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Food related Tank Disaster!
Hi, I have a 30 litre tank, with 4 guppies, 2 platys and until recently 2 terras and 2 shrimp. It’s been running beautifully for 6 months with no fish losses until 2 days ago, when my 3 year old got hold of the fish food and tipped the lot in. Nightmare. I’ve since left lost the tetra and shrimp. I’m now trying to avert further disaster so am hoping for some advice.

So far I’ve emptied the tank, cleaned the filter twice (once in original old water, And tonight again in the newer water), thoroughly washed the gravel in the bottom, and only left around 10pc of the ‘dirty’ water in I.e that after the food went in it in there (worth noting there was no food remnants in the 10pc I put back in). However, the new water quickly became extremely cloudy with a film on top, and my remaining fish are all gasping at the top. So...I’ve done another 60pc water change tonight, added 5 aqua clear balls and some quick safe start, and within an hour it’s clouded up again...and the poor fish are still gasping.

So here’s where I’m at:

If the gravel’s now clean, the filter media ‘clean’, and the tank decor ‘clean’ why is it clouding up within an hour? Where could the ammonia (which I’m told by my local store is most likely causing the clouding and film) coming from?! Worth noting though that my usually always reliable test strips are now showing no nitrites or ammonia, so could something else be causing it?

The fish are clearly distressed, so I’m reluctant to move them out of the tank to do another complete water change and gravel replacement (if it’s not clean after the 20 mins I already spent washing it, it never will be!). Any suggestions as to what I could do, as it’s looking like a complete wipeout the way the fish are behaving?

Could the fish just be suffering gill damage after the couple of hours they spent in a dirty tank post the masses of food that went in? (I originally just siphoned 50pc and the gravel when it first happened, but did the 90pc change and gravel clean after the first tetra went), and no matter what I now do it’s just a case of waiting for them to die?Thanks in advance.
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If there's no ammonia or nitrite then perhaps the change of water chemistry after doing big water changes is having an effect.

If there was ammonia in the tank, it would have affected the fish at the time and they may take time to recover from it. Perhaps they'll survive it, you'll just have to wait and hope for the best.
[Image: 2Tsph5y]
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I have an awful feeling that you may have over-cleaned the tank in your panic......
Washing the filter twice in a short space of time is never a great idea, you have to just get the excess food off the media, which should just take a shake of it in old tankwater.
The gravel would also have had some useful munchers in it, so you appear to have lost most of them in one go, so there's now a "mini-cycle" going on.
It sounds like you'll need to do daily water changes until everything settles down again.
Oh, and get the fish food locked up...... Wink Big Grin
If at first you don't succeed....
...get someone else to do it! Big Grin

Enjoy your fish, shrimps and snails!

All my posts are from a desktop.
Mobiles are way too complicated for me, although I do have one now. Wink
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Thanks both for your replies. The store also suggested it’s now a waiting game. Re over-cleaning, I was conscious not to do this - after being pleased the tank was in good shape previously - but once the tetra and shrimp went, and the rest started to gasp, it became obvious I needed to do a more major clean. I’ve squeezed the filter in old water, rather than washing it in clean water, so hopefully there’s still some good bacteria left...

I’ll keep on with small water changes over the course of the next few days to see if we get any survivors, otherwise it’s start from scratch.
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Kids, eh?!   Rolleyes

In addition to 'filter bacteria' (for want of a better term) your tank carries a population of heterotrophic bacteria which float around in the water. They feed on dissolved organic material and, to some extent, on ammonia - though they're very inefficient at doing that.

Normally the population of heterotrophs is kept in check because there isn't normally a lot of dissolved organic compounds in the water. However the dumping of a load of fish food changed that. Heterotrophic bacteria can multiply alarmingly quickly, and they show in the water as cloudiness (aka: bacterial bloom). It's sometimes seen fleetingly in new tanks.

These bacteria strip huge quantities of oxygen from the water and that is almost certainly a major contributor to your fishes' gasping. That isn't helped by oils and proteins from the fish food floating to the surface and limiting gas exchange with the atmosphere. 

Agitation of the water's surface, ideally via an airstone but pointing the filter's outflow upwards is also effective , should help enormously. Try lifting some of the surface film off with kitchen paper towels, too.
[-] The following 2 users Like Vale!'s post:
  • Annie, LexIcon
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Hello and welcome to the site. Sorry you have joined us with the accidental overfeeding.
Good luck with the ongoing course of action, fingers crossed you are able to save things, keep us posted.
Bikini Bottom - 168l - community
The Kremlin - 58l - Shrimp and Cory 
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Top tips there, and impressive knowledge, thank you. I’ve just pointed the filter upwards, so will see how we get on. Lost another guppy today so that’s 5/9 that have gone so far. The rest seem pretty unhappy (either gasping at the top or swimming listlessly at the bottom unfortunately). The good news is that the cloudiness has gone completely and the film on the top has reduced significantly. The nitrites and ammonia are also back to zero, but I’m not hopeful for the remaining four fish based on their current behaviour.

Another question pls: if I lose them all, would it be prudent to just start again completely, or leave the current tank water, filter media, plants etc in? I would obviously just start with one fish and build up gradually.
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If it was me and all the fish died I think I'd start from scratch. Clean the tank and filter out fully then start a fishless cycle. Once that's complete you can add all or nearly all the fish at once.

With tetras you really want 6 minimum so adding one at a time would only stress them. A fisless cycle can be done pretty quickly, faster than adding one fish at a time.
[Image: 2Tsph5y]
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You haven't got a sickness, just a toxin problem, so I wouldn't see the need to go right back to scratch. Just change the water.
Leave it running and just add 1ppm ammonia to check that it is still fully cycled.
If at first you don't succeed....
...get someone else to do it! Big Grin

Enjoy your fish, shrimps and snails!

All my posts are from a desktop.
Mobiles are way too complicated for me, although I do have one now. Wink
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Have three survivors (2 x platy and a guppy) who are now swimming as normal. Pointing the filter upwards seems to have really helped and tank is crystal clear, so might not have to start again fingers crossed! Will watch how it goes for next couple of weeks before introducing more fish (might have to get replicas as the kids think they’ve gone back to the shop for a bit, ha!).
[-] The following 1 user Likes Richrara's post:
  • Annie
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