View Full Version : please please please help - fish are dying...

03-13-2007, 06:15 PM
Now I'm really worried. I decided not to go on my little trip - mostly because I was having trouble getting off work, but also because I didn't want my tank to mess up. Seems like it's already messed up anyway...

I don't know what the heck is wrong with my tank, but I ended up going to the store last night to finally get some fish, but now two are dead and the other two are dying. I bought two electric yellows, 1 pseudotropheus (I think that's what it is), and one small gray fish with dark vertical stripes. I'm sorry I'm not more specific on what fish they are - the guy at the store didn't really know a whole lot and I just went with fish that I had before in my tank in San Diego. I never had a fish die on me before. I brought the fish home, went through the whole routine with floating the bags, then let them into the water. They seemed fine - just exploring around and stuff. They were fine at 3am yesterday, and two were dead when I just checked now at 1pm. Water temp, ammonia, and pH is good. I just tried to put food in for the last two fish, and they won't eat. One is just hiding under a rock and breathing pretty irregularly and the other is just kind of wandering around. The food was literally touching the wanderer and he wasn't eating. The two labs came from the same tank at the store, but the other two fish came from two different tanks. One of the labs and the pseudotropheus are the two that died. I tried to feed the fish just a very little bit last night, and they were all about it. That's the only thing that I can think of that's different from my setup I had in San Diego. I'm feeding themTetra brand Spirulina-Enhanced Flakes. It says it's for all algae grazers.

The fish are all clean looking - no spots or anything. The fins are a little eaten up on the small gray one, but that's how most of my fish first came in San Diego because of how they were kept at the store.

Any ideas on what else to check? Is there anything I can do to save my fish?

One thing I just thought of that is different is I added some crushed coral about 2 days ago. I rinsed it many times. When I put the coral in the water, it made it really cloudy for a few hours. Could it be that I didn't rinse it good enough and there is now a ton of dust or something in my water?

03-13-2007, 06:41 PM
Now the yellow one is swimming around, but he's all messed up - swimming upside down and sideways and stuff. He's more being carried around by the water than moving through it.

Lady Hobbs
03-13-2007, 07:00 PM
DO YOUR WATER TESTS! I bet any amount of money your are not done cycling and your ammonia/nitrites/nitrates are all high.

Also, don't buy fish unless you know what they are. You can't mix cichlids with just anything.

03-13-2007, 07:00 PM
have you done a water hardness test?

03-13-2007, 07:27 PM
Jeez, I don't know what happened. I had been doing my water tests religiously and adding ammonia and got everything good. I was putting in about 15 ml of ammonia a couple of times per day, and it was going down to 0ppm within maybe 5 hours or so and my nitrites were floating around 3 or 4. I finally got my nitrites down to 0, so I changed out about 75% of the water. I just tested everything now, and the ammonia is at 0, nitrite is probably around 4 or 5, and nitrates are around 7 or 8. How could this happen? I thought my tank was cycled.

ps - I don't have a water hardness test component in the test kit I bought.

03-13-2007, 07:31 PM
Also, don't buy fish unless you know what they are. You can't mix cichlids with just anything.

The only reason I went ahead and bought these fish was because they were the same ones I had in San Diego. The place I went to in San Diego was much better than the place here in Chicago, so the San Diego guys would not have let me put stuff in my tank that wouldn't work together. I'm not trying to contradict you here, hobbs, I just thought that I would be alright by copying my last setup. I really appreciate your help with this stuff, though.

03-13-2007, 07:41 PM
you can add some salt to help with the nitrite poisoning but i don't know how much.

03-13-2007, 07:42 PM
also do a large water change immediately.

03-13-2007, 07:44 PM
you can add some salt to help with the nitrite poisoning but i don't know how much.

It's too late, the other two died now too.

Man, I'm way bummed about this - I didn't cycle my tank at all in San Diego because my girlfriend would not get off my back about getting fish. Here, I thought I was doing everything the right way and my tank was completely cycled. I put four fish in and they're dead within 24 hours.:confused: :confused:

03-13-2007, 08:04 PM
sorry to hear that. only thing i can say is start over again and make sure everything is totally complete.

03-13-2007, 08:18 PM
I just thought of two other things that are different with my tank now:

1) I don't use aquarium salt in my aquarium now. In SD I used aquarium salt with every water change because that's what the people at the store suggested. I decided not to use it here because everyone on this board says that it is useless and can even be harmful.

2) I bought a rock from the store here in Chicago to add to my tank. I rinsed it really well before I put it in the tank. This morning when I saw my dead fish, I also noticed this small growth-like thing on the rock. I took the rock out of the tank and scraped this stuff off. It was a grayish color on the outside and kind of orangish on the inside. It was kind of like a mold, I guess, but I feel like I would have noticed this before I put the rock in the tank. It was only about the size of a nickel, but I noticed it right away when looking at my tank, so I think I would have noticed it while I was cleaning the rock and inspecting it for stuff like this. Any ideas on what this is?

Also, should I take out the last two fish that just died, or leave them in to add to the cycle again?

03-13-2007, 08:25 PM
take the fish out if you don't they will be a breeding ground for disease.
as for as to what was on the rock, i have no clue.
you should probably do a thorough cleaning of the tank too as you may have some sort of contaminate in it.

03-13-2007, 10:36 PM
take the fish out if you don't they will be a breeding ground for disease.

The only reason I ask about leaving the fish in the tank is because someone on this forum on another thread suggested that if I had fish that died in the tank while I was out of town, it wouldn't be a big deal because they would just continue to add to the cycle. Is this not the case?

Lady Hobbs
03-13-2007, 11:05 PM
To find out if the rock is not good for the tank, pour some vinegar or a solution of vinegar/water over it. If it foams, it's not good for a tank.

If you plan to keep cichlids, you need salt for cichlids. Our conversation here was in regards to salt with community fish. You need cichlid salt not aquarium salt.

I don't know what your pH is but after adding the coral shells, you may want to monitor it. You don't want it going up too much.

About the cycle, I have to wonder if you changed a bunch of water, did your test after and everything was fine so you thought it was OK. After a water change, you may have to wait for several hours before testing it again to make sure no changes have taken place. Also, when you do your tests, let the vial sit for about 15 minutes. It takes a while for those colors to change.

If any cleaning was done, you replaced the filter or messed with the gravel, you have set the cycle back. Tanks are very fussy the first 3 months. You should not have lost your cycle as long as you were adding a bit of ammonia everyday. I have a tank sitting here I've been doing the same for days now.

I can't remember what size tank you have now but sometimes adding too many fish at once will cause another mini cycle but I don't believe that happened in your case. It just appears that either your cycle had not finished as you had thought or something happened that messed it up.

About your remaining fish.....I doubt if they will make it now so if you chose to leave them to keep the cycle going you may as well. The water would have been very toxic to them so they will most likely die if not now, within a week.

03-14-2007, 12:35 AM
I did my tests on the changed water about a day after I changed out all of the water - everything was good. I follow the directions for the testing to the letter - I even set the timer to make sure I look at them when they are supposed to be looked at. If I let them sit for a half hour or so, they just get lighter and lighter anyway.

I'm just really confused on why this happened. I know what you're saying about the coral changing the parameters of the tank, but it seemed like everything was fine, pH wise, and still is. The only thing about my tank now is that the nitrites are way up. I just did a test, and my ammonia is at 0, nitrate about 5-10, pH about 8.1, and nitrites are about 3-4 ppm!??

I just don't understand what I did wrong. My experience with this cycling was exactly as it was for hobbs on her reworked tank. That was one of the main reasons why I thought my tank would be good.

Lady Hobbs
03-14-2007, 09:17 AM
It's odd. Did you do water tests right from the tap water? Sometimes it can be right in the water as holbritter had ammonia and found it coming right from her well water into the house.

A cycle can be so frustrating at times!! You sound like you really care and did everything right, too. Something messed it up for sure and it could have been the smallest thing. I would do nothing now but keep monitoring that nitrite spike. If there are fish in there, leave them. If they are dead, them them there for ammonia or if they are all dead and gone, keep adding just a bit of ammonia so the bioload doesn't die off. And keep posted.

03-14-2007, 10:05 AM
I'm not that experienced yet, but I thought I'd throw this out.....could it be the fish were sick in the first place, and the stress of the tank change was the final thing?
Also, I've read a bit about acclimating your fish and I've found that just floating the bag for 15 mins. then letting them go isn't always the best way. Floating and then adding a small amount of tank water...float some more...repeat...seemed to be the method of choice. I don't know if this had anything to do with your loss though, just a thought.

03-14-2007, 12:12 PM
Hmm, nitrite reading 0, water change, and then nitrites high again, welcome to my world. :)

Fortunately, I caught it before buying the fish.

My tank is still cycling, after all my ups and downs. It seems to be reading normally again for me though, but it took 3 massive water changes to get to this stage for me. (I posted about this in the general forum if you want to see if there are similarities)

03-14-2007, 06:55 PM
Floating and then adding a small amount of tank water...float some more...repeat...seemed to be the method of choice.

Yeah, that's how I do it. I actually float the bags for about a half hour or more, with adding water from my tank to the bags about every 10 minutes or so.

I'm keeping with the testing now. My ammonia still reads at 0 and nitrites are around 4 and nitrates are around 5-10. I added about 15 ml of ammonia this morning, and this water test was done 5 minutes ago. It's crazy how fast the ammonia goes down, and then the nitrites just hang around the same level. I'm gonna try to add ammonia now and monitor the ammonia level over the next few hours. Thanks for all the help, guys.

03-14-2007, 11:36 PM
Sorry for you loss, but before you try this all over again, please be aware that the municipal water characteristics in San Diego are NOT going to be identical to what you have now. The fish that worked well there may not be as suitable to your new municipal water supply.

Usually, your lps should have the same type of water as you do, and if they are not altering their water characteristics, then their fish should be fine in your tank in theory. However, they may not have their fish for very long before you bring them home, and if the fish are imported from other areas, they might not like your water. Check pH, water hardness, metals, etc. A simple way might be to take a sample to the LPS have have them do a complete test. You can also get some water characteristics from your local municipal water supply folks.

It might be wise to find out what kind of fish work well in your new local water conditions.

03-14-2007, 11:39 PM
About 2 weeks ago I got 4 Tiger Barbs and they all died within 3 days in a cycled tank. Went back to the fish store and their ENTIRE tank of barbs was empty, did they sell them all? No way, theirs died too - what I'm getting at is maybe you got some bad fish. Also I don't know about your aquarium but maybe someone refinished the silicone with the wrong type and you have some poison in the water... that's pretty far out, but it's happened before. It's usually some tiny thing your overlooking... or bad fish.

03-15-2007, 02:24 AM
Ok, something could have went wrong with your cycle, or you could have bought weak fish and just didn't notice it. I am leaning towards something wrong with the cycle with the 3-4ppm readings. What alot of people don't realize is that it takes much longer for the nitrite bacteria to grow than the ammonia eating bacteria, so while you are seeing your ammonia drop in a matter of hours, you still don't have the proper nitrite cultures to fully stock a tank. And of course, things can always go haywire even when you follow all the rules.
My suggestion would be to continue to add the ammonia at the 1/2 rate you decided on when you first found your ammonia eating bacteria was culturing until you see your nitrites drop to ZERO, after that you should be seeing nitrATE readings, after several days of consistent 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and high nitrate readings do your large water change and THEN add fish.