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Fish/10 gallon fish tank

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Question
Alright so I got a tank about a month ago and all hell broke lose. First I had a 10 gallon tank with 2 platys in it. I didn't cycle the tank and that was my first problem. The fish seemed to be doing fine so I added 3 more platys to the tank. My brother then added 2 goldfish and put way too much food in the tank and that was one of the first things that went terribly wrong in my tank. Then the goldfish died, got sucked in the filter and created more and more ammonia. Before long more and more fish died and I took the other goldfish out of the tank. By now I've been doing water changes, putting in tap condition, and using a product to maintain water chemistry and pH. I also purchased a API Freshwater Master Test Kit. At first the ammonia was sky high, the pH was very high (around 10), the nitrite was 0ppm, and the nitrate was 20ppm. Now, sadly all the fish have died and I tested the aquarium today and the Ammonia was 0, pH was 8.4, Nitrite was 1.0ppm, and the nitrate was 160ppm. I do not know why the nitrite and nitrate shot up because I have been preforming water changes and I was barely feeding my fish when the ammonia rose. Since all the fish died I am going to try to keep the Ammonia at 0, lower the pH to 7, lower the nitrite to 0, and lower the nitrate to 10ppm. My tank has 3 big rocks rocks and 9 small rocks from either my garden or a creek (that have been cleaned and tested for lime) and I also have a piece of driftwood from the pet store (which is not real driftwood.) The temperature is around 76 and I have a heater made for a 10 gallon tank. The filter is an Aqua-Tech Power Filter 5-15 and a hood with 15t10/cl-120v aquarium light bulbs (one of them blew out though.) I plan on planting the aquarium with money wort and anubias plants and eventually adding 4 Celestial Pearl Danios, an Otocinclus fish, and an African Dwarf Frog. Does this sound good?

Answer
Hello Rachel,
Everything sounds good for what you are adding. Typically the nitrate level rises because a lack of water changes which I'm sure you already know, given you know what levels should be at. I would try to keep nitrate at a 5ppm or lower. Make sure you replace the bulbs. Proper lighting is a good way to maintain the amount of algae growth in your tank. Continue to let the tank cycle for a few more weeks and look to see what the levels are. Pay close attention to ammonia and nitrite. If you weren't aware, fish give off ammonia which bacteria then turn to nitrite. After it is converted to nitrite, another bacteria uses it to form nitrate. That is why your nitrate level is so high. You had such a high amount of ammonia and nitrite in the tank, it caused the nitrate to sky rocket. PH can change from adding various chemicals, especially if you add too much of them. Make sure you only use the recommended dosage for any chemicals you add. The only thing I would be iffy about adding to the tank would be the african dwarf frog. They require different food than the other fish and typically I try not to put any frogs in with fish. However, that is just my opinion. I have seen frogs live perfectly fine with fish before. One more thing to remember with fish, if you ever add goldfish again then you should feed them very small amounts about 4 or 5 times a day. You do this because they have no stomach so they cannot hold food inside of them. They will still be one of the dirtiest fish on the market but by feeding them these small quantities throughout the day instead of twice, it will make their digestion process more efficient. I hope this helped you out and if you have any questions feel free to follow up!

Sincerely,
Jordan

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Jordan Gobely

Expertise

I can answer most questions about fish care and maintenance. I am not an expert on saltwater aquariums but I am researching more about them on a daily basis. I have kept many different tropical freshwater fish as well as cichlids. Brackish water is my weakest category but if you have a question feel free to ask and I will do research on it myself.

Experience

I have kept fish for over 10 years. I am also an employee at a pet store and the head of the fish department. I am going to school at Emporia State University and studying biology with a concentration in ecology and biodiversity for undergraduate work. Right now my job is to care for and maintain the fish department at a local pet store. As far as water quality, I am well versed in different practices you can do to help improve conditions and what levels to look out for when testing the water.

Education/Credentials
I am majoring in Biology at Emporia State University and have researched fish reproductive behavior for the past decade.

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