Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Macrocosm 04-07-2012 03:31 PM

Help about to give up!!
So much advice out there, and yet I seek more...

OK first aquarium. From the beginning.
46 gallon tank... I live in Arizona where the water is REALLY HARD. Purchased Aqueon 75/100 cascade filter. I added the water, we cleaned the gravel and all the pretty stuff in the tank. We let it sit for about three weeks before adding fish (DeChlor, bacterea tank starter (all topfin stuff). Took the water into a local pet store, tested it, they had said ok to adding fish. We added four fish. Fed them twice a day. Water began to get cloudy. Tested water again, was told that the water was ok that it just needed to cycle. We did our first 10% water change. Even more cloudy, we then added "water clarifier (topfin)" REALLY CLOUDY.... ugh... Went to another pet store brought water with us. They said we needed to purchase an Aqua-clear 50/75 and add these rubber pellets with preloaded bacteria.We bought it and a pump for the bubble stone thingy. We let that work for a week. The water got clearER... Asked the local petshop if we could add more fish. They tested the water and said YES... We added 4 more fish. Guess what.... CLOUDY!!!!! Both of the Gourami's that we purchased died quickly. I purchased a water tester myself... Amonia levels were normal... One fish died from a fungus on it and the other from Dropsy. Then we began to add "fishkeeper" to the tank to help from losing any more fish. (We knew that with us being new to aquariums that we would loose a few). We did a 20% water change (without anyone's advice to try to clear up the tank)... more cloudy.... ugh.... lost ANOTHER FISH!!!!
I watched on youtube and read some articles about the cloudiness that if you add Acrue-F it would clear it up in hours.... I purchased that and also a power head for the tank..... NOW WE HAVE A BROWN WATER TANK THAT CIRCULATES WELL.

Other than mass frustration and a headache I have:

The surviors so far... Two Emerald Corys, One Glass Catfish, One dalmation molly, One x-ray tetra. They are hanging on for dear life....

Brown very cloudy water...

a completely frustrated girlfriend.

and a nice 46 gallon tank....

But... hey taking care of fish is easy right? UGH HELP GURUS!!!! HELP!!!!!!!

I am sure I am leaving stuff out... So ask away....

Water tested today:
Temp 82
NH4 .25
NO 3 0
NO2 .25
pH 7

(sorry for any spelling mistakes)

Byron 04-07-2012 04:16 PM

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:wave:

And welcome to what sometimes (especially in the beginning) seems to be a frustrating hobby...:frustrated:

But the good news is, it doesn't have to be. So let's get your issues resolved.

First thing is that you will learn as you go that some things need immediate action and some don't. Cloudy water in new tanks falls under the latter. This is almost certainly due to a bacterial bloom which is common because the water out of the tap contains loads of organics you can't see, but the bacteria can, and they increase to consume it, hence the white cloudy water. This has to be left alone to naturally clear, and it will, though it can take a few days to even a couple of months. Using any form of clarifier is not advisable. Many act by binding microscopic particles into larger particles that will then more easily be trapped in the filter media; unfortunately these products also bind the gills of fish, not always causing death (though they can) but severe stress which only makes any other issue--like ammonia or nitrite in new tanks--even worse for the fish. At this point, not knowing what that last (brown) product is, I would do a major water change and leave it.

The tank after three weeks may or may not have had a colony of nitrifying bacteria established; the bacterial product you mentioned might have started one. A few small fish and ones that are hardier than some could have worked (depending), but too many and of the wrong type, likely you found out. Gourami are sensitive fish and not first fish for tanks.

At this point I will suggest live plants. Something as simple as floating plants works wonders. Plants need nitrogen, and aquatic plants prefer it as ammonium which comes from ammonia. Live plants will gobble up ammonia like you wouldn't believe, provided there are sufficient plants and not too many fish. We have some plants in our profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page; if names are used the same in posts they shade and you can click on that for that species profile. Water Sprite is one I highly recommend. Some of the stem plants will grow fine floating. You will need a decent light, we can go into that later.

Another word of advice: don't be quick to dump in more chemicals for this problem or that problem. Stores can be good or bad with respect to their level of knowledge. Sometimes treatments are necessary, but often a major water change will do as much. Every substance that goes into the tank with fish will affect the fish, somewhat. Fish are unique in this respect; most animals live in the air and that remains relative safe and acceptable. But fish are confined to water, and in a very closed space, and water chemistry is very complex. I never add a product to the aquarium unless I absolutely need it, and provided it is safe

The temp at 82 is too high, this causes stress to fish too; oxygen is lower in warmer water, so the fish have to work harder to get it, which wears them down, adding more stress, then any other issue that could otherwise be tolerated becomes a major probably get the picture. Around 77F is fine for the average community aquarium. And the fish named will be better at 77F. The corys and tetra especially are having to really struggle at 82F.

So, from all the above, I would do a good water change (half the tank) using a good conditioner, nothing else. The cloudiness will likely persist, but bear with it. You need to clean up that water from the various chemical concoctions, and that will be appreciated by the fish. And lower the temp to 77F partly with the water change and by resetting the heater so it doesn't come on until the water is at 76/77F.

For some background reading to the above, have a look at this article:

And...don't give up. This can and will be resolved.:greenyay:


Macrocosm 04-07-2012 05:30 PM

Thank you so much....
So I think what you are saying is that I have made about every mistake that I can at this moment. LOL

OK So tonight I will do a 50% water change. Since I am going to the fish store to get a water sprite, should I also get a new water treatment chemical?
The water treatment "chemical" that I have is made by topfin.... IS THAT A GOOD ONE? Do you have a suggestion??

Secondly... When I do that change should I vaccum my gravel or leave it alone? Should I change any of my filters? (I have three of them)

Lastly, should I lower the temp gradually or just turn the temp down?

Thank you again!!!!


Byron 04-07-2012 06:36 PM


Originally Posted by Macrocosm (Post 1038790)
So I think what you are saying is that I have made about every mistake that I can at this moment. LOL

OK So tonight I will do a 50% water change. Since I am going to the fish store to get a water sprite, should I also get a new water treatment chemical?
The water treatment "chemical" that I have is made by topfin.... IS THAT A GOOD ONE? Do you have a suggestion??

Secondly... When I do that change should I vaccum my gravel or leave it alone? Should I change any of my filters? (I have three of them)

Lastly, should I lower the temp gradually or just turn the temp down?

Thank you again!!!!


I would turn the heater down to the setting for 77F, which depending upon the heater may take some fiddling. Keep an eye on the temp in the tank. Then when you do the water change, lower the temp a bit with the new water. A few degrees will not hurt fish, most of us lower the temp at every water change a few degrees since it replicates a tropical rainstorm and stimulates the fish.

As you have no plants, you can vacuum the substrate with each water change. Filters should be rinsed as needed; you want a good water flow through all the media, and as it accumulates stuff it will clog (the pads/floss/foam parts anyway) and these must be rinsed. Use tank water, tap water with chlorine will kill the bacteria; once the tank is established with plants this won't matter, but for now, use tank water.

Topfin is PetSmart's brand, and I've not used it; from their website it seems to do the basics. Most will recommend Prime (by Seachem) especially for new tanks, since it does everything that can be done by a conditioner, including detoxifying nitrite and nitrate. Once things settle, I would go with a conditioner that does what you need with your tap water. I see no point in using more chemicals to deal with things that the plants and bacteria will handle naturally, but this is my opinion and others will recommend Prime continually.


Macrocosm 04-07-2012 09:04 PM

Going to PetsMart ....

They do not have the plant that you mentioned earlier in stock. Any other suggestions?

Macrocosm 04-08-2012 10:33 AM

Well I went and got some great looking plants. I got 4 plants for the tank. Not sure what I got, but I assume something is better than nothing. I also did a 50% water change with distilled water and vacuumed up as much debris as I could. Added a couple of caps of prime and cleaned out the filters with the tank water.
Everything looks good... My brown water is gone, I still have some cloudiness, but am confident that will clear up over the next few days. The fish look really happy, which I think is mostly due to the lowering of the tank temp.
Here are my readings as of today:
Temp: 76*
NH4: .25ppm
NO3: 5ppm
NO2: .5ppm
pH: 7.8

Everything look ok?

hacksaw15 04-08-2012 11:24 AM

I would like to add that fishkeeping is most stressful in the beginning when cycling a tank. The cloudy part was one of the things I did not like either. I made all of the same exact mistakes you made. I've been in it 3 years now and still learning. You'll never know it all and you will always run into something thats going to puzzle you. Two things that I had to understand and it seems you understand this now. The LFS will probably tell you anything to get you to buy something and the other is try not to put any chemical in the tank other that water conditioner and if you do put a chemical in make sure you totally understand what it does and how harmful it is to your fish. I enjoy this so much I can't think about anything else. So don't get to stressed out and upset about it all gets better and smooths out before you know it.

Quantum 04-08-2012 12:11 PM

try to positively ID the plants as some sold at the big box stores won't last long term submerged

I would also nail down the water hardness (GH and KH) numbers, you mention hard source water and then doing a water change with distilled, this is fine as most of your fish will do better softer water (the molly being the exception - might need to rehome if you keep the others) but you wouldn't want to use pure distilled, either continue to mix with tap or add minerals to get the appropriate GH and pH numbers

Boise1024 04-08-2012 11:15 PM

Using distilled water might be risky. Basically, your tap water has a certain mineral content in it. The fish grow accustomed to that water. Distilled water has about no mineral at all, it can disturb the fish and make them work harder to maintain their osmotic balance. It can also change your tank's ph, which is bad for the fish. If your tap water's ph, hardness and nitrate are ok, just use that water with a good water conditionner. Also, be sure to follow the directions on the conditionner, a little can go a long way !

Romad 04-09-2012 08:11 AM

Hi Macrocosm and welcome to the forum. You've already received some good advice here so you should be well on your way to a healthy and beautiful tank. The hard part is almost over.

As for plants, the chain stores sometimes tend to sell plants that are not true aquatics. I learned that the hard way and now buy everything on line. e-bay and Aquabid are great resources for live plants but there are many other places as well.

When you can post a few pics of the plants, start a thread in the plant sub-forum so that we can help identify for you.

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