A new dilemma :( - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-09-2010, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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A new dilemma :(

Hi all, I'm sorry this is going to be a long post, but thanks for reading.

I have a new dilemma with my fish. I have a 48 litre "Fish-Box" which has been set up for about 3 weeks now. It has adequate heating and filtration, and it's fairly heavily planted. I have 4 guppies, 4 neon tetras, and a panda catfish, so it's well below capacity.

The problem I have is New Tank Syndrome. Despite regular water changes and the addition of various 'treatments', my statistics are as follows:
  • PH: 8.2
  • Ammonia: 0.25
  • Nitrite: 5.0 +
  • Nitrate: 80
My local aquarist has been very helpful and she sold me a bottle of Tetra Safestart and advised me to use that with a 25% water change. When I arrived home, I found that I already had a bottle of Interpet Filter Start, which I'd completely forgotten about. I plead guilty for the mistake, but as this is my first serious attempt at keeping fish, with so much information to take in, I completely overlooked the fact that I was meant to add the Filter Start every 2 days for the first 2 weeks. I've only added one dose since I set the tank up 3 weeks ago.

The difference between the Safestart and the Filter Start is that one (Safestart) seems to recommend adding the whole dose in one go, while the other (Filter Start) recommends adding several small doses over 2 weeks. My first question is: As I've used small amounts of both products, would it harm the fish if I now added the full dose of Safestart? Is it possible to overdose the tank with 'good' bacteria? I know it's a delicate balance, but I'm desperate to get those numbers down.

On top of all this, one of my guppies has come down with WhiteSpot, so I'm treating it with Interpet Anti WhiteSpot. The instructions tell me to add the first dose, then a second dose four days later. So now my worry is that I can't carry out any more water changes for the next 4 days, otherwise I'll dilute the medication. I don't have a hospital tank, there's no room for one to be honest, plus, am I actually treating the fish? or the water? Is it too late to save the fish? It doesn't look badly infected, and he's definately perked up a bit since I added the first dose.

I really don't know what to do for the best now. I've spent so much money on water treatments and equipment and medications, and I've tried to do everything by the book, but it all seems to be going wrong! Even more annoying, my friend bought a Biorb at the same time as I bought my tank, and he just filled his straight from the tap, untreated water, overcrowded it with about 8 goldfish on the same day, has left them to it from day one, and his fish are thriving, they couldn't appear to be happier!

So my main question is, should I add that full dose of Safestart when I've already been using small quantities of that, and the Filter Start? I really need to kickstart the cycle and get those figures down as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading, and I hope I've made everything clear enough, just yell if I haven't.

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post #2 of 7 Old 09-09-2010, 11:59 AM
not to worry when you have the new tank syndrom your stats will have spikes of amonia in the first 2 weeks and after that nitrite which is the level where your tanks in.fish get white spot because of dirty or cold water.intrepet is a good brand but most here will tell you the fishes could be treated by slowly upping the temp in the tank.since you already started treatment just continue with it.if a water change is nessasary.top up the aducate amount of anti white spot medication.read the instructions real well on the water to meds ratio.the calculation is based on how much new water was added to the tank. keep the treatment going till one week after the last spot has gone.then do a water change and add carbon to the filter to get rid of the medicine residue

5x2x2 aro,highfin bat,fei feng,ST,albino tinfoil,c.perch
4x1.5x1.5 planted tetras,harlequins,
otto,WMM,2 types of celebes rainbows,rcs,amano, bamboo,red ramhorns,MTS
3.5x2.5x2 flowerhorn,pleco
3x1.5x1.5 russel's lion,blue cleaner,sixline and leopard wrasse,maroon clown pair,green chromis,scorpion,tiger cowrie,turbo,lyretail anthias,jewel,anemone,star polyp,marbled and giant green mushi,zoa
2x1x1 nano sw shrimps
22 May 2012
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-09-2010, 12:11 PM
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I assume you mean "ich" when you say whitespot...

I would remove the guppy immediately to cut your losses. Medications can and will usually inhibit the cycling process..

Also something else I've noticed, is that some "start" products are just bacteria, (usually have a single dose) and some neutralise ammonia and nitrite (many small doses).

Things to keep in mind
1. Ich is extremely contagious, with a complicated 3-stage life cycle.
2. Ammonia and nitrite lower the immune systems ability to fight off diseases.
3. Ich treatments will inhibit the cycling process.
4. (as you probably know) Ammonia and Nitrite should be 0, and Nitrate should be less than 50.

I would do the water changes... Ich will be much easier to treat once the tank is cycled- that would be my main priority.
Ich typically doesn't kill fast... Usually takes a few weeks to kill... An ammonia or nitrite spike could kill the fish overnight. Keep nitrate under 50- a nitrate buildup (much higher than yours is now) can also inhibit the cycling process.

Feed your fish light meals- only what they can consume in 2 minutes, once or twice a day, and do not feed them on sundays. Less food=less waste=less ammonia.

Looking at your numbers (guessing only, since it's impossible to predict) I would say give your tank a week and it will be cycled. Do water changes with the gravel vac, and it will slow the ich as well. (Ich eggs will rest in your gravel before they hatch.)

Temperature is a good way to fight ich DURING medication, but if you have the means, I would lower your temperature to 73-75 F. Ich, along with fish, have metabolisms that speed up and slow in correlation with the temperature. Raising the temperature speeds up the lifecycle of ich, which is good since the egg and cyst stages of ich are immune to medications. If you raise the temperature without medication, the ich will REALLY become a problem.

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2


Last edited by redchigh; 09-09-2010 at 12:14 PM.
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-09-2010, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both for your replies. Kitten, I hope you're right, it's very reassuring to know that the water will stabilize eventually, I just hope the fish can survive it. Although they all look generally healthy with the exception of one, a couple of them have lost their color and look very pale, not a good sign.

Redchigh, your reply has thrown up a few more questions. Are you saying that it would do the fish no harm if I added both of those treatments? My instincts tell me to add the full dose of SafeStart, which is 40ml, that's nearly half the bottle for my tank, but I don't want to harm the fish.

Also, you advised to remove the sick guppy, but do you have any suggestions on what to do with it? I can't put it down, I just can't do it. Besides, he looks a bit more comfortable than he did yesterday, when he was tangled up in the plants, it looked as if he was trying to get to the surface, but didn't have the strength, so he was using the plants to 'hold' him there. Well, today he appears to be a lot happier. He's still looking a bit sluggish, but he's now slowly swimming around the tank and looking a bit more alert. Do you think they would take a sick fish from me at the pet store? I know they have a hospital tank set up there, has anybody tried that?

In an effort to try and lower those numbers, I've cut down on their food. I now feed them once per day, and only a tiny amount, about as much as they'll eat in a minute. Actually I've fed them this way from day one, so overfeeding is not the problem, unless it's the catfish food? I have some seperate pellets for the catfish. I was feeding it 3 pellets per day, as advised by the pet store, but the pellets are so tiny, I don't even know if the catfish is finding them, otherwise they're just decomposing in the gravel. Does anyone know if the catfish has the ability to locate the pellets by smell? If not, I might stop using those altogether.
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-09-2010, 02:18 PM
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One of the worst things to do is start adding medications when the fish are already under stress from cycling.

I am also not fathoming why in a heavily planted tank ammonia and nitrite even appear. Your fish stock is not "light" for a 12gallon tank, but it is not way overboard.

I have tried to find out about those Interpet products, with limited success online. The bacteria supplement seems to be bacteria to "seed" the filter but without knowing more I can't say if it is better or equal to SafeStart. I do know that Tetra SafeStart is 100% live bacteria and it does work. Follow the directions on the label. A partial water change of 50% first won't hurt.

The Interpet ich medication I don't know, and it doesn't say what is in it. Most ich remedies contain copper; copper is a heavy metal and highly toxic to fish and plants (and all other life for that matter). This will stress out the fish, esp the tetra and panda, and given the ammonia/nitrite issue I would not use it.

My advice is to do a 50% water change, use a good conditioner (one that detoxifies ammonia and nitrite would be best, I believe Seachem's Prime is the only one to do both, but one that handles ammonia would also work), and add SafeStart. Once the cycling is done and ammonia and nitrite read zero, deal with the ich if it really is present. I ignore ich when it first appears as a spot or two on a new fish, and usually the fish fight it off and no treatment is needed. Having the fish under stress from other things makes this harder of course, but one thing at a time.

Last thought, have you tested your tap water on its own for ammonia and nitrite? This could be the source of either.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-09-2010, 02:33 PM
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I've kept guppies in small containers without a heater before and they were perfectly healthy..

I actually meant throw a bunch of plants in a large bowl, and put the guppy in, and put the bowl where it will get some light... *shrug*

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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post #7 of 7 Old 09-10-2010, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for all the advice. I've followed your recommendations, and now I'll just wait and see what happens. All the fish look happy enough at the moment, and tomorrow I'll test the water again and let you know the results.
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