Super new to aquariums and have an issue

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Crabby654, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. Crabby654

    Crabby654Valued MemberMember

    Hey all! New guy around here and have just had my first casualties :(

    Well first let me give a little backstory on what spurred on my wanting to buy some fish. My father had dug out my old 2 gallon fish tank for my 5 year old niece, they went to PetCo and grabbed some gravel, deco, food and 2 Betta fish (male and female). No filter, no heater, nothing special at all. The fish have been living fine in this tank for a month with no apparent issues. And that made me decide "well maybe I'll grab a little something for my desk."

    Now my space is limited and I really didn't want to go overboard with spending. The last time I had fish I was probably 16 or so (over 10 years ago) and I really remember nothing, but I figured well my niece has some living fish in a small tank, I suppose I can do it?

    Alrighty, so I went ahead to PetCo and bought: Tetra 1.5 Gallon LED Desktop Aquarium Kit (), some black gravel, a fake white plant thingy, and a couple little decorations. For fish I bought (reading off the receipt) 1x Tetra Black Skirt and 1x Tetra Pristella (a white see through fish), both of them small and I seem to recall a 1 fish per gallon rule I think. This tank had a filter so I figured well maybe the filter will cancel out the needing of an extra half gallon. I cant even begin to imagine how wrong I am with probably all of this information. So I went home and rinsed out EVERYTHING with tap water (no soap). I rinsed out the filter (charcoal) for a solid 10 minutes to make sure there was no residue. Filled up the tank about 2/3rds of the way with room temp water. Put one fish at a time in the baggy in the water so they could adjust for 20 minutes each.

    Well 1 hour later the see through fish died...hmm...ok. Then the black skirt fish started acting funny and another hour later he died. I am really not 100% sure what I did wrong. I had read about cycling the water for a week or so, but I figured because it was such a small tank that it wasn't completely necessary? Once again I am probably super wrong. Well when the fish had been removed the tank I read online a bit about adding a little fish food and letting it decay to start the cycle process, so thats what I did and here I am now, a fish tank with no fish.

    - Can anyone perhaps diagnose what happened and what I should do, I was planning on going to PetCo next week to try out a different fish, ONE fish this time.

    - What is the recommended maintenance for a 1.5 gallon tank? I thought I heard something about changing 50% of the water each week?

    - Also as a side note I am debating between 2 different fish to buy (I only want 1) either a Betta fish or, as my father calls, a red tail shark (it looks like a mini shark with black body and red fins) which I love but I know nothing about.

    Any help would be AMAZING, thank you all for taking the time to read :)
  2. AquaFresh

    AquaFreshNew MemberMember

    That tank is too small for two skirt tetras people say an inch per a gallon for a fish. Also did you treat the water with a conditioner at all? They probably died from the chemicals in the tap water. One betta would probably be ideal for that setup.
  3. Dom90

    Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    Not only is the tank way too small for 2 tetras, but you didnt properly acclimate the fish to your tank after you got them from the store.
  4. BornThisWayBettas

    BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to Fish Lore!!!!

    Alright, well, there's a lot of things that need to be addressed here:

    First off, a 2 gallon tank is not really big enough for one betta, much less two, especially since there is no filter. Also, if the male and female aren't divided, they might attack and/or kill each other, just a warning.

    So, here's what you need to know:

    Both of the fish you bought are schooling fish and need to be in groups of six or more, and absolutely cannot be in a tank that size.

    The tank does need to be cycled, that step is extremely important, even if it is a really small tank.

    Depending on what you have in there, probably about 50% or so, since you won't be able to have much, I'm afraid.

    I would not buy anything until you have the tank cycled. Besides, that tank is too small for a betta and much, much too small for a red tail shark.

    So here's what I would do:

    Either buy a new tank (at least 3 gallons with a filter and heater if you want a betta, bigger is always better though), or:

    Get an API Freshwater Master Test Kit

    Get a bottle of TSS and a bottle of ammonia to get your cycle going

    As for things that you can stock it with, very little will work in that tank size. Shrimp and snails are pretty much it, I'm afraid.

    If I were you, I'd definitely try to get a bigger tank, especially since PetCo is having their dollar-per-gallon sale right now, meaning that you could buy a really big tank for not too much, and then you could have a ton of cool fish! :)

    Good luck and please let me know if you want more help! :)
  5. OP

    Crabby654Valued MemberMember

    Unfortunately in the original post is exactly what I did, didn't add any additives or anything. Is there any recommendations? Right now I have the tank on my desk with the filter running and I added a pinch of fish food to it, if I let it sit like this for a week would it be good for fish?
  6. BornThisWayBettas

    BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Okay, so you didn't add a water conditioner? Prime is pretty great, a whole bottle will last you quite a while. That might've been what killed your fish, I'm afraid. Sorry for your losses. :(
  7. Dom90

    Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

  8. OP

    Crabby654Valued MemberMember

    Ya I wish I could buy a bigger tank but space is the real issue and I really just wanted to have a buddy with me while I use my computer. I was really hoping I could get some kind of shark like fish but thats most likely going to happen since it seems they need a lot of space. I'm just shocked that my nieces Betta fish are still alive after a month of being in a 2 gallon tank. I would like to get something for this tank though that would be relatively happy.
  9. Dom90

    Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    The minimum tank size you need for a shark is 55 gallons. Bettas can do fine in a 2.5 gallon, as long as the tank is heated and filtered, and the tank is cycled. Keyword "cycled".
  10. BornThisWayBettas

    BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    I completely understand. :) In that case, shrimp or snails might be your best option, once the tank is properly cycled.
  11. OP

    Crabby654Valued MemberMember

    Out of curosity is there a way to cycle a tank without all chemicals needed? I don't have easy access to ammonia. I had read that adding some fish food would start the process but I am really not totally sure.
  12. BornThisWayBettas

    BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Yes, I think it just takes longer if you're not using Tetra Safe Start (TSS). Also, you'll need to know when it's cycled though, so you will need an API Freshwater Master Test Kit. Avoid test strips as these are inaccurate.
  13. bettamars

    bettamarsValued MemberMember

    Once you get the tank cycled - make sure to use water conditioner, the chlorine in most tap water is likely what killed your fish and the tank cannot be cycled with chlorinated water as chlorine kills the beneficial bacteria that is grown in the filter in order to cycle - you could add a few red cherry shrimp to the tank, they're very cool and will even breed of you get males and females. Sorry you had a rough start :( It's okay, most beginners make similar mistakes. Also, in order to know that your tank is cycled (see the link that Dom cave you above about cycled to see how it works and what to look for in your testing) you'll need a good test kit. Don't use test strips since they are inaccurate and more expensive in the long run. The API test kit runs about $25 dollars most places (Amazon, petco, petsmart) and has over 800 tests in the kit whereas if you buy test strips, you not only get inaccurate information, but it's also only a few tests per pack. Not really sure how much they cost per pack, but I'm guessing around $5, so if you do the math, API master freshwater test kit is the way to go :) Good luck in your fishy endeavors, and be sure to come back with any other questions!
  14. OP

    Crabby654Valued MemberMember

    Wow thank you all for the help. I'm thinking about going up to PetCo right now and looking around haha. So would it be recommended to purchase the Tetra Safe Start? Does it only need to be used once or everytime I change the water out?

    Also I know I may sound like a broken record but I keep reading stuff about people saying 1.5 is fine for a single Betta but at the same time I'd like him to live as long as possible, ugh I just really can't buy a bigger tank :(
  15. BornThisWayBettas

    BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Anytime! :)

    I haven't personally used Tetra Safe Start, so I really wouldn't know about dosage details.

    Well, 1.5 gallons is about the half the recommended size for a betta, so it would be a really tiny existence for him. I would do red cherry shrimp, they're bright and colorful and cute! :D
  16. OP

    Crabby654Valued MemberMember

    Alright fine! I'm gonna goto PetCo in a bit and buy the 3 Gallon kit, that is the MAX size I can go. I'll return the 1.5 I have and buy the 3 gallon one, Tetra Safe Start aand...hmm is there anything I should grab? Do I need a heater hmm...Can i get a shark in a 3 gallon tank? :p
  17. ClearEyes

    ClearEyesWell Known MemberMember

    Shark, absolutely not. Like @Dom90 says, you need min 55 gallons. They may look small and cute now, but keep in mind you're looking at babies. They will grow to be huge.

    EDIT: And depending on the particular type of shark, you might even need 150. I know my local Petco/Petsmart sells little bala sharks for like $4, but they need to be in a group of at least 6 and will grow to up to 14 inches :eek: Imagine 6 of those beasts in a 3 gallon tank!
  18. bettamars

    bettamarsValued MemberMember

    Edit: seems I spent too long writing this up that you're getting a 3 gallon in which you will be putting a betta I assume. All of the things I said down here will apply with the 3 gallon as well to cycle it :)

    A betta fish could survive in a 1.5, but it really wouldn't thrive, so that's why we say 2.5 or bigger. Shrimp and snails are very interesting and funny, and maybe whenever you have space to upgrade, you can get a betta in a 2.5+ next to your shrimp/snail friends :)

    I know you said you don't have access to pure ammonia, but I found mine at the dollar store (1 gallon of pure ammonia for $1!). Make sure it says pure ammonia on it and also check the ingredients that there are no surfactants in it. Another good test to make sure it's pure is to shake the bottle and if any bubbles are at the top, there's a detergent in it so it can't be used. Then after you add the dechlorinator product (most people recommend prime), wait 24 hours before adding the tetra safe start (if you get the small bottle, you can probably add the entire thing or maybe half and have some extra in case of emergencies (I bought the big bottle and put half in my 20 gallon to save some for any possible emergencies with moving my tank around while my room gets renovated). Once you add the tetra safe start, I would use a turkey baster or eyedropper and only add 1 drop of pure ammonia to the aquarium each day since the tank is so small. And then wait 2 weeks adding the 1 drop every day and then test your water using the API kit to see if it worked, your parameters should be 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and some reading of nitrates (as long as there are some nitrates, you should be good).

    If you really can't find any ammonia, I would suggest a fish in (in this case, shrimp/snail in) cycle with tetra safe start. So with this, you add the dechlorinator, wait 24 hours, get your shrimp/snails and a bottle of tetra safe start, and add the TSS to the aquarium while your shrimp/snails acclimate to the water temperature in their bag for 20-30 minutes and then after that, release your friends into the aquarium (don't pour them with the store water into the aquarium, either pour the bag of water into a fish net over a bucket, or go fishing for them into the bag with your net like I do :)). Then wait 2 weeks (don't do any water changes during this time). And then at the end of the 2 week, test your water to see if the cycle is done and do a water change and your tank is cycled! Then continue to do 50% water changes weekly after that and enjoy your new friends! Also, continue to Test your parameters weekly to make sure you don't get an ammonia/nitrite spike and to keep the nitrates under 20 if possible.
  19. OP

    Crabby654Valued MemberMember

    Alrighty, so would it be a good idea to pick up the Tetra Safe Start today as well as a snail and place them both in the tank tonight and then next weekend possibly get a Betta?
  20. bettamars

    bettamarsValued MemberMember

    Sorry, no sharks! But a betta would do perfectly in a 3 gallon! Here's a good shopping list of what you'll need:

    -the 3 gallon kit

    -seachem prime

    -API master freshwater test kit

    -betta food (Omega One betta buffet pellets are very healthy for them!)

    -betta treat (optional, but frozen or freeze dried bloodworms or brine shrimp are a good treat for every once in a while)

    -tetra safe start

    -fish net

    -maybe a hide away since it seems you only have one plant right now (optional, but bettas do like to hide to get away every once in a while, so to reduce stress, I'd recommend one :))

    -and your betta if you don't want to do the pure ammonia way