by getting rid of the good bacteria? (and on top of that adding the new rasboras). does this make sense, or could it be something else entirely?

I have lots of questions, if anyone has made it this far in my saga... :)

1.) when the first fish died, I was afraid that may have contaminated the water somehow, so I completely replaced all of the filter media. I have since been reading that a lot of the good bacteria live in the filter media. was it a mistake to completley change them?

2.) I read that filter media should be rinsed evey so often in old tank water (not tap water). how often, and which of the media? my filter has a sponge, a bag of carbon and some nugget-type things (I forget what they are called). should any of these ever be completely replaced, and if so, how often?

3.) how do I know if my tank has cycled and is stable? I read several threads about this and people say if ammonia and nitrites are 0, it is cycled? I am stopping on my way home tonight to get a liquid test kit. how often should I be testing my water?

Even though we started the aquarium for our son, my husband and I have found that we enjoyed the fish much more than we expected! I think I was more sad when the fish died than my son was (he is 5, and I think doesn't quite get the concept of "death" yet). Anyway, thank you for reading, and any advice is appreciated! I don't want to add any more fish until I feel more confident that I am caring for them properly.

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post #2 of 8 Old 01-24-2014, 02:55 PM
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Hi Mktaj, Welcome to Tropical fish keeping.

1). When a fish dies it is not necessary to replace the filter media. All that is needed is to remove the dead fish and watch the others for signs of illness just incase of disease.

2). Its not a bad idea to rinse the media out (in your case the sponge, carbon, and the bioballs) when you do a water change. As for when to replace them. This is something that varies from person to person. I don't change my sponge out until it is falling apart. Same goes for the rest of the media.

3). In a normal cycle you will see a raise in Ammonia which is followed by nitrites that consume the ammonia which is followed by nitrates. Leaving you with a reading of just nitrates. In the beginning if you have fish in the tank I would test every day to monitor the numbers for the health of the fish. Ammonia and nitrites are both deadly to fish soo any readings with those you should do a water change to bring those numbers back down. Once you get past that and just see nitrates I would test once a week just make sure you don't get anymore spikes of ammonia or nitrites.
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post #3 of 8 Old 01-24-2014, 05:04 PM
Welcome to Tropicalfishkeeping. After reading your info, it does look like you have a good water changing routine. I was going to clarify one of Boredomb's instructions, but after re-reading, I saw that it was already clear.
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Last edited by brownmane; 01-24-2014 at 05:11 PM. Reason: wrong answer
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-24-2014, 05:11 PM
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Yes sorry (Thank you Brownmane) you need to rinse them off in a bucket of tank water. Make sure to take the sponge and squeeze it out in the water several times as this allows the sponge to suck up clean water and flush out the debris it has trapped in the pores.

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post #5 of 8 Old 01-24-2014, 05:15 PM
Boredomb, I noticed after posting, that mktaj had already mentioned not rinsing in tap water, so I deleted my comments.
I know that you always give good advice.
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-24-2014, 05:54 PM
I think what happened is you hit the limit of your tank and it crashed.

You might take a look at the link in my signature and consider some of those techniques.

or just blow off my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

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post #7 of 8 Old 01-28-2014, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info, everyone! I got the API liquid test kit this weekend, and all the parameters seemed ok. I got 0 on the ammonia and nitrite, ~40 ppm on the nitrate, and ~6.8 on the pH. I am going to continue monitoring for a few weeks, and then maybe get a betta. for a 10 gallon tank, does 1 betta, 2 otos, a golden mystery snail and an african dwarf frog seem like the maximum load? if we want a few schooling fish (like the rasboras we had), do we need a bigger tank? I appreciate the helpful comments from boredomb and brownmane, and beaslbob's technique is intriguing! Thanks everyone.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-28-2014, 01:23 PM
Do a WC and redose ammonia. See if the ammonia and nitrites are processed overnight.

Otos need to be put in only established tanks that have been up for 6+ months. They are known to not eat commercial algae products, only the real thing.

You could do 6 Celestial Pearl Danio if you wanted a shoaling fish along with your current stocklist (including the otos once the tank is matured).

Last edited by Flint; 01-28-2014 at 01:31 PM.
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