Help needed - mysterious cause of death for all fish. 4 remaining but not doing well.

Willow92

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Tank size: 100L/26gal
pH: 7.2-7.4
ammonia: 0
nitrite: 0
nitrate: 20ppm
gH: 150 ppm
tank temp: 28 degree Celsius (previously 26 but have upped since fish started getting sick)

Volume and Frequency of water changes:
Normal routine 1-2 per week 25-50% - treat with prime and stress coat.

Chemical Additives or Media in your tank:

Internal sponge filters (aqua one) X 2. both set with the attachment head that sits above the water and does small waterfalls to create lots of air and water movement.

Add seachem flourish (occasional) for the plants. Prime dosed during cycling and at water changes with stress coat.

Tank inhabitants:
Original fish -
- 2 normal molly (male and female)
- one balloon molly (female) there was a second female balloon molly which died within 2 weeks but appeared sick from the start.
- 2 small baby mollies born around 6 weeks ago
- 5 Dwarf neon rainbow fish
- 1 mystery snail
Original plants -
- green pennywort
- hair/grass (can’t remember name) which is attached on driftwood
- small plant attached to small rock (again unsure of name)

Recent additions to your tank (living or decoration):

2 weeks ago changed tank around.

- Gravel changed from blue fake gravel to natural black/brown. New gravel was super dirty out of bag and needed a lotttttt of rinsing. It still caused some cloudiness for half a day.
- I kept some original gravel in the tank to try keep bacteria stable along with the filters.
- added new driftwood with attached plant
- Anubias plant added to

New fish:
- two weeks ago after change of tank decor I introduced one additional balloon molly and 2 x very small angel fish.
- one of the new angel fish was fine for a few days then around the 4th day started behaving erratically for a day (swimming into glass, pacing the tank) then hiding for 1-2 days before dying. I had accidental dropped the bag before putting these new fish in the tank so assumed it may have became injured.
- one week later I was feeling sorry for the remaining angel and purchased a new angel fish from the same shop and tank I got the Initial two. This angel fish was being bullied by huge mollies in the tank at the store but otherwise seemed fine.

SYMPTOMS:

My tank is fairly new but is fully cycled and has remained stable since for over 8 weeks with my original fish keeping healthy and happy this entire period and all parameters remaining as above, checked daily.

The change around with adding the new fish, gravel and decor last week has been the only huge change but again nothing is showing on my tests. Current problems have started significantly 5 days ago.

To replace the initial angel I went back to the initial store to get another angel as I thought the one left shouldn’t be alone. There was one in the tank at the shop being bullied by some molly and I felt bad and chose that one to bring home. Acclimatised it over 1-2 hours (temperature matching, adding tank water to the bag etc), however it appeared very still and quiet in the bag. After letting it out it sank to the bottom and couldn’t swim, it seemed to deteriorate before my eyes over another 30 minutes then died.

I tested everything again and could not find any problem. The next day 3 of my neon rainbow fish were found dead. I immediately did a water change and upped the temperature slightly, checked all parameters before and after and all are were normal. Also added some additional prime.

The remaining neon rainbows seemed to look like their fins were falling apart. They had some milky film on parts of their body, fins missing, and looked almost injured (scales missing or small sores). They were pale looking and lost all their usual colours. I began to wonder if they were being attacked, I watched all day but did not see anything happen.

The remaining angel was very timid and quiet and never went near other fish except for during feeding.

The molly didn’t have any obvious illness like the rainbow fish did but did have their fins flaired up more than normal and all fish seem to be hiding out near the filter and heater.

The worker at the pet store who does the fish said it may have been a disease. They gave me melafix and aquarium salt and i dosed both as per the instructions (after an additional big water change and clean of gravel.
I’ve continued adding the melafix daily.

The next day another Neon died after swimming around, beginning to float upside down, and losing ability to swim. The other Neon was eating and swimming normally but still had deterioration on its fins/body. It was dead the next day and the remaining angel was also found dead.

Over the last few days my pregnant molly started staying on the bottom, panting(I thought it could be labor?) and hiding out in weird places. She would still come out to feed and otherwise seemed normal. Yesterday my pregnant female molly died about 5 minutes after feeding and seeming normal. I actually squeezed her to see if any babies were alive (she looked ready to pop) - hundreds came out but they werent fully formed and none were alive.

I have 3 adult molly and one baby remaining (the other baby is disappeared and assumed to be dead also) and the snail. The remaining molly are still flairing their fins a lot, swimming around less than usual, hanging near the heater and sometimes hiding. They are still grazing on plants though and eating when fed.

I have no idea what is happening! I’ve searched everywhere and can’t seem to find anything that matches all the symptoms. I am inclined to believe it’s a bacteria or disease from the angels but also wonder if my new gravel had some kind of dirt/chemical that wasn’t rinsed out properly. The salt and melafix has done nothing to help except make my snail very sad and the remaining fish seem to be struggling more.

I am devastated after all the careful work, daily water changes, and money spent to get my tank through its cycle and my fish happy and healthy. It is so upsetting to lose almost all my fish within a few days, I’ve not cried so much for a long time.

Willing to try anything please help or offer any information/ideas/thoughts you have. Open to feedback if this is something I have done wrong or I am missing something important :( just want to avoid this ever happening again!

I’ve attached a photo of the two neon rainbows that were still alive after initial death. You can see (sort of) some of the missing fins and white film/dull colouring on their bodies.

Thanks in advance
 

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JxsPxxle

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I’m not sure what has happened here, but it seems like the only logical explanation other than the gravel would be a disease from the angel, and in that case I recommend you get a quarantine tank and quarantine any new fish you are going to add to your tank for a few weeks, and keep a very close eye on them for illness.
 
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Willow92

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I’m not sure what has happened here, but it seems like the only logical explanation other than the gravel would be a disease from the angel, and in that case I recommend you get a quarantine tank and quarantine any new fish you are going to add to your tank for a few weeks, and keep a very close eye on them for illness.
Thank you for your advice. It’s not something I ever thought of being new to the hobby, but after this I will definitely look at getting a quarantine tank. Is there anything I should look for in future when purchasing new fish that might indicate they are sick? I wouldn’t be inclined to choose a bullied fish again not sure if there are any other signs?
 

Colin_T

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I put in 4 big teaspoons
Not enough salt. I would add 10 heaped tablespoons (not teaspoons) of rock salt in a 100 litre tank.

Directions for using salt are below.
You can add rock salt (often sold as aquarium salt), sea salt or swimming pool salt to the aquarium at the dose rate of 1 heaped tablespoon per 20 litres of water. If there is no improvement after 48 hours you can double that dose rate so there is 2 heaped tablespoons of salt per 20 litres. In bad cases you add 2 heaped tablespoons per 20 litres, straight away.

If you only have livebearers (guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies), goldfish or rainbowfish in the tank you can double that dose rate, so you would add 2 heaped tablespoons per 20 litres and if there is no improvement after 48 hours, then increase it so there is a total of 4 heaped tablespoons of salt per 20 litres.

Keep the salt level like this for at least 2 weeks but no longer than 4 weeks otherwise kidney damage can occur. Kidney damage is more likely to occur in fish from soft water (tetras, Corydoras, angelfish, gouramis, loaches) that are exposed to high levels of salt for an extended period of time, and is not an issue with livebearers, rainbowfish or other salt tolerant species.

The salt will not affect the beneficial filter bacteria but the higher dose rate (4 heaped tablespoons per 20 litres) will affect some plants and some snails. The lower dose rate will not affect plants, shrimp or snails.

After you use salt and the fish have recovered, you do a 10% water change each day for a week using only fresh water that has been dechlorinated. Then do a 20% water change each day for a week. Then you can do bigger water changes after that. This dilutes the salt out of the tank slowly so it doesn't harm the fish.

If you do water changes while using salt, you need to treat the new water with salt before adding it to the tank. This will keep the salt level stable in the tank and minimise stress on the fish.
 
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Willow92

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Wow I had no idea, I was being conservative as I thought the neon rainbows couldn’t handle the salt like mollies. I will add some more and hope that it helps, I have little to lose now.
Would you suggest adding more in slowly or at once?
 

Colin_T

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Rainbowfish originated from marine fish about 10,000 years ago and are quite tolerant of salt. Some species are actually found in sea water.

Add the salt to a small container of tank water and when the salt is dissolved, then slowly pour the water into the tank.

Wipe the inside of the glass, do a big (75%) water change, gravel clean the substrate, and clean the filter before adding the salt. This will dilute any disease organisms in the water and help the fish. Then the salt should help some more.
 

JxsPxxle

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Thank you for your advice. It’s not something I ever thought of being new to the hobby, but after this I will definitely look at getting a quarantine tank. Is there anything I should look for in future when purchasing new fish that might indicate they are sick? I wouldn’t be inclined to choose a bullied fish again not sure if there are any other signs?
Make sure there are no sick fish in the tank you are getting your fish from. Also, if there are sick fish in any tanks that share the same water, also avoid buying the fish. Most fish stores have an automatic water change system where lots of the tanks share the same water, meaning if illness is in one tank it is likely to be in the other as well. Just keep an eye out for these things when buying new fish.
 
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