Please help me figure out what I'm doing wrong
Hi - first time poster here and new to the hobby. Here's my situation:
Have a 10 gallon tank - this one to be exact: http://www.tetra-fish.com/sites/tetr...l.aspx?id=4261
Set it up 4 months ago and let it cycle for a few weeks - then put in 4 white cloud minnows to start off. I did pretty frequent water tests and all the levels were 0.
After about 2 or 3 weeks I put in a betta. Levels were still 0 during weekly testing and everyone was getting along nicely. About a month later, to finish stocking, I put in 2 platys, and 2 danios for a total of 9 fish.
For almost 2 months, everything seemed to be going great. The fish were getting along great and all the chemical levels came out to 0 in weekly tests.
Then, about 2 weeks ago, I was doing a 20% water change and accidentally sucked the betta up into the gravel vacuum. I felt horrible and quickly got him out of there. I thought he was going to die, but the next day he appeared much better, and the day after that it was as if nothing had happened to him. I should also mention I changed the carbon filter during that water change. 2-3 weeks went by and I thought everything was good.
Then I noticed that one of the platys was acting strange. I tested the water and the ammonia had spiked to 2ppm. A day or two later one of the platys died. A day or two after that the betta went. And yesterday and today 2 of the minnows died.
I have been doing 50% water changes every day since detecting the ammonia and also changed feeding to once every 3 days. Even still, the ammonia seems stuck at 1ppm now.
Now I'm trying to analyze what went wrong. What could cause the ammonia to spike so suddenly and what should I do now. I should mention that the other levels, nitrate, nitrite, etc are all still 0. pH is 7.6 and water temp is 78 deg.
My filter system has a carbon bag filter and also some type of bio foam which you don't change and is supposed to hold the good bacteria. I didn't realize and used plain tap water to rinse the new carbon bag. Could that have killed the bacteria in the bio foam piece or is it not enough to be meaningful? Could the incident with the betta have somehow caused this situation?
I feel so bad that all the fish are dying, and helpless because I don't know what to do next.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
Is your tap water chlorinated?
If so... rinsing it in the chlorine certainly would have set your cycle back.
I don't believe the incident with the betta was the causal factor. But since you mention all your readings were at 0 at the first cycled stage... I suspect there may have been some issue with your initial cycling and now its recycling. How exactly did you cycle? If it was just running the filter without adding any ammonia source... that is not the biological cycle that we talk about here, although some poorly informed fish store employees like to call it so.
At this point you are cycling with fish. You need to keep up with your water changes, and in fact increase them to keep the rest of them alive. When your ammonia is at 1.0ppm and you do a wc, it should immediately drop to 0.5 since you removed half the ammonias concentration. However, your fish are still continuing to produce waste (ammonia is a product of waste) and that number rises from that point back up for the next day. So keep up on your water changes.
Eventually enough ammonia converting bacteria will re-grow and you will see Nitrites. Keep up your waterchanges to keep both ammonia and nitrites under 1.0ppm until you get enough bacteria to handle the fish waste load. :)
Most likely imo:
Your tank was overstocked. Your filter was barely coping. When the carbon stops absorbing chemical s it is a good place for bacteria to set up. You wiped those out and got a tank crash. Water changes are a good way to deal with the symptoms but you need to add filtration or reduce stock.
Thanks for the replies. When I do the water change I do see the ammonia level drop. But the next night its right back up again. Another fish died this morning. Now down to 3 fish. I don't understand what keeps making the ammonia go back up again?
How can I avoid this problem going forward when replacing the carbon filter? I thought that the whole point of the bio foam piece was to prevent this from happening. Is this not considered a good filtration system? The woman in the store I bought the set up recommended changing the carbon filter every 2-3 weeks, by the way.
I agree with both posters above and just want to add this for you to read. http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...ad.php?t=36492
Which filter do you have? If possible it would be better to use ceramic media instead of the carbon since ceramic media holds much more bacteria than the sponge and doesn't need replacing.
The ammonia keeps going back up because the fish are producing waste and the bacteria needed to convert it to less toxic nitrates has not been established. This will continue until the tank is fully cycled.
If it's called tourist season why can't I shoot them?
Brutal honesty will be shown on this screen.
I think my fish is adjusting well to the four gallon, He's laying on his side attempting to go to sleep on the bottom of the gravel.
Tolerance is a great thing to have, so is the ability to shut up.
The truth is not something you hide behind but what you stand on!
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
What keeps making the ammonia back up is the fish. The ammonia is from fish waste.
With a completely cycled tank, the bacteria colony is large enough to convert the ammonia into nitrite and then into nitrates as quickly as the fish can make it. Unfortunately your colony isn't developed enough to handle it yet. Thus you need to be the "bacteria temporary employee" and do water changes to help them out.
Carbon isn't necessarily needed in a filter set up. It should be used when you need to filter out medication, but you do not actually need to continuously use it. You've be better served by using that space towards bio media to house your bacteria colony.
I think I found the kit you mentioned... and it mentions a PF-10 Whisper Filter as part of the kit. Which is rates up to 10 gallons. What they don't mention is that it is not really designed for a well stocked 10 gallon, but more for a lightly stocked 10 gallon. If you have too many fish producing waste there may not be sufficient water flow for the bacteria colony to grow to where it can keep up.
So for the future.... continue with water changes. Replace the carbon with something more suitable for your bacteria to grow. When you rinse the sponge out, make sure you do it in dechlorinated water, such as old tank water. And do read that link mommy suggested so you better understand the biological cycle.
Got it. Will definitely research the other filter options as well. I understand the cycle, but figured that since all 9 fish were living happily for for 2 months or so that everything was in balance and set up correctly.
You've had good advice so far. You were pretty badly overstocked in my opinion. As fish grow and mature they will produce more waste.
Don't put danios in a tank that small - they are very active, powerful fish that need room to swim. You could keep one betta in a 10 gallon OR a 3/4 guppies/endlers OR 8 neon tetra at a push. I personally wouldn't keep anything more than that in it and feel comfortable - even then I would want to ensure my filter was rated for double the tank size.
Hope you manage to save the final fish (if any are left). Keep up with those water changes. If your ammonia is above 0.25 change the water again...and again, until it is at or just below that reading.
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
" Carl Sagan
I really appreciate the help and advice from all you guys. It's good to know there's a community like this to turn to. It feels so helpless watching all the fish die and not even being sure of the cause or what to do about it.
The 3 remaining fish are hanging on so far. Ammonia level still high - did a 50% water change just now. I have one or two more questions maybe you guys can help me with.
How do most people physically go about performing the water change? The way I've been doing it is, I'm using a cleaned out gallon plastic milk container. I've been getting my tap to the right temperature, putting a few drops of water treatment in the container, and then filling it up, and dump it in. The thing I'm confused about is for the water treatment solution, the bottle says a whole cap full for 10 gallons. But I'm not clear how you're supposed to measure or mix it because obviously I don't have another 10 gallon container. So I've been sort of estimating it. Can I just put non treated water right in the thank and then pour in a half cap full of the treatment? OR does it have to be mixed first and then poured in? I doubt this has anything to do with my problem, but I wanted to mention it.
Also, if I wanted to upgrade my setup, how could I go about doing that? I do have that whisper 10 filter that Trillianne mentioned above. Can I replace that with a stronger, better filter, or can I use the same filter but with a different medium?
I'm sure I'll come up with more questions - but thanks again to everyone who took the time to help me out.
One addition to my last post - this filter seems to have very good reviews. Not sure if it would fit my tank, but if I were to purchase something like this would it be a better choice for my 10 gallon set up?