Mysterious Death

kribensis12

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Well, not technically an emergency as the fish has died..... but I'm wondering if it's a "happenstance" v. a problem that I have not detected.

Three weeks ago (roughly), I had two Dark Knight Ram Cichlids mailed in (overnight) and they were superbly healthy. I mean, they were eating in a few hours type of healthy.

Even this morning (if I remember correctly), they were eagerly coming to eat. This evening, I am simply devastated --> one has since died. I found "her" (not mature, so making an educated guess) floating in the hornwort --- DEAD.

If you are not familiar with Dark Knight Rams, here is a synopsis: it's a very new color variant that is known for their intolerance to anything less than perfect water conditions - arguably close to a Discus in their sensitivity.

So, I checked my water:

pH: 7.6 (I have been slowly, every week, introducing 2g of R/O water that has been naturally stabilized to 7.0 pH, so slowly and safely lowering it)
kH & gH: Unsure, but the total hardness is 300ppm (which is 500+ straight out of the tap -- R/O water has been lowering this)
Ammonia:0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Temp: 84 F
Tankmates: temporarily, 1 molly & fry, 3 female guppies and a baby bristlenose pleco.


Unless I am blind, this fish showed 0 signed of illness and suddenly died - they are very expensive and I'd rather not lose the other one too.

Any suggestions as to what might have caused it?


** For anyone that is curious -- they came from the state of New York with a tap of 7.4 and were raised in that.
 
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Colin_T

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If the GH is 300ppm, it's a bit high for rams.

any pictures of the fish?
any idea if its poop was normal before it died?
 
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kribensis12

kribensis12

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If the GH is 300ppm, it's a bit high for rams.

any pictures of the fish?
any idea if its poop was normal before it died?

It's on the high end - working on slowly lowering it (safely).

I did not take a picture of the fish, but it looked normal - belly was a tiny bit distended - but definitely not dropsy or even bloat. I assumed it was part of the decomposition process.

Their poop has been normal - no sign of intestinal parasites.

The other of this pair is swimming around as normal - no apparent issues. Then again, so was this fish.
 
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kribensis12

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0 ppm of Nitrate? You have an outdated test kit. Could it have ingested something?

The test kit is around 2 years old - reliably gives me results on Ammonia, pH, and Nitrite. I have seen it give me more than 0 Nitrate before.

I do weekly water changes of 20-30% which includes a gravel vacuum for additional waste - plus I have a Amazon Sword plant and Hornwort -- both of which could help result in a Nitrate reading of 0ppm.

I can't imagine that she ingested anything - not much in the tank that could cause it.
 

Lajos_Detari

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1)What is the size of your tank?

2)Your water GH is high as Colin mentioned.
It will be good to check the GH as Rams require soft water.

3)Most of the Rams that I've seen in the fish stores often have gill flukes or internal infection(parasite/bacteria) with sunken belly.

For gill flukes infection, the symptoms are: the fish will be scratching and have fast breathing(at final stage).
Did your fish show these symptoms before it died?
 

Wills

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Its sad to say but with Rams it does just happen sometimes they are not a very hardy fish. The 300ppm hardness could definitely be a factor in this as could be the addition of RO, I feel it may have been better to get the water ready for them and then drip aclimatise them over a long period.

Wills
 
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kribensis12

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1)What is the size of your tank?

2)Your water GH is high as Colin mentioned.
It will be good to check the GH as Rams require soft water.

3)Most of the Rams that I've seen in the fish stores often have gill flukes or internal infection(parasite/bacteria) with sunken belly.

For gill flukes infection, the symptoms are: the fish will be scratching and have fast breathing(at final stage).
Did your fish show these symptoms before it died?

Tank Size: 15g, tall.

My Master Test kit does not test for gH unfortunately - though I'm sure it's fairly high considering that the total hardness is what it is.

The breeder I ordered these from is fairly reputable and has some really gorgeous fish - he did not see my water being too much of an issue --> that being said, I have been advised by others that lowering my pH (and by using R/O, consequently the kH and gH), would be beneficial and safe.

These fish have exhibited 0 signs of illness, no scratchy/ breathing issues etc. I was shocked when I found her dead, as I've mentioned previously - appeared to be the picture of health.

@Wills I'm afraid that it is one of those "weak fish, just died" scenarios. They cost so much though that I wanted input from others to make sure I'm not missing something.

I did suspect to some degree that adjust the water weekly may have contributed - but the last water change was 6 days ago and there were no (obvious) side effects. I would have preferred to have it all ready to go, but after ordering them I was advised on TFF that it would be more beneficial to adjust the parameters slowly.
 
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kribensis12

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Additionally - I observed the tank this morning (I am at work now, so cannot keep an eye on it) and the male seems very happy, speeding around the tank like a speedboat.....

I'm really concerned that he'll bite the dust too - as the female showed no observable symptoms.
 
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kribensis12

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So far, the other Black Knight Ram seems to be just fine..

I'll be doing a water change tonight - hoping that this positively affects him!
 

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Sorry I got to this so late, but I have been in hospital the past week. There are three possible causes here. Genetic, which we will ignore. The water parameters, but perhaps not how others seem to consider them. And natural species inherent behaviour.

Assuming the male is still healthy, the parameters seem unlikely to have been behind the death of the female. This species, the common or blue ram in all its forms, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, when it is raised commercially (as opposed to being wild caught) will always fare better in the same parameters as the water in which it was spawned/hatched/raised. Having said that, it would not succumb so quickly if parameters were the issue regardless. Of course, a weakened fish (from some unrelated issue) might be more rapidly further weakened by parameters differences.

The third possible cause, again assuming the male is fine, is almost certain to be the one. Male/female must select one another from a shoal, and they bind--like a marriage! Not always long-lasting, but more often than not successful. Placed together, any male and female could bond, but it is rare. Even if they seem "OK," and even spawn, the male if he has not fully accepted the female, can within minutes end her life. This usually becomes obvious because he will begin to show he is displeased and she will attempt to remove herself, but in any aquarium there is never sufficient room for this and she will be hounded to death. Both ram species have this trait, as do angelfish and discus, and there may be other cichlids but I am most familiar with these four.

Dominance can be physical--attacks, driving away, chasing, head bunting, etc--but it can also be unseen if just pheromones, which is why the tank size and re-arranging the aquascape really do not resolve it especially if it is deep-rooted. Observation of the interactive behaviours is often a clue that all is well or may not be, long-term.
 
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kribensis12

kribensis12

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Sorry I got to this so late, but I have been in hospital the past week. There are three possible causes here. Genetic, which we will ignore. The water parameters, but perhaps not how others seem to consider them. And natural species inherent behaviour.

Assuming the male is still healthy, the parameters seem unlikely to have been behind the death of the female. This species, the common or blue ram in all its forms, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, when it is raised commercially (as opposed to being wild caught) will always fare better in the same parameters as the water in which it was spawned/hatched/raised. Having said that, it would not succumb so quickly if parameters were the issue regardless. Of course, a weakened fish (from some unrelated issue) might be more rapidly further weakened by parameters differences.

The third possible cause, again assuming the male is fine, is almost certain to be the one. Male/female must select one another from a shoal, and they bind--like a marriage! Not always long-lasting, but more often than not successful. Placed together, any male and female could bond, but it is rare. Even if they seem "OK," and even spawn, the male if he has not fully accepted the female, can within minutes end her life. This usually becomes obvious because he will begin to show he is displeased and she will attempt to remove herself, but in any aquarium there is never sufficient room for this and she will be hounded to death. Both ram species have this trait, as do angelfish and discus, and there may be other cichlids but I am most familiar with these four.

Dominance can be physical--attacks, driving away, chasing, head bunting, etc--but it can also be unseen if just pheromones, which is why the tank size and re-arranging the aquascape really do not resolve it especially if it is deep-rooted. Observation of the interactive behaviours is often a clue that all is well or may not be, long-term.

Thanks Byron for sharing your input - I pray that you are feeling better.

1. The male is still healthy as ever.

2. Water parameters have been stable - and do closely match where they came from (beyond hardness being higher than desired -- working on that as previously stated)

3. They were, to the best that they can be, a bonded pair. The seller said that due to age they cannot spawn yet, but that they showed in a tank full of rams paired behavior - constantly swimming by one another, defending territory etc.). As young as they are (about 1 inch), it's plausible that they adolescent male suddenly turned on the female --> I know that her last morning alive they were friendly swimming with eachother, but who is to say what happens while I am at work.

It sounds to me that either it's one of those "fluke" deaths that are inevitable or it could be the male that stressed/killed her.

Thanks for your input!
 

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