Beginner Mistake, Now We Need Help!

  1. Jollyrancherbot

    Jollyrancherbot New Member Member

    Hello everyone I am in need of help. My fiance and I set up our 38 gallon tank yesterday and put all of the appropriate chemicals in and let it run for about 8 hours. Us being new to the aquarium scene thought it would be ok to go get fish and introduce them. It all went well up until we woke up this morning and about 80% of our fish died.
    After doing more research we discovered that we need to cycle the tank for a few weeks so it can build up bacteria and that we also way overstocked the tank.
    My question now being should we completely start over and drain the water to start a new fishless cycle or can we continue cycling with what's already in the tank? We made a beginner's mistake and want to do it the right way so any help would be appreciated
  2. L

    LDR123 New Member Member

    How many fish are left in there? You can do a fish cycle as long as you maintain healthy water parameters.
  3. OP

    Jollyrancherbot New Member Member

    We have
    2 giant denies
    3 gourami
    1 sword
    None of which look too good :(

  4. mattgirl

    mattgirl Well Known Member Member

    What you added to the tank in way of appropriate chemicals could determine your next step. The only thing you should have added to the tank is a water conditioner to remove the chlorine if you have it in your source/tap water.

    The fish may have died if they weren't properly acclimated to your water. Most folks just try to acclimate them to the temp but they also need to be acclimated to the new water they are going into.

    We will ask a lot of questions and your answers to them will help us help you.

    What chemicals did you add to this tank? How many fish did you start with? I see you know about the nitrogen cycle but do you understand how it works and why it is important?
  5. OP

    Jollyrancherbot New Member Member

    Chemicals we added are api stress cost plus and jungle start right.
    Fish we had were
    4 giant danios
    6 swords
    5 gourami
    2 pleco
    3 long finned zebra danio
    1 pictus catfish
    And I do know the nitrogen cycle. What it does and its importance. I just learned about it after we made our mistake and the damage was done

    When we acclimated the fish all we did was float the bags for about an hour
  6. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Well Known Member Member

    What kind of gourami?

  7. FishGirl38

    FishGirl38 Valued Member Member

    Okay so you know of the nitrite cycle now. To explain it a bit...

    3 toxins are produced during the cycle: Ammonia, then nitrite, then nitrate. Ammonia is toxic to fish in excess amounts. Nitrite is very toxic to fish in excess amounts. And nitrate isn't all that bad, but you want the concentration around 20ppm to start...

    When you first add fish to the tank, the fish produce waste as ammonia. Too much ammonia concentration in the tank and it becomes toxic (this is what happened) and is known as an ammonia spike. Ammonia will be oxidized naturally by beneficial bacteria once the tank is established. BB will establish on it's own as long as ammonia is present (it doesn't have to be from a chemical that you add to the tank, though Tetra Safe Start, Marineland Biospira, and Dr. Tim's one and only are products that contain this BB that can be added straight to the tank to start a cycle.).

    It will take about a week for the first type of bacteria to colonize and begin taking care of ammonia. Then you should see a decrease in the ammonia and an increase in the amount of nitrite, this is because the second type of BB should be establishing and oxidizing the nitrite. Nitrite will spike during the 2nd-3rd week and then decrease as the cycle comes to an end. Lastly, you'll begin to have nitrate in the tank, which is the end product of the cycle. You know your tank is completely cycled when ammonia=0, nitrite=0, and nitrate=5-20ppm. This will happen/balance out naturally.

    kk, so you know all that, I would say leave all your fish there, you don't have to drain the tank. Maybe do a water change (if you haven't already) to pull out some of the ammonia. You could add a live bb suppliment (not sure what jungle start is) and wait a bit before adding anymore fish. Essentially, you've started your cycle by adding fish, you'll just have to wait and remedy anymore spikes (with 20% or so w/c) before you add your entire stock. :).

    i'm sure you've also read, but add fish gradually, maybe 4 at a time, to make sure a spike doesn't happen again.
  8. OP

    Jollyrancherbot New Member Member

    1 neon blue
    1 sunset
    3 dwarf

    Should I add anymore chemical's to it like api qucikstart? And I think that is what happens as well. When we introduced the fish we did it all at once. Really wish we would have done all the research before we accidentally killed a bunch of fish :/
  9. mattgirl

    mattgirl Well Known Member Member

    That could very well be why you lost so many of them. Hopefully the ones that are left are the strongest of the bunch and will survive the cycling process.

    A fish in cycle is absolutely possible. It is the way I have always done it but it takes a lot of work. I have never used bottled bacteria but folks here that I trust to know what they are talking about highly recommend using Tetra Safe Start plus to cycle a tank with fish and it is not harmful for the fish.

    What you do with it is add an appropriate size bottle of it. Shake it well and add the full bottle of it to your tank. Do nothing to the tank other than lightly feeding the fish for 14 days. at the end of that 14 days test your water and your tank should be cycled.

    I highly recommend you get a bottle of Seachem Prime and an API Master Freshwater test kit. Prime will not only remove chlorine from your source water if it is there but it will also neutralize small amounts of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates.

    If you decide to use TTS+ you will want to wait 24 hours after dosing with Prime or any water conditioner before you add the TSS+. Do a big water change the day before you add the TSS. Add it and then just wait for it to complete its job. It is said you shouldn't run any of the tests during the process because you will get wonky readings and will be tempted to do something that will interrupt the process.

    Please don't beat yourself up over this. If we were all honest with ourselves we would all admit to making mistakes in the beginning too.
  10. OP

    Jollyrancherbot New Member Member

  11. mattgirl

    mattgirl Well Known Member Member

    Absolutely!!! You can even double or triple the amount if necessary. Prime isn't going to hurt your fish.
  12. OP

    Jollyrancherbot New Member Member

    Ok great! So just in review so I know what I should do. Get a bottle of tetra safe start and a bottle of seachem prime then add them to the tank and leave it alone for 2 weeks other than feeding the remaining fish. Then at the end of the 2 weeks test it using the api testing kit to see if the ammonia and nitrites are at 0 and the nitrates are 5-20ppm. Then if it is my tank is cycled and I can start introducing fish 3 or 4 at a time? And how long should I wait between fiah introductions?
  13. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Well Known Member Member

    If we’re being honest here, we all still make mistakes.
  14. mattgirl

    mattgirl Well Known Member Member

    Pretty close :D Just be sure to wait at least 24 hours after adding Prime to the tank before adding the TSS+. Prime neutralizes ammonia and if you add the TSS before 24 hours the prime will kill the ammonia/bacteria in the bottle.

    Just so you know Prime does nothing to help cycle a tank. It is a water conditioner that also has the added benefit of neutralizing small amounts of ammonia and nitrites. There are other water conditioners but I choose Prime because it has added benefits.
  15. OP

    Jollyrancherbot New Member Member

    Thank you all for the help. You definitely helped me and fiance learn more about starting up an aquarium. We will research more on what fish we might want to add because I think we could make better choices. Once we do that I will post what we would like to stock our tank with so I can get opinions and advice. Thanks again
  16. mattgirl

    mattgirl Well Known Member Member

    You are very welcome. Please don't add any more until this tank is cycled. But once cycled the fun begins. The right stocking means the difference between healthy happy fish (thus happy fish owners) and problems with fish not getting along.

    there are some folks here that know a lot about stocking a tank and I am sure they will be happy to answer any question you might have about which ones would be best for you.
  17. jdhef

    jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    You already got some great advice, so all I want to say is that you are far from being the first member here who started off on the wrong foot. Don't beat yourself up over this, just try to think of it as a learning experience...we all have them.

    Sadly, the fish stores don't seem to do anything to help people get started off correctly, and more often that not you'll get bad advice. I'm sure when you were getting your fish no one said to you..."Hey, that's a lot of fish to be adding all at once" or "Ya know, Dwarf Gourami's will fight each other to the death, so you really should only have one in your tank" or even the simplest thing..."Is you tank cycled?"

    So hang in there and ask any and all questions you may have.

    Best of luck!
  18. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Well Known Member Member

    It's not as profitable for pet stores to give proper advice as it is for them to give poor advice that causes you to come back and buy more stuff later. Like meds. Or replacement fish. Or a bigger tank. They do it on purpose. This is why pet stores sell bettas on an end cap alongside tanks that are inhumanely too small for a betta. So that way people buy a betta and an inappropriately small tank on an impulse buy, then come back a few days later for a bigger tank, or meds, or a new betta because that one died.

    Pet stores are the worst. They don't care about the fish they sell. They don't care if they sell you sick fish. In fact, they're happy to do it, because guess what, they sell fish medication too. And if you buy 5 fish and add them to a tank of 50 fish, and those 5 fish bring in a disease and it kills your entire tank, the pet store is happy, because now they have a customer that needs to replace 55 fish in his now empty tank.
  19. OP

    Jollyrancherbot New Member Member

    Nope not a single piece of advice was given to me. I even told them that my tank has only been running about 8 hours. At which point they said as long as I put the chemicals in I would be fine

    Unfortunately Petco and petsmart are the only fish stores that I have near me :(
  20. snowballPLECO

    snowballPLECO Valued Member Member

    Fish won’t die that fast in a brand new aquarium, barely wont be any ammonia yet. You probably didn’t dechlorinate your water which will kill them that fast. Seachem prime is all you need for a fish in cycle