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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2012

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    Default Fish Tank Emergency!!!

    0 Not allowed!
    I have a ten gallon freshwater fishtank. HAD 4 skirted tetras, and still have 2 coolie loaches.

    5 days ago I noticed my fish were acting weird/lethargic. I immediately changed out 40% of my water. I brought a water sample to petsmart for them to test. It was normal. They suggest aquarium salt, stress coat, and a bacterial additive. I did all of this. The next morning 2 of the tetras were dead. I did another 20% water change, added more stress coat and bacteria. Got some more water and took to petsmart. Water was ok. My fish were looking BAD, fins tattered, red streaks. I thought it could be fin rot. So petsmart recommended "E.M." antibiotic. I added it to my tank. By the end of the day the other 2 tetras were dead.

    I am still adding the EM. The coolie loaches are still alive. I am still not sure what is/ has happened. What to do now? Do I keep doing the EM? I have done 4 doses. Is it really bacterial? How would I know? How do I know when my tank is safe again? Should I move my coolie loaches to another tank, and sterilize my old tank and cycle it ? I just don't know what to do.

    I have had the tank for 5+ years. Did minimum maintenance on it. Never had any issues. The algae did build up and I got a snail and plecostomus. They lasted a few months, then died. I tried again, and they died again. Tested my water at petsmart. Nitrates high. Water change, waited, tested, everything much better. The other fish seemed fine. Got a new plecostomus, he died in 2 days. Then a month later the current aquarium emergency happened. UG! Can anyone help?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2006

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    0 Not allowed!
    Plecos are way too big for a 10 gallon tank. How high were your nitrates. You said you conducted minimum maintenance on the tank-that's your first problem right there.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2012

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    Default tank emergency

    0 Not allowed!
    I admit I was lazy at taking care of my tank, but for years and years it was fine. The tetras seemed very strong, and the coolie loaches are still alive....

    I know that is no excuse though...just a beginner....and got by....

    Yes, the plecostomus could get too big for the 10 gallon. Eventually I would have to move it. It was tiny at the time...all of them that I tried were tiny. 2 inches max.

    I never did any water quality testing until I had that problem with the multiply plecostomus dying. At that point the Nitrates were really high. I replaced some water, let the tank sit for a few weeks and took a sample back to Petsmart. They said that the Nitrates had gone down, but still a little bit left, but said it should be good to go. Then is when I got the last Pleco. He died in 2 days. Then I just gave up and was glad that the rest of my fish seemed fine. A month later, was when the current issue/deaths happened.

    My fish didn't look good. Fins ragged, red streaks on the fins....Lethargic, then in a 48 hour period all the tetras died. In the meantime I did water changes, all the stuff I listed before....Including the EM.

    I know I wasn't the best fish tank owner....but I just want to figure out what happened....If it is bacteria, or if maybe the water was off, and the petsmart people's tests were not accurate. Or maybe my water was bad before I switched some water out? I didn't test it until I had done a water change. Not smart, but I was in a panic.

    Just not sure what to do now. More EM? The coolies are still alive.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Glen Arm. MD

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    Happy Christmas - MuckyFish   thanks for advising on vegetables for my kribs! so here is a discus - ScottishFish   You help a lot - PhillipOrigami   For the bank account, and thx for the rep - Cliff   beautiful discus! - Crispy   


    0 Not allowed!
    Sounds like you have a LOT of waste stored in the substrate - have you ever stirred the substrate during water changes? If not, waste will build up slowly and bacteria will create toxic pockets of 'gas' that will, from time to time, be released and kill fish in that area of the tank.

    Remove the fish with some tank water, and heavily stir the substarte - if your water turns very dark to black - found your problem. Do a 100% clean (rinse the substrate and change all water.)

    Return the fish. Problem solved. Remember to stir the substrate just before a water change (large0 and the issue will not return.
    Knowledge is fun(damental)

    A 75 gal with eight Discus, fake plants, and a lot of wood also with sand substrate. Clean up crew is down to just two Sterba's Corys. Filters: continuous new water flow; canister w/UV, in-tank algae scrubber!! Finally, junked the nitrate removal unit from hell.

    For Fishless cycling:

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Eugene Oregon USA

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    You are quite welcome, and thank you! - mommy1   For the Blue Tetra. A treasure they are. - Strider199   Here's a GBR -- goodluck! - ameliaaahx   For your first SW tank, and thanks for the rep - Cliff   welcome to the darkside - Crispy   


    0 Not allowed!
    First of all I just want you to know we have all been where you are. Many of your mistakes are common beginner mistakes. The question is are you ready to remedy them and learn what you need to in order to progress in the hobby? If so we can help you get all this sorted and get you some new appropriate stock that you really enjoy. If not then that's cool too, just decide. There is honestly a lot of work to do, and some people just don't find fish worth it. But if you enjoy having them then lets get you on the right track, yeah?

    Ok so the first isse is you should never rely on a LFS for water parameter checks. You need to look into picking up a liquid test kit. The one almost all of us use is made by API and it is the master freshwater kit. It has everything you need for testing. The liquid kits are much more accurate and you really cannot get by without monitoring the tank. That is what will help you see what is goin on in the water to avoid problems exactly like this where you loose stock, replace and loose, replace and loose. Cuz honestly that is just a waste of your time and money, and a nightmare for the fish.

    Secondly I assume you know about cycling? You should prob review the red cycling stickies in this forum just to make sure you aren't missing part of the concept. Adding bacterial boosters will not help you when in the middle of a crash like this. The store was honestly just selling you stuff.

    Also salt is only used to treat certain diseases. You should never use any medication until a diagnosis has been made, as many of them will do more harm than good if not for the right problem. That said it does sound like you had something bacterial goin on so don't sweat using the erythromiacin. You have to finish the corse of the antibiotics, because like all antibiotics they can only be effective if the full round is finished. And if it isn't there is a chance you can make the infection medication resistant and strong. That is just scary, so finish the meds as the package directs.

    We will also need some more info from you.

    -filter type (specific model and make)
    -water readings for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate and PH (once you get the test kit. This is very time sensitive if you want tI save the rest of the stock)
    -substrate type
    -tank temp (just a normal average)

    I know some of this sounds trivial but having a clear picture of your setup helps us diagnose the problems without being able to physically see the symptoms.

    Also I know you said you slacked on your maintenance, but when you do get to it what does your routine entail. How much water changed, or do you top off? Do you clean the filter or gravel at all? Do you use any water conditioner or other product to treat regularly? Anything else you can think of. It is all relevant even if you don't think it would be.

    Once this is done we can talk about how to get your tank ready for new stock and what kind of setup you want and or will work with your equipment and surviving fish.

    Glad you found us here. Welcome to AC.
    "A grain of sand is all I ever wanted to be. Lay me down and let the water wash over me, wash over me." -Mickey Newbury
    ~-~-~ }~)){'> <}MocE{> }~)){'> ~-~-~
    Prove that size doesn't matter
    Painted fish belong on canvas, not in aquaria

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2012

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    They didn't have rainbowfish, but have a guppy! - Lolita   Thanks for the help. Have a tetra! :) - tate8   Betta are awesome! - Tiari   Thank you :) - MCHRKiller   Happy X-mas! :-) - MCHRKiller   


    0 Not allowed!
    Your description of lazy tank maintenance is exactly how I took care of my fish for years and years. Not so great, but I was lucky and nothing terrible happened. Until it did.

    I was losing fish left and right, and I didn't have any idea why. Heck I even had the liquid test kit and never used it. Turns out my nitrates (organic waste stuff) was sky high. I narrowly missed an entire tank crash. I had to change 2 gallons of water every day for a month, to bring that number down and not stress the surviving fish. Now I have a bigger tank and I am religious about water changes and testing, and my tank is as good as I'd expect.

    I'd say that you are in the same boat...your nitrates are too high and your tank is crashing. Once you are done with the antibiotics, you need to do water changes. Lots. Like three times a week of a couple of gallons each time. Make sure you dechlorinate your water. And please don't add any more fish until you get into a good maintenance routine and your tests come out WNL.

    PS...go to petsmart or whatever. Get yourself an API master test kit. Read the directions and test your water. Make a chart. Test your tap water too. We'll help you from there. Unfortunately, the test kit is not negotiable. You must have one to responsibly keep fish. It's one of the best $20 I ever spent.
    1 - 55 gallon planted community
    3 - 10 to 20 gallon planted betta tanks
    My advice: slow down, think, and be willing to learn. Then you'll be fine, no matter what.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Nov 2012

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    Default Fish Tank Emergency!!

    0 Not allowed!
    Hi all!
    Thanks for the advice. So I got a testing kit (liquid), and yesterday did testing of Nitrates, Nitrites, pH, Ammonia.
    Nitrates, Nitrites, Ammonia = 0
    pH=7.5 a bit alkaline

    -filter type (specific model and make): Aquaclear 150 (over the back filter) I use the spongy filter and the carbon filter in that.

    -substrate type= small pebbles, natural, with some polished rocks added. I also have a quartz crystal in there. Plastic plants, and fish tank sculpture thingy you get at the pet store.
    -tank temp (just a normal average)= 75 degrees

    The coolie loaches are still alive.

    I did not try stirring the substrate yet. When I did do a water change at the beginning of all of this I did a vacuum of the gravel and mixed it up a bit and the water didn't turn black. It did get a bit cloudy.

    Finished up the one round of the EM antibiotic.

    I have noticed bubbles on the surface of my tank along the front edge and around the thermometer. Not usual. Sticks to stuff. Was there thru this whole thing. (bacterial by product or????)

    So what to do next? Could the alkaline pH killed my skirted tetras?
    Again their fins looked bad, ratty, deteriorating, and had red streaks on the tails. So I am leaning towards bacteria or something.

    Can you get the water tested for organisms? Bacteria etc. How to know when it is safe to add fish?

    Should I correct the pH?

    Not sure what to do.....


  8. #8

    Join Date
    Nov 2012

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    Default Fish TAnk EMergency!!

    0 Not allowed!
    Actually the water temp is more like 72-73.....

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Nov 2012

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    Default Anyone There? Waiting for more Advice...

    0 Not allowed!
    I am not sure if anyone is reading this, but I followed some of your advice and am waiting for more help....
    Please reply!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Bridgeport Connecticut

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    Your first one Tiari - Strider199   It would take me many months to catch up to how many real bettas you have :) - PhillipOrigami   great job with that post - Jaster   Hope power is restored ASAP! - C-Dub   Because I was wrong, and you were right. Sorry. - bethyMT   


    0 Not allowed!
    When you use the liquid test kit, on the nitrate test, make sure you shake the #2 test bottle hard for at least 60 seconds straight. Really hard. If you don't it will read testing 0, which I doubt you have 0 nitrate.

    I made that mistake myself at first, and thought my water was super fine....... when in fact, the nitrates were sky high.

    From your first post, sounds like your tank was in the midst of what they call "Old tank syndrome". The parameters get out of whack over time with lackadaisical maintenance. In easy speak, the cycle goes a bit haywire and it can take some patience to get it back on track. I would not add anything to the tank, no medications, and keep up with frequent small water changes using a good dechlorinator.

    Your original fish likely died due to Ammonia, nitrite or nitrate poisoning, though its hard to tell which. The bubbly foaminess on the surface is likely due to a large quantity of dissolved organics in the water, which will be resolved with the frequent water changes.

    pH of 7.5 is perfectly fine, don't mess with that.
    Last edited by Tiari; 12-03-2012 at 12:35 PM.
    2 10 gallon tanks, 1 20 gallon tank, 1 Fluval Edge, 1 29 gallon tank, and one backyard pond.

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