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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all. I am brand new to the fish world and it did not start well at all. I guess I have a long story to tell and feel free to input any advice you have.

About 3 weeks ago I got a call from my 9 year old daughter. She had been visiting with her aunt and had gone to some kind of carnival with her. Low and behold she tells me she won 2 goldfish while playing a game. By the time she gets the fish home they have been swimming in their little baggies for over 36 hours. I ran to Walmart and got her a 5 gallon tank with all the toots and whistles that comes with a ready to go tank set. I also purchased the Aqua Safe w/bio extracts because something told me that tap water and fish wouldn't get along real well. Please keep in mind that I did not have time to research and the staff at Walmart don't know any more about fish than I do. What I should have purchased was Safe Start as well but in similar style bottles I thought it was the exact same stuff. Well, I followed the instructions and treated the water to remove the chlorine. I eventually added the fish and miraculously the fish did real well and even appeared to thrive. Then, after about 2 1/2 weeks we woke up and the happy little fishies were both dead. I had not done water changes because the instructions said that 25% water changes every 4 weeks was recommended. It never occurred to me that this could be completely off the mark.

Now that I have had time to research I realize that we had "new tank syndrome" and the ammonia levels from the goldfish probably spiked killing both fish at about the same time. So, now I have a fish tank that has been running since yesterday with no fish inside. I have talked to my daughter and she wants to try again. We are considering either a single Beta or a couple glo-fish danios because of our tank size constraints. However, we don't want the same mistakes. If we get the hang of this I may invest in a larger family size tank. Getting educated to the point where we can maintain a healthy tank is my only priority right now. I did go ahead and purchase the heater so we can go tropical and I am looking for advice on how to get her tank ready.

I don't mind forking out the money for products such as those made by tetra to make things easier for my 9 year old to maintain. Would it be better to empty the tank, clean it, and start from scratch with Aqua Safe AND Safe Start with weekly treatments of Easy Balance? Should I leave the exising filter in there or replace it? Should I try to work with the existing water and bring down the ammonia with water changes? I had never heard of nitrogen cycles before now and I really wish my kid had never gone to that darn carnival!!! If we were considering fish for her we would have done our homework first. This feels like failing an exam before the class even cracks a book. I want to be humane and I am hoping this forum is a resource tool to do so.

Any advice you have will be helpful. I plan on buying the test kit on my home tonight so I won't be able to give test results until tomorrow at the earliest.
 

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Queen Platy
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5 gallon is really small for 2 goldfish and plus the tank is not cycled yet. Your tank wasnt set up long enough to build the good bacteria that breaks down Ammonia and Nitrite so the build up of the toxins killed the fish. Especially... if you havnt done water changes in a 5 gallon after 2 1/2 weeks.

Buy gravel if you havent yet, because it gives the tank a good bed for the bacteria to grow in. Along with a filter.

Since you have no fish in that tank right now, I would suggest you dump the water and get new water. That way all 3 toxins will be 0. Since a fishless cycle to build beneficial bacteria takes a long time to complete and your daughter wants fish right now. You can cycle your tank with fish. With a 5 gallon dont get any goldfish since they require large tanks. Danios or a betta should be fine. Just be sure to do 20% water change once every week and try to not overfeed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I went last night and purchased the test kit. The nitrates and nitrites read zero and the PH was around 7. No chlorine either. My husband recalls that one of the fish had bumps on him but he couldn't tell me anymore than that. I had not seen any bumps on it that evening so if that is the case then these bumps popped up overnight. Is it possible that it was a disease that killed both fish?

Just in case my husband and I emptied the tank and cleaned it all.....down to every piece of aquarium gravel. We installed the heater, refilled it with fresh water plus the Aqua Safe to eliminate the Chlorine and Chloromine (sp) and this morning the levels again read perfect and the temperature was 78 degrees.

Is it too early to go ahead and get the Betta tonight? Should I leave the tank sit for a few days first?

It really is a shame about the goldfish. We have a family friend with a pond and she said when the fish got too big she would have been happy to take them.
 

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You can get a Betta, but be sure to get the additive for the water that is specifically for Betta.
They have a 'labyrinth organ', and will frequently go up to the top of the tank for a quick nip of air, they need to be able to do this. Any oil based product with destroy the labyrinth organ, and, eventually lead to an earlier death for the betta.
That being said, a single Betta (with maybe, an oto to do the algae clean up) are very happy in 5 gallon tanks, I have three of them! They are nice fish to keep, and I think you will be very happy with the result. Good luck =)
 

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Queen Platy
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I went last night and purchased the test kit. The nitrates and nitrites read zero and the PH was around 7. No chlorine either. My husband recalls that one of the fish had bumps on him but he couldn't tell me anymore than that. I had not seen any bumps on it that evening so if that is the case then these bumps popped up overnight. Is it possible that it was a disease that killed both fish?
2 and a half weeks is not long enough to grow bacteria that breaks down Ammonia and NitrIte.

There is a bacteria that breaks down Ammonia into NitrIte and then another set of bacteria that further breaks down NitrIte into NitrAte. And only water changes can get rid of the final end product "NitrAte". Your NitrIte and NitrAte values are both read zero because none of the Ammonia in the tank has been broken down yet which caused a build up of toxins. Do you have a test kit that measures Ammonia? Ammonia and NitrIte are the first critical elements to test. NitrAte not so much.

5 gallon with 2 goldfish and no water changes is probably the cause of death. I'm 90% sure. If one of the fish had bumps but they both died the same night, the culprit is probably the water quality.
 
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