New to Fish… keep losing them

  • Hello! I’m brand new to keeping a tank and failing miserably… we bought a 20 gallon tank kit at PetSmart and all the items there for it.

    I wiped down the tank with a wet paper towel and then rinsed the gravel in a bucket in the sink. The bucket had been used to clean floors etc… however I thoroughly rinsed in hot water before using and then double rinsed the gravel cold water.

    We bought several ornaments and plants. Before I I knew better I used a minute amount of natural soap to clean them and then triple rinsed just the boats and smaller chest and cannon but only water for the plants.

    The tank was all put together and a sat a day without water until I was able to get preconditioned water and add it.

    Then it cycled a week before we introduced neon tetras.

    The first 3 did not survive over night. I went to 3 pet stores the next day (2 aquarium stores) and told them the whole story.

    The consensus was the water temp was too cold. None of them were overly concerned about the rookie use of dish soap to clean or the bucket. So I bought a digital heater, did a 30% water change with more preconditioned water and got the temp to 78 deg.

    I also added salt upon recommendation.

    We tested the water and it came back mostly neutral. Not hard (In think that was 0) 0) and anomia level good. It was a test strip so I don’t have specific numbers. So I added more neons. They did not do well either… I cannot figure out what I’m doing wrong!!

    I now know soap is a huge no-no.

    Everyone I spoke with at the pet stores said that’s not likely the cause. And I even changed out the water (5 of 18 gallons). We have a bubble wall in the back of the tank and moves a ton of air.

    There are no soapy bubbles or foam or anything like that. Just small air bubbles.

    There was a film at one point before the first round of fish, but the stores all said it was from the new filter or proteins from the rocks. The gravel has floated flecks and stuff as well.

    Please help me troubleshoot this! I want to get the tank right!

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