I'm paranoid my fish will die!

  • #1
I bought my first aquarium, a 29 gallon, about two weeks ago. I set it up, added the dechlorinater that came with the bundle as well as a bottle of Tetra SafeStart. I didn't realize it at the time but the SafeStart was only supposed to be used for 20 gallons of water, which is one reason I am worried.

I waited two days before buying any fish.

Here is my tank's roster of fish at the moment:
4 mollies
3 dwarf gouramis
1 swordtail
1 platy
1 German blue ram (I understand the problem with breeding practices, and that they are harder to care for, but I had to have him!)

I had another molly but he died after having him two days. He swam in a strange way from the moment I got him, so I am pretty sure there was something wrong with him from the start.

But my main concern is that the tank has not cycled properly for my fish. The SafeStart says on the bottle that it is supposed to make the water safe for fish immediately, but I am confused about whether that means it cycles the tank or just allows the fish to have a chance at surviving.

I want my fish to be happy and healthy, and I'm just worried that I have done something that could cause them pain or distress. They have a habit of pecking at the gravel at the bottom of the tank, which I didn't see them doing at the LFS. This leads me to believe they are hungry, despite being fed TetraMin twice a day. The mollies also show a strange behavior where they will land softly on the plastic plants or air tube sideways and then bolt off.

Other than that, they seem to be doing good and everyone is friendly with each other. I have done 4-5 water checks with Tetra Easy Strips and the readings are good. I did a 5 gallon water change after the first week.

Do I have anything to be worried about, or am I just being paranoid?
  • #2
What gender are the Dwarf Gouramis if they are all males (which are most commonly sold) they will be under so much stress and in some casses will fight to the death.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Yes, the gouramis are all males as far as I know, that's what they were listed as on the side of the tank. They are all friendly with each other though.
  • #4
They will be friendly if theyre young. But Once they become a bit more mature and comfy in their environment...say within 2 months.. It will become disastrous. I had 2... I came home to one.

What is the ph of your tank? Anything over 6.8- 7.2 and your german blues aren't going to make it either. And try to invest in a better water test kit. ApI freshwater test kit is a lot more accurate than test strips
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Well that is unsettling... What would my best course of action be before they mature?

ph was right around 7.2, I will see what I can do to lower it.

Thanks for the advice about the API test kit, I will definitely look into it.
  • #6
You will need to get a water test kit. API liquid master test kit is a good one.

You will need to do frequent water changes based on testing. Since the tank isn't cycled, there will be ammonia and nitrites in the water. You can get a product called PRIME to help protect the fish. Prime also makes the water safe by removing metals.
Anders247 can help with the stocking, but I'm pretty sure you're going to have a problem with the gouramis later on.
  • #7
I do not recommend lowering your ph. Your fish will adapt to it.
As long as it doesn't get too low, you should be fine.
I recommend rehoming 2 of the gouramis and at least 2 mollies. And while you are there, please pick up a liquid test kit. The strips are inaccurate and much more expensive in the long run.
  • #8
What can I do to make the tank cycle? I should have done more research into the nitrogen cycle, what I read made me think once there was beneficial bacteria in the tank that it would be properly cycled. How often should I be doing water tests? I will definitely be buying the API test kit before the week is done.

For a fish in cycle, you can use tetra safe start and wait 3 weeks. No wanted changes. But it might be really hard on the fish.

Option 2 is to do water changes based on your testing. You would want to keep the ammonia and nitrite at a certain level. I don't remember the numbers.
  • #9
Welcome to Fishlore

I agree with Peacefantasy. The male DG's will have issues soon enough. Mollies can get up to 5 inches, are HUGE waste producers and your tank just isn't big enough to house them. Re-homing 2 will be a good idea to lessen the bioload and to keep water parameters manageable. And if you got a mixed gender batch, that will spell even more problems because of additional fry that are born.

After you rehome the above, you can cycle two ways - either do frequent large water changes until you are cycled (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and some nitrates) which may take up to 12 weeks OR pick up a bacteria supplement to help speed cycle which will minimize that length of time to about 2-3 weeks. In your case, since you added so many fish at one time and ones that are heavy waste producers, I would pick up Seachem Stability as opposed to TSS+. Stability will allow you to do water changes until you are cycled whereas TSS+ requires you to wait 2 weeks without a water change.

Also, pick up that liquid test kit and a good water conditioner like Seachem Prime which also detoxifies ammonia and nitrite up to 1ppm for 24 hrs.
  • #10
As el337 said, mollies have a huge bioload. Honestly I think you should only keep one if you like them. Not only because of the bioload, but if you have fry, you will soon be overrun with them. You simply don't have the space.

We can help you with your stocking though, if youd like. I think maybe a bottom dwelling school would definitely make your tank seem fuller and add to the overall look and activity of your tank
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Thanks for the advice everyone, I have ordered the API master test kit on eBay and it will arrive by May 2. I never realized that mollies grew so large and that they produced so much waste. I honestly feel bad that I didnt do proper research before buying fish, but I hope to remedy the problems with my tank. Peacefantasy what kind of bottom dwelling school would you recommend?
  • #12
What kind of substrate do you have?
I'm sure TexasDomer would have great suggestions for you
And congrats on oredering your test kit! It really comes in handy.
When your tank is established, when your fish start acting odd or sick, thatll be first thing you'll want to do is test the water. So it comes in handy for sure.
Plus anytime you ask for help, your parameters will be the first thing we ask for
  • #13
A school of cories or kuhlis would work!
  • #14
I would do less livebearers than that, also, as mentioned, you shouldn't keep multiple dwarf gouramis together unless it's a large tank or they're females or a pair.
  • #15
I don't have a bottle of tss+ handy so correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the directions state add 2" of fish per 10 gallons when starting a new tank?
  • #17
It looks like you're getting good advice here so I'll just add what I haven't seen addressed already

TSS does indeed make water safe for fish immediately... IF you add those fish IMMEDIATELY.

TSS is a bacteria product that feeds off of Ammonia, aka the waste of your fish. Without that food source, it will die off in a few hours. Since you waited 2 days after adding it, the beneficial bacteria was long dead by the time you added your fish.

Hopefully that explains a bit!

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  • #18
It looks like you're getting good advice here so I'll just add what I haven't seen addressed already

TSS does indeed make water safe for fish immediately... IF you add those fish IMMEDIATELY.

TSS is a bacteria product that feeds off of Ammonia, aka the waste of your fish. Without that food source, it will die off in a few hours. Since you waited 2 days after adding it, the beneficial bacteria was long dead by the time you added your fish.

Hopefully that explains a bit!

Sent from my SM-J320P using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app

I agree. The TSS needs to be added at the same time as the fish. At the moment I would just get another bottle and dump it in. It is just the beneficial bacteria so adding more is a good thing. Alison
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Thanks again everyone for your advice. I'll get another bottle of TSS today and add it to tank.

I got my API Master Test Kit in the mail yesterday and did my first test with it, and from what I can tell, the results were bad, but hopefully you guys can give your opinions as well. The first pH test read 7.6, so I did a high pH test and the result was 7.8. Will doing more frequent water changes bring the pH down? Nitrates and Nitrites were both 0 ppm, and ammonia was at an appalling 2 ppm. What should I do?

I have re-homed one dwarf gourami and am monitoring the other two for aggression. I decided to go this route because the one I gave away was being aggressive towards the other two, and he was introduced later. The two I still have I got the same day from the same tank, so I'm hoping that will make them stay friendly with each other.

I have also re-homed two of my mollies, so hopefully things will be ok.
  • #20
Your pH is just fine! I wouldn't try to bring it down as that would do more harm than good.

Can you also test your tap water for ammonia? Might be a good idea to see if your source water is contributing to the 2ppm. Don't add TSS+ yet! I would first do a couple of back to back water changes to bring that ammonia down. At least 50% today and 50% tomorrow until the ammonia is close to 0. If you can, I'd pick up a bottle of Seachem Prime. This water conditioner is different in that not only will it remove chlorine and chloramines but it will detox ammonia and nitrite up to 1ppm for 24hrs, making it safe for your fish.

Once your ammonia gets down close to 0, wait 24 hrs and then add a well shaken, appropriate sized bottle of TSS+. It's important to wait the 24 hr period as Prime will kill off the bacteria in TSS.

I'd still consider rehoming the other DG. It may seem like things are going ok for now but it likely won't be the case for long. Male DG's really are not recommended to be in the same tank, especially in that tank size.
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
I got the Seachem Prime and will do the first 50% water change in a few hours. I will be monitoring the gourami, and I will re-home one if I notice aggression starting to take place. Thanks again for all the help fellow fish people
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Just tested for ammonia and it has dropped to 1 ppm! Will do 2nd water change this afternoon, wait the 24 hours, then put in the TSS. Also, I tested my tap water and it was not the cause.
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
Sorry to be resurrecting an older thread, but I wanted to give an update about how the tank is going. I put the TSS+ in on 5/2/16 and will test the water again on 5/16/16. One of my remaining mollies has been swimming with his head down and in circles for the past few days, IDK what's wrong with him or what I should do for him, but I'd appreciate any suggestions.

I am still monitoring the 2 male dwarf gouramis and they are still doing fine with each other. I got a piece of bogwood with a plant growing out of it, as well as a Bristlenose pleco due to their relatively small size for a pleco when grown (~ 6 inches). IDK what the bioload of my pleco is, so if anyone knows and could tell me I'd appreciate it. He has been eating his algae wafers and seems to be doing good so far. I have reduced feeding to once a day for all fish.

Can't wait until the 16th so I can test my water again!
  • #24
It doesn't appear the molly is handling the cycling too well. I know TSS+ advises not to test during these two weeks but I'm wondering if the ammonia is getting too high for these fish, especially since it's overstocked.

Not sure what you are looking for in terms of the pleco's bioload? All I know is they are very heavy waste producers and not really recommended for cycling.

I'm not sure if at this point you want to ditch the TSS+, do a large water change and use Seachem Stability instead since that will allow you to do large water changes with Prime.

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