If you thought you overfeed!! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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If you thought you overfeed!!

I recently returned back from a week long trip and was horrified when I saw my tank. My uncle and his family was in charge of the house when I was gone and that included watering the plants and feeding the fish. I specifically told him just a pinch of fish food every few days and I thought all was well. That was not the case however, my tank is located in my shaded patio outside and the whole place stank, the odor was unreal!!! The tank water is extremely murky and the smell gets worse as you get closer to the tank. I was dumbfounded as how this could've happened then I saw my canister of fish flakes which was empty and the amount of rotting fish flakes on EVERY surface in the tank. I did a 75% water change while not breathing in the odor in 95 degree weather but you still couldn't see into the tank. I caught the two surviving fish,a half dead one, and about 10 cherry shrimp along with uprooting every plant in the tank and placed them in a bucket with an air stone. I cried when I had to pull out my cryptocoryne as its grip into the substrate was unbreakable so I ended up cutting its roots. My harlequin and emerald eye rasbora school are gone except for two, ammonia is probably off the charts because of the days old rotting fish food and corpses and I had to work the entire afternoon on a hot summer day to clean the tank which did nothing to stop the smell and murkiness so I've just decided to drain the tank empty and I can thank my four year old cousin for dumping all the fish food into the tank after talking to my uncle. I am heartbroken, frustrated and furious and my cousin doesn't even seem like she regrets what she did? Do I have the right to be mad at her, she is just a toddler and my uncle did agree to make reparations for what my cousin had done. What should I do next regarding the fixing the tank along with the surviving fish and plants? Was I right to drain the tank dry?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 12:58 AM
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Surviving fish can do with methylene blue treatment, 1 teaspoon for every 10g of water will put you at 3ppm. You should see a quick turnaround, maybe 24 hours.

For the stink, use carbon or purigen in filter.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 01:24 AM
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Umm, mad at your cousin - no. Mad at your uncle - definitely. Common sense says you give a kid the appropriate amount to put in; you don't let them dump it from the container...

I probably would have removed the living fish quickly like you did and then moved my good media in with them (assuming it was salvageable).

The plants I probably would have left. After pulling dead fish and clumps of food, I would do large successive water changes and run a new floss/sponge pad in the filter and rinse over and over until it was all clean.

After water looks good and conditions test well, I'd move my good media back in with the fish.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 02:17 AM
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Just remember, blood is thicker than fish water.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 02:28 AM
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Next time measure out the flakes into daily portions and put them in little zip lock bags labelled according to the day. Then all the sitter has to do is empty one into the tank each time.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 05:59 AM
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Sorry to hear about your tank. Perhaps look into an auto feeder setup in the future
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 07:50 AM
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I've heard that story many times. Child dumping all the food in the tank, while owner is away. Another version, is when the fish-sitter decides to feed extra, and continues doing so, even when tons of left over food remain in the tank. That last one also happened to me.

The responsibility is on the owner, one must put out the exact portion that is to be fed, for each feeding. It could be in bags, containers, pill boxes, or something else to ration the food. Next, the food canister must also be out of sight (hidden even!) so the fish-sitter does not get tempted to feed extra (for some reason people LOVE feeding fish!).

But yeah, it's sad to learn the hard way . . .

Good luck with the survivors!



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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 08:18 AM
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My 4 year old can feed the fish already, she's been doing it since the start.
I just explained to her the fishes' stomachs are as small as their eyes and they get very sore tummies if they eat too much.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 01:35 PM
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Ditto the pillbox idea.

I've had this happen twice. In college I had a goldfish in a bowl. When I was out of the apartment, a flatmate's visiting younger cousin fed the fish. She kept on feeding it "because it was so cute". When I came home the fish was so bloated it was pineconing, and there were flakes floating all over the bowl. I was incensed. I fasted the fish two days and it survived. Hid the container of fish food after that.

The other time it was a family member made the mistake. I had measured daily food out for a betta in a bowl. The betta wasn't eating but she kept giving it food every day, and the bowl didn't get cleaned (half my instructions were forgotten). That fish didn't make it.

I hope your surviviors do. I think your plants should be okay.


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 03:40 PM
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I would have done the same thing. I would have did a large scale cleaning of the entire tank. Remember though that as mad as we can get at children for mistakes like this (and it's happened to me!) We must remember that it is most likely the child did not know that you can't overfeed the fish, as fun as it may seem. The responsibility lies in the child's parent or guardian. Regardless, I'm glad your uncle is going to help correct the mistake. Best of luck! I normally portion out my food in little baggies for my fish sitters and I label them for each day. I also keep chemicals (excel, fertilizer, water care stuff, etc.) out of sight to discourage my fish sitters from putting anything into the tank.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 06:53 PM
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I left yesterday for a month long trip. I measured each feeding into little sample jars I purchased off of amazon for this exact purpose. Even labeled each jar with the date it was to be used. I usually feed very small meals several times a day but fearing what happened here I planned for them to be fed once every other day. Hoping I don't come home to anything similar
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 04:31 AM
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That's terrible. But don't be angry with your cousin, at that age they don't understand the consequences of over feeding, if they're not raised around fish they don't grasp the concept of water quality, waste, etc. my daughter is 5, she knows that you cannot over feed because the fish will "get very sick", but she doesn't truly understand why, and I think if I didn't supervise she would feed 10x the right amount without realizing. Your uncle should have monitored feeding, and corrected the situation. Unfortunately too many people see them as "just fish" and don't think of them as pets/creatures that feel, I think because they're so different from us that it's hard for non-fish people to notice and recognize when they are suffering. I hope your remaining fish pull through.


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