we have a new 15 gallon tank with aqueon power filter 20 and four gold fish. this morning all fish were at bottom of tank then we found one dead stuck against the filter. then after we returned from exercise a second one was stuck against the filter. help! my son is so sad/ the water looks clear. we added a bubble maker and greenery plus light today. today we finally got the built in light to work and added a bubble maker. that was after the first smallest fish died. each fish is bigger than a table spoon in body size and longer with tail. the first two we bought with the tank a week ago, the second two were bought this weekend and are slightly larger. they were added on saturday. Today my son changed 25 % of the water as he was told to do. he also added rocks to bottom of tank today. he forgot to wash the rocks prior to adding them to tank. so now he tells me he took the fish and some of the water out and washed the rocks with cold water and then put all new water in the tank.
Unfortunately what happened in your tank is not an uncommon occurance and commonly referred to as "New Tank Syndrome".
Basically what happens in a new tank set up is that ammonia forms as a result of fish waste. In a tank that's been up and running for awhile there exists sufficient "good" bacteria to break ammonia down rather quickly but in a new tank this good bacteria has yet to form.
Ammonia is harmful and lethal to fish as you have witnessed with your own eyes. It cannot be seen and the only way it can be detected is via water testing.
A new tank thus has to pass through what is known as the "cycling process".
A simple breakdown of what occurs is this:
1) Fish go in tank
2) Ammonia begins to form and rise
3) Nitrites begin to form and eliminate ammonia. Note: Nitrites are just as dangerous as ammonia.
4) Nitrates begin to form and completely eliminate all traces of ammonia and nitrates.
Nitrates are not at all harmful at low levels and can be easily lowered/removed via partial water changes.
Once the above 4 steps have run their course the tank is considered cycled and one can begin normal fishkeeping.
So the question is- how does one deal with this, prevent a major die-off?
This is the answer and I'll tailor it to your specific tank:
1) Start off by only adding one small goldfish.
2) Do not overfeed the fish. Feed only a small pinch of food once every other day.
Excess feedings create more fish waste which in turn creates more ammonia.
3) Test the water frequently and when ammonia and/or nitrites begin to rise do an immediate 25% partial water change. I know this is a bit tedious of a task but it's the only way to monitor what's going on in the water. If you don't want to test then a water sample can be taken to your local pet store where they will usually test for free.
4) Whilst the tank water is cycling do not change/clean the filter nor the filter media as this is where the beneficial bacteria will colonize.
5) Add aquarium salt to the water at a ratio of 1 tablespoon per every 5 gallons and continue to add the corresponding amount with each partial water change.
6) Keep the water well aerated as ammonia and nitrites deprive the fish of oxygen.
7) Try and keep the water temperature around 65f degrees as ammonia is less toxic at lower water temperatures. Also cooler water holds more oxygen.
8) Once water test results indicate that ammonia and nitrites are at -0- you should then consider adding another goldfish. The cycling process usually lasts between 6-8 weeks-not a fun time for the fish.
Best wishes and please let me know if you have any questions.
your answer was tailored as if all the fish had died, but we still have 2 big gold fish living and sort of hanging out between the middle and the bottom. how do we save them?
The way to give the remaining fish a chance is by following the recommendations supplied in my original answer. The fact that the fish are hanging out in the middle and the bottom is not a good sign for goldfish. If the fish aren't too badly affected they might survive if you implement my suggestions.
Listed below are two links, click on them when you have a free moment and read through them. They'll give you an overview of cycling and New Tank Syndrome.
so we added more water with declorination 25% and suddenly one of the two remainfish began to swim sideways and he is now breathing hard. it is late night and can't get to store. should we take him out of the tank and put him in a bowl of water til tomorrow or is there anything we can do to help? the list of things you ask us to do seems to require recyling the tank water completely and then adding one fish. what about these 2? do we just let them stay in while we cyphon out water and add new water? help my son and I are so stressed to see the fish suffering reply fast!
I assume that when you added the new water it was the same temperature as the water in the tank, if not it could be whats causing the problem as a sudden change in water temperature or parameters will cause shock and subsequently odd behavior and death at times..
There's actually no need to start all over again as the tank has at least started the cycling process. Follow directions 2-8 listed in my original response. Test the water- it will give you a definitive measure of the water's status at this point in time. With proper tank care and a little luck your tank might be able to sustain both fish during this most difficult period.
I'm sorry if I gave a response that sounded like all the fish were dead but sadly this is what usually happens in a new tank with new owners who are unfamiliar, through no fault of their own, with the cycling process. Pet store employees, if they're selling and dealing with fish, should know this information but either as a result of laziness or greed do not inform the customer as a troubled tank/fish are good business for them.
In answer to your question-"what about these 2?". Let them stay in the tank. This will keep the cycling process moving forward because it's fish waste that starts this whole process. Key points to remember- test the water, do 25% partial water changes when needed and do not overfeed. Also try and read the links supplied earlier when you have a chance. Keep in mind there's no miracle fix for this--only time.
Hang in there- you can do it!
Thank you for your accept.
2118 satisfied customers