Death of a fish...what do you do?
Noe, my Red Wag Platy, was nowhere to be seen when I went to feed the fish this morning. I shook the house and no fishie came out. Sure enough, when I examined closely, she was not alive. I've been dealing with an ammonia issue where I'm struggling to get it down (the lowest I've been able to manage is about 0.25ppm), which is probably the cause of death.
After giving your fish a proper fishie funeral, what steps should I take to make sure that the tank doesn't suffer from having had a dead fish floating around for an unknown length of time last night?
Can alway's perform a sizeable water change if you like, with dechlorinated water.
Ammonia issues are most often problem's with new tank's that have not cycled or too many fish,too much food.
My filter is about 2 1/2 weeks old. I'm not sure what "mature" means in terms of filters.
In your case I would certainly do a large water change to help bring the ammonia down. As 1077 said, one dead fish isn't going to cause a huge ammonia spike, but since you are already dealing with ammonia problems, a water change wouldn't hurt.
I cannot tell you how much I recommend plants in your situation. Go for floating, fast-growing plants. Hornwort, water sprite, frogbit, and the like. They can work with basic aquarium lights until you upgrade to a full spectrum bulb. They will help remove a lot of that ammonia. If you like the look, then you can add some more plants later, but these are mostly practical right now. Things you don't want to add are slow-growing plants like moss, marimo balls, anubias, and java fern. Slow plants acumulate nutrients slowly; fast-growing plants assimilate nutrients (ammonia) rapidly.
As for the bottom-feeder, that won't actually help with the ammonia problem. Yes it will remove food from the bottom, but that fish will just poop that food back out. More poop also means more ammonia. Unless you love bottom fish (some people do), then I'd leave them out right now.
A mature filter is one that has a healthy established colony of beneficial bacteria. It typically takes a tank a couple of months to cycle and then another couple of months to become mature.
Thanks for the plant tips. My tank hood has LED lights, do you know if that will negatively affect plant growth?
You shouldn't be replacing the entire filter monthly. If you use a cartridge that has carbon in it, you will need to remove the cartridge on a monthly basis, but there should also be something else in the filter for the beneficial bacteria to adhere to. Whether it's a biowheel, bio-balls, or some filter floss. Do you notice a larger ammonia spike after you replace the filter?
LED's can be great plant lights, but I don't know which ones are the good ones. I would start a thread in the planted section. There are some aquarists her who have lovely planted tanks with LED's. I have the old fashioned T8 bulbs lol.
Do you know what model LED it is? That can help us determine if it's suitable for plants.
I do agree with Izzy, the ammonia is affecting the fish quite a bit. Even at that low number it's making it harder for them to do normal functions, and stressful, which can lead to lowered immune systems and, eventually, death. Try and do large, 50% or more water changes every day and use Seachem's prime, as it renders the ammonia non-toxic for around 48 hours.
Plants will help you, as well. Frogbit and water sprite are great floating plants. If you can't find them locally just let us know, must of us have more than enough and would be willing to ship you some :)
As for the filter, I'm not familiar with that brand. Generally hang on back filters have a cartridge with filter floss (it's usually black and coarse) and then a fine mesh bag like cartridge with carbon. The carbon can be tossed and replaced, but it's a good idea to hold on to the mesh like piece, and just rinse it in used tank water every week or so. It has a decent amount of bacteria on it, and at this stage you need as much as you can get.
Here is an interesting thought: have you ever tested your tap water for ammonia?
I agree with what other's have mentioned with respect to plant's,dechlorinator (PRIME).
The tank at three week's,is relatively new in the maturing process, so it is wise not to add any more fish for another three week's in my view.(more fish=more ammonia)
You can feed the four or five fish you have a tiny tiny amount, once a day,or every other day ,and this will help keep ammonia level's from getting too out of hand.(fish will be fine with this)
Once the tank has matured a little more,,,then you can resume twice a day, or three times a day small amount.
For four or five small fish such as those you mention,,Four or five flakes or pellet once a day would be plenty until the cycling process is complete.
I also agree that a filter and filter material that is only two or three week's old,,should not need replacement or agressive cleaning, unless the fishes are being grossly over fed possibly by more than one person?
Leave the filter alone for the next three week's,,add some floating plant's such as water sprite,feed the fish tiny amount once a day, perform weekly 40 to 50 % water change,and let the tank mature at it's own pace.
If ammonia is present in the tapwater,,then zeolite in the filtration may be something to consider but I am betting by feeding less,that the ammonia will be more manageable.8-)
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