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Only My Tiger Barbs are Dying?

Discussion in 'Tropical Discussion' started by Chippers255, May 2, 2017.

  1. Chippers255

    Chippers255 New Member

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    As the title suggests I have a community tank but only my Tiger Barbs are dying. I woke up this morning and everything seemed fine, an hour later 2 were dead, 1 died this afternoon, and 1 died this evening. Does anybody have any idea what could affect my tiger barbs only?

    So you have a bit of background, it is a 40G tank with 2 Penguin 200 HOB Filters that has been established for 9 months with the following list of inhabitants for the last 7 months:
    • 5 Tiger Barbs (Now down to 2)
    • 2 Green Tiger Barbs (Now down to 1)
    • 4 Santa Claus Swordtails
    • 2 Dalmatian Mollies
    • 1 Otto Catfish
    • 1 Albino Rainbow Shark
    • 3 Mystery Snails
    Decorations include
    • 8 "trees" of Water Wisteria
    • 1 Moss Ball
    • 20+ Branches of Cambomba
    • Driftwood and Stones
    They have all lived peacefully with no aggression between species since setup. I do 3G water change 5 days a week and clean the filters in old water once every two weeks. I also dose the tank with Seachem Flourish once a week and Seachem Flourish Excel once a day for the plants. The current water parameters are.
    PH: 7.8 (my tap water is this high, I tried lowering it but that kept killing fish so now i leave it)
    Ammonia: 0.25 PPM (usually 0 but i blame the dead fish that had probably been in there for a few hours)
    Nitrite: 0 PPM
    Nitrate: 5 PPM

    Further note, I changed my substrate from a blue gravel to a black gravel for aesthetic reasons 2 days ago, the fish were removed and placed in 3 separate buckets while doing so (the barbs were in their own bucket).
     
  2. Munroco

    Munroco Member

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    Sounds like you did everything right, I'm not aware of a disease that only affects barbs. Have you always dosed in these quantities?
     
  3. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    You were cycling less than 10% of your water once per week. Most people do more than that. What Flourish product are you using? Is it comprehensive.? Are you dosing for the 3 gallons you add or the whole tank? I am concerned a macro deficiency might have caused slow plant growth. The slow plant growth might have then cause a gradual build up of micro nutrients. Some of which are toxic in high doses.

    Excel does need to be dosed more often and it is toxic. Double check your dosing calculation and make sure you are not overdosing Excel.
     
  4. Chippers255

    Chippers255 New Member

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    Sorry if I was misunderstood but I meant 3G x 5 times a week is 15G total which is is 37% a week, I basically do a bucket of water a day to spread out the load. For my tank size Flourish (nutrients) is recommended dosing 5ml a week which I do on a Saturday. The Flourish Excel (CO2) is 5ml a day. I find my plants grow way too fast I have to trim them at least every 2 weeks.
     
  5. Chippers255

    Chippers255 New Member

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    I believe I have figured out what happened. When I changed the gravel I placed the fish in 3 separate buckets for an hour. The barbs where in their own bucket which is what led me on this thought path. The bucket used is an old brewing bucket a friend gave me. He would have sterilized it with phosphoric acid and while I did rinse it several times I feel it may have leached into the plastic and harmed the fish while they sat in there. I have only ever used the bucket for water changes which means water never sat in their long in the past. This is the only conclusion I can come to as why only the Barbs have been affected.
     
  6. Byron

    Byron Member

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    It probably was the residue in the pail. Buckets used for fish tanks should be new and never used for anything but fish after that. Toxins can easily seep into the plastic, and no amount of "cleaning" will deal with all of them.

    A note on water changes. You actually gain much greater benefit from a single weekly water change of significant volume than doing daily smaller changes. As an example. Changing 70% once a week has much more benefit than changing 10% every day, even though you might think that both are 70% a week. This is because you are only removing a percentage of "polluted water" with any water change, and that percentage will be the amount of water removed. So removing 10% on day 1 means leaving 90%, then on day 2 you have the 90% plus the day's pollution so when you remove 10% that day you are not removing 10% of the pollution (i.e., not as much as you did the day before), and so on. Removing 60% once a week will be much better, and result in more stable water chemistry long-term. I'[ve been doing this on my 8 tanks for years.

    You mentioned the attempts to lower pH failing and killing fish...I will briefly explain why. The pH is connected to the GH and KH, and the latter "buffers" pH to prevent fluctuations. Adding chemicals to lower pH will lower it temporarily until the buffering raises it. Fluctuating pH is very hard on fish. In order to permanently lower the pH, one must first deal with the GH and KH. I am not suggesting you do this, only pointing out the reason the other attempts failed.

    Last comment, I would stop using Excel. This is a glutaraldehyde compound which is dangerous for fish. Some plants will be killed at recommended doses, and if overdosed it can kill plants, fish, and bacteria. Something this dangerous has no place in a tank with live fish. I'm not saying the fish will die from using this, they probably won't--not outright anyway, but like every substance added to the water it gets into the fish's bloodstream and internal organs, and this is not going to have any benefit but quite the opposite. At the very least it will cause a weakening of the fish, and likely stress, which can compound. Fish physiology is a very complex subject.

    Byron.
     
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  7. Chippers255

    Chippers255 New Member

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    Thank you for all of the information! I will probably look into a different CO2 delivery method.

    I understand the daily small water changes is not the same as large ones and only holds off the inevitable large water change. My reasoning is that my available tap water sits at a pH of 8.0 and thanks to driftwood, my tank is usually around 7.5. I was afraid of doing larger water changes and socking the acidity of the fish. Any recommendations?
     
  8. Byron

    Byron Member

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    There is more to the pH change that a piece of wood. As I mentioned previously, the GH and KH are connected, so first question is, what is the GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness or Alkalinity) of your source water? If you are on municipal water, you may find this data on their website, or you can call and ask. When I have these numbers, I can better answer the pH fluctuation question.

    On the CO2, you probably don't need this anyway. Natural CO2 occurs from the respiration of fish, plants and some species of bacteria, but the primary source is the breakdown of organics in the substrate. Related to this is the light intensity (and duration), as light drives photosynthesis and plants can only take up CO2 when they are photosynthesizing. Can you provide data on the tank lighting? And a photo of the overall tank would help, as I would see the plant species and numbers, and this is a factor too. Different species of plants have differing needs in light and nutrients.

    Byron.
     
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  9. Chippers255

    Chippers255 New Member

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    According to the cities water quality report from April 4, 2017 my tap water has the follow parameters.

    Alkalinity 84.3 mg/L April 4, 2017
    Hardness 115 mg/L April 4, 2017
    pH 8.09 April 4, 2017
    E. Coli Not detected April 10, 2017
    Total Coliforms Not detected April 10, 2017
    Chloride 21.6 mg/L April 4, 2017
    Sodium 14 mg/L April 4, 2017
    Sulphate 33 mg/L April 4, 2017
    Fluoride Not detected April 4, 2017

    I am not home at the moment so the picture I am providing is around a month old. I have removed the cabomba and java fern, water wisteria has replace them so it is the only plant in the tank now, it grows very fast. The dragon statue is no longer present and the substrate is now black instead of blue. The lighting is two 15W LED floodlights at 800LM on the daylight spectrum of 6000K, although in the picture you are only seeing 1 turned on. The tank dimensions are 17.125" Deep; 32.25" Wide; 25.719 " High with a bowed front.

    tank.jpg
     
  10. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I can suggest a couple things. First on the GH/KH, the numbers indicate moderately soft water (115 mg/l = 115 ppm, which equates to 6 dGH) with low buffering (84 mg/l = 84 ppm which equates to 4.6 dKH) so that is why the pH is lowering. This is normal, as CO2 is produced from the organics breakdown as I mentioned previously, and this produces carbonic acid which results in a lower pH. You water changes work to counter this a bit, so doing larger volume changes should help. A pH shift of a few decimal places is not problematic.

    I would discontinue the Excel for reasons already mentioned in my post #6 above. I don't think this lighting is bright enough to need supplemented CO2.

    Now, with these numbers, there is a fish issue. Mollies must have harder water with a basic pH or they will slowly weaken. Swordtails also need more mineral (higher GH/KH). This applies to all livebearers. It is easier to select fish suited to your water than attempting to modify water parameters. I'll leave it at that, but I did want to point this out.

    Byron.
     
  11. Chippers255

    Chippers255 New Member

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    Ok, thanks again for all the information! I have one last question if you don't mind. Do you know any good resources I can use to learn more about planting and lighting requirements? This is my first aquarium and I plan on upgrading to a much larger planted tank next year after I feel I have learnt enough.
     
  12. Baker

    Baker Fish Fanatic

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    Chippers, I've plugged this YouTube channel before and didn't have it removed so I will do so again. A YouTube channel called aquarium coop has a series of I think 5 videos called "Plants 101" it's a very good channel targeted towards beginners and I think you would find the particular series listed above very helpful to you. He also has a video on fertilizers though I don't think it's the same series, he goes over all the seachem fertilizer products and explains why excel is so dangerous.
    If you don't get to that video I'll write out a very quick summary of how excel works:

    Flourish excel is essentially a diluted algaecide. It works be altering the genetic code of cells. This works well on single celled organisms such as algae by removing their ability to photosynthesize but essentially turns into a flesh eating bacteria in living organisms including humans. If an animal has an open would the altering of cell tissue tricks the body into attacking itself as the altered cells are considered hostile bodies. Many professionals won't even use excel without proper skin protection as it is such a powerful chemical.
    It's a lot safer to use as an organic carbon source if you don't have anything else living in the water with the plants but as Byron said, there are far safer ways to introduce organic carbon and most of hem happen as a byproduct of just keeping a planted tank such as respiration and decay of plant matter.
     
  13. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I will take a look at the video links Baker posted, as I cannot remember if I've seen them or not. But just to get you started, the first thing you need to decide about planted tanks is what sort of tank you intend. If you want a fish tank that happens to have healthy plants, you have what is termed a natural or low-tech method tank. As you add "stuff" to the basics you move up until you are at high-tech which to my mind is primarily plants like an aquatic garden. Fish are not always in their best element in such tanks, and there is thinking now that they may even be harmed long-term. It's much like high nitrates...fish live through them for a time but they are being weakened bit by bit, and you will not see me advocating that.

    I have very natural low-tech tanks, 8 of them presently, I'll just attach a few photos to show what is possible with this fish-first concept. I do not add any form of CO2, I have low/moderate lighting (light affects fish significantly so this is important), and I use minimal fertilizers; Flourish Tabs for the large sword plants, and Flourish Comprehensive Supplement once a week but not a full dose. I've pretty much got each tank balanced (light duration and ferts) so algae is not a problem unless something goes awry with this balance. The tank sizes are in the photo names, but looking at the photos themselves it is not that obvious if it is a particularly large tank or a smaller; this is all in how you aquascape. [May have more to say when I've viewed those videos.]

    Byron.
     

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  14. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    It doesn't alter the genetic code. It is basically a corrosive fluid that will destroy the cell wall of algae killing it. Without a cell wall nothing can live reporduce or transform.

    Since it is a corrosive fluid it can burn skin if it is not diluted enough. Since it can burn human skin it can also burn the skin of fish.

    The dead algae is not in any way converted to flesh eating bacteria. You have been watching too many zombie movies. However if the skin of a fish or even a plant is burned too severely an open wound can develop and get infected by bacteria. Bacterial infections can kill. Where did the bacteria come from? They were in the tank the instant fish were added to the tank. In all likelyhood the bacteria were even in the tank before fish were added.

    With sufficient aeration fresh water will saturate with CO2 at about 1500ppm. Air only has 400ppm of CO2. If you have very rapidly growing plants they may drop that level down. If your plants are growing very rapidly all CO2 in the water would be consumed faster than aeration can add it. If that happens your PH will start increasing when the lights turn on and reach a peak just before the lights turn off. As CO2 is added overnight form aeration PH will drop back down to normal value by early morning.. In heavily fertilized tanks CO2 is added to prevent a dangerous PH change.
     
  15. Baker

    Baker Fish Fanatic

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    You're taking my quote a bit too literally there bud, true it does not rewrite cell DNA but it crosslinks proteins (which DNA is made of in case you didn't know) in a way that destroys cell wall. And I didn't mean to imply that it literally turns into flesh eating bacteria simply that it provokes a bodily reaction similar to that of flesh eating bacteria that makes the body attack itself.
     

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