Alrighty, first off hello! This is my first post to this forum and man could I use some advice! My experience with fish is so minimal and my boyfriend and I have just invested in making this a new couple's hobby. Sorry ahead of time that the post is so long but I guess I need advice beginning to end...
This all started a couple of weeks ago when he decided he really wanted some fish, and inherited a 3 gal tank from his soon-to-be sister-in-law (tank, filter, air pump incl.). I was out of town at the time but apparently he bought a blue gourami and guppy for the tank and used super filtered water from the dispenser at the grocery store to fill it up. The gourami reportedly mauled the guppy (thus earning its name - Jaffar) so we opted for some hardier fish: an angel fish and a black molly named token. After floating for appropriate lengths of time we let the newcomers into the tank, but the gourami went after the angelfish. Back to the pet store. Swapped the angelfish for an african dwarf frogs, the gourami was still being feisty, so we gave up on it and traded it in for a spotted catfish. This is where the trouble starts.
Summary: 3 gal Tank with one black molly (Token), one spotted catfish (Meowth) and one african dwarf frog (Kevin) with a 25 watt heater and 1-3gal whisper filter with bio bags.
A few days ago we noticed what looked like a bite out of Token's lip (a white spot near his mouth that seemed like a chunk of flesh missing rather than a cottony something or another like we found Ich and Flex to be described as after some research). It started getting some stringy things off of it but we didn't think anything of it having had minimal fish experience before and assuming it was something food related. Yesterday he started acting really strangely, however. Chillin at the bottom of the tank or at the top rather than zooming around like his usual self. White thread-like stuff seems to be attached to his body and his tail looks shredded to pieces, though he wont use it or any other of his fins besides the arm ones (like i said ... fish experience minimal) for swimming.
Today while at the store to grab something for him (at the time we thought it was Ich) my boyfriend fell in love with the ghost catfish and another angelfish, so we decided to go ahead and convert a frog tank we had into a new aquarium. We filled the new tank with treated water from what I think was a Glacier water machine at the grocery store, as well as about a gallon of water from their old tank (boyfriend said something about retaining some of their beneficial bacteria?). After heating this new water we floated the new fish and ziplocced (god that sounds horrible) the old fish into individual baggies to float them in the new tank as well. After getting everything we needed to deck out the new tank, the new fish, melafix for the Ich, and what I guess is a comprehensive water testing kit, we've come to the status described below:
1. Size of aquarium (# of gallons) :
2. Is your aquarium setup freshwater or brackish water?
I'm not really sure what this means, sorry!
3. How long the aquarium has been set up?
Less than a day, though the previous had been set up for a couple of weeks
4. What fish and how many are in the aquarium (species are important to know)
1-Angelfish, 1-Black Molly, 1-Spotted Catfish, 1-African Dwarf Frog, 2-Ghost Catfish
5. Are there live plants in the aquarium?
A 4" anubias(sp?) plant that we bought with the new tank pump and heater
6. What temperature is the tank water currently?
The temperature strip we borrowed from the smaller tank puts it at between 83-87 degrees though earlier it noted an even higher temp than that. Our heater has been turned all the way down now for several hours though so I find it hard for this to be correct.
7. What make/model filter are you using?
Whisper 10Gal with Biobags
8. Are you using a CO2 unit?
Since I don't know what this is I guess not.
9. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day?
Only as much as comes in through the tiny basement windows, so not much.
10. When did you perform your last water exchange, and how much water was changed?
All but one gallon of the current water is brand new
11. How often do you perform water changes?
Weekly at a minimum
12. How often and what foods do you feed your fish?
We had been hiding dried blood worms in a tic tac container for the dwarf frog as he didn't seem to like fighting the catfish for the sinking wafers, then dropping a pinch of tropical fish flakes for the molly. However, the blood worms ended up being a ton of trouble and the dwarf frog turned out to hold his ground against the cat fish when he was hungry, so we just stepped back to that. Now that we have all of the new fish though it's expected we'll be dropping a pinch of the blood worms (ghost catfish/african dwarf frog), a small pinch of the tropical flakes (angel fish and molly - if he makes it) and a sinking wafer for the spotted catfish.
13. What type of lighting are you using and how long is it kept on?
In the smaller tank we had been using an incandescent light during day time, then turned it off before bed. The larger tank has a flourescent aquarium light in it on the same schedule.
14. What specific concerns bring you here at this time?
The chemistry in our tank is BONKERS and one of our fish seems to be in deep trouble :(
15. What are your water parameters? Test your pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
pH: 6.6, Ammonia: 0.25, Nitrite: 5.0 (yikes!), Nitrate: 30 (eep!)
16. What test kit are you using and is it liquid or test strips?
API Freshwater Master Test Kit (liquid)
17. When was the last time you bought a fish and how did they behave while in the pet store tank?
We bought three of them today and the larger of the glass cats as well as the angel behaved fine. I wasn't watching when the pet store clerk grabbed the smaller of the glass cats, though none in the tank looked to be sickly/lethargic. The black molly looked great in the store... we picked him specifically because he was large and active (to keep his own against the vicious gourami). The african dwarf frog did what he did best and hid under a rock in the store tank. The catfish was super active... against, we picked him specifically for that purpose.
As I researched more over dinner tonight I thought that our molly more than likely had Flex than Ich, though that was after we dropped a dose of melafix into the tank. We're going to the store tomorrow to see about perhaps getting some kind of nitrite filter even if it's temporary, and investing in a digital thermometer. If you guys so advise we'll also be looking for Maracyn, I suppose. What can I do about these water conditions? How can I save my poor little Token?