I'm Very Discouraged By My Serpae Tetras.

Katie52842

Member
So three weeks ago, I pulled an old ten-gallon tank out of storage with the intention of getting a single male feeder goldfish, just for a hobby/something to look at (yes, I'm aware that you shouldn't keep them in a ten-gallon tank for very long, but I know a lady who'd take him after he became large enough hers wouldn't eat him.) That was the plan.

So I bought the supplies (auto-cycling bacteria, food, testing kit, some water hardener, etc.) set up the tank, and waited a week. Then I wandered down to Petco with my little brother to look at the goldfish.

He found a 3-inch Pictus Pilomedus (I know I spelled that wrong) Catfish. I saw it got to five inches, so since we had a heater, I said "why not?" and bought two long-fin Serpae Tetras for some colour. I knew they were schooling fish, but thought two would be enough for a while (I had plans of picking up a local 20-gallon, and figured I'd get two more after the tank'd cycled a little). We headed home and did some research. Found Octavious (the Pictus) needs a 55 gallon tank.

So I sighed, searched the classifieds, bought a second-hand 40 gallon tank with attendant filters and heater, and said, "this'll have to be enough, for now." Bought some more bacteria, washed it thoroughly, filled it with thirty gallons, and gradually mixed the water over the course of sixteen hours. Then we added the fish. Octavius seems far happier than he was in the 10-gallon tank, alternately sleeping and wandering around in circles, and he's got a great appetite.

The second tetra (Timothy) was found floating belly-up the next morning. Pete seemed to be alive and well, so two days later, I took the water to get tested, got refunded and told my water was fine, and so bought Tetra #3 and three very flashy male guppies.

Tetra #3 got a white mark on his lip the first day, which I thought was odd. I stopped by the pet store the next day, and bought some medication recommended by the lady at the pet store. Two days later, the white mark had increased to a veritable goatee, and I bought fungus-stop from Walmart. It worked. The fungus vanished within two days. So did half of the Tetra's lip, and he began swimming erratically and not eating. Two days after that, he was dead.

Within two days, Tetra #1 was trying to hang out with the orange-tailed guppy.

Since I felt bad, Tetra #4 was bought yesterday, from a different pet store than Tetras Pete, #2, and #3. (Since the guppies, Corydoras, and Pictus were doing well, I figured the store's tetras were infected and to not be trusted.)

Tetra #4 has a small round, white patch on his lower lip that seems to be growing. I'm beginning to wonder if I should just cull the tetras. I don't want to buy more. I also keep chickens and ducks, and know how bad an idea it is to keep a single of a social animal. But I don't like how they behave (no nipping yet, but Pete chases the two blue guppies) and I really like the guppies.

Any suggestions?
 

pagoda

Member
Well my first thought is that you didn't fully cycle your aquariums, it takes an average 6-8 weeks to complete and failure to do so will, I'm afraid, kill your fish.

What are your current water test results please...without those no-one will be able to advise you properly
 

Giul

Member
Wow, this all sounds so crazy! It sounds like you’ve gone through a lot of hardships so far. Do you have pictures of the tetras? Could you also please list your current stock of the tank (numbers and species) along with the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate number levels?

My Serpae tetras are very hardy, however they were added to a well established tank so they had minimal stress.
 

pagoda

Member
You might want to read this.....and if you were given bad info by the supplier of your equipment & fish, a strong letter of complaint to them might be a good idea

Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle
 
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Katie52842

Member
pagoda said:
Well my first thought is that you didn't fully cycle your aquariums, it takes an average 6-8 weeks to complete and failure to do so will, I'm afraid, kill your fish.

What are your current water test results please...without those no-one will be able to advise you properly
I thought the purpose of buying the bottled bacteria was to drastically decrease cycling time?
This is what they told me at the store, using their liquid testing kit. They've tested twice, first before I got the fish, second when I brought in Tetra#2 for a refund. The paper strips I'm using are far less precise, but appear to agree with their results as of a week ago, and a minute ago.
pH: 7.2
Alkalinity: ~85 kH
Hardness: ~80-100 GH (a little soft, I know)
Nitrate: undectable (with two Fluval 70 filters on low, this is not a surprise)
Nitrite: undetectable.
 

pagoda

Member
What about ammonia level as that will kill fish?

The store told you the wrong thing....as so many people have discovered when new to the hobby.
 
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Katie52842

Member
Giul said:
Do you have pictures of the tetras?
Nope. I've got a Kindle Fire camera which is so bad as to be useless and not worth the effort.

Giul said:
Could you also please list your current stock of the tank (numbers and species) along with the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate number levels?
1 Pictus Catfish
3 fancy male guppies
2 false JuliI Corydoras (from the previous owner of the fish tank.)
2 Serpae Tetras.

The rest has just been listed above. I did forget to say temp, which is at a steady 76F
 

pagoda

Member
If the water was tested with an API liquid tester it should have given a result on the ammonia level...that's the most important on an uncycled aquarium where fish are dying
 
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Katie52842

Member
Ammonia is undetectable as well. It was at 1 ppm six hours after I first added the fish to the ten gallon (according to a paper testing kit) but had disappeared before the 40 gallon came into play. They did not detect any at the store.
 

pagoda

Member
Have you tested the water yourself with a liquid tester....not the store but you...in the last couple of hours?

Cos your fish state and the lack of full cycle doesn't sit right with an ammonia level of zero
 
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Katie52842

Member
pagoda said:
The store told you the wrong thing
What did they tell me that was wrong? I was told that after a week of adding Tetra Safe Start to the tank, it would be fine for a few fish. They told me that fish were important to the cycle, and that I should add a few at a time so that the bacterial colonies can use the ammonia from the fish to make more bacteria. That I should not add more than three small fish (or one medium fish) at a time, as the bacteria would need time to catch up. This seems to make sense, and corresponds to what I have read in other places.

pagoda said:
Have you tested the water yourself with a liquid tester....not the store but you...in the last couple of hours?

Cos your fish state and the lack of full cycle doesn't sit right with an ammonia level of zero
No, just the paper tester. Everything but the tetras are doing completely fine.

I did find out that the store had recently received the Tetras. As in, about two days before I bought them.

If it makes any difference at all, the strips I have are Tetra Easy Strips.
 

pagoda

Member
Paper test strips are usually inaccurate and the tetra ones do not test for ammonia, you need the full API liquid test kit.

They gave you the wrong info since you need to fully cycle your aquarium before any fish are placed into it.......you can cycle with them but it extends the time taken to complete it. You are looking at 6-8 weeks without fish and 7-10 weeks with fish
 
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Katie52842

Member
pagoda said:
If the water was tested with an API liquid tester it should have given a result on the ammonia level...that's the most important on an uncycled aquarium where fish are dying
I honestly did not watch them test it. I handed over the pint jar of water (plastic mayonnaise lid, if that's of any relevance at all) and wandered over to watch the corydoras. I don't know what test they used; the lady wrote down my results, initialed them, and told me to hand them to the guy at the register. She did tell me that the paper tests are unreliable, and told me I should order a good liquid test kit for myself if I wanted to get more fish.

pagoda said:
and the tetra ones do not test for ammonia
It's labelled "Tetra EasyStrips Ammonia Freshwater & Saltwater Aquarium Test Strips"
I'll take advice given, and not get more fish for a while, but the store did use a liquid test kit (the saleslady was very proud of it) and she said there was nothing wrong with the water, otherwise, I would not have gotten a refund.

In any case, the water is what it is, and I can't do anything about it now, other than leave the fish number as it is, check the quality regularly for deviations, and head up to the store for more testing. I do have a liquid test kit on order, but it won't get here for another week. I'm pretty sure that's as solved as it can be.

I just want to know what to do about the sick tetra. I already know he shouldn't be around the healthy fish, but:
If I isolate him in the ten-gallon, won't that stress him more?
Should I isolate the other tetra with him?
Did the stress from the Fungus-stop kill Tetra #3? Should I use a more gentle treatment? (the "all-natural" stuff from the store was completely ineffective, but I'm willing to try another product)
Should I just cut my losses?
 

Ridge Chambers

Member
Alot of things that people sell in the hobby are nothing but snake oil. Bottled bacteria is one of them.

Get some seachem prime, dose it everyday. It will detoxify ammonia while still allowing your biofilter to develop. After 2 months it will be good on it own. You will probably want to continue with weekly WCs though.

I would also suggest getting a quarantine tank so you can observe new fish for a few weeks before adding them to your display. Also, if you ever have a sick fish you can move him to qt to reduce chances of spread and you can treat the fish separately to avoid pointless deaths.
 
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Katie52842

Member
Ridge Chambers said:
Alot of things that people sell in the hobby are nothing but snake oil. Bottled bacteria is one of them.

Get some seachem prime, dose it everyday. It will detoxify ammonia while still allowing your biofilter to develop. After 2 months it will be good on it own. You will probably want to continue with weekly WCs though.

I would also suggest getting a quarantine tank so you can observe new fish for a few weeks before adding them to your display. Also, if you ever have a sick fish you can move him to qt to reduce chances of spread and you can treat the fish separately to avoid pointless deaths.
Thank you. Can you tell me why bottled bacteria doesn't work? Does it die from being stored? And (I'm not arguing, I just think it's highly unlikely that the lady was lying about the water testing results) is there any reason she would be detecting no ammonia ~30 hours after three fish were added to the tank?

And can you please answer the questions in my last post about what to do about the sick tetra?

Also, can I go to the pet store, scrape one of their filters, and use it to reduce cycling time?

Really, I'll take your word that bottled bacteria is useless. I just like to know the "whys?" of things. Drives my boss crazy, because I cannot keep my mouth shut.
 

Crispii

Member
Katie52842 said:
Thank you. Can you tell me why bottled bacteria doesn't work? Does it die from being stored? And (I'm not arguing, I just think it's highly unlikely that the lady was lying about the water testing results) is there any reason she would be detecting no ammonia ~30 hours after three fish were added to the tank?

And can you please answer the questions in my last post about what to do about the sick tetra?
It's because they don't have the right species of bacteria. As for the sick tetra, you should do daily water changes of at least 50%. Do not use any medications unless it's a last resort.
 

Ridge Chambers

Member
The beneficial bacteria that lives in your filter needs oxygen and a constant food source(ammonia and nitrites), which it doesn't get in a bottle.

I don't think she would lie to you, I am a little stumped on this. Maybe ammonia wouldn't get to a detectable amount in 30 hours, but you should have been able to read it on your test strips within a few days.

You mentioned you got the 40 gallon second hand, did you happen to get it pre - cycled? That would explain why there is no ammonia. Did you put all the fish in there on the first day?

With this info maybe we can figure out what to do with the sick fish.
 
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Katie52842

Member
Crispii said:
It's because they don't have the right species of bacteria. As for the sick tetra, you should do daily water changes of at least 50%. Do not use any medications unless it's a last resort.
And should I put the other tetra with him? I know from keeping chickens and ducks that it's usually detrimental to the health of the animal to isolate it completely, but I don't want to make the other one sick as well.
Ridge Chambers said:
The beneficial bacteria that lives in your filter needs oxygen and a constant food source(ammonia and nitrites), which it doesn't get in a bottle.

I don't think she would lie to you, I am a little stumped on this. Maybe ammonia wouldn't get to a detectable amount in 30 hours, but you should have been able to read it on your test strips within a few days.

You mentioned you got the 40 gallon second hand, did you happen to get it pre - cycled? That would explain why there is no ammonia. Did you put all the fish in there on the first day?

With this info maybe we can figure out what to do with the sick fish.
The forty-gallon tank was emptied the day I got it, and obviously had not been cleaned for a while.

But we cleaned it pretty thoroughly using bleach (1 tbsp per five gallons for initial cleaning, plain water afterwards), got rid of the old substrate, put in new charcoal for the filter, scrunched the three filter components in filtered well water for nearly an hour (which was fun. Wring, rinse, repeat, until the smell of dirty bleach had been gone for forty minutes) Everything but the aquarium was soaked for an hour in clean water, changed, then rinsed twice, and all components were allowed to sit in 80-degree sunshine for a day, before being rinsed again. I am unsure as to how bacteria could have survived that process.

We did forget to wash the thermometer, and one one the suction cups for the heater, so those were added uncleaned (EDT: They were rinsed and scrubbed, but it really was a rush job). I'm not sure they could have provided much bacteria.

We re-filled it, tested the water, added some hardener (EDT: and some pH adjuster and buffer) and the bacteria, and then took a gallon from the ten-gallon and switched it with a gallon from the 40-gallon. We repeated that for sixteen hours (actually, my brother did. I had work.)

I did source the water at my parent's house, because they have well water (no chlorine or other additives) They also have a 3-acre pond beside the house. Perhaps some of that bacteria could have leaked in?

Regarding when we added the fish:

Late on the third day; I got it morning of the first, and it sat in my car until that evening (picked it up on the way to work) We cleaned it the second day, and added fish late the third day.
 

pagoda

Member
Seriously Katie you need to cycle that aquarium properly and be patient cos it will take weeks, I linked the cycle information you need above...please read it carefully otherwise you are never going to keep your fish healthy

Pet superstores deal with a multitude of animals and the sales staff know a fraction about most of them but they rarely know all that is needed and frequently "blind with science" to a novice and afterall they work there, of course they would know? Sadly a lot of the time they do not know and they tell things that are incorrect....and tbh I am not 100% sure that the tests they did were done right either but they told you what you wanted to hear

You are not the first novice to get stung this way and you will not be the last unfortunately. Please read about the cycle and do it and then you can enjoy fishkeeping properly and you will have healthy and happy fish
 

Crispii

Member
Katie52842 said:
And should I put the other tetra with him? I know from keeping chickens and ducks that it's usually detrimental to the health of the animal to isolate it completely, but I don't want to make the other one sick as well.
If the rest of the tetras are doing fine, then don't move them. Just move the sick one into a hospital tank. No need to to treat healthy fish.

I also agree with pagoda that you need to be patient whenever it comes to aquarium. An aquarium does not cycle itself in a few days. It takes weeks or even a month to get it cycled.
 

Fish0n

Member
Just an FYI since you are using medications if you left the charcoal in your filter the charcoal is removing the medicine.
I would separate the serpaes together in my opinion. You will be able to watch them better in the smaller tank plus if one has it I would assume the other one does too. Treat the 10 like a quarantine tank. I would also strongly suggest looking up fish in cycling for your tank. Given that you have no nitrates you little to no bacteria. Regardless of if that is what made the tetras sick or not it is very important for the future health of your tank. Taking bacteria from the store (scraping like you mentioned wouldn't work though) while faster and easier isn't the safest as there could also be diseases and such you are introducing to your tank.
 
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Katie52842

Member
pagoda said:
Seriously Katie you need to cycle that aquarium properly and be patient cos it will take weeks, I linked the cycle information you need above...please read it carefully otherwise you are never going to keep your fish healthy

Pet superstores deal with a multitude of animals and the sales staff know a fraction about most of them but they rarely know all that is needed and frequently "blind with science" to a novice and afterall they work there, of course they would know? Sadly a lot of the time they do not know and they tell things that are incorrect....and tbh I am not 100% sure that the tests they did were done right either but they told you what you wanted to hear

You are not the first novice to get stung this way and you will not be the last unfortunately. Please read about the cycle and do it and then you can enjoy fishkeeping properly and you will have healthy and happy fish
Thank you, and I did read it. It mentioned Tetra Safe Start as an option, and linked to a QA which advised a process similar to the one I used (add TSS, introduce ammonia [which I did, but not via fish] wait a week before adding more fish). You're telling me not to do this. I don't mean to be rude (genuinely, I don't mean to be rude) but I find this very confusing.

If you can recommend something for me to do with my existing setup, I will take that advice. But you're telling me what I should have done. Which may be helpful to other readers in future, but it's not helpful to me now. Short of flushing my fish and restarting, I simply cannot do what you're recommending.

Since the lady who tested the water had to give me a refund for a fish based on that test, and advised me to be very careful and slow about adding fish to my tank, I don't think she's telling me what I want to hear. The lady who originally sold me the tetras and Pictus was a different lady, and had no advice on tanks or fish whatsoever. Everything she did say (including that a pictus would be fine in a ten-gallon) was later proven wrong.
 

Crispii

Member
You can either do daily water changes of at least 25-40% or you can add Seachem Prime daily with your existing setup, assuming that it has not gone through the nitrogen cycle.
 

J. MacGregor

Member
Katie52842 said:
Thank you. Can you tell me why bottled bacteria doesn't work? Does it die from being stored? And (I'm not arguing, I just think it's highly unlikely that the lady was lying about the water testing results) is there any reason she would be detecting no ammonia ~30 hours after three fish were added to the tank?

And can you please answer the questions in my last post about what to do about the sick tetra?
Some fish stores will actually give you some of their cycled filter media that they have pulled out of their tanks. if they are done with it and going to throw it away they typically don't have a problem with giving you some to jump start your cycle.
 

Ridge Chambers

Member
Huh, so the tank was definitely not cycled. Now we're 3 weeks in and your still not able to detect any ammonia nitrite or nitrate?

Could you test for those 3 things right now with your test strips and post the results.

Your tetras are probably getting sick because the tank is not cycled, as others have stated, it takes about 8 weeks. If they were my fish I would dose the prime everyday for 2 months with weekly WCs.

Water quality is most likely to be the the issue here, so don't worry about meds.

Edit: I'm not sure whether you should isolate them or not. They could have something contagious. If you do isolate them make sure you seed the filter with established media or dose prime everyday to prevent an ammonia spike in the quarantine tank.
 
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Katie52842

Member
Crispii said:
You can either do daily water changes of at least 25-40% or you can add Seachem Prime daily with your existing setup, assuming that it has not gone through the nitrogen cycle.
I've got the seachem on order, thank you. (I don't really want to go the water route, as I either have to pick it up from my parent's place and add pH and hardening product, or get it here and add anti-chlorine conditioner.)

pagoda said:
Seriously Katie you need to cycle that aquarium properly and be patient cos it will take weeks, I linked the cycle information you need above...please read it carefully otherwise you are never going to keep your fish healthy

Pet superstores deal with a multitude of animals and the sales staff know a fraction about most of them but they rarely know all that is needed and frequently "blind with science" to a novice and afterall they work there, of course they would know? Sadly a lot of the time they do not know and they tell things that are incorrect....and tbh I am not 100% sure that the tests they did were done right either but they told you what you wanted to hear

You are not the first novice to get stung this way and you will not be the last unfortunately. Please read about the cycle and do it and then you can enjoy fishkeeping properly and you will have healthy and happy fish
Sorry for the brusqueness of my last post. I wrote it up, had to attend to something, hit post, then came back and re-read it. I really did not mean to be so rude.

Ridge Chambers said:
Huh, so the tank was definitely not cycled. Now we're 3 weeks in and your still not able to detect any ammonia nitrite or nitrate?

Could you test for those 3 things right now with your test strips and post the results.

Your tetras are probably getting sick because the tank is not cycled, as others have stated, it takes about 8 weeks. If they were my fish I would dose the prime everyday for 2 months with weekly WCs.

Water quality is most likely to be the the issue here, so don't worry about meds.

Edit: I'm not sure whether you should isolate them or not. They could have something contagious. If you do isolate them make sure you seed the filter with established media or dose prime everyday to prevent an ammonia spike in the quarantine tank.
I tested about half an hour ago? when I posted my original readings. Nothing. I'm not even seeing a slight pinkness on the nitrite and nitrate "5-in-1 Easystrips" and no green at all on the ammonia test strip. My sister says that, in very good light, she can maybe see just a touch of pink on the nitrite strip "like about half the pinkness of the inside of a seashell" is how she described it. It looks like off-white paint to me.
 

goldface

Member
Hate to further add to an already confusing situation, but I think it needs to be said. Most who say bottled bacteria is useless or doesn't work has little to no experience with it. As you do more research, you'll have to make up your own mind; that is pick and choose which advice to follow, and decide fact from myth. And there are lots of myths in this hobby that are often touted as facts.
 

Fish0n

Member
Katie52842 said:
I've got the seachem on order, thank you. (I don't really want to go the water route, as I either have to pick it up from my parent's place and add pH and hardening product, or get it here and add anti-chlorine conditioner.)


Sorry for the brusqueness of my last post. I wrote it up, had to attend to something, hit post, then came back and re-read it. I really did not mean to be so rude.


I tested about half an hour ago? when I posted my original readings. Nothing. I'm not even seeing a slight pinkness on the nitrite and nitrate "5-in-1 Easystrips" and no green at all on the ammonia test strip. My sister says that, in very good light, she can maybe see just a touch of pink on the nitrite strip "like about half the pinkness of the inside of a seashell" is how she described it. It looks like off-white paint to me.
Common consensus in fish keepers is stable pH is more important than "perfect" pH so most advise against using the pH and hardening product you mentioned. And more water changes/clean water exponentially more important than perfect pH. What is wrong with the water where you live? You can typically dechlorinate tap and it is perfectly safe. I am personally unaware of a situation where that is not the case.

Although the water at your parents may seem better, I worry that the inconvenience may be a discouragement for frequent water changes and thus your longterm success in the hobby. If you looked up fish in cycling like I suggested you will see that frequent water changes are necessary to keep your fish happy and healthy.
 
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Katie52842

Member
Fish0n said:
What is wrong with the water where you live?
It's about 7.8 pH on a good day. My parents have water of about 6.4, which may not be ideal, but I've always been told that acid is far better than alkaline. (Could be wrong?) The pH product I add is a buffer. API Proper pH 6.5 Aquarium Water Treatment. It's what puts my kH within decent parameters. Without it, the KH is something like 40. Which I understand to be outside safe parameters?

My parents and I both have really soft water (due to iron treatments. Before my parents got theirs treated, it was yellow.) so I think I'd have to add hardener no matter what I do? Untreated water doesn't even hit 25 GH according to my little test strips. I don't think fish can survive in that? Surely they have osmosis problems?

I realise that fish need constant water changes. I visit my parents at least once a week, and this aquarium was acquired with the plan of going down and getting two five-gallon buckets of water every Sunday (25% being definitely enough according to everything I've read.) Apparently, I'll have to change water more often with a sick fish and the ammonia levels, but it still shouldn't be much of a problem. I've just got permission to borrow a sixty-gallon water tank from my parents.

EDT:
Neutralising is still more convenient, of course, but water changes are a sustainable option for as long as it takes.
 

Hmm

Member
Well 1 don't add fish until you cycle the tank 2 Why do you have 2 tetras they need at least 5 or more tetras to be with that could be a contributing factor to the stress and the uncycled tank on to of that is to much

I would return them until it is cycled and you can properly get a school
 
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Katie52842

Member
Ridge Chambers said:
Huh, so the tank was definitely not cycled. Now we're 3 weeks in and your still not able to detect any ammonia nitrite or nitrate?

Could you test for those 3 things right now with your test strips and post the results.
Technically, nine days into having fish. The ten-gallon aquarium was set up three weeks ago and left for nearly two weeks before receiving fish. The forty-gallon aquarium was acquired last Saturday, and no fish went into it until Monday.

Ammonia (As of a couple hours ago) zero. Bright yellow paper, not so much as a hint of green.
nitrite (Same time) I think zero, my sister says she might see a pink tinge to the paper, but also says she might be imagining it.
Nitrate (Same time) Absolute zero. Looks faintly yellowish. Nitrate is indicated by pink.

Hmm said:
I would return them until it is cycled and you can properly get a school
I would actually be really happy to do that. But do you think they'll take a fish with possible fungus growth back? I would not, if I were them.

Hmm said:
Why do you have 2 tetras
Because I only had a ten-gallon tank at the time, thought it was cycled (EDT: enough for three fish; I was told that cycling had to be done slowly, with a very gradual addition of new fish), and planned to get a new trio when I got the twenty-gallon tank I was going to get.
 

Hmm

Member
Ok

yes they will take them back but just say I don't have room for them and don't want them to die here they are.
 

jpm995

Member
Seems to me the fish you bought had a bacteria infection when you bought them. If you can't quarrentine the new fish make sure they have been in the store one or two weeks before you buy them. Even if your tanks not cycled if it has no ammo, nitrite and nitrate the waters ok.
 

Islandvic

Member
Katie52842 , welcome to the forum.

Wow, this thread jumped all over the place! Lots of information overload for a new fish keeper!

The best decision you've made so far is joining this forum, getting the larger tank, and (if I read the post correct) getting 2x Fluval (Aquaclear) 70 filters.

Your definitely on the right track.

With fish deaths, it can be common within the first few days or weeks.

This occurs even in fully cycled tanks, with perfect parameters and frequent water changes.

The main variable that is very hard to control by most fishkeeper's is the fish's original health condition prior to purchase. Unless you personally know the breeder, it's hard to know the exact health of the fish when you buy it.

The majority of fish sold are juveniles and have not yet reached adulthood. They've already been stressed out when shipped from the breeder to the store. Then they live in a new tank for a few days or a week at the store, only to be bagged up and taken to the hobbyist's tank at home, getting stressed out again.

Even the healthiest looking fish at the store may have an undetectable fungus, parasite or other health issue that hasn't become symptomatic yet, only to become detectable once they are in the fishkeeper's tank at home.

So don't get too down on yourself.

As for water changes, the situation with the tap water and the well water, pH, gH etc etc, here is my 2 cents......

From what I gather, you're water is municipal sourced that is chlorinated and your parents is sourced from a well and non-chlorinated.

Your faucet water has around 7.8pH and the well water in the 6.4pH.

I believe you said you ordered Seachem Prime water conditioner. Prime is about the gold standard when it comes to water conditioners to dechlorinate water.

It can also be used up to 5x the normal dose to neutralize an ammonia or nitrate spike for 24-48hrs. Its rendered safe for fish, but the beneficial bacteria can still process it. It also de-toxify's heavy metals in the water with normal dosing amounts.

Prime is great because of it's high concentration and can be used while the tank cycles.

0.1mL treats 1 gallon
1.0mL treats 10 gallons
5.0mL treats 50 gallons

Unless your faucet water is not drinkable, I would use that ad your source for water changes and treat with Prime.

You can either dose each bucket of water, or dose directly into the tank as you fill it with water. The last method you must dose for the whole 40 gallon tank, not just calculated for what is being replenished.

With a pH of 7.8, that isn't really high. My water municipal water source is steady at 7.8pH and I have hard water. I've never tested for GH or KH, because I feel I don't need to. I already know I have hard water and I'm not going to change it.

The levels of pH really is of importance when dealing with its level being either steady and constant, or it fluctuates up and down.

Fish will much rather prefer a pH that is steady and constant (but may be slightly higher than their "preferred pH") versus being in tank water with a pH that fluctuates up or down.

That's why I would suggest to not go down the rabbit hole of using buffer/pH stabilizing products. Raising or lowering the pH will cause more stress on the fish, versus keeping it constant.

If your faucet water with a pH of 7.8 does indeed fluctuate in the tank between water changes, then adding a substrate to the tank that slowly buffers the water may be called for. Substrates like crushed coral and aragonite can naturally help buffer the water, if its needed.

Regarding your filtration, you said you had 2x Fluval 70 filters. I am assuming those are the Fluval "Aquaclear" 70 filters ? If so, those are excellent filters, own 5 Aquaclears myself, 2 of them being the AC70.

As the other members mentioned, if your using the carbon, it will adsorb any medication treatment that you use.

Carbon is 100% optional, and most people use it for a specific reason, like removing meds after a treatment, removing tannins in the water from driftwood, removing an odor, etc.

A good use of the space in the filter's basket where the bag of carbon is now, is a 2nd block of foam sponge in my opinion.

Adding another foam sponge block provides increased mechanical filtration to catch more muck in the water, plus it provides more surface area for the beneficia bacteria to colonize on.

Here is a link to a very useful thread on the forum, involving adding DIY media to your filter. Lots of examples and pics.

I remember you mentioned using 2 different meds to treat the fungus. Did you look up their ingredients to make sure they were not harmful to your biological filter? Some meds can hurt the colonized beneficial bacteria, which could hinder the cycle.

I didnt catch what bacteria cycle booster product you used. I've used Tetra Safe Start, first wory a fish-in cycle and 2nd time with a fishless cycle. I'm my opinion, I think it worked for me to help jump start the cycle.

If possible, move both the serpae tetras over to the 10g. For now, the 10 gallon will be your hospital tank while they get better.

I hope to see them get well, and you're able to get the stock increased. We have around a dozen serpae tetras that weve kept for over a 1 1/2 years. They have been very hardy and they have colored up and plumped up nice. They are very good looking fish in my opinion.

Ome thing that stood out, was the bleaching of everything. The good part was theblow concentration of the solution, being a tablespoon in 5 gallons, it was rinsed and let air dry. I didn't see that you used any dechlorinator mixed with the rinse water to neutralize any remnants of the bleach.

I will also use very mild bleach solution for certain items on occasion, but also use a soak in water dosed with extra dechlorinator to ensure its fully neutralized

Just a tip, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (or generic equivalent) works great for cleaning tank glass, lids , decor, filters etc etc. I use them to clean the inside water line of the glass as needed before water changes.

Keep up the good work. The hardest part is almost over. When the tank is stabilized and you have a weekly routine for maintenance, it will become a lot easier and less stressful.

First few weeks of serting up a new tank can at times, be not even enjoyable. Soon the tank will be flourishing, just give it time.

Here are 2 videos from Jason from Prime Time Aquatics regarding pH and water hardness. His channel is one of the very few in our hobby that I trust. The channel is more information and education driven, versus being entertainment driven....


 
  • Thread Starter

Katie52842

Member
Islandvic said:
Katie52842 , welcome to the forum.
Thank you. Nice to meet Y'ins.

Islandvic said:
(if I read the post correct) getting 2x Fluval (Aquaclear) 70 filters.
Can't take credit; they came with the tank. I have both of them on low, as I read that's best for developing colonies of bacteria?

Islandvic said:
The main variable that is very hard to control by most fishkeeper's is the fish's original health condition prior to purchase. Unless you personally know the breeder, it's hard to know the exact health of the fish when you buy it.

The majority of fish sold are juveniles and have not yet reached adulthood. They've already been stressed out when shipped from the breeder to the store. Then they live in a new tank for a few days or a week at the store, only to be bagged up and taken to the hobbyist's tank at home, getting stressed out again.

Even the healthiest looking fish at the store may have an undetectable fungus, parasite or other health issue that hasn't become symptomatic yet, only to become detectable once they are in the fishkeeper's tank at home.

So don't get too down on yourself.
I suspect that was the case, since both of the dead fish were from the same tank, which had, apparently, been stocked only a day before (I found that out later) and Tetra #4 was the only Serpae Tetra in the other pet store. He wasn't very active, but I felt really bad for tetra #1, so I crossed my fingers and hoped. He has been more active since getting into the new tank, so hopefully that's a good sign.

Islandvic said:
From what I gather, you're water is municipal sourced that is chlorinated and your parents is sourced from a well and non-chlorinated.
Yep.

Islandvic said:
Unless your faucet water is not drinkable, I would use that ad your source for water changes and treat with Prime.

With a pH of 7.8, that isn't really high. My water municipal water source is steady at 7.8pH and I have hard water. I've never tested for GH or KH, because I feel I don't need to. I already know I have hard water and I'm not going to change it. If your faucet water with a pH of 7.8 does indeed fluctuate in the tank between water changes, then adding a substrate to the tank that slowly buffers the water may be called for. Substrates like crushed coral and aragonite can naturally help buffer the water, if its needed.
Okay. I do have a bit of oyster shell at the bottom of the tank (maybe a few teaspoons) to help with water hardness. Should I remove that? I also added two tablespoons of epsom salts, because I read that the Ca/Mg combination is good for plant health. Should I just remove that gradually?

Islandvic said:
Regarding your filtration, you said you had 2x Fluval 70 filters. I am assuming those are the Fluval "Aquaclear" 70 filters ?
Yep.

Islandvic said:
As the other members mentioned, if your using the carbon, it will adsorb any medication treatment that you use.
So says the back of the medication bottle.

Islandvic said:
Carbon is 100% optional, and most people use it for a specific reason, like removing meds after a treatment, removing tannins in the water from driftwood, removing an odor, etc.

A good use of the space in the filter's basket where the bag of carbon is now, is a 2nd block of foam sponge in my opinion.

Adding another foam sponge block provides increased mechanical filtration to catch more muck in the water, plus it provides more surface area for the beneficia bacteria to colonize on.

Here is a link to a very useful thread on the forum, involving adding DIY media to your filter. Lots of examples and pics.
Thank you. I never heard that. Good to know, and I like the link!

Islandvic said:
I remember you mentioned using 2 different meds to treat the fungus. Did you look up their ingredients to make sure they were not harmful to your biological filter? Some meds can hurt the colonized beneficial bacteria, which could hinder the cycle.
I did not. It never even occurred to me. From research, the tree-oil seems to have a very low-level effect, if any, but the Jungle Fungus-Clear contains methylene blue. I did filter it out after two days, though, because the fish died, and I see no point in medicating conditions that no longer exist. Do you think it stopped soon enough?

Islandvic said:
I didnt catch what bacteria cycle booster product you used. I've used Tetra Safe Start, first wory a fish-in cycle and 2nd time with a fishless cycle. I'm my opinion, I think it worked for me to help jump start the cycle.
I used TSS. So do you think I should add more?

Islandvic said:
If possible, move both the serpae tetras over to the 10g. For now, the 10 gallon will be your hospital tank while they get better.
Already there.

Islandvic said:
Ome thing that stood out, was the bleaching of everything. The good part was theblow concentration of the solution, being a tablespoon in 5 gallons, it was rinsed and let air dry. I didn't see that you used any dechlorinator mixed with the rinse water to neutralize any remnants of the bleach.
I did not. I figured two rinses, evaporation, and forty gallons worth of dilution was enough. Do you think I hurt anything?

Islandvic said:
Just a tip, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (or generic equivalent) works great for cleaning tank glass, lids , decor, filters etc etc. I use them to clean the inside water line of the glass as needed before water changes.
They were actually used to clean the ten-gallon before it went into storage (nothing else would remove the algae line.) Are you saying it's safe to put in the water? Cool.

Islandvic said:
Keep up the good work. The hardest part is almost over. When the tank is stabilized and you have a weekly routine for maintenance, it will become a lot easier and less stressful.
Thank you.
 

Islandvic

Member
*Yes, not running the Aquaclear at full flow is perfectly fine. I usually run mine between 1/2 to 3/4 flow. They are great filters.

*I don't think the oyster shell will hurt anything.

*I can't comment on the epson salt and the plants, only because I'm not well versed in planted tanks. I do keep some anubias in our 75 gallon community tank, but anything beyond giving them a root tab once every month or two and a dose of liquid fertilizer after a water change is the limit to my plant knowledge. Ha

*If no other fish are symptomatic, then the Jungle fungus cure med is probably no longer called for.

*if you have TSS left in the bottle, then dose the tank according to directions. After dose will be fine.

*if you could not smell any bleach and with that much rinsing + it drying out, then it's fine.

*I learned the magic eraser trick from the forum. I already had them, but never though about using them inside the tank with water in it, until I read about it here. They are great at getting glass and lids clean. They don't have chemicals or surfactants in them, so they are safe for fish. Just make sure if they tear , no little bits of the eraser float around in the tank.
 

DoubleDutch

Member
Only thing one needed to add to this tank is "Patience". Free available everywhere.
 

aussieJJDude

Member
1epsom salt is fine for plants, many DIY aquascaper use it to dose for magnesium (MgCl). (Myself included! Since my tap water is low in Mg.)
 
  • Thread Starter

Katie52842

Member
I've got nitrates!

It's very pale, but there is definitely a pink tint to the paper. There is also a definite faint pink tinge to the nitrite strip? Does that need to be neutralised? It's about 0.25, as far as I can tell. I've changed fifteen percent of the water (since I'm not adding hardener/buffer, I don't want to do it too quickly) and plan on changing another fifteen percent tonight.

EDT: Still seeing no ammonia. I actually diluted 10CC cleaning ammonia (I think it's nearly 10%) in a liter of tap water (1/1,000, 1000 ppm), then diluted 1CC of that in another liter, (1/1,000,000; 1ppm if my calculations are right) and got a faint reading, so apparently the strips are working.

The Nitrate strip is almost exactly this colour:


Nitrite looks like this, but slightly paler:
 

Crispii

Member
There's no guarantee that you actually have nitrates in your tank since you're testing the water with strips.
 
  • Thread Starter

Katie52842

Member
Crispii said:
There's no guarantee that you actually have nitrates in your tank since you're testing the water with strips.
Isn't the main problem with test strips imprecision, rather than inaccuracy?
 

pagoda

Member
Paper strip tests are notoriously inaccurate....that's why they are significantly cheaper than the liquid tests and why people usually end up buying the liquid tests due to the false positives given by the paper strips
 
  • Thread Starter

Katie52842

Member
There are nearly eight ounces of brand-new activated charcoal in those filters. Is it at all possible that it's adsorbing the ammonia, which is why it's not being detected?
 

Truckjohn

Member
I disagree on the opinion that TSS or Dr. Tim's bacteria does not work to kick off a nitrogen cycle. Both have worked well in my experience when you follow their specific recommended routine.

It's the OTHER ones that don't work. I tried a bunch of bacteria products and the worst of them would crash an existing cycle or do nothing at best. Tetra is easy to find so that's what I use now.

When using either Tetra or Dr. Tim's - it is important to keep water conditioners and chlorine away for the first 2 weeks. After that - a water conditioner like Prime will work fine. All that means is prepping your water change water with Prime a day or two ahead of time.

On the test strips and the pet store... If both agree that your water isn't a problem - it probably isn't.

It sounds like you are having some sort of issue with fungal outbreaks on the Tetras.

I think I would start by setting up a quarantine tank and keep new fish separate until you know they are good - a week or two - then add them to your tank.
 

Crispii

Member
pagoda said:
Paper strip tests are notoriously inaccurate....that's why they are significantly cheaper than the liquid tests and why people usually end up buying the liquid tests due to the false positives given by the paper strips
API Master Test Kit is cheaper in the long run compared to test strips.
 
  • Thread Starter

Katie52842

Member
An update (if anyone's interested)

The pet store would not take the Serpae Tetras back (they would, but the guy said that they'd have to dispose of them. I can do that just as well at home, thanks much.)

Both tetras are now healthy. The spot was getting larger, so I bought a product called Melafix, and it seems to have cleared it up within the week. They're back in the big tank.

I turned off one of the filters and took out the charcoal as part of an experiment. Within three days (according to my new API kit) my water was somewhere around 0.4 ppm ammonia. The strips agreed with the test kit. The kit also detected something like 3 ppm nitrate, and zero nitrites. I'm not seeing the test strips as being at all inaccurate, honestly. Imprecise, but not inaccurate.

I treated the ammonia with the seachem and turned back on the other filter, replacing the charcoal, and within two days, the cories were much more active. The guppies seem relatively unaffected. The pictus does not care. Easy keeper, that guy.

I also bought two new bottles of Tetra Safe Start, and dumped them in. My nitrate reading has increased to a little past 5 ppm. Either my bacterial colonies chose right then to skyrocket (very possible) or TSS actually does help.

Tetra #5 is a terrible bully and has shredded Tetra #1's back fin. They're completely ignoring the guppies. I'm hoping to get more so that the bullying is spread out, but the Tetras at the pet store....well, that infection definitely did not start with me. They all look awful, and every time I stop in, I see at least one dead one in the tank. It's pretty nasty. I think I'll go to the other pet store in town.

On a side note; Has anyone ever had a pet store mis-sex a guppy? Orange and black is looking pretty fat, is a little longer than the others, and has no real body colouration to speak of.
 

Giul

Member
Katie52842 said:
An update (if anyone's interested)

The pet store would not take the Serpae Tetras back (they would, but the guy said that they'd have to dispose of them. I can do that just as well at home, thanks much.)

Both tetras are now healthy. The spot was getting larger, so I bought a product called Melafix, and it seems to have cleared it up within the week. They're back in the big tank.

I turned off one of the filters and took out the charcoal as part of an experiment. Within three days (according to my new API kit) my water was somewhere around 0.4 ppm ammonia. The strips agreed with the test kit. The kit also detected something like 3 ppm nitrate, and zero nitrites. I'm not seeing the test strips as being at all inaccurate, honestly. Imprecise, but not inaccurate.

I treated the ammonia with the seachem and turned back on the other filter, replacing the charcoal, and within two days, the cories were much more active. The guppies seem relatively unaffected. The pictus does not care. Easy keeper, that guy.

I also bought two new bottles of Tetra Safe Start, and dumped them in. My nitrate reading has increased to a little past 5 ppm. Either my bacterial colonies chose right then to skyrocket (very possible) or TSS actually does help.

Tetra #5 is a terrible bully and has shredded Tetra #1's back fin. They're completely ignoring the guppies. I'm hoping to get more so that the bullying is spread out, but the Tetras at the pet store....well, that infection definitely did not start with me. They all look awful, and every time I stop in, I see at least one dead one in the tank. It's pretty nasty. I think I'll go to the other pet store in town.

On a side note; Has anyone ever had a pet store mis-sex a guppy? Orange and black is looking pretty fat, is a little longer than the others, and has no real body colouration to speak of.
I'm glad to hear all is well! They could have possibly mixed a female into the male tank, do you have a picture?
 
  • Thread Starter

Katie52842

Member
Giul said:
I'm glad to hear all is well! They could have possibly mixed a female into the male tank, do you have a picture?
I don't have a camera good enough to take a decent picture when the subject is standing still, and the guppies are really active.

As far as I can see, s/he/it does not have a gravid spot. None of their female guppies look anything like sheit.

Giul said:
I'm glad to hear all is well! They could have possibly mixed a female into the male tank, do you have a picture?
My mother loaned me her camera today. Can you make anything out?
 

J. MacGregor

Member
It looks like a female to me but I am not an expert on sexing live bearers (or any other fish for that matter). It has been a very long time sense I have kept live bearers. if I remember correctly if the anal fin is more pointy its a female, if its more rounded its a male (someone please correct me if I'm wrong)
 

Giul

Member
Ahh, I’m sorry. With the new update I can’t see any photos. I’m trying to figure out how to fix it and then I can help sex it
 

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