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Hi, I am totally new to having fish and they keep dying. I realize its because I cant seem to keep the water right. I started with a 55 gallon tank but 12 of my original 14 fish have died so I downsized to a 20 gal. I have 2 grown adults and 11 fish that are 10 months old but are still not an inch long! That I discovered is due to the improper food I was feeding them, now I know better and they ARE growing. But I have water issues now more than ever. I realize using straight distilled water is wrong so I need help knowing haw much tap water, aquraium salt, aqueon PURE, seachem PRIME and STABILITY to add. My tank is tested with AQUARIUM test strips and the results are as follows
GH 150
NITRATE 50
NITRITE 10
CL 0
ALKALINITY 120
KH 80
PH 7.2
Any help will be GREATLY appreciated!
 

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7 aquaria: live plants, shrimp, snails, celestial danios, white clouds, corys, ottos...
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Hi clwcats,

With regard to aquarium size, I have always found it easier to stabilize a larger tank than smaller tanks, which seem much more reactive to changes.

Patience will be very helpful in successfully establishing an aquarium. It will take a little time to cycle and stabilize the tank, and adding livestock before that happens is very risky and high mortality rates can occur.

I am concerned about your nitrite and nitrate levels. Both are very high for a new tank - are we seeing residual levels from your fish mortality? Does your incoming water supply already contain nitrites/nitrates? I would suggest testing your incoming water supply. If this is 'clean', then I would do a major water change before bothering with any additives. If your incoming water does contain nitrites/nitrates, then a large dosage of 'Prime' should help.

Does your test kit check for ammonia? Dead fish, overfeeding and/or high waste levels will cause high levels of ammonia, which can be very damaging to fish.

Be very careful about overfeeding - it is very hard to NOT overfeed your fish. It can be helpful to have a few mystery snails, cherry shrimp, corydoras, etc. to help clean up fallen food, but snails and shrimp are usually very sensitive to water quality and should not be stocked until the tank is working properly.

Regarding your series of questions about additives:

First, try to moderate what you add to your tank. Try to ensure that you REALLY need to do this. Many/most additives are harmless when used properly, but anything we add to the tank can have unintended consequences, and there will plenty to spend money on without having to buy unnecessary additives. A lot of product literature will lead you to believe that you need everything all the time, but in actuality, the less you add, the better off you will usually be.

Aquarium Salt:
This is an optional treatment that many people consider beneficial. If you do decide to use it, one tablespoon per 5-10 gallons is generally recommended.

Be sure to mix the salt into a small container of warm water and completely dissolve it, then add this solution gradually to your tank. This 'pre-mixing' advice applies to everything one would add - dilute it first and add it slowly, so that there isn't suddenly a huge concentration that could harm the fish that might be right in the way.

Aqueon 'Pure':
There will be directions on the product label, but the dosage for a 20 gallon tank would be 2 'balls', with the manufacturer's statement that it cannot be overdosed. A maintenance dosage plan is suggested, but once your tank is established, I would think this ongoing treatment is not necessary. I have not used this product, but I have had the benefit of using filter media from established tanks to begin the bacterial culture.

Seachem 'Prime'
The recommended dosage is 5mL per 200L (one capful per 50 gallons), with 'emergency treatment' instructions suggesting up to 5x this amount. This means the actual dosage isn't especially critical, as long as you use enough. For your 20 gallon tank, you will only need a very small amount and the instructions are on the bottle. If your chlorine (CL) is "0", you really don't need to use this at all unless your municipal water supply uses chloramine, which I'm not sure if that shows up on a chlorine test. If you are using well water for your 'tap water', then no form of chlorine/chloramine should be present. As noted above, if your incoming water already contains high levels of nitrites/nitrates, then the 'emergency' dosage of 'Prime' is called for.


Seachem 'Stability':
This product performs the same function as the 'Pure'; is helps create a culture of beneficial bacteria to begin breaking down ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. I would suggest choosing one or the other, both should not be necessary. I think I would use the 'Stability', but perhaps you could read some reviews and decide which is better for you. The dosage is on the bottle: 5 mL per 40L (one capful per 10 gallons), so your 20 gallon tank would require two caps full.

I hope this helps and good luck to you!
 
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