Sick Fish?

  1. Ashnick05 Initiate Member

    Hi there,

    I'm fairly new to caring for a larger tank. I inherited a 29 galleon tank from my parents, and had it set up for a week before getting any fish. Everything in the tank was cleaned prior to set up, I used only water and a brand new sponge. I reused the gravel from my parents, as well as two figurines. I purchased new plants and a new 'main' figurines, all of which were rinsed in warm water before going into the tank as per the package instructions. I replaced the filter pads as well. I got the fish (2 black mollies, 2 Dalmatian mollies, 2 fancy guppies and 2 gouarmis) on Saturday of last week (July 15). Fish are being fed tropical flakes twice a day. When I went to work this morning all was fine in the tank. However when I came home from work, my male fancy guppy had passed, and one of my black mollies seems to be struggling to get off the bottom of the tank. The others seem to be okay, the female guppy stays at the top of the tank, and has since we put her in really. One of my gouarmis (silver one with two black spots) seems to be hiding closer to the bottom of the tank. It seemed to be a bit aggressive towards the orange gouarmi this morning, following her and 'pecking' at her.

    Can someone tell me if there's something to be concerned of with the black molly?? Currently the other black molly is hanging out by the heater, not really moving around the tank.
  2. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Hi and welcome to the forum!

    I recommend that you read up on the nitrogen cycle because your fish are going to need help to ride out the toxins formed until the necessary bacteria grow enough to take care of all the fish's wastes. Do you have Prime or another water conditioner?

    For the purpose of cycling I would return at least the gouramis. They are territorial and will likely fight anyway with 2 in the tank. The mollies have a very high waste load for their size so you'll have to keep on top of the parameters and do regular water changes. I would reduce the feedings to once every other day until you're cycled.

    And definitely get yourself a test kit! API Master Test Kit is a good one.

  3. Fish'n'Tips Initiate Member

    It really does seem so simple on the surface of it; get a tank; clean it; throw some water in and add fish, however that will result in dead fish, and it sounds like your fish may be starting to exhibit the results of being put in a non cycled tank.

    Things to do:
    1. If you did not use water conditioner, add some ASAP. Run don't walk to the nearest store and get some and treat your water. The best conditioner is Seachem Prime.

    Edit: While you are there pick up an API Freshwater Master Test kit, if you don't already have one, this is a must have for any fishkeeper.

    2. Read up on the Nitrogen Cycle. A typical cycle takes 4-5 weeks. You will be doing a "fish in cycle" unless you want to consider returning your fish or rehoming them.

    3. Ask lots of questions here!! You will find all the answers you need. You`ll find there's many beginners just like yourself and we can help you to avoid any further mistakes that may harm your fish.

    The effects you are seeing on your fish are most likely the result of an uncycled tank.

    Welcome To Fishlore :)
  4. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    Welcome to Fishlore! You have gotten some good advice.

    I second the suggestion for getting Seachem Prime. It isn't just a dechlorinator, it also detoxifies Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Which is a huge bonus for when you are cycling with fish. I also suggest picking up Seachem Stability. It is a bottled bacteria, that will help get your nitrogen cycle up and running. Along with an API Freshwater Master Test kit to test your water chemistries.

    The fish in your tank produce waste, this shows up as ammonia in your tank. Along with old fish food, and other things in the tank. This will slowly build up in your tank. Making the tank toxic to your fish. What needs to happen is you have to encourage beneficial bacteria to grow.

    Fish produce ammonia, which is very toxic to your tank in small amounts. Beneficial bacteria #1 grows and eats the ammonia. Converting it into nitrites. Now Nitrites are also toxic to your fish in small amounts. So a second beneficial bacteria grows. It converts the nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are tolerated at much higher levels and are easily removed with weekly water changes.

    The beneficial bacteria grows in and on your filter media. Which is the stuff inside your filter. So whatever you do, don't change the stuff inside the filter until you are way more experienced. At the very most gently rinse it in old tank water.

    Using bottled bacteria should get your tank cycled in 14 days or so. Without using bottled bacteria it can take 6-12 weeks. So I highly recommend using the stuff.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Ashnick05 Initiate Member

    It was supposed to be simple! Lol something fun to teach my son the responsibility of regular feedings, but not a cat or dog that would make a big mess. :p

    I will get some prime stuff to help in the tank and get a test kit as well... my husband took a sample of water to the pet store and they tested it and said it was fine? Is that not accurate? Also, what levels are the 'ideal' levels to know the cycle has finished? I want to make sure the fish flourish in the tank, it's incredibly disappointing to have them die after a week.
  6. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Pet store staff often don't know about the nitrogen cycle themselves so when they say it's "fine" that could mean anything. What you're looking for in a cycled tank is zero ammonia, zero nitrites but some amount of nitrates.

    The cycling process can be very stressful on fish but it doesn't need to be. It is possible to get even fairly sensitive fish through it unscathed but it will be a lot more work. You'll need to do regular, possibly frequent water changes and dose with Prime every day. Alternatively, if you can get Tetra Safe Start Plus you can just dump the bottle in the tank and ignore it for 2 weeks. A lot of people here have had good success with that stuff. You will have to take some fish back though. Definitely the gouramis and probably some of the other fish. Tetra recommends to cycle with only 1" of fish per 10 gallons of water if you're using Safe Start ;)
  7. Fish'n'Tips Initiate Member

    That's OK Ashnick05 many of us have come here for exactly the same reasons; while there is a bit of a learning curve to this, it's not that difficult when you understand how the nitrogen cycle works, and understand how vital it is to test your water for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates.

    Right now you need to de-chlorinate the water, your fish will suffer with water that contains chlorine and it could be fatal within a matter of hours!! that will be the first priority. Once treated with Prime or the de-chlorinator of your choice, that will buy you a little bit of time to learn how the nitrogen cycle works. Personally as others have said I would recommend using a bacteria starter such as Seachem Stability or Tetra Safestart Plus, those products will speed up your 'cycle' and have been tried and tested by Fishlore members.

    Unfortunately you cannot rely on what the pet store tells you regarding water parameters, in most cases they are using test strips which are not as accurate as a liquid based test kit and their employees may or may not understand the nitrogen cycle themselves. They want to sell you fish, then when they die, they want to sell you more fish, so it really is your responsibility to test your own water so you can ensure it's safe for your fish and your wallet :)

    Yes your looking for 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some nitrates (<40 PPM)

    Shopping List:
    Seachem Prime (Water De-chlorinator)
    Seachem Stablity or Tetra Safestart Plus (Bacteria Starter)
    API Freshwater Master Test Kit

    Good Luck!

  8. Ashnick05 Initiate Member

    Thanks everyone. One other question that actually doesn't have to do with sick fish. Before we got the tank we were planning on going always for a week for vacation. I don't have anyone who can come in to feed my fish, is it still possible to go away or do I have to cancel my plans cause of the fish?
  9. Fish'n'Tips Initiate Member

    When were you planning to leave? I think you will need to get your tank cycled first, while cycling you will need to do daily testing as there will be both ammonia and nitrite spikes that you will have address by doing water changes, to keep your fish safe.

    Once your tank is cycled I wouldn't worry about feeding your fish for a week they will be fine, you would just want to feed them the day you leave and do a big water change when you get back. I personally leave my fish without food for up to two weeks, if I am going to be away for any longer I use the ehiem everyday fish feeder which you can get for about $28 on Amazon.
  10. Ashnick05 Initiate Member

    Okay that sounds good. It's not for a while anyway. Thanks!

  11. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Or you could use Tetra Safe Start and then you aren't supposed to do water changes for 2 weeks ;)