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NFT: Help! New fish tank..fish dying!

moze1021 : 8/5/2022 1:30 pm
OK.. my son earned some fish..

Jumping to the end and why I need help: Got him fish yesterday and 3 of the 4 died within 18 hours..

Here are the steps I took.. where did I go wrong?


1) Purchased a brand new 10 gallon tank; filter, heater, thermometer all came with the tank
2) Purchased gravel and decor
3) Brought all of the above home and thoroughly rinsed the tank, the gravel, and the decor
4) Set up the tank using cold water from my tap (it's well water)
5) Added Tetra safestart to get the Nitrogen cycle going (size said it was for up to 30 gallon tank and to use the whole bottle)
6) Added 5 mL of Tetra aquasafe
7) Set heater to 76 degrees
8) Waited 3 days
9) Bought 4 fish (3 tetras, 1 danio)
10) Let the bag sit in the water for 30 minutes for temp acclimation
11) Removed fish from bag using a net and put them in the tank (6 PM)
12) Fed fish at 7 PM.. they looked fantastic, ate right away and were very active
13) Son woke up yelling that he couldnt find one of the tetras at about 7 AM...it was dead
14) Wife came in and told me at 11 AM that the other 2 tetras were dead


I brought the water in with the dead fish for exchange/refund. Water was tested and everything looked fine. Petsmart employee shocked that tetras died that quickly even if something was wrong with my water

What could this be!?

Any help greatly appreciated!

I just replaced 25% of the water with 2.5 gallon jug of preconditioned water. The Danio is still alive but perhaps a little sluggish
neon tetra  
Hilary : 8/5/2022 1:40 pm : link
Neon tetras are not really hardy fish.
I have done very well with serpae tetras and cherry barbs
Link - ( New Window )
I'd go with Hilary's plan but Alton Brown has a solid backup  
j_rud : 8/5/2022 1:43 pm : link
2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dash Old Bay Seasoning

1 bottle brown beer, cold

1 1/2 pounds firm-fleshed whitefish (tilapia, pollock, cod), cut into 1-ounce strips

Cornstarch, for dredging
Did you add a chlorine  
bluesince56 : 8/5/2022 1:52 pm : link
remover? Also, PH in bag must be same as PH in tank. It won’t take long to kill them if you didn’t do these things. I have been raising Koi for years. It’s all about the water.and air.
Read your post again  
bluesince56 : 8/5/2022 1:55 pm : link
Never buy fish from Petsmart. They use the same water for all their fish tanks. If one tank has bad fish it will be pass to the other tanks. Check out Petsmart on uTube. Wow!!
RE: Did you add a chlorine  
moze1021 : 8/5/2022 1:57 pm : link
In comment 15772549 bluesince56 said:
Quote:
remover? Also, PH in bag must be same as PH in tank. It won’t take long to kill them if you didn’t do these things. I have been raising Koi for years. It’s all about the water.and air.


Yes..added chlorine removed. Test also show 0 chlorine.

pH is 7.6 so its fine.. but I did not add my water to the bag slowly to acclimate them to the new pH

Maybe that did it?
Any chance  
pjcas18 : 8/5/2022 2:30 pm : link
the danio killed the tetras?

I had a tiger barb once that killed all the guppies.
I have 4 tanks  
ripdumaine : 8/5/2022 2:35 pm : link
I always wait a minimum of 2 weeks b4 adding fish to let good bacteria build up. . Fish are temperamental. Sometimes it's just the stress of moving.
sucks for your kid I get it  
oghwga : 8/5/2022 2:39 pm : link
but depending where you are you might look for a local fish supplier for the fish nerds. (Not an insult) They will be an ally for you and your kid to have a successful hobby. I had one tetra left I couldn't kill the damn thing because I wanted to get rid of my fish tank. Sucker held on for two years.
I feel your pain.  
Johnny5 : 8/5/2022 2:41 pm : link
I bought my daughters a fish tank and proceeded to traumatize them for a few weeks with a number dying fish when they were younger. I did everything to the letter and they would last a few hours and then die. Every single one of them. It was awful... lol. And the tank is still sitting in my garage collecting dust.

And the funnier thing, my hippy dad had numerous fish tanks in the 70s and 80s and I can guarantee you he wasn't being nearly as diligent as I was on the setup, and using Ossining tap water... lol. And those tanks would even get green sometimes and those fish lasted forever
Check PH and  
St. Jimmy : 8/5/2022 2:45 pm : link
ammonia levels. If there is ammonia that will kill the fish. They have stuff to remove it from the water. Keeping one or two fish in there will allow the tank to establish itself.
Thanks all..  
moze1021 : 8/5/2022 2:54 pm : link
I also left out that the fish he picked are genetically modified Glofish

I know I know.. but I'm not looking for 10 years here, I want the kid to have some fish for a year or 2...

I get that Petsmart sucks..but good thing is 2 week policy. So no lost $$ on the dead fish. Haha

I'll give them one more try today with some new fish this evening, making sure to acclimate on pH... if they die again, it's off to find a local fish shop
Patience is the key  
JohnG in Albany : 8/5/2022 3:06 pm : link
I kept saltwater fish for 20+ years (not without failures), but the nitrogen cycle is the key. Learn as much as you can about it.

In my experience you don't want to rush it with accelerators. Fish produce ammonia (bad for your fish) and you need to allow one type of bacteria to develop that break the ammonia down into nitrites, which are also not good for your fish.

Once nitrites are present in the tank, a second form of bacteria will develop that will break the nitrites down into nitrates which are far less toxic to your fish.

But these two separate cycles take time. Weeks.

The key during this period is to have very few hardy fish in the tank. And keep in mind that a 10 gallon tank is very small when dealing with these cycles.

You can either buy your own tests for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates or if you have a reputable aquarium store in your area, they may test your water for you.


Essentially, you will first see elevated ammonia levels, then those should go down to basically zero while nitrites go up. Eventually nitrites should go to zero.

Once that happens, you can slowly add some more fish.

After that, nitrates should be controlled with consistent water changes.

But start with a light load of hardy fish and wait until both ammonia and nitrites have gone to zero before slowly adding some more fish.

Also, the keys to a healthy tank are having less fish than you would probably like to have, not over feeding, and consistent water changes.

Try to find out if there's a knowledgeable aquarium store in you area. This can be extremely helpful. Much more than the the kids working at Petsmart.

Best of luck, it can be a great hobby.
A few things.  
Scott in Montreal : 8/5/2022 3:20 pm : link
Having tanks for many many years and having worked in the industry years ago. I have to agree with some of the previous posts regards to PH.
There are lots of issues with PH and stores that run with large single systems.

I don't know about your area but here if you bring your tank water to the store they usually will test it for you. Ask them for your tank PH and then their system PH. Those have to be close. Hardier species can handle to jump to an extent but a lot of species will not do well if the PH difference between the bag and your tank is too large. Once you have your tank PH. You can buy species that work better with it.

Next I would buy the PH test kit. Not the tabs the actual drops and tube tests. One small very common mistake you made (which was mentioned) was you have to acclimate the temp and the waters. That is done by adding a cup of water from your tank into the bag every 10-15 minutes until you have at least doubled the water in the bag. This can vary depending on the difference between the two water. It could be longer, or it could be shorter. Then you can put the fish in the tank.

Over the years I stopped using the bag and went with an aquarium exclusive bucket for all acclimations.

Another thing that you can do to avoid any new tank syndrome effects. If you have any friends that have established tanks. You can get some filter media from them and place it your filter. It will introduce all the beneficial nitrogen cycle bacteria that you will eventually grow on your own but will not only speed up the process but help with any ammonia spikes that are on the way that everyone get with a new tank.

Keep a few things in mind. You are essentially building a small bio-tope with your tank. Resist the temptation to over stock. A 10 gallon is good for a few small fish. The inch per gallon rule is garbage. Never use that. All species are different and those difference can determine a healthy tank and a tank that is a constant battle.

Small tanks are more work than large tanks. Water changes in a small tank are a must. Depending on the fish and the bio-load of the tank. Water changes should be weekly. In most cases 30 to 50% a week is a rule of thumb.

Do not over feed. The instructions on the food are terrible. They are there to make sure that you buy more food as fast as possible. Once a day with no more food than the fish can eat in 30 seconds is a good rule to follow. It will take a few feedings to get the routine but follow it and the tank will thrive. NEVER use those vacation feeders. They are one of the worst products ever invented and a tank time bomb.

I have kept and bred freshwater aquarium fish for over 40 years. I had 25 tanks from 20 gallon breeder to 220 gallons running at one point While I will never claim to know everything. I will happily share any information of things that have worked for me over the years if you need advice or help.

So ask away.
Thanks Scott!  
moze1021 : 8/5/2022 3:30 pm : link
I actually used my pool test kit a couple hours ago to test the pH and it is 7.6

I am really starting to think the pH acclimation step is the culprit here.. so lesson learned and hopefully that can fix it.

Should 4 fish be OK in a 10 gallon tank? Should I start with just 1 or 2 for a couple weeks first then add another 2?

The ammonia level registered as 0 by the store, but I am going to get my own test kit for that too.

Really appreciate the help.
as mentioned earlier  
cactus : 8/5/2022 3:31 pm : link
with a new tank, you can quickly get heavy concentrations of nitrates and ammonia. After a few weeks, bacteria has a chance to develop to keep these from spiking, but in the meantime dead fish in a new tank is unfortunately very common, even when you use the safestart to jumpstart this process.
As Hilary noted,  
beechbouy : 8/5/2022 3:46 pm : link
neons are not hardy fish. It's a lot to ask for neons to help bacterially break in your tank. Assuming all water parameters are acceptable I would try again using less sensitive fish, say danios or guppies.
The nirtogen cycle does not  
Scott in Montreal : 8/5/2022 3:46 pm : link
truly begin until fish or an ammonia is added. The fish poop rots and becomes ammonia. That produces bacteria that consumes the ammonia. That produces nitrites. Bacteria that consume the nitrites form and their by-product is nitrate. The only real way to get rid of the nitrates is to do water changes. In a perfect world you want to keep your nitrates in your tank at 0ppm. Not really possible. So you aim to keep the nitrates at under 20ppm in the tank and your fish will do well. Lower than 20ppm is even better.

The ammonia cycle is different for very single tank. I have seen tanks fly through it in a few weeks and others taking months. That is why I suggested the media from a friends tank. Does not take much. a small ball of foam or a piece of sponge a couple of inches in diameter from an established tank filter in your filter will do wonders.

I would stay with a couple of fish until your tests tell you that your ammonia is back at 0ppm (after you have test and actually seen that you have registered ammonia) Nitrites also at 0ppm and that there actually are traceable nitrates. That will mean the cycle is up and running. Then you may think of adding a fish or two more.

Just remember that during the ammonia and nitrite parts of the cycle to keep up the water changes to make sure that they stay low until the bacteria forms and starts to do their job. Both Ammonia and Nitrites are very toxic to fish (as is very high nitrates) and will burn their gills which causes stress with will cause all sorts of other issues and premature death.
Happened to me once...  
NY17NE14 : 8/5/2022 4:18 pm : link
It turned out to be the tank itself. The sealant used to secure the glass panels was toxic. The tank was not meant for fish so the fish were dead within a day. Changed tanks and problem solved.

Being you bought the tank from Petsmart (I believe), it may be a long shot- but worth exploring.
The fish are already stressed  
Mattman : 8/5/2022 5:58 pm : link
They are bred in large quantities, underfed, kept in crowded tanks and go through a few transfers before reaching you. As such, they could have weakened immune systems and parasites and diseases. They get good batches and bad batches - good batches will have a mortality rate of 10-20 percent and bad batches can suffer much higher losses.

Any new fishI quarantine and treat for inch, worms and other diseases. Keep the tank dark, give them hiding spots and make sure you have good quality water that is well oxygenated.

I’m very fond of neon tetras. Once healthy they are rather hardy. I’m looking to build a giant tank behind my desk at home and fill it with a huge school of them
I have 75 gallon African cichlids tank so completely different fish  
BigBluDawg : 8/5/2022 6:13 pm : link
And I’m no expert but I would definitely recommend getting a ph tester that’s not the strips but the tube, water, drops option. I can’t even send you a link to one you can get off Amazon prime . Also I dunno a full bottle of aquastart in such a small tank with suck tiny fish just sounds like a lot of chemicals to me but I could be wrong.
You moved way too fast  
Paul326 : 8/5/2022 7:50 pm : link
A new tank takes at least 2 - 3 weeks to cycle sometimes longer. Watch this video & take notes https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rVQTib_SbZw. Good luck.
No offense intended  
Giant John : 8/6/2022 5:44 am : link
But why would anyone want to go through this? Nitrates? PH? Cost, trips to store? Buy a Fighting fis and put it in a jar. Add water.
RE: No offense intended  
BigBluDawg : 8/6/2022 10:59 am : link
In comment 15773075 Giant John said:
Quote:
But why would anyone want to go through this? Nitrates? PH? Cost, trips to store? Buy a Fighting fis and put it in a jar. Add water.


How is it different from owning any pet ?? You going need to take trips to the store to get food or vet to get care right?? And that toss in jar mindset is one reasons Bettas are one of most mistreated fish out there. They are a tropical fish so unless you're keeping you house at a cozy 79 degrees year round, not having a heater and filtration shows poor ownership.
RE: RE: No offense intended  
JohnG in Albany : 8/6/2022 11:23 am : link
In comment 15773208 BigBluDawg said:
Quote:
In comment 15773075 Giant John said:


Quote:


But why would anyone want to go through this? Nitrates? PH? Cost, trips to store? Buy a Fighting fis and put it in a jar. Add water.



How is it different from owning any pet ?? You going need to take trips to the store to get food or vet to get care right?? And that toss in jar mindset is one reasons Bettas are one of most mistreated fish out there. They are a tropical fish so unless you're keeping you house at a cozy 79 degrees year round, not having a heater and filtration shows poor ownership.


It's a hobby that's not for everyone, but the issues being discussed are for the start up cycle of a new tank.

Once you're successfully through that, for freshwater fish, it's normally just a matter of not overstocking the tank, not overfeeding (extra food causes more waste) and just regular water changes.

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