Fish Keep Dying

  1. erinnkec

    erinnkec New Member Member

    Hey guys. I'm pretty new here, and I'm almost at the point where I'm ready to pack it up and call it quits with my tank. I've had a freshwater tank running since May 12th. I had initially started with ATM Colony (I now know more about fishless cycling and that sort of thing - if I were to start over I'd go that route for sure - can't change the past) and three neon tetras (with intentions to add more in a few days) and two corydoras. I lost a tetra a day for three days. I was obsessively checking the water with the API master liquid test kit.

    I ended up adding another corydora and 6 Danio (3 zebra, 3 glofish) after waiting it out for a week or so. We did have an ammonia spike within the first couple of weeks (I think I overfed and probably messed up any benefit I'd have gotten from the Colony) so I did a ton of water changes until I had it under control - it was pretty grueling for a while, but I felt awful for the fish. We lost one of the Danio and an albino Cory.

    Other than that one spike I have not had a problem with my water. I test regularly. I have added some seachem neutral regulator a couple of times to make sure it didn't get out of hand though it never seems to get particularly high even when untreated. We live in a rural area of NS and have well water. Before getting the fish I was pretty content with our water quality - husband is a plumber and he had taken a water sample for testing while upgrading for his license - it's great water, and I knew I wouldn't have a lot of issue with that.

    Since that one spike in quality I've added two more corydoras, and two Kuhlis. One Kuhli died within a week, the other lasted a day shy of a month. Last weekend I picked up a few more fish - 4 neons (figured I'd give them another shot) and 2 panda cory. I was super excited for the panda cory because I live 3 hours from the nearest city, and have one small lfs in my area and I had never seen them there before. One panda and one neon died overnight. The remaining tetra seemed fine. I went back to the store and got 3 more tetra. The owner said that she had lost a panda as well - so it's possible that there was an issue with the shipment. This was Saturday. It is now Wednesday, and I have no neons in my tank. I also randomly lost a danio last night.

    Currently I have: 4 corydoras and 4 danio. I'm afraid to add new fish because I don't understand what I'm doing wrong - but I also know I should get a few more danios.

    I do weekly water changes, probably around 20% - occasionally more. I tested my water last night - today is water change day- and the ammonia was reading below .25. The nitrite is 0. Nitrate may be SLIGHTLY above 10 - definitely under 15. Ph is 7. Temperature is 78. HOB filter - I rinse the bag and sponge in aquarium water when I do changes. The equipment was only purchased (new) in May, and seems to be running without issue. Water has been giving consistent readings for a month or more.

    Acclimation of the fish takes me around 1-2 hours. I float the bag. I add water very gradually- starting with a 1ml eye dropper and slowly moving up to more and more water. When I change the water, I make sure the new water is as close as possible to the temp of the tank.

    I honestly don't know what I'm doing wrong. Around the same time I bought my tank, my sister in law bought one second hand with all the equipment and fish. She's lost one fish. I don't think she's ever tested her water, and pays minimal mind to the tank in general. I read for months before getting the tank about fish that I wanted to get - what they would need, what would be compatible tank mates, etc. I tossed the strip tests within a couple of days of using them in favor of the liquid ones because they're garbage. I acclimate slowly. I do regular water changes. I have a couple of live plants with plans to add more.

    I hate knowing that I have fish that are suffering. I feel horrible. When I search online for possible tips/ answers to the problem, I'm really only finding posts about people who have only had a tank running for a week or two that clearly hasn't cycled or who are putting fish into the tank straight from the store. I'm going absolutely crazy trying to figure out what is going on but as far as I know I'm doing everything right.

    HOPEFULLY someone can point out an error with what I've been doing, or give me some sort of advice other than "read about the nitrogen cycle" because I've done an awful lot of reading, and the consistency of the tests point to my tank having finished cycling weeks ago. If there's something off about my water / cycling please let me know specifically what you think it could be. Like I said - I'm new, but from what I've read I am doing a pretty good job of staying on top of things.
     
  2. BottomDweller

    BottomDweller Fishlore VIP Member

    First thing I'd do is lower the temperature. The neons, danios and pandas all need water below 75f. While that won't have killed them that fast it would add to stress.

    I would also stop using the seachem neutral regulator. Unless you use it very accurately every time you do a water change it does much more harm than good.

    Is the ammonia spike after adding the danios and cories the only time your tank had ammonia or nitrite?

    Were there any symptoms before death? (any odd behaviour, spots, white poop, etc.)
     
  3. OP
    OP
    erinnkec

    erinnkec New Member Member

    I'd only used the regulator 2-3 times... I always used a little bit less than it said, but I don't think I particularly need it either way. I'll stop using it all together.

    The spike was after the danio were initially added, it had gotten up to around 5ppm during that spike and to combat it I was doing a ton of water changes to make sure it stayed low - twice a day the first two days, then daily, then every couple of days for about 2-3 weeks. I think I overfed in the beginning and either the ATM failed completely and it jumped into a 'normal' fish-in cycle, or I caused a problem with water changes/over feeding. Before this spike I was seeing around .25 - .5ppm max and was changing the water much more often than I do now. It's been weekly changes for about 6 weeks or so now and the highest I've seen it get was .25. For the last 3 it's been at about 0 - there's been a hint of color but not enough to actually register at .25 and I always test the water the night before I plan on doing a change.

    As for the temp - it's definitely never gotten above 78. I'm buying an adjustable heater this weekend, I just have the one that came with the Aqueon kit right now. The tank is also on the opposite side of the room as the heatpump that it set to maintain 75 in the room - so we're not dealing with a very hot room from summer, either.

    I understand that the first 6 weeks or so the conditions weren't ideal - especially early on. Maybe some of the original fish that had lived through that have petered out a bit?... but for the most part it's new fish that are dying. The tetras are extra confusing to me because the tank has been quite easy to care for for a while now.

    Behavior: in the case of the tetra they'd happily school at first, explore the tank. It was easy to see which fish was about to die because they'd break away from the group and just kind of hover in place. There's been no injuries on the dead fish, no strange marks/spots ... no behavior that seems out of the norm to me. The loaches mostly hid understandably, so there wasn't a whole lot to go on with them. Mostly it'd be a case of me coming home from work and finding a dead fish, or waking up in the morning to one. The danio last night I noticed just before I went to bed - it was hanging around the top/surface of the tank, barely swimming. Didn't seem to even notice me when I went to turn the lights off for the night - the other danio were behaving normally. I'm about to head home for the day - hoping that the remainder of the fish are behaving normally.
     
  4. Floundering_Around

    Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    I had the same problem with a school of embers, harlequin rasbora, and cpd. For the cpd, I just dropped them in without watwr avclimating. The cpd were shipped in and had ammonia burn and were super young so that's understandable. However, the embers and harlequins I acclimated by slowly adding water into the bag. The harlequins exhibited the same behaviors as yours.
    I think this has to do with the water parameters in the bag. Rachel oLeary does a video on why she acclimated fish the way she does and it explains all this better. Long story short, when the fish are breathing in the bag and defecating, the high oxygen content when the bag is open makes the ammonia in the bag more toxic then if the bag was closed and the oxygen content was lower (chemistry magics). This is why Rachel just temperature acclimated them and then drops the fish straight into the tank, taking care not to add any of the water in the bag
     
  5. OP
    OP
    erinnkec

    erinnkec New Member Member

    Hmmm. I might have to try that. I've done a few different things... I've tried leaving them in the bag completely, adding water to that. I've also tried adding them to a small glass bowl with tank water around it and adding water to the bowl... there's so much information out there, and there seems to be a lot of variables that can really mess with the accuracy of different things.

    Nobody else was in rough shape as far as I could tell when I got home. I'm at work now - hopefully everything is still 'normal' tonight. I plan on getting some slightly fancier fish eventually - but I'm definitely putting that off for the time being. Maybe by the spring - I don't know how well they'd travel between the store and my house in Canadian winter temperatures... though I suppose I could get a small styrofoam box to put the bag in from house to car/ car to house to protect them from the cold a bit.

    The whole thing is just discouraging, I guess. I genuinely feel terrible about anything that suffers... I can't even kill bugs - I have to take them outside when I see any. So having so much loss despite trying very hard to do things right is pretty disheartening.
     
  6. Floundering_Around

    Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    I feel that. Maybe for this tank, do a tank of "easy" fish and get a big school of them instead of getting "fancier" fish that might need different water parameters