Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Newb with 10g Tank with issues. (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/newb-10g-tank-issues-40273/)

jonny steele 04-01-2010 02:09 PM

Newb with 10g Tank with issues.
 
Ok, ill start off by saying hi, im Jonny, new to the fish forums and here to learn. Ive had fish before, but when i was 12-15 years old (23 now).

I just got a used tank from a freind and bought some equipment. Long story short, i have a 10g tank, with a Tetra EX20 power filter, water heater, airpump with 18" stone, new gravel, decor the works.

All the equipment is new except for the tank, heater and hood. Now this past Sun, i put everything together, added water (with tap water cond) and started filter. I DID NOT know about tank cycles and all that stuff, never did them as a kid and all my fish lived for years.

So Monday i bought 1 baby angel fish (nickle size), 2 mollys, (nickle size) and 1 sucker fish (quarter size). They all were doing fine, then tuesday one molly was breathing hard, then died. Then i was told about cycles and testing ph and ammonia so i went and got all the testing supplies. Then that same day, my friend was getting rid of there tank, and had another baby angle fish and 2 baby gold fish they were gonna flush, so i couldnt let that happen, now there in my tank. I test the ph, its at 7.8 and ammonia was a 4. I used ph down and ammonia killer, ph still high and ammonia is slowly dropping. Then yesterday the first baby angle fish died and water got foggy. Added water clear and its clearing up. Today my wife says all the fish are acting great (we had a scare with one of the gold fish, looked like it was having trouble breather, but now its active as hell).

I cant get rid of the fish, what can i do to help them out as of right now. I know the fish are going to get to big for my tank down the road, if i have to, ill get a bigger one at the end of the year.

Ant comments or suggestions would be great. Ill take all i can get. Thanks!!

Byron 04-01-2010 02:42 PM

Hi Johnny, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping.

Well, you have some problems...like many of us did, you did it wrong and the fish have died; we've mostly all gone through that when beginning.

First: don't use chemicals to adjust pH or clear water. They may or may not work (will explain momentarily), but they absolutely stress any fish in the tank. Some manage to survive the ordeal, some won't. Sometimes a fish may seem to survive, but 4 months from now will suddenly die due to internal issues caused by this or that chemical. My general principle, which I know many of the experienced aquarists here also follow, is never add chemicals to an aquarium containing fish unless they are absolutely essential. Water conditioner is essential. Plant fertilizer is essential (if you have plants obviously). Nothing else is, generally.

The water clear stuff works by binding together the minute particulate matter in the water so the filter pads can trap it. Unfortunately, this stuff also binds the fish's gills.

As for the pH adjusters: pH is determined by what's in your tap water (assuming that is the source of your water). The mineral content, primarily calcium and magnesium, determine the hardness of the water, both general hardness (degrees or parts per million GH) and carbonate hardness (KH). The latter acts as a buffer to maintain the same pH. Chemicals to lower or raise the pH counter this buffer, and momentarily work, then the buffer resets the pH and the result (if you keep using the stuff) is fluctuating pH which is far worse on fish than a stable pH that is outside their preferred range. There are safe ways to lower pH, won't get into that now as they are not quick fixes but long-term programs.

The fish: yes, the angelfish and goldfish are too large (potentially I mean) for a 10g, but at the moment that's a minor issue. But they can't remain in a 10g and grow healthy, they will be stunted and develop internal organ issues and most probably die. Gold fish should not be combined with tropicals, issues I won't get into now. You can sort this out once the tank is cycled. Stores will sometimes accept fish in exchange when they know your predicament (like I said, we've all done it).

The molly died from ammonia poisoning, little doubt; mollies are very sensitive to ammonia (so are most fish, but mollies are more-so than angels). What is the specific ammonia product you're using? Most are OK, but it helps us to know what you're using to be able to offer the best advice.

I would do an immediate partial water change of half the tank. Purpose here is to get rid of most (hopefully) of the chemicals that will continue to affect the fish. Provided you have a good water conditioner--which one do you have?

The ammonia is relatively easy to deal with because of good ammonia detoxifying products including some water conditioners like Prime, which also detoxifies nitrite which will be the next killer to appear during the cycling process.

Let us know about your water conditioner and ammonia detoxifier, and more will follow.

Sorry your first encounter with the forum is due to a problem, but you'll find lots of qualified help from many members here:-), and take heart, many of us made the same mistakes.:-(

Byron.

jonny steele 04-01-2010 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron (Post 355124)
Hi Johnny, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping.

Well, you have some problems...like many of us did, you did it wrong and the fish have died; we've mostly all gone through that when beginning.

First: don't use chemicals to adjust pH or clear water. They may or may not work (will explain momentarily), but they absolutely stress any fish in the tank. Some manage to survive the ordeal, some won't. Sometimes a fish may seem to survive, but 4 months from now will suddenly die due to internal issues caused by this or that chemical. My general principle, which I know many of the experienced aquarists here also follow, is never add chemicals to an aquarium containing fish unless they are absolutely essential. Water conditioner is essential. Plant fertilizer is essential (if you have plants obviously). Nothing else is, generally.

The water clear stuff works by binding together the minute particulate matter in the water so the filter pads can trap it. Unfortunately, this stuff also binds the fish's gills.

As for the pH adjusters: pH is determined by what's in your tap water (assuming that is the source of your water). The mineral content, primarily calcium and magnesium, determine the hardness of the water, both general hardness (degrees or parts per million GH) and carbonate hardness (KH). The latter acts as a buffer to maintain the same pH. Chemicals to lower or raise the pH counter this buffer, and momentarily work, then the buffer resets the pH and the result (if you keep using the stuff) is fluctuating pH which is far worse on fish than a stable pH that is outside their preferred range. There are safe ways to lower pH, won't get into that now as they are not quick fixes but long-term programs.

The fish: yes, the angelfish and goldfish are too large (potentially I mean) for a 10g, but at the moment that's a minor issue. But they can't remain in a 10g and grow healthy, they will be stunted and develop internal organ issues and most probably die. Gold fish should not be combined with tropicals, issues I won't get into now. You can sort this out once the tank is cycled. Stores will sometimes accept fish in exchange when they know your predicament (like I said, we've all done it).

The molly died from ammonia poisoning, little doubt; mollies are very sensitive to ammonia (so are most fish, but mollies are more-so than angels). What is the specific ammonia product you're using? Most are OK, but it helps us to know what you're using to be able to offer the best advice.

I would do an immediate partial water change of half the tank. Purpose here is to get rid of most (hopefully) of the chemicals that will continue to affect the fish. Provided you have a good water conditioner--which one do you have?

The ammonia is relatively easy to deal with because of good ammonia detoxifying products including some water conditioners like Prime, which also detoxifies nitrite which will be the next killer to appear during the cycling process.

Let us know about your water conditioner and ammonia detoxifier, and more will follow.

Sorry your first encounter with the forum is due to a problem, but you'll find lots of qualified help from many members here:-), and take heart, many of us made the same mistakes.:-(

Byron.

Im using tetra water conditioner, tetra ammonia detox and tetra water balance.

Im not sure of the ph down brand. The water clearifier was also made by Tetra.

Byron 04-01-2010 03:28 PM

Thanks for the info.

Tetra AquaSafe water conditioner is fine, but it does not detoxify ammonia or nitrite. So using it means having to use another product as well.

Tetra AmmoniaSafe detoxifies ammonia, I'm not sure how (they don't say how on their site) but I suspect like most others it changes it to ammonium which is basically harmless to fish, but will still be used by nitrosomonas bacteria (the nitrification cycle issue). It will also still show in ammonia test kits, so don't panic over that.

The water balance I assume is Tetra EasyBalance. I do not recommend this product. The claims it makes are questionable, but worse to me is that it seems to interfere with the natural biological balance in the aquarium, and this is always dangerous. It is better to let an aquarium develop its own natural balance, ensuring it is healthy of course, and it will basically take care of most things itself. By the way, this product initially increases ammonia (that is one result of it's work to increase nitrification) so you can appreciate it is in conflict from the start.

The other stuff I already suggested (and detailed why) you not use further.

I would therefore do a 50% partial water change, use the AquaSafe and AmmoniaSafe as recommended on the labels (amount, etc). Do not overdose either; they are chemicals and can build up, which at the very least stresses fish but given other problems may be worse in effect. During the cycling, a pwc daily is often necessary, once nitrite begins to appear. None of these named products will detoxify nitrite, and it is toxic to fish. You mentioned a test kit, when you begin to see nitrite monitor it daily, if it rises above .25 ppm do a 50% pwc daily until it falls below .25 ppm.

If you can, I would recommend Prime (made by Seachem) as a water conditioner during cycling; it does everything (handles chlorine, chloramine, metals, ammonia and nitrite). The daily pwc when nitrite occurs is still necessary, since Prime (like most conditioners) only operates 24 hours, and nitrite will rise over a few days before it settles back to zero and the tank is cycled.

Don't hesitate to ask questions along the way, that's why we're here. Good luck.

Byron.

iamntbatman 04-02-2010 01:24 AM

Welcome to the forum! You're in good hands with Allstate. I mean, uh, Byron.

Something to consider is that, unfortunately, all of the fish you've got in the tank will outgrow it and the tropical species can't be kept with the coldwater ones anyway. Plus, even though both the angels (and presumably the suckerfish, which is likely a plecostomus or Chinese algae eater) and mollies are technically tropical fish, they prefer quite different water parameters. What this means for you is that, if you want to keep all of the fish you've got now, you're going to have to upgrade to not one but at least two (preferably three) large tanks to house the particular species you've got now. That's one heck of a commitment, financially, time-wise and space-wise. If that doesn't bother you, by all means feel free to go that route (you probably will anyway once you really start to get the hang of the hobby :razz:). If you want to start out small, I'd really suggest trying to take your fish in to the LFS (that's local fish store) for store credit. That way, you can cycle the tank without fish, which is a much less stressful process for both you and the fish, and then use your credit toward fish that can be kept in the 10g long term (or at least fish that, when they grow, can live together in a single larger tank rather than a bunch of different tanks).

jonny steele 04-05-2010 08:36 AM

ok, well my tank has been up and running now for a full week. The ph is ok but the ammonia levels are still high. Ive been doing a %75 water change daily, otherwise my water gets really foggy and starts to smell bad.

My question is, how do you know when your tank is cycling? Also, how do you know when the bio filter is growing the bacteria it needs to help the tank?

Byron 04-05-2010 11:27 AM

All tanks containing fish cycle. It is a natural process that takes anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks normally, but longer if there are problems. The fish (type, number), water parameters (pH, hardness, temp) and plants if any all have an impact on how long this process takes. Aquarists can monitor it by daily testing for ammonia and nitrite, and nitrate once the latter stages are reached.

Ammonia will initially rise because the fish produce ammonia and the nitrosomonas bacteria that use ammonia take time to establish themselves. Some believe nitrosomonas bacteria can multiply every nine hours; they do this by binary division, dividing into two, and the pH and temperature affect this. As these bacteria multiply, they will use more and more of the ammonia, and daily tests will show the ammonia level decreasing after several days. Of course, if ammonia is present in tap water or from other sources, this will affect the cycle, but I'll pass over this.

The second stage occurs when nitrite begins to appear. Nitrosomonas bacteria use ammonia and produce nitrite in the process. A second type of bacteria, nitrospira (and perhaps some others) will then appear to use the nitrite. This also takes several days, during which nitrite will increase. It takes about 20 hours for nitrospira bacteria to multiply under optimum conditions. Once they are at a level to handle the nitrite available, you will see the nitrite readings start to lower. At this stage you enter phase three.

Nitrospira bacteria use nitrite and nitrate is produced. Nitrate is relatively harmless, at normal levels, and a regular weekly partial water change will keep it so. Once ammonia and nitrite are both zero for several consecutive days, the tank is cycled. Adding new fish increases the ammonia, and this is done slowly so that nitrosomonas, and then nitrospira, bacteria can keep up. These bacteria will live at the level required to use the available ammonia/nitrite. If these toxins increase, the bacteria will increase; if the toxins decrease (say you remove half the fish), the bacteria will die off accordingly. The bacteria only remain in proportion to the "food" they need.

As for your second question, these bacteria appear automatically (isn't nature wonderful) and they colonize every hard surface under water. In non-planted tanks, their main area is the filter media. The more media in the filter, like a basket of disks, gravel material, etc., the more space there is for bacteria. You know they are in the aquarium when the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings indicate what I explained above.

Things are different with live plants, but I won't go into that here, as you haven't mentioned plants so it isn't yet relevant in your situation.

Byron.

karjean 04-05-2010 08:39 PM

jonny, i do use ammonia pads also in the filter, it does help to lower the ammonia. They are available at your LFS. Also welcome to the forum. Good luck with the fishes and sorry for the loss.


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