Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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JadedLuck 03-12-2010 04:32 PM

Started Off Tank too Fast, NEED HELP!
I got a new 20 gallon tank Sunday Feb. 28th, it is now March 12th just for a perspective on things. My dad has had fish tanks for probably 20 years so I rushed into it thinking he could help me with my questions and problems. He is no help sadly because he hasn't started a new tank in probably 10 years or so.

Anyway enough with the rambling. I now have ten fish because I was too impatient (2 Silver Molly's, 2 Black Molly's, 2 Guppies, 2 Ghost Catfish, 1 of something I can't remember the name and something else I can't remember the name) Well the fish seem to be doing okay now but my first couple fish died but none have died since. The water is like off color and has a smell to it that can't be good. I was reading about the cycling thing which I'm sure has something to do with it. But I was hoping for some advice to my particular tank. I know not to get anymore fish I just want to get my tank good for these fish a while so they don't die. Any help is appreciated and I am reading for some insults on my decision to rush into it.

Also I am new to this site it looks pretty cool so Hello Everyone!

Angel079 03-12-2010 04:52 PM

Let's start with a nice Welcome to the Forum!

The death is prop due to Ammonia peak in the tank. For a cycle and general maintenance of you tank you'd be best up buying a liquid test kit (such as offered by API or Tetra) that will measure your pH, NO2, NO3 and Ammonia.
Right now being new you have no beneficial bacteria breaking down your Ammonia (toxic to fish) nor the NO's. Now since you dad has tanks I'm gonna hope he lives close by: Go to his tank take one of the old sponges out of his tank 'wash it' in your new tank till you see a bunch 'muck' come off it. Place the pad back into your dad's tank - This is called seeding and will add a ton beneficial bacteria to your tank pretty much instantly cycling.

Next thing you may want to consider if live plants as they're not only pretty and natural for the fish but also help you with the water quality as the act like mini bio filters if you will. A good online source for plants would be (in quality & price)

Once all that is sorted out you can worry about stock (Livebears is pretty 'edgy' as they have a ton fry all the time and a 20g will be overstocked very quickly that way unless you only house males).

Hope that helps for the moment and then let's go from there :-)

willow 03-12-2010 04:55 PM

hello and welcome.
+1 to everything Angel has let you know.

Oldfishlady 03-12-2010 05:01 PM

We all make mistakes what is important is that you are asking for help....

Do you have a master test kit to test your water prams for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH...if not you really need to get one as this will help you in the start up and the long term health of the tank.

How much and how often on your water changes and when was the last one
Any additives used, if so, what kind, how much, what for
Water temp
Filtration, airstone, live or fake plants used
Do you understand the nitrogen cycle
Depending on what your nitrate reading is will help you decide how much water you can safely change, if it is 20ppm or less I would start making 50% daily water changes and if it is over 30ppm I would make 10% for 2 days, then 20% for 2 days, 30% for 2 days then 50% for 2 days but only vacuum the substrate one time in 7 days, give your filter media a good swish in old tank water with one of the 30% pwc. Make sure the water temp is within a couple of degrees of old and new water and use a dechlorinator with all new water added if you are on city water supply.
Then test your water daily and any reading of ammonia or nitrite 0.25ppm or greater make a 50% water change and keep your nitrates 5-10ppm during the cycling process.
Once cycled make 50% weekly water changes with substrate vacuum.
The nitrifying bacteria needed to cycle the tank are sticky and adhere to everything in the tank, like the walls, decoration, plants both real and fake and in the top layer of the substrate and the filter media...very little are in the water column itself so water change will not affect the cycling process and they will save your fish, however, do not vacuum more than one time a week, or over clean the filter media or use tap water as this can kill the NB and you will have a mini cycle.

Find out the name of the fish you don't know.... but at this point you need to get your water quality better and the tank cycled

Austin 03-12-2010 05:05 PM

You only listed 9 fish but you said you have 10... can you maybe take a picture of the one that's unidentified or give us a description? For all we know it could be a little tetra (barely any bioload), or a foot long pleco.

The stocking seems a little much... mollies get pretty big.

Are you changing the water enough? Smelly water is usually due to dirty water in my experience... Make sure you don't overfeed. That can cause a problem and make the water cloudy and smelly.

Since you have a lot of fish, if you plan to keep them all healthy in that tank, you should do water changes often, maybe 50% once a week.

Basically I just recommend you go change 50% of the water right now, and do that again maybe tomorrow and then wait a couple days and do it again until the water stops smelling...

Do you have a liquid testing kit? Test the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate... Ammonia and nitrite should be 0 and the nitrate should be low (I think <40 ppm preferably lower is a good amount...)

If you have any other specific questions ill be happy to answer, but i can't think of anymore general info I should mention...

btw welcome to the website. :)

aunt kymmie 03-12-2010 05:14 PM

Welcome to TFK, JadedLuck! Everyone has given you great advice and I also wanted to link an article that was very well written, as far as "understanding" the cycle. Good luck and keep us informed of your progress!

JadedLuck 03-12-2010 08:32 PM

Thanks everyone for the advice. I had to go to work for a few hours so I couldn't get a testing kit. I only have a PH tester and all I know from that is that the ph is higher than 7.6 the tester stops there. I am on well water which was supposed to be regulated so I didn't worry about it at first. We have a filter on one of our taps that I have been using. I have done 10% water changes the last 2 days as a start but I really didn't know what to do that is why I found this site.

As for the other stuff I am going to go out tomorrow and get a testing kit. I will post that here and hope for a little more specific advice.

To the person who said to go to my dad's tank and do that, we moved a few months ago and he got rid of his tanks because it was too much of a hassle to move them on such short notice. (like 125g and like 40g) So thanks for that advice but I can't use it sadly. I am 19 so I am not so wise with the fish lol.

Angel079 03-12-2010 09:09 PM

When in doubt till you get a test do daily 20-30% water changes.

Alternatively pet stores sell live bacteria (store in a fridge there) you could add to jump start (same effect then the used filter from dad I suggested). But really not needed IF you get a test kit, can test you Ammonia, NO2, NO3 each day and if they're rising do a good size water change each time (with a good water conditioner - That one you'll need new or old tank either way).

iamntbatman 03-16-2010 05:24 AM

Is there any way you could post a picture of the two unidentified fish so that we could ID them for you?

JohnnyD44 03-16-2010 06:22 AM

see if you can ID the fish.....great advice from everyone else! and welcome!!!

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