Too many fish, too soon equals No fish

26 Jul

I need to get this post out of the way. I haven’t been able to write anything new for weeks because I made such a stupid blunder with one of my tanks.
The background is this:
I have three baby Red-eared Slider turtles. I set up a 55 gallon aquarium for them, about 5 inches deep so maybe 10 or 12 gallons of water.
I returned from a canoe trip to a local river with 2 Softshell turtles and various small local fish. Sunfish, minnows, Bullheads (a type of catfish). I put all of these creatures into the tank with the baby Red-ears. I was cautious about it, I was especially worried that the Softshell turtles would hurt the little Red-ears. But no, the Softshells were wonderful, beautiful and entertaining. They were also a little afraid of the Red-ears!
About 2 weeks went by, it was my favorite tank to watch. So much activity! The baby Bullheads were the best, forming a little school and feeding like little Piranha.
Then, disaster.
One day, I found a number of dead fish and I knew instantly what I had done. Like a brand new fish owner I had dumped all these fish into a tank and there was not enough of a good bacterial colony in the tank to process the waste ammonia.

WHAM, major stress on the fish and, just think, there were also 5 little turtles in there pooping like mad. I have a nice big Fluval filter running but that doesn’t matter. If I had filled the filter with used filter wool from one of my other tanks things would have been OK but I never thought of it.
I made a few major water changes. I should have gotten the remaining fish out and into buckets of clean water but I hoped they could tough it out. They couldn’t. By the next day, they were all dead. The turtles are all fine, just the fish are dead.
Moral of the story: Add a few very hardy fish to a new tank. Let it “cycle” about 6 weeks before adding any more. We all know that.
Since that happened the tank has stabilized. I added a school of my baby Zebra Danios, a few Mollies and some Endler’s Guppies. They are doing great. The Softshell turtles are back at the river where they were captured and the baby Red-eared Sliders are growing like weeds.

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