18 hour aquarium fish owner and already swordfish fry!! help! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-30-2008, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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18 hour aquarium fish owner and already swordfish fry!! help!

Hi, I recently bought a 95liter (25 gallon) tropical fish tank. I added the tap safe and the Cycle chemicals which I got with it and left it settle for a week. Then, being over enthuastic, I added Green Away and filter aid a few days later, even though there were no fish in the aquarium. The next morning I woke to find a murky brown aquarium with the filter working overtime trying to clear the tank. I cleaned the filter sponge and it was heavy with brown chemicals.
I did a 95% water change to clear the brown tank and cleaned the gravel. I added more tap safe and water balance chemical which were clear coloured. I turned on the filter and water heater and left them on for 3 days.
I went to my local pet store and and asked for two starter fish. They gave me a female and male swordtail fish. I thought the female looked much older than the male and when I released to the tank got the impression she was pregnant!
I had the foresight to buy a breeder tank and 18 hours later came home to find fry in the tank!! 24 in total! I isolated them and put into the small breeder tank. I noticed that the adult fish had clear droppings and heard this is a symptom of amnonia posioning.
I bought an amnomnia remover and put it into the filter, after washing it first in a cup of water I had removed from the tank. The droppings are gone back to black but I had noticed the female rubbing off the gravel just prior to having the fries. Is this due to labour or is it a sign of Ich or maybe settling to the new tank??
I did not expect to have fry so early as I am a beginner in tropical fish but did some research before buying the tank. I have a 2 gallon empty tank which I am hoping to transfer the fry to once I buy some Cycle chemical to put in to it and an additonal heater.
Do you think the tank is suspectial to New tank syndrome as I did a 95% tank change only 3 days before adding fish??
One of the fry is going into spasms like the mother rubbing herself off the base of the breeder tank... do you think I may have Ich in the tank??
I had no fry food as I did not expect them so soon and just crushed regular fish flake for them and fed it to them. Is this ok for the time been? I did not expect 26 fish not even a day later and I am trying my best to make them thrive. Two look weak and disabled but I am not expecting a 100% mortality rate.

What do you advise me to do regarding moving the fry to the now empty 2 gallon tank?? I am buying a heater for it tomorrow. I have no live plants at all and the fry look distressed everytime one of the adult fish approach the breeder tank for fear of being eaten.
Sorry now for the head melt but Im really eager to learn
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post #2 of 12 Old 11-01-2008, 08:21 PM
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I have learned the hard way that swordtails are a bad choice for cycling a tank.

Baby swordtails can take finely ground flake from birth. I'd go for a 10 gallon tank with a sponge filter for grow out. 2 gallons will only last a couple of weeks max before you'll need to upgrade anyway, and if you start them out in a 10, it will be a lot easier for the nitrogen fixing bacteria to keep pace with the fry growth at least until they're big enough to put back in your 25. The most critical thing you can do, though, if you want your fry to grow quickly is to give them a DAILY water change. Growing fish release pheremones that retard each others growth and this can really put the breaks on growth in a closed system like an aquarium (or a pool that's what remains of a stream in the dry season.)

The other important thing is to feed them small amounts three times daily. I would add a couple of small snails to the grow out tank to handle the uneaten food. (I have had young albino ancistrus recommended to me for this, but that's a pretty high level solution for a low level problem.)

Logic is only the beginning of wisdom
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post #3 of 12 Old 11-02-2008, 01:02 AM
You are also adding way too many chemicals to your tank. Most of those are only for the sake of a LFS making money, and work for a day or so. Everything will go naturally in do time; dont try to rush things.
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post #4 of 12 Old 11-03-2008, 07:24 PM
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Might want to remember to take the Carbon out of your filter if you haven't done it by now... It's good for start up tanks but can be a real pain in the @r$e after a while.

Are you sure you put the right amounts of Cycle in your tank?? Sounds weird that you'd have a Amonia spike after a week with no fish.

Buy an amonia test kit, plant your tank and just leave it alone. I'm kinda new to all this to (tanks been up and running for about 6 months now) and the thing I found most annoying, was adding all the stuff they tell you to add. In the end, I bought all the test kits, didn't add cycle very much and just added a few fish. The Amonia spiked and then fell away to nothing. Take daily readings of everything (pH, Amonia, Nitrate etc..) and just keep tabs on things. Also, keep a record of everything you add and when. It makes it easier to realise what mistakes you might make!!!

Don't stress, you've got a passion for a great passtime!
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post #5 of 12 Old 11-04-2008, 12:55 AM
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I agree with Cody...you've really got a chemical soup going on in there that doesn't need to be happening. I've heard mixed reviews of Cycle, but I can't say I've heard anything good about any of the other chemicals you're using (aside from your water conditioner, of course). Letting your tank cycle naturally (fishless is best) is better in the long run for your pocketbook and the health of your fish.

It may sound cruel, but swordtails aren't exactly small fish, so unless you have plans for a very large tank to grow them out in, it might be better to let them brave the big tank with the adult fish. Swordtails are livebearers and the female will drop a load of fry every month, so they can quickly overrun your tank unless you take measures to prevent it.

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post #6 of 12 Old 11-20-2008, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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18 hour aquarium fish owner and already swordfish fry!! help!

Thanks everyone for replying to this thread. Firstly, I can't get the snails as suggested to eat remaining food in the 2 gallon, I just scoop it out. I have moved the fry into the 2 gallon tank and I am doing daily partial water changes to the water. I have bought a ten gallon tank also (this hobby costs a lot of money !) I have also bought ammonia, Ph, nitrite and nitrate water tests and do them daily on the 23 gallon tank and the 2 gallon tank.

I use Safestart (almost like Cycle) and declorinator when doing the water changes. The readings are always the same ammonia 0.25mg/l, nitrites <0.3 mg/l (vertually zero!!) and the nitrates are 12.5 mg/l.

I was wondering how I was getting Nitrate readings without nitrites and tested my tapwater with the Safestart added and picked up this nitrate reading, I presume from the safestart is this a bonus for me??

I know I am delaying the cycling of the tank by not letting the ammonia levels rise but the fish are alive thats the main thing.

I have started to fishless cycle the 10 gallon today after finding it virtually impossible to get pure ammonia around here, I finally did I have decided to do this than just add the fry to it as for my own peace of mind instead of letting the tank adjust to the fry as they grow. After adding the ammonia I did water tests after it filtered through the tank a bit. The ammonia was 5.0mg/l, PH 8, Nitrites zero and nitrates between 12.5 and 25 mg/l. I presume this is a combination of my tap water and the Cycle.

The fry are 3 weeks old today yippee!! No fatalities yet. Even the little disabled fry is still alive but not at all thriving and can't swim, he just drags himself around the base of the tank My plan is to move the fry into the 10 gallon once it has fully cycled and once they grow out, my LFS has agreed to take them off me, move the two adult swordtails into the 10 gallon and then start fishless cycle the 23 gallon. yep, the female swordtail fish is pregnant again due next week but I'll worry about that when they come, I'll just have to do a juggling act until the two main tanks are fully cycled.

I think I have come on a lot in the last 3 weeks (my first 3 weeks as an aquarist) If anybody feels I am doing something wrong,can they please guide me??

Last edited by denise; 11-20-2008 at 06:05 PM.
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post #7 of 12 Old 11-20-2008, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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post #8 of 12 Old 11-20-2008, 06:46 PM
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Hi back at you.

Lessee, here. If the snails aren't taking care of the food that hits the bottom, cut back on your feedings. Fry can't eat a lot at one time. Take a film cannister or shot glass or monkey dish and crush a little bit of flake to powder in it. Then feed only a tiny amount at a time. Only feed as much as they will eat in two or three minutes, but sit by the tank and feed them slowly. You'll be surprised at how little they actually eat. Do it this way a couple of times and you will be much better able to gauge how much to feed at a time, and your snails will be enough to take up the slack.

This hobby can cost a ton or not very much. A 20 gallon plastic storage bin makes every bit as good a growout tank as the very best all glass 20 gallon high tank. And it twill cost you a quarter as much. I was at a guy's house the other day where he had the 5 gallon bottles that are used in office water dispensers that he was using to breed long finned white clouds. I have seen folks who keep killifish in plastic shoeboxes. Then there's craigslist. I picked up a 55 a 40, an iron stand for both, lids, lights (2 of which don't actually work), and assorted other stuff for 45 bucks. Stick to a buck a gallon for the tank and you'll be fine.

As for your deformed fry... there's no way to say it nicely. It's in pain. It would already be in another fish's belly in the wild. It really should be euthanized. Put it in a ziploc bag of tank water and stick it in the freezer overnight. Being cold blooded, it won't feel the cold, per se, so much as it will get increasingly slow until it stops and dies. This will happen long before the water freezes, but it's easier to dispose of if you let it freeze overnight then put it in the trash (or bury it by a rosebush. One fry won't amount to a hill of beans, but for sentimental reasons it's a nice thing to do.)

I have no idea why your nitrates are up.

I do know that, if you can't do fishless cycling with ammonia, you can do it by taking one cooked cocktail shrimp per 5 gallons and burying it in the substrate. The ammonia will spike in about a week, then the nitrites, then the nitrates.

The other way you can do it is by adding small fish in dribs and drabs.

I know from experience that cycling with swordtails doesn't work any better (or differently for that matter) than the trick with the shrimp.

Logic is only the beginning of wisdom
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post #9 of 12 Old 11-20-2008, 07:58 PM
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feeding not enough is better than feeding too much, do two very small feedings a day, one early in the morning in late in afternoon. leave the fry as they are. but some plants to cycle the biologicals. and also the fry will hide in the plants... all that take away the fry in a seperate thing is rubbish....

soon you will realise you are having more fry than you can handle and you have two options:

kill them : put them in a cup and put them in the freezer, they'll go to sleep nice and wont wake up

kill them: by serpae tetras and they'll control the fries by eating them :)

and NEVER turn off your filter. filter stays on 24/7!! i dont want to read about filter being turned on and off. filter only goes off for 15 mins and thats when you clean it. and you dont clean the filter under tap water as that undos your cycle. you clean the filter in tank water you have taken out. and never do more than 1/4 water change
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post #10 of 12 Old 11-20-2008, 10:20 PM
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Everything panamera said except the very last thing. You can do a 95% water change without killing your cycle. The bacteria are must more prevalent on surfaces in the tank (all surfaces, particularly in the substrate and filter media since they have more surface area than all the rest of the things in the tank combined by an order of magnitude) not so much in the water column, so as long as your change water's parameters (temp, ph, hardness) match your tank water, you can change as much as you like.

I like a 30 to 50% daily water change for growing fry. (Course, it's challenging to find the time to do this so I end up doing it once or twice a week, but the intention is there.)

Logic is only the beginning of wisdom
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