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Three Fish Four Fish Fish Serial Killer Part 3

Updated on June 7, 2009

The Story So Far....

A fish, a tank and a way around a rule, it started out so simply and innocently.

In our last episode,  troubles were averted by the acceptance of the tank, yet more trouble is lurking on the horizon... How many will have to die before the Fish Serial Killer can be stopped?

For Part 1

For Part 2

The next morning I go in to wake up my son and check the tank. I turn on the tank light and open the lid to feed the poor things and notice rainbow water. I then noticed that the fish were all at the bottom of the tank. They looked droopy and sluggish. Something was definitely wrong. There should not be what looks like an oil slick in my newly cleaned tank. At least I didn’t think so- but I’m still learning right?

Back to the internet I go. By this time, I had found an aquarium forum that was pretty active and posted my query to the group. Within minutes, I knew I was in trouble, really BIG trouble!

The chemicals in the cleaner combined with the algae killer and dechlorinator had created a chemical leaching agent that was leaching what was left of the paint on the fake rock into the water. I was slowly poisoning my son’s fish. To make matters worse, by entirely emptying and cleaning the tank, I had destroyed the balance of that enclosed ecosystem. I now had a brand new tank that needed to be conditioned to get the nitrate cycle going. I had originally avoided this through the sheer luck of my friend Bev giving me the Gourami in water from her tank and using it in mine.

The consensus from the forum group was that I would have to do another complete change of water, remove the plastic reef and get to the pet store and buy some instant conditioner. Then, hope for the best as I was terribly stressing the fish out. Drooping was not a good sign. In fact, it was a very bad sign. I added that to my ever growing knowledge of fish facts.

So back in the bucket go the fish. I wrestled the siphon until the tank was empty and then refilled it. I threw away the plastic reef and any other decoration that had paint on it. And, leaving the poor fish in the bucket, I headed back to the pet store. By this time, I knew the hours of operation by heart and could recognize most of the sales people on sight. Upon reaching the store, I quickly scanned the aisles and found the conditioner. I grabbed the biggest bottle and made my purchase.

Coming home, I hesitantly peered into the bucket, fearing the worst. They were still hanging in there. I put the conditioner in the tank as directed and the added the fish back in as well. Then I walked out of the room, resolving that if these fish died, I would somehow make it up to my son by learning everything I could on fish care before we bought another fish. I’d become a fish expert.

By evening, the fish had begun to perk up, the water was a little cloudy but I was informed by the forum that this was normal. I was to use my testing kits to make sure that the ammonia levels did not go above a certain level or I would have to begin to do partial water changes to keep enough oxygen in the tank for the fish to breathe. I would know that the tank was finally getting its normal cycle back when the ammonia levels reached zero and the nitrate levels were within a certain range on the little card that was in the kit. I went to bed certain that this was just another small bump in the road of learning about aquariums.

I woke up the next morning to a completely cloudy tank. You couldn’t even see the fish in it, nor anything else. Grabbing my chair and siphon I emptied half the tank and refilled it with fresh water and found my first casualty. Even I know upside down is not what God intended fish to do. Thankfully, it wasn’t Gourami. Being a bigger fish than the others would, I hoped, help him weather the current crisis.

I spent the next few days constantly changing water, watching as the ammonia levels climbed higher and higher. We held 2 more funerals. Gourami hung in there, a game fish he was, and now sole survivor. Finally in desperation and after exhausting all other possibilities, the forum and I concluded that to reduce the off the chart ammonia levels, I would have to change out the gravel. The decay from left over algae plus killing the other bacteria necessary for the normal ammonia conversion process was creating a bigger problem than I could solve with a few water changes.

I learn a few other facts during this period. For example, most people that start a new tank will buy several feeder gold fish and use them to start the process. These fish usually die off and then you stock your tank with what you want. Also, bigger tanks are more forgiving of errors than small tanks. Most aquarium enthusiasts only use ten gallon tanks as breeding or quarantine areas.

So the best solution was to go to the pet store to get some feeder fish and new gravel and start over again. Off to the pet store I reluctantly went. I picked up some gravel on sale and some feeder fish and headed home. Once again I cleaned out the tank and took out all the old gravel. Fresh gravel and fresh water made the tank look deceptively healthy.

Poor Gourami, he never had a chance. Neither did the feeder fish, 5 in all, make it. As my luck would have it, no one told me that there are special types of gravel for saltwater tanks. They do not react well to fresh water; releasing chemicals into the water and raising the Ph level to a lethal dose of acidity. I had unknowingly created a tank full of acid rain and put the fish in it.

Upon putting the fish in the water, the goldfish spiraled tail first into the gravel. Gourami, veteran of my other mistakes, did likewise. I hastily fished them all out and put them back in the bucket. Sadly, within a few short seconds they were all belly up in the flush me position. By this time, all the kids realized that trying to name the fish was a bad idea. Instead, they started giving them numbers. A mass flushing funeral was held for Gourami, and numbers five through nine.

I hit the internet and a state of shock descended on me after I researched what I had done. The forum was sympathetic, but I was beginning to get a sense of wariness and doubt amongst the answers. Could I really be that ignorant? Yes, I admit, I was. I was also angry. The pet shop I had been faithfully going to was letting me buy things that they knew were either harmful or not necessary. I had had enough.

Now, I was bound and determined to master the art of owning an aquarium. It had become more than a desire to give my son a pet, save a fish or get around a rule. This was “A Quest”. I would, no matter how many goldfish had to die, get this tank to cycle and have fish living and thriving in it. I would not be denied!!! I would start again…

Stay Tuned for.....

The Thrilling Conclusion!!!

Wherein You- Faithful Reader find out:

How many more died...

What happened to the Survivor?

Was "The Quest" fulfilled?

Can it Happen Again?


Read Part 1

Read Part 2  


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    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      I prefer my Jado bird to all other pets. I hate fish tanks

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 8 years ago

      Hi Nanny,

      Oh no, don't tell me she flushed the Oscar too??  Or did she just send the boyfriend and the fish packing? LOL  too funny.

      I think if I had to vote on the best pet, with no cost whatsoever, it would be a pet rock :)

      Other than that, cats and dogs top my list.  Preferably cats since they are so much more self sufficient.

    • Nanny J.O.A.T. profile image

      Nanny J.O.A.T. 8 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      Trish - I'm sitting here laughing my bum off! My friend Bev who's gourami started all of this got an Oscar from her boyfriend when she redid her tank - talk about poetic justice!!! She didn't know they were solitary either!!!!! When she found out - the boyfriend and the fish didn't last long!

      Thanks for reminding me of that.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      And people think dealing with fish is a restful activity! :P

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 8 years ago

      I saw it coming LOL. Sorry, I don't mean to laugh, but you tell a wonderful story.

      I've been in the same boat you are. My late hubby and I started out with a 10 gallon tank. The fascination grew till we were the proud owners of two 10 gallon tanks, two 20 gallon tanks and a huge 55 gallon tank, all fresh water. As it turned out, we didn't do too badly, and that I credit to my hubby, as he did all the maintenance. One day, his brother acquired a large fish, whose name I forget, and was telling my hubby that he thought his fish was lonely. At the same time, my hubby acquired an Oscar, another large fish. The Oscar had to be fed feeder fish, and yuck, that was disgusting to watch.  My son at the time thought it was great fun to watch the Oscar hunt down the feeder fish.  He was so impressed, he started inviting his friends to come watch, and would charge each something like 25 cents to view the spectacle.  Often, my hubby sent me out to buy more feeder fish, and it bothered me a lot, so much so that I took to ferreting out ones that I thought were pretty, and saved their lives by putting them in our other tanks.  I don't think my hubby ever caught on.

      Well, my hubby and brother-in-law get to brainstorming about what to do about the lonely fish, and lo and behold, they decided it would be a good idea to have his brother's fish brought to our home and put in the tank with the Oscar.  By the way, an Oscar is a solitary fish, which we didn't know. It turned out that my brother-in-law's fish was a fighting fish, which we also didn't know. Well, within a matter of an hour, our fish was killed. The fighting fish did just that, finished him off like he was an appetizer.

      I'm not sure how long after that it was that we finally decided we had enough.  Not only was it costly, but extremely time consuming.

      Thanks for sharing and reminding me of my own adventure with aquatic pets.

      PS: I can't wait for the conclusion.

    • Fisher2008 profile image

      Fisher2008 8 years ago from U.S.

      Oh, man, you should be more careful to them.

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Oh no! I waited till I thought it was over! One more part? Add big tease to fish killer!

    • Nanny J.O.A.T. profile image

      Nanny J.O.A.T. 8 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      Now folks, I promise the conclusion by tonite - but I gotta get some rest!!!