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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This isn't something I typically do, but today was one of those days.

My nano finished cycling after squeezing filter gunk in it last night. Since hubby and my son wouldn't stop asking "What are you going to put in there?" I got a critter to put in there so they'd stop.

I tested ammonia, found nothing. Didn't bother with nitrates but wanted to see what the deal was with nitrites. Picture shows the results.

I called the store and spoke with the person that I've had issues with before regarding ID'ing fish. I explained the situation, he put me on hold and supposedly tested the tank the critter came out of.

According to him, the tank has 20 nitrates. I didn't say anything about nitrates and asked what his nitrite level was. He told me zero. I asked what he tested with, he told me test strips. Sorry, I'm not convinced that test strips would show zero if my Seachem test looks like this.

Anybody else test the water from the bags that fish are brought home from? This little experiment has taught me a lesson. Any time I buy fish from Pet Co from this point forward, I'm not acclimating them in Pet Co's tank water.

Rant over.
 

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I regularly test the water that comes from the store. There are about half a dozen stores that are high quality near me (1 hr drive max) that I will buy fish from. No matter how healthy the fish seems to be they all go into a quarantine tank.

I set up the quarantine tank to match the water in the bag.
While the fish are in quarantine I do regular water changes that alter the water mineral levels (GH, KH, TDS, salt...) until the fish are in water matching the display tank, and have shown they are healthy. This generally takes a month, longer if I have to medicate.

The worst water in one of these pretty good stores is very high in nitrates, GH and KH and salt. I could quarantine fish in my brackish water tank!

I am not surprised you could not get a straight answer out of the store you were at. The branches around here are all so bad in the fish department that I will not patronize them for anything. I will drive twice as far to go to Pet Smart (quality within this chain varies, but the one nearest me is pretty good) or the many Mom & Pop stores.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My healthy fish store is about a hour away as well. I would have made the trip, but my parents are on a plane from Texas so it was important that I stay close to home.

I'm probably giving this issue more attention than I should, but they make me crazy. Any time I go in there most of the store's employees look at me like I have three heads when it comes to anything fish related. There are employees there that are not a problem, although they wouldn't be able to tell me what the nitrogen cycle was, but they at least don't give me a hard time or look at me as though I don't have a clue.

My complaining to them isn't going to change anything, but meh.
 

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I never test the bag. I either drip or float the fish in my qtank. For s and gs i put my tds meter in the bag last time and it was 480ppm tds. Tap is 200 and my tank is 110. I dripped acclimated them and didnt lose 1. Although they were hardy fish (haliquin rasboras)
 

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my lfs are all on drip water change systems, have long established tanks with undergravel filters and receive regular deep cleaning, they actually got a really neat custom roll around pool filter type setup... anyways i digress... Normally I don't bother testing more than ph and occasionally gh/kh (matches what i have in my tanks anyways) everything gets a drip acclimation into qt over a couple hours and from there they stay a couple weeks... Usually no problems
 

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The water at your LFS has nothing in common with the water the fish were raised in, in all likely hood.

I still prefer my LFS ordering fish and phoning me to fetch them with the bags still unopened.
 

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I think you are wise to have tested the water from your LFS. The LFS closest to me is hit or miss. Often they have fish I cannot find anywhere else. But they willingly accept my excess of unwanted guppies and sell them to others without ever quarantining them for a few days. And they happily sell fish they've just dumped into their tanks the same day they receive them from their suppliers. I've had trouble with critters that don't do well when stressed out from shipping and so many different types of tank/shipping water (kuhli loaches come immediately to mind).

So, I congratulate you on being so proactive. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The water at your LFS has nothing in common with the water the fish were raised in, in all likely hood.

I still prefer my LFS ordering fish and phoning me to fetch them with the bags still unopened.
You're probably right, but the whole thing got under my skin yesterday for some reason. Nothing they do should surprise me. I digress.

Just last week I had a conversation with a store employee about how Pet Co tells people to cycle their tanks. She was one of the store employees I had gotten to know over time ( she has since quit and found a new job) and I was pretty horrified. They tell people to buy water clarifier then come back for fish the next day.

What on God's green earth water clarifier has anything to do with cycling a tank is beyond me. However, I'm in that store all the time as we have many pets, so I'm always buying bedding, food, ect.. I do troll their fish section if for no other reason than give that area a sniff test. There have been times when it has smelled like red tide, that at least has since gotten better.

While I'm over there, I also see what they keep in stock for test kits, Purigen, ect. In my local store, the only test kits they carry are API pH and Ammonia and testing strips. They used to carry Phosphate, Nitrate, Nitrite, and so on. The pegs those used to sit on have been empty for over two months. I refuse to buy API test kits after the last SNAFU with one of their nitrate test kit went bad, but give me a break.

Going back to the chat with the now former store employee.

In our conversation, she kept mentioning that on a daily basis she was having with deal with angry customers yelling at her because their fish died. Well gee, that's a no brainer. I didn't say that to her because she was doing what she was told in order to keep her job but she knew enough to know what was going on and why as her and I have had many conversations about fish keeping in the past.

Yesterday hubby and I had a long chat about all of this. I told him that I was tempted to go back to save the the two other fish that were in the tank that were with the one I bought due to knowing what they were living in, but I can't save them all. I've been into animal rescue for a long time and I can't keep doing that.

To put a end to a already too long of a response, the fish I bought is fine. Once he got past the stress of being bagged and out of toxic water, he chilled out. He is thoroughly enjoying his bachelor pad and doesn't like my son. LOL My son has given him the nickname "moody little fish". Serves him right. I've been telling him for the past week that I didn't want a fish in that tank and he bugged me about it. Poetic justice. In the past we've had a Betta that didn't like him either, so he'll get over it.
 

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Very few people take the time to read the instructions on the stuff they use properly (including pet shop staff).
I use the Tetra range of products as it has been available here for all of my life.
Tetra has two products that are of use for fish in cycling cycling, BUT, you can't put them in the tank on the same day.
You first need to add Aquasafe, and Safestart the next day (with the fish). Then you need to keep an eye on ammonia and nitrites in the following days. If it exceeds 0.5ppm add 5ml Aquasafe /5 gal. Double that if exceeding 3ppm.

You can't just Pour everything in a tank on day one and expect everything to be fine afterwards.

But, to get back on topic. Fish are shipped with everything from ammolock to antibiotics these days, its not even worth testing the bags they came in. It tells me nothing about the water the fish have lived all their lives in.
 

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I see a number of posters here use drip acclimation. I used to as well but recently learned (right here on this forum) a better method that the pros use. Float the bag to equalize temperature, then pour though a net into a waste bucket and place the stock directly in the tank. Why? In reality, it would take days for a fish to acclimate to different water chemistry and it's more important to get the fish out of the polluted transport bag as quickly as possible. This is most important if the fish has traveled a long distance (a day or more) and less important if your fish store is down the street. Apparently for long shipments, ammonium builds up and a drip acclimation can convert ammonium to ammonia and the toxic condition can damage or kill the fish. Now most of us prolly get fish locally rather than shipments, but the method still holds - float for temperature, then get into your quarantine tank right away.
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Note: I will confess that I have not always used a quarantine tank (preferred) and I have been very lucky....although I examine tanks and the fish I buy very closely and back in the day I've found some shops I would not buy from.
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Back to Smooch - if your test was accurate, I'm not sure how a fish survives in toxic nitrite although depending on the distance, I'd expect to find some ammonia in the bag of water?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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Back to Smooch - if your test was accurate, I'm not sure how a fish survives in toxic nitrite although depending on the distance, I'd expect to find some ammonia in the bag of water?
The nitrite level wasn't high enough to kill fish right away. The fact that nitrites showed up in the first place is because they are dumping fish in uncycled tanks.

It is a 10 minute trip from my house to the fish store. It is a small fish that didn't spend much time in the bag. That is not to say that there wasn't any ammonia in the bag, but I used a API test for that so who knows if it was accurate or not. I do have the Seachem Ammonia test kit, but I wasn't willing to waste a test on Pet Co tank water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
hmm....if the tank was not cycled at all, you'd see ammonia but not nitrites - right?
What is your point? A fully cycled tank does not have nitrites. A uncycled tank has ammonia, just as a filthy, cycled tank can have ammonia.

If this is about my test kit, feel free to pick up a Seachem Nitrite / Nitrate kit and compare it whatever you use. The nitrate kit alone is worth the price as there are no stupid bottles to shake.
 

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This isn't something I typically do, but today was one of those days.

My nano finished cycling after squeezing filter gunk in it last night. Since hubby and my son wouldn't stop asking "What are you going to put in there?" I got a critter to put in there so they'd stop.

I tested ammonia, found nothing. Didn't bother with nitrates but wanted to see what the deal was with nitrites. Picture shows the results.

I called the store and spoke with the person that I've had issues with before regarding ID'ing fish. I explained the situation, he put me on hold and supposedly tested the tank the critter came out of.

According to him, the tank has 20 nitrates. I didn't say anything about nitrates and asked what his nitrite level was. He told me zero. I asked what he tested with, he told me test strips. Sorry, I'm not convinced that test strips would show zero if my Seachem test looks like this.

Anybody else test the water from the bags that fish are brought home from? This little experiment has taught me a lesson. Any time I buy fish from Pet Co from this point forward, I'm not acclimating them in Pet Co's tank water.

Rant over.
One thing to keep in mind is that the water you tested is not really the same as the water within the tanks at the store. You have a small sample, in a bag in which a fish was transported and likely fouled the water more so than what was in the tank originally. Livestock gets stressed/scared when being netted and bagged. This often results in poopfests! Not to mention the act of catching the fish out of the tank usually stirs everything up which leads to the worst of the worst getting bagged up for you.

I'm not doubting that the water from the LFS is not ideal and I definitely believe the employee not being too open to your criticism. They probably dont bother testing ammonia or nitrite as in an established system there should never be any readings of either. Nitrate is the variable most often tested for as there is far more of a chance of nitrates rising in established setups. In all reality its rare for most LFS to have pristine conditions. There is just too much going on. But that being said, the LFS has an investment to protect and even the worst fishkeeper/business owner would not be taking in new stock to drop into tanks that are uncycled just to watch their investment die!
 

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I see a number of posters here use drip acclimation. I used to as well but recently learned (right here on this forum) a better method that the pros use. Float the bag to equalize temperature, then pour though a net into a waste bucket and place the stock directly in the tank. Why? In reality, it would take days for a fish to acclimate to different water chemistry and it's more important to get the fish out of the polluted transport bag as quickly as possible. This is most important if the fish has traveled a long distance (a day or more) and less important if your fish store is down the street. Apparently for long shipments, ammonium builds up and a drip acclimation can convert ammonium to ammonia and the toxic condition can damage or kill the fish. Now most of us prolly get fish locally rather than shipments, but the method still holds - float for temperature, then get into your quarantine tank right away.
.
Note: I will confess that I have not always used a quarantine tank (preferred) and I have been very lucky....although I examine tanks and the fish I buy very closely and back in the day I've found some shops I would not buy from.
.
Back to Smooch - if your test was accurate, I'm not sure how a fish survives in toxic nitrite although depending on the distance, I'd expect to find some ammonia in the bag of water?
I've done it both ways and I have found no issue really with either acclimation method. As you mentioned, the method you are describing does make a lot more sense for shipped fish and that's typically what I've done.
 

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Stressed fish can produce excess ammonia. They excrete ammonia via the gills.
When the bag is sealed the CO2 builds up so water has a tendency to be acidic, so the ammonia is in the form of ammonium (NH4+) which the fish can exclude to some extent.

When the bag is opened the CO2 leaves the air pretty fast, and will leave the water in just a few minutes, especially if the water is being stirred. Adding tank water to the bag will stir the water, for example.
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Here is another method of acclimation that has been around for several years.

1) Float bag to equalize temperature.
While you are doing this...
2) Open the bag.
3) Add ammo-lock. This will lock up the ammonia (or ammonium) so this is not toxic to the fish as the CO2 leaves the water.
4) Add one of the products that has electrolytes or other salts, perhaps a 'stress coat' sort of product. This will help the fish with osmotic regulation.
5) When the temperature is similar (plus or minus a couple of degrees is fine) net the fish out of the bag and into the tank.
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Other option:
If the trip has been short, and there are few fish and lots of water then the CO2/ammonia/ammonium problem has not had too long to build, then you can drip acclimate right in the bag.
Get a drip irrigation emitter and plug it into whatever container you want, such as a large plastic cup (16 oz or more) or even a gallon jug such as milk comes in. Fill this container with water, and it will start dripping right away. (It may also leak, so careful where you use it)
I have done this with the bag floating in the tank, and the container of water (large plastic cup) sitting on the rim of the tank. This way the temperature is being equalized as the water is adjusting.
Note that I will test the water for GH, KH, TDS and make the quarantine tank as close to that as I can. The drip acclimation is just in case there are other things that are not measured that may vary. The biggest item is the TDS. The fish have a difficult time regulating their osmotic balance if they are accustomed to some other TDS level, then dropped in a tank with significantly different TDS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I went back and bought the last two fish from the tank I bought from on Thursday. (?) Didn't bother with a nitrite test this time, decided to see what the ammonia level was.

Such a lovely shade of green.... :icon_mad:
 

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Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I went back and bought the last two fish from the tank I bought from on Thursday. (?) Didn't bother with a nitrite test this time, decided to see what the ammonia level was.

Such a lovely shade of green.... :icon_mad:

Again, its not completely "fair" to test the water from a bag that had stressed fish in it. If the ammonia in the tank at the store was really that high, those last fish in there probably wouldn't have lived more than a day! As a comparison maybe you could try catching some fish out of your own tank; bag em up with your own tank water; and then test the levels in that bag an hour or two later and compare that to a test of water taken directly from your own tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Again, its not completely "fair" to test the water from a bag that had stressed fish in it. If the ammonia in the tank at the store was really that high, those last fish in there probably wouldn't have lived more than a day! As a comparison maybe you could try catching some fish out of your own tank; bag em up with your own tank water; and then test the levels in that bag an hour or two later and compare that to a test of water taken directly from your own tank.
I test my tanks all the time.

There is no way two fish that were in separate bags that are a i-inch in length could produce that much ammonia in a 10 minute ride from the store.
 

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I test my tanks all the time.

There is no way two fish that were in separate bags that are a i-inch in length could produce that much ammonia in a 10 minute ride from the store.
I'm not saying to test your tank. I'm saying bag up some tank water with some fish and then test. Its one thing to say that a small fish in a bag wont produce that much ammonia; but the tools are there to test and confirm this idea. Knowledge is power right? Speculating about these kinds of things doesn't really help you or anyone else. As stated by others in this thread, stressed out fish can produce more ammonia than usual so it seems possible that if you took clean water out of a cycled tank which tests 0 for ammonia and nitrite, bag up that water with fish you stressed out by netting out of that same tank, throw em around a bit and then take them for a drive, bring em back inside, then test that same water, you could see an ammonia reading due to the extra ammonia secretion from that stressed fish.

Unless your only goal was to bash this store for some personal vendetta? Thats cool too. We all have those places we hate yet continue to frequent for one reason or another....especially the big chain places!
 
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