Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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nicoleg0828 02-06-2012 11:44 PM

We bought a new tank and it keeps killing the fish...
 
We are semi new comers to owning fish. We have a 10 gal community tank set up that has been going strong since October. We decided we wanted a new tank with semi aggressive fish. We bought a brand new 20 gal bow front tank with the day/night led lights. We also bought a new heater, filter, gravel, and a bubbling house thing. We filled it with tap water and had the water tested at the LFS. They said everything looked great. We added a few fish (all semi aggressive) and a moss ball. All fish dead within 15 hours. The pet store then sold us this stuff called Stability, which they said would help with new tank syndrome. We let it sit another 24 hours, added 3 fish, dead within 12 hours. We then did a full water change, rinsed everything and refilled. Waiting 36 hours and went to another FS, where we decided to get African Chichlids, which they told us were pretty hearty fish. We got 3 (2 yellow, one yellow has a black strip on the fin on it's back, and a blue and grey striped one) They have been in the tank for about 5 hours and are staying very close to the bottom, one will hardly move at all. I really think we are going to loose these ones as well. The only thing that has lived through all this is 2 little crawfish. Is it possible they are causing the problem?

So basically, my question is, why are the fish dying? Why are we having issues with this tank, and have never had issues with our 10 gal?
Do we need to start with another type of fish?

Thanks for any help!!
Nicole

wannalearn 02-06-2012 11:54 PM

use the search feature, top left hand on this page, and search for cycling a new tank.. will have your explanation, and your step by step guide.. good luck

beetlebz 02-07-2012 12:54 AM

A new tank, with just water, will not cycle by itself. The above poster is correct, there is a wide variety of information in articles on this forum about cycling a new tank.

the gist is, A fish produces waste, along with decaying leftover food, plant matter, etc. As this organic material decomposes, it produces ammonia. With no fish present, there will be no ammonia present, so your water tested ok because there was no source of ammonia. Once the fish were added, the ammonia begins to climb, and the toxic ammonia level kills the fish.

What needs to happen, is the ammonia needs to be present so the bacteria (which will form on its own in time) can colonize in your tank. The bacteria feeds on the ammonia, and produces nitrites, which are also toxic to your fish. A second colony of bacteria will then begin to develop, which consumes nitrites, and produces nitrates. The development of these two colonies of bacteria is what we call the cycle. A complete cycled tank produces only nitrates (for the sake of this conversation) which are far less toxic than either ammonia or nitrates, and are removed by routine water changes.

Bacterial additives are available to facilitate this cycle more quickly, as well live plants, which consume ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. Seeding is also an option, by which gravel or filter media from an established tank, such as your 10g, is added to the new tank to kick start the process. I caution you, however, from taking away too much beneficial bacteria from your existing tank.

your best course of action is to either use live, true aquatic plants and/or establish the bacterial colonies using a different source of ammonia, such as actual ammonia (pure, not windex), fish food, prawns, etc. This can take up to 6 or 8 weeks to fully cycle an aquarium.

something else to consider, is these colonies exist in balance with the fish waste. If you cycle an aquarium, adding fish slowly is advised, to allow the bacteria to adjust to the increased biological load. Adding a bunch of fish at once will produce more ammonia than the bacterial colonies can handle, and you will experience spikes in the levels of ammonia, and possibly nitrites.

I recommend taking some time to read a few of the good cycling articles this forum has made available, they are well written and extremely informative!

and welcome to the forum :)

MinaMinaMina 02-07-2012 04:40 AM

Hi! Welcome to TFK, you've come to the right place! :-D

For right now, while we help you figure this out, you need to do three things-
1. Ignore what the pet store says. I'm not kidding.
2. Take a handful of gravel from your old tank and put it in the new tank. Do not rinse it off or anything, just move it from one tank immediately to the other.
3. Do a 50% water change on your tank.
4. Take your fish back to the store.

So, about #2- One of the best things you can do right now is called "seeding", as beetlebz mentioned. This will help jumpstart your beneficial bacteria colony. Please do this as soon as possible. If you have different gravel in each tank and you don't want them to mix, you can use the foot of pantyhose or knee high, rinse it well in dechlorinated water, and put the gravel from the first tank into the knee high, and then into the new tank. This way the gravels won't be mixed.

About #3- Its likely that you have a toxic level of ammonia built up in your tank now. An effective way to make this better is by removing 50% of your tank water and replacing it with tap water that is dosed with water conditioner and is the same temperature as your tank water. You'll be doing these water changes everyday until you take care of the next step.

Next, #4- Return all of the fish to the store. Not only is it not fair to the fish to cycle the tank with them in it (permanent damage will result, shortening their lifespan and making them prone to illness), but the kinds of fish you have will not be able to live in the tank you have. These are African cichlids (mbuna), they will grow to 4" or more, and need to be in a much larger tank with a certain number of fish of their own kind, and in a certain male/female ratio. In a tank your size and in the numbers listed, they will become even more aggressive than they naturally are because of the cramped quarters and other insufficiencies. Even if they don't kill each other, they will at least be prone to illness after illness and the internal damage associated with stunting.

So please return the fish to the store, get a API Master Kit for testing water parameters, then come back here and we can walk you through fish-less cycling and help you pick out fish that will be happy and healthy in your aquarium. Good luck!

Also, here are the links on cycling that were previously mentioned-
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...m-cycle-38617/
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-74891/

AbbeysDad 02-07-2012 07:53 AM

Hi Nicole,

The advice you've received so far is good, but I think it ignores some key factors. The N2 cycle is very important, but I do not believe you would see a deadly ammonia spike with a few fish in a 20g tank in 15 hours. I would be curious...
What water conditioner did you use and in what amount to remove chlorine? (I'm partial to Prime)
What is the actual water temperature? (76-78F)
How did you acclimate the fish to your tank water when you brought them home? (I prefer drip and net)

If the water was not properly conditioned, the chlorine would kill any bacteria in the stability product and the fish. If the temperature was not correct or the fish not properly acclimated, stress/shock could do them in.

Hopefully the fish you have now will survive. In any event, unless using bio-seed from an established tank, always cycle a new tank fishless or with only a couple of hardy fish and routinely monitor ammonia levels and perform water changes as required until the N2 cycle completes.
Adding too many fish at once to an uncycled tank almost always goes badly.

Drip acclimation for new fish better ensures a gradual adjustment to both temperature and water chemistry. I know most recommend the 'float the bag in the tank method' which can work but I think drip is better. For the dip method the fish get emptied into a dedicated fish bucket (like you'd use for water changes if you used buckets [not the mop bucket used for the kitchen floor!]). Carefully pour the fish and water from the transport bag into the bucket. Setup some air line tubing to siphon water from the tank into the bucket. This is best done using a valve to control the flow. You can use clothespins to attache the hose to the tank and the buck. Let it run for 15-30 minutes or so, or until the bucket is 3/4's full. Stop the siphon and carefully net and transfer the fish one at a time from the bucket to the tank. Discard the water so no FS water gets into your tank. Rinse the bucket and top off your tank with conditioned water IF NECESSARY.

Hope this may help a little. Good luck and let us know of your progress.

Regards,
AD

beetlebz 02-07-2012 09:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AbbeysDad (Post 975802)
The advice you've received so far is good, but I think it ignores some key factors. The N2 cycle is very important, but I do not believe you would see a deadly ammonia spike with a few fish in a 20g tank in 15 hours. I would be curious...
What water conditioner did you use and in what amount to remove chlorine? (I'm partial to Prime)
What is the actual water temperature? (76-78F)
How did you acclimate the fish to your tank water when you brought them home? (I prefer drip and net)

Dunno how I missed that, good catch AD!

Just for sake of discussion though, depending on the species and the tank, I drip acclimate for upto 4 hours :O

AbbeysDad 02-07-2012 11:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by beetlebz (Post 975857)
Dunno how I missed that, good catch AD!

Just for sake of discussion though, depending on the species and the tank, I drip acclimate for upto 4 hours :O

Slower/longer is better so long as the bucket doesn't run over. I think I'd split the difference as 4 hours seems like a long time. I usually go about an hour - I wrote 15-30 min for the impatient (assuming temps were close to begin with).

Tazman 02-07-2012 05:28 PM

Welcome to the forum first of all.

Mbuna can quite easy cause an ammonia spike in a small tank in a short space of time. They are messy fish which is why if you keep them you need 10-15 times your tank volume in filtration. This is assuming the cycle is complete in the first place.
The fish you have (2 yellow, one yellow has a black strip on the fin on it's back, and a blue and grey striped one), are not suitable for anything smaller than a 55g tank and you would need more fish anyway. Not to mention the fact the blue one is more than likely an aggressive fish as most of the blue cichlids are (there are some exceptions but most fish stores stock the aggressive ones).

NEVER NEVER take what a fish store tells you at all...I once saw my now EX local fish store, try and sell a Nimbochromis Venustus cichlid to someone who had a small 20g tank....This fish gets to 10.5" and needs at the minimum a 125g tank when fully grown.



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