Please Someone, Anyone, Help, Please!! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
Please Someone, Anyone, Help, Please!!

Heya you all, sorry I have not had time to introduce myself but I was looking around on the internet and becuase I was in desperate need of help. I have been having an aquarium for a very long time now. Like 4 years if you want to call that a long time. I have always had cichlids and an algea eater. Now recently, for some odd reason, and probably my lack of keeping up with the tank because I am so busy always at work. My fish died. I did not know what reason they did but they just did.

Me and my girlfriend decided to clean the entire tank out. We cleaned all of the filter area and rocks and everything. We threw away all of the stuff like sunken ships and plants and everything that was inside of the tank for fear of the water being tainted of sorts.

So when we decided to set up the new tank, 20 gallon size, we went with the same kind of fish. We used the same rocks, which we cleaned and rinsed and cleaned repeatedly. We never used any chemicals just straight up hot running water to clean everything. We went to PetSmart (not sure if any of you are familiar with this place) and bought new items for tank, a house that blows bubbles out of the top that has a spinning wheel, a little hut think that the fish seem to try and hide under all the time, and a artificial banzaii tree looking thing. We added tap water and the water remained clear. For fear of not having the tank in the right chemical balances, we added chemicals that should have helepd when ready to add the fish. We added, and there is alot of them, Ammo Lock, AmQuel Plus, Proper pH 8.2, Stress Zyme, Tetra Aqua Aqua Safe, and Tetra Easy Balance. I know it is alot. But we just wanted to get it just right.

We then went and bought some fish, five fish to be exact. All Cichlids and one algea eater, not sure on the names because we actually picked on the colors of the fish lol. We decided to go with prettiness lol. All of the fish or fairly big I would assume to ones I have had in the past, about 2-2.5 inches long. Immediately after adding the fish one fish started acting funny, he reamined on the bottom of the tank sitting there and barely moving appearing as if he was going to die. The next day he loooked better, started swimming around a little. Suddenly he went bezerk on me as if something had startled him. He ran around the tank crazily fast and I think ran into the side of it and appeared to die. Suicide I guess. This freaked out my girlfriend alot. I took him out of the tank and was going to bring him back to the store thinking something was wrong with him to get my money back. Then the algae eater got stuck in the turning wheel and I attempted to get him out but he got stuck further in. Finally I was able to get him out and he barely moved after that just wobbled along like and appeared to be dying. Finally I took him out for fear of the other fish were going to start to eat on him. I put him in a bag and put both fish in the freezer to bring back to the store. I checked them a little while later and the were both seemingly moving fine in the bag but knowing that they had been in the freezer I knew they would go into shock putting them back into the aquarium. I also noticed that the tank was getting white cloudy but knew that was pretty normal because of the bennificiary bacteria setting themselves up. I left to go to work the next day.

When I returned home, I noticed that another fish was dead. Now, I began to worry seriously. I used a chemical test kit to check the balances on ammonia, PH, nitrates, nitrites, and high PH. Everythign seemed to be fine, actually everything was pretty spot on except for the PH which seemed to be like 8.8, possibly a little higher because that is as high as the test thing goes. I made a 25% water change and added, Proper pH 8.2, Ammo Lock, and Aqua Safe again. Suddenly, after a few minutes, one of the fish began to spin out of control and basically did what the first one did and suddenly stopped moving and floated, he came back through and is barely moving now along the bottom of the tank. The other, my favorite one, which my little boy named goldie, was also acting strangely, swimming around with his mouth wide open, and moving slowly. He ended up doing the same as the other and now is barely moving also. They both appear that they are going to die. I need some help seriously. I dont know what to do.

I have a heater for the tank, the filter adds oxygen and also the house that the wheel turns on blows bubbles upward, I also have one of those things, cant remember the name that is about 10 inches long that lays flat and blows bubbles upward. Is it possible to have to much oxygen in a tank? This is breaking my little boys, my girlfriends, and my heart to watch this happen to these fish. I love fish and would love for someone to please help me with this problem.

Sorry it ws so long but I tried to go into as much detail as possible to tell exactly what is going wrong..... Anthony
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post #2 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 09:45 PM
onefish2fish's Avatar
ok, first of all all your fish most likely died from amonia poisoning. i dont think you let your tank fully "cycle" ( if you do not know what "cycling a tank" is and type in fishless cycle or there are good threads about it on here.)
you say your amonia levels,nitrite and nitrate levels are "ok" or "all good" what exactly does that mean? can you post exact levels? ( if you need a test kit, which is highly recommended API liquid master test kit is a favorite)
second, adding all the chemicals you possibly can, usually makes the water conditions worse then better. (dont get me wrong, some work like aquasafe is a good conditioner for tap water)
third, it sounds like your tank is over-stocked, that is if infact you have cichlids which are usually territorial,aggressive and best not "all mixed" especially in a 20 gallon tank and you say you have an algae eater? what kind a plecotomus (pleco)? those can reach a whopper 18'' and need 75-100+ gallon tanks.
actual names of the fish you have or had for that matter and posting actual water parameters will greatly help in assesing the problem(s)

if you want success i recommend reading about a "fishless cycle" and going ahead and doing it, then getting some small, easier cared for fish - i.e. - a school of neon tetras, guppies (they readily spawn so watch out) but before you buy any fish:
cycle the tank
do your homework and learn there required needs (max growth size,food requirements,school or solitary ect. ect.)
and finally most importantly, dont be shy to ask questions!! :D
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post #3 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 09:46 PM
iamntbatman's Avatar
Well, it sounds like you've got two major issues going on:

1) You have a huge chemical soup going on in the tank with all of those additives! I'm not even familiar with what some of those products even do. Have you tested the pH of the water coming out of your tap? If your pH readings were off the charts, I would suspect maybe the proper pH 8.2 stuff is doing that. If you bought your fish from Petsmart, I would kind of doubt that their fish are kept in high pH environments (even the African cichlids, which prefer a higher pH) so the pH shock might have killed some of your fish. With all of that other stuff...who knows? Maybe some of it reacted to form something toxic? You really shouldn't be using all of those chemicals. Really the only thing you need is a good dechlorinator (I use Tetra's AquaSafe). If you want to raise the pH gently and naturally for African cichlids, using crushed coral or aragonite sand is the way to go. Using all of those chemicals is just asking for disaster.

2) You started up a new tank and added too many fish too fast. Cichlids and just about any sort of algae eater are going to be huge waste producers, and if you haven't let the tank cycle, you likely have a huge ammonia buildup that's killing your fish. The cloudy water is a good indicator of this.

You can't over-oxygenate the water. You can have enough current and water movement that it bugs the fish, but I don't think that's your problem. Do you have a good liquid test kit? I suggest getting API's Freshwater Master Test Kit if you haven't already bought it or something similar. Those paper test strips are completely unreliable and are pretty much a waste of money. If you could give us the readings of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH from a liquid test kit that would be a big help. However, I suspect that you're already having water quality issues, so I suggest you do a 50% water change using only the Tetra AquaSafe in your tap water. Add the new water to the tank *very* slowly (I'm talking over the course of an hour or so, maybe more) because the pH in your tank is so high and you don't want to subject the fish to more pH shock.

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post #4 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
I am using a Freshwater Master Test Kit made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Inc., it is a liquid test kit.

The readings are as follows,

pH test.... 7.6
High Range pH test..... 8.8, but possibly a little higher because this is as high as the test goes
Ammonia test..... 0 ppm
Nitrate test.... 0 ppm
Nitrite test..... 1.0 ppm

thats the only ones it test for sorry

Also, why I am typing this, the two fish that are left keep doing the same thing, they are swimming so damn fast, that it looks like they are trying to kill themsleves. I hope they make it but I am pretty sure they wont. Also, the algae eater I had was a Pleco, never used anything but them. So I am thinking no more chemicals at all. And if the fish die which I am assuming hey are about to do, start over and use just Aqua Safe right? Man this sucks, you just dont know how much..... Anthony

PS. ALso when I do get this thing going again, what food do I feed them. I have always used Cichlid flake food, I even at one point thought they had starved to death lol. Sorry just looking for info.... Anthony
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post #5 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 10:12 PM
onefish2fish's Avatar
your levels seem fine, and fish feeding can depend on the fish, generally with flakes its x2 a day no more then what can be eaten within a minute or two and fast ( meaning no food ) x1 a week
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post #6 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 10:34 PM
iamntbatman's Avatar
1 ppm of nitrite can be dangerous.

How long has the tank been set up? Having zero ammonia, low nitrite and zero nitrate seems strange to be, but it's possible that you're just starting the nitrite portion of the cycle.

As long as you keep testing your water parameters correctly and do water changes whenever either the ammonia or nitrite gets above roughly 0.5 ppm you should be ok. I'm still really worried about that extremely high pH, though. Even for African cichlids this is quite high.

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post #7 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
Well the aquarium as it is has only been set up for like 3 almost 4 days. I am thinking it is just time to start over. The other two fish look to be dead and not moving. That sucks. I am guessing to just take them out, take all the water out, and just re add water with just Aqua Safe. That seems to be the best thing to do right? No more chemicals except for that. That is actually how I have done it in the past I just wanted to try it just perfectly this time..... Anthony
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post #8 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 10:49 PM
onefish2fish's Avatar
go to and type in Fishless Cycle
then do it! a cycle usually takes about and atleast 4 weeks depending. No wonder your fishies died and i am beggining to wonder if your test kit is any good if you had a 0 amonia reading, that is not possible in a tank 3 days old.
please learn as much as possible about a fishless cycle and do it. your fish will thank you and they will have a better chance of success!
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post #9 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 10:53 PM
iamntbatman's Avatar
Are you sure the fish are dead? Look for fin or gill movements, poke the fish with a net, do what you can to be sure they're dead before removing them. Your tank is cycling and your pH is very high, but I believe it's not beyond repair. If you "start over" you'll have to really start over.

If the fish do die and you want to start again, I think you're best off with just the water conditioner and none of those other chemicals. African cichlids do need a higher pH than what comes out of most people's taps, but this can be achieved naturally rather than with chemicals from a bottle.

Also, this was bound to come up at some point: a 20 gallon tank is really too small for the assorted African cichlids sold at places like Petsmart. Most of these fish grow to 4-5" in length and can be very aggressive, so you're likely to face aggression and water quality issues further down the road. African cichlids aren't hard fish to keep, but it's important to set up a suitable tank for them as well as select appropriate fish to avoid aggression issues. There are many, many different species of African cichlid with a wide variety of sizes, behaviors and needs, so it's really best to do some research before purchasing them.

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post #10 of 21 Old 08-18-2008, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
I am going to check them in a few. As far as the fishless cyclying. I am sorry, You might not understand lol, but I have a little boy who has been having fish forever as far as he can remember, 3-4 weeks of cycling with no fish is not an option. I know your method probably works more times then none but I have had aquariums before and they have never been fishless cycled. Like I said I just added water and Aqua Safe before. You can not understand that not having these fish for my son is like. I mean you deal with a 8 year old that doesnt understand the concept of his fish dying and then redying when you get more. 3-4 weeks, way to long. ANd yes the test kit is working, read what I originally posted. One of those chemicals actually gets rid of the ammonia which actually might be my problem lol..... Anthony
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