Please help, my fish keep dying

somethingsfishy12

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Hello,

I haven't had a fish tank since I was a kid but recently aquired a 5.5 and 10 gallon aquarium. These are the steps I took to get the aquariums ready:
- thoroughly rinsed the gravel
- filled the tank up with water
- added dechlorinator and biological cleaner
- installed a filter and a heater (thermometer reads 78F)
- let the tank run for at least 7 days before adding fish
- added beneficial bacteria following the instructions on the back and doubling up on some days as instructed by an employee

Finally, I went to the local pet store and purchased a pleco (he's small and spotted) I'm not sure what kind and 3 glowfish. I acclimated them by letting both bags sit in the aquarium for an hour and then netted them and gently put them in the tank. All was going well until an hour later one of the glowfish started slowing down and tilting. I went back to check and he was lying down on a plant without any signs of movement. The other 2 seemed fine along with the pleco. Another hour passed and this time the second glowfish lay on the ground and wasn't moving. I had one left and he seemed okay so I left him for a few hours and came back to see him dead. The pleco was still fine though.

What I noticed is that the glowfish all swam to the top at some point and began gasping for air. Today I went into Petsmart and had my water tested for ammonia and nitrates among other things. The tests came back fine for both aquariums and so I purchased 3 neon tetras and this time when I acclimated them I put drops of the tank water into their bag before letting them swim out on their own. They seemed fine at first and I watched them for 30 minutes with no problems. When I came back from dinner all 3 were dead and 2 were kind of wrapped around the stem? of the filter (sorry I don't know the proper word). The pleco is the only thing that seems to be surviving in my tank and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I do have live plants in there but I washed them before putting them in and they seem healthy minus a few leaves here and there.

If anyone has any advice on what I can do to fix this please let me know. I don't know what else I can do and I don't want to keep killing these fish.
 

kallililly1973

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Welcome here. 7 days is not long enough to cycle a tank. Pleaze read up on the Nitrogen Cycle. It is the single most important thing to know about to have thriving fish tanks.
 

UnknownUser

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I am sorry about your losses. Most people here will need to know exact numbers for nitrates, nitrites and ammonia instead of just "good". Pet stores can often tell you you are "good to buy fish" even though you aren't, simply to sell. And as Kallillily said, it is important to cycle the tank first. Adding BB (beneficial bacteria) may help speed up the process (although some people don't think it does) but it probably is not cycled and ready for fish yet.
 

SM1199

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There's a lot to unpack here - I just want to let you know it might be overwhelming, but I'm not trying to put you on the spot.

1) Please do read up on the aquarium nitrogen cycle as kallililly1973 mentioned. Once you have, you can begin to understand these further points, and particularly why your fish are dying (high ammonia, most likely).
2) Seven days isn't long enough for a cycle to establish, as already mentioned, even with beneficial bacteria added. That's because bacteria will need an ammonia source to sustain themselves, so it doesn't matter how much bacteria you were adding, because they die without ammonia (released by fish).
3) Don't trust a pet store employee to tell you what's "good water" or not. Ask them for the actual numbers, because they might not know what they're talking about. For ammonia and nitrite, the only good number is 0.
4) Plecos grow far too big and produce far too much waste to live in a 5 or 10 gallon tank. Please return the pleco.
5) Don't buy more fish until you've learned how to cycle a tank, and your cycle is complete. This will prevent more fish from dying.
6) Research! Please research the fish you are buying before you buy them. For example, tetras in general are schooling species and won't be very happy in a group of just 3. Neon tetras in particular aren't very hardy and might die even if you feel like you've done everything right. Different fish also have different temperature requirements, and neons are ones that require slightly lower temperatures to thrive.

Good luck! We're here if you have any questions.
 

Demeter

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The first thing you should do is buy a water testing kit that tests for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Then read up on the Nitogen cycle and go back to square one. Don't add any more fish until you can test the water yourself. One thing to always remember is water changes are your (and your fishs') best friend. After a tank has completed cycling the general idea is to do a 25-50% water change once a week. This keeps the nitrates down and the fish healthy. More frequent and larger water changes are needed when doing a fish-in cycle.

Also, a 10gal is far too small for any pleco and while it may be alive now it probably won't do too well in a cycling tank. Do a 50% water change, add dechlorinator, and perhaps think about returning him and then getting fish that will be suitable for your tank size. I suggest always researching the species you have in mind before buying them. You need to know their needs to care for them properly.
 

Cichlidude

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Agree with kallililly1973. Need to cycle your tank as it will take 3-8 weeks to complete.
 
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somethingsfishy12

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SM1199 said:
There's a lot to unpack here - I just want to let you know it might be overwhelming, but I'm not trying to put you on the spot.

1) Please do read up on the aquarium nitrogen cycle as kallililly1973 mentioned. Once you have, you can begin to understand these further points, and particularly why your fish are dying (high ammonia, most likely).
2) Seven days isn't long enough for a cycle to establish, as already mentioned, even with beneficial bacteria added. That's because bacteria will need an ammonia source to sustain themselves, so it doesn't matter how much bacteria you were adding, because they die without ammonia (released by fish).
3) Don't trust a pet store employee to tell you what's "good water" or not. Ask them for the actual numbers, because they might not know what they're talking about. For ammonia and nitrite, the only good number is 0.
4) Plecos grow far too big and produce far too much waste to live in a 5 or 10 gallon tank. Please return the pleco.
5) Don't buy more fish until you've learned how to cycle a tank, and your cycle is complete. This will prevent more fish from dying.
6) Research! Please research the fish you are buying before you buy them. For example, tetras in general are schooling species and won't be very happy in a group of just 3. Neon tetras in particular aren't very hardy and might die even if you feel like you've done everything right. Different fish also have different temperature requirements, and neons are ones that require slightly lower temperatures to thrive.

Good luck! We're here if you have any questions.

Thank you so much for all the information. I have read up on the Nitrogen Cycle and I think it's best that I just start over completely with the tank. Just to clarify the pleco I have is very tiny (less than 3 inches) and I was told that this species doesn't get much bigger than that. As for the tetras I got 3 as that's what the employee at the pet store said and I was planning to add more in a few days. I also wanted to know why the pleco is fine but the other fish didnt make it if anybody knows please let me know.

Since I am going to be starting over I'm going to move the pleco to either my 5.5g aquarium or take him back to the store. As for my live plants, should I buy fertilizer or anything to keep them healthy?

In regards to the water that I put in my tank should I use tap water or water from my pure filter?

Also if anyone has any recommendations for an affordable testing kit that would be really appreciated.
 

SM1199

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somethingsfishy12 said:
Thank you so much for all the information. I have read up on the Nitrogen Cycle and I think it's best that I just start over completely with the tank. Just to clarify the pleco I have is very tiny (less than 3 inches) and I was told that this species doesn't get much bigger than that. As for the tetras I got 3 as that's what the employee at the pet store said and I was planning to add more in a few days. I also wanted to know why the pleco is fine but the other fish didnt make it if anybody knows please let me know.

Since I am going to be starting over I'm going to move the pleco to either my 5.5 gallon aquarium or take him back to the store. As for my live plants, should I buy fertilizer or anything to keep them healthy?

In regards to the water that I put in my tank should I use tap water or water from my pure filter?

Also if anyone has any recommendations for an affordable testing kit that would be really appreciated.
Please return the pleco. The only species of plecos that don't get bigger than 3" are rather uncommon and practically impossible to find in a chain pet store, so I think that worker didn't know what they were talking about. Even if it was one of those species that stays small, keeping that pleco in a 10 gallon will highly limit your choices for other fish you can keep with it. I wouldn't even try putting it in the 5 gallon - way too small.

Plecos are particularly good at living in poor conditions (usually created by their own huge amounts of waste) so it doesn't surprise me that the pleco survived.

I wouldn't bother with plant fertilizer just yet, that will complicate your fish keeping more than you need it to be right now. Hopefully you got plants that are relatively easy to keep. Tap water is generally recommended because it has minerals that fish and plants need that filtered water might not have. This can lead to pH swings that are difficult to control.

The testing kit that virtually everyone recommends is the API master test kit, usually $20.
 

CoryBoi

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SM1199 said:
Please return the pleco. The only species of plecos that don't get bigger than 3" are rather uncommon and practically impossible to find in a chain pet store, so I think that worker didn't know what they were talking about. Even if it was one of those species that stays small, keeping that pleco in a 10 gallon will highly limit your choices for other fish you can keep with it. I wouldn't even try putting it in the 5 gallon - way too small.

Plecos are particularly good at living in poor conditions (usually created by their own huge amounts of waste) so it doesn't surprise me that the pleco survived.

I wouldn't bother with plant fertilizer just yet, that will complicate your fish keeping more than you need it to be right now. Hopefully you got plants that are relatively easy to keep. Tap water is generally recommended because it has minerals that fish and plants need that filtered water might not have. This can lead to pH swings that are difficult to control.

The testing kit that virtually everyone recommends is the API master test kit, usually $20.
I just want to add that the apI master test kit is around $30(on sale for 20 something right now), but the individual tests are always on sale, I am slowly working up to a master kit by buying those individual tests. I just bought the nitrite and Ammonia for 2.50 each on amazon.
 

Deku-Cory

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I'm glad you came here, we're happy to help you get things (re)started! Cycling can be confusing as heck, so feel free to ask on here as you go through the process!

I'd take the Pleco back. I'm guessing its either a Pitbull Pleco or a Bristlenose, either of which don't fit in a 10 gallon.

You can just use dechlorinated tap water for the tank, it's how most everyone fills their tanks.

For the test kit, the API master test kit is a bit spendy looking at first, but it will last you many months or even years. It's also much more accurate than the strips.

As a general tip, don't trust what the employees at the store tell you. I know, it seems like the people selling fish should know about what they're selling, right? Unfortunately that's not the case a lot of times. Usually they're just telling you what you want to hear. Fish stores with employees and owners that are truly passionate and knowledgeable about fish are wonderful, rare gems.
 

Islandvic

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Everyone gave spot on advice.

The pleco may have been a clown pleco, which grows to about 4". I have a couple from PetSmart, though they still need to be in a tank larger than 10g.

The OP asked about what water to use. Regular tap water is fine with the appropriate dechlorinator.

What was the temp of the tank?

Dont go off what the thermostat setting is on the heater, but what does the thermometer say?

Also, you might want to take a look at this thread here on the forum....

Diy Media Guide For Top Fin Silenstream, Aquaclear And Other Hob Filters | Filters and Filtration 385506

It will help you understand how your filter work and how it plays its part at mechanically and biologically filtering your water. It will also give you suggestions (w/ pics) on how to add some DIY media to the fitlers, to help maintain the cycle going.

I've got both 5.5g and 10 gallon tanks (among larger ones) just like you. Once properly cycled, they are not difficult to maintain. Smaller tanks are harder though to get cycled in my opinion.

I suggest into looking at adding a small sponge filter to the 10g. If possible, the 5.5g would benefit from an additional sponge filter as well. If the tanks are next to each other, one air pump with 2 outlets can run both sponge filters with air stones.

A good candidate for the 5.5g would be a Betta.

As for the 10g, a couple of male Endler Guppies, 2 glowfish tetras and 5 khulI loaches would be a good stocking. The khuli's will add a very minimal bioload to the tank, and they are entertaining to watch.

Please read up on Ich and the methods of dealing with Ich. This is important when adding new fish to tanks.

Also, since you mentioned PetSmart, ask a store associate when they receive their fish stock each week. Usually they receive their live fish on the same exact day every week. For example, mine receives their fish every Thursday afternoon. This way, you can wait when the fish are delivered and select the fish to buy after they are acclimated. In my opinion, its better to get the fish at this point versus after they have been swimming around PetSmart's tanks for a week that are all connected by a shared filtration system. Doing this might reduce the chance of the fish catching Ich from the store's tanks, unless they are carrying it already from the breeder.
 

katea0608

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hey just wanted to say as a fellow beginner in the hobby, don’t get discouraged!! This hobby is a BIG learning curve and many times you will fail before succeeding. You’re doing the right think by coming on here for advice. Good luck on your aquariums!
 

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