Help Glofish Died After A Few Hours

fishq

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Hello. I am new to this forum. I have had bad luck with Glofish. Before I can talk about our Glofish I will give a short history: We bought a New 10 Gallon Glofish tank kit at Petco (nearest store to us) and set it up on 6/10/19. The tank was bought and set up because we won 2 Goldfish at a fair that day. I know, I know this is not ideal but we did our best to have the fish survive as we were totally unprepared. 1 fish died before we could put it in the tank. We put the other Goldfish in the tank AFTER set up but it died overnight. (The tank was set up with Aqueon water conditioner and we followed the instructions on the bottle). Having spent a bit of money on the tank, conditioner, gravel etc., we decided to give it another go. By this time (6/11/19) I had started reading several web sites, including this one, and read about the nitrogen cycle. I decided to buy Tetra Safe Start (regular bottle, not the plus) and I added it to the tank as directed on the bottle. We did not add fish right away as I wanted to test the water and give the tank time to cycle. On 6/13/19 I tested the water by using Tetra test strips and levels were: Nitrate 20-40, Nitrite .5, Chlorine 0.5, KH 40, PH 7.8-8.4 and GH 150-300. Water appeared cloudy and I did not yet test for ammonia. Our kit came with a heater but I did not use it. It also came with a stick on strip thermometer and the temp was reading between 74-76. I continued to let tank cycle without fish. The water was not tested again until 6/16/19 (again all testing performed with Tetra test strips) and levels were as follows: Nitrate 20-40, Nitrite 0, Chlorine 0, KH 40-80, PH 7.2, GH 150-300, Ammonia 0. Water appeared very clear. Water was next tested on 6/21/19 and all levels were the same except for KH which was at 80. On 6/22/19, since levels appeared stable we decided to buy 5 Tetra Glofish from Petco (2 Longfin tetras, 3 reg tetras). I tested the water before we bought them and all levels were the same, this time with KH being back at 40-80. I asked for advice from the employee at Petco as to how to introduce our new fish to our tank. All I was told was to float the bag for 15 mins to get them used to the water temp. (Heater still not being used but temp in our tank was 74-76). I actually floated the bag for 45 mins and then around 5pm dumped out most of the water from their bag into our dirty water bucket but left a tiny bit of water from their bag and then released them into our tank so they could swim in since I didn't want to hurt them by using a net. (I have since read that was a very stupid thing to do by letting other tank water go into my tank!!!) Regardless, that was the method. By 9pm, 4 had died. With one blue tetra alive all i could think to do was add some water conditioner in case there was a spike in the water levels by adding 5 fish at once so I added 5ml of Aqueon water conditioner and also 10ml of API Quickstart to try to save the little guy. He lasted into the overnight some time, I last saw him alive at 11pm. By the morning of 6/23 he had died. On 6/23 I removed all fish from the tank. Water appeared cloudy and levels tested at: Nitrate 20-40, Nitrite 0, GH 150, Chlorine 0, KH 80-120, PH 7.2-7.8, Ammonia 0. On 6/23 I took fish back to Petco and got my money back. I also brought two water samples for them to test, one from when the 4 fish died on the night of 6/22 (and before I added water conditioner and API Quickstart) and one from the morning of 6/23 after having added conditioner and quick start. Both tested the same as the levels I took that morning - they also use Tetra test strips at their store. I decided to not buy more fish but to keep an eye on testing levels over the next week or so before proceeding as we don't want to kill any more fish! Also, I decided to put the heater in the tank on 6/23 since I and the Petco folks thought maybe it was the temp of the water that might've shocked them (theirs was more like 76-78 as i noticed that day and I think ours had been around 72-74). I also bought a regular thermometer that sits in the water (actually sits in tank but attached to glass with a magnet). On 6/24 and 6/25 all levels were Nitrate 20, Nitrite 0, GH 150, Chlorine 0, KH 40, PH 7.2, Ammonia 0. Water was clear and temp now stable at 78. I took a sample of my water to Petco since they said their Aquarium Specialist would be in that day and to ask him any questions I had. He tested my water and levels were the same. I also asked him to test their water, which he did, and levels were exactly the same. I did not buy fish but wanted to give tank more time to cycle. From 6/26 to 6/30 all levels were exactly the same. So on 6/30 we thought we would be ok to buy more Glofish. We went ahead and got 5 again (2 Longfin tetras, 3 Reg tetras). I also brought a sample of my water for them to test first which tested exactly the same as all my previous levels and I asked them to test their water before I brought the fish home (their testing levels were Nitrate 20, Nitrite 0, GH 300, Chlorine 0, KH 80, PH 6.8-7.2, Ammonia 0. I had previously bought the Doradon Acclimation System since after all my research and reading several websites seem to point to the fact that the first few Glofish probably died from not being properly acclimated. Note: I've also been keeping a notebook on my levels and taking notes on water clarity. We came home with our fish thinking FOR SURE they would now survive as we seemed to have done our homework on how to properly acclimate the fish and the our tank ready for them. At 5pm we followed the instructions for the Doradon system and acclimated them until 9pm just to be on the same side. (I dumped water from the bag periodically into our dirty water bucket) to help with this process. I also tested the water in the bag and the water in our tank and all levels were exactly the same- Nitrite 20-40, Nitrite 0, GH 150, Chlorine 0, KH 40-80, PH 7.2, Ammonia 0. Again, at 9pm we added the fish. They seemed fine at first although within an hour one was showing signs of stress as he was sitting at the bottom of the tank from time to time. This one fish seemed the most stressed anyway once he was put in the bag at Petco, so honestly I thought perhaps he wouldn't make it anyway. The other 4 were swimming calmly and exploring the tank. By 11 pm they all looked fine, they were not up at the top of the water gasping for air but looked calmed as they were swimming nicely in the tank. Note, we also had lights off during the acclimation and introduction to our tank so as not to stress them. By this morning 4 fish were dead, with one blue reg tetra left. I honestly do not know what happened! I thought we did everything we could to give these guys a chance. At this point, we feel like giving up but spent so much money already. Please help. Any advice on what we did wrong or right? Any advice on what to do going forward? I tested the water this morning with the one fish left. Our levels are: Nitrate 20, Nitrite 0, GH 150, Chlorine 0, KH 40-80, PH 7.2-7.8, Ammonia 0. Thank you for reading this super duper long post but I wanted to share as much info as I could.
 

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Are you still testing with test strips? They tend to be inaccurate. I would be most worried about the accuracy of the ammonia. I would advise getting the API master test kit since the liquid tests are much more accurate and a whole lot cheaper in the long-run.

Secondly, are you keeping the cycle maintained by adding some source of ammonia when fish are not in the tank? Otherwise, when you add the fish, the biological cycle is not prepared to support them and there will be an ammonia spike (which you might not be seeing because of inaccurate test strips).

Thirdly, are you set on getting glofish? I personally think there are much more interesting and hardy fish to stock a 10 gallon with. Other fish might be much more likely to survive the stress and potential ammonia spikes, and will be much more rewarding fish to keep.

Good luck!
 

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By adding 5 fish at once to your tank, that puts a lot of load on the biological filter. If your tank sat empty without having a source of ammonia added to it, then your levels of beneficial bacteria would begin to decline after a couple of days. It sounds like you are doing most other things right - it is a learning process. Keep the heater in, because it helps with the cycle. Keep reading about the nitrogen cycle, and now look at "fishless cycle." This will give you a clearer understanding of how to make sure your filter is ready to take on all those fish at once. Glofish are not the sturdiest things. I agree a liquid test kit is worth the investment. Next time maybe just add 1 or 2 fish, then wait a couple of weeks and add 1 or 2 more, to let your filter catch up.
 
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Are you still testing with test strips? They tend to be inaccurate. I would be most worried about the accuracy of the ammonia. I would advise getting the API master test kit since the liquid tests are much more accurate and a whole lot cheaper in the long-run.

Secondly, are you keeping the cycle maintained by adding some source of ammonia when fish are not in the tank? Otherwise, when you add the fish, the biological cycle is not prepared to support them and there will be an ammonia spike (which you might not be seeing because of inaccurate test strips).

Thirdly, are you set on getting glofish? I personally think there are much more interesting and hardy fish to stock a 10 gallon with. Other fish might be much more likely to survive the stress and potential ammonia spikes, and will be much more rewarding fish to keep.

Good luck!
Thank you for your reply! Yes, I've been using the test strips the whole time. I just looked at the API Freshwater Master test kit on Amazon...it says it only tests for Nitrate, Nitrite, PH, GH and Ammonia. What would I use to test the chlorine and the KH? I thought it would be ok to keep using the test stips since that was also what Petco was using and both our results tested the same. I can get the API Freshwater Master test kit if it is more accurate but would like to know how I can test the chlorine and and KH.

As for keeping the cycle maintained, I remember giving the one goldfish some food when we put him in the tank. I haven't cleaned the tank or changed the water (I read that wasn't a good idea to do when starting a new tank) so that food is still sitting there. We also fed the first 5 Glofish a tiny bit of food when we first put them in the tank which they did not eat so that must sitting in the tank too. (I have since learned feeding right away is not a good thing). What else should we do to keep the cycle maintained? This is assuming the one blue tetra that is still alive today doesn't die.

Regarding the Glofish, we are beginning to think we should go for a hardier fish as this has been a bit disheartening on two separate occasions and we don't want any more fish to die.

By adding 5 fish at once to your tank, that puts a lot of load on the biological filter. If your tank sat empty without having a source of ammonia added to it, then your levels of beneficial bacteria would begin to decline after a couple of days. It sounds like you are doing most other things right - it is a learning process. Keep the heater in, because it helps with the cycle. Keep reading about the nitrogen cycle, and now look at "fishless cycle." This will give you a clearer understanding of how to make sure your filter is ready to take on all those fish at once. Glofish are not the sturdiest things. I agree a liquid test kit is worth the investment. Next time maybe just add 1 or 2 fish, then wait a couple of weeks and add 1 or 2 more, to let your filter catch up.
Thank you for your reply! I did read the fishless cycle too. So much good info! I thought that by putting 5 fish at once, I would see a spike in one of the water levels a few days in and was prepared to do a partial water change. But I haven't gotten that far yet. (We only got 5 because I have read Glofish are a schooling fish.) Any idea as to why on two occasions the fish have died with in a few hours? I would assume it has nothing to do with the load on the biological filter since the filter hasn't had a chance to run that long WITH FISH in the tank. Thank you!
 
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For a tank to cycle it must have a constant ammonia source. The fish provided the ammonia for a short time but as soon as they were gone you were back to no ammonia source.

The API master kit contains tests for the main things you need to test for. As long as you are using a water conditioner there is no need to test for chlorine. The water conditioner will remove it so no need to test for it.

I have to think the nitrates you are/were seeing came from either your source water or from the bottled bacteria you added. Have you tested your source water. It is a good idea to run all the tests on it. By doing so you know exactly what you are putting in the tank with each water change.
 

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Thank you for your reply! I did read the fishless cycle too. So much good info! I thought that by putting 5 fish at once, I would see a spike in one of the water levels a few days in and was prepared to do a partial water change. But I haven't gotten that far yet. (We only got 5 because I have read Glofish are a schooling fish.) Any idea as to why on two occasions the fish have died with in a few hours? I would assume it has nothing to do with the load on the biological filter since the filter hasn't had a chance to run that long WITH FISH in the tank. Thank you!
This is only an educated guess, but if your filter wasn't at capacity as far as your beneficial bacteria, you may have had an ammonia spike overnight with the new fish. If they were already stressed or sensitive, it may have just been enough for them.
 

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Test strips unfortunately from what I can remember was a total waste of money. You will never get an accurate reading with them just a base which can still be drastically higher or lower than the base reading. Just from my experience. I think myself like most started out with strips trying to save cost when I was certain I would never get into the hobby or have more fish than "the first ones" and struggled keeping fish alive also. Do yourself and the fish a favor get the API Master Kit, and until tank is stable and fully cycled. Check your water with the tester every 10-12 hours to avoid a spike that will kill all of your fish off.

As far as quickstart bacteria. I have no knowledge of the API quickstart but I do know from experience the Tetra Safe Start Plus is great, and also Dr. Tim's one and only is good. And highly recommended by a lot of hobbyist. Also I use Seachem Prime for my conditioner, and have zero complaints.
 
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This is only an educated guess, but if your filter wasn't at capacity as far as your beneficial bacteria, you may have had an ammonia spike overnight with the new fish. If they were already stressed or sensitive, it may have just been enough for them.
Ok, that makes a bit of sense. I'm going to have to take these fish back to Petco today so I'm going to see if they have a better ammonia test kit since the API Master Test Kit wont arrive from Amazon for another few days. However, another quick question is, wouldn't the other last remaining blue tetra have died also if it was in fact the ammonia? He is still swimming around as of now....
 

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He may have just been that much stronger to hold on. They are all individuals. I am ambivalent about them, but I haven't heard too many long term success stories about Glofish in general.
 

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Ok, that makes a bit of sense. I'm going to have to take these fish back to Petco today so I'm going to see if they have a better ammonia test kit since the API Master Test Kit wont arrive from Amazon for another few days. However, another quick question is, wouldn't the other last remaining blue tetra have died also if it was in fact the ammonia? He is still swimming around as of now....
Fish are like people. Each one is different and has different tolerance levels. Although its not good for the blue tetra maybe hes just a stronger more hardier fish in general
 
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For a tank to cycle it must have a constant ammonia source. The fish provided the ammonia for a short time but as soon as they were gone you were back to no ammonia source.

The API master kit contains tests for the main things you need to test for. As long as you are using a water conditioner there is no need to test for chlorine. The water conditioner will remove it so no need to test for it.

I have to think the nitrates you are/were seeing came from either your source water or from the bottled bacteria you added. Have you tested your source water. It is a good idea to run all the tests on it. By doing so you know exactly what you are putting in the tank with each water change.
Great advice! I just tested my tap water which is my water source and these were my readings with the Tetra Easy Strips which is all I have at the moment: Nitrates 20, Nitrites 0, GH 150, Chlorine 0.5, KH 80, PH 7.2-7.8.

How do I keep a constant ammonia source is my last blue tetra dies?

Fish are like people. Each one is different and has different tolerance levels. Although its not good for the blue tetra maybe hes just a stronger more hardier fish in general
I see...well, I'm keeping an eye on him. I am getting the API Master Test Kit. And thanks for your advice on the other products you recommended!
 
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mattgirl

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Great advice! I just tested my tap water which is my water source and these were my readings with the Tetra Easy Strips which is all I have at the moment: Nitrates 20, Nitrites 0, GH 150, Chlorine 0.5, KH 80, PH 7.2-7.8.

How do I keep a constant ammonia source is my last blue tetra dies?
Now we know where your nitrate reading is coming from? I kinda though this is what you would find since this tank isn't cycled so it isn't producing nitrates.

You can either ghost feed the tank with fish food. As it decomposes it will form ammonia and feed your bacteria but it is kinda messy and can start smelling bad over time.

The better option is using pure liquid ammonia. Lots of folks use Dr.Tim's ammonium chloride. It can be found at Amazon and probably lots of other places too.

Other folks use janitorial strength ammonia purchased at a hardware type store but can be found other places too. If you go this route just be sure the ammonia you get has had nothing added to it to help it clean better or smell better. If you shake it and the bubbles don't almost immediately go away then it has more than just ammonia in it and you don't want to use it.
 
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Now we know where your nitrate reading is coming from? I kinda though this is what you would find since this tank isn't cycled so it isn't producing nitrates.

You can either ghost feed the tank with fish food. As it decomposes it will form ammonia and feed your bacteria but it is kinda messy and can start smelling bad over time.

The better option is using pure liquid ammonia. Lots of folks use Dr.Tim's ammonium chloride. It can be found at Amazon and probably lots of other places too.

Other folks use janitorial strength ammonia purchased at a hardware type store but can be found other places too. If you go this route just be sure the ammonia you get has had nothing added to it to help it clean better or smell better. If you shake it and the bubbles don't almost immediately go away then it has more than just ammonia in it and you don't want to use it.
Oh wow! So the nitrate reading seems to be coming directly from my tap water....when would my tank be considered cycled? And, forgive this question...but since I used the Tetra Safe start to initiate and speed up the cycle, it is still not considered cycled? Again, we set it up on 6/10. I will look for Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride. Would I only need to use this if the blue tetra dies? My guess is that I would not need this if the fish lives...
 

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Oh wow! So the nitrate reading seems to be coming directly from my tap water....when would my tank be considered cycled? And, forgive this question...but since I used the Tetra Safe start to initiate and speed up the cycle, it is still not considered cycled? Again, we set it up on 6/10. I will look for Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride. Would I only need to use this if the blue tetra dies? My guess is that I would not need this if the fish lives...
If there were no fish in there providing ammonia and you weren't adding ammonia I hate to have to say it but the bacteria in the TSS died. I really hate that it doesn't say that on the bottle. The bacteria in the bottle has to have an ammonia source. It is food for it and without any it starves.

The instructions say to add it and you will have an instant cycle. Sadly it really doesn't work that quickly. The instructions on the bottle assume you have fish in there producing ammonia so they don't say how important an ammonia source is to the cycling process.

You will know your tank is fully cycled when you get a reading of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some nitrates.

I know it is confusing since that is kinda what you are seeing right now. You are seeing nitrates because they are in your source water. You are seeing 0 ammonia because there is nothing in there to produce any and with no ammonia there will be 0 nitrites.

You will know your tank is cycle when you can add 2ppm ammonia and it is gone 24 hours later. During this time you should have a spike in nitrites. You want that to happen and when the nitrites that have spike have gone back down to 0.

correct. as long as there is a fish in there you don't want to add ammonia. With just one little fish in there though the tank isn't going to grow enough bacteria to handle any more fish without a spike in the perimeters each time you add more fish. If I were you I would take the one little guy back and go the fishless route.
 
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If there were no fish in there providing ammonia and you weren't adding ammonia I hate to have to say it but the bacteria in the TSS died. I really hate that it doesn't say that on the bottle. The bacteria in the bottle has to have an ammonia source. It is food for it and without any it starves.

The instructions say to add it and you will have an instant cycle. Sadly it really doesn't work that quickly. The instructions on the bottle assume you have fish in there producing ammonia so they don't say how important an ammonia source is to the cycling process.

You will know your tank is fully cycled when you get a reading of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some nitrates.

I know it is confusing since that is kinda what you are seeing right now. You are seeing nitrates because they are in your source water. You are seeing 0 ammonia because there is nothing in there to produce any and with no ammonia there will be 0 nitrites.

You will know your tank is cycle when you can add 2ppm ammonia and it is gone 24 hours later. During this time you should have a spike in nitrites. You want that to happen and when the nitrites that have spike have gone back down to 0.

correct. as long as there is a fish in there you don't want to add ammonia. With just one little fish in there though the tank isn't going to grow enough bacteria to handle any more fish without a spike in the perimeters each time you add more fish. If I were you I would take the one little guy back and go the fishless route.

Thank you for this very good information! I had already left for Petco before I saw this reply...I got my money back for the 4 fish. While at Petco I asked them if they could test my water with another better kit than the test strips. They tested with both the Tetra safe strips (which showed same levels as I have had earlier today) and then they also tested my ammonia with the API Ammonia NH test kit which has the test tubes and they test my Nitrates with the API Nitrate Test Kit which also has the test tubes. The Ammonia came back with a reading of 0.25 and the Nitrates 0ppm.

Is this little tetra in any danger from the 0.25 ammonia reading? What should I do now?
 

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Thank you for this very good information! I had already left for Petco before I saw this reply...I got my money back for the 4 fish. While at Petco I asked them if they could test my water with another better kit than the test strips. They tested with both the Tetra safe strips (which showed same levels as I have had earlier today) and then they also tested my ammonia with the API Ammonia NH test kit which has the test tubes and they test my Nitrates with the API Nitrate Test Kit which also has the test tubes. The Ammonia came back with a reading of 0.25 and the Nitrates 0ppm.

Is this little tetra in any danger from the 0.25 ammonia reading? What should I do now?
If you decide to keep the little guy I recommend you get a bottle of Seachem Prime. It is first and foremost a water conditioner but it goes one step farther and also detoxes low levels of ammonia.

As long as the ammonia is less than one Prime will protect your fish from the damaging affects of ammonia. It can be added every other day. If it gets up to one or above do a water change to get it back down.
 
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If you decide to keep the little guy I recommend you get a bottle of Seachem Prime. It is first and foremost a water conditioner but it goes one step farther and also detoxes low levels of ammonia.

As long as the ammonia is less than one Prime will protect your fish from the damaging affects of ammonia. It can be added every other day. If it gets up to one or above do a water change to get it back down.
I happen to have Seachem Prime on hand. I can do that! I just read the bottle (I have the small 50ml bottle) and just not sure how much to add to my 10 gallon tank. It says "Use 2 drops per 1 gallon of water" and later "If temp is less than 86 degrees and chlorine or ammonia levels are low, add a half dose". Would that be 10 drops then?

Also, let's say this little fish makes it, would he then be cycling my tank? If he dies, I'll take your advice and do the addition of ammonia/fishless cycle route and start over again.
 
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I happen to have Seachem Prime on hand. I can do that! I just read the bottle (I have the small 50ml bottle) and just not sure how much to add to my 10 gallon tank. It says "Use 2 drops per 1 gallon of water" and later "If temp is less than 86 degrees and chlorine or ammonia levels are low, add a half dose". Would that be 10 drops then?

Also, let's say this little fish makes it, would he then be cycling my tank? If he dies, I'll take your advice and do the addition of ammonia/fishless cycle route and start over again.
My apologies, I just re-read the bottle, it says "If temp is GREATER than 86 degrees and chlorine or ammonia levels are low, add a half dose". My tank is only at 78 degrees, I have no idea how much to dose it with...
 
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