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Aquarium Trouble


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Pet Fish Talk is an Internet-Radio Talk Show about Keeping Pet Fish in Aquariums, Fish Bowls and Ponds, that is hosted by the Bailey Brothers, DrTom and Nevin, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, PT, each Wednesday. Click on this image for more information about Pet Fish Talk.
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This page contains emails that are typical of folks having trouble with their fish.

We hope our comments help you, if you are having similar kinds of trouble.


Customer Comments


I'm having lots of big trouble with my aquarium that I bought about six months ago from a retail live fish store here in Canada. It's suppose to be a 40-gallon and has an undergravel filter with approx. three inches of #2 gravel on top and a canister filter too.
It's also got a 150 watt aquarium heater and some plastic plants for decor. But it's usually cloudy and smells bad, and my fish don't live very long. The people in the store have tried to help but I wonder if they know what they are talking about.
Thanks in advance.
C. W.


Reply. Hello C. W. Keeping fish in an aquarium requires the right equipment and a little bit of basic knowledge. You've got an aquarium.

Be sure it's made of materials that are not toxic to fish. You said you bought a 40-gallon aquarium from a live fish retailer.

So that aquarium is probably OK and not the cause of your troubles.

Next you need a filter with a BIO-Wheel like the Penguin made by Marineland. Undergravel Filters and Canister Filters are not recommended.

Click here to read about aquarium filters then continue and read the information about having 1/4" or less of gravel in your aquarium.

Fish don't need gravel, except when they live in fish bowls.

You'll need a reliable Aquarium Heater, if you keep warm water fish.

Heaters come in different sizes and should be sized to your aquarium at about 5 watts per gallon, but this varies with the temperature of the air that the aquarium is exposed to during the coldest time of the year.

The 150 watt heater you have is about the right size.

Follow the simple advice about feeding, cleaning, and partial water changes given at our site and you should be very successful.

Click here and read this page from top to bottom.

Be sure you understand the summary given at the bottom of that page. Underlined words are, of course, links to more information.

Finally, click here and read most of the pages that are linked. Some of the pages that are about fish for children, ponds, fish bowls, etc. may not help you solve your current troubles.

If you absorb most of the information on these pages and put it too good use, you'll avoid most problems.

I think this information will help you, and I wish you'd been able to read it before you started having trouble.


Customer Comments

I have purchased a 55 gal rectangular tank.  I had owned tanks before although many years ago.  I have amperor filter system with a bio wheel and the original filter that came with the tank which is an aquatech power filter.
I added the amount of gravel that was recommended about 60 lbs.  I let the filters run and the water to be right before introducing the new fish, but since adding the fish (9 small) first I had problems with the amonia levels rising and the water being cloudy, I tested the PH and was told to bring it down with a chemichal, it was at 7.6, I did that.
Now I have noticed a few of the fish have ich on them (specially a clown loach and a catfish), I have done partial water changes, added some aquarium salt and quick cure as well as some stress coat with bacteria.  Now since I am medicating I have had to turn off the filters, my amonia levels are high again and the ph is also back up, I did raise the temperature to about 82.
The fish are looking and acting much better but my water is still out of control.  After reading about bio wheels on this website, my husband and I are wondering if I should remove all the gravel, by some bottled spring or drinking water and start all over again.
How do I get the bio process going and should I remove and get rid of this gravel.  Oh, I have also added white carbon to remove amonia to the extra container in my emperor system. Any help will be extremely appreciated. We can't wait to get this all set up and start acquiring some new additions.
Reply. Hello Maritza. When you say you added the recommended amount of gravel, I'm worried that you mean one pound of gravel for each gallon of water.

So you added about 50 lbs. of gravel, which makes a layer about 2" to 3" deep on the bottom of your aquarium, and that is where many of problems started.

Gravel is only ornamental. Most fish do not need gravel. We recommend a layer of gravel that is at most 1/4" thick.

We have hundreds of aquariums in our facility without any gravel, and the fish are very healthy.

The advice you got about pH was baloney! If the pH of your tap water from the faucet is between 7.0 and 7.8, that tap water will be OK for most freshwater fish.

So put the pH test kit away and don't worry about the pH anymore.

You don't need Stress Coat and you should never turn off your filter. You might remove the filter cartridge for about one hour, after you add Quick Cure, so the activated carbon in the filter cartridge will not absorb the Quick Cure.

But really you don't even need to remove the cartridge, because it doesn't absorb the Quick Cure very quickly.

We recommend using bottled drink water, not distilled or de-ionized water, in fish bowls.

But we recommend using tap water from the faucet for aquariums, because buying 55-gallons of bottled water for your aquarium would be a waste of money.

Your fish have ich, so I recommend that you give your aquarium the Recommended Treatment.

Click here for the details.

Click here for more information about how to get rid of cloudy water, where you will read that you should not add more fish to your aquarium, until the cloudiness is gone and your water is clear.

Click here to continue on to another page in this website with more Customer Comments and our Replies.
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