Can't Keep Fish Alive!!!!
Hi! If someone could please help, it would be greatly appreciated. For Easter I purchased a male beta for my daughter who is enthralled by fish. I've had betas before, no problem. My last we had for five years. This beta was purchased from a local pet store, all my previous were from a chain pet store. The new one died in like 5 days. So we went to a chain pet store with the intent to buy a new beta before she could notice. She was thrilled with the fish tanks and watched them for ages. My husband and I decided to get a fish tank and keep fish. We purchased a complete 10 gallon tank with whisper filter, heater, gravel and accessories. We took it home, set it up, filled it with treated tap water, and let it cycle for a week, as per the instructions that came with the freaking tank. We went back to the pet store, chain again, and based on the advice of the fish person there, bought 4 mollies and 2 platies. Brought them home, introduced them gradually and properly, everybody was happy! About two weeks later, we noticed one of the mollies had had babies. Only two were left at that point, not sure how many she had to begin with. I scooped them up into the net and let them stay in there while I figured out what to do. A few days later, the mommy died. Then the separated babies, then the daddy, etc until all the fish were dead. I removed each dead fish right after noticing. So we took apart the tank, cleaned everything and let it rest for awhile. We then started over. Filled, treated, cycled for a week, went back to the pet store. This time we purchased a male beta and 3 glofish. Once again, introduced properly, fed right amounts......less than a week later, all dead. I don't know what we're doing wrong. We did partial water changes every week with the first batch, didn't even get a chance with the second. My test strips the first batch indicated that the water was a little hard and just barely alkaline. Second batch every reading was in the normal range. First batch the tank recieved no direct sunlight, just indirect light for a few hours in the am, second batch I moved it so it recieves no sun at all. Any and all information would be so helpful as I really want to make this work. My daughter keeps asking where her fishys are!:cry:
Try a planted setup.
add 1" peat moss (1'x1'x3' plastic cube from home depot, lowes ets ~$11)
wet it till things just start "floating"
level it and clean tank sides.
repeat for 1" of play sand (50 pound bag $3 home depot lowes etc)
repeat for 1" of pro choice pc select (a red clay 50 pound bag $7 or so) or just gravel.
add: 4-6 bunches of anacharis, 4-6 vals (grass like plant), 4-6 small potted plants and a single amazon sword. (note: before filling the tank with water)
fill tank with water poured over a dish.
wait 1 week.
add a single male platty
wait one week with no food being added.
add 2 female platties.
start feeding 1 flake per day.
do no water changes, use no filters, use no airstones, add no chemicals.
in 6 months you will have a tankfull of platties with a population that remains stable for years.
FWIW mollies do much better in saltwater then fresh and can be problems.
the key to all the above is to establish the plants from the start to the plants will contition the environment and make thing much easier.
Just what works for me and worth at most .02
Best tank ever.
Everything Bealsbob said plus one- to understand why your fish died you must read up on the nitrogen cycle. Basics are that fish create ammonia which kills fish, over time a bacteria grows that converts ammonia to nitrites which kills fish, over time another bacteria grows the converts nitrites to nitrates which is livable. This can take up to 8-10 weeks, usually not 1 week implied in the instructions, I did the same thing as a beginner.
Not sure exactly how long the tank has been set up but you were essentially doing a fish-in cycle. Ammonia (or possibly ntirites) built up quickly and you didn't have a bacteria colony to convert them to nitrates. Those can be lethal quickly, especially in alkaline water. With a fish-in cycle you want to stock very slowly and test ammonia and nitrites daily since you are likely to have to do water changes daily, especially without plants.
Plants do help, and I like them, but they are absolutely not necessary to keep an aquarium. One other thing I'd like to mention is that test strips can be less than accurate. A liquid test is more reliable.
For my 10 gallon tank this is what I did to set up the nitrogen cycle - thanks for the good advice from the good people at this site. I am certainly still just a beginner, but this seemed to work pretty well, after a very sad first experience (like yours).
1) rinsed tank and supplies with regular tap water (no soap)
2) filled the tank with tap water that had the proper amount of conditioner added (removed chlorine which will kill the bacteria in the tank - you want the bacteria to live - apparently some of the conditioners will also remove ammonia, but not sure mine has that)
3) Checked the ammonia level to see it was basically zero
4) added a pinch of fish food to the tank for a few days - each day checking the ammonia level
5) When ammonia level got to about 5-8, I added a bottle of safestart bacteria to the tank
6) Every other day checked the ammonia & when it started doing down (the bacteria eat the ammonia), I checked the nitrites, and then nitrates. Took a few days for the level to start to go down.
7) when ammonia was zero, nitrites zero (bacteria eat that too), and nitrates 10-20, the tank is cycled and then I added the fish. I added 2 molly's first.
8) A few weeks later I added 3 glofish, which seemed to be a bit much for the tank to handle at one time because the nitrites shot up, but by adding a little more bacteria and water changes, the levels are back to zero, zero, 20 (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates).
Note that when you do water changes you MUST use the water conditioner in the NEW water BEFORE adding the new water to the tank. If you don't, then the chlorine in the new water will kill all of the established bacteria and destroy the cycle you set up (adding the conditioner afterwards will be too late)
Also, since alot of the bacteria live in the sponge filter, you don't want to change that (you can change the charcoal filter but I let the new one sit in the filter with the old one for a few days before taking out the old one)
Many warn against putting too many fish in a small tank & feel the 1 inch per gallon rule is usually not appropriate.
This is my understanding of what needs to be done and it seems to have worked for me so far.
I hope this helps,
Also sorry to hear of your bad experiences so far. The other contributors here have given you some very good advice. Unfortunately, many assistants in pet stores these days don't know much about keeping fish and give lots of very bad advice.
Juggernauts response especially is very easy to follow and spot on. All I would add to what's been said is to say that mollies are often recommended for a community tank along with guppies and other livebearers but they do require different conditions for best possible results. Mollies are found in brackish water in the wild and although many generations of tank breeding has obviously had some impact on the type of water that they can tolerate, they do best when you add some salt to your freshwater tank.
We're not talking full blown marine here but they will be happy with 3 or 4 desert spoons in a 10 gallon tank.
1) You can purchase aquarium salt to help your mollies (brackish water). I've heard epsilon salt works too but have never tried it.
2) I highly suggest plants too. I recently started an aquarium and added plants after 2 fish died. It really helped balance out the tank and my molly (who I was sure was going to die from ammonia poisoning) pulled through!
3) Decrease feedings. If you overfeed your fish it can wreck havoc on your tank environment
4) Buy a water testing kit and check the levels of pH and such in your tank AND your tap a couple times a week. My pH levels spiked in my tap water (well water) when my water softener salt was low and I didn't notice it until after my tank tested higher than usual (8.0 pH usually, spiked to 8.4)
*hugs* I'm so sorry for your losses, Momma! I know just how you feel. . . I started out on the wrong foot too - inspired by my kiddos (then 1 and 4) to bring home Mollies and other pretty fish for an uncycled 10g tank. We were heartbroken when our new fishy buddies started dying, and that's how I found TFK - and started learning more than I ever thought possible about tanks! It's a fascinating world you've just fallen into, and can be as simple - or as in depth - as you choose to make it!
As you can see, TFKians are always willing to help! You've gotten a lot of good input here from other members, and when you're ready to try again, I hope you've learned enough to get started on the right foot. Kids adore tanks, and there is so much that they can learn from them. Our (now many) tanks have been a wonderful addition to our home, we love our fish, frogs, and snails, and at this point - there's no going back to a tankless house for us!!!
Just wanted to offer a suggestion or two that I didn't see on this thread yet (I apologize if I missed something!)
The beneficial bacteria that is established during the nitrogen cycle lives on the surface areas of the tank. Because of this, the EASIEST way to get a tank started is to use existing media from an already established system. If you know someone who has had a healthy tank that has been setup for some time, ask if you can have a handful of their gravel, or a snip from their filter pad. Be sure to keep it wet in tank water or de-chlorinated tap water during the trip home, and when it gets there, add it to your own setup. The bacteria will then be present in your home tank from day one, and it will grow much more quickly to accommodate the bioload of the fish you choose to live there. You will still want to keep a close eye on your test results, and do water changes as needed while the new bacterial colony is establishing in your tank, and be sure to stock slowly- so that the bacteria can keep up with the new arrivals. You could also ask at the pet shop for a handful of gravel from the tank that your new fish come from - most shops will be glad to oblige in this, though you will be running a greater risk of bringing an illness into your tanks this way.
The other thing that I really want to mention, because I've been through it and would hate to see the same thing happen to you - is that Mollies, though WONDERFUL fish, are really not the best choice for a 10 gallon tank. They grow too big, are too active, and have too high a bioload (too much poo! >.<) to thrive in a tank of that size. I had to set up a 29g tank on the fly one week after setting up my 10 to keep my Mollies happy, and to give them a chance to get through the cycle. I'd steer clear of Glofish and other Danio, too - though they are often sold for very small tanks, they are another very active species, and do need more swimming room than a 10g tank has to offer.
Guppies are bright and colorful, and a much better choice for a 10g tank. They're also fairly tough little fish, and can usually take a few beginner mistakes in stride. If you do go with guppies, you may want to purchase all males, as you've already seen what happens when you get male and female live-bearers together - lots and lots of babies! The kids LOVE our livebearer tank, but it is very easy to go from just a couple of fish to an overcrowded tank, and finding homes for all the little ones can be a chore. A single betta fish is also a good choice for a 10g, and can possibly be combined with an Apple Snail after the tank is established.
Hope this helps! Best of luck to you and little Brooke on your next aquarium adventure - and welcome to TFK! ^.^
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