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Aquariummanfran

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Hello everyone!

I am new to this community but not new to a tropical fish keeping forum. I’ve wanted to find a new community because quite frankly, I’m struggling and have lost the fish keeping mojo and was hoping I could find some help.

Quick background. I have been keeping aquariums for over 15 years. Taught by my uncle who was a very successful Discus breeder as well as many other experts on various forums. I never had this much trouble keeping a tank until now.

Since I have been moving around the past few years, I sold all my big equipment and now have one 35g hexagon that I am trying to recalibrate.

I have started over with this tank at least 5 times in the past two years due to my fish dying and not doing well. Every time I’ve broken it down, I have changed the water, cleaned the gravel and equipment, as well as started new filter media and have re cycled the tank. It seems every time I re cycle the tank and start new, the fish do fine for the first few days and slowly start to change their behavior (slowing down, swimming in one place, not being social) and eventually die. Over the past year, I have done this re start and re stock about 4 times, and this cycle occurs every time. I’ve tried to keep simple aquarium fish (Tetras, betas, cory cat fish), which are all species I have kept before. I never over stock, I slowly acclimate them to the new tank, feed them nutritious food, and make sure the water parameters are kept well. I regularly test my water-the water from there tap where I live is a little hard with a pH of roughly 7.4, but all of the levels with ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites are exceptional. My hypotheses are as follows:

Although I have cleaned the gravel and decorative plants during the restarts of the tank, they are fairly older and I have never taken them out. Is it possible this old gravel, fake plants, and driftwood could be having a negative impact on the water or the fish health overall?

Secondly, could it be something with filling/water changing the tank with the tap water?

Any guesses, input, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I look forward to hearing some insight from this community and getting my aquarium back on track!
 
Welcome to the forum :)

Please post a photo of the tank.
How do you cycle the tank?
What are the test results in numbers?
What chemicals/ additives do you use in the tank?
Tell us more about your source water.
 
Hi and welcome to the forum :)

Did you have the driftwood in another tank before putting it in this one?
Some driftwood can leach toxins into the water and poison the fish. The easiest way to test this is to leave the wood out and drain and refill the tank a few times. Add some fish and see if they are ok. If they are ok for a month, then add the wood and see how they act. If they start to act off colour, then remove the wood immediately and do a huge water change and gravel clean every day for a week.

Plastic plants are unlikely to cause problems.

Are you buying the fish from the same shop each time?
It could be the fish have diseases when you get them.

-------------------
What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

-------------------
Do you have chlorine or chloramine in your water supply?

Do you have any pictures of any of the sick/ dead fish?
 
Thanks for the quick responses guys, really appreciate it. Here’s a little more information that hopefully gets us closer.

Here is the report I was directed to for my water source.


I also tested my tank and water coming out of the tap.

For my 35gal Hex

PH: 7.6 or when measured on the high end, I’m reading 7.4
Nitrite: 0mg
Nitrate: 5.0 mg
Ammonia: 0 - .25 mg

For the tap:

PH: 7.6 or on the high end 8.2
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5.0
Ammonia: .25

Obviously the PH is a bit high, could that very well be the issue? Would it be worth trying a species that likes harder water like shell dwellers ? Looking at the report from the water company, does seem to have chlorine / Chloe amine and in my experience that’s normal and cycles out.

I’ve cycled the same for as long as I can remember. By adding all my decorations, plants and gravel as well as filter equipment, heater, etc. I run that for at least 3 to 4 weeks and then slowly add a few fish at a time.

For the driftwood, I bought it at my local fish store. I’ve had the same issues with and without it so I think I can rule that out.

Todays fish behavior is what I expected. Just more weirdness. Endler guppy at the top kinda on his last leg, I feel so bad and wish I could do something. Scooped one Otto catfish out and the cherry shrimp are just cruising around more then normal, probably uncomfortable.

Took a few pictures. You may notice a good bit of hair algae (I think that’s the type I have).

Thanks again for all the help and input, looking forward to reading the responses.
 

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Looking at the report from the water company, does seem to have chlorine / Chloe amine and in my experience that’s normal and cycles out.
It is harmful to fish and needs neutralising with a dechlorinator. If
you haven't been using any it could explain things.
PH is a bit high, could that very well be the issue?
No. My tanks are a stable 7.4 and I have few fish deaths. Where pH fluctuates drastically it can be fatal.
 
Do a large (80%) water change with conditioned water ASAP. Chloramine will not cycle out, which is why some suppliers use it. If you can, try to match tap water temp with the tank to minimize additional stress.

Was your tap water test values above before or after conditioning? That seems like a high tap water ammonia reading.
 
Thanks for both replies, good to know about the PH and doing an 80% water change with declorinator, not much to lose at this point.

Those were the ammonia levels straight out of the tap and after the cycle. Definitely a different water source then what I’m used too.

I can’t believe I have been overlooking declorinator. I have used it religiously in the past. It’s passed my mind recently. Hope it’s the key….
 
forgetting dechlorinator is a major no no. Hope using it in the future gets you back on track.
 
Thanks for both replies, good to know about the PH and doing an 80% water change with declorinator, not much to lose at this point.

Those were the ammonia levels straight out of the tap and after the cycle. Definitely a different water source then what I’m used too.

I can’t believe I have been overlooking declorinator. I have used it religiously in the past. It’s passed my mind recently. Hope it’s the key….
The water conditioner should temporarily convert ammonia present in tap water to a non-toxic form. Hopefully others will give details shortly on that and how to address.
 
Although I have cleaned the gravel and decorative plants during the restarts of the tank, they are fairly older and I have never taken them out. Is it possible this old gravel, fake plants, and driftwood could be having a negative impact on the water or the fish health overall?
Just to be sure, make sure you do not clean with any soaps or other chemicals. If you must disinfect with bleach, use a dilute solution and soak/rinse many times with clean water. I would not use anything other than clean water for cleaning for any porous material.
 
Agreed. Never use any chemicals for cleaning or medication. Probably why I forgot about the declorinator for so long….

I’m even hesitate to medicate my tank for illness. When I clean I usually use a diluted vinegar solution.

If I have to start over again, do the water parameters listed previously coming out of my tap seem doable as long as I am cycling like I have been doing and obviously back on track with the declorinator ?
 
I can't comment on the pH or hardness, Nitrates are reasonable depending on your bio-load and WC frequency. I try to keep mine below 10 with similar fish. Live plants will help here.

Check out seriouslyfish.com for species parameters and other scientific info.
 
I’ve cycled the same for as long as I can remember. By adding all my decorations, plants and gravel as well as filter equipment, heater, etc. I run that for at least 3 to 4 weeks and then slowly add a few fish at a time.
I’m not sure that this is a fully cycled tank..? Did you add ammonia, or some other method, to build up the beneficial bacteria..?
 
Chloramine is chlorine and ammonia. That is why the tap shows ammonia.
@Essjay will be able to explain.
 

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