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.