Did I ruin my fish lives?

  • #1
Hello everyone I am new to this forum and to fish keeping !!
I am so nervous I got fish because according to an employee at petco they were easy to keep and as I've been reading this forum it feels I've been advised all the wrong things.
If anyone is so kind to help me it's greatly appreciated, I would love for my fish to be happy!
First, I did not cycle my tank AT ALL. I was told that by adding conditioner I didn't need to wait to add fish. Plus I was told the 1 fish per gallon rule
I have a 65 gal. With:
1 common pleco
2 Dalmatian Molly's
12 platys
2 Bala shark
1 rainbow shark
2 angel fish
6 scissor fish (not sure of the name)
3 gouramis of different kinds
All of them look small except the angelfish they're probably 3 in. According to the employee I spoke to most fish take about 2-3 years to grow. My question is, is my tank overstocked? Do I have to move them sooner if so how soon? Or can I just wait the 2-3 years to save up for a bigger tank?

My second problem is that 5 of my platys have fin rot, and I'm treating the whole tank with Melafix. I barely started tonight, I cleaned everything and did about a 25% water change. The instructions said to take the carbon packages out, but for how long? Should I rinse them?

To top everything off one of the platys just had fry and I had no idea she was pregnant! I just got her yesterday. I have them in a 1 gal tank which was my hospital tank. How long do I have to keep them there? There are about 20 of them!!! I took the mom out already because I did not want her eating them.

By the way, I've had my tank for about 3 weeks and have lost many fish along the way. I barely started doing my research. If everyone survives I'm not trusting employees again
Note: I started the tank with many fish on a 20 gal but only 1 bala shark, 2 mollys, 2 platys, 1 pleco, and the rainbow shark survived and were upgraded to a 65 gal. (Which I didn't cycle and proceeded to add more fish)
  • #2
The first thing I'd do is get the API freshwater master test kit and a bottle of stability and prime.This will help with keeping your fish safe as these products detoxify ammonia and nitrites for 24 hours. Test your water as soon as you get the test kit.

Second thing would be to return some of your fish (probably not what you wanted to hear). The common pleco is going to get far too big for your tank; 2 feet long. Bala sharks like to be in larger groups and also get too big for your tank size. I would return most of the platies for now, keep maybe 4-6. The angels are really sensitive to poor water quality so you may want to take them back as well. I'm not sure about the scissor fish or your specific varieties of gourami.

Everything else should do alright in your size of tank.

I'd suggest looking into fish in cycling so that you have an idea of what you'll be in for while your tank cycles.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Thanks so much! I naively bought the thing you stick inside the tank that read ammonia and ph, right now my ammonia is at a .4 and pH at a 7.6 I just did the water change like an hour ago and that stuff takes forever to read the right parameters.
Also, is a heater really necessary? I have one that I used for my 20 gal.
My husband is going to hate hearing that I have to return his beloved fish ! How many can I keep in my tank? Is there a general rule that I can go by?

Btw, I applied conditioner, stress coat, dissolved salt and melafix to the water. Is that enough? I carefully read the instructions.
  • #4
If you have three different species of gouramis and they are male, they will most likely fight each other until one is left so I would return some.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
How can you tell if they are male or female? I would love to keep all males or all females because I'm not interested in breeding them
  • #6
Yes, for tropical fish a heater is necessary. You need one that can handle the size of your tank. Stick on meters are not very accurate at all, and as you now know, chain store employees are just not that knowledgeable. Invest in the API master kit.. it will save you a lot in the end.

There is no real "general rule," other than research. You want to plan for the adult size of your fish, not what size they are now. That common pleco, for example, may be tiny now but will quickly outgrow your tank. Unless you plan on getting a bigger tank before then, the health of your fish would be compromised. It's best to return him now and hope that he gets a better chance at finding the right home.

Schooling fish like to be kept at a minimum of 6, but the more the merrier. You will see more natural behaviors that way, and your fish will be less stressed.

You can also check out this site for stocking ideas: Now, that does not make that the gospel truth or replace doing your research. Consider it a very loose guide as to fish compatibility and stocking numbers.

IMO, if I got sick fish right out of the store, I'd return all those fish, strip my tank, bleach it, and start over with a fishless cycle.

If you're rinsing filter media, rinse it in tank water. Untreated tap water will kill all your bacteria, which you need to start breaking down that ammonia. Best thing for fish is always fresh water, so frequent 50% water changes is the best thing you can do. Most illnesses come down to bad water quality. Combine already sick fish with an un-cycled tank, and you've really got your work cut out for you. I'm sure someone can give you better advice as to medications, but those big water changes will help keep your ammonia down in the meantime.
  • #7
Conditioner with every water change. I've never used stress coat, melafix or salt myself so can't say on those.

I'm not great with stocking calculations. can give you a general idea of what and how to stock. The site isn't the most accurate so I'd post your desired stocking on a thread here and someone can give you the go or help revise. =)

Depending on how warm your area gets, a heater may not be needed. I would still get one anyway even if your area is warm. Never know when it'll come in handy; if your fish ever get ich, heat treating them is the least stressful way (in my experience) of getting rid of it.
  • #8
The first thing I'd do is get the API freshwater master test kit and a bottle of stability, prime, and TSS+.
Stability and TSS+ are both bacteria products, it's not necessary to have both. Stability is made by the same company as Prime, so if you choose to use Prime, I would recommend also using Stability.
  • #9
You need to return every single fish, except one or two platties to cycle your tank. You cannot cycle your tank with all those fish, that's just torture and slow death
  • #10
First step is test your water with the API master test kit which you can purchase cheaper on Amazon.com. Once you get the results than you can make decisions on what you need to do at the point that you are at now. One or two platy fish would not be enough fish to do a fish in cycle in a 65 gallon tank. Water changes won't hurt, and will help the fin rot to heal, even doing daily water changes while you wait for the test to arrive or you go buy one. When you medicate fish you take the carbon out only while medicating so that it doesn't interfere with the meds and then you can put it back in. It is also optional. I have always run my tanks with charcoal, others choose not to . It does help the water to smell cleaner and removes some toxins but needs to be replaced once a month because it looses its effectiveness. Welcome to the forum and glad you decided to join us. One step at a time and start with testing and we will help you from there. Alison
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Thanks everyone for all your advice.
Currently my parameters are
Ph- 7.6
Amm-4.0 ppm
Nitrite- 0.25 ppm
Nitrate- 0 ppm
Secret Oasis
  • #12
I would do 2 big water changes back to back with ammonia levels that high

and welcome to fishlore!
  • #13
I cycled my tank with fish in using prime and stability ..the Ph is high for Angels even though I know they can adapt , my Angels heat is 82.some of the fish you have can nip at Angels, I would watch for that .
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
Thank you all so much for your help!
  • #15
Welcome to the forum! You are going to get a lot of questions... But that is because the better we know your situation, the better we can help. Sorry you got such horribly crummy advice from the employee - sadly many of us have been in some version of where you are and have learned. So the suggestion to return some fish is not to be mean, but to save you heartache at having them die.
So as above - a 50% water change, with temperature matched water, followed by another 50% water change. The only promotional plug I will do is to encourage you to get a water changer that hooks directly to your faucet if your sink allows. It makes big tank water changes WAY easier. Welcome. Stick around!
  • #16
You need to get the ammonia down and water changes are the way to go. your ph is fine for angelfish so don't tamper with it. When your tank is cycled the ammonia will be 0, the nitrite will be 0 and the nitrate will be be above 5 or 10 . Check your water daily at this point. Ammonia that high can burn the fishes gills. For now I would take back the common plecco and the 2 bala sharks as you tank will not be big enough for them in any case. When your tank is cycled there are smaller growing plecos like a bristle nose pleco that will not outgrow your tank. Rehoming the three at the moment will reduce some of the ammonia. Recheck the ammonia level after each water change while you are trying to get the number down. Alison

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