Huge mistake! New Puffers! Need Help! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-14-2011, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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Huge mistake! New Puffers! Need Help!

Before anyone tells me how irresponsible or stupid this was... believe me, I know, but I'm trying to figure out what to do next!!!
Ok, here's the story:
I had a small 2 gal. tank on my desk at work for about 1 1/2 years now. I went away for two days and came home tonight to a 20 gal. tank with two Green Spotted Puffers in it! My teenage son thought it would be a great present for me. He did what they told him to do at the pet store (they were a bunch of idiots in my opinion!!) and thought he was doing a great thing for me. I told him it was great and I loved it and now I have to do everything I can to keep these two fish alive!!
So, per the pet store, my son bought the 20 gal. tank, brought it home and emptied the 2 gal. tank (gravel and fish included). Then added tap water and water conditioner pack that came with the aquarium set up. He added marine salt (he said 3 pounds like they told him at the store), plugged in the filter and heater and floated the two puffers for half an hour. Then he set them free into the tank. All of this happened about 36 hours ago. This is where I am right now:
water is a bit cloudy
temp is 78 degrees
salinity?? or specific gravity?? is 1.02 (they sold him a thermometer that floats in the tank with a hydromoeter on top) yes, I'm sure it's not the most accurate
I don't have any water test kit and won't be able to go to the store until tomorrow morning (believe me, I'll go right away)
the two tiny cat fish, 1 zebra danio and 1 neon tetra that were in the original tank all died at some point yesterday (son feels really bad for killing them which is part of the reason why I want to do whatever I can to save these guys)
I know the tank should have been cycled first and that puffers are not a hardy fish and shouldn't be used for cycling, but in your opinions, is there any chance for these fish to survive the cycling?
I don't want to break my son's heart and return them to the store and at this point, I would think that moving them to another tank would be traumatic to their systems.
Any thoughts????
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-14-2011, 10:29 PM
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Wow! Well I know very little about Puffers... first is the salinity correct and if not slowly make water changes to adjust it to a better number. In stead of a big water change, do 2 or 3 smaller ones to adjust slowly. Google as much info as you can. Do you know the Breed? if not then check our profiles above or youtube video, google image, what ever you need to do to find out exactly what kind these are. They are likely going to eat either blood worms or snails so food is going to be an issue really fast too. What did they give him for food? They may be F8 or figure eight puffers or Dwarf puffers, both are listed in our profiles. Do you have any more dechlorinator to do water changes? Also in the morning get some Prime. I'm not sure where you are located, I'm in Ontario and our pet stores have their own brands. Look for something that is pure good bacteria, not something that "promotes the growth of bacteria". You need bacteria asap. Hope this helps. Good luck. I'll be on here for a while and check back. let me know how it is going.

Every kid, regardless of what they are going through, is ONE caring adult away from being a success story. ~ Josh Shipp, Teen Behavior Expert
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-15-2011, 03:20 AM
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I agree with Jakiebabie, if you can't find a puffer whizz on this site google as much as you can.
Also probably better to post this in saltwater section :)
And your son sounds lovely, very sweet to buy you puffers :)

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post #4 of 9 Old 03-15-2011, 06:33 AM
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Hi there, I'm not a "puffer Whizz" But do know a bit about them as I keep them myself. My situation was similar to yours, my kids wanted them so we got them, irresponsibly knowing very little about them but we got them through and they're looking fab so hopefully we can get yours through too

Right, the very very first thing you need to do is get that salt out the water!!! Yes GSP's are salties but indroducing salt to their water needs to be done gradually not all at once as it can shock them and kill them. I would suspect that the LFS had them in straight tap water, please try and check this as it's important. If they were in tap water start raising the salinity by 0.002 once a week. Get a brackish low end hydrometer check your tap water S.G. and add enough salt to take it up by 0.002. (Add the salt, which needs to be marine salt to the bucket of water as adding it directly to the tank will burn the fish inside and out) (Also a black bucket is better as you can see whther the salt has fully disolved or not)

The next thing is to get the tank cycling. GSP's as you say are not the best but, I made the same mistake as you and managed to cycle my tank with the Figure of 8's insitu (loads of experts tutting!!!!) You need to get a test kit as a priorty, the paper test strips are rubbish so try to get a liquid one so you can see what the ammonia nitrIte and NitrAte are doing. Be really careful on the ammonia and nitrite stage as these are the killers. If the only way to cycle this tank is with GSP's in place you'll need to test your water daily and be prepared to water change frequently. Please go and get some PRIME it's a water conditioner and will help with high ammonia and nitrate levels. Also go back to the LFS where the fish came from and ask them for an old filter sponge from their fresh water system as this will hold the beneficial bacteria and will help jump start the tank by putting it in your filter. The old bacteria that was in your tank would have suffered big time from the sudden salinity increase. At the same time pick up a load of plants as these will also help with the cycling.

While cycling you need to be keeping the ammonia as low as possible by keeping up with water changes as every time you water change you are diluting the ammonia level, and the same with nitrites and nitrate part of the cycle. You can use stuff called ammolock but in my opinion I don't like the stuff as it only works for 24 hours, affects the building up of the beneficial bacteria and shows up on your test kit as an untrue reading, other people may scream at me for this but I much prefer to keep water changing to combat it.

The website is fabulous and there's loads of info on what they eat, tank set up etc online, but in the meantime, get yourself aquainted with the nitrogen cycle (if you don't already know about it, sorry assumed you don't to be on safe side) and keep a very close eye on the water parametrers, it'll be hard work but you can do it, I did and we're all through the other side safely (took about 3 weeks)

This will get you going, I'm off to Disney today and not back til Saturday but will try to check back in a couple of days to see how its going. Leave me any Q's and I'll answer for you. Good luck.
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-15-2011, 06:43 AM
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Just one more thought. Work on the Specific Gravity (S.G) readings of your hydrometer. Do a 80% water change with fresh conditioned water to take the SG right back down and then check your S.G reading. Fresh water SG is 1.000 and Salt water is 1.025, doesn't sound much but when you increase only by 0.002 each week you can see the change is enormous.

I am assuming the GSP's are small and were in fresh water. The very best thing you can do is ask the LFS where they came from what S.G. they were in there and try to match it. If in tap water change back to that, or if in salted water match what they were in.

Also fish will be very stressed and as they are territorial try to set up a couple of caves and give them plants to hide in and to break eye lines incase they go for each other, I've got four and they actually shoal even though everything says they shouldn't but I've given mine that just incase.

The 2 most important things you need to do first is match the water SG they were in and keep very close eye on ammonia as these are the 2 things that will kill them x
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-15-2011, 02:57 PM
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Hey Angiegal, here is another link from a site expert Byron. Read anything Byron writes! LOL He also writes the fish profiles for TFK too. Here is the link to another thread on cycling a tank fast!!
Hoping things are settling down. Jakiebabie

Every kid, regardless of what they are going through, is ONE caring adult away from being a success story. ~ Josh Shipp, Teen Behavior Expert
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-15-2011, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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reposted under "brackish water".
thanks everyone for all the help so far!!
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post #8 of 9 Old 03-16-2011, 07:08 PM
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Depending on the size of your puffers you will want to get certain types of food, blood worms are best for their desired level of protein and good stuffs XD but be careful as the puffers also need something to wear down their teeth so get some pest snails or ghost shrimp. But make sure to gut load or feed your ghost shrimp before feeding them to your puffers. It's true that puffers are not always the hardiest things when it comes to cycling but its also true that miracles DO happen and if you stay vigilant and do API master kit tests everyday then it should be ok. My puffer right now is doing great and I've had some ammonia issues going on.

Also depending on the size of your puffer it can stand being in brackish water or just regular conditioned water. Once they reach 1.5-2 inches they must be acclimated to brackish and then once they get to be 4 inches they must transfer over to full marine.

Hope this helps ^^

40 gallon with 13 hermit crabs- 11 PPs, 1 E, 1 Straw
25 Gallon
~2 Dwarf Puffer- Sidney and Cairo, 4 Amano Shrimp, 4 Blue Pearl Shrimp, 4 Yellow Cherry Shrimp, 2 Mandarin Cherry Shrimp, Too many RCS, 4 Crystal Red Shrimp, 4- Otos

5 gallon
~White/Teal/Red Betta- Phantom, Snails

25 Gallon
~Leopard Gecko- Desert Rose
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post #9 of 9 Old 03-19-2011, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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amazingly, my two GSP are really good! Daily water changes, twice daily water testing, Prime and an old filter from the pet store seems to be doing the trick! I know I still have a long way to go, but both are active, eating, and appear healthy! I'm so grateful for everyone here and all of the great information!
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