Swordtails keep dying

Kendramc

New Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Messages
55
Reaction score
16
Location
Michigan
I have a 29 gal lightly planted tank with two young bristlenose plecos and a varying number of swordtails. Every few weeks, one of my swordtails dies. For a few days before hand they look a bit off. Sort of arched and skinny. Then they get lethargic and then they die.

I have one in the arched and skinny stage right now. I suspect she'll be dead within a week. I've tried to get some pics, hopefully they help but she didn't cooperate very well.

They aren't all old, some of them have been less than a year (born in my tank) others are ones I've bought sono idea how old they are. The deaths don't seem to be associated with either new lutchases or water changes or anything I can pin down. They have all been bought from the same store (basically everything in my tank is from there).

Water parameters: no ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates. Ph around 7.5. Hardness off the charts.

Any ideas, suggestions, or questions?
 

Attachments

  • 20230405_085009.jpg
    20230405_085009.jpg
    136.2 KB · Views: 34
  • 20230405_084840.jpg
    20230405_084840.jpg
    147.2 KB · Views: 27
  • 20230405_090255.jpg
    20230405_090255.jpg
    178.4 KB · Views: 27
Hello Kendra. There should be nitrates in the tank water. That alone would signal a problem with the water chemistry. The water chemistry won't be a problem if you're following a sound water change routine. To maintain a steady water chemistry which is the most important thing to keeping a healthy fish, you need to be removing and replacing at least half the water weekly. The rest of the chemistry end of things isn't important unless you keep and breed rare fish species, which most of us don't. Plants, especially the floating kind help keep the water clean and eliminate forms of nitrogen. I would start with a bit larger than normal water change. Most tank problems are water related.

10 Tanks (Now 11)
 
My water change routine is about 50% change per week.

And I'm not sure how doing more water changes would lead to more nitrates. I'll admit, I've been confused about why there is so little nitrate, but the test strips routinely come back with that answer. My plants are a bunch of Java ferns and a few really sad crypts.

I did do a nearly fresh start, just keeping the filter material, a few months ago (major snail infestation), but this pattern was happening before that too. It doesn't seem to have made a difference here.
 
Hello again. The regular water change will maintain a steady water chemistry. Your bacteria colony should be producing nitrate, so there could easily have been a problem with the cycling process or you could have removed too much bacteria when you cleaned your filtration equipment. You could add some some bottled bacteria, something like "Quick Start" from API, when you perform your next water change. Just dose according to the instructions. I've used it many times to supplement the bacteria colony in new tanks.

10 Tanks (Now 11)
 
The fact that this problem, same pattern happened when my tank was years established. It really doesn't seem like it can be a cycling problem.
 
I have a 29 gal lightly planted tank with two young bristlenose plecos and a varying number of swordtails. Every few weeks, one of my swordtails dies. For a few days before hand they look a bit off. Sort of arched and skinny. Then they get lethargic and then they die.

I have one in the arched and skinny stage right now. I suspect she'll be dead within a week. I've tried to get some pics, hopefully they help but she didn't cooperate very well.

They aren't all old, some of them have been less than a year (born in my tank) others are ones I've bought sono idea how old they are. The deaths don't seem to be associated with either new lutchases or water changes or anything I can pin down. They have all been bought from the same store (basically everything in my tank is from there).

Water parameters: no ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates. Ph around 7.5. Hardness off the charts.

Any ideas, suggestions, or questions?
feed them parasite medicated food, as i suspect they are parasites
@Colin_T I remember you had a helpful thing for parasite food, can you post it here? thanks
 
The lack of nitrates could be a result of the test. I and others have noted that the nitrate test is the most difficult to complete accurately with some of the test kits. The issue is that one of the reagents needs to be highly agitated before use, and if this is not done then the test will not work correctly giving lowering than expected nitrate readings. Additionally some users of the liquid tests suggest that if you do the Nitrate test without sufficient agitation of the reagents that future tests for nitrate with the test kit may be invalid (I haven't noted this personally). Finally I have seen where even doing the test correctly a liquid test gave the wrong reading.
 
The lack of nitrates could be a result of the test. I and others have noted that the nitrate test is the most difficult to complete accurately with some of the test kits. The issue is that one of the reagents needs to be highly agitated before use, and if this is not done then the test will not work correctly giving lowering than expected nitrate readings. Additionally some users of the liquid tests suggest that if you do the Nitrate test without sufficient agitation of the reagents that future tests for nitrate with the test kit may be invalid (I haven't noted this personally). Finally I have seen where even doing the test correctly a liquid test gave the wrong reading.
I use strips, not sure if they are prone to issues like that too
 
The lack of nitrates could be a result of the test. I and others have noted that the nitrate test is the most difficult to complete accurately with some of the test kits. The issue is that one of the reagents needs to be highly agitated before use, and if this is not done then the test will not work correctly giving lowering than expected nitrate readings. Additionally some users of the liquid tests suggest that if you do the Nitrate test without sufficient agitation of the reagents that future tests for nitrate with the test kit may be invalid (I haven't noted this personally). Finally I have seen where even doing the test correctly a liquid test gave the wrong reading.
i've had a case where it was so close to 0 that even the api master looked like it was 0. it was probably because I had so much duckweed
 
feed them parasite medicated food, as i suspect they are parasites
@Colin_T I remember you had a helpful thing for parasite food, can you post it here? thanks
My bristlenose plecos have never been affected, and they have been here longer than any of the swordtails. Would parasites affect them too?
 
i would say especially strips are prone to that
Would it be reasonable to assume that since the strips read 0, or close enough to it as to be indistinguishable, my levels are low enough that they are unlikely to be the issue? If I remember correctly, nitrates aren't much of an issue, it is ammonia and nitrites that are likely to kill fish
 
I use strips, not sure if they are prone to issues like that too
Personally if your test strips have been stored well, ie cool, dark, and dry, I don't think they would have the same issue. But if the strips were opened and left in humid conditions at any time I would consider them suspect. When I started testing, raised fish most of my life without testing the water, I had enough issues with Nitrate test that I made reference solutions of KNO3 to test the test kits. The API liquid gave me the best results, a few test strips I had actually did ok, but one kit consistently measured a 50ppm solution at 5ppm, and a 100ppm solution at 10-20 ppm. When I submitted my results of the bad test to the manufacturer they sent me a new test kit, it did better but was still low by 10 to 20 ppm.
 
Unless you have a really high fish population, or feed excessively, I don't see how Nitrates can be the issue with a 50% weekly water change cycle, assuming any accumulated waste is removed from the tank during water changes. It is possible to lose your cycle if some treatment that kills the cycle bacteria has occurred.
 

Most reactions

Back
Top