mystery plague is driving me from this hobby

Discussion in 'ASAP' started by bpayh, Oct 9, 2004.

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  1. bpayh

    bpayh Astrea Snail

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Fairfield, CA,California
    >:(

    hey
    i'm pretty new to the hobby.  long-time admirer, short-time fish-keeper.  i've got a 5-gallon FW that's doing "swimmingly" if you know what i mean, but i'm trying to set up a 10-gallon SW and i have had almost no luck whatsoever.

    [ yeah the tanks are small but that's because i'm renting.  in order to get bigger tanks i'd need to get renter's insurance and that just doesn't fit in the budget ]

    i've been trying to cycle my 10-gallon but all the fish die.  i started with a pair of yellowtail damsels, and the one beat up on the other (nipped its fins to shreds) that i gave the nipped one away to a better home.  a couple of days later i noticed rising nitrite levels, although they were still well within reasonable limits--a good sign.  the next day, my damsel was upside down on the bottom of the tank.

    i got a green chromis to keep the cycle going.  it died within 48 hours.  all measurable water parameters read normal.

    i replaced the green chromis with another (this is from Petco, so it's not costing me extra money at this point).  it died within 24 hours.  water parameters normal.

    i replaced it with a pair of green chromis.  they died within 24 hours.  all water parameters read NORMAL!  temperature is steady at 74 degrees F.  specific gravity is steady at 1.023.  inspection of the filter reveals nothing unusual--it looks fine.

    i have been careful to acclimate all these fish both temperature-wise and salinity-wise before introducing them to the tank. i have observed a good feeding response from almost all of them, and they still died within 24 hours.

    i do have a starfish in the tank (see my other thread in the newby section), perhaps it is somehow responsible for all this?  maybe it is some weird strain that releases toxins into the water?

    as of right now i refuse to put any more fish in the tank.  i suppose i can continue to raise the starfish, but overall i am very depressed.  i have read tons of info on how to properly set up everything and nothing has worked.  completely ignorant people who just buy everything at once and slap it all together have more luck than me!  #Q$%@%#^ what is wrong with the tank???

    the only thing i can think of is that i had to wash the tank before i set it up.  i did this with soap and bleach.  i read that you have to be careful when you do this to make sure you wash out all residue of the bleach, and i was pretty darn sure i washed it all out!  i rinsed and scrubbed the tank many, many times.  perhaps this is the problem?

    or perhaps there's some kind of mystery disease/bacteria floating around in there?  some sickness that the starfish introduces into the water?  but the starfish came from a tank with fish that are just fine....grr i have no clue.

    i'm very depressed and disappointed right now.  i have tried very hard to do it right and couldn't have failed more utterly.  please help!
     
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  3. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    I think part of your problem is that this is a ten gallon tank. Small tanks are really hard because parameters can change really fast.

    You also don't seem to have much for filtration.

    If I were you, I would think again about a bigger tank, does the insurance thing really state no bigger than a 10 gallon tank?
     
  4. bpayh

    bpayh Astrea Snail

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    But the water parameters aren't changing, that's the thing!

    The people say 20 gallons is ok but any bigger will cost us monthly $$
     
  5. hoodoo

    hoodoo Fire Shrimp

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    Location:
    Tampa, FL,Florida
    well, 20 gallon is already a lot better than 10.

    How long is your tank running for now?
    You said, you only had a small nitrite spike once. And everything else was fine. Normally you should have had a big ammonia spike and then a big nitrite spike.
    And with 2 fish in a ten gallon tank that should really be big spikes. I got a 10 gallon too and cycled it with two damsels.
    The spikes were amazingly high. And I only fed very very little.
    I was lucky, my fish survived it, but they were friendly. If yours were fighting a lot that doesn't help them handle the stress of bad water very well.

    Do you have any life rock in your tank?
    If you do, I would just let the tank run for a month or two. So that it get's cycled properly. And then you can add fish.
    But more then one or max 2 fish won't work in that tank anyway, since it is so small.

    good luck
    Yvonne
     
  6. Craig Manoukian

    Craig Manoukian Giant Squid

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    Well you guys are forcing me to be the bad guy here.

    Using fish to cycle a tank is barbarically cruel and inhumane.  It would be like putting you in a tear gas filled room without a gas mask.  We have evolved way beyond that method of cylcling which is letting fish suffer through poisoning from their own excrement.

    A much better method is to use raw shrimp in an old stocking.  This will create the ammonia spike that will jump start your biofltration.  Then you can add fish after the cycle is complete and the water stabilized for a couple of weeks, one 2" fish per 10 gallons, and they have a good clean place to swim and breathe.

    Hope that helps and is a good lesson learned.
     
  7. bpayh

    bpayh Astrea Snail

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    Location:
    Fairfield, CA,California
    thanks for the tips on cycling.  i have only recently heard of the non-fish methods and rest assured i will employ them in the future!

    i wish i could get a bigger tank but i've got what i've got.  people say that if i can get a 10-gallon to run then i'll have no problems running a bigger tank.

    about the nitrites--i thought it was a given that the nitrites were spiking as a direct result of increased ammonia.  there's not much else that nitrite can come from besides ammonia-gobbling bacteria, i think.  i've cycled a couple tanks before and it's not rocket science.  i'm confident that the fish aren't dying due to the cycling.  the spike wasn't very high because there was only ONE fish, i removed the other because it got nipped up in the course of less than 48 hours, and i fed it quite sparingly.

    after posting i have carefully gone over all possible sources of angst to the fish that i could think of.  i tested for chlorine and it came back negative.  i have ruled out the bleach theory because the starfish and snails probably should have reacted to that as well, which they haven't.  the temperature is good, i'm keeping the lights regularly, the filter isn't great but it DOES work (i originally used the tank for a FW--that's why i cleaned it prior to the SW).  i thought about how the fish died and they were sitting on the bottom with their gills moving rapidly.  i discussed this with a friend and he said they might not be getting enough air.  i didn't think of that because i thought the fish would gasp at the surface for that but my friend said that they can also sit at the bottom because they don't want to move.  i explained that the power filter does a pretty-good job of disturbing the water and he said that he was pretty sure that saltwater fish need more oxygenation than the freshwater do.  he convinced me to get a little air pump, tubing and airstone to aerate the water, and so i did that.  i'll throw in a few more fish on monday and see how it works out.

    the aeration problem seems to fit all the clues--the starfish is unaffected perhaps because it has an anaerobic metabolism?  and come to think of it, the snails crawled their way to the surface when i put them in.  i had never had snails before so i didn't know if this was normal behavior or not but now it makes sense with the aeration theory, right? i'll feel silly if that was the problem, but hey it's a good lesson learned, eh?

    so what do you guys think of that?

    PS thanks for your time and input, i appreciate all of it!
     
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  9. reiple

    reiple Fire Shrimp

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    bpyah -

    I am sorry but only in the FW world the idea that "if you can run 10 gallons you can run bigger tanks " will work.
    In the SW world the reverse is true. Bigger tanks mean better chances. Even so called "nano" tanks are workable only with immobile invertebrates (corals). Most successful nano owners are already experienced reef tank owners or have an experienced reef tank owner guiding them.
    Fishes need swim space and at that size only very small or one or two small fishes can survive (barely!). If it was cycled and established I would go for a single diadema or pjama cardinal. Even percula or ocellaris clowns grow to 4"! Not for a 10 gallon.
    About your tank --- people who used soap and bleaches are better off buying a new tank. If you accumulate your loses a new 10 gallon would be cheaper. And if you will buy a new tank, why not go for a 15 or 20 gallon! This is mean to you but in the long run you will save yourself headache, heartache and money!
    Cycle properly, establish the right filter and be patient.

    Or get ready for more disappointment. Save yourself the grief! Good luck!
     
  10. hoodoo

    hoodoo Fire Shrimp

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    Tampa, FL,Florida
    you are right craig, it's not "fair" to cycle with fish. I got my tank a year ago and the people at my LFS told me to do it like that.
    I can't change that anymore, but won't do it again....
     
  11. amcarrig

    amcarrig Super Moderator Staff Member

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    [quote author=bpayh link=board=ASAP;num=1097344820;start=0#2 date=10/09/04 at 12:23:18]But the water parameters aren't changing, that's the thing![/quote]

    It is not uncommon for water parameters to spike and fall in 24 hours or less. Your water tests may come out ok but you don't know what was happening to your tank while you were sleeping.

    If you can have a 20 gallon, I'd say set up a 20 gallon. It will still be difficult to keep things in check but it'll be easier than trying to keep a 10 gallon. :)
     
  12. Craig Manoukian

    Craig Manoukian Giant Squid

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    No worries hoodoo, just my soap box thang ya know.

    bpayh, I agree with AC and reiple that in the SW game bigger is always better, go with the 20 gallon if at all possible!