Help! Idiot Newbie Killing Her Fish! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 05:41 PM Thread Starter
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Help! Idiot Newbie Killing Her Fish!

We are in the process of moving into our first new home together. My 10 gallon fish tank was at my old apartment for the week because we didn't have electricity in the new house, at first. I popped in a vacation feeder and figured they would be good to go. I went back to the apartment 4 days ago to move my tank and my poor goldfish had cloudy eyes and deteriorating fins. My tank was fully cycled and mature but I wasn't accounting for the new filter I had just put in (marineland 20g with bio-wheel) 1 week before. So, I put some melafix in their water and I put the recommended amount of salt as well as a dose of slime coat... I tested the water and the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were all in the danger zone! I do partial water changes of 25% 2x weekly bc my tank is overstocked...( I had bought the fish without realizing how much space they needed and am saving up for a 55g tank for them) Anyways, I couldn't leave them in this state at the old apartment so, we did a 90% water change because we thought that drastic times called for drastic measures and we didn't know how to transport all that water anyhow...I know, dumb. So, now I have definitely made a bad situation worse and I don't know what to do... My 2 inch telescope goldfish is spinning around in circles at the top of the tank while my 3 inch comet, 3 inch fantail and 4 inch Black moor are all resting at the bottom together... Obviously, I'm a newbie and am ready for all the criticism I deserve but I truly want to save my little guys, any help is highly appreciated!
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 05:47 PM
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Large water changes daily (at least) using treated tap water. With that load you'd need some major filtration to keep up with the waste load your fish will produce. In a case like this the manufacturer's rating on their filter will mean nothing.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 05:56 PM
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If I read correctly, you replaced the old filter with a new one and moved at the same time???

Best way to add a new filter is to let it run alongside the old for like a month, too late but for info, huh? Are you up on the nitrogen cycle and the way bacteria handles the load? Look for tank cycle info if not. Short story is there is bacteria which converts fish produced ammonia to nitrite. A second type bacteria convert this nitrite to nitrate which is still not good for fish but much better by far. These bacteria colonies live on all kinds of surfaces but very, very little in the water itself. The filters are made with all kinds of fuzzy spots for the bacteria to live. Keeping water is not that much help and more work than worthwhile.

Most likely you have ammonia in the tank. Water changes are your first line even though it is not good to replace all the water, it is far better than ammonia. Dilute the ammonia with 50-75% water changes until the filter bacteria grows. I use Ammo-chips when I get into a jam as a way to soak up ammonia.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 06:03 PM
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Thing you have to remember with goldfish...they are dirty!

They are fairly biomassive fish and as such have stricter needs than something like a tetra in terms of water/length of fish and filtration. And, being carp, they grow to gigantic size.

But yes, lots of major water changes, keep that ammonia down, and do consider that 55 for such fish. (you might even be able to snag a 55 for $55 at Petco right now!)
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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I did the 90% water change with treated water 2 days ago and now they are in shock. So, what do I do now? Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are all safe now... I just checked but do I just wait to see if they snap out of it? I feel like there has to be something for me to do now... They look terrible. I've had these fish for 5 months in this setup with no problems... The only difference is the new "upgraded" filter... Before it was a 10 gallon top fin filter that came in my starter kit that died. So, I wasn't able run it simultaneously. I've been putting in API's stress zyme with biological filtration booster in my water too...
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 06:13 PM
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What happened is that the nitrifying bacterial cultures that had been established in your old filter don't exist in the new you ended up with a tank crash because the new filter needs some time to build up its cultures. (When you say newbie I'm not sure if your aware of how the nitrogen cycle works)

Anyways, don't be shy about massive water changes, just make sure to treat the water and temperature match with the tank. Best of luck to your fishies, hopefully they didn't get burned too bad by the ammonia (or oxygen deprived by the nitrites).

It sounds like this tank needs to cycle again, so you will need to spend a few weeks very closely monitoring water parameters, especially with such a huge load of fish. It won't be as bad as a brand new tank, but without established bacteria, your levels will get high very quickly in 10 gallons...
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Willamette View Post
Thing you have to remember with goldfish...they are dirty!

(you might even be able to snag a 55 for $55 at Petco right now!)
Thanks Willamette! I just went to their site and couldn't find it??? I appreciate everyone's advice and help!
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 06:18 PM
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Its an in store special, been on a for a couple days, they go until sold out. $1 per gallon on tanks.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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Well, my telescope goldfish died... Should I get Lee's Goldfish Dirt Magnet and or an underwater gravel filter in conjunction with my marineland filter? I honestly don't know what to do for my little fishies. I went to petco but they won't be getting in the 55g for $55 till Monday...
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 01:47 AM
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First off, don't worry about criticism. Everyone is here to help lol

Steps I would take in order:

1. Massive water change schedule. Preferably RO or purified water, just because you know you arent adding anything besides water. Even conditioned tap water contains a lot of minerals, metals and other stuff I'd prefer not to have in my tank, especially during a cycle because I'm even pickier about what goes in when my water is already not balanced.

2. Look into an even better filter than the ML you have on there. All of those basic designs (penguins, emperors, whispers, cascades etc) are nothing more than a plastic container pumping water through filter floss and carbon. They do little other than move water and in a tank with such a high bio-load (not a bad thing with proper filtration btw so don't feel too bad just yet) they should be cleaned/changed every 2-3 weeks. They offer little or no biological filtration. I suggest looking into an AquaClear. They are affordable and 1000X better than what you have.

3. Possibly look into purchasing a high quality nitrifying bacteria culture. Fritz-zyme makes the best ones. If you can't find a good one thats fine.

4. Purchase a bigger tank and cycle it well before moving them.

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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 02:29 AM
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A few thoughts:

First, there are ammonia neutralizers out there that you can use to directly deal with ammonia in the tank - something like ammonia-detox. Note that it doesn't actually remove it... it just binds it up, so you still need to change water to get it out of your system.

Second, I'd do as much as I could to remove as much waste as possible. I think it's safe to say that a good gravel vacuuming session will remove a lot more decaying matter than it will remove beneficial bacteria.

Third, along the lines lowering your bio load as much as possible during the the emergency, I'd suggesting fasting your remaining fish for a few days, until you can get the parameters under control. Fish can go quite a while without food, and right at the moment any feeding that you do will probably just contribute to the problem.

Finally, I'd grab any sort of extra filter floss/filter foam that you have around and try to find a way to get it in the tank with some flow on it. Rig up an sponge filter if you at all can. This will help provide the bacteria with lots of surface area to colonize for now, plus it will start getting filter material seeded to put into a bigger tank when you get there. Remember... all of the surfaces in your tank provide at least some surface for the beneficial bacteria, so when you set up a new, bigger tank it's going to have less filter capacity then your current tank, even if you transfer filters, etc. The advantage of a bigger tank just comes in terms of dilution... and pays off only if you increase the volume of water that you're changing (which you can do, since you have more volume to work with.)

Good luck.
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 06:52 AM
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Jo, you're clearly not as much a newbie as you may think, and you're definitely not an idiot. The water change was a good move. Leaving the fish in toxic water would not have improved the situation.

Yes, vacuum the substrate and anything else that's obviously dirty. Do what you can to clean out anything that's producing ammonia in the tank.

Then check your water parameters. If you find that your tank is indeed in either a full cycle or a mini cycle, then you'll have to decide how to go about helping the fish through the process. Given your level of concern and how busy you must be with moving, I'd suggest adding beneficial bacteria to the tank as well as using Prime to bind the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates so they are not toxic to the fish. The Prime will still leave these ammonia and nitrites available for the bacteria so the tank can continue to cycle.

Years ago when I moved my tanks, I used Tetra SafeStart with excellent success so that's the only one I recommend. There may be other good products out there, but I can't vouch for them. This is the stuff I used: Here's some more product info from the manufacturer's website:

All you can do is give the fish the best water conditions possible by giving them clean water, neutralizing the ammonia and nitrites while the tank is cycling, and add bacteria to help the tank cycle faster. If you see any signs of illness, then you may need to treat them with medicines, but only as indicated.

Also, just so you know for future reference, fish do fine without food for a week, even two weeks, and it's generally better to not feed them if you're not there to watch over things. It does not hurt them to go without food during that time. I don't think the vacation feeder caused this problem, but I thought I'd let you know should you go on vacation and need to leave the fish unattended again.

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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 07:23 AM
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I know you said that the old filter had died but wouldn't adding the old filter media help depending on how long it has been out of water have some form of benefit. It may be that all the bacteria is dead but it's worth a thought

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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 09:05 AM
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Buy a bottle of tetra safe start, pour it in. Bye bye ammonia, nitrite, idk how it works but it does. It's apparently like insta cycle.
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 09:14 AM
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if you want to check out this thread from this forum, it actually gives people's impressions of cycling products. i use nutrafin cycle personally and i was skeptical of it, but somewhatshocked did an experiment with the numbers showing the nutrafin cycle actually can go from dry start to fish in 3 days. of course it doesnt remove ammonia and nitrite but it does seed the tank with beneficial bacteria. the post is number 23 on the thread.
Tank Cycling Products
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