HELP new tank and fish are dying.
Long story short - my daughter got a goldfish at fair. I got him a 2g - didnt know any better. Once I realized he was suffering I read up on fish care and realized he needed a bigger tank. I set up a 20g. There was no time to cycle so I added a bottle of SafeStart - tap water / water conditioner. I have two liquid test kits - Seachem and API Master. I tested every day two times a day - waiting for ammonia - assuming the SafeStart would not establish. Never got any positive readings for ammonia, nitrite or nitrate for 17 days straight. I am doing the tests correctly as I am now cycling the 2g so I can use it in the future and am getting all the expected readings.
I decided to take goldfish to my friend's pond since I realized my choices for fish keeping were limited with a goldfish and he'd be better off in her goldfish pond. I then went on vacation for 1 week. I left tank filter/pump running while gone. When I came back it was cloudy white - not real bad - just hazy as before it was crystal clear. I went to LFS and guy said it was ok - just "bacterial." I didnt feel real confident in him but I bought 4 fish anyway since my water readings were all negative. Before adding the fish I did a 25% water change w/conditioner.
Day 1 all fish seemed fine and were swimming happily. I got 1 molly, 1 platy and 2 hatchetfish. Temp is set to 79. Day 2 platy was up in corner by heater or behind filter or under a rock. Never did any swimming or eating. I decided she is pregnant so although worried I felt maybe she was exhibiting normal behavior. Then later in the day one hatchet died. I got another one since I felt the other was lonely with no one to swim with.
Day 3 I came home from work 1 hatchet dead. I tested water and 0 ammonia, .25 nitrite, 0 nitrate, ph 7.6. I did a 40% water change with conditioner. About 30 mins later I literally watched my molly (fav one) go from swimming around to bottom of tank dead.
Please any ideas??? I am assuming my tank has not "cycled" however how did the goldfish live in there happy as a lark for 17 days and never produce any ammonia readings??? I'm baffled. I've searched the internet over and over. I have had this tank for 30 days and have never had a positive ammonia reading. I am thinking maybe the nitrite was from the dead fish in the tank? After the 40% water change I tested an hour later and still .25 nitrite. What can I do??? Anything? I fear the platy and the remaining hatchet will die soon.
It is possible using Tetra SafeStart that you might not measure ammonia and nitrite, but you should be able to measure nitrates (are you sure to shake regent #2 of the nitrate test and even rap on a table to ensure proper mixing?)
I am confused as to why the tank suddenly went cloudy. This is usually a facultative (decomposition) bacteria bloom the result of excess dissolved organics in the water.
What conditioner are you using and what is your procedure for water changes? Are you conditioning the water before adding to the tank?
(I worry that your conditioner is not working, your not adding enough or the procedure needs modification.)
I agree with AD. I honestly have never had good results with the Safestart. If you are showing Nitrites in the water, there is not enough bacteria to convert them to Nitrate. You are right in the middle of a cycle, and the only way to convert quickly is to use live bacteria. I have always had great results with Dr. Tim's One and Only. Daily water changes may be the only way to keep your fish less stressed until your tank cycles.
I am doing the tests correctly. I am also testing my 2g (no fish) at the same time and have nitrite and nitrate readings. When I change the water I remove 3 gallons into a bucket (I'm a weakling) at a time. Last night I did 9g - roughly 40%. I then fill up the 3g and add Top Fin Water Conditioner according to the directions 1ml per 1g to the bucket. Never stirred it or anything, just poured into tank. Bottle says it neutralizes ammonia, chloramine and chlorine and helps remove copper and other heavy metals.
From everything I've read Prime is best. I will see if I can pick some of that up today. Should I be adding more?
It's possible there is a little nitrate - it's a little darker than yellow but not orange either. Possibly 2.5 ppm. I will continue the water changes. I also have 2 small live plants.
Thanks a bunch for responding!!
Thank you for responding.
The crazy thing is my Molly is ALIVE. I could have sworn she was dead - I stirred her with a net and no response - just floated away. Just as I was about to scoop her out I saw her gills moving. Poor thing. I stayed on death watch for a couple of hours then I went to bed. When I woke up she was swimming around. She is still not exhibiting normal behavior. At bottom of tank most of time. The Platy has been under a rock - has not come out at all this morning.
There are many possible reasons for fish behaving/dying as you describe. So far this thread has concentrated on the nitrification cycle which is certainly the most likely but we could be dealing with a combination of factors. More data needed.;-)
Do you know the GH (general hardness) of your tap water? You can get this from the water supply people (many have a website). And what is the pH of the tap water and the tank water (test both, to see if it is changing)?
What substrate is in the tank, and is there any decor, including wood or rock?
Another possibility is something in the tank from the goldfish; perhaps less likely a reason, but still... .
Nitrite usually occurs after ammonia, as part of the nitrification cycle. But it is possible to have nitrite on its own from other sources. I won't go further into this, since frankly i am not sufficiently conversant with it. But it is something to bear in mind. Ammonia and nitrite are both very toxic, at very low levels.
Which brings me to the molly. Don't be too discouraged if this fish dies. Mollies are very intolerant of ammonia and nitrite, and even if they survive initially they almost always succumb down the road. The toxic effects of these poisons cannot be reversed.
After I posted this yesterday I tested the water again and found that there was a slight bit of ammonia. I am using the Seachem free ammonia test since there is bound ammonia in my tap water. The free ammonia test is difficult to read but showed a slight discoloration of the sensor. I'd say it was under .25 ppm. I went out and bought Prime and SafeStart. I changed 50% of the water - double dosed on Prime and added the bottle of SafeStart.
My fish were shortly thereafter very happy. Even the Platy came out. Just got home from work and they still are swimming around happily and even ate some.
Now, I just tested the water and there is still some slight ammonia and 0 nitrates. The ph of the tap water and the tank are both 7.6 - although the tap water is slightly darker blue color.
Now with the API ammonia test:
Tap water .25 ppm
Tank water .50 ppm
With Seachem free ammonia test:
Tap water 0
Tank water: slight discoloration
So I am going to assume here that there is most likely .25 ppm ammonia in the tank.
My question now is - if I do another water change, is this going to affect the SafeStart that I added yesterday? I hate to wait to see my fish suffering again before doing a water change.
I have 2 small live plants - been in for 5 days just like the fish, sand substrate.
This is stressful!
Thanks for your help!
Second, Prime is effective for 36-48 hours, according to Seachem. After that, the ammonia/nitrite if any is present will revert to the toxic form. This is why we recommend daily partial water changes until both read zero.
Third, ammonium is taken up by most aquarium plants as their preferred form of nitrogen. So with live plants, and especially fast-growing stem plants and floating plants, the ammonia from the fish and breakdown of organics will quickly be grabbed by the plants and changed into ammonium for their use. The ammonia in the tap water is not a concern with plants, and using a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia (and all of them do so by changing it to ammonium) will deal with the initial influx in the tap water and the plants will then take it up.
SafeStart is fine, it is 100% live bacteria so use it as directed and use it up; by which I mean don't stop using it if there is any left in the bottle, because it quickly becomes ineffective once the bottle is opened. So putting the opened bottle on the shelf to use next time in say 3 months is pointless as it will be totally useless. This product will help seed the nitrifying bacteria; the formula is the first one discovered/prepared by Dr. Tim Hovanec, and he sold the rights to Tetra. He now has another product he markets on his own, the Dr. Tim's One and Only that another member mentioned. I can't say if the newer product is that much better, but Dr. Hovanec says it will instantly cycle a fish tank, so given his expert knowledge as a chemist i must assume it will. But the SafeStart will still work to establish the bacteria. [Hope this hasn't confused too much.;-)]
Thank you Byron. I am not confused too much. I will just continue to do daily partial water changes. How much do you think 10% or 25% water change daily? Should I add Prime each time? How will know when the tank is cycled if I keep levels at 0?
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