Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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JustAddSalt 09-04-2011 10:01 PM

Fish keep dying, advice please!
About a month ago I bought my boyfriend a 5.5 gallon aquarium, it has a small drip filter built into the hood and I also purchased an air pump and a heater. For substrate I used black sand from the petstore that I washed, decorations are a fake piece of driftwood and several clumps of plastic grass. Temperature is 78 degrees, pH is 7.0 and other parameters are within normal ranges. I let the tank cycle and then purchased two small guppies for the tank. These died in 12 hours, took them and a water sample to store for testing and everything was normal. Bought 2 more guppies, and these died also. Took them back, did a water change and waited a week then tested water again (which was normal) and bought more fish, these died. Went to a different store and bought some ghost shrimp and 2 more guppies. Guppies are dying, the shrimp are doing quite well and are even molting. The fish sort of hang out at the top of the tank like they need air but don't gulp, and then they sit at the bottom of the tank and die. Anyone have any advice? I am not a novice fish keeper and I cannot figure out what to do. I am about to rip my hair out and just scrap the entire thing. Everything appears normal, nothing is out of the ordinary. Fish just keep dying.

MarinePsycho 09-04-2011 10:15 PM

If I were you I would try buying another kind of fish besides guppys, then see what happens. Also 5 gallons is pretty small for two guppys, not that small but still is kinda small.

teddyzaper 09-04-2011 10:41 PM

i would look into the minerals in your water. some fish (including guppies) cant stand high amounts of minerals in the water. Not only chack the PH again, but check the alkalinity. The only reason i say this is because shrimp love alkaline water and guppies cant stand it. You could also try adding some small tetras or even just some snails.

spike0544 09-05-2011 08:09 AM

I would not buy any fish until you know what is going on with the tank. Did you use a dechlorinater like Prime when you added the water? PH is what measures acidity and alkalinty of your water and guppies prefer alkaline water. Are you using a liquid test kit?

Jbrofish8 09-05-2011 08:20 AM

once you figure out what is wrong with your water, a 5.5g would be perfect for a betta. :)

Byron 09-05-2011 02:08 PM

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

All of the advice so far has been relevant, I will just go one further. What is the hardness and pH of your tap water? You can find hardness out from the water suply folks, probably they have a website or you can contact them. This (hardness and pH) is critical to know. It can affect other things.

And is any substance other than water conditioner going in the tank? And which brand?


tf1265 09-05-2011 02:24 PM

You say you "washed" the sand - what does that mean? If you used any kind of soap or detergent, I would throw it all out and start over. You never want to use chemicals to clean your tank, just water (maybe salt or baking soda if you REALLY need to scrub).

Just a thought, if the water parameters are all normal it could just be something else in the water that is poisoning your fish.

aquakid 09-05-2011 03:04 PM

Did you acclimate the fish?

JustAddSalt 09-07-2011 06:39 PM

Everything checks out just fine parameter wise, I looked up the water treatment facility and the water here runs from moderately hard to hard using their scale of grains per gallon. When I say I washed the gravel, I just used plain tap water and put the a dishcloth in the bottom of a strainer (both of which were clean) and ran water over the sand until it ran clear. We have now lost a total of 8 guppies, shrimp are still doing fine. We only put 2 guppies in at a time, test the water before each addition and have even done water changes. There is also some aquarium salt added to the tank as well, which we did not do for the first 3 fish. Am I doing anything wrong? No chemicals around the tank, no cleaners, no additives other than the chlorine/chloramine remover, temperature is not fluctuating. I am at a loss!

Byron 09-07-2011 08:09 PM

When you say "parameters" are normal or check out fine, we don't really know what this might mean. Always post numbers for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, temperature, etc. Seeing the specific numbers will usually tell us something.

I see nothing so far to indicate any sort of "cycling," and the symptoms are those for ammonia poisoning (fish hanging at top, then lying on the bottom, then dead). Do you know about the initial "cycling" of an aquarium? You can read about it here:

Shrimp can manage through cycling, but not fish. And you did not answer my question as to which water conditioner you are using; some of these will detoxify ammonia and some nitrite also, so it would help us to know which one.


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