Black Neon Tetra Dying Help?

MissTwee

Hello, I am quite new to fish keeping and I got 3 black neon tetras 2 days ago and 2 of them died. I was informed that one died shortly after I left for school around 9am and the other died at 8 pm the same day. It hasn’t even been full 48 hours before my first tetra died.

My tank is cycled, I’ve had this tank cycling for about 3 months before adding the fishes in and just to make sure I retested the water parameters and for Nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia is 0ppm. For pH it is 7.4 which I know is on the high side. Temperature is 78 F.

The tank is 5 gallon, I know it is really small and the recommended minimum is 10-20 gallon but I was going to get a bigger one later.

I don’t know what happened and it’s still a shock to me. The fish was gasping so I thought it was an oxygen problem so I aerated the tank by getting a cup of water and just slowly pouring it to get bubbles. I already have a HOB filter and lots of plants in. I don’t have an air pump. I thought it was helping until the 2nd fish that died started to bump into the plants and at one point got stuck against the filter and couldn’t swim out of the current. Honestly there isn’t much I can say except that they were gasping, looked lethargic, and confused on which direction they were going. I just want answers so I can hopefully keep the last fish. Thank you.

- Winnie
 

Barrk2

Hi Winnie! Just to clarify, ammonia nitrite and nitrate are all zero? When did you last test this? If nitrate is zero, your tank likely is actually not cycled. If you ran it empty for three weeks there is nothing to feed the bacteria- a cycled tank almost never reads 0 nitrate. Check out the fishless cycle link. For now, retest your water and I bet you have an ammonia spike. I would recommend a 50% water change with temperature matched, dechlorinated water. Also, might want to dose with an ammonia binding agent like prime or ammolock.
If you are using the api master test kit, did you make sure to shake the nitrate bottle 2 first?
 

MissTwee

Yes, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite was all zero last time I checked which was about 5 hours ago. I just rechecked it and the ammonia, at least, is still the same. I am afraid of doing that huge of a water change because I am afraid that my Amano shrimp will be impacted by that. I am using the API master kit and yes I did shake the bottle first.
 

Barrk2

Yes, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite was all zero last time I checked which was about 5 hours ago. I just rechecked it and the ammonia, at least, is still the same. I am afraid of doing that huge of a water change because I am afraid that my Amano shrimp will be impacted by that. I am using the API master kit and yes I did shake the bottle first.
Ok, you said there are lots of plants? It’s possible that they are absorbing the nitrates. If you’re not picking up ammonia with the test… interesting. What’s the full stock? 3 -2 tetras, an Amano shrimp, anything else?

did you acclimate the fish when you added them?
Ok, you said there are lots of plants? It’s possible that they are absorbing the nitrates. If you’re not picking up ammonia with the test… interesting. What’s the full stock? 3 -2 tetras, an Amano shrimp, anything else?

did you acclimate the fish when you added them?
(Don’t be too discouraged by the way- it sounds like you’re doing all the right things! Cycling, testing, planting. I also lost my first school of tetras in about 24 hours like 15 years ago. I didn’t acclimate properly to temperature. Fish keeping can be really tragic when you’re first learning, but it’s so fun if you stick with it!)
 

DoubleDutch

How was the tank cycled. With what amminiasource.

Please don't buy these fish for a 5G tank.
They need bigger tank and a bigger shoal. Even if you'll be upgrading in the future makes a tank like this not suitable for (all) fish.
 

MissTwee

Ok, you said there are lots of plants? It’s possible that they are absorbing the nitrates. If you’re not picking up ammonia with the test… interesting. What’s the full stock? 3 -2 tetras, an Amano shrimp, anything else?

did you acclimate the fish when you added them?

(Don’t be too discouraged by the way- it sounds like you’re doing all the right things! Cycling, testing, planting. I also lost my first school of tetras in about 24 hours like 15 years ago. I didn’t acclimate properly to temperature. Fish keeping can be really tragic when you’re first learning, but it’s so fun if you stick with it!)
Just the 3 tetras, 1 amano shrimp, and a bunch of bladder snails. I know the snails are considered pests but I thought they were really cute and it's not overpopulating or anything. About the acclimating, I left the plastic bag in the tank for 30 mins for the temperature to match, and then added 1/4 of a cup in every 5 mins and did that until I had to empty the bag twice. Should I have done drip acclimation, did I do it too fast?
How was the tank cycled. With what amminiasource.
I didn't know I had to add artificial ammonia, so the only ammonia in it when it was "cycling" was from a shrimp and a bunch of snails.
Please don't buy these fish for a 5G tank.
They need bigger tank and a bigger shoal. Even if you'll be upgrading in the future makes a tank like this not suitable for (all) fish.
I won't do it again.
 

Barrk2

Just the 3 tetras, 1 amano shrimp, and a bunch of bladder snails. I know the snails are considered pests but I thought they were really cute and it's not overpopulating or anything. About the acclimating, I left the plastic bag in the tank for 30 mins for the temperature to match, and then added 1/4 of a cup in every 5 mins and did that until I had to empty the bag twice. Should I have done drip acclimation, did I do it too fast?

I didn't know I had to add artificial ammonia, so the only ammonia in it when it was "cycling" was from a shrimp and a bunch of snails.

I won't do it again.
Acclimation process sounds fine. There’s a few different techniques but for tetras that should have worked. Honestly, everything points to ammonia poisoning due to a non-cycled tank, except for two things- 1, your shrimp is fine. 2, you’re testing 0 ammonia. I’m a little stumped! Someone with more experience than me might have a better idea.

You might try introducing an artificial ammonia source (or just leaving that last tetra in for a while and do a fish-in cycle- DONT introduce ammonia if the tetra is still in there) and measuring to see if you do develop an ammonia spike, then nitrite, then nitrate. There are those who say no fish are appropriate for a 5 gallon, but I keep a small female betta in a planted 5 gallon (with bladder snails because I also think they’re cute) and her tank parameters are fine (0,0,10-20). I’ve also heard that a pair or trio of guppies do ok, though they are also shoaling/schooling fish and would probably prefer a bigger group. I would also recommend avoiding tetras and upgrading to a 10 as soon as possible- there’s much more room for error in a 10, which makes it friendlier for a beginner. Honestly, the first tank I really felt successful with was a 29. There’s just so little water in a 5 and sometimes even a 10 that when something goes south, it goes south fast.
 

MissTwee

Acclimation process sounds fine. There’s a few different techniques but for tetras that should have worked. Honestly, everything points to ammonia poisoning due to a non-cycled tank, except for two things- 1, your shrimp is fine. 2, you’re testing 0 ammonia. I’m a little stumped! Someone with more experience than me might have a better idea.

You might try introducing an artificial ammonia source (or just leaving that last tetra in for a while and do a fish-in cycle- DONT introduce ammonia if the tetra is still in there) and measuring to see if you do develop an ammonia spike, then nitrite, then nitrate. There are those who say no fish are appropriate for a 5 gallon, but I keep a small female betta in a planted 5 gallon (with bladder snails because I also think they’re cute) and her tank parameters are fine (0,0,10-20). I’ve also heard that a pair or trio of guppies do ok, though they are also shoaling/schooling fish and would probably prefer a bigger group. I would also recommend avoiding tetras and upgrading to a 10 as soon as possible- there’s much more room for error in a 10, which makes it friendlier for a beginner. Honestly, the first tank I really felt successful with was a 29. There’s just so little water in a 5 and sometimes even a 10 that when something goes south, it goes south fast.
Ah thank you for trying to help I really appreciate it. I will keep an eye on the ammonia in case it does spike. I am in the process of getting an air pump in case it is an oxygen problem. Thank you so much for your help!
 

MissTwee

Update: My last tetra died.
 

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