fish are dying in new 20 gallon tank please help!

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by hart.thomas, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. hart.thomas

    hart.thomas

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    Hi I'm very new to this so ill tell u what's going on.

    I have a 20 gallon tank I just started its fish only it use to be a rabbit tank my aunt had we cleaned it to make sure it wasnt dirty at all. First we put the seasalt from the store in and the salitity is around 34. Then We filled it with city water and used a chemical that I was given to remove bad stuff from the water. Then we added live sand got the temperature to 76. We bought q clown fish and 2 damsels to start the cycle. Within the first day the clown fish died it wasnt eating and stayed close to the bottom corner. Now a few hrs later our smaller blue damsel is dieing he has white on him its not spots its more like discoloration. He's laying in the bottom and will die in an hr probably I don't know what to do to fix this. There's one fish left and he seems fine. Also we have a submersible heater and a filter on the back no other equipment other than the normal hood light for a tank. Please help me figure out what's going on. It was a present for my girlfriend for our anniversary
     
    hart.thomas, Oct 15, 2011
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  2. hart.thomas

    BL1 ............. Moderator

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    Unfortunately, you moved way quicker then you should have. First, you should have between 20-40 lbs of live rock in your tank, it is your main source of filtration in saltwater tanks. Second, you should never cycle your tank with fish, doing so results in your fish dying as you've found out. Third, you need to slow down, things in this hobby take a long time and can't be rushed.

    Here are some good articles that should help you out:
    https://www.livingreefs.com/do-your-research-first-t26793.html
    https://www.livingreefs.com/cycling-tank-adding-fish-and-corals-t26452.html
    https://www.livingreefs.com/guide-adding-fish-corals-and-inverts-t35025.html
     
    BL1, Oct 15, 2011
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  3. hart.thomas

    NanoReefer

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    +1 brian
     
    NanoReefer, Oct 15, 2011
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  4. hart.thomas

    fastrd400 It wasn't me! Moderator

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    BL1 has you covered. However I might also add that you should have pre mixed your salt water with RO/DI water rather than city tap water and chemicals.
     
    fastrd400, Oct 15, 2011
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  5. hart.thomas

    Toolman RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH

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    Nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. I feel bad for the live stock they never had a chance :frustrat:
     
    Toolman, Oct 15, 2011
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  6. hart.thomas

    hart.thomas

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    i feel bad to i did everything i was told to do. i waited 2 days after putting everythng together before adding the fish. noone said i have to have live rock. i have just a regular filter that hangs on the top corner. what do i do? i dont have alot of money to throw into this.
     
    hart.thomas, Oct 15, 2011
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  7. hart.thomas

    marcah

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    just take your time and always remember LFS are in the game to make money so they will tell you what you need to know for them to make it.. you can get some dry rock with a small piece of live to seed it.. Here is a good place to get some dry.. MarcoRocks Aquarium Products - KeyLargo.. the dry rock will become live over time, will save you a bunch of money in the process.. fish will be a few weeks away but getting it started right will save you headaches down the road..
     
    marcah, Oct 15, 2011
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  8. hart.thomas

    hart.thomas

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    so i have to get live rock? that means i have to buy a special light for $200 and i cant drop $500 on this thing right now. the LFS guy actually helped me not spend 50 bucks so im surprised he told me something wrong. so do i need to start over and change out the water i dont know what to do but i cant afford to drop another 300 hundred also i really appreciate the help
     
    hart.thomas, Oct 15, 2011
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  9. hart.thomas

    marcah

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    you can get a light from aquatraders.com for alot less then that. and when the time came you can change out the bulbs to ATI or some other major brand bulb if you wanted to try corals and be all set.. the site is under maintenance right now so I cant give you a link but check it out after..
     
    marcah, Oct 15, 2011
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  10. hart.thomas

    Salty B

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    To do a FOWLR (fish only with live rock) lights are not as important as you might think. The bacteria that grows on the rock and acts as a benificial filter is not photosynthetic. If you want to keep corals, you'll need to look into a light upgrade. As much as it sucks to have to go slow...it's the only way to be successful. Rush it and you're asking for disaster. Now's a good time to do a little homework and ask a bunch of questions.
     
    Salty B, Oct 15, 2011
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  11. hart.thomas

    marcah

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    sorry at this point I would see if your LFS sells ro/di water and do a good size waterchange maybe 30 to 40% then in a few days do another to get rid of the city water that way..
     
    marcah, Oct 15, 2011
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  12. hart.thomas

    SarahSmile :)

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    Hi Thomas, I'm sorry that you're going thru all this, and, well, I'm going to offer some advice that might tick some people off...bear with me guys, I'm trying to save the posters' anniversary gift.
    Seeing as how you are on a budget crunch and it takes time and research and money to get a saltwater tank going and keep it successful I would;
    -return the damsel to the store, for many, many reasons
    -get rid of the sand
    -dump out the water
    -clean out the filter, put a new filter pad in
    -fill with tap water, add your chemical that removes chlorine
    -buy a fun aquarium decoration
    -add some biological start for freshwater tanks, let the water run a few days, have it tested for ammonia by the fish store
    -add a school 4-5 zebra danio glo fish OR maybe 2 fancy goldfish, Or, other hardy compatible freshwater fish. Again, you have to research this.
    At this point, it doesn't sound like you want to buy a testing kit, upgrade your lights, get live rock, get dry rock, wait for a cycle of 3-5 weeks, add 1 fish, wait 2 weeks, add snails, wait 2 weeks, add another fish. Plus, with a 20 gallon tank you are limited to maybe 2-3 compatible saltwater fish and 2 damsels and a clown were not. Damsels are mean.
    Also, saltwater tanks have some upkeep, you need to buy r/o water, mix it with salt, let it set a few days before using it, do 10-20% water changes every week or 2 weeks, monitor the nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, PH.
    I love my saltwater tanks but I have dumped a lot of money on my 14 gallon and obsessively researched and took care of it...
    I've had a goldfish tank for years now and guess what, easy as pie, fun to watch. Cheap.
    This is my two cents, and I wish you all the best and we'll sure try to help you if you want to stick with a saltwater tank, but its' going to cost some money...those cheap lights will just grow algae and be a nightmare and your 1 remaining fish will most likely kill any other fish you try to add. The filter you have is wrong for saltwater and will cause nitrate problems...etc...
     
    SarahSmile, Oct 15, 2011
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  13. hart.thomas

    SarahSmile :)

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    Can you post a pic? Is there anything in the tank? We just have live rock/dry rock in ours, is your tank empty besides the fish?
     
    SarahSmile, Oct 15, 2011
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  14. hart.thomas

    SarahSmile :)

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    I mean, to stay in salt, at the very least he's going to have to;
    buy a test kit, $20
    buy different lights $100
    buy rock $50
    buy a powerhead $20
    return that damsel
    buy r/o water, start mixing it with salt outside of the tank in a container with a powerhead and a heater $30 or buy the saltwater premixed, this adds up fast, I should know...
    get rid of the filter
    wait til tank cycles, 2-5 weeks, testing 4 water parameters every other day to monitor cycle
    THEN, add a nice fish $15 and some snails $10
    continue to test water at least once a week, maintain temperature, do water changes, do top offs from evaporation from the hot lights
    If all of this is something you want to do and can afford to do Thomas, then, stay in salt and we'll help you, otherwise, I say convert to freshwater. Total cost? About 30 bucks :)
     
    SarahSmile, Oct 15, 2011
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  15. hart.thomas

    hart.thomas

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    right now i have the tank the filter and a heater and the normal light. i really have no idea what im doing. the guy said thats all i needed other than the sand (which i got live sand to help it cycle) and i bought the sea salt i put 9 cups of it in the water and mixed it up and desolved all the salt. we waited 2 days to even add the fish. she really wants a clown fish. thats why we went with saltwater. and because its prettier. i just dont have the money to buy live rocks. i dont think the store even sells live rock. is there anyway to keep the setup i have and get it to work? alot of what u guys are saying is honestly confusing me i dont know what anything is. and im still alittle confused on how this all works


    also all thats in there is sand and 1 now barely alive fish, the other 2 died.


    im going to stay with saltwater. so if someone can tell me in layman terms what to do to restore what i have and get it working without buying anything that isnt a must. thanks again for all the feedback
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
    hart.thomas, Oct 15, 2011
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  16. hart.thomas

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Let me see if I can help you save your current set-up and not go broke.

    And this is how we help our customers get started.
    The water you used will be fine for what your doing.For right now anyhow.So don't waste the water and salt.You can swap it out as your doing your regular water changes by just using distilled water.And in a 20 gallon.Just change a couple of gallons of water every couple of week and you'll be fine.
    With the live sand,you typically have 36 hours to get something in the tank to help with the bacteria.I generally tell customers to give the tank a couple of pinches of fish food or drop a raw table shrimp in there.You can remove the shrimp after about 24 hours,since it only takes 4 or 5 hours to get the ammonia going.
    Also,there SHOULD have been a packet in the bag sand.If you haven't already done so,open the packet and pour it into the tank.Its an enzyme that also help get the good bacteria going.
    If you want some live rock,the lights you have are plenty good enough.No,there not going to support corals,but at this point,who cares?? You can build into that if you want later on.bacteria don't require any light.
    Pick up a bottle of the saltwater Activate.We sale the small bottles for 11 bucks.Add one cap full every day until you've used the entire bottle.It's also an enzyme that will help the tank cycle quicker ( and yeah,we use it at the store when restarting the stock tanks after we bleach them).
    Now that that's out of way.
    Either have your LFS test the ammonia in the water or pick up the kit and test it yourself.Either way works.Don't add anything else until the ammonia and nitrites read zero.
    Once you have the tank to that point.Get one or 2 small fish.A couple of fire fish would be fine.The small gobies like the Hi-fins and clown gobies would be fine.Even a couple of Talbit's damsels would be fine.Just don't try to add any more than 2 or 3 small fish.

    Hope that helps.
    And if I just confused you more,feel free to shoot me a PM and I'll PM you phone number back and see if we can't get this going for ya.
     
    yote, Oct 15, 2011
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  17. hart.thomas

    Toolman RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH

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    You are getting allot of good advice so here’s mine.

    1. Go back to your LFS and tell him he doesn’t know $*** and resist the urge to smack him in the mouth ask for a credit for the livestock you lost. How much does he get for live rock?
    2. START reading !!!!! nothing good comes out of rushing the process.
    3. Tell her it's a starter project you can work on it together and make something you can both like (chicks dig that)
    4. Once it gets started you got something to do on your days off go to other stores and look around (don't know where you are located)
    5. Check e-Bay and other sites you would be suprised what's out there. Post it here ask questions people here love to help new guys out.

    The most important thing to remember IMO is that there is no such thing as instant gratification (unless you count buying a new setup) in this hobby it's fun rewarding and relaxing but it does take time. Good Luck and don't give up :Cheers:
     
    Toolman, Oct 15, 2011
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  18. hart.thomas

    hart.thomas

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    i do want to say thanks everyone for the help, tell me if i have this right. i should go get some stuff to do the amonia and nitrate levels to zero first correct? after that then try again with some fish? and i know ive asked this but do i have to or not have to buy live rock? and should i get a different kind of filter and if so whats a cheap alternative? im going to go back to that store and be like what the h*ll. and see if i can atleast get a discount (my girlfriend flushed the dead fish). when do i need to start changing out the water? before or after i get the levels to 0?
     
    hart.thomas, Oct 15, 2011
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  19. hart.thomas

    Mandarin66 Oh Hi

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    In this hobby you spend 1000$ and over
     
    Mandarin66, Oct 15, 2011
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  20. hart.thomas

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Just pick the test kits for ammonia and nitrite.or take a water sample to the store and have them test it.Shouldn't cost over a $1.00 even IF they charge for it.Also have then check the salinity.BTW What brand salt did you use?
    Buy a small bottle of saltwater activate.
    Dont buy ANYTHING else.

    If you want some live rock,then get it.If not,don't.You can also get dry base rock for a whole lot less money than what live will cost,plus the base will become live when it's colonized by the bacteria.

    While I agree that your LFS started you off with some bad information.There are step that we can help you through to get that going and looking awesome WITHOUT costing you an arm and a leg.
    One of MY customers started a 20 gallon 3 weeks ago with basically the same set-up you have now.She had a small ammonia spike that lasted 2 days then was gone.She's already got 3 fish that are doing great and adding some base rock 2 and 3 pounds at a time and she's looking at buying a 240 gallon for Christmas to do as a reef tank.She's on an extremely limited and fixed income,so every cent is precious to her and her kids.
    So it CAN be done and you CAN have an awesome tank without breaking the bank.
     
    yote, Oct 15, 2011
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