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Losing confidence.


Jeannie
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Hi Everyone,

I live in the UK. but have found the Aquarium Co-op on Youtube and this forum. I'm a newbie fish keeper and I have to be honest this fish keeping hobby is more complex than I first realised. I'm doing as much research as possible but seem to get a bit confused with sometimes conflicting advice.

I have two tanks, a 25 litre which has been running for about 8 months with Amano Shrimp which are thriving and I added 5 kitty tetras, a few weeks ago. They were all looking so healthy, eating, acting normally, no signs of illness. I came down one morning to find one dead, wedged between my filter which sits inside the tank and the side of the tank. Couldn't find one of the others, then saw my shrimp was eating it, it has obviously also died in the night. My other three are healthy. My water parameters were all spot on. I can only think they somehow died of some sort of shock but how?  Now I'm holding my breath each time I come down in the morning and check the tank. A confidence blow.

My other tank is a 100 litre. I tried an unsuccessful fishless cycle, my tank seemed to have crashed, it stuck with no change what so ever with the Ammonia not dropping for 4 weeks, no sign of Nitrites either,  despite putting in some gravel and some filter media from my small tank and adding

beneficial bacteria, I dosed twice with Dr Tims. Nothing worked.  for 35 days. No change at all. Rightly or wrongly, after advice from my local fish store who said my tank had crashed I tore it down, cleaned everything started over again, this time using Fritz Zyme 7 which I'd seen on Youtube and stated you could add fish straight away,  I did use dechlorinator. I was sceptical of this product but after watching a couple of other Youtube bloggers using it and saying their fish were Ok and also watching an employee of Fritz endorsing this product, I thought ok I'll try this method. I've only added 5 Zebra Danios which was 6 days ago. I do have a fair amount of live plants in the aquarium which I know consume ammonia. I also have an air stone.  Anyhow, each day I've tested I have 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, about 10 or 20 Nitrate (too close to tell which one). Nitrate is in my tap water at that level so I doubt it's the tank which has produced this reading.  I'm baffled. Surely I should see some some sort of rise in Ammonia by now? I only lightly feed the fish once a day.  So, my questions are. Are 5 Danios enough to produce enough Ammonia? How will I know my tank is cycled? As when the Ammonia and Nitrite start to rise I know I have to do part water changes and use Fritz water conditioner to remove them. But I also can't allow the Nitrate to rise above 40ppm max. I don't want to add anymore fish until I know its safe to do so. Kinda regret taking this route now, but the Fritz Zyme 7 seemed a safe option at the time. I really, really should have stuck with doing a fishless cycle but I lost the plot with that method and this route seemed easier at the time. Sorry for the long post, but I'm really trying hard to work this out and get some help. My LFS aren't much help and haven't even heard of Fritz Zyme 7 I had to order it on Ebay. Thank you guys any advice would be welcome. 

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Hi Jeannie, welcome to the forum. Don't lose heart. 

When I started my 20 gallon tank, I ran it for a month before adding fish, also with FritzZyme. To be honest I couldn't tell you if it ever cycled but my water tests were good. I added my Harlequins AND my first Otos into my tank. Everything seemed to be going ok for the first few days then I started losing Otos. I lost all but 1 of my first batch, the LFS I got them from made it seem like it was all my fault (said I needed a heater, I was running low tech, and in the end it wasn't because I'm not running a heater). All of my Harlequins were fine. Then I got an Ich outbreak- likely caused by the dying Otos. I treated that- everybody still lived. Things evened out. I eventually got more Otos, quarantined, treated for Ich TOO, they all lived. Now I have a tank that's super happy, and my Otos breed, baffling me entirely. In the end I believe the Otos I got, as wildcaught otos very often can, died because they weren't fed or treated properly before they got to me- and though I did hours and hours of research and kinda knew that it didn't stop me from feeling bad and thinking I did something wrong. 

Alternate scenario. Later I started a 2nd 20 gallon, this time everything was right, even had an old filter to immediately cycle the tank from the tank above. I put a half dozen Black Neon Tetras in the tank. I found one dead the next day. What did I do?! I thought maybe I should have started with more since they're more comfortable and maybe they died of stress. Then I found another one dead. So I went back to the store and got more- because that was still my logic- there was nothing visually wrong with the dead or the live ones and otherwise acted normal. Well in the end after I added more to the tank more did die- and you know what? I finally discovered (because the little brats were doing it at night) were killing EACH OTHER. Apparently they offed everybody they didn't like because now I've been holding steady at 10 for a good while now- however I still see them picking on each other more than I'd like them to. 

Lesson? Maybe you are NOT doing anything at all wrong. The danios yes create ammonia but probably not a lot to be able to read on any tests because that's a decent sized tank (and what little ammonia they are producing could already be, being absorbed in the cycle, you don't want to see ammonia reading anyway really). Just keep going. Your tetra? I'm thinking something similar to my situation with my tetras. Maybe it was getting bullied, or maybe it just tried to hide and got stuck- accidently killed themselves. It does happen. It's disheartening- but we learn stuff from our mistakes- IF they even ARE mistakes. As a famous fish once said, "Just keep swimming" 🙂 

Edited by xXInkedPhoenixX
Typos are lame
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Hi, and welcome to the forum.

If you are a new fishkeeper, don't lose hope when fish die, we've all been there. Fishkeeping takes a bit of getting used to, and still we mess up sometimes. You've done some research, and that is already way more than most people do!

Why your kitty tetras died is hard to say. It could be stress related, since shipping fish is stressful, and I don't know how long they were at your LFS. If they put them up for sale shortly after they received them, that is possible. Disease is also a possibility. How are the other tetras behaving and looking? I'm not familiar with kitty tetras, so I don't know if behaviour can be an issue, like chasing eachother. 25L is a smaller volume tank, so maybe there could be an issue there. I can be done, I'm sure. I have a bunch of 40L tanks, and with a few peaceful fish it's possible.

I have personally never heard of a failed cycle, or a cycling tank crashing, but that could be me. When I cycle a tank without matured filter media it can take 6 weeks or even more to get a full cycle. It will take weeks before ammonia goes down, and the same with nitrites (NO2), so 4 weeks with higher ammonia in the tank doesn't seem strange to me. Shrimp have véry little waste, and I don't think 3 tetras will produce a lot of waste, so I don't think the media you added to your 100L from your smaller tank would have impacted the cycle by a lot. I wouldn't worry about the nitrate (NO3) levels too much, usually that just triggers algae. There is no harm in keeping an eye on it, and keep it in check with water changes, but personally I wouldn't lose sleep over it. Nitrate is plant food, so your plants will use that as well.

I personally never used bottled beneficial bacteria, so I can't comment on that, unfortunately. I also don't use water dechlorinator, since my tap water doesn't contain chlorine or chloramines. My water provider has this info on their website, so maybe yours has too. If there is no reason to use the conditioner, it will save you money. As far as I know the conditioner has no effect on your fish, even if you use it when you don't need to.

Do you run any type of filtration on your tanks? A sponge filter would help greatly, if only for water circulation. If there is a little bit of flow, the cycle should go faster, since the water would flow over the media. No need for a vortex, a gentle flow is enough. You already have an airstone, so that is already a small bit of water movement and the aeration is also a great thing.

5 danios in a 100L tank will produce ammonia (it is in their poop), but in 100L of water it will be diluted greatly. I'd wager that the tank is already cycled enough to support those danios. A small bit of poop means a low amount of bacteria to handle that, so it is very possible that a test won't even show an increase. A cycled tanks just means that it has the right amount of bacteria to handle the waste that is created. I'd say, enjoy the fish you have at the moment, because that is what fishkeeping is about. Keep an eye on the ammonia/nitrate levels, and if they are stable for a few weeks (I'm pretty sure they will be), you can start looking to add a few new fish. You can always ask for tips on this forum. Some fish have more specific needs than others.

It might be a bit too much at the moment, and enjoying your fish in #1 priority now, but I'd suggest you mainly use your 25L tank as a quarantine tank for new fish, so if you get new fish that turn out sick, you don't infect all your other fish, and treatment is easier due to the lower water volume. In the end the choice is yours, but this is just my tip.

Aquarium Co-op (and others, obviously) has good videos about cycling tanks (nitrogen cycle) and a lot of info on quarantine. It is easy to get overwhelmed, but that is what we are here for. We were all beginners once. Don't hesitate to ask a question.

A lot of products they use in the US are not available here in Europe, so you can ask around on the forums what the best alternatives are. You can always import products, but that gets expensive very quickly.

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Hi Phoenix X and Diving Aquarist,

Thank you for welcoming me to the forum and taking your time to answer my post, it's much appreciated.

It is upsetting losing fish, I guess I need to toughen up on that front. I've put my heart and soul as most of us do into researching all aspects of fish keeping and I guess because I'd had success with my 25 litre tank, I thought upgrading to the 100 litre would be easier, especially as there were more margins for error as nano tanks are supposed to be harder to maintain.

Perhaps my Kittys did bully each other in the night, although I'd never seen it during the day, the other three are all still ok and healthy. Fingers crossed it stays that way. I don't feel quite as bad now knowing you Phoenix X experienced the same scenario. I'm glad everything worked out ok for you in the end with your first tank, how amazing your Ottos ended up breeding. I just hope I can keep my 5 Danios alive, I'm quite attached to then already, such fun fish to watch. I can't wait to move my three Kittys into the larger tank when it's safe to do so, will have to buy another two to ensure they feel more secure in a larger group.

I will watch and test my water like a hawk with the 100 litre. I'm in no rush to add anymore fish, which apart from my Kitty Tetras I've decided all new fish will be different Danios as they are hardy fish, I don't want to mess with more fragile fish now.

I'm going to slightly under stock my tank to allow more margin for anything which may go wrong. I think the fish will be happier with more room anyway.

I do have filtration in the tank which came with my tank and was told at the LFS is a very good filter. One plus. I do ensure it agitates the water surface. My water temperature is 23C and PH a little high at 8.00ph. I've read not to fiddle with that as fluctuating PH isn't good, the fish are supposed to adapt to it? Danios I think don't mind too much anyway. I have to use de-chlorinator as unfortunately it is in my tap water. 

Thank you Diving aquarist, I had already considered using my 25 litre as a quarantine/sick fish tank.  I have to also wait to ensure it's safe to move my 5 Amano shrimp and 4 nerite snails from this across to the 100 litre (sorry we spell litre like this in the UK) although I am already getting Algae growing across the substrate and on some plants which is a good food source for them. Apparently, algae is a good sign in a new tank set up?

I shall check out the Quarantine videos as suggested. 

Thank you guys. You've been so friendly and helpful. I will just keep swimming. Maybe one day I can offer someone some advice

once I've gain more knowledge and experience, that would be nice.

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I think a lot of us had to deal with fish that bully eachother at least once. I've had the same thing happen with green rasboras in my 40L (spelling doesn't matter, I understand what you mean, that's important 😉). Normally a very calm and peaceful community fish, but if they can't hide from eachother, they will just keep bugging eachother.

My water also has a PH of 8, and I have no issues. Temperature looks fine to me.

I'd wait a while to add your shrimp and snails to your 100L tank, to allow the tank to 'mature'. This means that there is some algae and fish waste etc for the shrimp and snails to eat from.

Algae in a (new) tank will help with the nitrogen cycle, since they are plants. When your plants start to feel happy in the tank, they should outcompete the algae for food (always a battle). Algae can be unsightly, but are not harmful.

Keep in mind that different danio species might be able to hybridise when they breed. I don't have experience with Danios yet, so someone else might be able to advise you on them, when you are ready to expand.

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This hobby isn't the easiest to start off in; there's so many things you need to know and so many things you can get wrong that it can be incredibly overwhelming when you fail. We've all been there, everyone's lost fish, everyone's made mistakes. It's an unfortunate and hard part of it all, but what's important is learning what went wrong and how to be better next time. You've come to the right place to get help and vent your frustrations! What might help your motivation is to create a journal thread about your journey, complete with photos: it's a great way to share what you're going through and provides a place to have people cheer you on through your successes as they follow along.

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Hi Guys,

That's so interesting about the Rasboras bullying each other, I think for one of my Tetras to get stuck between the filter and the glass of the tank, something must have been after it, god knows how the other met its death.

Oh no, hadn't thought about the possibility of Danios being able to hybridise during breeding, I'm trying to avoid live bearers like guppies and Platy's as I don't want to end up with an over populated tank. I was hoping my shrimp might pick off any eggs the Danios lay. Seems I need to research the Danios further. Thanks for that warning.

Thank you, Luterman a journal is a great idea, I might just do that. I have no fellow fish keeping friends to chat with in the UK. and I can't find a local fish keeping group to chat with either. I will not give up, I already feel uplifted after todays chats. 

 

 

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Welcome, Jeannie! I don’t have more advice to add to what’s already been said, but I do want to say that it sounds like your larger tank is doing great! Even though the cycle didn’t establish quickly the first time, it seems like this time the cycle is doing well. No ammonia or nitrites is a good sign. If the waste produced in the tank is small enough, your growing cycle can keep pace and you may never see ammonia or nitrites, especially with plants in the tank. So don’t loose heart! Everything seems fine from what you’ve described.

Many people have come to this forum for cycling help, and from what I’ve seen from new fish keepers, sometimes the cycle is up and running in 4 weeks, and sometimes it takes months. Things get way easier once you have a long-time established tank from which you can steal gravel or a filter sponge. You had the right idea seeding from your small tank!

The first few months in this hobby are typically the hardest. It may not seem like it to you, but you’re doing a great job!!

 

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Hello Hobbit,

Thank you, that is so very encouraging of you to say I'm doing a great job. I've just completed my water tests for today and all still ok. My Danios are lively and happy. May it continue.

 

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