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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have four tanks set up at the moment (32gal, 15gal, 7 gal and 5 gal) and they have all been running for the guts of a year.
My problem is that in the last month or so the 5 gallon tank has become some kind of unholy tank from hell that kills any animals that I dare to stock it with. I've lost two female bettas, 30 cherry shrimp and a lot of apple snails.
I'll try my best to summarise the events of the last month:

-Female betta 1 has been living in the tank for a few months now without any problems. I wake up one morning and find her dead.
-Female betta 2 is put in the tank and is found dead the next morning.
-I tear down the entire tank. Boil all of the decor, toss the plants/substrate and scrub the tank with boiling water.
-Set the tank back up and put some cherries in. After less than two days they are dead too.
-Tear down the tank again etc.
-Leave the tank completely bare and stock with a few apple snails. Which also die in a matter of days.

Does anybody know what is going on? Or have any advice?
 

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It sounds like maybe when you tore your tank down and scrubed everything, that you killed off all your beneficial bacteria that is used to break down amonia and fish waste. So I would suggest a recycling phase for the tank.
 

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That does sound like a water quality problem. To bad about the shrimp. How are the other tanks doing? What are/were you using for a substrate and what type of filter do you use? A water quality report might not be a bad idea if you can get your hands on one. When you had plants, were you dosing fertilizer and how were the plants doing? Sorry for all the questions but other wise we would all be taking a wild guess.
 

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It's possible the two bettas dying was just a coincidence. Or the first one dying in the 5 gallon fouled the water and then you put the other betta in this fouled water. The other deaths could just be due to an uncycled tank.

Think about the other possibility that you are considering- that panes of glass and silicone are somehow retaining an ability to kill things. :)
 

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If the tank is down to bare bottom with just a filter and heater then it's ether a water issue or a contaminated filter but I'm going to assume you tore down the filter as well and scrubbed it clean as well so probably a water issue and ammonia is the normal suspect.

- Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies, guys.

My water stats were all good after the first betta died, ammonia and nitrite were zero... I think that there might have been a nitrate spike though, I don't know if that would kill a fish?

When I added the shrimp I kept on top of the water changes and I had seeded the tank with substrate from one of my other tanks, I know that shrimp are sensitive but the ammonia never even had time to build up when they had only been in the tank for less than two days. I might be wrong though, it's definitely something to consider.

The filter came with the tank, it's small and pretty crappy (had planned on replacing it soon). I cleaned it thoroughly and put new sponge in when I tore the tank down.

My other tanks are running fine and I'm doing daily water changes on the 15 gallon since there are fry in there at the moment. I had worried that there might be something effecting my tap water but I'm sure that the fry would have shown some signs of distress if that was the case.

I suppose that I should probably tear it down again. Is there anything that I can use to clean it other than boiling water? I assume that detergents are out of the question.
I'll make sure to cycle it properly before putting any more animals in.
 

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If your fish died within just a couple days after cleaning the tank then I wouldn't be so quick to blame it on it being an uncycled tank... unless when you say "put some cherries in" you're talking a decent sized school of fish. Just a couple little fish I dont think could produce enough ammonia in just a couple days to kill them... I would think that would take a while longer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
By "cherries" I meant red cherry shrimp. Sorry if I was unclear.

I would also think that they weren't in the tank long enough for the fact that it was uncycled to be a problem. But shrimp aren't my strong suit so I can't say for sure.
 

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Kh?

Small tanks can have problems with pH stability if you have a low KH. It also sounds like your cleaning things may have contributed to the loss of beneficial bacteria, although the nitrate spike would seam to rule that out. I found with RCS that oxygen levels are important. So, a small amount of surface agitation might be a good idea along with the new filter. Break in the new filter and keep a KH that will buffer the pH changes.

I suppose that I should probably tear it down again. Is there anything that I can use to clean it other than boiling water?
I hesitate to recommend anything other then water. Besides, it sounds like it's clean enough already. Rather then tearing it down again, leave it alone for a week to cycle. Maybe add a small feeder guppy first to help the cycling process along.

What sort of fry do you have?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay, I'll leave it for a while to let it cycle. Thanks for the advice.

What sort of fry do you have?
Betta fry (copper Halfmoon X blue dragon Plakat). They're six weeks old.
 
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