Neon Bully? White Cloud Stuck To Cardinal Tetra!

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Neon lights

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Bully? I’m brand new to fish ownership. I’ve cycled my tank and added 4 tetras. At the advice of the salesperson, my kids picked out 2 neon tetras and 2 cardinal tetras. 36 hours later, the fish look like they have settled in, but one of the neons (smaller than the other fish) seems to be turning into quite the bully. He is rushing at the cardinals and nipping them and then chasing after them when they swim off. Now, instead of hanging out in their pack of 4, they seem to be more spread out, with one or other of the cardinals spending time off alone. Is this just a normal relational reaction to suddenly being in a new environment with new cousins? Was it a mistake to get 2 of each? Do I send the bully to another home? Do I send the cardinals away and replace them with two more neons? The cardinals also seem to have white fluff (3 dimensional) on their sides. One patch each. Is this fungal? Or an owie from the bully? What to do???
 

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TexasDomer

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They're likely stressed - each species should be in larger groups of their own species (they won't school together), and the species also aren't temperature compatible.

What size tank is this?

Do you know about the nitrogen cycle?

I wouldn't get stocking advice from your fish store employees. They often don't know, and are just trying to sell you fish.

The white fuzz could be a bacterial or fungal infection, but you may be able to make it go away without meds.
 

Neon lights

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I’d considered that perhaps she wasn’t the best source of advice. It’s a 3 gallon tank, and I used the Fluval cycle along with the water treatment. Should I remove the cardinals and replace them with two neons? Or let them sort things out for themselves? Or start all over...
 

Neon lights

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Also, I’ve had the tank around 77. If I end up with 4 neons, would that be an adequate temp? I’ve read so many opionions I don’t know what to settle on!
 

TexasDomer

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Unfortunately this tank isn't big enough for either species In a 3 gal, you're pretty much limited to a betta or inverts for the common species. I would recommend a 20 gal as a minimum for a school of neons or cardinals, and a group of 8 or so would be a good minimum.

If you do upgrade your tank to a 20 gal, 75 F is a good max for neons, though 77 F is fine for cardinals.

The Fluval cycle additive might add some bacteria to the tank, but it won't cycle it for you. You'll need to keep up with large and frequent water changes to protect your fish from the toxic ammonia and nitrites in the water while it cycles.

To make it easier on you, I would return the neons and cardinals and get a betta. Do daily or every other day water changes of 50%. Pick up a bottle of Seachem Prime to use as your dechlorinator. It is far better than other water treatments (cheaper too, as it's more concentrated and will last a really long time - you only need 6 drops to dechlorinate 3 gallons). It'll also help protect your fish from the harmful ammonia and nitrites while your tank cycles. You can do the daily water changes for two months, and you should be cycled by then. Once it's cycled, weekly 50% water changes should suffice.

I would recommend ordering the API freshwater master kit online - it's cheap on Ebay and Amazon. This will let you keep an eye on water quality, and depending on the results of the test, you may not need to daily or every other day water changes for 2 months - 1-1.5 months may be enough.
 

Neon lights

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Thank you for your help! If only I’d thought of coming here first to ask for professional help first.......
 

TexasDomer

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We're always happy to help, and we have the fish's best interests in mind No money to be made from our advice, just happy and healthy fish!
 

Neon lights

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And.....down to 3 fish. The cardinal tetra that was being singled out started swimming sideways and died shortly after. So, I suppose the other cardinal will die soon too? I did a 50% water change after I took the poor guy out...
 

TexasDomer

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He may. I'd return the three remaining to the store as soon as possible.
 

TexasDomer

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That doesn't mean they'll be sick too. A lot of it is related to stress, and keeping them in a tiny tank in too small of a group is stressful, and they'll likely get sick if they stay this way. Returning seems the best option, especially since they shouldn't have anything they didn't already have at the store, if they do have anything.
 

Why me

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Just return and get a beta with personality. And maybe put a few shrimp ( if you don’t mind them ( possibly) getting eaten). I’d get cheap ghost shrimp
 
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