Help! I'm new & have a 36 gal bowfront

  • #1
Help! I'm new & have a 36 gal bowfront

I cannot get the same information twice about my Aquarium & my city is too small to have an actual aquarium store, so I've been at the mercy of Petsmart & Petco.
Here's what I've got stocked in what I wanted to be a small, friendly community aquarium. First I've a 55/75 gallon Aqueon filter on my tank (I was misinformed that my tank was a 46 gal & it was a gift). Here's the fishies I'm trying to do right by so far...
2 Dwarf Flame Gourami
2 Dwarf light Blue Gourami
2 Black Skirt tetras
3 Platys (2 are Mickeys)
3 Zebra Danios
4 Leopard Longfin Danios

As of 9AM when I turned on my lights, I found I've lost another 2 of my favorite fish... I lost both my sharks, I believe due to some bad water treatment stuff. I've elborated below. I'm too upset for words..

*2 Rainbow Sharks(1 male & 1 female I think)

I did a 25% water change last week and yesterday lost both of my Chinese algae eaters, which I loved dearly. I may be over stocked, or just in over my head- but at the time thought I had a 46 gallon aquarium to slowly fill.

The Internet is SO full of contradictory remarks & so before I get another algae eater or cory cats(as have been recommended) I want to make sure I'm doing okay with this lot...

I recently changed to an LED light & so I've learned I can add plants. So I got a bigger moss ball & tall curly bamboo...
I'd like to add more real plants, asap, but I'm not sure what kind...

At long last these are my main questions...
1- Do I need to donate some fish so I'm not overstocked?
2- Can I add a few little cory cats or 1 Algae Eater?(to keep the bottom half happy)
3) What plants are best for beginners?

*Please be kind with your comments, honesty is good, but I'm doing my best to take care of the fish I have and I'm hoping to improve their level of care with this posting. I am new to such a big aquarium.

  • #2
Help! I'm new & have a 36 gal bowfront

Welcome to FishLore

I unfortunately cannot help you with your stocking questions as I keep African cichlids myself but there are many very knowledgable people on this forum and friendly so there will be someone along soon enough to give you a hand with your stocking question. I think you have some stocking issues based on things I've read here, but don't quote me on that and as said there will be someone else that can help you better.

My main part of advise getting into this hobby is take what petco etc or any big chain pet store has to say with a grain of salt, most of them are completely misinformed themselves and will tell you all kind of ridiculous things to get a sale..
"Oh you have a 10 gallon and want a arowana? Sure you could keep 2 in that" lol ok maybe not that bad but you get my meaning so glad you have found this board as you will get the correct information right off the bat.
Although like any hobby everyone has there own opinion so you are likely to get lots of different ideas from lots of different people but they will work you just need to figure out which way you want to go if you get my meaning.

As for plants, I believe things like Java Fern, Amazon Swords, Moss Balls, Anubias Nanas are all good beginner plants, but a simple google search on beginner aquarium plants will help you out on different types, and I'm sure a lot of people here will be able to help as well, but those I mentioned above are pretty hardy plants that you shouldn't have any issue with. Just make sure with plants that you give them a really good clean before putting them into your tank, so you don't end up with a snail infestation (happened to me with my sons aquarium).

But welcome to the forum! And the hobby, it's a lot of fun if you take care of your tank properly with weekly water changes, btw quick question have you got a test kit yet? If not I would suggest making that your first purchase and would highly recommend the API Master Test kit, reason I'm saying this is if you start getting issues and want help it's the first thing people will ask you "what's your ammonia/nitrites/nitrates" so it's good to have that information from the get go.
  • #3
Hi! Welcome to the forums! Glad to have you here.

I'm not a stocking expert, there is others more qualified then me. I can tell you though your 2 rainbow sharks will get to big for your tank, can get aggressive with each other, and will probably need to be re-homed. Unfortunately so would of the Chinese algae eater. So I'll let the stocking experts chime in on that.

I'm personally more concerned over why you lost the algae eaters after a water change. So if you can answer these questions, it will help everyone out with stocking, and helping you keep them healthy.

How long has your tank been established?

What test kits are you using?

What water conditioner are you using?
  • #4
Hi! Welcome to the forums! Glad to have you here. 

I'm not a stocking expert, there is others more qualified then me. I can tell you though your 2 rainbow sharks will get to big for your tank, can get aggressive with each other, and will probably need to be re-homed. Unfortunately so would of the Chinese algae eater. So I'll let the stocking experts chime in on that.

I'm personally more concerned over why you lost the algae eaters after a water change. So if you can answer these questions, it will help everyone out with stocking, and helping you keep them healthy.

How long has your tank been established?

What test kits are you using?

What water conditioner are you using?
Agree, but I will add a couple things, chinese algae eaters almost never work with gourami, as they often target them to suck on. Also rainbow sharks are quite territorial and need really big tanks to live in groups.

also black skirts are a schooling fish, so they might like a couple friends.

if you are still looking for an algae eating fish, check out bristle nose plecs, the females remind me of nurse sharks and you only need one to keep that tank algae free.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Update... Help! I lost both my sharks during the night, just a day after I lost both my lil algae eaters! I feel like the worst fish keeper ever.
*I just did a 20-25% water change a few days ago, and the only new thing I added was Natural Rapport Gravel Cleaner, which I was assured was safe for bottom feeders. Because I asked specifically on & more than 1 source said it was fine. Well, clearly it's not fine as I have now lost 4 of my favorite fish due to this toxic !

What's the best brands to use for maintenance & slime coats & general aquarium care?

In answer to the questions,

1- I started the tank mid February
2- I've been using the apI test strips, both the 6 in 1 & the ammonia, though everything else seems fine, my PH is really low suddenly.

3- I was using Natural Rapport water conditioner & gravel cleaner, though after today, clearly, I'll be using something else & warning other Amazon shoppers of the perils of these products!
  • #6
Hello, a few questions:
How did you cycle your tank?
What is your kh and gh readings (water hardness)
Gourami are better off having just one and letting him/her be king/queen of the castle.
I highly doubt it was the substrate that killed the fish.
What are your water perimeters?
  • #7
Welcome to Fishlore

The test strips you have are not very accurate but would give us a rough estimate as to what your water parameters are. Can you test and post here? And when you can, I recommend getting the API Freshwater Master Test Kit which is much more accurate and cheaper in the long run.

Secondly, there is no need to use a gravel cleaner chemical as that would do more harm than good. Regular water changes, gravel vacs and rinsing your filter media (in tank water or dechlorinated tap water) will achieve a cleaner, healthy aquarium far better than a product like that.

Currently, you do have to make some adjustments to your stocking. If you have all male gouramis, I would rehome all but one. They will fight and possibly kill each other. As Plecomaker said, the skirt tetras are a schooling fish so it's best to have at least 6 to a species. I wouldn't add any more fish until making these adjustments and then of course, testing your water parameters.
  • #8
Ok new question for you. When you do the water change, do you throw out anything in the filter or do you wash it off in tap water?

Might I make a few suggestions. First I would recommend that you purchase the API Master Test Kit. The problem with strips is everything has their own peramaters. When you crack open the strips your allowing air to hit them, and they start the process of reading that, which in turn gives inaccurate readings when you test your tank. The longer they are out of the sterilized environment, the more they have deuterated. The liquid test is more accurate because the air has no factor in its readings.

If your PH is dropping, it could be your test strips or other problem, which we can work on once you get the test kit.

I personally have no knowledge about Natural Rapport. I did an internet search on it, and there is very little info out there on their products, except they are suppose to be all natural. Unfortunately I couldn't even find the ingredients they use. So might I recommend Seachem Prime. Most here use it with very successful results, and it is highly recommended by all.

As for using a substrate cleaner, I recommend stop using those and just do weekly substrate vacuuming. More work, but less stuff your putting in your tank.
TexasDomer Dovah CindiL
  • #9
You really need to be able to give accurate values for ph, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate to determine if you have water quality issues. With a low ph it would be best to get a kit to check water hardness. Like BenMoffat stated the liquid apI master test kit is the one most people use. One thing is I don't like to use chemicals that may not be needed. Never heard of Natural Rapport before, but why would you need a gravel cleaner? Your water change schedule should include vacuuming your gravel with a siphon tube to clean it. Also although it seems that the fish died when you added it, unless you rule out all other water parameters [ph drop could be issue] your not sure it's the additive you put in. If your tank is healthy a declorinator is the only additive you need, if your tap water is good [you need to test that also].
  • #10
Hi, welcome to fishlore

You are not alone in starting out and running into issues. I think for the most part you will get pretty unified and accurate answers on this forum Many of us started out in similar situations.

I agree its probably not your products so don't write bad reviews on them yet! lol

So, lets do this. Please post the following for both your tank and tap:
ph, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, GH and KH, chlorine also

If all you have are the strips today, so be it. We'll work with those but order yourself an API Liquid Master Test kit, much more economical in the long run. I would also recommend Seachem Prime or Amquel Plus as your water conditioner, that is often the only chemical you need.

Since you have been setup since February I am assuming you have a cycled tank and your PH drop is your biggest issue causing these deaths but don't know for certain yet.

What is your normal water change schedule? 25%? weekly?
As asked previously, how are you cleaning your filter media? and how often? Do you rinse it in old tank or dechlorinated water? If not, you should be as chlorine and high concentrations of ammonia will kill off the nitrifyers that live in your filter media and on your substrate.
Also, with that aqueon are you throwing out whole filter inserts? There are two in that stock box right? We can make that a better setup later.

Are you familiar with the nitrogen cycle?


Your curly bamboo is fine as long as you make sure the leaves are above the surface of the water so it doesn't rot. The stem and roots can be in the water, I have a couple of very large ones.
  • #11
Welcome to the forum and glad you joined us. You have come to the right place for help. Alison
  • #12
Welcome to the forum. =) Before anything I'd focus on getting your tank stabilized. See what you can find out from what the others have already asked and posted here. After that you can start looking into your fish.

As mentioned above, male dwarf gourami can be aggressive with their own kind. I admit I have 2 males but they're in a moderately planted 55 gallon tank with lots of hiding spots. I would recommend picking one Dwarf and rehoming the other 3.

As for your skirts, they're a schooling fish and can get fairly big. Not huge, but not little 2 inchers either. They should be kept in a school of at least 6 to make them comfortable and keep them from getting nippy.

I don't know much about platies or Danios. . . what gender are the platies? If they're not all male, you could find yourself over run with babies is fairly short order. Danios I believe require cooler temps than what dwarf gourami and skirts need.
  • #13
Welcome to Fish Lore!

Everyone has pretty much covered what I would have asked. If you find yourself at the pet store and can grab some fast growing, floating plants like Egeria densa/Ceratophyllum demersum/Pistia stratiotes/etc, get some! Basically, anything that floats will gain all it's nutrients from your water column, grabbing any available form of nitrogen (ammonia, nitrites and nitrates) that it can. Any amount of ammonia or nitrites in your water will be harmful and possibly deadly to your fish. These types of plants are pretty foolproof and don't require much of any special care, just set them and forget them.

I suspect your cycle isn't complete or mature and that's why you're losing fish. I've read people upthread ask about your water parameters but I do want to stress that you know about and completely understand the nitrogen cycle. This is absolutely the number one biggest thing that any fish keeper needs to know about, period. Without a full grasp of this very important function, you're not likely to run into very much success, especially toward the beginning of your journey.

Good luck and I'm glad you're here - you're already head and shoulders above most people by coming here to ask questions.
  • #14
Welcome to fishlore! Everyone else has the recommendations and questions covered. You are not alone is learning along the way! Keep asking questions here & you will learn lots! Off to test my tank water... Literally (what a fun Saturday night).

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