Help Please! Dying Fish - Cannot Figure Out What Is Happening!

FinHappy

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Location
US
Request Help

Tank size: 55 gal - upgraded from established 37 gal November 30th that sprung a leak!
pH: 6.8 - 7.0
ammonia: hard to tell between yellow and .025 on API test vial
nitrite: 0
nitrate: less than 20
kH: 120
gH: 75
tank temp: 80.4

Fish Symptoms (include full description including lesion, color, location, fish behavior): hanging up at the top one day, dead the next day.

Volume and Frequency of water changes: 5 gal today because bacteria was added 2 days ago, none yesterday, 10 gal Saturday prior to adding TetraSafe Plus for 100gal tank.

Chemical Additives or Media in your tank: Tetra Safe Plus Saturday evening entire bottle for 100 gal treatment.  Running eheim canister filter and marineland biowheel filter (which was from the other tank) that also has matrix in it because canister filter is new as of the 30th of November.

Tank inhabitants: feather fin cat (about 2-3") glass shrimp (2) 1 remaining platty, 3 black neons remaining, dying angelfish

Recent additions to your tank (living or decoration): drift wood from petco (already was in their tank) live plants from various stores, various fish until they started dying.  Angel is newest that I do not think will live the night. 
Sword plant has grown three leaves in one week, so plants seem to be doing ok.
 
 Initially added Special Blend bacteria with existing substrate, and most of water from 37 gal and new canister filter.  Then after two days added the existing Marineland filter to run with new canister filter and added fish.  The Marineland filter was running on a temp 10 gal tank  holding the fish as my tank sprung a leak on Thanksgiving night. Substrate is Fluormax from previous tank plus added more for new tank and some pea stone gravel that was also in previous tank.
 
After I set up the tank and checked water parameters on my end and they seemed fine,  I went to two different LFS to have them check it. LFS said parameters were ok to relocate fish from temp 10 gal holding tank to the new 55 gal. I also added a few new fish (neons) but over the course of the last few days they started dying.  Then I started losing other fish.  I tested water and never got nitrite reading only the nitrate below 20 and I could not make out the color between yellow or .025 ammonia on API liquid test.
Added Kordon's Amquel Plus ammonia remover a few days ago prior to TetraSafe because I was thinking some must be present as fish were dying.  NutrafinPlus water conditioner is added ( to remove chlorine) when doing water changes and API pH down to get pH to 6.8 as my tap water is very hard with high pH.  I initally started tank using rodi water/tap mixed to keep pH between 6.8-7.0.
 
I am at my wits end.  LFS suggested adding salt stating I am near the end of possibly a mini cycle.  Said salt will help fish get through but I do have sensitive fish that may not make it.  I cannot understand what is going on.

 
 

Meeresstille

Member
Joined
May 22, 2013
Messages
963
Reaction score
0
Location
CA
You have my sympathies, a leaky tank is such a nightmare. Sorry you are now dealing with losing your fish as well.
 
First thing I would do when seeing fish hanging out at the top is increase oxygen levels in the tank. If any of your filters are the waterfall type you can lower the water level in your tank, the bigger splash of the water falling into the tank will put more oxygen in the water. Creating more water movement at the water's surface or adding an airstone.
 
The second thing to look at is adding new fish to your tank. They really should be quarantined before you add them to your main tank since new fish are stressed and could be infected with parasites, fungal and bacterial infections which you can treat better and cheaper in their quarantine tanks. A good quarantine time is 6 weeks, by that time the fish will be showing symptoms should they have been infected with something.
 
When you add new fish to your water parameters do you acclimate them? This is especially important if your parameters differ greatly from the ones at the LFS. You said you are using pH down additives. These can make things a little unstable in your tank making it difficult for your fish to adjust to. Great fluctuations in pH can cause fish deaths!
If your tap water's pH is not extremely high then your fish would probably be just as happy adjusting to your water's pH. A stable pH is better than trying to create a specific pH.
Another question just occurred to me, when you switched your fish from their temporary 10 gallon to the new tank did you check the pH difference between those two tanks?
 
I don't think your fish died because of a mini cycle, to me it looks like either an infection that affects their gills or an acclimation problem, specifically the pH.
 
OP
F

FinHappy

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Location
US
Thanks for the reply. 
 
The way I acclimate fish is float them 15 min then add small amounts of tank water to the bag every 5 min for about a half hour.  I have an airstone running alternate schedule of the light - so it comes on 5pm until lights go on at 7AM
 
I was afraid to let the pH rise to greater than 8 (which is my tap) because of the plants.  In all of this I have been testing pH as well as ammonia and the pH has remained stable. Not sure if driftwood helps with that?? Prior to upgrading to 55, my 37 did not have plants.  Whenever I did a water change, I would use pH 7 to bring tap down to 7.  I had that tank for over 20 years but it was not planted.  The substate and plants I just did about a month ago then came the leak.  Now that I am upgraded, I feel like I am starting all over again.  It has been a long time since I started a new freshwater tank.  I assumed wrongly that I had enough bacteria from an established tank so that is why I got a few more new fish.  I feel awful - just lost the angel and one of the neons.  I now have two neons, the cat fish and a platy.  Since the neons are fighting, I am assuming I will lose one of them just from that, but I do not want to add any more.  The platy seems like she is fine so far.  The cat only is active at night.  He seems fine when he makes his rounds once in awhiie around the tank then hides under the coconut log that is covered in java fern.
 

Meeresstille

Member
Joined
May 22, 2013
Messages
963
Reaction score
0
Location
CA
Unless your test kit is not reading right the amount of ammonia would not cause fish deaths like that. Some People cycle their tanks with fish in it and their ammonia is a lot higher by the time the fish start showing problems.
 
Your filter had the right amount of bacteria for the amount of fish that you had kept in the tank. Adding a few fish might spike the ammonia somewhat but with water changes this is quite safe to do. You also had almost 20 gallons of more water to dilute the ammonia.
 
Just want to clarify: Did you bring the pH of the tapwater down before you added it to the tank? 
Are you sure all plants are aquatic plants? 
Any new decorations that could be leaking toxins?
What is the pH of the water at your LFS? 
 
OP
F

FinHappy

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Location
US
When I mixed initial water for the tank, I used 30 gal from previous tank and the final  amount was half rodi/half tap.  I did not need to do pH adjustment to it as it tested at 6.8.  I started losing fish about two days after I put them in but perhaps because I added a few new fish (neons) I maybe upset things?
 
Plants I have are aquatic. Sword, java fern, anuba, two others from LFS can't remember their names.  I need more plants, but afraid to add anything at this point.
 
If wood is leaking, is there a way to check that?  I added wood that was already in tanks at Petco and one piece of spider wood that was not yet immersed that I got at another LFS.  I have it weighed down with a piece of driftwood so it doesn't float.  Could that be doing something?
 
pH of LFS water is 8 ish like my own tap.  Very blue on the API test for fish.  Plants they told me 6.
 
So far today, remaining fish are not at the top and swimming around like normal.
 

Meeresstille

Member
Joined
May 22, 2013
Messages
963
Reaction score
0
Location
CA
Hopefully these fish will remain, that would be super.
 
No, I don't think the wood is leaking toxins. The wood that was in the tank at the LFS might carry ich, since this is often in LFS' tanks, or even other infections. If the LFS leaves their tanks at a pH of 8 you should be fine doing the same. You wouldn't need to worry about having to adjust new fish to your artificially created lower pH. 
 
I still am leaning towards that this was a pH shock problem. At least for the new fish going in. Half an hour of acclimation would not have been enough time for them to adjust from a pH of 8 to 6.8!
 
OP
F

FinHappy

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
Location
US
Unfortunately I lost two more fish.  I took the remaining three to LFS where I bought the new aquarium as I couldn't stand losing any more.  Had water checked but not with strips.  Ammonia is showing at .025 but may be still from the ammonia lock I placed last week.  PH is between 7 and 7.2 and phosphates are off the chart. Hence that is why I now see green algae on glass I guess.  I am wondering it I should do a large water change and use RODI water and leave it alone for awhile.  However what about my bacteria? Suggestions for this would be appreciated as I am totally at a loss now.  Thanks in advance
 

Meeresstille

Member
Joined
May 22, 2013
Messages
963
Reaction score
0
Location
CA
Oh I wish I knew how to help you there. Honestly I'd be here asking for advice as well....that or I would just start over with a large WC like you said, but without changing the pH. You'd still run the risk though that it was a disease that killed your fish, which means it could still be in your tank. 
 
About your bacteria, you can feed them with bottled ammonia, the kind used for cycling a tank. 
 
What you could do since you're no longer dealing with a fish emergency is start a new topic in the "New to the hobby, questions and answers" section of this forum, where you can present your new situation. 
 

trending

Staff online

Most reactions - Past 7 days

Top