In spite of my initial newbie mistakes things still worked out – sort of. After reading from the “Aquarium for dummies” book, I knew I had to feed the fish just enough so that they can finish it in 3 minutes.Overfeeding is one of the most common newbie mistake , which fortunately I avoided.
So excited that my fish was doing well, over the next week I added 2 swordtails too.
Another newbie mistake – adding too many fishes than the tank can handle. The general rule of thumb is 1 inch per 1 US Gallon of water. Of course my 3 gallon can hold about 3 inches of fish (of course this is a rule of thumb and smaller the tank more rigorous you should be). A serpae tetra can grow to about 2.5 inches and a swordtail to about 3 inches, so the bio-load in my tank was way too much than needed.
Now over the weekend it was time to change water of the tank. I had read that the tank requires water changes. So one Saturday afternoon I filled a tumbler full of water, netted all the fish, and put them in the tumbler and EMPTIED THE ENTIRE TANK !!!!! and replaced the entire tank water.
This was due to my total ignorance of the Nitrogen cycle that goes on in the tank. It can be simply described as follows:
Fish produce waste in the form of ammonia. Also uneaten food adds to the ammonia. Ammonia is extremely poisonous to fish. There is a set of (good) bacteria which convert the ammonia into nitrites. Nitrites are also slightly less poisonous to fish. There is another set of (good) bacteria which convert nitrites to nitrates.It takes considerable amount of time to develop these bacteria (and start the cycle). Nitrates are not very good to fish either but can be removed from the water by regular 20 % water changes. AHHHHA! That is why you need water changes. By changing the entire water, I also killed the good bacteria and thus pretty much restarted the cycle from start, thus exposing my fish to ammonia till the good bacteria develop again.
The fish survived the first “water change” but not the second one and I had to say good bye to my first set of fish !
Also I never felt the need to get a good water parameters test kit ! You should test your water parameters – Ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, hardness, Ph and alkalinity of tank water every week.
So after coming out of this initial depression, I tried to setup my tank again this time with sunset and mickey mouse platies. I almost repeated the same mistakes again , also I set the tank up by end of fall and with no heater. Finally my 2nd set of fish succumbed too.