Seeking help with beginner struggles.

  • #1
I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank that I seem to be having some issues with and am seeking some help/advice to correct/maintain a healthy aquarium.

My my tank has been cycled, and I do about a 20% water change weekly, but I have had some fish die on me after only having them for about a week after being placed in the tank. I also have live plants in the tank that I seem to be struggling with keeping them healthy.

I test the water weekly with liquid tests as I read that the stick paper tests are not really accurate. My readings come out as follow: PH 8.0, Ammonia 0, Nitrite, 0, Nitrate 40.

I'm concerned about the PH being as high as it is because the person at the pet store told me my fish would probably struggle with PH above 7.6 and the plants as well. I did by a bottle of API PH down, however I'm reading that chemically treating the PH is probably the wrong way to go as it can usually have worse results with the PH just constantly rebounding. My question is, are my PH concerns warranted, and are there better ways to maybe naturally bring it down? Could this be the reason my fish and plants are struggling, or is there something else in play?

I have done some reading on these forums with similar topics but I know there is no one way to fix all since everyone's set up is different so I figured I'd start a post with my setup and routine and see if anyone can help me get on the correct path to a long and happy life for my fish/plants.

My setup is as follows:
Marineland 10 gallon tank kit, with everything that is included.

I also have an air pump for a 10 gallon tank running.

I use distilled water that I don't treat, instead of water from the tap. Is this ok?

The fish in the tank are:
Cremecicle Lyretail Molly x2
Marigold Variatus x1
Neon Tetra x3

The fish don't show any sign of disease, but their colors have somewhat dulled/faded.

The plants I have are:
Amazon Sword
Java Fern

The plants don't seem to be growing at all. The ferns seem to be shriveling up, and the other plants seem to be weakening and losing color.

The tank is kept at 79f. Included with the weekly water change, I add 5ml of Marineland Easycare for the water, and 10ml of Aqueon Aquarium Plant Food.

On a daily basis, I add 1m of API CO2 Booster which I started a week ago, hoping it would help the plants.

The fishes main diet is OmegaOne tropical fish flake twice daily, and two times a week, I give the OmegaOne Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp. I don't think I'm over feeding them.

I also want want to include that my tank does not receive any natural sun light. It sits on a built in desk shelf in my wall, so the light fish/plants have is the LED the tank kit came with.

if there is anymore info you would like, just let me know, and any help/advice/criticism is welcome and greatly appreciated.

  • #2
I will have to say that the fish you have are not very suitable to a 10 gallon tank. The tetras and mollies will need a bigger tank and I do not know what a marigold variatus is. Also, it is much safer to not play with your PH. Fish can learn to adapt to a different PH but will suffer if the PH swings (which these products can make happen)

Ahh the marigold is a platy ! Also too big for that tank
  • #3
Most fish can adapt to ph, but a 10 gallon is too small for the fish you chose and neons even small should be housed in a 20 gallon tank in groups of 6+, mollies get 3 inches and a huge waste producers

in a 10 gallon tank you can do:
-a single betta
-a shrimp tank
-2-3 platies (same sex)
-3-4 guppies (same sex)
-CPD's (celestial Pearl Danios)

In such a small tank it could be co2 poisoning, territorial issues, lack of oxygen, stress

the problem with distilled water is it has no nutrients that plants and fish use

Ahh the marigold is a platy ! Also too big for that tank

platies can be housed in a 10 gallon, but they can only be in a group of 3 max and they need to be same sex
  • #4
API CO2 booster does not work at all. The only thing I have noticed that works is Flourish Excel and Flourish root tabs. I would just use tap water and treat it with API stress coat and de-chlorination. Like everyone has said the tank is way to small for all those fish. I 20-30gal is much much more suited for these kind of fish.
Thai Aquarium owner
  • #5
Firstly, welcome to the forum,
Try these things
1) increase water changes to 50% every week
2) add a piece of " bogwood " from the LFS into the tank, which will help to reduce the Ph, thus helping both fish and plants.
3) feed fish only once a day, and only the amount they total clear in 2/3 minutes - and no more - this will help reduce the Nitrate level also.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Thank you for all the suggestions so far. I will definitely start looking to upgrade my tank size ASAP. I'll also look into the wood, and water changes as suggested.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I have a few new questions. I am switching from using distilled water to using water from my tap. I have API Stress coat+ and API Stress Zyme+ along with API tap water conditioner dechlorinater. Now the bottle of the dechlorinater said to use 1ml per 20 gallons, but I'm using 1 gallon jugs to do my water changes, and I don't want to use too much of the solution(not sure if that is detrimental). The caps smallest measurement is 1ml so how do I make sure I only use the correct amount per 1 gallon jug?

Also, the stress coat bottle said it too removes chlorine and chloramines, and detoxifies heavy metals, so is it necessary to use both the stress coat and the dechlorinater?

Another question I have is when do I add in the API stress zyme, do I put it in the water I'm treating for the water changes, or do I put it directly in tank after water change?

I know you treat the water before you add it to the tank, but since the stress zyme sais its just adding bacteria and not actually detoxifying harmful minerals, I wasn't sure. And with the zyme solution, do I only add dose for the amount of water I change, or for the size of the aquarium?
  • #8
Hi, I can answer your first question. 20 drops = 1 ml. You need a dropper. The kind with the glass or plastic tube and a rubber bulb on the top. I got mine from Amazon, 3 for around $5. Then just do the math. If it's 1 ml per 20 gallons, it would be one drop per gallon. And so forth. Hope this helps.

Et tu
  • #9
Besides the wrong type of fish that are stocked, what I don't understand is how your ph could be so high when you are using distilled water? Distilled water is inert, and not suitable for fish or plants, it has no minerals. Good luck.
  • #10
What are the parameters of your tap water? I would like to suggest that you get the API kit for testing GH and KH. Those tests are all about the minerals. Distilled water doesn't have any, but your tap water might have a ton. I'm just saying this because I had a bad experience with tap water. Most people seem ok with tap water though. Just a thought. I know it seems frustrating at first, but you're doing great. Just keep asking questions!

Sorry, my last post was incomplete. My point is, you might find that a mix of tap and Distilled would give you the best water chemistry for your fish and plants.


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