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Jonestown of Fish

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by BritJo, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. BritJo Valued Member Member

    Alright so I currently have a 10 gallon fish tank that my wonderful man got me for Valentines day to upgrade my overstocked 3 gallon tank to. When I started fish keeping this summer I knew NOTHING about keeping fish, though I did have the decency to attempt to cycle the tank for about a week before putting the fish in...it didn't work well I lost a lot of fish but by end of August/Early Oct had a stable healthy tank with 4 fish in it (2 guppies a platy and a albino cat fish). When I got the new tank I read online that I could seed the new tank w/ the old tank filter and all so I did that and switched my babies into the tank about a week later all levels looking good. A week or so later I put in some new friends for them and two weeks later they are all dead. The tank has been running in total for a month as of yesterday.

    I went away for the weekend and had given my room mate explicit instructions on feeding the fish...she apparently thought they were starving and fed them A LOT like 3 times a day for 3 days. needless to say I came home to 4ppm ammonia and 2 platys, 1 rubberlips pleco, 3 guppies dead and two albino catfish SOMEHOW hanging on (in total 6 of 8 fish dead). I was heart broken, she was distraught and I went into save the catfish mode lol. I did a massive (90%) water change, filled the tank half way, realized I still had a TON of waste coming up from the gravel, so filtered that again, filled the tank, tested and was down to .25ppm ammonia. I did another 25% wc immediately and am still testing at .25ppm. I plan on doing another 25-50% wc tomorrow morning. Wanted to give Meeko and Flit (the catfish)a break seeing as I feel they have had a very traumatic weekend. I don't have huge hopes that they will survive the night, though they are behaving completely normally, have a good appetite (I took their algae wafers away when I did the water change but I can see them eating stuff from the plants and rocks because there was THAT much junk in there!) and do not appear stressed in any way.

    Here is my question...did I do this correctly? Would any one have handled it differently? This is what my pet store guy recommended and all. Second question, what is my next step? Continue w/ the water changes and wait for it to drop? If the cat fish do die, do I replace them or wait? I am leaving to see my guy Saturday and won't be back till Tue so I am debating getting one fish to test stuff out (if the levels drop) while I am gone or just waiting till I'm back esp if the cat fish are still doing well. I guess I wonder about the fish because another forum said that leaving the tank already cycled w/o fish in it could harm the tank chemistry? Any advice would be wonderful!

  2. Flyfrod Valued Member Member

    I would say no new fish until you know for sure that your tank is cycled. What are your nitrite and nitrate readings? Also I would use prime or something like it when you do your water changes to help with the ammonia that is left in the tank.

  3. BritJo Valued Member Member

    I use AquaSafe currently and add a little aquarium salt as well (1tsp for 50% or more water change). Nitrite is reading at 0ppm nitrate at 10ppm Has been reading there for a month now, Ammonia had been reading at 0ppm until Nina (my room mate) got ahold of the food! Based off my prior readings I was hoping the tank was cycled since my readings had the whole little spike thing, fish made it, then it went back down to normal readings until the tragedy.

  4. Flyfrod Valued Member Member

    Then I would keep up with the water changes until you see your ammonia go back to 0. You still have your catfish as a source of ammonia so I still wouldn't add any fish just yet. Give you r tank a chance to level its self bac out then go from there.
  5. BritJo Valued Member Member

    Thanks! That'swhat I was thinking as well :) Plus since said room mate will be in charge of the tank while I'm gone it might be best to limit the amount of fish she can kill lol.
  6. BritJo Valued Member Member

    Update ammonia dropped to 0, nitrate at 0 and nitrite at 0. Is that okay that the nitrate dropped like that? This was following my 50% water change this am. I'll test again tomorrow am and see how we are doing :)
  7. Butterfly Moderator Moderator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!
    Usually if you have Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0 and Nitrate 0 your tanks isn't cycled yet. When it is you will have ammonia 0, nitrites 0 and some Nitrates. It usually takes 6-8 weeks for a tank to cycle.
    Most catfish don't do well with salt of any kind so I personally would do water changes without salt to gradually remove it.
    You did good getting those high numbers down now be patient, test often, do water changes and give your tank time to cycle and stabilize before adding any more fish.
  8. LyndaB Fishlore Legend Member

    Maybe you can have your "guy" come visit you instead of you going to see him, so that your roommate will be spared the stress of taking care of a cycling tank. :;tg
  9. BritJo Valued Member Member

    Another update..apparently I can't do a simple water test...ammonia still at 0, nitrite at 0 nitrate at 10ppm which is where it was yesterday as well.That makes much more sense. I couldn't figure out why it dropped like that in one day!

    Trust me if I could get him to come here I would, but I mean the Army tells us where we can and can't go for a few more months :) When the trip was planned the tank was normal lol. Hopefully the tank stays like it is and things will be okay. Her only instructions this time is to take a body count daily, and make sure she sees the filter running lol. From what I've read the boys will be fine w/o food for 3 days right? I'll feed them a nice algae wafer friday night lol.

    Oh and the cats have always had salt in their tank, very minimal amount and have done fine, so thanks for letting me know, these little guys were a last minute addition to the tank when I first got it and I'm still learning about them. I read somewhere that a little salt in tanks was good for keeping the fish healthy?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  10. Prince Powder Well Known Member Member

    Salt in a freshwater aquarium is one of the most highly debated topics in fish keeping. Most freshwater fish don't need the salt and some can be downright irritated by it. It is particularly irritating to fish that have skin rather than scales (like catfish). Mollies, for example are one species where you are likely to see a suggestion for salt, but they do just fine without it and in a mix species tank you're most likely going to have at least one fish that doesn't tolerate salt too well. As for the rest of the freshwater fish, all they need is fresh water. Unless you have a brackish (almost salt water) or a salt water tank there's no need for salt. Salt is used by some as a medicine of sorts, I've read of many who use it as part of a treatment for ICH, but when the fish are constantly exposed to salt it weakens the salts effectiveness for those times where it is really needed. If I recall correctly, the healthy fish part comes from the fact that adding salt causes the fish to build a protective slime coat, however it does so (if I recall correctly) by basically irritating the fish so their bodies react to protect themselves. Also keep in mind that the only way to get salt out of an aquarium is through water changes. It does not evaporate so people often make the mistake of adding more salt when they top off their tanks which can quickly lead to having way too much salt.
  11. BritJo Valued Member Member

    That's what my research has been saying as well :( I feel awful for listening to these pet store people! Live and learn I guess. Would you suggest continuing w/ daily water changes and just getting rid of the salt? I'm worried about stressing these guys because the past two days they've under gone some serious water changes but since I no longer have mollies (which was why the salt was there in the first place) I don't want to keep anything in the water that has the potential to hurt them. I had not planned another water change tomorrow providing my levels are okay, but I am planning one for Friday sicne I'm leaving for the weekend. Should I wait or go ahead and do a partial water change tomorrow and get a jump start on getting rid of the salt?
  12. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Did you ever notice that the advice the pet store people give always involve buying an additional product? One might think that there primary objective is to move product.
  13. BritJo Valued Member Member

    Having worked in retail (as I'm sure most of us have!) I KNOW that's their primary objective, but I didn't think they'd sell things they knew would/could hurt an animal just to make the sale, I mean I wouldn't! Anyhow, another water change today to start getting the salt out of the tank. Tank levels are looking great at least.