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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

Please forgive me if this is the wrong forum for my question, or if I am asking a question that has been answered a million times. Anyway, I have a new 14 gallon long rectangle shaped freshwater aquarium with no live plants. I stocked it with 7 neon tetras(very small, even for tetras) 2 rainbowfish, and 1 pleco. I'm sure I did something horribly wrong by putting them all in at once, but I did. This was about three weeks ago. Immediately, the rainbowfish are very lively and swimming all over the tank. The pleco is also doing very well (always eating, getting fat, and constantly leaving a trail behind). My problem is with my tetras. They're all gone. One by one, they died off and I find them caught in the grate for the filter intake. All 7 of them are gone now. I treated the water with "AquaSafe" and "EasyBalance" when I filled the tank and let the tank sit without any fish for about two days. After losing 3 tetras, I vacuumed the gravel and changed about 35% of the water in the tank with spring water. I've also added a little bit of Aquarium Salt to the water on advise from the guy at PetSmart. I've been using EasyBalance once a week as directed. My Nitrite and Nitrate levels seem perfect, but every time I test my water, my Ph, Alkalinity, and Hardness is "very high". Is this what killed my tetras? I wondered if the rainbowfish were bullying them at all, but I don't see any chasing or anything that would lead me to believe that could be it. So, I guess I am looking for advice on what to do. I don't want to add any more fish until i figure out what killed my tetras. Oh yeah, my water temp hangs between 76 and 80 most of the time.

Any ideas?

Thanks,

Andy
 

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Hey dude, i have a school of black tetras in my tanks with rainbows as well, my tetras are medium sized i usualy keep my PH at about 6.5-7 MAX, my water temp is in the mid 80's...let your tank get more established before you add anymore fish, give it about a week, then add about 3 tetras (min amount for them to school)....what is the size difference from your neons to your Rainbows? Maybe your should avoid the neon tetras and go with maybe red minors or black tetras... I had guppys and they were killed prob by the rainbows..

Also FYI...your pleco MIGHT go after the smaller fish
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, there is a very big size difference. My rainbows are probably close to 2 inches while my tetras were probably between 1/2 ans 3/4 of an inch. I think my Ph may be the problem, but I'm not sure the best way to lower it.

Thanks for the reply!

I had not thought about the pleco. hmm
 

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I had not thought about the pleco. hmm

Yea usually, they are good at cleaning up your dead fish but i heard sometimes but not very common plecos feeding on smaller fish...

About the PH...you can go to the pet store and buy a PH decreaser or PH increaser depending on your needs...Are your rainbows showing color? if they are and they seems to be happy, why not leave the tank alone for a bit and feed them every other day, check it again in a week...see what happens maybe your tank just needs the time to establish..
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'll have to watch for that. The rainbows seem happy. I'm not sure if they are showing color, I don't have much of a frame of reference. I'll google it and see if I can find out what to look for. I will give it some time before trying the PH adjustment.

Thanks!
 

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yep i agree. neons need soft, acidic water. they are very sensitive. a minimum school should be 5 not 3. plecos can live in high ph not sure about rainbows. can u give us your readings in actual numbers?
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wish I could. I use these cheap test strips and it's not easy to tell exactly where I stand. It doesn't help that I am colorblind, so I have my wife read the strips. If the strips are correct, the PH, Alkalinity, and Hardness are all in the "very high" range. My area is known for having EXTREMELY hard water, but I used the water conditioner and then ended up even using spring water I bought in a jug. I think I may go to the pet store and get a "PH reducer" of some sort. I have been using "EasyBalance" religiously according to the directions. I thought it would take care of it, but I'm not sure it's working. I will test again when I get home from work and see if I can't get more accurate readings.

Thanks for the reply!
 

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sorry to hear your colorblind. u need to get some water softener and some pH down.
 

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Wish I could. I use these cheap test strips and it's not easy to tell exactly where I stand. It doesn't help that I am colorblind, so I have my wife read the strips. If the strips are correct, the PH, Alkalinity, and Hardness are all in the "very high" range. My area is known for having EXTREMELY hard water, but I used the water conditioner and then ended up even using spring water I bought in a jug. I think I may go to the pet store and get a "PH reducer" of some sort. I have been using "EasyBalance" religiously according to the directions. I thought it would take care of it, but I'm not sure it's working. I will test again when I get home from work and see if I can't get more accurate readings.

Thanks for the reply!
I know where i live on LI there are some places that will test my water if i bring it in to there store...is there a fish store by you? bring in some water have them test it.
 

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Andy,

Before you go dumping more possibly unnecessary chemicals into the tank, let's get a handle on the big picture. It sounds like you just set this tank up, and put the fish in 2 days later, right? If so, your tank has not cycled. Are you familiar with the Nitrogen cycle? It sounds like you know something about it. Have you tested your ammonia levels? Have you tested your tap water for all chemicals? Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, GH, KH? List them if you can.

GH and KH (hardness) has little to do with why your fish are dying. PH is more likely to blame, but if the fish are adjusted to it, the only thing that will cause sudden death is a rapid change in pH. KH is a measure of the water's ability to maintain the level of pH in the tank, it really doesn't mean much else unless you're talking specific fish like cichlids.

Adding chemicals to the water should really be avoided until it's a last resort. You can end up with a cabinet full of chemicals and a bunch of dead fish. Just stick to the time-tested basics: use a good test kit (NOT dip strips) such as the API Master Test Kit, know your tap water, and allow your tank to naturally cycle before dumping all kinds of fish in it.

Prime is the only product you should need to condition your water. You use 1 capful for 60 gallons of water, only during changes and only to the new water you add, so it last for frickin' ever. Slime coat, not necessary. Healthy fish make this on their own.

Aquasafe tries to jump-start or assist start you cycle. You really need to just let nature do it's work. If you can't wait, find a local store that has a few sponge filter (these stores may be hard to find) and have them squeeze them out into a bag and dump the dirty water in your tank - instant colony of bacteria. Or get a handful of gravel from an established tank. Or wait 6 weeks for your cycle to take place. Don't vaccuum gravel too much before the cycle is complete.

Easybalance says it extends the time between changes. Don't count on it. Know your tap water and match temp & ph (as close as you can) and do regular water changes, there's just no substitute for clean, fresh water for you fish.

Gotta go...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks budcarlson!

I took a sample of my water to a local aquarium store. The guy who tested it told me that my tetras all died from the nitrogen cycle and my nitrites and nitrates are in good shape now. He recommended not to add any chemicals to my tank(weird from a store that sells chemicals, but that's good). He recommended not to be brave with Neon Tetras and try a hardier fish in smaller increments. So, I am adding 3 harlequin rasboras tonight and I am taking his advice and doing water changes with only spring water for a while. Surprisingly, he didn't sell me any chemicals and told me about a better way to acclimate the new rasboras. If they work out, I will wait for quite a while before adding anything else. He also recommended that I get a better tester for my water, as the test strips I have are very unreliable and hard to read. I will keep you guys posted on what happens from here. Thanks again for all of the advice. Soon, I hope to take some pics of my tank get them uploaded.

Thanks again

Andy
 

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Good to hear. Good LFS also (local fish store) it sounds like. The ammonia spike at the start of the cycle is probably what did the tetras in. If you're 3 weeks in, you may not have even started getting Nitrites yet, in some cases they don't ramp up until the 4th week, and generally last for about a week, then decline as Nitrates increase, so I'd still keep an eye on them, maybe every 2-3 days, unless you know that there already was a Nitrite spike that has dropped off.

What is your tap water pH? You might have a similar situation to mine. Our tap pH is over 9.0 year round. About 1 month ago, after a big snow melt, all the crud they put on the roads gets flush through the water table, and for a couple days, out ammonia out of the tap was 3 ppm, which at a high pH is extremely toxic to humans, let alone fish. I have a 55, so when I do a water change, it doesn't affect the fish that much. If you don't want to pop for spring water, and your tap water isn't too bad, you can do 10% water changes every other day, then vacuum the gravel lightly once every week or 2 depending on the # of fish and how heavily you feed them - no more than 25% of the gravel each time though is generally a good rule of thumb.

In my 55, the pH stays between 6.8 and 7.2, even 1 day after a 20% change with pH 9.0 water. What it comes down to is knowing your water and how well it will hold pH - it almost always drops in your tank if it is high out of the tap. Usually, tap pH is low because is if oxygen starved, and after it's exposed to air the pH will rise. Some cities intentionally keep pH high for whatever reason. I live in West Des Moines, and it drops fast. In Des Moines proper, they buffer their water so the pH doesn't drop very quickly at all, so one of our local stores that house cichlids does 30% daily water changes straight from the tap, because it's perfect cichlid water.

The important thing to know with high pH is your ammonia level. Ammonia test kits will generally test the amount of combined free ammonia (toxic) and relatively harmless ammonium. At low pH, 7 or less, there is very little toxic ammonia. The reverse is true for high pH water. Check out this link:

Aquaworld Aquarium - The Ammonia and pH Relationship

Very good info to know esp with high pH tap water.
 

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So i guess it wasnt the pleco!! haha.... well good to hear the LFS knows what they are talking about and pointing you in the right direction...and he didnt push any chemicals or anything on you...Good luck with the tank!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yeah, I am pretty relieved. I will keep you posted and I will try to get some pictures of my tank to post this weekend.

Thanks!

Andy
 
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