Why Do My Fish Keep Dying?

Fish Keep DyingWell, there could be a few reasons. You see, when your fish dies, and it’s not from natural causes, it’s usually because either:

Let me explain how each of these things could have caused your fish to die, and how you can prevent them from happening again.

 

Adopted From A Contaminated Source


Fish can become infected from any aquarium they are in, and can infect any aquarium they enter.

So if you adopted your fish from a source that had your fish in an infected aquarium, your fish could have an infection/illness before you adopted it. Then, over time, the infection/illness worsened, causing your fish to die.

If this is the case, you should ensure you only adopt your fish from reputable dealers.


 

Exposed to Drastic Changes of Water Chemistry


Fish are very sensitive to their water conditions. As a result, they can become stressed if you have ever expose them to drastic changes in their water chemistry while:

  • Changing their water.
  • Transfering them between aquariums.
  • Transfering them from the bag they come in, to your aquarium.

So if you did any of these things, and your fish became stressed, their immune system weakened – making them more susceptible to harmful diseases. Then, over time, they caught a disease, and died because of it.

If this is the case, you should ensure you:


 

Kept In An Inappropriate Aquarium Setting


Fish can be very sensitive to all aspects of their aquarium setting, including:

So if any these aquarium settings weren’t proper for your specific species of fish, your fish could have became stressed, weakening their immune system – making them more susceptible to harmful diseases. Then, over time, they caught a disease, and died because of it.

Let me explain each one of these aquarium settings in more detail…


Temperature

Each species of fish can only survive within a certain range of water temperatures. Therefore, if the temperature of the room the aquarium is in isn’t within the acceptable range for the species, and the aquarium doesn’t have the appropriate heater or chiller, the water temperature of the aquarium will be outside of the acceptable range, and the fish can become stressed.

To avoid any issues with temperature, you should research which temperature your fish requires its water to be, then equip their aquarium with a heater (if the room is too cold) or chiller (if the room is too warm) that has the appropriate amount of wattage.

Which wattage of aquarium heater do I need? (Opens new tab)
Which wattage of aquarium chiller do I need? (Opens new tab)


Nitrate Concentration

Nitrate is produced when a colony of bacteria in your aquarium breaks down Ammonia into Nitrite and then breaks down Nitrite into Nitrate. Having a Nitrate concentration above 20 ppm can cause your fish to become stressed. Therefore, it needs to be removed.

To avoid any issues with Nitrate concentrations, your should clean your aquarium properly.

How do I clean an aquarium? (Opens new tab)


Chlorine

When adding water to an aquarium, most Keepers use tap water. This is fine, but it has to be done in the right way. You see, Chlorine is commonly added to public water supplies to kill disease-causing pathogens. It’s fine for humans, but it can cause fish to become stressed. Therefore, it needs to be removed.

To avoid any issues with Chlorine, you should add the appropriate amount of Nutrafin Aqua Plus to tap water before you add it to your aquarium. Refer to the product label for further instructions.


PH Level

Each species of fish can only survive within a certain range of pH. If their aquarium doesn’t have the proper PH level, they can become stressed.

To avoid any issues with pH, research which pH your fish requires, then measure their aquariums pH level by using a Freshwater Master Test Kit. If the pH of their aquarium needs to be altered to be altered: remove your fish, adjust the pH, then acclimate your fish back into your aquarium – since they are sensitive to drastic changes of pH.


Water Hardness

Each species of fish can only survive within a certain range of water hardness. If their water doesn’t have the correct hardness, they can become stressed.

To avoid any issues with water hardness, research which hardness your fish requires and regularly test the hardness of their aquarium. If the hardness level is too high, lower it. If the hardness level is too low, raise it.

How do I test the hardness of their aquarium?
How do I raise the hardness of their aquarium?
How do I lower the hardness of their aquarium?


Unexpected Toxins

Fish can become stressed when even the smallest amounts of toxins enter their aquarium, including:

  • Bug spray
  • Hand Lotion
  • Perfume
  • Cologne
  • Soap
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Other toxins

To avoid any issues, you should cover their aquarium with the proper-sized canopy and always wash your hands with unscented, non-antibacterial soap before reaching into their aquarium.


Tank Mates

Each species of fish is only compatible with certain species. If your fish is kept in an aquarium with an incompatible species, fighting, bullying, and fin-nipping can occur – which will cause them to become stressed.

To avoid an issues, you should only keep your fish with compatible species. If you need to, use this Compatibility chart as a reference.


Contaminants

If a fish from a contaminated source enters a different aquarium, the new aquarium can become infected with the contaminant. Then, if other fish are added to this aquarium, they can also become infected with the contaminants.

To avoid any issues, you should only add fish into your aquarium that you have adopted from reputable sources.


Ammonia & Nitrite Concentration

Having any concentration of Ammonia or Nitrite in an aquarium can cause fish to become stressed. Therefore, it needs to be removed.

You see, in an aquarium, Ammonia is produced when either of these three things happen:

  • When the fish of the aquarium excrete waste.
  • When the biological waste from the fish of the aquarium decomposes.
  • When the leftover food inside the aquarium decomposes.

Now, if an aquarium has enough Ammonia in it, over time, the aquarium will develop a colony of bacteria that can break down the Ammonia into Nitrite. Then, if an aquarium has enough Nitrite in it, over time, the aquarium will develop a colony of bacteria that can break down the Nitrite into Nitrate. When an aquarium reaches this point, there is barely any trace of Ammonia or Nitrite in the water, so the fish are safe.

So, if the aquarium has Ammonia or Nitrite in it, it just means that the colonies of bacteria in the aquarium can’t break down the Ammonia or Nitrite into Nitrate fast enough. If this is the case, it’s because of one or more of these things:

Let me thoroughly explain each one of these things…


> The Aquarium Is Overstocked

When you compare an aquarium that is overstocked to an aquarium that is properly stocked, the overstocked aquarium will have more fish per square inch of aquarium. Since Ammonia (and therefore, Nitrite) is produced when when the fish of the aquarium excrete waste and when the biological waste from the fish of the aquarium decomposes, an aquarium with more fish per square inch of aquarium will produce more Ammonia.

To keep an aquarium from being overstocked, stock the aquarium with one inch of fish for every gallon of water that the aquarium holds.

How many gallons of water does my aquarium hold? (Opens new tab)

If your aquarium is overstocked, do one of these:

  • Acclimate your fish into an aquarium that is the appropriate size.
  • Acclimate some of your fish into another aquarium.
  • Donate/Sell some of your fish.

> The Fish Are Fed An Improper Diet

Each species of fish requires a specific feeding regimen. If they aren’t fed the proper feeding regimen, they may not eat all the food that is added to their aquarium. The food will then decompose at the bottom of their aquarium and produce Ammonia.

To avoid any issues, you should research what feeding regimen your fish requires, then feed them accordingly.

How do I feed a Betta fish? (Opens new tab)


> The Aquarium Hasn’t Completed Cycling

“Cycling” is the process of which the colonies of bacteria build up in the aquarium so that an aquarium can break down Ammonia into Nitrite and then Nitrite into Nitrate. The process can usually take up to a 2 months to complete, so during this time, there will be Ammonia and Nitrite in the aquarium.

If there are fish in an aquarium that hasn’t completed cycling, the fish should be transferred into an aquarium that has completed cycling, the original aquarium should be cycled, then the fish can be transferred back the original aquarium.

If there is no other aquarium to transfer the fish into, test the water of the aquarium everyday. If there is any Ammonia or Nitrite in the aquarium, you can perform as many water changes as necessary to eliminate the traces of Ammonia and Nitrite.


> The Aquarium Isn’t Cleaned Properly

When an aquarium isn’t cleaned properly, Ammonia and Nitrite can stay in the aquarium.

To avoid this issue, clean the aquarium properly.

How do I clean an aquarium? (Opens new tab)


> The Filter Isn’t Powerful Enough

When a filter isn’t powerful enough for the aquarium it is attached to, water movement is slower. A lack of water movement in an aquarium means that the colonies of bacteria that break down Ammonia into Nitrite and Nitrite into Nitrate don’t reach all of the Ammonia and Nitrite. Therefore, Ammonia and Nitrite build up in the aquarium.

To avoid this issue, supply your aquarium with a filter that has 5-10 times the amount of water inside the aquarium each hour. Use the calculator below to determine how many GPH (gallons per hours) this equates to for you:


 


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