Help, Why aren't my fish happy? ):

QueenJenn

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Hello again! I have been having a couple issue within my tank and i just wanted to know if anyone had any suggestions or help to understand why my fish are unhappy. I have filled out the emergency template below.
I have moved all of these fish twice due to having to set up a new tank. I moved them from a 37 gallon to a 55 ( for a few days while my tank ran) and then into the 20 theyve been in for about a month. I used a quick start & my old filter from my bigger tank. I also used amost all decorations. I tested the water fr a few days in a row to ensure that the levels were good then i put the fish in a couple at a time over the span of about 2 weeks, testing the water every other/ every third day to make sure they were in safe conditions. I also have a bubbler the tank that is about 9 inches long. (side note, I tried turning off the bubbler completely to see if maybe they didnt like the movement & nothing changed, i had it unplugged for about two hours & there was sadly no difference)

Tank

What is the water volume of the tank? 20gal
How long has the tank been running? 1 month
Does it have a filter? yes, topfin
Does it have a heater? yes, topfin
What is the water temperature? 77.5F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
1 molly
1 swordtail
2 bloodfin tetra
4 neon tetra
1 black skirt tetra
1 mystery snail & two/three of their babies

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? weekly
How much of the water do you change? 25%
What do you use to treat your water? water conditioner from aqueon
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? both

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? read above statement! used filter media, all decor, & quick start from api. let tank cycle for 24 hrs & put fish in slowly over 2 weeks 2/3 at a time
What do you use to test the water? fresh water test kit from API
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: .5ppm
Nitrate: 5ppm
pH: 7.6

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? daily
How much do you feed your fish? a pinch of food
What brand of food do you feed your fish? topfin flakes
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? not often, maybe once a month

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? ive had both bloodfins, the swordtail, molly, snail, & black skirt for about 3/4 months & the neons for a few weeks if that
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? since being put into this tank
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? all of my fish (aside from the molly) seem very sad, they sit at the bottom they dont move too much and they aren't very active. They have been moved twice (except for the neons) due to having to set up this new tank, and now my one mystery snail floats sometimes and sometimes he walks around, i dont know why this happens either
Have you started any treatment for the illness? no because i dont think it is an illness, im not sure
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? none of them were
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? nothing

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
the general population of fish

my molly is fine, he swims around like he always has, he is very active.
my tetras (bloodfin, neon & black skirt) ALL sit at the bottom and don't move too much. theyre all fully colorful as always and their fins and bodies are okay and not bitten & dont show any signs of bullying or illness. It just makes me very sad that they dont move, i want to know if i can do anything to help ior if my water or anything is what is causing it & if there is anything i can do.
my swordtail moves around alright but shes not as active as the molly, but she definitely moves around much more than the tetras
my mystery snail moves all around my entire tank but every once in a while i look in and hes floating. I dont know why but every time he floats around for a little bit then all of the sudden i look up and hes walking around again.
PLEASE tell me if im doing anything wrong, if theres anything i can do to help i really just wan my fish to be happy and active!!!
 

UnknownUser

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Your tank isn’t cycled. It takes a long time to cycle a tank without fish in it, there is no magic bottle of bacteria to magically cycle a tank. If you are seeing and ammonia or nitrites, the tank isn’t cycled. You’re now doing a fish-in cycle. Please click the link on the word “cycle” and read up on it, what it is and how to fully cycle a tank.

edit to add: The tetras might not be happy because there’s a mix of them. They like to be in schools with their own kind (like, 8+ at least per school). I recommend returning all but 1 type and then getting more of that one to fill out a school. When they are together and feel safe, you may see some more movement. Personally, I don’t like schooling fish in a 20 gal (maybe a 20 long, but not a 20 high). I’ve had neon tetras and rasboras in my 20 high and they do just what you said- pick a spot and sit there. There’s simply not enough space for them to really swim.
 

jake37

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I'd be a little concern about the nitrite - some fishes are more senstive than others. You might try a few drops of prime to help neutralize the nitrite.
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Usually when i seed a new tank with old filter media it still takes a week or so to cycle. During that week i do tests (and if necessary water changes) and use a little prime.
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Also some fishes prefer stability this constant moving will stress them. Last but least tetra that are not in large groups are easily stressed. They prefer friends to make them feel like things are safe.
 
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QueenJenn

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UnknownUser said:
Your tank isn’t cycled. It takes a long time to cycle a tank without fish in it, there is no magic bottle of bacteria to magically cycle a tank. If you are seeing and ammonia or nitrites, the tank isn’t cycled. You’re now doing a fish-in cycle. Please click the link on the word “cycle” and read up on it, what it is and how to fully cycle a tank.
I used filter media from a tank running for 6 month & I used all the decorations without cleaning them. also wouldn't that cause all of my fish to be inactive, not just a few? ive cycled a few tanks and none of my fish have acted so poopy lol
 

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QueenJenn said:
I used filter media from a tank running for 6 month & I used all the decorations without cleaning them. also wouldn't that cause all of my fish to be inactive, not just a few? ive cycled a few tanks and none of my fish have acted so poopy lol
6 months isn’t really a very “old” filter imo (also I edited my first comment to include tetra behaviors!) most likely the old filter media just isn’t enough for the bioload which is why you’re seeing nitrites. Add some prime and do some extra water changes and the cycle should catch up in a couple weeks.
 
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QueenJenn

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jake37 said:
I'd be a little concern about the nitrite - some fishes are more senstive than others. You might try a few drops of prime to help neutralize the nitrite.
-
Usually when i seed a new tank with old filter media it still takes a week or so to cycle. During that week i do tests (and if necessary water changes) and use a little prime.
-
Also some fishes prefer stability this constant moving will stress them. Last but least tetra that are not in large groups are easily stressed. They prefer friends to make them feel like things are safe.
so i didnt do my water change yet today so that couple be whats responsible for that. i let the tank cycle for 24/36 hours and put in one fish with quick start to begin the cycle & tested the water. i did try to turn off the bubbler for a few hours like i said and they didnt move any more or less sadly
also i have had the black skirt by himself every since i got him (lack of knowledge) & hes always been very active and moved a lot on his own. Honestly my biggest issue is that all of these fish were very active and then after the second move they just sit at the bottom. another question i had is that could the PH be affecting my neons? ever since theyve been added theyre just very still, still colorful and bright, but they dont really move too much.
and finally if the reason for my unhappy fish could be cycling, wouldnt all of my fish be kind of lazy and slow/sad looking?
 

JuiceBox52

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Tank is not cycled, as was said above

Also I'd rehome the skirt. They need to be in groups of 8 or more and will become aggressive and nip the other fish if this need isnt met
 
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QueenJenn

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UnknownUser said:
6 months isn’t really a very “old” filter imo (also I edited my first comment to include tetra behaviors!) most likely the old filter media just isn’t enough for the bioload which is why you’re seeing nitrites. Add some prime and do some extra water changes and the cycle should catch up in a couple weeks.
okay thank you!! i just read your addition about the neons and i wanted to ask about the ph, do you think its too high? or is it possible 4 just isnt enough? i was honestly worried thaat the PH was too high and i was hurting them and thats why they havent been moving. also!! since you seem to know a small amount about tetras lol, i had 5 bloodfins and one morning when i woke up 2 were stuck to the filter & dead. then a few weeks later (now in the smaller tank) one more got stuck to the filter and died overnight too. is my filter too strong? are they just lazy or weak fish? i have never in my life ever had a fish die from being stuck to the filter and 3 of these fish died from it!! i dont know if i did something wrong or if its just a sad coincidence but ive really been wondering about this too. ( i might just be very unlucky/paranoid) lol
 

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QueenJenn said:
okay thank you!! i just read your addition about the neons and i wanted to ask about the ph, do you think its too high? or is it possible 4 just isnt enough? i was honestly worried thaat the PH was too high and i was hurting them and thats why they havent been moving. also!! since you seem to know a small amount about tetras lol, i had 5 bloodfins and one morning when i woke up 2 were stuck to the filter & dead. then a few weeks later (now in the smaller tank) one more got stuck to the filter and died overnight too. is my filter too strong? are they just lazy or weak fish? i have never in my life ever had a fish die from being stuck to the filter and 3 of these fish died from it!! i dont know if i did something wrong or if its just a sad coincidence but ive really been wondering about this too. ( i might just be very unlucky/paranoid) lol
hmm okay so you have multiple things going on right now and one or all could be causing the behaviors.
1) was the ph different in the other tanks? if it's the same in all the tanks, the ph isn't the issue (they were behaving fine in the old tank at the same ph). Fish adjust to whatever params we have, but they don't do well with changes. Stability is better than perfection.
2) a lot of moves happened, they could be stressed and have gotten sick from it.
3) the tank isn't completely cycled / is a very new cycle. Lots of fish, especially neons, like "old water", meaning a tank that's been established for a while. Nitrites can also cause behavior differences even at a low amount of 0.5
4) adult fish don't get stuck to filters unless they're already so sick they would've died anyway. The filter intake isn't the problem. If you feel better though, you can add an intake sponge to prevent this in the future.
5) the black skirt tetra could be harassing the others even if you don't know it. They are not friendly fish as said before when kept alone. We can't read fish behavior, so even if they don't look like they're being harassed, you really wouldn't know.
6) the tetras school isn't big enough. This alone can cause enough stress to kill them.
7) you moved the fish from a bigger tank to a much smaller tank. 37 to 55 to 20. That's a huge difference. If you have the option to put the schooling fish in the bigger tanks, do it. Like I said, they may be small but they need a lot of swimming room to show proper schooling behaviors.

What I would do is, rehome the black skirt and bloodfin tetras. Put the 4 neons in the bigger tanks if you have room for it. If not, leave them and add 4 more neons to the 20. Your stock should be: 1 swordtail, 1 molly 8 neons and a snail. Keep up with water changes as needed (indicated by ANY nitrites and / or an amount of ammonia >1 ppm). Use prime conditioner. If the tank doesn't already have them, add a ton of hiding spots. If you are doing live plants with no lid, add floaters (they die with lids typically).
 
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QueenJenn

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UnknownUser said:
hmm okay so you have multiple things going on right now and one or all could be causing the behaviors.
1) was the ph different in the other tanks? if it's the same in all the tanks, the ph isn't the issue (they were behaving fine in the old tank at the same ph). Fish adjust to whatever params we have, but they don't do well with changes. Stability is better than perfection.
2) a lot of moves happened, they could be stressed and have gotten sick from it.
3) the tank isn't completely cycled / is a very new cycle. Lots of fish, especially neons, like "old water", meaning a tank that's been established for a while. Nitrites can also cause behavior differences even at a low amount of 0.5
4) adult fish don't get stuck to filters unless they're already so sick they would've died anyway. The filter intake isn't the problem. If you feel better though, you can add an intake sponge to prevent this in the future.
5) the black skirt tetra could be harassing the others even if you don't know it. They are not friendly fish as said before when kept alone. We can't read fish behavior, so even if they don't look like they're being harassed, you really wouldn't know.
6) the tetras school isn't big enough. This alone can cause enough stress to kill them.
7) you moved the fish from a bigger tank to a much smaller tank. 37 to 55 to 20. That's a huge difference. If you have the option to put the schooling fish in the bigger tanks, do it. Like I said, they may be small but they need a lot of swimming room to show proper schooling behaviors.

What I would do is, rehome the black skirt and bloodfin tetras. Put the 4 neons in the bigger tanks if you have room for it. If not, leave them and add 4 more neons to the 20. Your stock should be: 1 swordtail, 1 molly 8 neons and a snail. Keep up with water changes as needed (indicated by ANY nitrites and / or an amount of ammonia >1 ppm). Use prime conditioner. If the tank doesn't already have them, add a ton of hiding spots. If you are doing live plants with no lid, add floaters (they die with lids typically).
so the only problem is that i bought the neons recently, so thats whats making me nervous about the PH for the neons because ive never had them before and i dont know how sensitive they are to their PH. ive read that they like it 6-7 but ive also read they can handle up to 7.5 so i dont know if that could be bothering them. i want to move the other tetras to the other tank and add more neons to the 20 like you said. I just want to make sure he is a black skirt before i add more of him. he definitely looks like on but im not 100% sure because of his body markings and some differences in color. if i put the bloodfins and tetra into my 55 would they be okay seperate like that? of course if i added more of each to make their own small schools.
 

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QueenJenn said:
so the only problem is that i bought the neons recently, so thats whats making me nervous about the PH for the neons because ive never had them before and i dont know how sensitive they are to their PH. ive read that they like it 6-7 but ive also read they can handle up to 7.5 so i dont know if that could be bothering them. i want to move the other tetras to the other tank and add more neons to the 20 like you said. I just want to make sure he is a black skirt before i add more of him. he definitely looks like on but im not 100% sure because of his body markings and some differences in color. if i put the bloodfins and tetra into my 55 would they be okay seperate like that? of course if i added more of each to make their own small schools.
If you have the space, adding more to complete a full school for each is preferred (But don't overstock to do it!) It's possible the neons are reacting to changes in your water vs the place you got them. Call the business up and ask what their ph, kh, gh are. If they don't know you probably don't want to buy from them again ;P neons also have their own special neon disease, which I don't know much about but a quick google would tell you if that's what you're dealing with.
 

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With regards to this thread 6 month is plenty old. The problem is that the cycle isn't instant even when using old media. yes media contains a bunch of the bacteria but it takes a few days to a week to stabalize. I've done this many times in the past year. The spike should be small - probably not deadly to the fishes (.25 to .75 range) but some fishes are more sensitive than others. I normally use guppies and then move the more delicate fishes (but i have a lot of extra guppies floating around).
-
As i noted and unknown later copied the tetra have several issues in part school size and generally being more sensitve to bad water. Last but least they feel uncomfortable when moved around. They like a stable environment.

UnknownUser said:
6 months isn’t really a very “old” filter imo (also I edited my first comment to include tetra behaviors!) most likely the old filter media just isn’t enough for the bioload which is why you’re seeing nitrites. Add some prime and do some extra water changes and the cycle should catch up in a couple weeks.
First as I keep saying - they are scared because it is a new environment. Give them a day of peace and quiet in the dark. Keep careful watch of nitrite and ammonia for the next few days. If you have sachem prime put in a few drops.
-
When I buy (for example) cardinal tetra - the first thing they do is hide when i release them in the tank - then if they notice other cardinals they immediately go join them (if i had none - they would lay low for a period of time until they feel comfortable).
-
We can't see your tank (no pictures) but i suspect if you had plants for them to hide in instead of laying low they would hide in the plants.
-
Probably in 24 hours they will begin to explore and if they feel safe become more active.
--
Another words there are two issues at play the water chemistry which is slightly off and the new environment.

QueenJenn said:
so i didnt do my water change yet today so that couple be whats responsible for that. i let the tank cycle for 24/36 hours and put in one fish with quick start to begin the cycle & tested the water. i did try to turn off the bubbler for a few hours like i said and they didnt move any more or less sadly
also i have had the black skirt by himself every since i got him (lack of knowledge) & hes always been very active and moved a lot on his own. Honestly my biggest issue is that all of these fish were very active and then after the second move they just sit at the bottom. another question i had is that could the PH be affecting my neons? ever since theyve been added theyre just very still, still colorful and bright, but they dont really move too much.
and finally if the reason for my unhappy fish could be cycling, wouldnt all of my fish be kind of lazy and slow/sad looking?
 
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QueenJenn

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jake37 said:
With regards to this thread 6 month is plenty old. The problem is that the cycle isn't instant even when using old media. yes media contains a bunch of the bacteria but it takes a few days to a week to stabalize. I've done this many times in the past year. The spike should be small - probably not deadly to the fishes (.25 to .75 range) but some fishes are more sensitive than others. I normally use guppies and then move the more delicate fishes (but i have a lot of extra guppies floating around).
-
As i noted and unknown later copied the tetra have several issues in part school size and generally being more sensitve to bad water. Last but least they feel uncomfortable when moved around. They like a stable environment.



First as I keep saying - they are scared because it is a new environment. Give them a day of peace and quiet in the dark. Keep careful watch of nitrite and ammonia for the next few days. If you have sachem prime put in a few drops.
-
When I buy (for example) cardinal tetra - the first thing they do is hide when i release them in the tank - then if they notice other cardinals they immediately go join them (if i had none - they would lay low for a period of time until they feel comfortable).
-
We can't see your tank (no pictures) but i suspect if you had plants for them to hide in instead of laying low they would hide in the plants.
-
Probably in 24 hours they will begin to explore and if they feel safe become more active.
--
Another words there are two issues at play the water chemistry which is slightly off and the new environment.
i do have plants for them to hide! plenty of hiding spots, i always make sure of that lol. i moved around some fish and got the neons some friends and they seem happier in a group of 8 :) moving around much more!! lol. i definitely could tell the difference between scared and not feeling happy!!
 

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