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Doing all the right things, but fish don't live long.


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1 hour ago, Sweet Sharon said:

It's been about two weeks since the last fish died.  Actually ordered them online despite the price because I figured they'd be handled less, but they died too.  It was two Cory's and 3 H. rasboras.  I get very attached to the fish, and want nothing but a great tank for them, that's why it's been so frustrating.   May I ask, any of you, what type set up you have with plants and fish?  And ho long you have been addicted to this hobby?

I have been addicted for over three years, when I first started getting interested in fish. I was not allowed to actually get an aquarium about a year and a half ago, and I have been keeping them since. When I finally did start keeping fish, I made many mistakes that you are currently going through, such as adding fish before a cycle is complete. At the moment, I have a 29 gallon planted community aquarium, which features Corydoras and guppies (Endler's livebearers). The plants include water sprite, dwarf aquarium lily, Java fern, vallisneria, cryptocoryne wendtii, dwarf hairgrass, and water lettuce. I am currently still learning the basics of plant care, so this tank still has a ways to go!

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As can be inferred from my username and profile, my favorite fish are Corydoras catfish. I currently only keep a few species, but I plan on enlarging my collection very soon!

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I am also fond of keeping guppy/endlers. It is so fun to have constant activity with infinite amounts of baby fish!

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17 minutes ago, Sweet Sharon said:

Hi Hobbit.  Your tank looked good when you started.  I see fish in the first pic, so why did you have to cycle?  

Cycling is necessary because it allows the beneficial bacteria to build up inside the aquarium. Without this bacteria when you introduce fish, the ammonia produced by the fish cannot be broken down, and it becomes toxic to the inhabitants. Beneficial bacteria grows to the amount of food it has (ammonia and nitrites), though it has to be given some time for it to establish first. You can encourage the process of the bacterial colonization by trying the processes listed by everyone above, as everyone had some great suggestions.

Anyway, I hope this helps, and good luck!

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@Sweet Sharon isn’t this forum fun? I love how much C. A. R. E. has already gone into answering your question!

I’m super impatient, so here’s my cycling method:

(1) I use Eco Complete substrate. It speeds up cycling, by including live bacteria.

(2) I add a large piece (or pieces) of _wet_ wood from _inside_ tanks at my LFS. It’s loaded with bio. Yes... also brings along algae, etc, but that’s no problem.

(3) I use some tank water (5-10 gallons) from another established tank. Again, this has bio. Sounds like maybe you don’t have another tank at home...? But if you’ve got a friend with one, and if their fish are healthy, you might ask to drain out a few buckets. There’s risks here, so this requires good judgment.

(4) I get a sponge filter that has been going for a while in another tank. Maybe your LFS will sell you one from their tanks? In our case, we set one up in advance at home in another tank.

(5) We buy tons of live plants. TONS!!! This brings bio, filtration, gas exchange, and loads of micro life.

(6) I add one full bottle of Dr. Tim’s biological booster. I know it’s not lived by everyone... but I confess to believing in Fritz and Dr. Tim’s.

Then wait. Test every few days. And once you’ve got nitrates increasing in your API Master test kit titration tests, things are about ready.

 

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I'm not an experienced fish keeper, but I have experience.. if that makes sense. 

With my one and only tank, I had a short window of time to get my betta.  So I used API Quick Start.  Added the betta the same day.  I've been testing weekly.   Ammonia never went above 0.003ppm.  Nitrites were always 0.  Nitrates 5+ppm.   It's a 10g with just one fish and a few moss balls.  So the bioload is minimal.  

I've heard people use it to boost their fishless cycle as well. 

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Hi Sharon, as others have said, first ammonia rises, then nitrite rises and ammonia falls, then nitrate rises slowly. Keep feeding the fishless tank small amounts (tiny pinch of fish food for example) every day and test water every day. One day your ammonia and nitrite will be at zero and nitrate may be fairly high (depending on plant load), and that's when your tank is cycled. Only do a water change during this time if your nitrate levels are really high, like over 80ppm. Do a last check of the nitrate level and do a water change if necessary (I suggest 20-40% water change max). Then add fish - smaller fish first, small numbers first - add more after a few weeks. Aquarium Coop has great videos on how to better understand the nitrogen cycle on their YouTube channel.Good luck! 

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You guys are awesome.  Hopefully I can let you know when the tank is full of lively fish and swaying plants.  This is a great site.  It's amazing how deep we can get into this 'way of life'.  Even though the tank just has plants and flowing water, I'm in there at least once almost every waking hour!  I saw a video saying that some fish get spooked just seeing shadows.  Do you think I stressed the fish by having my goofy face one foot from the tank?  I sure hope not.  In the past the fish were always friendly, riding the tide and playing in the bubbles.  I miss them.

 

Thanks to all of you.  I have a big smile on my face right now because of all of you!  Sweet dreams...

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18 hours ago, Sweet Sharon said:

Your tank looked good when you started.  I see fish in the first pic, so why did you have to cycle?

Whoops! Sorry, I posted the pictures out of order. The first pic you saw is actually what it looked like after about a year. I’ll go back and fix the order so it’s chronological.

As a side note—now that I have an established tank, I usually steal gravel and filter sponge from it to jump start the cycles in any new tanks. It’s definitely faster, but like you, I didn’t have that option with tank #1 because I don’t have any friends with fish tanks.

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Wow, a few things jumped out at me with regard to all the well meaning advice.

It's clear the tank never cycled since there's no nitrates. However, if your source water is treated with Chloramine as is being used by many municipalities these days, it will always test as high ammonia following a water change. Conditioners break the ammonia/chlorine bond and convert the ammonia to ammonium which is harmless to livestock but still tests as ammonia. The ammonium is processed like ammonia by beneficial bacteria (when it exists).

You might use a bacteria in a bottle product, or substrate/filter media from a healthy established tank.

Don't use polluted aquarium water as there's little, if any, beneficial bacteria in the water column.

Don't put a cocktail shrimp in your tank if the tank is in a living space as with the resulting stench you'll wish you could move! 🙂

 

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This was informative.  This explains doing massive water changes to no avail!  I'm just going to let it sit for awhile and let the filter do its job, maybe throw in some fish food.  I really don't know anyone else with a tank unfortunately. 

It is really nice to have the advice of people who love this hobby, and who have had the same problems, and who understand why losing fish is so hard.  I will postpone putting shrimp in till I see what just leaving the aquarium alone does.  It is beckoning even as I write this.  

Thanks again for the advice everyone!  

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3 hours ago, MJV Aquatics said:

You might use a bacteria in a bottle product, or substrate/filter media from a healthy established tank.

I scanned the whole thread looking for this suggestion! Yes - you can just buy bacteria in a bottle. Why wait for what feels like forever for bacteria to grow when you can just pour some in and keep it fed?

(If you already have an established tank you can use to "seed" the new one, that's great. But if you don't? Bottle.)

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I've tried products from Seachem and Fritz and not seen any actual cycling activity, outside of what had already been going on, after adding them. I've heard people who believe their addition speeds up the cycle, but cycling in a single day without taking media/substrate/plants/etc from a cycled tank sounds a bit farfetched for me.

Edited by Schwack
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Good afternoon everyone.  I actually did the bottled cycle, and it didn't seem to affect anything.  I'm not naturally a trusting person, and you have to wonder what's really in the bottle, when in fact you don't know where it's coming from.  I wondered what the active ingredient is in water conditioners, and it is sodium thiosulfate, which can break down chlorine, but not chloramine. 

This stuff can be quite expensive in the long run, especially when they say to treat tap water every time you do a water change.  And this is already an expensive hobby! 

One thing I did not do when getting fish, was quarantining them.  Do all of you do that?  If so how long?  

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7 minutes ago, Sweet Sharon said:

Good afternoon everyone.  I actually did the bottled cycle, and it didn't seem to affect anything.  I'm not naturally a trusting person, and you have to wonder what's really in the bottle, when in fact you don't know where it's coming from.  I wondered what the active ingredient is in water conditioners, and it is sodium thiosulfate, which can break down chlorine, but not chloramine. 

This stuff can be quite expensive in the long run, especially when they say to treat tap water every time you do a water change.  And this is already an expensive hobby! 

One thing I did not do when getting fish, was quarantining them.  Do all of you do that?  If so how long?  

I didn't quarantine until I brought camallanus worms into a community tank, which slowly wasted 10 of my favorite fish away before I was able to catch a glimpse of the culprit. Now, I quarantine and treat new fish brought into the house. Typically a QT lasts 2-6 weeks, it really depends on what you choose to treat and how long each dose takes to administer.

As an aside, sodium thiosulfate will treat chloramine, you'll just end up with ammonia afterward. Many water conditioners include other chemicals which will result in NH4+, ammonium, which is significantly less toxic to fish.

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20 hours ago, Schwack said:

I've tried products from Seachem and Fritz and not seen any actual cycling activity, outside of what had already been going on, after adding them. I've heard people who believe their addition speeds up the cycle, but cycling in a single day without taking media/substrate/plants/etc from a cycled tank sounds a bit farfetched for me.

Bottled bacteria gets a bad rap. Initially, they were the wrong bacteria, but these days they have it right. However, although very resilient, bacteria can be compromised by poor handling and storage if/when extreme temperatures may destroy them. Still the very best method that I've found is to introduce filter media or substrate from an established healthy tank. I often simply 'clean' a sponge from a healthy tank in new tank water. 🙂

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