Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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jennyfingland 01-08-2012 01:05 PM

Fish keep dying
Hello I have had my fish tank for over a year. I have a 20 gallon. I do a 1/4 water change everyone one to two weeks. I started out with 2 guppies and 3 platys and one algae eater. The guppies died within a month or two and i replaced them with 2 more platys. By the end of having my tank for 5 months I only had 2 fish left plus the algae eater. I did add another algae eater since the one was not keeping up. Eventually I added two smaller fish (i cannot remember what they are called). The platys died but the other fish survived. I have had just those two fish in there for about 3 months by themselves with the two algae eaters. I decided to try adding three (small) goldfish. Two days after adding them one of the smaller fish died. Then a day later a goldfish died. Now about a week later one of my older algae eaters died! I feel like every time I add a new fish all my other ones died. I'm not sure what I am doing wrong? I don't want to keep murdering fish!

Byron 01-08-2012 01:29 PM

First, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

There are a few issues that could be happening, we need to sort things out. Can you tell us your water parameters (hardness, pH, temperature) and conditions (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate)?

Are there live plants?

What water conditioner are you using? Any other substances going into the tank?

One thing I can say, do not mix goldfish with tropicals; and a 20g is too small a tank for 2-3 goldfish. If you can, I would return them.


zof 01-08-2012 01:32 PM

Hi welcome to TFK, with out knowing your water parameters (pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels) it will make this difficult to diagnose, if you don't already get yourself a liquid master freshwater test kit such as the API one, can usually find it in stores for about $25 but will last years. Also would be helpful to know what water conditioner you are using and what the temp of the tank is. Also any other details you can provide might be helpful.

jennyfingland 01-08-2012 01:43 PM

On my test strip it says:
Nitrate: 80
Nitrite: .5
hardness: (i can't tell) it's between very hard and hard
Alkalinity: 120
pH: 7.2

I have been having issues with my thermometer in the past week. But it usually is between 72-76 I need to get a new one.

I do have two live plants. Not sure what they are..One is a floating plant attached to a string. I bought this at Petco about two months ago It isn't floating anymore. (i am planning on removing this as it doesn't look healthy anymore) And the other plant I'm not really sure what it is but it appears healthy. And I have had it in there for quite a while.

The conditioner I am using is brand Jungle start right. I don't put anything else in the tank.

zof 01-08-2012 01:55 PM

Well assuming the test strips are correct which some times they are not, then your water quality is the biggest probability of what is killing your fish. I'm assuming you have nothing for ammonia so I will automatically assume that is at a elevated level to. This probably means you are going through a mini cycle, due to too much load (overfeeding, fish that produce alot of waste), first of all if you don't know about the cycling process, read this post .

Now what you need to start doing to save what fish you have left is water changes every day preferably 50% until you nitrites drop below .25 and and nitrates around or below 20ppm, also gravel vacuum and remove anything decaying from the tank, such as old uneaten fish food. This is really the only way you can assure the fish you have left will stay healthy until the mini cycle completes.

jennyfingland 01-08-2012 02:13 PM

Thank you! I will definitely try that. Is there a way to avoid this in the future? And would you think this is this what has been happening the entire time?

zof 01-08-2012 03:45 PM

Most likely this has been the cause for the majority of your deaths, your biological filter has never caught up due to the load, and the only way to avoid this is to keep monitoring your water parameters until the cycling levels out and you figure out how much of a biological load you have on your tank, weekly water changes of at least 30% will be critical to keeping nitrates down but anytime ammonia or nitrites show up its important to do water changes until they go back down to 0. This is why I recommend the liquid test, it can be a pain to do sometimes but will tell you exactly what you need to know so you can treat any problems that arise. Again if you haven't yet, read that post I linked to, it will help you understand the processes going on in your tank and how to manage them.

Welcome to fish keeping, there is a bit of a learning curve that stores don't tell people about, but once you are past the curve it becomes pretty easy to maintain a tank. Stick around read the other posts people make, will help you get over that learning curve just a bit faster ;-)

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