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Sad looking fish that just sit at the bottom

3117 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  thekoimaiden
I have a couple of fish that don't seem very happy. My family and I have never kept fish of any sort and I don't think we are doing a good job with these guys. My husband bought our 3 year old this tank from petsmart along with some fish. I am not sure what exactly they are but I have a goldfish with a red head, some fish with strips and a yellow snail.

We had them for about a month and two of the striped fish have already died much to my son's distress. We have went back to Petsmart and asked them for help and we bought Melafix and some salt from them. We haven't had any more fish die but they look very unwell. I have bought them a bamboo and a bushy plant hoping to cheer them up but they still seem very unhappy.

They don't really swim around very much, I think fish is suppose to swim around but all they do is just sit there.

I have went back to Petsmart and the fish keeper said the goldfish might be lonely but before I buy other one, I was wandering if anyone else had sad fish that doesn't really swim? How do I make them swim and make them happy?
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Hello and welcome to the forum :wave:

Shame on the Petsmart employee who sold you those fish! They're not swimming because there's no room to swim :(

The problem is that your tank is way too small to house anything other than a few snails or a single betta fish. Most will argue that the tank is even too small for a betta. To keep it healthy you would have to be doing a lot of water changes each week since it's really hard to cycle a tank that small because of the ammonia build up (without frequent water changes).

I'm guessing that the striped fish are zebra danios since they are common. They are big swimmers and need a much larger tank. Goldfish get HUGE and are notorious poopers so will foul the water pretty quickly. Please check out the fish profiles for suggested housing and requirements to keep those fish healthy here:

Freshwater Fish Profiles

The best thing that you could do for those fish is to rehome them or upgrade their tanks pretty soon so that you don't lose them all. I'm sorry that your first experience has turned out so badly but you'll find everything you need to know about keeping healthy fish here. We have a lot of great experienced members who are willing to help.
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i dont think your fish is sad, i think it's being poisoned by the sheerly huge amount of ammonia that goldfish produce. unfortunately, pet stores just sell what they can, but fancy goldfish, i think you might have an oranda, need 20 gallons at least, each. they're also social animals who prefer groups. each additional fancy goldfish would need another 10 gallons.

i'd return the goldfish, and get a betta, which does well on its own and in smaller tanks since it doesnt produce as much ammonia. OR you could invest in a 30+ gallon tank and get a goldfish buddy.

these things don't apply to common/comet/feeder goldfish though.
I am not sure which one in the profiles are my fish.

Its past the return date for petsmart so I don't think we can return them. I guess I will try to put an ad out on craiglist and see if anyone with nicer tanks will adopt them. Can we keep the snail or does he have to go to?
Can you take a picture of the fish and snail & post it here? The snail will probably be fine but it would help to know what type it is.

Petsmart might take the fish back for free or for store credit. I would tell them that since they sold you a disaster to begin with, they should at least make it right for you.

Ideally, they might let you exchange them for one betta. They're beautiful fish and with proper care and water changes will be your toddler's best new buddy in no time.
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Glad to hear your little one likes fish. I recently bought a 20 gallon fish tank for our little boys (4 & 2) and they can be really fun. We started with a betta in a 2.5 gallon tank before upgrading. This forum has been a great help to me in the throes of new tank set-up & ownership.
I seriously wish these pet stores would stop preying on new people and selling this silly kind of stuff. Which is exactly what it is they sold you (tank wise). That little 1 gallon thing is an insult to put even a betta into.

If you really want to stand a good chance of keeping the fish healthy and happy, you need to invest the time and money in a proper set up and do you research. I'm a big fan of seeing people start with at least the 20 gallon longs (sometimes the tall are okay too). It may take up a little more space than you wanted to give but there is a better room for error and the space allows for planting which is very useful for new fish keepers.
"Fish with Stripes" along with goldfish are almost always Zebra Danios.

The only snail that Petsmart sells is the "Mystery Snail" (Apple Snail).

You can totally keep the snail.

If you are asking if fish will survive, the answer is yes. For a while.
If you are asking if fish will be happy, the answer is no.

Search the web for an aquarist club near your location.

Atlanta Area Aquarium Association is the one for Atlanta, but every city has one.

Explain your situation. Someone local to you will be able to set you up with some small freshwater shrimp. They are very colorful, and your kid will love them. They can also help you find homes for your current fish.

Clubs like this love to assist new aquarium owners, especially children.
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Welcome to the forum and to fishkeeping! I'm sorry, but you did get some very bad advice from the pet store. Those fish you have cannot live long-term in a tank like that. It sounds like you have zebra danio and goldfish (more specifically a redcap oranda). Zebra danio are active fish that like to be in groups of their own species; they like at least a 20 gal tank. Goldfish are also social creatures, and contrary to popular opinion do not grow to the size of their tank.

I think you have a couple of options. If you want to keep the goldfish, you need to get a larger tank. But you don't have to shell out the money; try looking for 40 gal or larger fish tanks on craigslist. That goldfish, fully grown with friends will need a tank that large. If you don't want that responsibility, that's just fine; goldfish aren't for everyone. You are also free to stop your fishkeeping adventure here. A local aquarium club will often help take unwanted fish from your hands.

If you do want to continue with fish, I'd advise getting rid of that tiny tank. It's honestly stretching it to even put a betta in there. Start looking on craigslist for a 20 or 30 gal tank (or buy a starter kit from Petsmart--but don't listen to the employees!). These are great starter sizes and allow you to have a few small schools of fish. When you are at the petstore, look at the names of some fish you like; write them down and search them online. You will get a much better idea of what the fish need to thrive there than you will at the store.

And lastly feel free to ask any questions you have here. Most of us were there at one point in time, lead astray by the fish store with a few dead fish on our hands.
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