Fish Keep Dying!

  1. ktysonb

    ktysonb New Member Member

    Hi all,

    I am new to the aquarium world. I made the common mistake many new hobbyists make and bought a 10 gallon tank and overpopulated it. (20 fish). They were fine for about 2 weeks when I did a 25 percent water change. That same day all of my fish were acting sluggish and laying in bottom of tank. Long story short all but 2 of my fish died. They got white fungus looking stuff on them and died. After doing some reading I realized it was probably high ammonia. So I did a 100 percent water change. (did not clean tank walls gravel or plants). Then I took my water to pets mart and had them test the new water. Lady said everything looked great. I bought 3 new tetras, and 3 zebra danios. I made sure to put bacteria starter in the water, and I put conditioner it it also. I acclimated the new fish to the new temp before placing in tank.

    The next morning all 3 tetras were dead, and the remaining fish were all sick. The rest will probably die in the next day or so. There isnt any more fungus stuff on the fish, but I am unsure why they would all die so quickly.

    I did a new water test this morning. Ammonia was about .5 Nitrate was 20 nitrite was 0, hardness was 150, chlorine was 0, alkaline was 180, PH was 8.4.

    All my fish are dying. What do I need to do to stop this cycle? Should I empty tank and clean it thoroughly? Very frustrated. I know I probably need a bigger tank, but 10 gallons is all my wife will let me have right now.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Esli

    Esli Valued Member Member

    Is your tank cycled?

    What are you testing your water with? The strips or the test kit?

    Let's start there. Then we can figure out what's the issue.
     
  3. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Well Known Member Member

    Hi! Welcome to Fishlore.

    How long has the tank been running for?

    If you have sick fish in the tank, do not add more fish. The new fish will get sick too.

    Long story short, overstocking a tank causes high levels of stress, which weakens a fish's immune system. Overcrowding the tank also caused an ammonia spike. So you had an ammonia spike in a tank overpopulated with stressed out fish that can't fight off illness, and every time you add new fish, it spreads.

    Do not add any more fish at this time. Wait until you have seen no signs of illness at all for at least 2 weeks before introducing new fish. If you don't do this, then you might as well just skip the pet shop and flush your paycheck directly down the toilet. Because every time you buy healthy fish and put them in this ammonia ridden tank that is what you're doing. I know, that's a very blunt way of putting it, but I want you to understand you're just wasting money and killing fish right now. The way things are right now, I fully expect your remaining fish to die. I just don't think there's anything you can do to save them. You can try, but I feel like you'll just be wasting more money. Again, I know, I'm being really blunt right now. I'm sorry for that. I'm not trying to offend. I just want you to understand. So, when your remaining fish do die, let the tank sit for a while before getting new fish. It's just, right now, there's all these germs, and maybe even parasites floating around in the water. Not a good environment. You probably bought one sick fish and it spread to all the rest.

    10 gallons is just fine for a starter tank. You just have to be real careful with the fish you put in it, as you've now learned the hard way. You can't really do schooling fish, because 10 gallons isn't enough room to house a proper school, and so many of the cool looking centerpiece fish are too big or grow up to be too big for that tank.

    The good news is, there's a lot you can do with a 10 gallon tank. You just have to be really super disciplined. Resist the urge to impulse buy that cool looking fish at the pet store that you haven't researched. I say, figure out what kind of fish you want, and run your ideas past other hobbyists so they can help. If you see a fish at the store and you fall in love with it, don't buy it right then and there. Instead, research it heavily, and ask other hobbyists if it would work in your tank. Many of us post here first, before we buy anything. Even some of the most experienced among us post their ideas on here for criticism before committing to a plan. For a 10 gallon tank, there are all sorts of things you can do. You can do a shell dweller tank, or a pea puffer tank, or a dwarf frog tank, or one of dozens of other species only tanks. Or you could do a small community tank, like you have been doing, just with less fish and more appropriate species for your small tank and local water parameters.

    I understand, happy wife, happy life. :) Maybe you should nudge your wife to get into fishkeeping herself by getting her something really pretty of her own, like a honey gourami or african butterfly fish. Many fishkeepers will tell you that after they got their wife into it, the wife let them go nuts.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    ktysonb

    ktysonb New Member Member

    Hi Esli, Thanks so much for your help. To answer your question, I am not sure if it has been cycled. People keep saying that term, but I guess Im not totally sure what it means.

    What I have done is the first tank I treated water with conditioner, and two days later placed fish in it. 2 weeks went by with me not doing anything to the water at all (except overpopulating it with tons of fish). Then I did a 25 percent water change and a deep gravel cleaning. This stressed the fish so I did another 25 percent water change. The fish didnt improve so then I did a 100 percent water change with out cleaning the gravel or washing the algae off the walls and plants. Since the 100 percent water change (3 days ago) I have added a bacteria starter I bought at petsmart, an ammonia reducer, and of course the water conditioner. so to answer your question...I dont think that it has properly been cycled...but I dont really know what that means exactly.

    I am also using the test strips to test the water.


    Ihaveadogtoo. Thank you! I do not think you are being blunt. I appreciate the help. So to clarify what you are saying. When my fish die then you are saying let the water sit empty for 2 weeks before placing new fish in it? Should I change the water after those two weeks of it sitting idle? If there are parasites I would think I need to do a deep clean of the tank before placing new fish in it.
     
  5. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Well Known Member Member

    If there are parasites, they won't survive without a host. 2 weeks might not be long enough for the tank to sit empty. What I meant was, if you have fish survive, they should be healthy for 2 weeks before adding more fish. If your fish die, I'd let the tank sit a month to make sure all the nasties are dead, dosing it with ammonia every couple of days to keep the beneficial bacteria alive. Do a big water change before adding fish.

    I'm so sorry to double post. I just noticed something else in your post that may be of interest to you - you mentioned adding the bacteria product to your tank on a few occasions. You should not be doing this. You should only add the bacteria product one time, right when you first set up the tank, and never again. The only thing you should be adding to the water when you do water changes is your regular water conditioner. I personally like using Seachem Prime as my water conditioner, because it can temporarily detoxify ammonia and nitrite in the water, in addition to removing chlorine and chloramine. Most water conditioners just remove chlorine and chloramine but do not affect ammonia or nitrite in the water. Keep in mind, Prime does not remove ammonia or nitrite from the water, it just temporarily makes it non toxic, for 24-48 hours. After 24-48 hours the ammonia and nitrite become toxic again, but in a cycled aquarium, your nitrate will have already dealt with that.

    Are you not familiar with the nitrogen cycle? Your profile says you are but I suspect you aren't as familiar as you could be. I won't get into the details on how it works, as there is a really informative sticky thread on the nitrogen cycle right here on this site. But it takes 4-6 weeks on average for an aquarium to complete the nitrogen cycle and build up a colony of beneficial bacteria. Waiting 24 hours after setting up a tank, or 2 days, or "until the water clears" is not letting the tank cycle. Putting fish in a tank that has not completed the nitrogen cycle can lead to many illnesses, including gill and skin irritation, ammonia burn, bacterial infections, fungus, weakened immune system, and worse. I'm almost certain your tank not being cycled when you added fish was a contributing factor in all this illness.
     
  6. Esli

    Esli Valued Member Member

    Okay, been there.
    Do you have any fish in the tank right now?
    If not, do not get anymore till you cycle your tank.
    You can get fish in while you are cycling, but you will put them under some stress and you will have to be on your tippy toes during the cycle as levels can get high & kill your fish.

    So lets start fresh, and cycle your tank.
    So, cycling your tank is having the water at acceptable levels for your tank.
    The reason your fish might have died in the second week of having them is because they might have been creating ammonia (their poop creates this, and this is the first bacteria of the cycling process.)
    So lets try cycling your tank first so you can assure your fish are in good hands. If your fish continue to die after this, it may not be your fault. Like IHaveADogToo is saying, some fish may be sick and carry parasites.

    So cycling your tank in the simplest form is ammonia (fish poop, rot fish food, etc) is present after some time that your fish are in their tank.
    The second step that happens when ammonia is present is nitrites. Nitrites eat the ammonia and process them which causes a 3rd step. Nitrates !

    Nitrates are safe for your fish at a certain level, nitrites and ammonia you want absolute 0 of them. Also, the test strips are not so accurate when it comes to checking these levels. You might want to invest into a master api kit to have the accuracy of your levels.

    Cycling a tank takes about 4 weeks sometimes a little longer. You can begin to cycle your fish tank with pure ammonia in order to begin, IF you are doing a fishless cycle (since there won't be any fish to create poop). This is the safest again, because you dont have to worry about stressing your fish. We also recommend getting some stability to help start your cycle a little faster.
    And don't forget to use a good water conditioner when doing water changes such as Prime and always try to match the temperature of your fish tank to the water you are replacing it with so you dont send them into shock.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    ktysonb

    ktysonb New Member Member

    Awesome that is helpful. I will do that. Anybody have any more resources on how to properly cycle your tank? I obviously need to learn more
     
  8. Esli

    Esli Valued Member Member

    Do u have any fish in right now?
    And what type of filter do you have ?
     
  9. OP
    OP
    ktysonb

    ktysonb New Member Member

    right now I have 3 zebra Danios, one dalmation molly, and one oto catfish, but none of them look good at all. They seem to be circling the drain of death. =( The ammonia level right now is showing about .5 =(

    my filter is an undergravel filter where you just have the tubes in the back bubble below the gravel and back up. Is that a sufficient filter?
     
  10. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Well Known Member Member

    You can probably keep that ammonia under control with Seachem Prime, and keep it from further poisoning your remaining fish. Go get a bottle of that, and do another water change immediately using Sechem Prime as the water conditioner.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    ktysonb

    ktysonb New Member Member

    how much water change? 100 percent? Should I clean the tank? or just change the water again? (This will be my 4th water change in a week.)
     
  12. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Well Known Member Member

    Well, the ammonia keeps climbing, and Prime will help keep that ammonia from being poisonous to your fish.

    Do like 75% water change. Don't do 100%. That could shock your fish.

    Do you have a gravel vac? You should use that to clean all the gunk out of your gravel. It's really super easy to do. Fish poop, dead plant matter, uneaten food, and even parasites can all settle in your gravel and will cause ammonia to slowly rise in your tank. Here's a tutorial on how to use a gravel vac:
     
  13. Esli

    Esli Valued Member Member

    Yes, since you have fish in it, it will cycle on its own. I would just get a testing kit to make sure levels do not get too high.
    And also use the vacuum to clean your substrate and do your water changes.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    ktysonb

    ktysonb New Member Member

    I do have a gravel vac =) Ill change the water and clean the gravel with it. Is it safe to say that the ammonia keeps rising because I dont have enough bacteria in the tank yet?

    Ok awesome thanks Ill return and report

    Hey guys sorry one other question on this. If I empty tank and clean out my gravel and glass etc. Is this not removing the good bacteria? Then the cycle has to start all over right? That makes me think that its better to not to many water changes?
     
  15. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Well Known Member Member

    Water changes are good. The beneficial bacteria lives in your filter, not in the water column. Some of the good bacteria lives in the gravel, but the highest concentration of that bacteria is in your filter.

    Again, don’t empty the tank. Wipe the glass with a sponge while the tank is full, then do a gravel vac like in the video I posted, and finish with a 75% water change.

    And yes, it is safe to say the ammonia is rising because the beneficial bacteria hasn’t established yet.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    ktysonb

    ktysonb New Member Member

    awesome thanks you rock
     
  17. Bigfella

    Bigfella Valued Member Member

    With an under gravel filter i'd suggest using seachem stability and dose as recommended. I know most people don't use it on this forum, but I have and I have had nothing but good outcomes. With an undergravel filter your beneficial bacteria lives in your gravel. Whatever you do, do not do a 100% water change because your gravel is where the beneficial bacteria lives....
     
  18. OP
    OP
    ktysonb

    ktysonb New Member Member

    Awesome. So just to clarify...... if most my bacteria is in the gravel then should I not clean my gravel often?
     
  19. Bigfella

    Bigfella Valued Member Member

    You should clean your gravel still, but do not drain all of the water out. It's important to clean the feces out that settles in your gravel, but exposing your beneficial bacteria to oxygen for a period of time will kill it off.
     
  20. Esli

    Esli Valued Member Member

    The gravel contains only a small portion of the bacteria. It really is all in your filter, you still need to clean the poop and left over food that may fall on your gravel.