Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a veterinarian for over 21 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians and other exotic species. You may already be aware, but on this platform, veterinarians can provide insight and advice, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship, we are unable to prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For that you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. I am happy to chat with you via text but if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and suggestions that should help with what’s going on with your fish.
I am sorry to hear that you're having issues with your fish tank and that your fish are dying.
The most common cause of cloudy tank water is a bacterial bloom. This is often in response to high levels of waste in the water. It is the waste levels, rather than the bacteria, that typically cause the mortality or morbidity in the fish in the tank.
If you're tank is relatively new or you have "completely cleaned" the tank, you may be experiencing sick tank syndrome in which you do not have enough beneficial bacterial biofilms to break down waste in the tank.
It is vital to do water testing to know if the water quality is good or if it needs to be addressed. I would start right away by testing the water for ammonia and nitrite using an aquarium test kit. If you have the ability to also test for pH, nitrate, KH and GH that would also be recommended. If the values are out of range, e.g. ammonia or nitrite are above 0 ppm or nitrate is above 20 ppm, then perform a 30% water change with water that has been treated with a water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramines and detoxifies ammonia. Also important to check that the water temperature and check that the filter is working properly and exchanging and aerating the water properly.
I would recommend a regimen of water quality testing and, if needed, water changes using water that has been treated with a water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramines.
Water changes will help keep the toxin levels down while the biofilms continue to catch up in the new tank:
-If ammonia or nitrites are not zero but in the 0-0.25ppm, then perform a 25-30% water change. Recheck values daily (in the AM) and water change if values are still 0.25ppm.
-If ammonia or nitrites are 0.50ppm or higher, then perform a 25-30% water change in the AM and another water change in the PM. Recheck values daily (in the AM) and water change if values are still 0.50ppm, continue with twice daily water changes. If the values have dropped to 0.25ppm, once daily water change is ok.
-Once AM readings are 0 ppm for both ammonia and nitrite, you can back off the frequency of water quality testing and water changes to every 3 days.
-Once AM readings remain 0 ppm for two consecutive tests (6 days), then you can back off water changes to weekly and testing to twice monthly.
To help boost the development of your biological filtration, you can purchase and use a commercial source of beneficial bacteria. You add it initially based on the volume of the tank and then with each subsequent water change (based on the volume of the water change). With any of these products, make sure they are well within date, that they are stored in a dark and cool location and that you shake the bottle well before dispensing.
Commerical sources of beneficial bacteria
Dr. Tim’s Aquatics ONE and ONLY Live Nitrifying Bacteria
Fluval Cycle Biological Enhancer
MarineLand Bio-Spira Freshwater Bacteria (FW Only)
API Quick Start or Stress Zyme
Tetra SafeStart Plus (FW Only)
Depending upon your tank size, once you get water quality back under control, you should institute a regular schedule of water changes and tank maintenance. If the tank is less than 20 gallons, then weekly 25% water changes are recommended. If your tank is larger and the ammonia and nitrite tests remain 0 ppm after 2 weeks, you could do water changes every 2 weeks.
If using a sponge filter, it should be rinsed out weekly, if using a power filter then media should be cleaned every 2-4 weeks depending upon the size and the amount of fish in the tank. And gravel should be siphoned once monthly to remove accumulated debris. This can be done with a manual aquarium Gravel Vacuum in concert with regular water changes since it removes water in addition to waste from the gravel. As stated earlier, I don't recommend doing all the tank maintenance at the same time, to avoid disrupting the biological filtration (good bacterial biofilms) too much. Siphon 1/2 the gravel one week and the other half in a week or two.
I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information but in the meantime, I hope this information is helpful and I look forward to further connecting with you about your fish and your tank situation. I sincerely ***** ***** and your fish the best. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com. Sincerely, ***** *****
So it sounds like you may be over cleaning your tank (cleaning sponge filter twice daily?), though with such a small tank and so many fish the frequent water changes may be necessary. You need to be careful about overfeeding in such a small tank as well as any uneaten food will also add to the waste levels. And a sponge filter is not sufficient filtration for such a small tank with so many fish. You need a power filter. Good to hear you are moving to a larger tank. Have you tested your water for ammonia and nitrite levels?
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