slambden slambden
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  • Posted on: 9/10/2012 21:43
small biorb - fish keep dying #1
Hi sorry if this has come up before but I'm new to the site and I couldn't find it on search. I've got a 15 litre biorb that has been running for 5 weeks. I put some fish in last week and they are slowly dying off. I started out with 1 beta fish - he died after 4 days & 6 cardinal tetras - I've now got one tetra left - I've found 3 dead ones & the others have gone missing. My daughter has done some water tests for me and the water is spot on. I'm at a loss to know what is happening and feel awful that I've killed those beautiful fish. Can anybody help?
Silverfish Silverfish
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  • Posted on: 9/10/2012 22:07
Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #2
Hi,

I'm so sorry you've had a bad start :(
Don't feel too awful, a lot of us are here because we've made mistakes or been misinformed, so we've all been there.

The trouble is, straight off, 15 litres is too small for fish. A betta does better in 35 - 45 litres minimum. Tetras are fast moving shoaling fish, and they need quite a bit of space as well, they also need to be able to dart in a straight line.

The other problem is, and I'm sorry about this one! - is that bi-orbs are actually just really bad tanks. They're the wrong shape for most fish and they're just not easy to maintain - they also don't have enough surface area at the top for oxygen exchange.

The final problem is that it seems that the tank wasn't cycled before adding fish.
Fish produce waste in the form of toxic ammonia - this is broken down by bacteria into nitrites, which is then broken down by different bacteria into nitrates, which are less toxic to fish.
The bacteria that perform this live in the filter media - usually sponges or in the case of the bi-orb, the stones at the bottom.
When you first add fish to a tank, if the tank doesn't have those bacteria, the water quickly becomes toxic to the fish. It's recommended to do a fishless cycle before adding the fish - this can take up to 6 weeks, but no less than four weeks. It's done by adding a source of ammonia daily, so that you can have enough bacteria to break down the fish's waste when they are added.

You can read about fishless cycling here.

Do you know what the exact results were from the test? Sometimes the results show as being perfect - and it would be perfect drinking water, but totally not suitable for fish!
Onyxia Onyxia
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  • Posted on: 9/10/2012 22:19
Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #3
Hi and welcome!

I'm afraid I have to agree with silverfish. Do you know what your daughter tested for and what the results were? If there are any fish left I think we can assume that there is ammonia and/or nitrite present and this guide may help:

Emergency measures
slambden slambden
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  • Posted on: 9/10/2012 22:36
Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #4
We did cycle for 4 weeks - my daughter keeps a 125lt tank very successfully & is my usual font of knowledge but this has got her puzzled - it's not a globe biorb but a square one. She started the filter off with some of the media for her filter and she is confident that the water quality is good. We had the water tested at the shop before we bought fish and the results were zero for everything with a ph of 8.2 (we live in a hard water area. She tested the water again tonight and again the results are zero for nitrate, nitrite and less than .2 for ammonia. She's asleep now but I'll show her your replies in the morning and see what we can do.

Thank you for your help
Silverfish Silverfish
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  • Posted on: 9/10/2012 22:57
Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #5
Oh, it's the Bi-orb Life whatsit? Well that's a better shape than the globe ones, much nicer too! Unfortunately it's still too small for fish.
You could keep shrimp in it though, if they interest you?

From the results you gave there, it looks like the tank wasn't cycled - did you add the media from her filter on the same day as you got the fish? If you added it more than a day beforehand, it would mean that the filter bacteria may have died off with no source of ammonia to sustain them. If there is 0 nitrates, that would suggest to me that the cycling process wasn't completed, and the tests she did tonight look like the tank isn't cycled at all, there would be zero ammonia in a cycled tank, and definitely some nitrate.
What type of test kit are you using? Is it strips or liquid drops?

Also, a pH of 8.2 is way too high for bettas, they prefer softer water, at 6.5 - 7.5, and I'm afraid cardinal tetras prefer it even softer again, at 5.5 - 6.5.
jaspersdad jaspersdad
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  • Posted on: 10/10/2012 6:35
Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #6
Hi,

I'm afraid the others are right. 15L is too tiny for any fish, however this combined with the high Ph of your water may well have been what killed off your Betta in four days. Cardinal Tetra are also suited to soft acidicwater and need to be kept is shoals with adequate swimming space to avoid becoming distressed.

To be honest this little tank is only suitable for shrimp or fancy snails. On that point I have a breeding colony of Cherry Red shrimp and would be happy to pop some in the post if you want to go that way.

If you have your heart set on fish I'm afraid you will need to upgrade your tank.


JON
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slambden slambden
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  • Posted on: 10/10/2012 9:25
Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #7
Quote:

jaspersdad wrote:
Hi,


To be honest this little tank is only suitable for shrimp or fancy snails. On that point I have a breeding colony of Cherry Red shrimp and would be happy to pop some in the post if you want to go that way.




JON


That's really kind of you, thank you. I don't really mind what we put in the tank to be honest, we bought it as a nursery tank for my daughter's molly babies but then realised that they might get sucked into the filter so she's found an alternative nursery.

She's been testing the water using an API freshwater master test kit. The sponges from her filter went in 5/6 weeks ago and she's been adding some stuff to the water to condition it. But on the advice of the fish shop we stocked it last week and now we're wondering if we put too much in at once. The 2 remaining cardinals are still looking bright this morning so we're going to see how it goes - unfortunately they're too small for her tank or else we'd rescue them now. I think she's planning to do a water change and have a look at the filter when she gets home from school this afternoon.

Once again thanks for the advice.
slambden slambden
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  • Posted on: 10/10/2012 9:40
Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #8
It's a bi-orb flow - is that better?
Onyxia Onyxia
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Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #9
125 liters of water is much easier to keep healthy than 15. When I set up my nano tank I tried to treat the same as my 300l and that caused problems too. The only thing that saved my fish was daily testing and a lot of water changes.

From what I've read a fair few shrimp keepers like the biorb flow but it still has the same problems as the other bi orb products. I don't understand why they have to continue with that old fashioned under gravel filter.
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  • Posted on: 10/10/2012 21:39
Re: small biorb - fish keep dying #10
Hi slambden, welcome to FK.

All fab advice so far

Quote:
The sponges from her filter went in 5/6 weeks ago and she's been adding some stuff to the water to condition it.


I think the original problem lies there. Unless a source of ammonia (replicating fish poop) was added each day to the tank, then all the bacteria you had in the sponges would have died very quickly. Most of us here use household liquid ammonia from Homebase, Boots-online or Amazon.

Water conditioner deals with chlorine/chloramine and heavy metals from tap water (these will kill the bacteria you need in the tank) but don't contain the ammonia you need.

I think the fish went into what essentially became an uncycled tank during that time.
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