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HELP! MY SALTWATER FISH KEEP DYING!

Discussion in 'New Hobbyists' started by fishlover336, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. fishlover336

    fishlover336 New Member

    I found a 35 gal aquarium that was in good shape and it was sitting in the sidewalk. I picked it up and decided I'd start a salwater aquarium and make it into a coral reef of my dreams. I bought everything i needed for it:
    live reef sand, decoration white sand, hydrometer, thermonmeter, surface skimmer, 6 watt led lighting, two filter, filter cartlidges, activated carbon, nitrite test kit, xp filter, pump, submersilbe lighting, dead rock, decoration tree coral, and quickstart.
    Boy, was I wrong. That was two months ago. Since then I have spent over $300+ just on trying to get the aquarium started. After the first month of letting the tank cycle, I first bought a tester fish to see how he survived in my tank. It was a blue damsel yellow tail, he died the next day. I then went to the fish store and they tested my water and it was high in ammonia. So i bought more quickstart and after several weeks of contiunous testing and adding quckstart to my tank it was still high in nirite. I then did dramatic water changes with the pre made saltwater from the local fish store. Finally I bought two blue devil damsel fish in september and the are still alive.
    My nitrite level was still high at 1.0. Then for almost two weeks I tested my water and it was at 0 nitrite so I decided to add another fish. I went to the fish store and bought a small yellow tang and a stripes damsel. For a couple days the nitrite was still at 0 and I was happy and thought well this tank may actually become the tank of my dreams. I test my water regurlarly everyday. Then one day the nitrate went off the charts purple testing at 5.0! This hasnt changed. Then 2 days ago I came home to find my yellow tang at the bottom on my tank with his eye poping out and with black around his eyes one of his eyes looked infected with cloudy gooey stuff on it. He was still breathing tho. I then went to the fish store and got some c02 water I belive its called. He instantly reacted a little more lively. But after two hours he was doing bad again, laying on the floor, not moving but still breating. I was heartbroken in watching him be in pain, so I flushed him. I then decided to do a dramatic water change the next day(yesturday). I had the fish store owner come to my home and deliver the water for me. I changed the water I tested it its salinity tester fine at 32 but nitrate is still at 5.0, even though its fresh new saltwater from the store. I believe maybe the sand contaiminated the water. But im not sure what the problem is.
    Today I came home and I found my stripes damsel dead. But my blue devil damsels are still alive.
    I have done numerous trips to the fishstore to buy saltwater or quickstart, ammonia remover nurifying bacteria. I do not know what else to do. The fish store workers dont know what the problem is since I have been doing everything im supposed to do but somewhere Ive gone wrong but I dont know where. I hope somebody will be able to tell me by all the details I have provided.
    Right now when i test my nitrite it tests at 5.0. Please help me. This was supposed to be a hobby but lately it has just become a headache.
    I have spent so much money just on trying to get it started but noting works. I cant get the nitrite to go down and stay at 0 nitrite. Could it have anything to do because i dont have any live rock in it, or because it doesnt have a cover to stop the evaporation? It evaporates dramaticly each day about a inch of water or so.
  2. flower

    flower Active Member

    Hello and welcome to the site.
    Boy, I'm not sure where to start to get you on track.
    First and foremost....your tank has not cycled. That's why your fish are dying...nitrite is deadly to marine life, as is ammonia. NitrAte does not really bother fish at all. Couple that with the fact that you had no idea what that tank was used for before you took it off the street....so who knows if it has dangerous chemicals all in it. Copper is absorbed into the silicone seals and no doubt other dangerous chemicals if they were used, would as well. So that was the first big risk.
    Yes you do need live rock, it gives the good bacteria something to build on.
    What you should do:
    Remove all the fish. Add live rock....Put a piece of raw shrimp in the tank and leave it alone to cycle. Do not do water changes on an empty fishless cycling tank...WCs slow down the process.

    If you keep fish in the system you have to do a soft cycle, that means every time you see an ammonia or nitrite spike you must do a water change because it's killing the fish.
    Your next problem...damsels are evil little fish... very aggressive
    . when they mature, they will kill all other fish you ad to the tank that are less timid than themselves, and they will bite you drawing blood when you put your hand in the tank.
    A piece of raw shrimp is a smarter way to kick start a cycle...not the bacteria you have been adding.
  3. gradymo

    gradymo New Member

    Hi and welcome,
    I'm going to start by saying you should start over with a clean slate, and chalk up what you've done so far as a loss.
    First thing, you said you found an aquarium, how did you clean it out? you should have filled it with a solution of water and white vinegar to clean it. I would let it sit for a few days with that solution to let it clean the tank. Of course you have to scrub the tank walls as well. Then rinse it really well. Let it dry, put some base rock, a couple pieces of live rock, sand and premixed salt water (use RODI water only!) Install you thermometer and get your temperature right (between 78-82 degrees). Get your filter running and add a raw shrimp. Leave the shrimp in there for 4-5 days, discard. Let the tank sit for 3 to 4 weeks. Get some strip tests and test for ammonia every couple of days, after you see an ammonia spike, you should see a nitrite spike and the ammonia should drop to zero. Then the nitrites will drop and nitrates should start showing, After the nitrites drop to zero, your tank is cycled. Now go and get yourself some lab type saltwater test kits and lose the strips. Research is first step in the saltwater hobby, and lots of it. There's a ton of excellent information on this site to help you, and many books you can buy to guide you. Don't get discouraged, it's an excellent hobby (although expensive), and the rewards are worth every penny if you ask me.

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