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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just started new tank and I don't know what I did wrong. I have a 55g tank that I cycled with 2 yellow labs for 7 weeks. Ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero and ph is 8.2. I thought I was ready so I added fish to my tank last week (17 mbuna). One by one they started to die. I saw signs of fin and torso damage which led me to believe that some were fighting even thought I bought lesser agressive fish. They all stayed to the outside perimeter of the tank. In less than 1 week all of the other cichlids are dead and the original 2 are still alive. Am I correct in thinking that the yellow labs caused all this damage? They were a lot smaller than those that I added. Could the fish that I added have a disease? If so I would expect my original fish to have contracted it by now. I am at a loss. I want more fish, but I definitely don't want the same thing to happen. Should I take the original 2 out and see how it goes before adding others? Any advise you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
 

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Adding 17after cycling with 2 may have been your problem. Test ammonia and nitrite again. Eliminate that possiblity first.

Did you see any aggression?

What were the 17 that you added? And what size exactly?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I did see the dorsal fin on the yellow labs always raised which I think means that they are showing agression, but I am not sure. I did test water levels again and they were still OK. Maybe the fish were stressed because I had them shipped but that wouldn't explain the damage to them would it? I probably should stagger the quantiy of fish that I put in? Thank you for the quick response.

The 17 I added were 1.5-2.5".
 

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adlenoir said:
I did test water levels again and they were still OK.
Please clarify what "OK" is. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The 17 I added were a "beginners mix"' of mbuna that I ordered online. Sorry I don't know the exact names. Water levels are still at zero for both ammonia and nitrite. I read here where it is better to start with a larger number of fish so that the stress level is not so bad. I guess I added too many, but what is an ideal number to add and be safe? Thanks for the feedback.
 

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dielikemoviestars said:
Cycling with 2 then adding 17. 'Nuff said.
If you're suggesting that the biofiltration was overloaded, then I don't agree. If water parameters were fine after adding the 17, then that didn't cause the deaths. Plus you have the physical damage to the fish. That's not toxin related. So, I think there's a lot more to be said, actually. I'd rule out disease because it's unlikely that it'd kill only the newcomers, plus again, there's the physical damage. I doubt the yellow labs killed 17 fish. It'd be more my guess that they did each other in. Rather than get a 'mixed bag' of fish, I'd suggest trying again with known species. And first get some recommendations from the malawi forum.

Don't get discouraged, sometimes this stuff happens. It's how we learn.
 

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:thumb: on don't get discouraged. This hobby has too many great awards to let mistakes stop you cold. One of these is fellow hobbyists love to share their experiences and help others. :)
 

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I have some personal views on the "mixed bag". While there are many good folks selling fish, there are also some not so good that will take advantage of those who are less experienced. When I look at "mixed Africans" at stores, I wonder about ethics. Often they are selling to the most inexperienced buyers because those fish are cheaper and therefore more prone to be bought by beginners. The fish in those tanks often are what I consider difficult fish to keep. I personally refuse to keep some of them due to their bad action. I suspect this is why a lot of people leave the hobby thinking they just can't keep fish. They are started out with born killers!

The next time you experienced folks are in a big box fish shop, take a look at the "mixed Africans" and ask if they are fish for new folks to start keeping.
 

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prov356 said:
dielikemoviestars said:
Cycling with 2 then adding 17. 'Nuff said.
If you're suggesting that the biofiltration was overloaded, then I don't agree. If water parameters were fine after adding the 17, then that didn't cause the deaths. Plus you have the physical damage to the fish. That's not toxin related. So, I think there's a lot more to be said, actually. I'd rule out disease because it's unlikely that it'd kill only the newcomers, plus again, there's the physical damage. I doubt the yellow labs killed 17 fish. It'd be more my guess that they did each other in. Rather than get a 'mixed bag' of fish, I'd suggest trying again with known species. And first get some recommendations from the malawi forum.

Don't get discouraged, sometimes this stuff happens. It's how we learn.
Sure, but again, all we've heard is that levels were "OK." And that was after the fish had died. Ammonia/nitrite spike that cleared and left only residual levels (after the fish died) could easily be perceived as "OK."

17 1.5-2" fish, even a volatile mix of mbuna, would be a freak incident if they all killed one another. I would imagine you could throw 17 kenyi/bumblebee/auratus in a 10g tank at that size and have them live for at least a week or two.
 

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Sure, but again, all we've heard is that levels were "OK." And that was after the fish had died. Ammonia/nitrite spike that cleared and left only residual levels (after the fish died) could easily be perceived as "OK."

17 1.5-2" fish, even a volatile mix of mbuna, would be a freak incident if they all killed one another. I would imagine you could throw 17 kenyi/bumblebee/auratus in a 10g tank at that size and have them live for at least a week or two.
So, now they're either lying or incompetent. You may be right and you may not be, but your responses are certainly more than a bit rude and cocky.
 

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adlenoir, I would recommend documenting your readings you take.
It's MUCH easier to determine trends and adjust your maintenance if you have this information.

It also helps when a disease crops up, or this type of thing - you can easily pull it up and go "I had these readings on Date X, I added Y fish here, and these are my readings on Z date..."

I have 9 tanks, so I have to have an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of this stuff.
 

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adlenoir, if you're still reading this, did you happen to test the water while you had fish dying?
Did you add the bag water to the tank when you added the fish?
 

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adlenoir said:
The 17 I added were a "beginners mix"' of mbuna that I ordered online. Sorry I don't know the exact names. Water levels are still at zero for both ammonia and nitrite. I read here where it is better to start with a larger number of fish so that the stress level is not so bad. I guess I added too many, but what is an ideal number to add and be safe? Thanks for the feedback.
In my experience, the risk of adding too many fish at once to an establshed tank is often overstated. These nitrifying bacteria multiply quickly to handle an increased load. That experience coupled with your readings and the behavior and damage to the fish still leads me to believe aggression related. And yes, it is best to add all at once to reduce the risk of aggression to later additions. I'd suggest giving things several days to settle while doing some research on what species might be a good mix for your tank, and then give it another go.
 

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I agree, i would imagine the bioload would adjust and they should still have more than 2 fish. Im curious how much oxygen is getting into the tank? do you have a power head? what type of filters? Make sure you have lots of surface agitation. also whats the temperature? higher temps dont hold oxygen as well as more milder temps. I would imagine you lost some fish to stress, some to aggression, and now are left with your original 2. A note for when you add fish, switch up the territories so they all have their own chance to establish territories. However even small juveniles of aggressive species are usually not very aggressive.

I remember when i first got into fish keeping, i accidentally bought what *** now learned were venustus and livingstoni cichlids because they were in those mix tanks at the pet store for like $2. They didnt survive more than a few days, but those fish get pretty massive and aggressive.

Basically dont give up hope. We all make mistakes or have bad luck. For example a few weeks ago i got 2 juvenile Blue Dolphins, suddenly 2 days ago they both disappeared. Meaning someone ate them. Considering i had even smaller juveniles in there around the same time and never had fish just disappear confuses me but it is what it is.
 

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For fish to die quickly there are usually several things that might add to the problem. It is when several small things all happen at once that things get critical. New tanks, new fish keepers and new fish are all pretty unsteady at first. Then any number of small things can push it over the edge. It is a shame that theses stories are so common as it does really keep a lot of people out of what most of us consider a great hobby.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You guys are awesome. Thank you very much for all the advice and tips. I did not check water parameters while the fish were dying. That's a good idea to keep a log. I will do that. My water temp is 78*F. I have 2 Emperor 400 power filters. I can add a air stone. I currently do not have any. I let the fish bag float in the water to get to the same temperature as my water. I then took a cup at a time of my water and added it to the bag. I took them out and put them in my tank without adding the water from the fish store. I will wait awhile before starting over. I thought my tank was cycled and ready to add fish. I looked at a lot of postings in this forum before I decided to do so. I will remove the yellow labs and start over, checking water parameters daily. Just a few questions so that I don't make the same horrible mistake:

1. What is a "safe" quantity to add at one time? My goal is to have 10-12 fish.
2. What species do you recommend? I really don't have a preference as I think they are all beautiful fish.

Thanks again for taking time to guide me. I really appreciate your input.
 

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1. What is a "safe" quantity to add at one time? My goal is to have 10-12 fish.
If you fishless cycle, add all at once. That's one of the benefits.

2. What species do you recommend? I really don't have a preference as I think they are all beautiful fish.
If you're interested in malawi's, then I'd suggest posting up a question in that section. Lots of people there that can help.
 
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