Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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tomcatguy74 01-30-2011 04:04 PM

Why am I killing my fish?!!!
I just can't figure it out. At first it was because I had too many fish in my tank but now I went with smaller hardier fish, and I just bought them on Thursday and one(the most beautiful I have ever seen or had) has died!!! I found him stuck to the intake of my filter but he was still breathing. I nudged him off to see if he would swim and he tried but was swimming upside down and kept trying to right himself but gave up and sank to the floor!!:cry: He is gone now. He was one of those brillant tiger guppies that have the blueish/grey/green spots and stripes on his body and a huge tiger striped yellow and black tail.
Before these set of fish I was told that I needed an air pump to put oxygen in the water because my filter discharge was not breaking the water's surface.
Then the cold set in and I bought an automatic heater to keep the temps around 75-76 degrees.
I took a sample of water to petco and they tested it and it was fine. I bought 2 guppies.
Those 2 did great for a week and I was told to come back with a sample of water to see if it doing ok. This time the nitrates were just a tad above normal and was told to only feed every other day to bring them down. So I did. He told me it was ok to get 3 more fish. So I got 2 more guppies and a tiny Pleco.
I waited 2 days to feed them because I fed my other 2 the night before and these 3 just got fed that morning. After the second day I decided to put an algae wafer in for the Pleco and I knew the guppies will eat it too so that was all I put in. About 4 hours later all the guppies were fat so I figures they helped eat the wafer. The water was great with a tiny bit of cloudiness due to the wafer I imagine.
Now this happens and every other fish is doing great as usual but this fish dies?? What gives??
I have noticed that he separated himself from the other 3 and just hung out at the top of the tank looking depressed(dorsal fin flattened and tail not fully fanned out but it wasn't all the way collapsed like fish do when they are having a bad day.
Now there were 2 of each, 2 males, 2 females and the Pleco.
I was told by several people that having that many fish was fine because of the small size of the guppies and the Pleco just sits around out of the way just stuck to a wall or what ever he feels like sucking on!
Water temp was 75 when I found him and the light was off for most of the day.
I only have a 5 gallon tank and thats big enough for me and my wife. We can't go any bigger.

Please help!!!

Tomsk 01-30-2011 04:35 PM

Ok,just reading that two things instantly spring to mind;
1.) Pleco....Most types of Plecos grow to be BIG and will grow to lengths easily longer than your tank.
2.)Water changes...You havent mention about water changes and how often you have done them.The tank is obviously cycling well as you have nitrates,but going from 2 fish to 5 you are over doubling the bioload so waterchanges have to be increased to allow the tank to catch-up.

More info is needed to help you,but the main things at the moment is regular w/c to get those nitrates down and take the Pleco back to the LFS (did they know its only a 5G tank?).

tomcatguy74 01-30-2011 04:45 PM

I do water 15- 25% water changes each week. The Pleco is onlu about an inch and a half big. The guy said a 5 gal tank will stunt his growth.?

Calmwaters 01-30-2011 04:52 PM

First welcome to the forum I agree with the above post pleco is going to be way to big for a 5 gallon and they also produce a lot of waste which will be really bad in a tank that is as small as yours. Also most large pet stores like petco use strips to test the water which are very unreliable. I would suggest getting an API master lit so you can test your water your self also you should read up on cycleing a tank here:

As for the plecos growth being stunted that is only partly true. The outside will not grow but his insides will which will lead to a slow painful death. Just imagine if your body was the size of say a two year old but your heart, lungs, kindneys and other organs were the size of an adult. I imagine it would be pretty painful. Sometimes petstore employees are not very well educated exspecially at large chain stores.

Christople 01-30-2011 05:01 PM

I completly agree with calmwaters

tanker 01-30-2011 07:11 PM

Leaving aside the issues of your tank's parameters, I've had really bad luck with guppies dying on me. I was discussing it with one of my aquarium shop's owners and he had a whole tank of new guppies and only a few had survived. For whatever reason, sometimes the stock is just poor/doesn't survive.

How are you introducing your fish to your tank? Big temperature changes, or large changes in pH between your tank and the shop's can kill off new fish. I like that particular aquarium shop because he uses normal tap water and the pH is the same as at my place. The other shop has more neutral water. New fish from number one shop don't die on me the way fish from number two shop do.....

Blabomb 01-30-2011 08:21 PM

It might just be that the fish you put in there were either really stressed or they weren't very hardy. I just started my tank and I put 5 neon tetras and 5 zebra danios, all of which died. I replaced them with 6 tiger barbs and they are doing fantastic.
And I will go ahead and piggy back on everyone else and tell you that your tank is too small for that pleco.

Backer 01-30-2011 08:54 PM

I am no expert but do agree with what the others have said about getting weak fish, especially really popular fish like guppies. I'm not sure how you are acclimating your fish to your tank but for an even lower stress move I would suggest floating them for 20 min. then adding some tank water to the bag and after 20 more min. doing the same thing, so floating them for an hour and adding water. This has seemed to be much more successful for me with sensitive fish. Hope that helps a little, and good luck.

Christople 01-30-2011 09:27 PM

I am not saying don't acclimate your fish but personally guppies are pretty hardy fish. I guess it could be the stores fish
but still take your time acclimating

tomcatguy74 02-01-2011 07:11 PM

Hi all!! Thanks for your replies. i am getting really frustrated and love this hobby but my wife is calling me a fish murderer!!!!

I used to float my fish but its difficult because of the water displacement. My little 5 gal tank always overflows when I put a bag in there. I also started worrying about what could be on the bag that I might be introducing to my tank. Now the other guppy that came with the one that died is doing fantastic and she was in the same bag as him. No I just checked my water with the api master kit and got elevated readings of ph and ammonia. PH was between 8 and 8.2 and the ammonia was .25 and nitrites were 0 and nitrates were between 20 and 40ppm. I decided to do a 1 1/2 to 2 gallon water change to lower the high stats so we will see where that gets us.
As for the Pleco, I will be taking it back and maybe trading out for another guppy or an algae eater that won't hurt my tank. Or do you think I should stay away from algae eaters?
I was wondering, how hard is it to maintain a tank with sand substrate and live plants instead of gravel and plastic plants? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

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