3 danios acting lethargic after tank transfer

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Toasty3000

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Hi all, it's been a couple months since I posted on this forum.

BACKSTORY:
Around then, I had just gotten a 5.5 gal aquarium set up. Finally got the cycle established (fish-in) about 2 weeks ago, and my three blue danios seemed quite happy, eating ravenously and darting about like danios should be.

Today, I picked up a 20 gal tank, a 20lb bag of gravel substrate, a larger HOB filter, and a more powerful heater.

I started by rinsing the new gravel and cleaning the new tank. I then put a few inches of water (out of the old tank) into a food-grade 5 gal bucket, and gently transferred my fish into it with a net.

Next, I scooped as much of the old water out of the old tank into the new, without disturbing the old substrate. Once I got most of the water transferred, I dumped the old substrate into a colander and lightly rinsed it under the tap, before spreading it evenly on top of the new substrate in the new tank.

I then proceeded to fill the new tank a few gallons at a time, testing the water temperature frequently with a digital thermometer. I made sure to keep the temperature of the new water within about half a degree of the original temperature of 79F.

I then rinsed the filter cartridge under the tap, loaded it up, and started the filter. I then added nearly double the tap water conditioner that was needed, so probably around 60-70 drops, and stirred the water around with my net.

I let the filter run for about 40 minutes while I added my decor and props. I then transferred my fish from the bucket to the new tank after verifying the water temperature of both. (bucket: 79.1F, tank: 79.4F)

PRESENT-TIME:
It has now been about 2 hours and my three danios are behaving in lethargic manner, spending most of the time faintly swimming at the surface with very small and rapid fin/gill movements. I sprinkled in a very tiny amount of flake food, to see if they were at all interested. Not even a glance or a single nibble. Attached is a photo of them idling by the surface. I should also mention that these three fish are the only ones in the tank.

What could be causing this? Stress? Adverse water conditions?

I tested a sample for ammonia, with the result reading zero. Could it be that the water isn't properly aerated yet? The HOB filter I'm running is rated for up to 30 gal aquariums.

Whatever it could be, what could I try to keep them from dying, and ultimately, keep them happy?
1009162003d.jpg
 
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Toasty3000

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I recorded a video so it's easier to see the behavior I'm describing.

In this video you can also see the rest of my tank, the filter output, and the surface agitation.

By the way, you can see that I have my glass cover folded open. I had it completely closed before, with a few square inches open around the filter. I opened it a while ago to try to improve the surface gas exchange, in case that was my problem.

Apologies for the occasionally bad focus
 

E1isabeth

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Xander

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You're going to want to cool the water off - from what I can find, they shouldn't be in temperatures higher than 77°. I'd say to lower it to 75°, and this will also allow the water to hold more oxygen. An airstone would be a good idea, as well.
 

el337

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Did you move the old filter media over to the new tank? If not, looks like you lost your cycle and will have to re-cycle the tank. Most of the beneficial bacteria resides in the filter media. Water holds no BB so it was pointless to transfer that. If you still have the old media, I'd put that into the new filter now.

What kind of test kit are you using and what are your other parameters - pH, nitrite, nitrate? If the temp was the same as the old tank, I don't think it's the temp although they do need it below 75F. I'm guessing it's the water quality. You profile says you don't know the nitrogen cycle so I would read up on it. If you're using test strips, I'd get the API Master Test Kit as it's far more accurate and cheaper in the long run.
 
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Toasty3000

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I do know about the nitrogen cycle, I need to update my profile.

My water readings were normal across the board, except maybe the pH. The pH was approximately 7.8, but that's what it always was in the previous tank, and the fish didn't seem to mind. I have the API master test kit.

Sadly I did not transfer over the old filter media, because it wouldn't fit in the new, larger filter. I was hoping that the porous lava stones I have in the tank would serve as a good habitat for BB, in addition to the old substrate.

Should I order an airstone & pump?

I am very sad to say one of my Danios passed overnight. The other two are still kicking. Here's to hoping those little guys can pull through.
 

el337

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Then you'll need to cycle this tank all over again. And I'm pretty sure that's the reason why your danio died and why the others were behaving this way. As mentioned, the beneficial bacteria populates and resides mostly in the filter media. The substrate and lava stones will only house a little of it. What you could have done is cut the floss from the old cartridge and stuff it next to the new cartridge so that it seeds it. You wouldn't have lost your cycle this way.

An airstone and pump wouldn't be needed if you have enough surface agitation from the HOB filter. I would get a bacteria supplement like Tetra SafeStart Plus or Seachem Stability. Prime would be good to have to detox traces of ammonia and nitrite that may build up while cycling.

Can you list your exact readings as well as what test kit you're using. A pH of 7.8 is just fine and isn't something to be concerned about.
 

oldsalt777

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Hello Toa...

Small tanks are difficult to keep clean. The water won't stay clean enough to keep the fish healthy. You can remove and replace most of the tank water every few days and that really isn't often enough. The waste produced by even a few small fish will dissolve in the water and pollute the tank in a few hours. Even traces of ammonia or nitrite in the tank water is enough to kill most fish. Your fish are likely feeling the effects of the

A 20 gallon is good, but larger, A 30 is better. Get a larger tank if you want to give yourself a chance to succeed in the fish keeping hobby.

Old
 

el337

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oldsalt777 said:
Hello Toa...

Small tanks are no place for aquarium fish. The water won't stay clean enough to keep the fish healthy. You can remove and replace most of the tank water every day or two and that really isn't often enough. The waste produced by even a small fish will dissolve in the water and pollute the tank in a few hours. Even traces of ammonia or nitrite in the tank water is enough to kill most fish.

Get a larger tank if you want to give yourself a chance to succeed in the fish keeping hobby.

Old
The OP has them in a 20 gallon tank with just 2 danios now. ???
 

oldsalt777

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el337 said:
The OP has them in a 20 gallon tank with just 2 danios now. ???
Hello el...

Yes. I was in the process of revising my post. Still, a 20 gallon is small for aquarium fish. The water has to be clear of pollutants if the fish are to be healthy.

Thanks,

Old
 

el337

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oldsalt777 said:
Hello el...

Yes. I was in the process of revising my post. Still, a 20 gallon is small for aquarium fish. The water has to be clear of pollutants if the fish are to be healthy.

Thanks,

Old
Old,

In no way is a 20 gallon too small for danios. And you can definitely fit more fish in if stocked appropriately. We can agree to disagree on tank size but IMO, the OP's issue lies with the fact that the danios were moved to an uncycled tank.
 
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Toasty3000

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el337 said:
Can you list your exact readings as well as what test kit you're using. A pH of 7.8 is just fine and isn't something to be concerned about.
I just pulled more samples and tested again.
pH: 7.8/8.0
Ammonia: 0.25 ppm (it's spiking, as expected I guess :-\)
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm

I am using the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.


Well, I can safely say I screwed up bigtime. I feel so bad for my fish. Lesson learned, don't trust a petco salesman's advice, despite how knowledgeable they may seem.

I was told by a petco salesman as long as I transferred over all the water and substrate over that the new tank would be ready for my fish in an hour. I guess he was just trying to make a quick sale. Boy do I feel stupid. I don't know why I didn't think to cycle the new tank while keeping the fish in the old one.
 

el337

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You wouldn't have needed to cycle the tank prior to moving the fish in. As mentioned, moving the old filter media along with the fish would have been enough to maintain your cycle.

You can definitely cycle this tank and keep the fish safe. Do you have Prime? You can pick up a bacteria supplement as mentioned in my previous post that will help you cycle with them in about 2-3 weeks. Let us know which one you get and we can guide you.
 
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Toasty3000

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el337 said:
You wouldn't have needed to cycle the tank prior to moving the fish in. As mentioned, moving the old filter media along with the fish would have been enough to maintain your cycle.
Man, it hurts hearing that. Stupid me.

I went to PetCo this morning and picked up Seachem Prime and Fluval Cycle (they didn't have Seachem Stability)

I added a capful (5ml) of Prime first, followed by two capfuls of the Fluval stuff (50ml)

One of the two remaining danios now has fairly tattered fins and a strong red hue to his coloration, poor little guy. Seems to be struggling to swim

Here is a video I just recorded of the two fish. You can clearly see which one is in worse condition
 

el337

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I think water changes anytime that ammonia and/or nitrite start to rise close to 1 or above (at least 50%) will be needed. On the days it's less than 1, you can dose Prime directly into the tank for the full volume. Keep adding Fluval Cycle. Not sure how effective that one is but you can always also add TSS+ (should say Start Up on front) as well. With TSS+, you'd add it 24 hours after the use of a water conditioner and then do no water changes for 2 weeks until you show cycled readings.

He does look like he's struggling. Hoping he makes it. You could add a couple more danios to cycle with if you lose him or rehome both and do a fishless cycle with pure ammonia.
 

tardismum

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My Danios were behaving the same way when I first got them and lowering the temperature to 72-73F made a huge difference.
It is worth trying in conjunction with cycling the tank.
 
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I regret to say the little guy that was struggling earlier today just passed. Man have I learned my lesson.
 

el337

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Do you plan to get more danios? I don't think 1 danio would be enough to get a good cycle going. You could return the lone danio and do a fishless cycle. We can help with that if you like.
 
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It was really tough to decide between the two options, but I think I will get more danios and do a fish-in cycle. I did that with the 5.5 gal and they never seemed to display any signs of major distress, perhaps because I did a water change every time ammonia read any higher than 0.25ppm

I don't really want to return the lone danio, I've grown somewhat attached to the little guy after what he's been through. Not to mention he got his energy back in full force since yesterday, swimming around and eating regularly.

How many danios in the tank total would you suggest for a fish-in cycle? I was planning on 3.
 

el337

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They don't have a lot of bioload and in a 20 gallon, you want enough ammonia output to register and get a good population of bacteria growing. In order for them to feel secure, spread out any aggression, produce enough ammonia and still have enough in case 1 doesn't make it, I'd go for 6.
 
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