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So growing up I had many aquariums until maybe highschool. All freshwater, and all seemed to be "fill it up and go" without any fancy science. Here I am 25 years later with a 4 year old daughter and because she has been trapped inside (for various reasons in the world today...) for a year I thought adding an aquarium to her room would be a fun project and something for her to help take care of.

We bought a 10gal Aqueon tank kit that came with "everything" needed to start a tank except the substrate and decorations. We bought the pebbles that were extra pricey and coated in "plant based" lacquer so they would be minimally toxic. I washed everything in clean clear tap water without any chemicals and we carefully filled the tank, plugged in the water-fall style filter, and added the package of "tap water treatment". After day 3 the water went cloudy with a bit of a skim on the surface. I used the net to sift that off the top because I wanted to see if it was powder from the substrate or filter charcoal (even though both were rinsed thoroughly), it didn't look like either. I began googling because I had never seen this before and saw TONS of articles saying cloudy water in a new tank is perfectly fine and it's best to NOT try and "resolve" it as you'll not get anywhere. Ok.

So we gave it another week or so and the cloudiness remained, it wasn't milky or anything but it was noticeably cloudy compared to crystal clear water. Again, everything we read said it should be fine. I made the 403 mile (648km), yes you're reading that right, trip to get her 2 goldfish. She really REALLY wanted "orange gold fishies". I picked up your standard goldfish x2, nothing fancy, made sure the bag was filled properly, that the temperature was stabilized for the trip, and I carefully travelled home with them in my truck. The fish did amazing on the drive home and were very lively and happy when I brought them in the house.

We wiped the outside of the bag (without and cleaners) and dunked it in the tank to let it acclimate. The difference in the bag temps from the tank temps were about 1 degree Celcius. We let it soak for an hour and slowly cupped some tank water into the bag to merge the fish in. Once everything seemed stable and happy we netted the fish and set them free to my daughters delight. We dumped the pet store water down the sink and tossed the bag.

She gave them names and sat at the tank telling them stories. Three hours later both fish were dead and she was crying her eyes out. It was mortifying.

They didn't float to the top, just "died" and appeared to hover where they stopped being alive.

After two days of talking about death and her crying about her new friends not being around anymore we drained the tank.

Having no idea what happened I scrubbed everything with fresh tap water (no chemicals). We ordered a bottle of tap water treatment along with some of the biological treatment to "build healthy tank colonies" for new tanks (this wasn't added before). I refilled the tank from sterile implements and we followed the instructions for the two bottles to treat the water. The temperatures are steady in the tank around 22 degrees C for reference.

Three days later the exact same cloudiness is back. I refuse to add any fish until I'm sure this cursed tank is fixed because it really was not at all a good experience the first go around and emotionally I don't think any of us can take what happened again. Fish will die but it's not fair to the fish or to my daughter if they are going to die like that.

What the heck am I doing wrong? I can say for a fact I put nowhere near this much effort into my tanks as a kid and never had an issue.
 

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Vodka Doser
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6,489 Posts
You need to test your water, the cloudiness your seeing is most probably an ammonia bloom, and ammonia is deadly to fish. You must cycle your tank before adding fish.
 
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