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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What a day. I have been reading, cycling and testing my tank for 6 weeks now. I finally got everything, to what I thought was exactly right. Everything tested zero. I did a 80% water change 2 days ago in anticipation of the arrival of my 6- 1 1/2" Yellow Lab Cichlids. They arrived in the mail and were in excellent shape. I floated the bags in my tank for 1/2 hour and went through the mixing of my tank water into the shipping bag. All told it took over an hour to get those fish in the tank. Anyway......They swam around for a bit and then went and hid in the rocks so I went back to work. When I got home last night I saw a few still hiding so I didn't think much of it. When I got up this morning, all the fish are dead. :(

I'm sure it wasn't electrocution or anything like that as everything I have is brand new. I have a 55 gallon tank with a Fluval 405 and a Marineland Emperor 400 filter system. I did check the water this morning and everything was zero except for nitrite. That was .25% Is that enough to kill the fish overnight? I did another 90% water change this morning and once again all tests show zero. I'm kinda paranoid because I have 4 more cichlids coming in todays mail. Another note: ph is 7.6 and I am on spring water so there is no chlorine. Any help? Thanks
 

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For a tank to be fully cycled, you need to show 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and measureable nitrates. If you're showing 0 nitrates, then something is wrong -- either you are not cycled (also evidenced by the nitrite reading) or your didn't shake your test bottles enough to get a correct reading. (I'm assuming you are using liquid reagent tests, which are the only ones accurate enough to bother with.)

How did you cycle the tank? Did you do a fishless cycle by adding ammonia?

Can you get some gravel or old filter media from a friend's aquarium or find some packaged, refrigerator BioSpira to jump start your cycle?

BTW, I was told by a very reputable fish keeper not to do the tank-water-in-the-bag thing with African cichlids. By the time you got them, the pH in the bag was very low and thus the ammonia that had been accumulating wasn't that dangerous By adding higher pH water to the bag, you suddenly make the ammonia more dangerous for the fish. I simply acclimate for temperature (20 minutes or so) and then net them and put them in the water. I've never had an issue. (This does not apply to regular tropical fish.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I cycled the tank with ammonia. Before I started my cycle, I got a few bioballs from a friend with a tank.

Before I did my major water changes, I was feeding the tank to 3ppm ammonia each day. Nitrites never came all the way back down to zero until I did the water changes. Nitrates were readable during the cycle but never over 20 to 30ppm.

Yes, I am using liquids to test.

Thanks
 

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You did an 80% water change 2 days prior to your fish arriving?

Did you continue to add ammonia for those two days? If not, you lost the cycle you had achieved.

It really sounds like you're starting all over again.

Kim
 

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Can you get some more bio balls from your friend? I'm assuming the balls are coming from an established tank. Get as many as you can and then add them to your filter when you add the new fish.

Using a declorinator such as Prime will remove ammonia and help to detoxify nitrite if you get any. Also adding salt at the rate of 1-2 teaspoons per ten gallons will also help to detoxify nitrite.

Sorry you lost the other labs. It may be that they just had a rough trip to you and would have died no matter what however new fish are almost always stressed so that would have made them more sensitive to any problems with the water.

Good luck with the next shipment. :)

Robin
 

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millstream said:
They arrived in the mail and were in excellent shape. I floated the bags in my tank for 1/2 hour and went through the mixing of my tank water into the shipping bag.
This caught my attention. Hopefully one of the more expert fish keepers can explain fully what happened here. But from my reading that if you order fish through the mail you don't want to acclimate them through this method and in doing so you cause an ammonia spike in the bag.

What I have read to do, and has worked when I get fish in the mail is float the bag for half an hour, then dump the bag over a net into a bucket then just put the fish directly into the tank.
 

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I missed that, Cook.MN! :thumb:

The waste in the bags may already be at toxic levels when you receive shipped fish, so acclimating them in that manner can be hazardous. You just want to get them in clean water, ASAP.

Anyone who is accustomed to shipping should take precautions such as fasting the fish for a few days before shipping, and use a product like Bag Buddies to help detox the water and sedate the fish.

However, if you dropped adding the ammonia after doing the water changes (2 days prior to the fish's arrival) you would have lost the balance you had achieved with the cycle in a matter of hours, with or without the bio balls.

You would have had to keep fish in the tank or continue the ammonia until your cichlids arrived to keep the tank ready for them. Now that the tank is sitting empty again, you'll need to start all over. There is also a product called Biospira that can help "boost" a cycle, but I would still be very cautious of adding more than a couple of fish at a time. (You wouldn't need to go the ammonia route if you used Biospira.)

Kim
 

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But from my reading that if you order fish through the mail you don't want to acclimate them through this method and in doing so you cause an ammonia spike in the bag.
You don't actually cause an ammonia spike in the bag but rather you can possibly cause the ammonia in the bag to turn from the non toxic form, (ammonium, NH~4), to the much more toxic form, NH~3 by adding water that has a higher than 7.0 ph. And the higher the ph the more toxic the ammonia will become. (At lower PH levels ammonia turns into the less toxic ammonium)

Hopefully, as Kim has pointed out the person shipping the fish will have fasted the fish prior to shipping to cut down on the waste, (ammonia) produced by the fish during shipment. Whatever ammonia the fish do produce in the bag will be rendered virtually harmless if the water in the bag has a PH of 7.0 or below.

So take the scenario where the fish have not been fasted prior to shipment, and perhaps have been in the bag for more than a day so a significant ammount of ammonia has been produced,
BUT, the PH of the bag water is at 7.0 or below.
The fish are okay. At the lower PH the ammonia is in its less toxic form of ammonium.

Enter the caring aquarist who wants to slowly acclimate his fish to their new water parameters--(normally a good thing to do!). He begins to add tank water that has a PH of 8.2 to the bag. :eek:
The ammonium quickly turns to ammonia and the fish die or are seriously harmed from ammonia poisoning.

Hope I explained that okay. :) As you can see there are alot of variables that will effect the above scenario--how long the fish have been in the bag, how high the PH is of the water being added to the bag and whether or not the aquarist also adds some kind of declorinator that will remove ammonia.

Robin
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the info and help! My generous seller sent 10, 1 1/2" cichlids when I ordered 4. :eek:
Anyhow, I only lost one last night. :) I hope, like cichlidaholic said, I didn't lose my entire bacteria population. I can't get any more bioballs from my friend because he tore his tank down, cleaned it and is changing it all around... I am going to keep a close eye on the ammonia and nitrite and see what happens. I guess to counter any spikes my best bet will be massive water changes? That will be relatively easy as I designed a pretty neat system where my tank will automatically dump a certain amount of water and automatically refill by its self. :D

I did introduce these fish as hollyfish2000 recommended, floated the bag for 20 minutes, dumped the bags through a net and then put the fish directly into the tank.
 

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Thanks Robin for the clarification, I knew it had to do with the Ammonia and PH just didn't know the exact science behind it :)
 

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millstream said:
Thanks for all the info and help! My generous seller sent 10, 1 1/2" cichlids when I ordered 4. :eek:
Anyhow, I only lost one last night. :) I hope, like cichlidaholic said, I didn't lose my entire bacteria population. I can't get any more bioballs from my friend because he tore his tank down, cleaned it and is changing it all around... I am going to keep a close eye on the ammonia and nitrite and see what happens. I guess to counter any spikes my best bet will be massive water changes? That will be relatively easy as I designed a pretty neat system where my tank will automatically dump a certain amount of water and automatically refill by its self. :D

I did introduce these fish as hollyfish2000 recommended, floated the bag for 20 minutes, dumped the bags through a net and then put the fish directly into the tank.
To help with any ammonia you should do daily partial water changes of 30-40%. Get a good quality declorinator, one that removes ammonia and detoxifys nitrite. (Seachem Prime will do it but there are others). To further help detoxify nitrite add salt, (sodium chloride) at the rate of 1-2 teaspoons per ten gallons.
The sudden addition of ten fish is going challenge your biological filtration--even if the tank IS cycled so be sure to test the water daily and watch the fish for signs of stress.
Good luck with your new fish. :)

Robin
 

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Cook.MN said:
Thanks Robin for the clarification, I knew it had to do with the Ammonia and PH just didn't know the exact science behind it :)
You're welcome, Cook.MN.
BTW, Ammonium reconverting to Ammonia is often what's responisble for deaths when you have Old Tank Syndrome. In this case the tank goes without a water changes for months. Without suffient buffer over time the ph in the tank will drop. Any ammonia is rendered harmless at the low ph but then when a water change is finally done if the ph of the new water is over 7.0 then the buffer is restored and the ammonium reconverts to ammonia and the fish suffer and/or die from ammonia poisoning.

Others who have truly studied this subject could give you much more in the way of details on the exact science behind it. :)

Robin
 

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Why did you do an 80% :eek: water change??? Wouldn't that defeat all of the work you did for the past 6 weeks in trying to get the water to cycle????

Did the persone who told you to do such a high water change explain why? I need to understand this one better. I hope to learn something here.

I'm very sorry about the loss of your fish. :...(

-Ari
 

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actually, doing a very large water change after a fishless cycle is exactly what you should do once the cycle has completed. But, as it has been pointed out earlier, without a continuing source of ammonia, the beneficial bacteria dies off, and is lost relatively quickly.

I did a fishless cycle. I added clear ammonia every day for three to four weeks. I went through the ammonia spike, then the nitrite spike, then they came down to zero. This is when I did a large water change, and added fish right away- that same day. I stocked my tank quickly this way and it was very successful.
 
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