The New Tank Syndrome (NTS) as the name implies refers to an anomaly (mostly) in newly set up fish tanks. If you find yourself looking at fish carcasses that appear suddenly ,chances are those victims have died of ammonia poisoning or what is termed as New Tank Syndrome.

This phenomenon do not just applies to brand new fish tanks which are less than 30 days old. It can affect old tanks too. Let’s take a look at what this is all about, how this comes in to being and steps that can be taken to thwart it.

Ammonia is produced inside your fish tank when fish produce waste matter. There are nitrobacter bacteria in your fish tank that feed on this ammonia. However if there is not adequate amount of these bacteria in your fish tank due to reasons such as your fish tank is new, you over feed your fish so they produce high amount of waste or your tank is over crowded with fish (again they produce high amount of waste in a relatively small space) could result in the occurance of NTS. There are other lesser known factors that result in this happening as well, such as cleaning your fish tank too thoroughly and too often (resulting in removing good bacteria), sudden change in water temperature and improper dechlorination.

Tips for preventing NTS – it’s always wise to prevent NTS than applying cures once it occurs. See the steps you should take inorder to make sure your fish will not perish suddenly and mysteriously.

  1. If your tank is new, add already established gravel from an old aquarium and let it sit for 4-6 weeks before introducing fish to that environment. You should check the water chemistry (pH and kH levels) constantly during this period. Once you think the cycle is complete, begin by introducing cheaper and more robust “starter fish” to your aquarium first.
  2. Buy a quality water filter. Make sure it is the right size for an aquarium of your size. I recommend having a filter that destined for bigger volume aquariums than yours.
  3. Avoid over crowding. Also make sure you introduce not more than 2 fish at one time to your aquarium.
  4. Do not over feed. Also do not feed them more than once a day.
  5. Always use de-chlorinated water
  6. Do not clean your filter using tap water, use the water from the aquarium to clean it. This can be easily done if you clean filter at the same time you change the aquarium water.
  7. Perform regular pH testings.
  8. Make sure your filter is in good working order and it’s plugged properly.

What steps to be taken if your aquarium is already under attack from NTS.

  1. Stop feeding fish immediately. If they suffer from NTS they couldn’t eat. Unconsumed food debris increases the ammonia level inside your aquarium.
  2. Chlorine kills bacteria so be sure to add de-chlorinator to the new water before putting it in your aquarium.
  3. Introduce an air stone to your aquarium. This will increase the oxygen level helping both your fish and bacteria to breathe more easily.
  4. Adding tonic salt is also a good idea. It helps detoxifying nitrites in your aquarium.