Message Forums

faq | etiquette | register | my account | search | mailbox
# Message Forums
L# General
 L# Getting Started
  L# Help, new tank and lost both my African Dwarf frogs and 3 fish
 Post Reply  New Topic
SubscribeHelp, new tank and lost both my African Dwarf frogs and 3 fish
Small Fry
Posts: 1
Kudos: 1
Votes: 0
Registered: 18-Mar-2014
female usa
I am a novice at this. My husband bought a 15 gallon column tank for the family fish tank. We set it up, followed the instructions and let it run for about 4-5 days fishless. Then we headed out to Petsmart to get some fish. The lady explained to us that we might want to start out with a couple to make sure the levels in the water were okay... We purchased 2 Mickey Mouse mollys and 2 dalmation mollys (I think). After about a week, they were doing great so I went back and purchased 2 more fish (I don't remember what kind), 2 African dwarf frogs, 2 snails and a handful of ghost shrimp. I also purchased frog/tadpole food and freeze dried brine shrimp. Everyone seemed to be getting a long great and then our fish starting dying. We have lost both frogs, both Mickey Mouse, and 1 of each of the dalmation and other fish. The snails and shrimp seem okay. We suspect it may have been the brine shimp....any suggestions?
Post InfoPosted 18-Mar-2014 13:39Profile PM Edit Report 
Posts: 5108
Kudos: 5263
Votes: 1690
Registered: 28-Dec-2002
male usa us-colorado
EditedEdited 19-Mar-2014 05:47
Hi, And WELCOME to Fish Profiles!

"We set it up, followed the instructions and let it run for about 4-5 days fishless."
I think this is the problem. You did good, but you were missing some critical information. While the tank is running, without fish, it has to have some sort of ammonia in the water. Take a minute or two and in the FAQ for this site read the information on the Nitrogen or Nitrification Cycle.
Essentially, the fish eliminate both liquid and solid waste products. These contain ammonia. Bacterial colonies develop that convert the ammonia to nitrite. The presence of Nitrite creates bacterial colonies that convert the nitrite to nitrate. Small amounts of nitrate are benificial to plants. It takes about 4-6 weeks for the tank to fully cycle. But, you have to have a source of ammonia in the tank to start and keep the process going.
You can purchase PURE ( nothing added) ammonia at hardware stores, and infrequently at some grocery stores. I would stick with the hardware stores for a source. Grocery stores have ammonia without perfumes, but they have a "surfacant" in it and that will/can cause problems in the aquarium. You want the straight "knock you on your butt, if you smell it" stuff.
Another option is to put fish food in the tank, a little every day. The food decays and creates the ammonia. I don't particularly like this process as it takes quite a bit of food and there is the possibility that the tank will become overly poluted and start to smell.

Look up Fishless Cycling an aquarium on the Internet.
There will be at least a dozen articles. The link below is the first that came up when I did it.

The link above uses eyedroppers. It is a carefully set up system. There is also the "heavy" method where a 1/2 cup or cup of ammonia is poured in the tank, and each day the same ammount is added.

I prefer the "heavy" method when cycling a tank.

You will need to purchase a test kit.
You should be able to purchse this kit in darned near any petshop that sells tropical fish.

You will need to be able to keep the ammonia at a given level, so you have to test for ammonia. You will also have to test for nitrite and also test for nitrate.

As the cycle begins, the ammonia reading will drop off as the nitrite reading begins and starts to increase. As the nitrite reading increases, you will see a nitrate reading appear and start to increase.

The tank is "cycled" and ready for fish when the ammonia reading is ZERO or not more than .25 AND the nitrite reading is ZERO. At this point you need to start paying attention to the nitrate reading. In a fish only aquarium, you should try to keep the reading as close to zero as possible. You do this by feeding spareingly (a fish's stomach is roughly the size of its eye) and regular water changes that include vacuuming the gravel. In a planted tank, the nitrogen reading should hover around 5 to a max of 10. 10 for a "Jungle" in the tank, and around 5 for "a few" plants in the tank.

I hope this helps..


-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 18-Mar-2014 18:33Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Posts: 118
Kudos: 137
Votes: 0
Registered: 13-Jan-2014
EditedEdited 21-Mar-2014 21:04
Something essential for starting up a nitrogen cycle is heat and aeration. The nitrifying bacteria thrive in warm temperatures; about 85 to 90 degrees. Aeration because just like all living things, the bacteria need oxygen to survive. You can get this kind of aeration with air stones or a bubble wall. Both are very inexpensive at most aquarium stores or stores that sell aquarium equipment.

The trick with adding the pure ammonia is that it builds up a massive colony of the bacteria responsible for the first step in the process: converting ammonia to nitrite. Having such a huge colony means you can fully stock the tank all at once and the bacteria will be able to handle it. what will happen is the colony will slowly diminish to just enough to still convert all ammonia created by fish the way it needs to, without having more of the bacteria than needed.

After the aquarium is fully cycled, do a very large water change to remove the nitrates. Between 50 and 80%. Then perform regular water changes once a week. 20 or 25% is perfect for just once a week. If you would rather do a water change just once a moth, perform a 30 or 40% change. This is assuming you don't have any plants in the aquarium, but we all know what assuming makes out of you and me. 'A' plant does not mean you have a planted aquarium.

If you smoke in the house, like I do, make sure to keep air pumps low and inside a cabinet or the tank's stand if possible. This will keep the secondhand smoke from being pulled into the pump and into the aquarium water. Smoking isn't good for us; it could be, and most likely is, lethal to fish.

Something to keep in mind about mollies is that they will breed worse than rabbits. So make sure you get some of the same sex when buying, or be ready to have a LOT of fry if you don't have any sort of crowd control.

If you are going to keep snails and shrimp, know that they CANNOT survive in water with copper mixed in. Tetra Aquasafe Plus conditioner neutralizes heavy metals, copper included, and makes the water safe for crustaceans. It's the conditioner that I use and I have yet to lose a single one of my hand full of snails.

Snails are another one of those aquarium species that will produce dozens of offspring at a time. And I'm afraid nothing big enough to eat baby snails will be able to survive in a 15 gallon aquarium. A possibility you may want to be prepared for. The same can be said of the ghost shrimp.

A point that cannot be stressed enough is to know what level your water's Ph is at. Ph is a water's acidity or baseness. A Ph below 7 is acidic, and above 7 is basic. 7 is perfectly neutral. Different species of fish and crustaceans have different preferences of Ph levels, and either won't thrive in the tank, or may simply die. There are numerous posts on this forum, most of them by Frank himself, that will tell you various methods of adjusting the Ph of the water without the use of chemicals.

That brings me to another point. Stay away from any aquarium chemical, aside from conditioners, entirely. There is no "magic chemical" that will make your aquarium water exactly the way you need with just a single dose. The reason for this is because it is incredibly difficult to balance the chemical level you are adjusting, which can shock, or even harm your fish. Stay particularly away from the beneficial bacteria. I have yet to see one that even has an expiration date. Because of this, you won't be able to tell if the bacteria inside are still even alive. The bacteria can't stay alive inside those bottles for a few reasons: they consume all of their food source and die, and there is no aeration inside for them to be able to respirate. The bacteria needed for the nitrogen cycle are already present in the air, and get pulled into the tank via filters and air pumps. All you need to do is give the bacteria time and food.

I would stay away from any kind of food that has been freeze dried. Because it is dehydrated, it absorbs water very quickly, and expands much like a noodle will when being cooked. If it doesn't expand in the water before it is eaten, it will expand inside the fish's stomach, which can cause discomfort and constipation for the fish. If you pre- soak it, many of the nutrients it contains will leach out of it, thus not making it much of a healthy mean for your fish. If your fish do become bloated from the freeze dried food, blanch some peas and pop out the kernels and feed the kernels to the fish. They will act as a laxative.

Everything I just informed you of I learned on this forum, 98% of it from Frank himself. Keep coming back whenever you have a question and you are assured to receive good help and advice.

Post InfoPosted 19-Mar-2014 02:07Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Posts: 118
Kudos: 137
Votes: 0
Registered: 13-Jan-2014
EditedEdited 19-Mar-2014 02:24
One thing I forgot to mention is that the place I've read about more than anywhere that carries pure ammonia is Ace Hardware. If it does contain nothing but ammonia there will not be an ingredients label on it. The ammonia I have is Ace brand ammonia.
Post InfoPosted 19-Mar-2014 02:23Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Post Reply  New Topic
Jump to: 

The views expressed on this page are the implied opinions of their respective authors.
Under no circumstances do the comments on this page represent the opinions of the staff of Forums, version 11.0
Mazeguy Smilies