Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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doppsterjr 05-26-2010 01:03 AM

Dying Fish...
I have a month old aquarium, so I guess you could say it is still a "new" tank. It's a three gallon tank. I originally tried to start off with some easy fish because I am new to the fishkeeping hobby. I got two glofish and a dalmation molly. The molly had babies, but I got rid of all of them as soon as I possibly could. A week or so later one of the glofish died after I cleaned the tank. I replaced it with a guppy. A week or so after that my molly died. The day before I noticed that she was turning a darker color and my mom said she stayed towards the bottom. Then I had a glofish and a guppy in the tank. A few days later my new guppy started getting a more yellowish color and it appeared that it was shedding it's skin. He started swimming funny, and eventually died. I replaced him with two platties. It's been a couple days since. I took a water sample to get it tested at Petsmart, and the lady there said my nitrates were off the chart and to do a gallon of water change every other day and to put conditioner in the water. I've been doing that for a few days and my fish seemed to be swimming around more instead of hanging out in the hidey hole or at the bottom. I noticed today that one of the platties has yellow colored things sticking to him like the guppy did. What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do to fix it? I really like having my fish and it frustrates me that they continue to die. Please help.

- 3 gallon octagon tank with filter and hood light.
- One mickey mouse platy, one red wag platy, one green glofish.
- Feed them Tetra Color, a large pinch at night.

jpbotha 05-26-2010 01:16 AM

What was the other results from the water test. Nitrite and ammonia? They should be as close to 0 as possible. It is also possible that your tank is cycling. Possibly ammonia spike. I've also learned the hard way that if something goes wrong in a small tank it goes wrong quickly.
If you can give us the results of the nitrite and ammonia tests it can give a more clear indication whether it is a cycle challenge or a illness.
The fact that the nitrate is of the charts, indicates that you might be feeding them too much. Again it can be part of the cycling process depending on results of other tests

iamntbatman 05-26-2010 03:29 AM


It's a good idea to get your own test kit, if you can. Pet stores don't always give you exact numbers (which really give you a better picture of what's happening in your tank) plus it's nice to have the kit on hand whenever you need it. Paper test strips are no good; I recommend getting a good liquid test kit. I like API's Freshwater Master Test Kit but there are others available (they're almost always cheaper online than in stores, often significantly).

Byron 05-26-2010 02:35 PM

I suspect your tank is having cycling issues, hence the fish deaths. Please read the cycling info in the sticky at the head of this section, here's a direct link; it will probably give you some background.

doppsterjr 05-26-2010 05:47 PM

I tested the water again this afternoon and these were the results:
General Hardness - 120ppm
Carbonate Hardness - 120 ppm
pH - 7
Nitrite - 3ppm
Nitrate - 40ppm

I use the API 5 in 1 test strips.

A friend suggested that it might be Ick or Velvet, so I also bought some tablets. But I haven't used them yet.

Byron 05-26-2010 06:05 PM

Are there any visible whitish spots on the fish? Ich is obvious from spots on the fins or body of a fish; they are small but easily seen. Velvet is a similar parasite but the spots are much smaller and almost look like a dusting of pepper (whitish-yellow) on the fish's body. In both cases the fish will frequently scrape or rub against things, this is called flashing. Unless you have clear signs of these, I would not treat the fish "just in case" as any and all medications are stressful to fish and if the problem is something else this will only make it worse.

With nitrite at 3 the fish are suffering from nitrite poisoning. I would suggest daily partial water changes of 50% until nitrite drops to zero. Nitrate at 40ppm is a bit high but this is not nearly so critical and nitrate is controlled with regular weekly partial water changes once the other issues are resolved. The improvement you saw with water changes every other day is indicative of the benefit; this is the best medicine at this point.

Don't add more fish as that will also worsen the situation.


doppsterjr 05-26-2010 11:34 PM

Thank you for all the advice. I'm almost positive that it is Ick that is in the tank. Only one platy had white dots on her before, but now both of them have the spots on them.

jpbotha 05-27-2010 02:29 AM

It might be ich but you definitely still have some cycling challenges to sort out. With a nitrite of 3 you will have a high ammonia level. Ich dont kill fish that fast. Only thing that usually cause fish dying that fast is high level of nitrite and ammonia.

iamntbatman 05-27-2010 04:09 AM

Agreed, plus the benefits of using any sort of chemical treatment for ich (whether that be medication designed for the purpose or salt) will be lost if you're doing big, frequent water changes, something that's probably a good idea with such an elevated nitrite level (and an unknown ammonia level).

doppsterjr 05-31-2010 10:18 PM

Over the weekend my boyfriend cared for the fish, and I am sad to say that both of my platties died. They both had small white dots on them. I also had him do daily 50% water changes as was recommended earlier. I tested the water after I brought my single fish (a glofish) home. These were the results:
General Hardness - 60
Carbonate Hardness - 0
pH - 7
Nitrites - 1
Nitrates - 20

My glofish still seems as healthy as he ever was. He still eats and swims freely around the tank.
Any further advise or recommendations for a new fish maybe?

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