Weird Problems / fish dying / acting strange
I have a 10 gallon tank that I can only assume has cycled (it's been running for almost a month now, been through a few fish).
When I had it for about a week, I added 3 tetra and 4 zebra fish. The zebra fish died within a day or two, then all but one tetra died within a week. I had replaced the zebra fish, and they too died a few days later.
At that point, I assumed some weird water issues / not cycled / etc, so I kept the sole tetra in there and continued to work on the water.
Bought a liquid test kit, and started playing chemist. Everything looks to be in line now, for the most part.
(this morning's test)
Ammonia 2.0 ppm (going to do a partial change tonight) - I did add ammolock the other night because it was higher, that was prior to a change that night as well.
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrite 5.0 ppm
I have been using Prime for my water conditioner, and Stability every other day to help build up the good bacteria, along with a dose when I added the most recent fish.
Currently I have:
2 Neon Tetra
1 Xray Tetra
1 Long Fin Red Minor Tetra
1 Blonde Tux Delta Guppy
1 Turquoise Guppy
1 Peppered Cory Catfish
I got the fish Friday night (sans the Cory and the 2nd algae eater) and within 24 hours, the algae eater died. When I put him in the tank, he was eating away, and seemed okay. All the other fish Saturday night were fine.
I went back to the store, replaced that algae eater, and went with a 2nd along with the Cory to work on the un-eaten food.
This afternoon, it appears the Cory is spending more time floating at the top of the tank (generally upside down) or clinging to the side of the tank, or even hopping up a little out of the water on the edges of the tank. He has also gotten himself stuck on the filter feed tube a few times, but when I push him off of it, he swims away. Not sure what's going on here... Also looks like his eye is sticking out A LOT. Was it like this before??
Also, the turquoise Guppy seems to be 'less blue' than when I first got it. Almost turning more white across the top. Not sure what this is. Also, the two of them were spending a lot of time at the top of the tank yesterday, but are staying at the bottom in the rocks today. Is this normal?
I do notice that the Minor Tetra almost seems to be nipping at the other fish every now and then, but I was told that all tetra should school together so I shouldn't have any issues....
Any / All feedback is appreciated. I just want to get my tank in a working fashion ASAP!
Filter: Top Fin
Food: Mix of TetraMin Plus Tropical Flakes, Hikari Algae Wafers, and Hiari Tropical Micro Pellets
Temp: 80F, fairly consistant, dropping to 76-82 at times.
Bubble Wand in the back of the tank.
Light on at least 12 hours a day, sometimes 16.
Sorry to hear about your cory. Your tank is still cycling and the ammonia most likely did the cory in. You added too many fish at once to a tank that was not fully cycled. A fully cycled tank should have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and some reading for nitrates (<20ppm). Cycling a tank can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks. It's good that you bought the liquid test kit. It's the most important tool you can have to see where you are in the cycle. Test the water every day and do water changes any time you have an ammonia or nitrite reading. Be prepared to do possibly daily water changes until the tank is cycled. Once it's fully cycled weekly water changes are all that's needed.
Have you read up on the nitrogen cycle? Start with this:
Even though I added Ammo-Lock, will that number continue to go down as I test? I know it said something about changing it to 'safe', but the number would remain the same...
Also, the guy at petsmart said there was a product I could get that was around $10-15, you can add it to your tank, and the next day it was fish-safe (and you can use it while fish are in there), it was something fairly new.... any ideas if I should add that in to officially jump start it? I don't want the rest of my fish to suffer, but I don't want there to be remains of food hanging around without a Cory in there. (Is there a more hardy alternative to the Cory? I really liked how it looked).
Also, this may sound dumb, but does the placement of the filter along the back of the tank matter? Side vs. Center? Considering I also have the heater in there, wasn't sure how the flow of the water would affect anything...
One of my Algae eaters is REALLY active... I think I see it swimming around more than eating. Is that normal?
You will know your tank is cycled when you get steady readings of 0 for ammonia and nitrites and have some reading for nitrates. Don't change out the filter cartridge. You are correct in that it does hold your beneficial bacteria colony. If it is really gunked up you can clean it by swishing it around in a bucket of used tank water (that you've removed from the tank) or in clean de-chlorinated water. Just don't use tap water as the chlorine in it will kill off the bacteria on it.
I don't think you need the Ammo-Lock. I've never used it but I do believe you are correct in that it will give you a false ammonia reading since it will convert any ammonia to its non-toxic form but will still show up on the test. Prime is a good water conditioner and will also de-toxify ammonia (but, from what I understand, only for about 24 hours or so). So it also may give you a false reading.
I think the guy at Petsmart is trying to sell you snake oil. Don't waste your money on products that claim to instantly cycle your tank. Now, if you know someone with an established tank that could give you some used filter media that would certainly help to speed up the time it takes to cycle your tank. But I've never had any luck with the "instant cycle" products.
As for the filter placement, I don't think it really matters too much on a 10 gallon. I always put it on the back of the tank with the heater near the ouflow (for even heat distribution).
Awesome, thanks. Yes, unfortunately I don't know anyone with a tank (to my knowledge) so I can't do that.... I know that the paperwork with the tank said to replace the cartridge once a month... but maybe a monthly cleaning will be in place instead.
For what it's worth, tonight the water does look cloudier than normal (should I test it to see what's up??)
How often would you suggest adding Prime / Stability to the water? Currently I have just been doing Prime with water changes, and per the company's recommendations, stability every other day to keep things going well.
Thanks again, you've been a great help.
But I wanted to go into a bit of detail on the types of fish you have in there...
As far as the red minor tetra nipping, that will happen, and probably get worse. They are a shoaling fish, and need a minimum of 6 together before nipping can be minimal, to get rid of nipping a shoal of like 12 are needed, and obviously a 10 gallon can not house that many. Tetras generally always require a school of them to be healthy and happy. For the less nippy tetras, such as the neons, you can usually get away with a school or only 5 or 6 to keep them happy.
As for the guppies...their colors will get lighter when stressed. Guppies are also prime targets for the red minor tetra's nipping and are not recommended as tank mates for this reason. The nipping can also stress them out more with the high nitrites and ammonia levels. Guppies tend to like to swim mostly near the top portion of the tank, however they will ocassionally swim all over the tank, but hanging out at the rocks, when the light is on, is not normal. They sometimes will sleep near the bottom when the lights are off, but that is the only time they stay down there without investigating, as guppies are very nosey fish.
Cories are also group fish. They require company of their own to maintain a less stress life and to be happy and healthy. Since its only a 10 gallon tank, I would advice 4 albino cory, as they only get to about 2 inches, and are a very hardy type of cory. (cories should be schooled with as many as possible, and I have learned that you can mix breeds of cory to get the desired amount of cory, like 3 peppers, 3 emeralds, and 3 albino will get along and be happy together.)
Cories are not fish that should be used to cycle a tank, nor are otocinclus.
As for your otocinclus...They do often swim around the tank like a regular fish, and they are rather active. They stay small, maxing at 2 inches, so you could possibly total out at 3 as they prefer to be in groups as well since they are catfish, but in small tanks it is more than possible to get an oto to live happily solo or in a pair. (I have a solo in my smaller tank, and 3 in my larger tank...never see the 3 in the big tank associating with one another, I can only repeat what has been written regarding their need to be grouped.)
All the issues with the fish appearing stressed and dying is due to the tank cycle. I wouldnt add any additional fish until the tank is fully cycled. And when it does, I would consider removing the red minor tetra. It is important for the neons to be in a group, a minimum of 5 of them. So after your tank cycles consider adding a few more neons (assuming they survive the cycle).
Keep us posted on your tank and let us know how it goes, we are here to answer any questions you have along the way.
a ton of useful information, I love it.
So in the end, would my tank be able to support:
3-4 Cories (the albino ones kinda creep me out, so maybe mix and match types)
3-5 neon tetra
and the guppies? [those two, or maybe a few more] (assuming I don't have the red minor tetra in there) ?
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