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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, so first- yes my tank has cycled.
I added a BN pleco over a week ago and he is doing great. Tested water daily- all good.
So 2 days ago we added some Cardinal Tetras and the Algae Eater. I drip lined the acclimation, and for the first day+ he was happy, active, eating well etc. This morning he wasn't out and about which I thought was odd because it seems to be a rather active little guy. I got home this afternoon and he just isn't doing well. He isn't active, haven't seen him eat and he keeps coming up to the surface - then he kinda lays there even floating upside down. Upside down, he is still breathing- but that can't be right. I quickly moved him into a small QT. He didn't even fuss around in the net.

Can anyone offer any insight?

The store I got him from sold him to me since they didn't have an Amano shrimp. I should have said no as I didn't research these first- and now I see contradictory info about whether being a solo in a community tank is too stressful. (I did ask them and they told me they are fine as a singleton)

Cardinals are doing wonderful; pleco is still doing beautifully. Plants all have new growth. Just did a whole round of water tests and water change is tomorrow morning:
PH 7.2
Ammonia 0
Nitrite .25
Nitrate 20
KH 7
GH 7

Anything I can do to help the little guy?
 

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First thought is that you do a water change. Aside from nitrite, your parameters seem spot on. But I lean towards "water change first, diagnose problem afterwards" usually on the freshwater side. They help for a variety of reasons.
 

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Any traces of nitrite demonstrate that a tank isn't cycled or is going through a mini-cycle.
If this is a newly set up biofilter, I would say that when you added fish you overloaded the capacity of the developing beneficial bacteria.
If a biofilter older than 3 months- you are going through a mini-cycle.
Either way, I would say the issue is nitrite toxicity. Not all fish respond to nitrite at the same rate. Being that this was a new fish, stressed, its immune system was already compromised. Even trace amounts of nitrite can kill ( directly or indirectly) stressed fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
He passed a couple hours after my post. I had hoped in the QT he would have recovered since the water was a clean. He was bumping his head into the walls of the QT too... My tank is back to 0 on nitrites. Is it possible that the numbers change throughout the day?

Everyone else is doing fine. I did a 20% water change today. So my fingers are crossed
 

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Hopefully your nitrites aren't swinging throughout the day- nitrites should always read 0 if your tank is cycled. Nitrates can vary depending on how quickly your plants use it up when you add liquid ferts but not nitrite.
 

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I'm sorry to hear that your fish died, but it appears that you went through a mini cycle. A fully cycled aquarium will never have a readable amount of Nitrite, so your tank wasn't as cycled as you thought it was. This isn't to say that you did something wrong adding fish, but it should have been more involved than acclimate -> dump -> sit back and enjoy.

My personal rule, is if there is a chance my tank is going to have a mini cycle, I go through a 3 stage process when adding any new fish.

1.) 50% water change the day before adding fish. Check water parameters to ensure no ammonia or nitrite before adding new fish
2.) add fish, and dose the tank with Seachem Prime and bottled bacteria. There are lots of different brands here, and some work better than others. My personal favorite is API Quickstart
3.) check parameters 1, 6, 12, and 24 hours after adding fish. If there is ever a measurable amount of ammonia or nitrite, do a 30% water change, add Prime and starter bacteria, and start over (1, 6, 12, 24 hr). If a full 24 hours goes by with no registered amount of ammonia or nitrite, then I'm safe.

Even if I'm positive that I won't have a mini cycle, I'll still test the water every so often after adding new fish just to be sure.
 

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He passed a couple hours after my post. I had hoped in the QT he would have recovered since the water was a clean. He was bumping his head into the walls of the QT too... My tank is back to 0 on nitrites. Is it possible that the numbers change throughout the day?

Everyone else is doing fine. I did a 20% water change today. So my fingers are crossed
The bumping head against side of aquarium is a very common side-effect of nitrite toxicity.Nitrite toxicity causes - along with other nasty symptoms- neurological damage in affected fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The bumping head against side of aquarium is a very common side-effect of nitrite toxicity.Nitrite toxicity causes - along with other nasty symptoms- neurological damage in affected fish.
Thank you, that is good to know. Are the SAE more susceptible to nitrite toxicity? The pleco and all the cardinals had no issues.
I'm sorry to hear that your fish died, but it appears that you went through a mini cycle. A fully cycled aquarium will never have a readable amount of Nitrite, so your tank wasn't as cycled as you thought it was. This isn't to say that you did something wrong adding fish, but it should have been more involved than acclimate -> dump -> sit back and enjoy.

My personal rule, is if there is a chance my tank is going to have a mini cycle, I go through a 3 stage process when adding any new fish.

1.) 50% water change the day before adding fish. Check water parameters to ensure no ammonia or nitrite before adding new fish
2.) add fish, and dose the tank with Seachem Prime and bottled bacteria. There are lots of different brands here, and some work better than others. My personal favorite is API Quickstart
3.) check parameters 1, 6, 12, and 24 hours after adding fish. If there is ever a measurable amount of ammonia or nitrite, do a 30% water change, add Prime and starter bacteria, and start over (1, 6, 12, 24 hr). If a full 24 hours goes by with no registered amount of ammonia or nitrite, then I'm safe.

Even if I'm positive that I won't have a mini cycle, I'll still test the water every so often after adding new fish just to be sure.
I may not have any fish experience, but I did do a bit more effort than just adding.

The pleco had been added a week before and was and is still doing great. Since it would have a heavier bio load I started with just the 1.

Before the addition of the pleco and again at addition of the SAE and Cardinals this was the process:

I did do between a 30%-40% water change the day before. I'm a bit OCD and worried about how my well water quality can change, so I do a water test before and after water changes.

Each addition has included the API Quick Start and Dr. Tim's First Defense. Lights out in Aquarium for first 3 hours, then at 10% till sleep time. I checked water before bed and first thing in the morning.

I'm still testing daily and only just switched from 2x /day. (Anyone know where to get a coupon for the API testkits?? I'm blowing through mine lol)

I'm convinced it was nitrite poisoning, I'm just trying to figure out was it worse than the .25 I tested after it's death? And if it was, how quickly can these parameters change? Everything was reading 0 the day before and the morning of its death. Are the SAE that "delicate" in comparison to the pleco and cardinals? Is there any possibility it was already sick, or that the trek to my house caused it (2 hours in the car)? I don't want to try another if I am more likely to hurt the fish than get it settled healthily in my tank.
 

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Getting and keeping ammo and nitrite at 0 should be the first thing that happens before adding anything else to your stocklist, honestly. Adding fish during a cycle or mini cycle is counter productive to everything you're trying to do to contain your cycle and to keeping your livestock, well, living. Patience and seeing your cycle through to the end will keep you from more losses. As for sae suffering while the rest of your stock is doing okay- that could be any number of things from the stressful drive home, to possibly already being sick, to having it not be about the sae's intolerance of it but rather the other inhabitants being conditioned to worse parameters, it's anybodies guess. Most fish are very sensitive to nitrite and just because they are still living in it doesn't mean that they are doing just fine in it. It may take a while but if constantly exposed to nitrite it's only a matter of time before they all pass away from it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Getting and keeping ammo and nitrite at 0 should be the first thing that happens before adding anything else to your stocklist, honestly. Adding fish during a cycle or mini cycle is counter productive to everything you're trying to do to contain your cycle and to keeping your livestock, well, living. Patience and seeing your cycle through to the end will keep you from more losses. As for sae suffering while the rest of your stock is doing okay- that could be any number of things from the stressful drive home, to possibly already being sick, to having it not be about the sae's intolerance of it but rather the other inhabitants being conditioned to worse parameters, it's anybodies guess. Most fish are very sensitive to nitrite and just because they are still living in it doesn't mean that they are doing just fine in it. It may take a while but if constantly exposed to nitrite it's only a matter of time before they all pass away from it.
Oh definitely- I understand the basics of the cycle and the importance of it being at 0. I had readings of zero ammonia and nitrites for 3 consecutive days- so a total of 6 tests before even adding the Pleco. Aside from the one jump at the time of the SAE's death (the .25 reading) everything has been reading 0 both before and since. I NEVER would have added anything if I had realized it wasn't fully cycled. For future reference (not that I am planning a second tank), how many days of 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites should I be seeing before I can rest assured that my tank IS cycled?
 

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I usually go a week at least, but I'm not normal, I'm a slow and steady person. I'd do a water change then test everyday for the week (without doing a water change) if I'm still at 0 at the end of the week I'll add livestock.
 

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For future reference (not that I am planning a second tank), how many days of 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites should I be seeing before I can rest assured that my tank IS cycled?
I usually do my cycling with household ammonia, that way I'm in better control of the input. The way I do it, is I add 2ppm of household ammonia to the tank, and then begin daily testing. Whenever the ammonia drops below 1, I add 2ppm more. If the Nitrites go above 5, I do a 50% water change. Once the tank can full convert 2ppm of ammonia to Nitrate every day for a week, then it's good to go. I do one final 90% water change, wait a day, and add fish.
 
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