Trouble with cycling
13 days ago I started a freshwater tank with 5 diamond tetras. On days 3 and 4 I noticed visible readings in ammonia and nitrite at .25 for both. Since then, all levels have dropped to 0. On day 5, I lost 2 of the fish. On the 8th day I noticed darking on the fins of the remaining 3. And 2 of those developed what looked like swollen, red mouths. On day 9 I did a 20% water change and added fungal and bacteria treatment. On day 10, I lost the 2 with mouth problems. I now have 1 remaining tetra and I'm not sure what to do. He looks healthy but he's been in hiding for 2 days. He was out 2 days ago long enough for me to feed him but now he won't show his little fishy face. I was advised not to add any other fish for at least another week but I dont want him to be lonely. I also don't want to risk killing more fish since I have no idea what killed the first 4. Water readings have remained consistant since day 5
Any advice would be much appreciated. Here is some info about the tank if it helps
29 gallon freshwater tank with silk plants, a small piece of driftwood, and a castle for hiding
distilled water with prime/bacteria supplement/a little salt (why is salt necessary?)
bio-wheel filter/power head water pump/heater
Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:-D
I'd be fairly certain that the ammonia and nitrite are what killed the fish. Both these forms of nitrogen are very toxic. Of course, there is also the possibility that this weakened the fish, and then something else got them. No point in guessing, but we learn from out mistakes and move on.
My first suggestion is to get some live plants. The benefits of plants on water chemistry and the tank biology cannot be overstated. Provided you have a decent light, plants can be easy. We can discuss further if you like.
I would not add more fish until the survivor is relatively normal. I know this is not going to be easy, since on its own it will be stressed. But we have to ensure there is not some other health problem before considering more fish.
What test kit do you have? Are you aware of the process of cycling a new tank? You can read about it in the "sticky" at the head of this section entitled "A Beginner's Guide to the Freshwater Aquarium Cycle."
Basically you are doing what is called a "fish-in cycle" to cycle your tank. Not ideal, but a lot of people end up stuck that way with their first tank. The fact that you have no nitrAte reading at all would also suggest that you are not cycled, as nitrate is the end stage of the nitrogen cycle. A lot of times red mouths/lips indicate ammonia burn. Like Byron suggested, definitely read up on the cycling sticky in the beginners section. Any amount of ammonia or nitrIte are basically toxic to fish, so you need to be doing water changes (with temp matched, dechlorinated water of course) anytime your test detects any of them, like big ones, not just 20%, and often this will end up being daily. For a fish in cycle, I would suggest at least 60-80% WC's whenever you are getting readings for ammonia or nitrite. I wouldn't add anymore fish at all until your tank is cycled completely, and yes, live plants will help.
I did read the cycling information. That was actually what drew me to this site. I wish I had known there was another way to cycle a tank. I feel horrible about jeopardizing their health.
My tank does not have access to natural light at all. We have a condo with no windows near the tank. In hood lighting is all they would have. Is that sufficient for plant growth? When I bought the starter equipment I was told plants were like running a marathon while I should be learning to jog. So many differing opinions makes learning and adapting a challenge.
Lastly, should I be concerned about water changes while my tank is reading 0 for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates? One thing I did learn early is that the liquid test kids are the best. I'm using an API freshwater master test kit.
And in order for my tetra to normalize doesn't he need to come out to eat? How do I coax him out of hiding.
Welcome to the forum.
There seems to be many things wrong here...
> You wrote that you're using distilled water. Without additives distilled water is too pure for fish. The fish need the minerals and the pH would be way off.
Why were you using distilled water?
> With distilled water, you don't need Prime.
> You added an anti-bacterial for a perceived disease. This will kill off and inhibit the growth of the beneficial bacteria you need in the tank to process ammonia and nitrite.
> You really need to use the API Freshwater Master (liquid) test kit.
I suggest you do several water changes with conditioned tap water and as Byron suggests, don't add any more fish until things are under control.
I would try to give the remaining fish back to the fish store in order not to have to limit the ammonia and nitrite spikes by having to do water changes. I know itt may not be the easiest thing to do.
Read the instructions for using ammonia or fish food to cycle the tank http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...m-cycle-38617/ and I'd read every section/post.
This time will go better.
Some good easy plants are Java Fern, Anubias, Java Moss. [You will see the names shaded, so they are in the profiles, click the names.] Pygmy chain sword is ideal. And floating plants also benefit, Water Sprite is my favourite, but there is also dwarf watter lettuce, Salvinia, or the stem lant Brazilian Pennywort which grows nicely floating.
I would get the light in order and buy a few plants before adding more fish. Plants remove ammonia from the water and keep the biology in check. As for fertilizer, this may help, and the best are Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement or Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti. Whichever, make sure you get the specified product, as both manufacturers make several products in these named lines.
I see AbbeysDad picked up something I missed earlier, the distilled water. Is there a reason for this? And on the salt, which I also missed, no; freshwater fish do not need salt, and it will affect them negatively in varying degrees. Characins (tetra) are especially sensitive to salt. You can read more here:
Adding any medications to a fish tank is often hit and miss, and usually the latter. Diagnosing accurately a fish ailment is not easy, and my first "treatment" is usually a major water change, then observation.
I want to thank you first and foremost for all of your help with this. I'm finding I've already been given much bad or misleading advice so again your advice is paramount.
I intend on going out this evening to get some plants and frozen blood worms, hopefully he will eat that if right in front of him.
As far as the water is concerned, we have very hard tap water which tested at 7.8 ph on its own. It was recommended to us to use distilled water as it is the correct ph for the tetras. I will immediately do a 70% water change. What is an appropriate water solution for a home with hard/high ph water?
Hard water is 300 alkalinity is 300 ph is around 8. We have very hard water in our area. Our tank has led lighting with no tube. There is a day light effect and a night effect. Looking at aquatic plants at petsmart the girl here says their java ferns and anubias plants are semi aquatic and not for use submersed in a tank. Any suggestions?
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