Help New tank; Fish die-off; Cloudy water; No ammonia/nitrite spikes yet, etc.

Geoff

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I posted this thread in the Welcome to Fishlore forum as my "intro" but figured it probably wasn't the best place to unload all my problems. So here goes...

I decided to join this forum since just about every time I googled an issue or question, I am directed to a forum page and I've found some great information. I've been doing that a lot the past few days about my new freshwater aquarium. I am worried I might have screwed up with starting my aquarium. I kind of did my research as I went along rather than doing it all up front. I didn't even know about the nitrogen cycle until AFTER I bought my aquarium, but luckily before I bought any fish. I bought the tank last Wednesday and had it set up and running with no fish on Thursday night. It's a 36 gallon tank with a heater and filter; gravel substrate; one airstone; NO live plants (just a bunch of fake ones); and a fluorescent light. By the time I got the tank running, I had learned about the nitrogen cycle and how to do it. Friday morning I put in the Tetra aquasafe conditioner since I used town tap water to fill the tank. I also put in a bottle of Tetra safestart since from what I learned online, I would be able to start stocking my tank right away if I used "bacteria in a bottle." I let the tank run through the day until late afternoon when I bought and added my first fish. I bought 6 neons, 6 glofish, and 1 dwarf gourami. With my API Master Kit, I tested the tank water and got the following readings:

pH - 7.6
ammonia - 0
nitrite - 0
nitrate - 0

I then tested the pH of the bag water that my fish were in and it was identical to my tank water, so I acclimated the fish for an hour by floating the bag in the tank and adding a 1/2 cup of tank water to the bag every 15 minutes. By the time I went to bed, 4 of the 6 neons were dead. One by one, I started noticing them swimming lopsided and vertically before going belly up and either sinking to the bottom or being drifted to the filter intake. From what I read, I was expecting that there would be an ammonia spike not long after introducing fish but I didn't expect a die-off like that. So I tested everything again with the API Master Kit and got the exact same readings. The next morning (Saturday), I had one neon left and was never able to find the other one. I tested the water and still got the same readings. No ammonia, no nitrite, no nitrate, no nothing. The other fish seemed to be doing great. The glofish were darting around and chasing each other and the gourami was just calmly checking things out. I went back to the store and bought 8 more neons, mainly because I didn't want my 1 remaining neon to be alone since they're a schooling fish. I brought them home, repeated the acclimation process, retested the water with no new numbers, and put them in. About an hour after that, my water started turning cloudy. By that evening 5 of the neons died, leaving me with 4 neons. Water was still the same before I went to bed, which really surprised me because I was expecting a spike by then. I remembered reading somewhere that bigger tanks need more fish during cycling in order to produce enough ammonia to kick start the cycle. Sunday morning, one of my glofish was dead, and I decided to get a couple more fish, thinking maybe I didn't have enough to start the cycling. The water had the same parameters, except I was starting to think the color for nitrate was starting to look more like 5ppm instead of 0, so maybe it was really somewhere between. The water was also still cloudy, and more so than Saturday. At the store, I bought 2 Dalmatian mollies and a couple snails. I acclimated them, tested the water, and released them. Sunday night, I tested the water again. Ammonia and nitrite still 0, but I am more confident in saying that I just might have 5ppm for nitrate. Luckily, no fish died during the day; the 4 remaining neons seem content. After losing 10 of them, I don't think I'll be getting any more of those. And also, the water is still cloudy.

I think with all that being said, here are my questions:
1. Any thoughts as to why I had such a massive neon die-off?
2. Why haven't I had any ammonia or nitrite spikes? With them at 0 and the nitrates at 5, am I cycled after 3 days? That seems impossible.
3. Any idea why the water is cloudy? (I washed the tank, plants, decor, and gravel before filling with water; didn't get cloudy until 2 days later.) I read that it might be a bacteria bloom, but I think it's supposed to be accompanied by an ammonia spike? I can't remember, but if so, I have yet to see a spike.
4. And finally, did I totally screw up?

Thanks!!
 

ElSubmit

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Hi,

I'll get straight to the point. I noticed in my experience if the PH, Ammonia and Nitrite is not the problem... then it's the chlorine/chloramine. I have heard alot from my LFS telling me how many brands of anti-chlorine/chloramine has diluted over the years and you need a stronger dose to be safe.

This is what happened to me. I lost many precious fishes... expensive fishes due to chlorine/chloramine as my area has highly treated water. I went and bought a reliable brand of anti-chlorine and things are working out for me... i too have fishes dying on me 10mins-1hour into the new water.

What we have to be clear is... Ammonia or Nitrate has to be at really crazy level of reading to kill a fish that fast (correct me if i'm wrong). If a fish dies so quickly into a new water ...which i presume has no Ammonia... it got to be some sort of poisoning (chlorine or chloramine).

Going deeper into this... Chloramine is made up of Chlorine and Ammonia. If your water conditioner only breaks Chloramine without doing something to the Ammonia too... it results in massive Ammonia being released from the break of Chlorine away from Chloramine.

Other than that it could be stress of new enviroments... or the fish just isn't as strong... or the salinity of the fish store's water. Alot of LFS i know treat their water permanently with aquarium salt.

Now... off the record... in my own opinion sometimes fishes just die for no reason. I have friend who just take a tank, dump in new water... put in anti-chlorine... and dump the newly bought fishes in. And they are still surviving actively... strongly... eating well. He didn't even do regular WC and his tank is overstocked.

So i guess it's really a play of fate... some people do all sorts of tests (like me) and fishes still dies... but some people just dump everything in and it works out.
 

CoryCats

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Welcome to fishlore! You may have had neons die because neons are pretty sensitive fish. I'm surprised you haven't seen any ammonia or nitrite. I'm not sure why, I would have expected a spike also. Sounds like you may have had a bacterial bloom I'm not sure about the ammonia related to that. I don't think you totally screwed up sounds like you did really good for a new fish keeper (knowing about the cycling, watching for ammonia and nitrite spikes, getting TSS) a lot better than I did when I first started out I would keep watching for ammonia and nitrite spikes. Have you been changing the water the past three days? There days is really fast to have cycled a tank but 0ammonia and 0nitrite would indicate a cycled tank.
 
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Geoff

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I noticed in my experience if the PH, Ammonia and Nitrite is not the problem... then it's the chlorine/chloramine. I have heard alot from my LFS telling me how many brands of anti-chlorine/chloramine has diluted over the years and you need a stronger dose to be safe.
That really does make sense. When I first filled my tank, I got a whiff of chlorine. Not like a swimming pool, but the water just had that extra clean smell, if that makes sense. That's why I bought the Tetra AquaSafe. I forgot to mention, that I put it in again on Saturday and again Sunday, and I doubled the dose, since I read somewhere that 2x overdose is ok? Do you think that Tetra is one of those brands that might be diluting? Do you know of any good ones?

Welcome to fishlore! You may have had neons die because neons are pretty sensitive fish. I'm surprised you haven't seen any ammonia or nitrite. I'm not sure why, I would have expected a spike also. Sounds like you may have had a bacterial bloom I'm not sure about the ammonia related to that. I don't think you totally screwed up sounds like you did really good for a new fish keeper (knowing about the cycling, watching for ammonia and nitrite spikes, getting TSS) a lot better than I did when I first started out I would keep watching for ammonia and nitrite spikes. Have you been changing the water the past three days? There days is really fast to have cycled a tank but 0ammonia and 0nitrite would indicate a cycled tank.
Yeah, after they died, I researched them and saw that neons aren't all that hardy of a fish that they used to be. Hopefully these last 4 will do ok.

I'm not sure how ammonia exactly would relate to a bloom; I think I might have read that somewhere? I've read so much stuff the last couple days, I can't keep it all straight! haha

Thanks for the confidence! And no, I haven't done any water changes yet. I was going to wait until I had a spike. I'm definitely going to do one tomorrow because of the cloudy water at least.
 
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ElSubmit

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That really does make sense. When I first filled my tank, I got a whiff of chlorine. Not like a swimming pool, but the water just had that extra clean smell, if that makes sense. That's why I bought the Tetra AquaSafe. I forgot to mention, that I put it in again on Saturday and again Sunday, and I doubled the dose, since I read somewhere that 2x overdose is ok? Do you think that Tetra is one of those brands that might be diluting? Do you know of any good ones?
sorry i have no idea about tetra's aquasafe never used it before... as i think it's not available in my country.

It's safe usually to dose many times over the recommended dosage on anti chlorine/chloramine. But it's still boils down to the individual brand, the instruction and reading fellow reviews by people who uses the same brand as u. - I just triple dosed my 12gallon tank with Seachem Prime and my fish stopped dying 1hour into the tank on me.

Chlorine can dissipate over time through aeration but chloramine is the headache.
 
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Geoff

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sorry i have no idea about tetra's aquasafe never used it before... as i think it's not available in my country.

It's safe usually to dose many times over the recommended dosage on anti chlorine/chloramine. But it's still boils down to the individual brand, the instruction and reading fellow reviews by people who uses the same brand as u. - I just triple dosed my 12gallon tank with Seachem Prime and my fish stopped dying 1hour into the tank on me.

Chlorine can dissipate over time through aeration but chloramine is the headache.
I'll definitely have to do some more research on that. Especially since I'm going to do a PWC tomorrow because of the cloudy water.
 

ElSubmit

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Yeah, after they died, I researched them and saw that neons aren't all that hardy of a fish that they used to be. Hopefully these last 4 will do ok.

I'm not sure how ammonia exactly would relate to a bloom; I think I might have read that somewhere? I've read so much stuff the last couple days, I can't keep it all straight! haha

Thanks for the confidence! And no, I haven't done any water changes yet. I was going to wait until I had a spike. I'm definitely going to do one tomorrow because of the cloudy water at least.
I had neon tetras, rummynose tetras, black neon tetras and glow light tetras. And to be honest i find other than rummy nose tetras, which tend to get jumpy easily... all other tetras i mentioned are quite hardy.

I have experienced transfer the tetras here and there... changing water... changing different water conditioners used... adding other tank mates ... and even putting them in when the tank is still cycling... in the end giving them to my friend ... and they are still going strong alive and well now!
 
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Geoff

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Maybe it was just as simple as being a bad batch. I got 2 groups of them, one on Friday and one on Saturday, from the same store, so they all came from the same tank. I should try a different store if my remaining 4 dwindle down too much.
 

esoper

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It could be a bad batch, but IMO neons are not the best fish to cycle a tank with. Also, if you read the TSS instructions carefully, you are supposed to dose the tank with TSS and then wait 14 days (fish in the tank), and do nothing. No testing, no water changes no nothing. Just wait. With TSS your ammonia and nitrite spikes are supposed to be low enough that the fishes can tolerate them, and after 14 days your tank is supposed to be fully cycled.

The fact that your neons died right away leads me to believe that something other than cycling was going on. What, I don't know. Yes, you would expect a spike in ammonia etc.,but not quite so soon after adding fish, and since you added TSS probably not very high.

I'm not sure about the water conditioner you used, but the only one I like really is Prime. It takes care of both chlorine and chloramine, plus some other nasty stuff. I think you are supposed to wait 24hrs after dosing with Prime before adding TSS.

The cloudiness could be a bacterial bloom. It should go away in few days.

Also, if I were having unexplained deaths in my tank, I wouldn't rush out to the fish store and buy new fish. I would maybe take a water sample and see if their tests showed something mine didn't. (I'm not trying to be mean, but if there is something potentially wrong with the tank, adding new fish doesn't usually solve the problem. I do understand that you don't want a lonely neon tetra, but waiting until the tank is stable will benefit everyone, even the lone tetra--then his new buddies stand a better chance of surviving.)

Emily
 

CoryCats

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It could be a bad batch, but IMO neons are not the best fish to cycle a tank with. Also, if you read the TSS instructions carefully, you are supposed to dose the tank with TSS and then wait 14 days (fish in the tank), and do nothing. No testing, no water changes no nothing. Just wait. With TSS your ammonia and nitrite spikes are supposed to be low enough that the fishes can tolerate them, and after 14 days your tank is supposed to be fully cycled.

The fact that your neons died right away leads me to believe that something other than cycling was going on. What, I don't know. Yes, you would expect a spike in ammonia etc.,but not quite so soon after adding fish, and since you added TSS probably not very high.

I'm not sure about the water conditioner you used, but the only one I like really is Prime. It takes care of both chlorine and chloramine, plus some other nasty stuff. I think you are supposed to wait 24hrs after dosing with Prime before adding TSS.

The cloudiness could be a bacterial bloom. It should go away in few days.

Also, if I were having unexplained deaths in my tank, I wouldn't rush out to the fish store and buy new fish. I would maybe take a water sample and see if their tests showed something mine didn't. (I'm not trying to be mean, but if there is something potentially wrong with the tank, adding new fish doesn't usually solve the problem. I do understand that you don't want a lonely neon tetra, but waiting until the tank is stable will benefit everyone, even the lone tetra--then his new buddies stand a better chance of surviving.)

Emily
I think with TSS if the fish are looking stressed or dying you are supposed to test but you have a good point about not doing anything for 14 days
 

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If you do a PWC...which sounds like a good idea...you'll have to start all over again with the TSS. Do your water change....dose with Prime...wait 24 hours and then add another bottle of TSS. Sounds like it could have been ammonia related....you added a lot of fish with no BB built up to keep or get the cycle going. I wouldn't add any more fish either...just keep what you have until you're cycled. Good luck to you and do keep us informed
 

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I've heard that using TSS will mess with test results for the first two weeks. I wouldn't imagine that means a high ammonia concentration could read as zero, but who knows.
 
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Geoff

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Day 4 and water readings are still the same - 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5 nitrate. Also, no fish have died in over 24 hours. My 4 remaining neons seem happy and all the other ones seem ok. The water is still cloudy, though.

So should I wait and see if the cloudiness goes away in a few days, or do a PWC? How much of a change? How much of a dose of conditioner should I use? 2x, 5x? I still have a lot of Tetra Aquasafe left and all reviews I've seen of it have been just about 5 stars; have yet to see a bad one.

Thank you all for the help so far.
 

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Unless the fish are distressed, I would ignore the cloudiness and do nothing, let TSS do its work. Cloudy water can be caused by a lot of things, a lot of them not necessarily bad things.
 

ElSubmit

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Day 4 and water readings are still the same - 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5 nitrate. Also, no fish have died in over 24 hours. My 4 remaining neons seem happy and all the other ones seem ok. The water is still cloudy, though.

So should I wait and see if the cloudiness goes away in a few days, or do a PWC? How much of a change? How much of a dose of conditioner should I use? 2x, 5x? I still have a lot of Tetra Aquasafe left and all reviews I've seen of it have been just about 5 stars; have yet to see a bad one.

Thank you all for the help so far.
Yup. Don't do PCW yet. Let the new tank new water run for a week then do pwc of 20% everyweek or every few days if you would be testing and the ammonia is high. otherwise too frequent pwc mess with your PH and environment your fish would be stressed unnecessarily.
 
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Geoff

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Yup. Don't do PCW yet. Let the new tank new water run for a week then do pwc of 20% everyweek or every few days if you would be testing and the ammonia is high. otherwise too frequent pwc mess with your PH and environment your fish would be stressed unnecessarily.
Ok great. Thanks!
 
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Geoff

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Welcome to Fish Lore!

Here is an extremely good article that you might want to read; Bacterial Blooms Explained.
Very good article, you're right. I guess I will just sit and wait and hope it clears. It's been 2 days already, so hopefully in the next day or so it will be cleared. Fingers crossed.

Very good article, you're right. I guess I will just sit and wait and hope it clears. It's been 2 days already, so hopefully in the next day or so it will be cleared. Fingers crossed.
Good news! I just came home from work a bit ago, and 1) still no more fish losses and 2) the tank is clear!

I tested the water and the numbers are still the same - 0 for ammonia and nitrite and 5 for nitrate.

I am still baffled as to why I have yet to see any kind of increase in either ammonia or nitrite. By definition my tank is cycled (right?) but I just don't believe that can be possible after 4 days with no spikes. :shock:
 
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esoper

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I think the reason your test results are what they are is because of the TSS. I'm glad your tank cleared, I expected it would after a few days. Right now, I think you just need to be patient and wait the rest of the two weeks for the TSS to finish cycling the tank. Then, slowly start adding the rest of your planned stock to the tank. Unless your fish start looking distressed or you lose more fish, I would stop testing the water, sit back, relax and wait.

Emily
 
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