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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. Bad news. I did my first water change on my 1 month old 55 gallon today and i think i did something wrong. I made sure to test all the levels and they are perfect. I added salt and made sure the temp was right as well. I took out all the decorations and gravel vacd and filled the tank back up. I only took out about half the water. And within one hour one of my fish died :( The others arnt looking so great. Very stressed, gasping for air, laying at the bottom on their sides, and their colors are all so dark. What did I do. I know these are just fish but my fish are my life, I love them. And i have had all my cichlids for a year and had them in a 20 gallon, I just purchased this 55 gallon a month ago, and was trying to do the right thing and make sure I start water changes and stay on top of it. I was just trying to do the right thing and I killed one of my fish... :( When I changed the water I only removed 3/4 of it. What did I do wrong?
 

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Did you use dechlorinator? If so what kind and how much did you add?

Why are you adding salt? They do not need any salt in the water to thrive. Unless you have water problems (like really soft water) or are treating a fish for something that requires it there is no need to use salt. With that being said what kind of salt did you add and how much?

Was there salt in the tank prior to changing the water?

What are your water parameters? PH? Ammonia? Nitrite? Nitrate? KH? GH?

Lets start with that and that will really help to narrow down what ti could be,
 

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There are several things that I might do differently. Waiting a month may be too long before doing a water changeChanging half or more is quite a bit at one time. Without testing there is not a good way to say but this is what might happen. As the waste collected in the water, ammonia may have built up slowly and the fish were able to get used to it at that PH. When you changed water, the ammonia may have become much more toxic which burned their gills and caused them trouble breathing. The salt probably did not kill them as it would be more of a slow process and not kill quickly. Unless there is real need for salt, I would not use it except to treat disease.

Of cousre there are some other things that might kill quickly. Any chance that you may have had some pollutant on your hands or equipment? Any type of creams or lotions that use oil can be big trouble. Something like splashing on some aftershave and then failing to wash can do in a tank pretty quick. Just some things that MIGHT happen. Good luck.
 

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Am I reading this right. Was this your first water change after having your fish in this new tank for a month?

Was it a 50% or a 75% change? You mention both in your post.

The scenario that jumped out at me is that you had fish in this tank for a month w/o doing weekly water changes. You then changed a large portion of the water after a month. This can result in large swings in overall water chemistry for your fish.

The best practice is about 20-30% change weekly so that the water parameters are stable.

Another factor, again tied to a single cleaning after a month, is that you may have released a lot of nitrites when you vacuumed the substrate.

I think we need a clearer picture of what happened but at first glance this is what stood out to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, I used dechlorinator. Im not sure of the brand but I never buy the cheaper top fin brands. I did not know about the ammonia thing and it shocking them but that makes complete sense. When I went to my local Petsmart and the man there advised me that I should wait to change my water on my new tank until after a month. He said then do it once every two weeks after that. He told me not to change my water until after a month because since it was a new tank that it would need to build bacteria and it couldnt build the neccessary bacteria with me changing the water. They also told me I needed to remove 3/4 of the water which I did. I did not know it needed to be done once a week. I am so glad I joined this forum, because while I may sound like a complete moron to you guys, I have only made 3 posts and I have already learned SO much. They had me buy salt beand told me to make sure I added a tablespoon per 10 gallons because this would help with the hardness and cichlids like really hard water and it helps with the stress also. My ph was at 7.8 and my water temp at 79. All my levels on the tester strips were perfect. I lost another fish this morning. Strangely both of the fish I lost were the only Peacocks I had in the whole tank. They looked a little better this morning, and they actually ate. But I am so upset that i did this and that this happened. I now know the correct way to change the water and how often. So if you remove 1/4 of the water every week, do you add all the ph chemicals, and prime, and everything else everytime you do it? Or just the dechlorinator, and all the other chemicals will bring the ph up?
 

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Just out of curiosity, what is your pH coming out of the tap (or whatever source of water you use)? Read the pH directly after pulling the water, then let the water sit for 24 hours and test the pH again. Also test for GH and KH. I would do away with the test strips for now and get yourself a good liquid dropper kit (like the API Master Freshwater Kit).

You probably don't even need to do anything to your water except dechlorinate it. The fish can adapt and will be happier in a stable environment, rather than you trying to mess with the pH and cause swings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
ok will do that this evening when I get home from work, and will post updates on the ph level of the tap. will look into getting the liquid dropper kit today also. I have gravel, fake plants, and some aquarium decoration wood for now, and I was really hoping to switch to sand and stack some rocks within the next month, but now I'm scared to mess with them again. In a whole year I have never had any of my fish die. I bought them all at the same time and now I tried to change the water and killed two of them. Im so glad I have everyone here to give me real advice and not just trying to sell me something like the local pet stores.
 

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Carefull-- Advise received on forums can be as bad as advise from LFS! I would not advise using tap water without adjustment until we know what your tap water reads. If it reads way low and your fish are used to the water after you have adjusted the PH, I would not want to further shock them by suddenly using untreated water. It is almost always best to make changes in water slowly if you have fish in the tank. At this time until you know that your tap water is near what the fish are used to, I would suggest it is safer to continue treating the water. Test first, then decide which is better. When adding chemicals,etc. to the tank it is sometimes better to mix them in water before adding them so that they are spread through the water better. Liquid like dechlorinators are pretty quick to mix and most can be added directly to the tank as the water is added without harming the fish. If salt is used, it is good to mix and dissolve it before adding to the tank. At this time I would not add more salt. I would also continue to use the test kit that you have rather than change while you have a problem. Right now is not a good time to try to learn to read a new kit. Precise measurements are NOT required as much as a slow steady approach. Some people like the liquid test kits better but for now, you need to figure out what is wrong before making radical changes. The fish are alive and we want to keep them that way. Big changes can kill fish that are already stressed.
 

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But this is true if you do a fish cycle yo usually wait a month for the cycle to finish and change the water. I know because I have done 2 tanks like this now. But I must say fishless cycle is way better mine took a week. And test strips can be very inaccurate. I've seen a few people come into the store I go to and their test strips will say everything is fineand they when they test it omg everythings is outta wack.

Chances are the ammonia killed them
 

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What did your test say your ammonia and nitrite levels were? It's hard for me to imagine a water change causing ammonia or nitrite poisoning. Several posters already made great points about testing your water from the tap...it's important to know where you're starting. If you had a large ammonia concentration befor the water change AND your tap water has a much higher pH than your tank did then increased ammonia toxicity could be the culprit, but if you had removed 75% of your water it's hard for me to fathom you having enough ammonia present for it to be the sole culprit.

A couple other points. Vigorously cleaning and vacuuming a new tank can disturb your biofilm and damage your beneficial bacteria. It's better to keep waste down by feeding a smaller amount while your bio is getting established.

Table salt does very little to 'harden' your water. It will increase your total dissolved solids, conductivity, and specific gravity but not much else. Oceanic salt does harden slightly more, but really not very much. Baking soda and Epsom salts are much better for general and carbonate hardness (gh and kh, respectively). However, unless you have GH and KH test kits, it's hard to know if you need to add anything. Also if you want to add sodium chloride I think a tablespoon per 10 gallons seems like a lot to me. And for the record, I have yet to find NaCl has any scientifically proven benefits apart from making nitrite less toxic.

If I had to guess my suspicion would be that there was a small contaminant present either on your hands, cleaning utensils, or water change bucket. Had you ever used any of your tools for something other than tank maintenance?
 
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