Feel Terrible....what Am I Doing Wrong?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Ann Constantino, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. Ann ConstantinoValued MemberMember

    I am feeling like a fish executioner at this point. I have had two tiny tanks for 6 months and a year respectively and have had great luck. Didn't know about cycling, but my son gave me lots of material from his established tanks, filter material, plants, etc. and the only things that have ever died in those little tanks are a few shrimp. I've only ever used dipstick tests for these little tanks and everything has been fine.

    So, I wanted to try a 20, and bought a kit on deal from the lfs. Advice from lfs and my son was that cycling with fish would be possible if I imported a lot of material from my other tanks, put in lots of plants, same as with the tiny tanks. I also bought a special wet bacteria-infused substrate that I was told would help with fish-cycling as well as plants.

    My readings were ammonia .25, nitrite 0, nitrate 5.0 consistently from set-up until now, 7 weeks later. (One odd thing was right after set up, a weird material appeared in the tank at the base of the newly planted plants, kind of like little plastic chips, which I vacuumed up, but the lfs guy said there couldn't be anything toxic in the plant packing materials. However, there was also a weird smell, which is now gone, that I found chemical-ish.)

    Nevertheless, things have been consistently dying, slowly but surely. I lost 4 of 5 S&P corys, 3 of 6 danios, 2 shrimp, a gourami, and a guppy. Two mystery snails are fine. One of my sword plants is not doing well and I clipped off the sick leaves. My son put a bunch of baby guppies in to see if that would help, but I feel like I'm just leading them to slaughter.

    I tried some ammo lock, thinking even the .25 reading was causing fish death, and in the last couple days the ammonia reading spiked to 4.0. I have found contradictory info online about ammo-lock causing false readings.

    I just don't know what to do at this point. I have done 25% water changes in the past 4 days, but the ammonia readings are the same. At some point do I just break the whole thing down and start over?

    Sorry for the long saga, but I just feel awful about this.

  2. BettaFishKeeper4302Well Known MemberMember

    We all have long post. This is one is not that long. What i would do is keep fighting this and if it still does not work out then start the tank over. If you want to start the tank over now that's good to. Fish losses can be hard. Sorry for your loss.

  3. toekneeWell Known MemberMember

    What's the ammonia reading of the water straight from the tap?

  4. Ann ConstantinoValued MemberMember

    Just tested it: .25
  5. musserump09Well Known MemberMember

    Wow this sucks! But not to worry for you will just need to focus on certain things to get cycled.

    Purchase seachem prime and stability. These two bottles should be the only thing going into your tank and eventually just one. Stability will seed the bacteria needed to grow back for some reason the media you receive died off if your ammonia is spiking. Prime and stability will protect fish from harmful levels of ammonia and nitrites 1.0ppm or lower.

    Get these two and fish loss will go away. Hope this helps
  6. McasellaFishlore VIPMember

    Do not add anymore fish until you are able to cycle (once you get cycled your filter bacteria should take care of the ammonia in your tap after water changes - prime the water before or just after adding it to make sure it won't harm the fish).
    If the snails are surviving there is hope (snails are very sensitive, so if they are up and moving around in a tank with even a touch of ammonia it isn't as bad as it can be). Ammolock won't do much, it does give false readings, prime is much better for making ammonia less toxic without changing readings and keeping fish protected (it normally last 24-48hrs, but if you are having ammonia readings it is best to dose daily).
  7. Ann ConstantinoValued MemberMember

    Thanks, I just ordered both of these things as lfs is 60 miles away and was out of stock last time I was there.

    Thank you. I just ordered Prime. Do you think it's possible that the ammo-lock caused high readings since they didn't spike till I used it?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2018
  8. McasellaFishlore VIPMember

    It has happened on several occasions for other people so it doesn't surprise me that you are getting very high readings of ammonia with ammolock in the tank (even if they are false readings).
  9. Ann ConstantinoValued MemberMember

    Now, after 2 more 25% water changes and no more ammo-lock ammonia is between .25 and .5. 0 nitrite and 20 nitrate. I have not received my Prime and Stability yet. I have added two anacharis plants and a half-cup of gravel from one of my healthy tanks. I have barely fed, and have vacuumed as much stuff as possible when doing changes. My son added about 7 baby guppies who were getting eaten by barbs anyway from one of his tanks. Three of them have died. The three remaining original Danios are OK. Snails are fine. Any further thoughts would be much appreciated. The tank is now 7 weeks old.
  10. musserump09Well Known MemberMember

    As soon as you receive your bottles I would dose the tank directly. First thing though I would do a 75% water change to get the 5.0ppm nitrite down ASAP! . Levels that high are asking for fish problems. Follow the directions on stability and this will fully cycle in less then a 2 weeks.
  11. snowballPLECOValued MemberMember

    idk why anyone uses anything but Prime.. hands down the best dechlor and detoxifier on the market, nothing competes with its effectiveness
  12. Ann ConstantinoValued MemberMember

    Sorry, my typing was misleading. Nitrite is 0. I was trying to say ammonia is between .25 and .5. I have never had anything other than nitrite 0.
  13. musserump09Well Known MemberMember

    Ahh I see. Well in that case we have a long way to go. Stability will kick out into gear fast though.
  14. LagerthaValued MemberMember

    Big water changes help with most things.

    I’m a firm follower of the 40-50% WC clan. Not this puny 10-15% rubbish that does very little honestly.

    But each to their own.
  15. Ann ConstantinoValued MemberMember

    I hope it's OK to continue this thread to update what is happening. If it would be better to start a new thread, please let me know. My Seachem bottles arrived. I added Prime for a water change and have been adding Stability and Stress Guard daily since. I added three more Danios and nothing has died in over a week. Danios are zipping around, seem to be happy, but they do stay near the bottom, maybe because that is where the plants are densist?

    I cannot get the ammonia to go below .25 (that's what it is out of the tap), nitrites have always been 0, and nitrate is 40. How log should I continue the treatments? Do you think it would be safe to add more fish yet? Any recommendations on what would be good to add? Ph is 6.5, hardness is high. I was thinking Gourami, but after reading how unhealthy they can be, I don't think I can face another death yet. I'd like a mellow centerpiece and a couple more community groups eventually.

  16. JLeeMWell Known MemberMember

    I'd say your tank is still cycling. I would do a 75% water change because 40 nitrates is getting to the dangerous levels. This should put you at roughly 10 nitrates. Of course dechlorinate the new water with Prime (full tank dose). Since your tap has .25 ammonia, you'll still have something to feed your cycle, so dose your Stability. The best rule I've been given is this.....

    1. Test water parameters.

    2. If ammonia + nitrites = less than 1ppm, dose Prime and Stability for full tank volume.

    If ammonia + nitrites = 1 or greater ppm, do 50% water change with full tank volume dose of Prime and Stability.

    3. Repeat process in 24 hours.

    It'll take time, but it will eventually cycle. Don't add any more fish or inverts, and feed lightly while cycling. Once cycled, the nitrofying bacteria will process your tap ammonia in 24 hours no problem and you'll have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and some reading for nitrates (most aim for 5-10). THEN, you can add appropriate life forms and start enjoying your tank.

    Hope this helps and good luck!
  17. Discus-TangWell Known MemberMember

    Your tank is cycled, hence the 40 nitrates. I would do a 50-70% water change to get hose nitrates below 20. TWhen you wash your filter, don't replace the media & only wash it in tank water. If you wash it in tap water your cycle will go back to day one.

    Good luck :)
  18. Ann ConstantinoValued MemberMember

    Thanks, I did a 50% change....something about 75% scares me....probably irrational. I will repeat tomorrow. I will hold off on new fish.

    Thanks. Just did a 50% change. I usually just rinse the filter in the water I remove....is that OK?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2018
  19. JLeeMWell Known MemberMember

    Keep us updated. :)
  20. McasellaFishlore VIPMember

    Perfect, the cartridge should last 6 months or more with the tank water rinses (old tank water, not rising it in the tank lol). When it becomes so worn that you have to do a new cartridge make sure the strip the old cartridge of its cotton and place it behind the new cartridge for a couple weeks until it is seeded.

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