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What is killing my fish?!?


New Member
Mar 10, 2023
Reaction score
Erie County, Pennsylvania
Hi. I am new to forums and relatively new to fish keeping. I had a beta for 2 years and when he passed away last year, I decided to upgrade my tank and try new fish. His tank was a 5gal and I planned to turn it into a shrimp tank. I purchased 4 neon tetra, 1 Danio, and 1 blue neocaridina shrimp. I eventually added guppies. This tank is a healthy, cycled tank.

I listened to a George Farmer Podcast and learned that I should do a 50% water change every day for the first week, then every other day for a week, then once a week, and so on. I planned to follow this as closely as possible around my work schedule. I'm trying to be as detailed as I can be, so I apologize if I'm writing too much. I have well water. I purchased an Apera Instruments, LLC-A3719 PC60-Z (measures pH, conductivity, TDS, salinity, resistivity, temp). pH is around 8.4 from the tap, GH 5304 (30), KH 178 (10).

3/21/23--32.5g Fluval Flex initiated with Eco Complete, 30 Seachem root tabs, then topped with Flourite. The substrate is very thick. I didn't mean for that to happen. Then I added 2 air stones, live plants, lava rock, dragon stone, and driftwood.
3/22/23--50% water change. Added Seachem Advance, Prime, and Pristine. pH 8.73 found a Ramshorn snail from the plants and removed it.
3/23/23--50% water change. Added Advance, Prime, and Pristine. temp 78.3 pH 8.99 nitrite 0, ammonia 0.25, nitrate 0
3/24/23--50% water change. Added Advance, Prime, and Pristine. pH 8.13 temp 78.1
3/25/23--pH 8.75 temp 78.1 nitrite 0.25, ammonia 0, nitrate 5. I added driftwood with a java fern from my established tank to this new tank. Dosed with Flourish.
3/26/23--temp 78.9 nitrite 2, ammonia 0, nitrate 5
3/27/23--50% water change. Added Advance, Prime, Excel, and Pristine.
3/28/23--pH 8.59 temp 78.6 nitrite 0.2, ammonia, 0, nitrate 0. Added Prime, Pristine, Excel, and Flourish.
3/31/23--Tank pH 8.58 Tap water- ph8.49 temp 78.3 nitrite 0.25, ammonia 0, nitrate 5. MG 12.9ppm. CA 21.3 ppm, Copper 0.1, Lead 30, Chlorine 0.5, sulfate 400, total alk120
Found the first bladder snail. Removed it, didn't see any others (but have many more now).
4/1/23--Temp 78.1 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 3
4/2/23--50% water change. Temp 78.2 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrates 5. Added Stability, Advance, Prime, and Excel.
4/3/23-- Added Stability and Advance.
4/4/23-- Added Stability, Advance, and Excel. Temp 78.1
4/5/23 --Added my Danio from the original tank. Temp 78.3 pH 8.14 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 0. Added Prime, Stability, and Stress Guard.
4/6/23--Temp 78.1 pH 8.33 nitrite 0, ammonia 0. nitrate 0. Moved the rest from the old tank--4 tetra, 1 hillstream loach, 1 blue neocaridina shrimp. Added Stress Guard, Stability, and Advance.
4/7/23-- Temp 78.1 pH8.23 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 0. Purchased and added 2 Mollies, 1 Panda cory, and 2 more hillstream loaches.
4/8/23 --Added Stability and Stress Guard
4/9/23--Added Stability, Prime, Stress Guard, Excel, Flourish. Noticed plants are turning brown.
4/10/23--Temp 80.6 pH 8.2 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 5. 50% water change. Added 4 guppies. Added Stability, Prime, Advance, Excel.
4/13/23--Fish store tested my water. Stated all levels were normal. She said I was safe to add the following: 4 Mollies, 3 panda cories, 2 julii cories, 1 yoyo loach, 5 cherry barbs. Added Stability, Prime, Stress Guard, Advance, Excel
4/14/23--pH 8.2 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrates 0. Found new baby guppies!
4/15/23--pH 8.2 temp 80.4 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 0. Added Stability, Stress Guard, Flourish, and Excel. Fed fresh boiled broccoli. Everyone ate it until the floret was gone.
4/16/23--Found 2 Mollies and 1 Panda cory dead. No wounds or markings. No rash/growth They looked like healthy fish. I unfortunately did not take a picture. Temp 78.6 pH 8.2 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 0 O2 8mg/l 50% water change Added Prime and Stress Guard. One cherry barb color seems to be lightening.
4/17/23--Temp 78.6 pH 8.3 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 3
4/18/23--Found 1 Molly, 1 Julii cory, and the yo yo loach dead in the morning. One panda moving slow. Has white patches on his body. He rubs his face in the substrate to get it off. Epistylis??? pH 8.2 nitrite
1, ammonia 1, nitrate 5. Did 30% water change. Tested one hour after water change: pH 8.2 nitrite 0, ammonia, 0, nitrate 2. O2 8mg/l. I added two more air stones. Added Prime and Stability. Noticed
one cherry barb's color is getting lighter. Local fish store told me it was ICH to put Paraguard in the water. I would have to do a fraction of a dose because loaches can be sensitive to the medication. I
was not comfortable treating when I wasn't sure what it was. I went to PetSmart and they told me to give API Fin and Body Cure (doxy). I was not comfortable with this either. I set up a hospital tank
and tried to catch the cory to put her in the tank but she vanished. I mixed doxy in the water and left the tank in case I decided to use it later.
4/19/23--No losses. temp 78.3 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate5. Did not feed today. Panda looks no different. I ended up putting 3ml of the ParaGuard into the tank @0815.

**We have 2 small local fish stores and a PetSmart and Petco. I am getting conflicting information from the two fish stores and what I read online. I stopped doing so many water changes because the fish store that I trust told me I was causing problems with my pH by doing this. This is also the store that told me my tank was ready for so many fish. The other fish store said he doesn't recommend salt and said the panda had a bacterial infection that should be treated with Kanaplex. He said to put it in their food. This confuses me. I have some fish that don't eat until later or get it from the floor. How do I know that all of the fish get an accurate dose of antibiotic if I'm just putting it in food that some will eat a ton and other won't eat at all? I'm attaching pictures below. Everything was going great until 4/16/23. Unfortunately I don't have any of those pictures.
Again, I'm sorry for being so lengthy. I'd welcome any advice or thoughts. Thank you very much for reading.


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Yikes! I'm sorry your introduction has been so rough!

Your main problem has been way overstocking the tank with fish, way too fast, and very likely overfeeding them too - and that you've been given terrible advice at these fish stores which set you up to fail! I'm sorry about that, happens to many people, and we all have to learn the lesson to never, ever, rely on fish store advice.

Since there's conflicting info online too, as you said, there's a lot of misinformation out there, anyone can write a blog or a forum post like I'm doing now. So I'll point you in the direction of some trustyworthy sites! Seriously Fish is a site written by scientists and experts in the field, and they have profiles about the requirements and habitats for most every fish you're likely to find in stores. The info there is reliable, you'll want to chart and compare the requirements for things like temp/GH/tank size etc, and make sure you can meet the needs of every species you have.

The thick substrate is a problem. You're stocking as if you have 32.5 gallons of water, but a third of the tank is taken up by the substrate alone! That means your tank water volume is really a 20 gallon tank, not even accounting for the displacement from rocks and other hardscape.

You're relying too heavily on bottles and chemicals, another very common beginner mistake, so you're not alone! But stop with all the extras, resist the temptation to throw in different random meds the store people try to sell you. Remember your fish live in and breathe this water. Having a lot of chemicals and medications adds stress, lowers the immune system, and are hard on the fish - and that's even when it's the right med for the right problem. It's even worse if the product is snake oil and not useful for the problem.

Water changes, large ones daily or twice daily if you can manage it, and only use a water conditioner, not all the other stuff. Fresh clean water is the best medicine, and you have a lot of fish in not a lot of water in a very new set up. I suspect you lost fish because on the 13th you added 15 fish!! To a tank that already had 15 fish and had only been set up less than a month ago. I'm afraid they way oversold to you, and doomed those fish.
4/13/23--Fish store tested my water. Stated all levels were normal. She said I was safe to add the following: 4 Mollies, 3 panda cories, 2 julii cories, 1 yoyo loach, 5 cherry barbs. Added Stability, Prime, Stress Guard, Advance, Excel
4/14/23--pH 8.2 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrates 0. Found new baby guppies!
4/15/23--pH 8.2 temp 80.4 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 0. Added Stability, Stress Guard, Flourish, and Excel. Fed fresh boiled broccoli. Everyone ate it until the floret was gone.
4/16/23--Found 2 Mollies and 1 Panda cory dead. No wounds or markings. No rash/growth They looked like healthy fish. I unfortunately did not take a picture. Temp 78.6 pH 8.2 nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate 0 O2 8mg/l 50% water change Added Prime and Stress Guard. One cherry barb color seems to be lightening.

The day after you added the second batch of 15, you also had baby guppies, so your overstocking problem is only getting worse I'm afraid.

There is a chance that any of the fish could have introduced disease, especially the batch bought on the 13th, deaths happening on the 16th. But it is NOT ich, and those fish are understandably covered in excess mucus, which isn't a disease, but is a symptom that something is irritating them, usually something in the water (like a lot of chemicals being added, and not water changed out enough), where the fish produces more slime coat to try to protect themselves from whatever is bothering them.

Adding that many fish at once to a new set up was bound to cause an ammonia spike. There wouldn't have been enough nitrifying bacteria in the tank and filter to handle such a large and sudden increase in the bioload. They can happen without us catching it, if the spike happened hours/days before you tested, then by the time you test, the beneficial bacteria (BB) and live plants have processed the excess ammonia, and you think all is well since the test said zero ammonia etc.

The fact that you were getting readings for ammonia and nitrites on some days supports this theory. New tank, lots of new fish, lots of different foods daily - too high a bioload for the tank as it is at the moment.

For now, keep it simple. Clean fresh water, doing large water changes so you're changing 75-80% of the total amount of water in the tank 1-2 times daily. Do not ever rinse filter media under the tap, only ever rinse filter media in old tank water you've removed during a water change, or declorinated water.

Return some of the fish if you can. I know that can be hard, but you've been given bad advice, have too many fish, and all kept in the wrong numbers, which adds stress as well. The tank is going to continue to struggle if the stocking stays the same, it'll be a lot of work and stress and not so much fun.
Ultimately you're also going to need to remove a load of that substrate. It's way too much, not needed, and hogging all the space in the tank so you have much less water volume. But you can't really do that with fish in the tank, so returning any you can/will, will make that task easier.

Corydoras require a fine sand substrate too, they don't do well with planted substrates as they cannot filter feed the way they do in the wild, the substrate can damage their barbels, leading to barbel erosion and/or infections, and can provide a good surface for more harmful bacteria that the cories are then exposed to. When considering all this, please think about whether you can provide a fine sand substrate for them, or if it would be better not to keep corydoras. There are other bottom dwelling fish that don't need fine sand, but corydoras do.

Sorry to overwhelm with info, but i hope at least some of it is helpful. Main advice is to do large daily water changes - if you're doing them frequently, the source water will be chemically close to the tank water. Fast the fish for a few days, and cut right back with feeding them when you do. We all have a tendency to overfeed, but more food in means more waste out, either from fish poop or uneaten food, and that means more ammonia and swinging conditions stressing the fish.

So do those large water changes, clean any mess you see on the substrate like uneaten food/fish poop, only use a declorinator/water conditioner and not all the other products, at least for the moment, and see if the fish begin to improve. Observe them as much as you can, make notes, take photos and video can be super useful too for us to see what's really going on with the fish. If you do take video, just be aware that the video upload function on the site doesn't work, but if you upload to youtube or imgur or somewhere, you can link it here!
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I do have to say though, that yoyo loach looked very young, very skinny, and not very healthy, even in the photo where it was alive. You'd only had it for five days so I think the store sold you some unhealthy fish that should not have been for sale. All of the fish are showing some excess mucus, but the panda cory and a female guppy in one of the photos are in a particularly bad way. The dalmation molly hiding in the plants is fin clamped and not looking too happy...

I'm hoping lots of water changes will help, but it's possible that a disease came in with the fish (and livebearers like guppies and mollies frequently come loaded with disease, as well as fry) or the cory could be battling something like a secondary bacterial infection. Like when we get sick, our immune system is low and we're more vulnerable to catching something else? Same kind of thing. It's a personal decision whether you move the cory to the hospital tank and attempt treatment on that one, see how the fish is looking over the next days, whether she seems to perk up, or gets worse, and whether you think it's worth isolating her for treatment.

Since they have a great deal more knowledge and experience than I do, also going to tag in @TwoTankAmin , @GaryE and @Wills
If the GH (general hardness) is 530ppm, then it is way too hard for most of those fish and you should consider getting a reverse osmosis unit and mixing half r/o water with half well water for a more useful GH. Even then you would probably want to lower it more because most of the fish you have come from soft water with a GH below 150ppm. The molly is fine in hard water, guppies usually occur in water with a GH around 150-250ppm. Ideally you want 2 tanks, one for hard water fishes like guppies and mollies, and the other for softwater fishes like neon tetras, loaches, Corydoras, etc.

If you keep softwater fishes like tetras and danios in hard water, they will become egg bound. It doesn't kill them but it's not the best for them.


I kind of let my mind go in the middle of the dates but from a health perspective, the Corydoras with the white gunk on it is producing excess mucous because something in the water is irritating it. This can be from ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, wrong pH or GH, or chemicals. The easiest way to deal with excess mucous on fish is to do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for a week. You should also do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.

The Pakistani (yoyo) loach is a baby and is emaciated. It should not have been sold to you and you should be able to get a replacement. But don't buy them skinny, they never do well. They should be at least 1 inch long and have a nice body shape and not be skinny. They also need to be kept in groups of at least 6 (preferably 10) or more. And I don't normally recommend mixing Corydoras and Botia loaches in te same tank. Too many different types of bottom dwelling fishes causes stress.

The molly hiding in the plants could be stressed from whatever is in the water affecting the Corydoras. Again, big daily water changes to make sure nothing toxic is in the water.

If you are on well water, you should have it checked by a professional water testing company at least once a year to make sure there are no poison in it. Ground water can get contaminated by agricultural runoff or chemicals used in fire fighting or people dumping industrial waste in the bush. Slight traces of these poisonous chemicals can kill fish and do permanent damage to any people or animals that drink it. Filtering the tap water through carbon or a reverse osmosis unit (they normally contain a carbon cartridge) before using it would help to reduce the chance of toxic chemicals being in the ground water.

The dead Corydoras has red gills and this is usually from poor water quality or something toxic in the water. The dead loach is emaciated and needed lots of food before you got it.


Right now I would suggest don't get any more fish for a few months and let the tank stabilise and finish cycling (developing the beneficial filter bacteria).

Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for a week, and any day after that if you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm.

Tell us how often and how you clean the filter?

Stop adding medications because the fish don't appear to have any diseases.

Look into a reverse osmosis unit to reduce the GH. Things to look for in these units is the ratio of waste water vs useable water. Most good units have a 1:1 ratio whereby they produce 1 gallon of waste water and 1 gallon of pure water. You use the pure water and the waste water goes on the garden or down the drain. Cheaper units usually have a 2:1, 3:1 or higher ratio and produce 2, 3, 4 or more gallons of waste water for every 1 gallon of pure water.

You can also look into a solar still to create pure water. It's cheaper than a reverse osmosis unit but doesn't work well in cold environments.

Get a large plastic storage container and put it outside in the sun.
Pour a bucket of water into the storage container.
Put a clean bucket in the middle of the storage container. Have a rock in the bucket to stop it floating around.
Put the lid on the storage container.
Put a rock or small weight on the lid in the middle, so the lid sags above the bucket.

As the sun heats up the container, water will evaporate and condense on the underside of the lid. The water will run towards the centre and drip into the bucket. When the bucket is full of water, you put it into a holding container and put the bucket back in the storage container with another bucket of tap water.

You get pure water with a pH of 7.0, 0 GH, 0KH and no wasted water, no power used and it's cheap to set up. You can then mix this pure water with some well water to get a better GH for your fish.
Wow, thank you both! I really can't express how much I appreciate your time! I can tell the fish store employees don't have the time to talk to me, they re always in a hurry and don't care to see any pictures. It's disheartening. I can see why people throw in the towel so quickly. It's a lot to learn and a huge responsibility with all those little lives depending on you. I feel really bad about the yoyo, I had no idea.

I had watched YouTube videos that said the thicker the substrate the healthier the environment would be for the fish. So I made it thick. It took me a couple months to pick out the substrate to begin with. I have another tank (9g Flex) cycling right now, and one that I've kept for a couple years and is housing my shrimp. I will move my fish temporarily when the 9 gal is ready. At that point I will remove at least half of the substrate. Until then I will do large water changes daily. I did 50% last night and just did 80% this afternoon. I vacuumed the substrate and cleaned the filter in the tank water that I had removed. I didn't put in any conditioner. I have spent a small fortune on all of these chemicals, mostly Seachem, and I honestly don't know if I can trust any of them anymore. I had been dosing for a 25g tank, but you're right, the water volume is less than that. Is Prime a good water conditioner? Is there another that would be better/safer?

I spoke with my husband about RO and we are going to look into that. In the meantime, would mixing in distilled water help? I'm so glad to know that they don't have ich. But, it's still bad. I'll talk with the fish store owner and ask about taking some of them back to the store. I just don't want them to dispose of the fish because of the mucus. Should I use Stress Guard or something like that? Like I said, I don't know what to trust anymore. I have so many live plants between all 3 of my tanks. I used root tabs, but for the anubias and Java ferns, I don't know how to fertilize them without the liquid. Right now I really don't care though and don't plan to put any more fertilizer in my tank. But down the road I just don't know. Even with all the Flourish chemicals I was adding, they were all starting to turn brown. I believe you are right that I was having ammonia spikes and had no idea. I was trying to test often and thought my numbers looked good. Your theory makes a lot of sense.
I also know I fed too much. I bought a lot of different foods to be sure everyone got the right diet. Some of them will hog everything so I'd give more. I have not fed them today and it makes me feel so guilty. I'm worried about the pandas not eating enough to fight whatever is going on. I vacuumed all the substrate, so I'm not sure what they are going to find to eat. Ugh, it's tough.

Thank you for suggesting the website, I will definitely look at the information on there. And thank you both so much for your time and sharing your knowledge with me. I will post pictures and updates. I'll attempt a video on YouTube too. I've never done that before. I'm attaching pictures of some of the fish this afternoon. Thanks!!


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Hello. I wanted to give an update, and also ask for advice. I know this is long and I apologize. But I am so frustrated and cannot get straight answers. I have been looking for info on Seriously Fish as well and that has been helpful. I have had no losses since my original post. I have done 50-75% water changes daily starting 4/19/23. On 4/20/23 I added activated carbon to the filters to remove the Paraguard that I had added the night before. I did not add any more chemicals to the tank, including conditioner, until 4/24/23. All of the fish were acting and looking good. Even the Panda that looked so poor had improved drastically. I did not feed them for a couple days, and when I resumed I only fed a small amount of flakes.

4/24/23 I fed them a small amount of flakes but I also added one Fluval Bug Bites Algae Crisps and one New Life Spectrum AlgaeMax mini wafer each in a separate dish on opposite sides of the tank. I did this because all of the fish attempt to eat on one little pellet. From what I understand, the bottom dwellers need the extra protein from the Bug Bites and I should be feeding these to the loaches and corydoras more often than the flakes. I was trying to spread everyone out so they all were able to eat. I left these pellets in the tank for 1 hour then removed what was left. Later that same day I did an 80% water change and added 2.5ml of Prime. My tank is 32.5g but I have very thick substrate, so I calculated for 25g. The next day (yesterday) I found one of my neon tetras floating around upside down. He'd flop over and swim for a couple seconds then starting floating upside down again. He would float to the air stone and then ride the current. He would also float around with his nose pointed directly to the bottom of the tank. I really thought he was dying. I took him out and gave him a salt bath for 10 minutes. I read that this is the treatment for swim bladder. It didn't seem to help. I did an 80% water change and did not put in any conditioner. I put him back in the aquarium. This morning I was sure I'd find him dead, but he was still alive he was acting similar to last night but not as pronounced. I did not have time to do a salt bath before work so I planned to do one when I got home. He was acting normal when I arrived home! I don't understand. Was it the extra food (pellets) or was it the Prime? I've read good and bad about Prime. I also have read that corydoras are sensitive to copper, which is and ingredient in Bug Bites, but the instructions state it is for corydoras! My neon tetras have been healthy and doing well for over 6 months.

I had my well water tested. The results are below. I have tried to find information on their website regarding the hardness results. I really don't understand them, so I don't know if there is a problem there for my fish. There is little chloride in the water. Do I really need conditioner? I am doing an experiment in one of my tanks that is planted but does not have fish. It has been running the same pH as my other tanks that contain fish. I removed the activated carbon and added peat pellets in the filter. I want to see if I can lower the pH this way.

My 32.5g aquarium is heavily planted, however the plants are starting to brown and yellow. I know they need fertilized, but I do not want to end up where I was. How do I fertilize these plants without harming my fish?

I really appreciate any input and feedback. Thank you.

pH pH 8.02 SM 4500-H+B OK
Total Dissolved Solids mg/L 246 SM 2510B
Turbidity NTU 0.35 EPA 180.1
Conductivity umhos/cm 420 SM 2510B
Hardness (Ca,Mg) mg/L 0 2340 B
Hardness (Total) mg/L 0.01 2340 C
Grains per gallon Grains 0 Conversion
Alkalinity (as CaCO3) mg/L 202 SM 2320 B

Aluminum mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0259 EPA 200.7
Antimony mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.00018 EPA 200.8
Arsenic mg/L 0.000994 0.00029 EPA 200.8 > SLR (0)
Barium mg/L NOT DETECTED 3.0E-5 EPA 200.8
Beryllium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0001 EPA 200.8
Boron mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0034 EPA 200.7
Cadmium mg/L NOT DETECTED 1.0E-5 EPA 200.8
Calcium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0446 EPA 200.7
Chloride mg/L 4.4 0.1 EPA 300.0
Chromium (Total) mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0002 EPA 200.8
Cobalt mg/L NOT DETECTED 1.0E-5 EPA 200.8
Copper mg/L 0.00601 0.0001 EPA 200.8 < SLR
Fluoride mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.02 EPA 300.0
Iron mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0242 EPA 200.7
Lead mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.00012 EPA 200.8
Lithium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.00188 EPA 200.7
Magnesium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0123 EPA 200.7
Manganese mg/L NOT DETECTED 7.0E-5 EPA 200.8
Mercury mg/L NOT DETECTED 7.0E-5 EPA 200.8
Molybdenum mg/L 0.000653 8.0E-5 EPA 200.8 < SLR
Nickel mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0003 EPA 200.8
Nitrate (as N) mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0399 EPA 300.0
Nitrite (as N) mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0126 EPA 300.0
Phosphorus mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.002 EPA 200.7
Potassium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.2 EPA 200.7
Selenium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0003 EPA 200.8
Silica mg/L 10.4 0.0682 EPA 200.7
Silver mg/L NOT DETECTED 1.0E-5 EPA 200.8
Sodium mg/L 99 0.0507 EPA 200.7
Strontium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0003 EPA 200.7
Sulfate mg/L 18.8 0.072 EPA 300.0 < SLR
Thallium mg/L NOT DETECTED 1.0E-5 EPA 200.8
Tin mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0001 EPA 200.8
Titanium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0004 EPA 200.7
Total Coliform P/A DETECTED SM 9223B
Uranium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0004 EPA 200.8
Vanadium mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.00032 EPA 200.8
Zinc mg/L NOT DETECTED 0.0005 EPA 200.7

Your results are being evaluated with the SimpleLab Recommendation.
This is a health protective, non-enforceable drinking water benchmark. SLR is based on the most protective human health benchmark used
among public health agencies for a contaminant. Drinking water at or near the SLR over the course of your lifetime is thought to be safe.
MDL: Method Detection Limit. MDL is the lowest concentration of an analyte which testing instrumentation and the analysis team is configured
to measure.
If you are using well water, you do not need to use a dechlorinator.
If you are getting water from a water company, then it will either contain chlorine or chloramine and you will need to use a dechlorinator.

The chloride in the water is from sodium chloride (salt) and most companies read them separately as sodium and chloride, but it's just salt.

pH is 8.02, so it is 8.0.

KH is 202ppm

There doesn't appear to be any GH, which is unusual. You might want to have the GH and KH tested by a pet shop to see if there is any GH.

You do have a low level of arsenic, molybdenum and some copper in the water. The sulphate is probably from copper sulphate. The water is pretty pure apart from that.


Swim bladder problems are rare in fish. Everyone knows the word swim bladder and any time a fish looks off, it has a swim bladder problem. In reality it is uncommon.

If a fish floats to the surface when it stops swimming, it could have a swim bladder problem or it could have air in its intestine. Most fish don't naturally take food from the surface and when they eat dry food, they ingest air along with the food. Dry food also has air in it. If the fish swallows too much air, it can float around due to air in its intestine. To test for this, simply stop feeding dry food for a week and use frozen or live foods instead. If the fish swims normally without dry food and doesn't float up, then it is air in the intestine. Fish fart the air out once it has gone through their digestive tract. If the fish continues to float after a week without dry food, then it is a swim bladder problem.

If a fish sinks when it stops swimming (catfish aren't included in this), then it has a swim bladder problem.

There is no cure for swim bladder problems regardless of what people online say. The swim bladder either works or it doesn't, and if it doesn't the fish should be euthanised.

Salt (sodium chloride) can be used to treat some external diseases like minor fungal & bacterial infections, along with some external protozoan parasites (Costia, Chilodonella & Trichodina). Salt does nothing to treat internal problems and can kill soft water fishes if too much salt is used, (it damages the kidneys).

Epsom Salts (Magnesium sulphate) can be used to draw excess fluid out of a fish. However, catching sick fish and lifting them out of water can injure them further. If the fish has an internal problem, lifting them out of water can kill them or at the very least, cause them a lot of pain.


If you post some pictures of the plants and tell us what sort of light is on the tank, and how long the light is on for, we might be able to offer info about the plants.
Thank you for helping me. I am using the well water that I had posted the results for, so I will not use conditioner anymore. I used an API test kit today to test the KH and GH of my well water. The KH was 10 or 179 and the GH was 4 or 71.6 the pH was 8.2 and zero nitrites, ammonia, and nitrates. I did a 20% water change instead of 50. All of my fish are behaving and looking normal except a Julii Cory. It's been lazy since last night. Not eating or swimming too much. Every once in a while it will move to a different spot and sit again. He's not disturbed when another fish swims by and bumps him. He looks normal, it's just odd behavior for him. That tetra is alive, doesn't quite have all of his energy back yet, but he's definitely much better. I don't understand what I'm doing wrong.

I'm attaching pictures of some of the plants. Thank you again.


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You have soft water with a high pH. The KH is probably the reason for the high pH.

The plants could be shedding their terrestrial leaves and growing aquatic leaves. A lot of aquarium plants are grown hydroponically (wet roots, dry leaves) and when they are put under water, they draw the nutrients out of the old terrestrial leaves and grow new submersed leaves. You can leave the old leaves on the plant until they are brown and laying on the ground then remove them with a pr of scissors.

When planting plants only bury the roots, and keep the leaves and stems above the substrate otherwise the leaves can rot.

Some of the leaves look like they have blue green algae (Cyanobacter bacteria) on them. This usually wipes off in a film and smells musty. It loves red light, nutrients and low oxygen levels. Reducing dry food and fertiliser normally help, as does cleaning the tank (big water changes, gravel cleaning, etc).

The other leaves have normal algae, which is normally caused by an imbalance in the light, nutrients and number of plants. In this case it is probably nutrient related due to the Cyanobacteria in there too.
Thank you. I realized I forgot to tell you about my lights. I have 2 Fluval Aquasky Sky lights. I have them at 100% RBG and white from 9am-9pm.

You are right, there is a good amount of algae growth on my driftwood at the top too. I have Fluval root tabs under the Flourite, but they are about 4" deep. Is there a fertilizer that you would recommend that is completely safe for fish?

This tank perplexes me. Some fish do great, there are more guppy fry as of 2 days ago. I am moving the 1 male to another tank. When the fry get large enough to determine sex, I'll move those males too. Then there are the fish that got sick or died. I understand the fish dying initially, but then the tetra got sick (he's doing well now) and the Julii Cory was moving slow yesterday and today I can't find him at all! I've done 50-80% water changes almost daily and have used no chemicals except the 1 day that I used Prime and the tetra was sick the next day.

I bought San Francisco Bay frozen spirulina brine shrimp. I've never used this type of food. I put one of the little bricks in and it melted into a million little shrimp that went straight to the top of the tank and floated around or got stuck in plants. Is this normal and ok? I've been using New Life Spectrum flakes and pellets. I'd like to use the best food I can (except live) and the safest fertilizer.

Thanks again, I really appreciate the advice.
Stress from tank lights coming on when the room is dark can be an issue. Fish don't have eyelids and don't tolerate going from complete dark to bright light (or vice versa) instantly.

In the morning open the curtains or turn the room light on at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the tank light on. This will reduce the stress on the fish and they won't go from a dark tank to a bright tank instantly.

At night turn the room light on and then turn the tank light off. Wait at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the room light out. This allows the fish to settle down for the night instead of going from a brightly lit tank to complete darkness instantly.


Most aquarium plants like a bit of light and if you only have the light on for a couple of hours a day, they struggle. If the light doesn't have a high enough wattage they also struggle. Try having the tank lights on for 10-12 hours a day. Your light is on for 12 hours a day and that is fine.

If you get lots of green algae then reduce the light by an hour a day and monitor the algae over the next 2 weeks.
If you don't get any green algae on the glass then increase the lighting period by an hour and monitor it.
If you get a small amount of algae then the lighting time is about right.

Some plants will close their leaves up when they have had sufficient light. Ambulia, Hygrophilas and a few others close their top set of leaves first, then the next set and so on down the stem. When you see this happening, wait an hour after the leaves have closed up against the stem and then turn lights off.


Most aquarium plant fertilisers are fine as long as you don't overdose. I used Sera Florena but there are plenty of other brands that do the same thing.

Avoid using liquid carbon fertiliser because it is usually made from Glutaraldehyde, which is poisonous.


Don't use any more Prime, you don't need it.

If the fish have stopped producing excess mucous (the white slime), then do a 50-75% water change and gravel clean the open areas of substrate once or twice a week and see how they do over the next few weeks.


Frozen brineshrimp is fine to use as a supplement to the normal dry flake food diet. If you only have a few fish you can defrost a block of brineshrimp and add a few bits at a time. Let the fish eat them and then add a few more. Continue offering a few bits at a time until the fish are full and no longer interested in the food.

If you have a lot of fish in the tank, you can drop a block of frozen brineshrimp into the tank and the fish will usually pick at it while it defrosts. The bottom dwelling fishes like Corydoras will also eat brineshrimp that sinks to the bottom. Try to remove any uneaten food after the fish have finished feeding.

Some people turn off the filter when feeding so the food doesn't get sucked up. If you do this, just make sure you turn the filter back on 10-15 minutes after feeding.
Thank you for all of the advice. I will start using fertilizer again, but not Excel. I forgot to tell you that my lights have a sunrise and sunset built in so they do turn on and off gradually, but I'll reduce the time by an hour for a while. I have healthy java ferns in my shrimp tank. I've transferred a bunch of babies to the tank that we have been talking about all along. I thought they were reproducing already, but they look completely different from my original plants. Then I thought the bumps may be snail eggs. The bumps are hard and do not pick off. These plants were healthy and beautiful when I put them in the tank. The other plants in the tank are tissue culture plants from PetSmart, and Creeping Charlie and mermaid weed from a local fish store (that's where the bladder snails that I'm battling came from). I'm attaching pictures of my java ferns now. I afraid I need to get rid of them.


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From the look of the java ferns, I assume you have not been using any plant fertilizer (liquid, as substrate tabs do not enter into this plant because it feeds from the water column). Yo want a comprehensive, which means it contains all necessary nutrients and in proportions to one another, and is intended to "supplement" the occurring nutrients from feeding the fish and water changes.

As you are in the USA, I know of two (don't know if Sera Florina is available here). Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium, and Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti. Do not overdose. The recommended amount dosed following the weekly water change is OK, and will not harm fish or plants or invertebrates. Make sure you get the exact named products, as both manufacturers produce several different products in those lines but these two are what you want, and only what you want.
Thank you. You're correct, I stopped using all chemicals because I didn't know why my fish were dying. I had been using Flourish Advance and occasionally Flourish Comprehensive. I'll start using just the Flourish Comprehensive again as you suggest. Thanks so much!

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