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philabsolom 04-11-2010 04:50 PM

Loss & Death in new tank
Good evening all.

Thought I'd seek some advice here before being told to fix the problem by the shop assistant that involves more money...!!!

Last weekend we brought a biorb life tank 60l. We set up the tank as per the book added the stress zyme and left it running for a week.

On saturday (a full week later) we puchased 6 danio fish (2 x strip, 2 x Spot & 2 x golden) entered the fish to the tank as per instructions.... Fish seemed happy and swimming here there and everywhere. We dropped a little food in on Saturday night but the fished seemed none inerested, but as the shop assistant said they had been fed in the morning we thought nothing of it.

Sunday morning we wake up to find one fish missing....??? and one fish head first in the ceramic stone (it comes with the tank) our 1st death. Fish removed. During the day the 4 fish left didnt seem as energetic and thins evening one fish on the ground on its back....! We got the net and tried helping (carefully) on its front and left for a while but a 2nd loss but also one other missing, 2 left.

We have a heater in the tank which shows 21oc. we have a tetra 6in1 test kit which shows good levels for fish apart from the KH level which is slightly high but not through the roof.

Where have we gone wrong....???

Regards Phil and Allie

JohnnyD44 04-11-2010 05:13 PM


First off, welcome to the forum!! Glad you came here for some advice, rather than spending more money at your local fish store (LFS). You will find that a lot of employees aren't very knowledgeable in fish-keeping and are told to push the sale of the products to make, having said that.

You are smack dab in the middle of a cycle. Are you familiar with the aquarium fish cycle?? There's a thread on here regarding it, but I can't seem to locate it. I have it bookmarked at work, someone will give you the link....

Basically when you added your fish(danios were a great choice by the way without knowing it) you added ammonia to your tank. Ammonia comes in several forms, mostly from fish waste, excess fish food and dead fish. Ammonia is toxic to fish. Which is more than likely what killed your fish...

A cycle, pretty much is allowing your tank to build up the strength to handle the ammonia which will naturally be produced (waste and food) and convert it into a less toxic version. Does that make sense?? A fishless cycle is best, because it's less stressful on the fish, but since you have fish, you're going to have to follow a fish-in cycle.

If I were you, I would do an immediate water change, of about 40%. You want to monitor your parameters in your tank. I see you have the tetra 6-in-1 test kit...are they strips or liquid drops? Strips are unreliable and often give misleading results. You would greatly benefit from the API Master Liquid test kit. It will monitor all your parameters you'll need to keep in check. You'll want to do a pwc (partial water change) everytime you detect any sort of ammonia reading. Water changes will help to keep your ammonia at a tolerable level (ideal is 0ppm).

Also make sure you are using a water conditioner when you are adding any new water to your tank. If you like API products (they make your stress zyme) you should pick up their Stress Coat. Another great product, and quite popular is Prime. Water conditioners wil remove chlorine as well as any heavy metals that may be present in your tap water.

First things that water change (being sure to add stress coat or prime). Stress zyme doesn't remove be aware.

Hopefully some of this will help you out. This forum is a great place and we've got some smart members, you'll be just fine!!!

philabsolom 04-11-2010 05:30 PM


Hi Johnny, Thank you for the quick reply. We have noticed that one of the two surviving fish has a torn fin (we believe this to be symptoms of ammonia..?)

We will go to a store tomorrow and gain a liquid testkit as indeed we do have the strips... (lol we we're told they were good!) and also stock up on the stress coat and zyme as we only had the starter packs (forgot to get that with the fish!!)
We will strip the tank tomorrow as I feel the two missing fish are caught up somewhere dead releasing more toxins...?

Also the water has got a little cloudy not that noticable but is def not clear....?

Thanks in advance

Phil and Aliie

Byron 04-11-2010 06:18 PM

Can you post the numbers for your test of ammonia and nitrite? "Good levels" can mean something different to different aquarists. Also the pH number, this has to do with ammonia issues.

I am not a fan of Stress Zyme, for reasons I won't go into now. If the store carries Seachem products, I would recommend you get a small bottle of "Stability" which is pure bacteria and having used it I can guarantee that it does work. Add it at the recommended dose on the label, it isn't much; assuming one or both of the existing fish survive, this will establish the nitrification bacteria in a few days. Do not add any more fish.

When you post the numbers I or others will probably have some suggestions, but without knowing the exact (relatively) state of things, it is hit and miss and the fish's health and lives are at stake.


philabsolom 04-12-2010 03:50 AM

Hi Byron

Unfortunatley we lost the two remaining fish last night..!

Having still not found the two missing fish we are going to change everything tonight after work. Emptying the tank ( hopefully to find the two missing fish trapped under the filtering unit which isnt easy to get to in these tanks..!) Allie is going to the shop to get a test kit and we will run the tank again for a 3-5 days fishless. Will look at posting results as we go.

Phil & Allie

karjean 04-12-2010 05:05 AM

Phil and Allie, the fishless cycle and the cycle with the sacrificial fish will take 4-6 weeks to complete.
Are you planning to add some live plants in the aquarium? As Byron was mentionning on previous threads, the cycle would be almost none existant since the plants would take care of the ammonia, nitirte and nitrate levels. Byron or somebody else could elaborate more on this topic. So this could be an option if you are starting over again.

philabsolom 04-12-2010 06:33 AM


I was told (at the aquarium Shop) with the biorb tanks and the ceramic stones that live plants isn't really an option plus there is nothing for the roots to bed in with the ceramic rock unless we found a boulder or something with a dip in it to fill with sand and roots can take hold of something...

As the write up state's just add water and fish..... Yeah Right..!

We have simply the ceramic media (stones) two plastic plants to give the fish someplace to hide and a filter surely that's it...

The detailed booklet states fill with water turn on filter add the sachet of stress coat 24hrs add the stress zyme 24 hours add fish..... How come youstate 4-6 weeks..?

Confused . com..

JohnnyD44 04-12-2010 09:35 AM

you say you have ceramic stones...meaning what? are they like big decorative stones?

does your tank a subtrate?? gravel or sand bottom?? if you have a gravel bottom, you surely can add plants!!! (maybe change lighting though)

i've never had or seen a biorb system, so I'm not very familiar with it...hopefully someone can elaborate on that.

since all your fish are now dead, you can look into a fishless cycle....which is easier and less stress on the fish that would've been in there....I'm at work and after 3 hours of stupid meetings, I can get down to what matters.....the fish forum!!! :-)
here's the link i was talking about in my first response:

I would read up on that...

were you able to get a reading of your water??

Byron 04-12-2010 01:27 PM

I am also unfamiliar with this setup; I read through the pages you linked but no where does it explain how this is different with respect to the biological nitrification cycle and bacteria, so I must assume it is the same as other aquaria. I am naturally skeptical of any product that claims to short-cut nature, so I must assume the bacteria cycle will develop and remain in this as in any aquarium.

Without live plants, it takes 2-8 weeks normally for the nitrification bacteria to colonize an aquarium. If you read the sticky article by iamntbatman on cycling you'll understand the process. This happens in your aquarium as in any other.

The biological supplements, like Stability I mentioned or StressZyme, add live bacteria to jump-start the cycling process. There have to be fish or some source of ammonia in the tank or this is wasted. Bacteria need food, and for nitrosomonas bacteria ammonia is the food; they convert it to nitrite, then nitrospira bacteria appear and use the nitrite and nitrate is produced; partial water changes keep the nitrates within reasonable limits. So using Stability when fish go in the tank will add a colony of bacteria that will multiply as ammonia is produced by the fish. The bacteria always exist at the level necessary to handle the ammonia and nitrite respectively. If ammonia increases, nitrosomonas bacteria multiply (within 9 hours); if it decreases, the bacteria die off.

As this is a 16g aquarium, I would add 2-3 small fish like danio, wait a few days, then add 2-3 more. This allows the bacteria to multiply in proportion. Use Stability for the week.

On danios, they are shoaling fish which means they prefer to live in groups and will be less stressed in a group rather than 2 or 3 fish. Each species requires a group, so given your 16g aquarium I would say 5-6 of one species, plus perhaps some bottom fish for contrast? Or depending upon what you like.


karjean 04-12-2010 08:12 PM

Phil and Ally, like Johnny and Byron, i am not familiar with the biorb tank set-up and ceramic stones you have. Byron is right, we cannot short-cut nature's course. You do have the choice of re-starting either way. Do not hesitate to ask any questions on your aquarium, somebody will more than likely have an answer. Good luck

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