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FAQs on Freshwater Environmental Disease 4

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Fish dying right and left, FW, env.    1/24/07 Hi Bob, <Jason> Been a while since I have written you, but here I am again. So here's the story First the tank and the water quality. 55 Gallon, Water 20 PPM on Nitrate, 0 nitrite, 300 very hard, Alkalinity 180, <Units please... am an old ex H.S. chem. and physics instructor... no units, no credit> ph 8 to 8.4 9 (hardness and ph symptoms of the local tap water in Arizona). Temp 80 to 82 Ammonia 0. Several weeks ago, I tried Mollies again (which I have had very bad luck with in the past) and sure enough I had one go vertical on me again. <Environmental> Took the water to be tested at a PetSmart, told me the salt was too low. I added salt and cured the Molly, yea!  Also, I killed some a live plants (which I later learned adding salt will do). The tank got cloudy as the plants died. <Bacterial et al. decomposition> I removed the plant and stated doing small water changes every other day trying to clear the cloudiness. This was about 3 to 4 weeks ago. I still have some cloudiness (white). Fish 2 Plecos (going to remove one, they are getting big) Had 9 neon tetras, now down to 4 Bought 4 sward tails, all have died 3 Black skirt tetras 4 guppies (one dying) 2 scissor tails <Most of the above are pretty salt-intolerant> 3 fish I don't remember the name off, they are silver with red over their eyes and a wide black stripe on their tail (one has a mouth fungus but still feeds will, one has what appears to be a tumor on it's side but also feeds well) 2 Mollies male and female  (on a side note, I literally just put four fry in a separator, so the female is having babies, pretty cool). The female molly is clearly pregnant, but with only one male in the tank he harasses her all the time. So I changed the tank around adding more fake plants trying to give her hiding space. I want to add more females, but not until the water situation straightens out. I also removed one air pump as I had three and I wanted to make one side of the tank less circulated than the other as they told me this would also help. I used TopFin water clarifier twice in an effort to clear the rest of the cloudiness in the tank (I suspect that helped kill two more Neons and the guppy). It made no visible change over 48 hours. On a side note, I have isolated the guppy and one of the eyes is definitely popped out. I have a two filter system, both filter were pretty dirty. I cleaned one and replaced the other. I'm trying to do as little as little as possible, but I'm loosing fish right left. I have lost 9 fish in one week???? I'm definitely doing something wrong. The remaining fish feed well are do not appear to be stressed. I'm thinking that the multiple water changes were also not good for them? I did clean the rocks significantly, not just skimming the top. Do you think I removed too much bacteria? Suggestions or other questions? Please help!   Jason <Have just skipped down... Your system is under- biologically filtered, and you have added salt, killed off or stalled the metabolism of your bio-filter... You really need to go back to proverbial "square one" here... and first figure out what you want to do... that is, what sorts of organisms you want to keep... What you list is not compatible chemistry/physics wise... Bob Fenner> Re: Fish dying right and left, Tom's much better go  1/24/07 <<Bob, Sorry I was slow with this one. Should have moved it to my in-box before working on it.  Might answer some of Jason's follow-ups, however. Tom>> Hi Bob, <<Hi, Jason. Tom with you this time around.>> Been a while since I have written you, but here I am again. <<Not a 'social' visit I take it?>> So here's the story: First the tank and the water quality. 55 Gallon. Water: 20 PPM on Nitrate, 0 nitrite, 300 very hard, Alkalinity 180, pH 7.8 to 8.4. <<Holy Mackerel! 7.8 to 8.4 on the pH scale is a pretty big swing and with your alkalinity at 180 ppm, it'll stay there, too. Ever considered keeping African Cichlids? :) >> 9 (hardness and pH symptoms of the local tap water in Arizona). Temp 80 to 82; Ammonia 0. Several weeks ago, I tried Mollies again (which I have had very bad luck with in the past) and sure enough I had one go vertical on me again. Took the water to be tested at a PetSmart, told me the salt was too low. <<Good for PetSmart! (I'm not above 'chastising' this store when they screw up but I'll give credit where and when it's due.) As an aside, keep an eye on how much salt you put into this tank. If you go beyond one tablespoon per five gallons of water, your Plecos are not going to be happy with you and other than, perhaps, the Guppies, neither will your other fish. Scaleless fish like Plecos don't tolerate salt well. The ratio I've mentioned can be used as a 'maintenance' level but a higher ratio than this isn't advisable.>> I added salt and cured the Molly, yea! <<Good advice and I'm happy to hear this, Jason.>> Also, I killed some live plants (which I later learned adding salt will do). <<Yep.>> The tank got cloudy as the plants died. I removed the plants and stated doing small water changes every other day trying to clear the cloudiness. This was about 3 to 4 weeks ago. I still have some cloudiness (white). <<This one falls under the heading of 'Things I Picked Up While Researching Other Things', Jason. Most of us understand, to a degree anyway, that plants will take in (absorb) dissolved organic compounds from the water. So far, so good. The problem arises when a plant dies because it releases these organics back into the tank particularly if the plant isn't quickly removed. On the same side of the coin, a sudden infusion of these compounds can/will spur a bacterial explosion (bloom) which is most often seen as 'white, cloudy water'. Because of the 'nature' of the cloudy water, small changes won't do it for you. As long as the organics remain substantially intact, the bacteria will simply propagate and negate the small water change.>> Fish: 2 Plecos (going to remove one, they are getting big) Had 9 neon tetras, now down to 4 Bought 4 sword tails, all have died 3 Black skirt tetras 4 guppies (one dying) 2 scissor tails 3 fish I don't remember the name of. They are silver with red over their eyes and a wide black stripe on their tail (one has a mouth fungus but still feeds well and one has what appears to be a tumor on it's side but also feeds well). <<Red-Eye Tetras, no doubt. Have kept these in the past myself. Nice little fish. As to the mouth fungus, note that this also may be Columnaris which is not a fungal infection at all but a bacterial infection. It presents itself (unfortunately) like a fungus and is usually (also unfortunately) treated for as such without success'¦for rather obvious reasons.>> 2 Mollies male and female  (on a side note, I literally just put four fry in a separator, so the female is having babies, pretty cool). <<Very cool I'd say.>> The female molly is clearly pregnant, but with only one male in the tank he harasses her all the time. So I changed the tank around adding more fake plants trying to give her hiding space. I want to add more females, but not until the water situation straightens out. <<You're using your head on both counts.>> I also removed one air pump as I had three and I wanted to make one side of the tank less circulated than the other as they told me this would also help. <<Okay.>> I used TopFin water clarifier twice in an effort to clear the rest of the cloudiness in the tank (I suspect that helped kill two more Neons and the guppy). It made no visible change over 48 hours. On a side note, I have isolated the guppy and one of the eyes is definitely popped out. <<Skip the 'clarifier', Jason. Stressed fish don't need chemicals thrown into the system with them. Will potentially do more harm than good.>> I have a two filter system, both filters were pretty dirty. I cleaned one and replaced the other. I'm trying to do as little as possible, but I'm losing fish right and left. I have lost 9 fish in one week???? I'm definitely doing something wrong. <<You're on the right track, Jason, just not doing enough of it. You need to do a massive water change (at least 80%-90%), rather than small ones, to rid the tank of the organics and, therefore, the bacteria. If you don't already use a clean, 5-gallon bucket for your water changes, I highly recommend getting one. Makes measuring out the salt far easier (one tablespoon per bucket) and not a bad workout -- though guys like us don't really need it. :) >> The remaining fish feed well are do not appear to be stressed. I'm thinking that the multiple water changes were also not good for them? <<Typically not but I'm letting you off the hook here. One concern with changing water too frequently is that we can, under more typical water conditions, create unwanted shifts in pH levels and overall water stability. In your case, I doubt we could do that by dumping battery acid in the tank based on your alkalinity readings. (That's a joke. Don't do that.)>> I did clean the rocks significantly, not just skimming the top. Do you think I removed too much bacteria? <<Depends on how you 'cleaned' your filter, Jason. Hopefully, the media was rinsed in water removed from the tank. Tap water is a big (actually HUGE!) no-no for cleaning the filter media. As to your question, specifically, you really don't want to vacuum more than one-third of the substrate at any given time. If you were doing small changes (10%-20%) you couldn't have gone too far wrong on this count. You might look into purchasing BIO-Spira (Marineland) to jump-start the filters/tank if you're concerned that the bio-colonies have been adversely affected by the cleanings. In fact, I recommend that you do this, anyway.>> Suggestions or other questions? Please help! <<Think I've given you enough to keep you busy, Jason. You know where you can find us if there are other questions. Best of luck to you.>> Jason <<Tom>>

Re: Fish dying right and left... and no effort put into learning  1/25/07 Bob, appreciate the reply. <Okay> Follow up questions. What are my options? <...> I had intended to build an all community fish tank, <More to such an assemblage than their temperaments... read on WWM, fishbase.org... elsewhere re the physical and chemical needs/ranges for the species you list... They don't overlap in some (stated) cases> don't care about plants. I understand that you can balance the salt requirements of the mollies with the other fish, may be not? <Not> Should I back off the salt content slowly and gauge the reactions of the other fish? <Mmm, no. Really... you should READ... decide then what you want to do... arrange a suitable habitat for truly compatible species> And what do you suggest about clearing up the remaining cloudiness, time, water changes? <Posted...> The Molly gave birth to about 40 fry which I have isolated and will do my best to keep. They seem to be doing fine at this point.   I have a fairly large tank, 55 gallons. I just want to have a fair number of healthy pretty fish, and I don't get very good advice at places like PetSmart or PetCo. <Then read> Everything was fine until the plant stared to die from adding salt and I started doing water changes in an attempt to clear up the cloudiness. But adding the salt is what saved the Molly. <...> If I go with salt tolerant fish like Mollies, what other fish are compatible? >>>>> And can I kick start the metabolic processes that I have killed? Should I be changing my carbon filters more/less often? Should I add the bacteria they sell to help start new tanks? Should I continue to do 10% water changes fairly often? You certainly have told me how I have killed everything. But I could still use your help understanding what my options are and what suggestions you have. Appreciate your help. Jason <All of this is archived on the site... learn to/use the indices, search tool. RMF>

Re: Fish dying right and left (follow-up)  1/25/07 Bob, <<Tom again, Jason.>> Thanks so much for the reply, this is a huge help and makes perfect sense. I left the plant in the tank much too long after it started losing leaves. <<Do it to you almost every time, Jason.>> On a side note, I have noticed decreased activity from the Plecos, although they are still feeding. I believe I need to reduce the salt level slightly (and slowly). <<The large water change will allow you to get this squared away. Don't dilly-dally, though. We've got enough on our plates already.>> My Molly had about 40 babies last evening, we captured all of them, so doing an 80%-90% water change will be tough but with my wife to help, we'll do it. <<All you can do is your best. Not to sound cold about this but the fry are expendable relative to the lives of the adults right now if 'push comes to shove.'>> I know you are going to chastise me for this, but I have indeed been cleaning my filters with tap water. :( I will immediately stop! <<Consider yourself chastised. On the upside, you're our one-millionth writer to get caught doing this! There's no prize for this, however. Sorry.>> Thanks again for your help and I will let you know what happens over the next week or two. <<I'll look forward to hearing from you, Jason. Direct your correspondence to my name if you would. I've got poor Bob confused enough with this one. Good luck with this. Tom>>

Re: TO TOM PLEASE - Re: Fish dying right and left (follow-up)   1/25/07 <<Hi, Jason.>> So clearly I am getting responses from two sources, one nice, the other not so nice, nor helpful. <<Two sources, Jason. I have the luxury of long responses and the other source knows more than I ever will...even given three lifetimes. :) >> I wrote the attached diatribe because it pissed me off so much. <<Happens, Jason. (Shake it off. You'll feel better.)>> I don't want to create drama. <<None created. Just men talking...>> On the other hand, I'm trying desperately to save what I have as quickly as possible and although READING (as he puts it) clearly makes sense, it's not the quickest plan of attack. <<Understood. I, and the others, try to handle the "quick" fixes. Mr. Fenner wants you in this for the long haul, hence, his admonition to read/research. We lose too many aquarists due to lack of information.>> This thread has now become quite lengthy, but with the large water change last evening, I think I have made some progress. We were able to handle the fry well and they seem to be doing fine. There must be 40+ and I keep finding one here and there in the tank. <<Skampy little devils, aren't they?>> Let's see if I can go a week without losing a fish and I will start cleaning the filters in tank water. <<Sounds good, Jason.>> In any case, I appreciate your responses, they have been helpful. <<I'm glad for this. As I told you, you know where to find me. Tom>>

Re: Fish dying right and left   1/25/07 <<Jason. Tom with you.>> Wow, okay. It seems like I got two replies yesterday to the same email. <<You did. Sometimes happens that two people end up responding to the same post, primarily because one nincompoop didn't move the post to his in-box as he should have. Guilty as charged.>> One was filled with substantial information that was quite helpful and gave me some good direction. The other was rather curt and quite frankly not very helpful, very similar to this email. <<When we overload the Boss with unanswered requests for help from our readers, he becomes 'terse'. Not his fault but ours.>> This email appears to come from the first responder. <<Yes.>> Rather than offer me advice and help, you have essentially told me exactly what you told me yesterday. That is, that I basically don't know what I'm doing and that I should either go back to square one or give up. You also emphasize READING which clearly makes sense. Although reading will obviously give me substantially more information, in the short term, I am hoping to save what fish I have and to improve the habitat as quickly as possible. That being the case, my plan of attack was to ask someone whom I believed to be an expert and who in the past has taken the time to give thought to my questions and respond with genuine concern. I was hoping for a similar response this time. Instead, you have directed me back to the site and tasked me with research and homework. <<I won't 'defend' the response but I will defend Bob here, Jason. No one cares more about the hobby, and life, than Bob. No one. And, no one is more involved in helping folks with problems, whatever they might be. I understand your reaction but, believe me, it's misplaced. Gotta be on the 'inside' to completely understand, I'm afraid.>> And although this might surprise, I have done a fair amount of reading. I have also talked to many people. This may or may not also surprise you, but I tend to get different information from just about every resource I explore. So figuring out who is right and who and what sources are best appears to be extremely difficult. As you have said, I need to READ.    <<Trust me, Jason, you're singing our song! There isn't one of us who doesn't 'research' virtually every question. This ain't 'off-the-top-of-your-head' stuff in many cases. Lots of it is, of course, but, in more cases than you might think, we've got to dig. Just too many aspects of the hobby to have it all at your fingertips. The trick is that we've learned 'how' to research and, with experience, weed the 'bum' information out of the 'good'.>> I suspect that you get a lot of email from inexperienced and (probably sometimes less intelligent) people who ask obvious questions. But what confuses me is the fact that I got two replies to my initial email, one nice, the other not so nice. Are there multiple people responding to emails? One email appears to be from Bob the other from Tom??? <<There are many volunteers on our site, Jason. I'm just one of them.>> Bob Fenner, who I believe is the first person I exchanged emails with over a year ago was very helpful in helping me save one of my Mollies way back then. <<I'm not the least bit surprised.>> In any case, I will go back to your site and continue to explore. I will also continue to READ and learn as much as I can. I certainly do not enjoy watching my fish suffer and die. I would much rather have an attractive healthy tank that is conducive the health of the fish. For what it is worth, the second email I received yesterday suggested that I do an 80 to 90% water change to clear the tank (and on a side note, the second email also explained to me why I had caused the tank to become cloudy in the first place). I did the water change last evening and it appears to have solved the cloudiness issue. I also slightly reduced the salt content a bit making sure to have no more that one tablespoon per 5 gallons. The Plecos were already more active this morning. <<Glad to hear this, Jason.>> Finally, for your own information I have pasted below the two separate responses that I received yesterday from the same initial email. <<I saw both, Jason. Thank you.>> I do appreciate you responses and your willingness to take the time to read and think about the issues that people reading your site encounter. I have read many threads that reference similar issues. My only concern I suppose is that it appears that I (and others perhaps?) are getting responses from multiple sources?? <<You are, Jason. Bob can't handle it all. Far, far too much for one person.>> In any case, at the very least the response I got from Tom (the second email) did indeed give me good information and several suggestions for immediate action as opposed to the suggestions in the first email which are do nothing, READ, figure out what type of species I want to have and start over. <<For what it's worth, Jason, what you get from me is due to Bob Fenner. We all 'raise the bar' because of this man. Bob doesn't demand it of us, we demand it of ourselves because of his guidance and knowledge. We don't get paid, so that ain't just fact, that's what God knows. ;) >> Thanks for your time. Jason <<Any time, Jason, and I'm glad things seem to be improving for you. You know where I am. Tom>>

For Jason, re Tom and Bob... Re: Fish dying right and left, encouraging use of books, reading     1/27/07 Greetings Bob and Crew, I hope you are having a nice weekend. <Thank you Nicole> I couldn't help but send you my input on one of Friday's dailies questions. <Okay> Jason, a fairly inexperienced aquarist who is having trouble with his fish tank (Fish dying right and left) mentioned that he was getting mixed information about fishkeeping from people and the internet. Might I suggest to him a few books? <Please do> "Encyclopedia of Aquarium and Pond Fish" by David Alderton <A worthy writer in our field> was checked out to me for something like 47 weeks from the library! <Wow! A best-seller> While I have never read it, the book that Jorie always recommends, "The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" by David Boruchowitz,  sounds right up his alley. <Also a very nice fellow, good, clear writer> Far from an idiot is the aquarist who reads Mike Wickham's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" - this is commonly available at libraries. Jason may not know this, but even a rural library with a tiny collection can order these and other titles for him through the nationwide Interlibrary Loan System. So even if one looks in the 639.34 section of their local library and sees nothing available - a title, an author, or an ISBN number is usually all that is needed for the librarian to acquire the book of his choice from another lending library somewhere in the U.S. <Thank you for this reminder> Jason, if you read this, think about how one book for $24.95 (that you can probably borrow for free) has the potential to save you easily twice, three times that, in unnecessary medication, additives, and lost livestock. You say your tank is planted? Then all the more reason to educate yourself by having a quality aquarium reference book around, that you can peruse when and where you want to, anytime - without electricity, even! Bob and Tom are both helping you in different ways. Bob urges all of his correspondents to self-educate and doesn't want to reinvent the wheel by answering questions that he has already answered, either by answering them previously or by having composed an article wherein the answer lies. You are, admittedly, missing some basics, and that's why he tells you to read, instead of giving you a quick fix to your problems in the form of a set of action verbs. <You are correct here... in my intention> On the other hand, Tom appreciates the fact that you may not be able to easily find the information you need to know without discouragement or delay and gives you a more direct answer. He is absolutely correct that good information is outnumbered by "bum information" - which is why reading a book is a perfect solution, if you are not ready to hone your web research skills to save your fish. For every bad book written about aquariums, there are probably 100 bad aquarium websites that, if not misleading, are just plain uninformative. <I concur> If Google overwhelms you with hits, and people overwhelm you with conflicting information - then, get yourself a BOOK! Or better yet, lots of books, for free even, from your public library. Best of luck to you in your fishkeeping. Thank you for posting this, if you do, and I understand completely if you don't. I apologize if my "butting in" here is unwelcome, I do realize that WetWeb is not a blog! *smile* I couldn't help it, the librarian in me was roused by this particular correspondence that's been going on for a few days now. Take care, all of you. Nicole <Thank you for your keen insight-sharing, coming forward. Will place in Tom's in-folder as well. Bob Fenner> Loading up a Non-Cycled Tank  1/21/07 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Thanks for taking the time to set up such a well rounded, helpful website first off.   <Thanks a bunch!> I have a 55 gallon tank which has been set up around two weeks.  In that time I've lost a ropefish, an angel fish, a blue Gourami and 2 rainbow fish.  I was thinking that it may just be the water cycling, so I did a 50% change but now I have a serious problem.  My female ropefish, Roxanne, refuses to eat.  I've had her in the tank for about a week and she has not ate one time.  I feed everyone else in the tank tropical flakes (there are currently 7 other fish: pink kissing Gourami, 2 blue gouramis, one swordtail, one plec sucker fish and 2 rainbows) and I feed her frozen bloodworms.  I took the advice of others and fed her at about midnight with the tank lights off but she just showed no interest.  I really don't want to lose her as I did my other, whom I might ad I never saw eat anything either.  Thanks for your help. <You are definitely having a problem because you have fully stocked a non-cycled tank.   A big no-no in aquarium keeping.  Here is some info for you to read: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?cat=4 As for now, I suggest doing a huge (90%) water change & again tomorrow.  Add Bio-Spira to your filter ASAP.  Be sure to use dechlorinator--I suggest Prime.  No other product, other than Bio-Spira, contain the live nitrification bacteria (mentioned in the above link) that keeps your tank cycled.  Fish do not eat when they are unhappy.  I think once you get the cycling issue straightened out, they will be much happier.  You can try live blackworms, if she still won't eat.   Buy yourself a test kit & keep track of ammonia & nitrites (VERY toxic--should be 0 at all times), nitrates, (should be <20) & pH (around 7.2).  I also suggest researching the adult size of some of your fish, especially the gouramis.  I've never been able to keep a ropefish for long--they can escape through the tiniest hole in your top.  ~PP>

Another question ... FW issues, no useful info.    1/21/07 Thank you so much for all of your help before. Our situation in my daughters tank is now that the other platy has died also, with similar behavior. I went and got some parasite treatment for the tank, but the blue platy seems to have tons of energy and pep still, so I am not planning to treat the tank unless he starts to show signs of lethargy and hiding like the others did. They also had small red spots on their body. I thought that was coloring, but now I wonder if it was a symptom. <Too likely so... I would go ahead with the parasite treatment here> I have added some water plants to her aquarium. One of the plants grew a large clearish jelly blob by the roots. It looked like the stuff that grows on lily pads and smelled like old flowers in a vase. (stinky!) My reaction was to wash this off the plant and get it out of the tank but now I am wondering if I destroyed a "good" bacteria colony! <Mmm, no... Highly likely this was a snail egg mass... not useful> The roots are brownish by where the blob was. The plants have only the aquarium gravel (not natural, hot pink, my daughter is 7 and picked it out) and the pet store woman said that would be fine. What do you think? <Should be fine... likely the plant can/will derive some nutrition from processed fish wastes, uneaten food...> Also the plants are not looking great, some of the leaves are turning brownish. Are they OK in the saltier waters that platys need or do you need more brackish plants? <Some plants are more tolerant than others... posted on WWM> I have no idea what types of plants they are, the pet store only has a tank called "live plants" and they don't know anything about them. <How would I/we know then?> Thank you so much again for all your help! Best, Mary Mathison <More information, please... See WWM re FW water quality, env. disease. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia Spikes Stress Goldfish Hi, I will try to keep this short. I bought a 10 gallon tank and overloaded it with 5 goldfish. < Not a good idea.> The evident happened with ammonia, so I went and purchased a 46 gallon. I lost 2 of them. Now the 10 gallon finished cycling (this is in a 2 month perimeter) the 46 kept having huge ammonia spikes like 8ppm for a week  and I noticed one of my favorite black moor's was doing poorly in the 46 gallon (clamped fins, laying at the bottom of the tank just moving her lips to breathe). So I put her in the 10 gallon. She quickly picked up and was swimming all around the tank. Now this is the second day and she is back to clamped fins and lying at the bottom of the tank. She lays there until I come over and then she acts like she just woke up from a dream and is trying to shake it off, and then goes back to the bottom. Did I poison her possibly and is there anyway to help her? Or is she doomed to die? She has been my little trooper through all the ammonia spikes and problems I have had. I would hate to lose her. Thank you < These ammonia spikes weaken fish and promote disease. I would recommend that you do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. After that add Bio-Spira from Marineland. Your tank should be stable in a couple of days.-Chuck> Overfeeding A Community Tank Thanks for your reply.  I have a few further questions. I wrote this all up and it was forever long, so now I'm going to try to be short, but it still isn't very short.  Sorry.  We're having feeding problems in our 37 gallon tank (guppies, Neons, ADFs, angelicus Botia loaches).  I think the guppies are gorging themselves on our plants.  Some of the plants are suffering (mostly because some of the guppies enjoy grabbing the end of the plants and literally jerking them while swimming backwards, which pulls some up), but overall they're bearing it.  The guppies all have enlarged their stomachs since joining the planted tank.  They're slowing down on their nibbling somewhat and are mostly picking algae off.  Since they've starting picking more at the algae on the plants, they've also not appeared as interested in the flakes.  If it was just the guppies, I think we could get away with not feeding flakes at all, they eat enough plant material, but I don't think the Neons are eating the plants as much and they still eat the flakes, which means the guppies eat those, too.  I'm almost afraid that the guppies are overeating, though none of them appear constipated and they're still having good, uh, bowel movements.  Should we only feed flakes once a day instead of twice?  Would the Neons be alright?  If they don't give any other indication of feeling ill, just have large stomachs, should we not worry? < The guppies feeding on the algae is normal. Feed your fish once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. The other fish will be more hungry and begin to come up to the flakes more aggressively. The more they eat, the less flakes are available for the guppies.> We feed our ADFs once a day, the frog/tadpole food, and they don't appear to eat them, but I'm assuming they're eating something because they're still alive after about a month.  We had problems with the guppies eating the frog food but they don't do that so much anymore since they've been gorging themselves on plant material.  We give half the flakes, let them eat those, then add a few more flakes and add the frog food in another spot in the tank.  But I'm not sure that the frogs are eating them.  I find leftovers occasionally, and I see fish eating them an hour or so after I've dropped them, but again, the ADFs seem to be doing well.  They mostly hide during the day, probably because of our plant lights, but they're always out at night.  They loved the brine shrimp.  Is the frozen brine shrimp nutritious enough for them to eat all the time?  (See below for more about our brine shrimp plans.) < Feed them sinking pellets after you turn out the lights. At first drop in only a couple until they begin to get use to them as food.> We have three loaches.  They mostly hide, but two come out and play pretty often.  The third, however, I have only seen once (other then his tail sticking out of his hiding place).  When I saw him, the other two loaches were swimming circles along the side and he was sitting in the bottom.  As soon as he saw me, he ran and hid.  There are quite a few hiding places, the ADFs use a lot of different ones, including piling in with the loaches, but we're adding more just in case he doesn't feel secure enough.  We bought shrimp pellets, but they won't touch them.  They just sit at the bottom and the guppies pick at them.  Our tank is heavily planted and it's next to impossible to vacuum.  I pick them out sometimes, but I have to stand on the arm of the couch to do it and it's still hard.  Will they deteriorate all right and act as fertilizer, or should we look into a shrimp for cleanup? < Leftover food with rot and increase the nitrates. Change food to one they will consume while you are watching.> We talked to the LFS last night and they said to drop them with other food they like to teach them that it's food.  We tried white mosquito larvae last night with no interest from them.  The only thing we get them to eat is frozen brine shrimp, which we've read isn't the most nutritious for them, more like chips. < Correct> My husband's working on a brine shrimp hatchery for more nutrition with the egg sacs.  But even then, only the two came out and I don't think the third did.  My husband is up for most of the nights and he said he hasn't seen the third loach, either.  Should we be worried?  We saw him more in their quarantine tank and didn't see anything unusual (besides that they wouldn't touch their food). <Many loaches  are shy and only come out at night. You have a heavily planted tank so it may be awhile before you see him.>   Also, a few of our guppies fins almost look clamped, but not quite.  We just noticed this yesterday afternoon.  My husband had added CO2 with a homemade soda bottle thing and apparently our pH has dropped almost a point.  It's at 7.2 now.  We were monitoring the pH and it dropped over a 24 hour period and has now held constant (between 7.2 and 7.4) for a little over 24 hours and we think this is where it's going to stay.  Was that too quick of a drop? < Guppies like hard alkaline water with a little salt added to it. Plants usually like soft acidic water with no salt. You have a conflict. Many plants don't need CO2 although almost all will benefit from it. The pH drop is from the CO@ adding carbonic acid to the water. When the CO2 is gone the pH should bounce back up.> I did a 30% water change after noticing the halfway clamped fins and they do look better this morning. < Probably diluted the CO2 and raised the pH.> (There are only 5 of the 17 guppies we have doing this, but one is the male lowest on the totem pole and usually has his fins low.  All the rest are females.)  But if the pH of our tap water is higher, and it's being lowered in the aquarium because of the addition of CO2, is adding the water going to change the pH of our system and then change as the new water is infused with CO2? < You will have pH fluctuations when doing water changes.> Is that going to be a shock? < Big changes in pH are not tolerated well by many fish.> Our water is filtered with a Living Water filtration system from EcoQuest and so we don't have to add anything to it and would really hate to add chemicals to it in order to change the pH, but I don't want to shock the fish.  Would the drop in the pH have caused the clamped fins, or should we look to another source? < When fish are stressed they become susceptible to diseases. Try more frequent but smaller water changes.> Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate barely registering, probably 2 or 3, alkalinity 300.  The same before and after the water change.  With CO2 calculations, my husband says this is a perfect amount of CO2 addition and doesn't want to take away any and won't be adding any. Thanks for your time*.again.  Celeste < CO2 is needed by many stem plants like Bacopa. Plants like Cryptocorynes and swords will benefit from CO2 but I have found it is not needed.-Chuck> Aquarium problems, FW, env.    1/11/07 I have a ten gallon tank running for the past three months and have lost eight guppies in the course of a month. <From?> My ammonia and nitrate levels are at 0 and my ph is 7.0 I change my water and vacuum once a week. Since the loss of my fish I have started changing the water and vacuuming the gravel twice a week. <I'd reduce this to just once per week... What is it you're attempting to accomplish by more frequent changing?> My Cory catfish is not doing well now. I have one guppy left and him in my 10 gallon. The catfish is laying on his side and breathing heavy. He has no spots on his body and was eating yesterday. Don't know what I am doing wrong with this tank. Please help. <... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaint.htm and the linked files above... I suspect you have fallen into the "cleanliness is sterility" mind-frame... Not valid. Bob Fenner> Lynda Williams

Re: FW high pH, Corydoras beh... need to find, match in the FW Dailies   1/12/06 Thanks for the speedy reply, but have another question. <... please include prev. corr....> You said the PH of 8.0 was a bit high, but its constant and never shifts.  Should I alter it a bit lower with chemicals? <Possibly... I would just mix in some water (reverse osmosis likely) that has less/no alkaline component to dilute, lower the pH>   Just mix in chemicals in the storage water of 7.0 PH and pour in to the tank? <No... need to allow such pre-made water to set for a few days>   Also you think the high PH contributes to the Corys being pale? <Yes, could very likely do so> Thanks for your time, patience <Do take a read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and the linked files above where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Freezing Tank  12/20/06 <Hey Amanda, JustinN with you today.> Hello I have an Ornate Bichir and recently had a power outage in the area. Long Story short the water got very cold in the tank and I lost two of my Clown Loaches and now it looks like I will lose my Bichir. <I'm sorry for your losses> He has one eye that is cloudy and half his face is white. <Yes, does not sound good> I did a water change to warm up the water to a normal temp and have gave him a remedy that helps a multitude of things but nothing seems to be helping. Please help if possible because he looks horrible and I feel horrible. Thank you, Amanda <Well, Amanda, first things first: Run carbon, do water changes, get that medication out of the water! Whatever it is, its not needed right now. Your course of action may have been a bit too quick with the temperature adjustments, but what's done is done. For future reference, you should bring up the temperature difference gradually for the sake of your fishes. However, you were doing well enough up until you added the unnecessary medications. The conditions you speak of are due to the water quality issues that you already knew about, and simply correcting them and waiting is/will be your best course of action. Get those meds out of the water, feed foods treated with vitamin supplements and possibly garlic extract to enhance feeding reaction, and keep up water quality. Good luck, Amanda! -JustinN>

High Nitrites in FW Tank--Good Time to Add More Fish?  12/7/06 Okay Crew, I need some serious help! <Hi Ashley, I'll do my best!> I have a 55g tank, 14 "feeder" goldfish and now two small keyhole cichlids. <You were full-up with the goldfish.  In addition, GF require much cooler temps than the cichlids & carry many diseases tropical fish can't handle.> Before we put the cichlids in, the nitrites were already on their way up <Ummm... so you bought MORE fish?> and so we got some all over "cleaner" to get rid of it, since we can't seem to find just a nitrite remover. <No such thing as an "all over cleaner" or a nitrite remover.  The only way to remove nitrates is with huge water changes or by adding Bio-Spira, to cycle the tank.  Do not let someone sell you any different product, claiming it will do the same thing.> We've barely had the tank over a week and we're going to do a 50% water swap (I'd do more but I don't want to cause more stress on my poor fishies).   <Water changes done regularly, no matter how large (I do 80% weekly on all my FW tanks), will not stress your fish, as long as you use dechlorinator (I suggest Prime) & fill with the same temperature water.> Today was also the day we didn't feed the fish to allow for digestion as suggested and we're also considering giving some of the fish a "new bowl" to swim in as much as it breaks our hearts. <You can only keep either the GF or cichlids.  Not both together.> We don't want them all to die though. <Me either!> How often should the tank be cleaned?    <Most serious GF keepers, do 90% weekly water changes on their tanks, because they are messy, high-ammonia/waste producers.  Eventually, your GF will require 30g each, as they grow to around a foot.  They can also live 25+ years, if kept properly. What can we do! Can you get just nitrite remover? <Repeat after me, "The solution, to pollution is dilution!"   Please read this: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?p=9 Please help, the test strip says the nitrite's are at high stress - low danger, so please, please please, save my fish. <You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes... (I feel like a broken record.)  Please do yourself & your fish a favor & read all the articles in the Aqua Science & Water Filtration sections of that Library.  Great info there!  ~PP> Thanks so much, Ashley

Yikes! Induced, env. disease, toxic treatments, the value of knowledge in action  12/5/06   I know you probably get a billion e-mails a day about fish diseases, but I've been looking for the better part of an hour and I can't seem to find a concrete answer. You guys (and gals) seem like a really great group, I was wondering if you could help me out. I recently bought a ten-gallon aquarium with a Top Fin filter and a heater and stocked it with a few guppies, two balloon mollies, a regular old black molly, and a two baby Plecos, with plans to buy a bigger tank once they grow. <This tank was... established/cycled ahead of the livestock placement?> I probably bought them earlier than I should, not knowing that it took so long for a tank to cycle. <Mmm, the process/es can be sped up...> But they all seemed fine, until four weeks later when one guppy died. I put in extra aquarium salt <The Pleco doesn't "like" salt/s...> to reduce the stress (but wasn't aware of the ammonia problem). <Yikes... oh, I see we're using the same expression> Still, everything was fine, weeks went by and I was doing 25% water changes every week and a half. But this afternoon I took the gravel out to clean <? Out... to clean? Not a good practice... better to gingerly vacuum on a regular basis, along with partial water changes> because it was getting messy, put the fish in another tank, put them back, checked the water, everything was fine. Later this evening I went up to check on them and my cobra guppy was dead on the top. So I checked the ammonia levels with a test strip and they were at 10. <Yeeikes! One ppm is deadly... ten?!> Did an immediate 30% water change, checked it again and it was still high but a little better. I put in more aquarium salt not knowing what else to do and then noticed that my black balloon molly had white spots. I checked it out and I'm pretty sure that it's Ich, not Velvet. <Likely so... Oodinium is hard to make out on dark-colored fishes> I know it's not treatable until the white spots fall off and go into the next stage, <Mmm... well... most treatments are "proteinaceous precipitants"... along with other possible action, they irritate the fish hosts to secrete more mucus, shed the not-too embedded encysted stage/s> so I quarantined her <Ahh... the system is infested... all fishes need to be treated> in a little bowl with some gravel and a few grains of salt to help her cope with the stress. My question (after all this) is do I still treat the whole tank with QuickCure, <Not my first choice... the Formalin component is too toxic... see WWM Re...> since I don't see white spots on any of the other fish, or do you think they might already be cycling in the tank and I'm screwed? <Your washing the gravel likely bumped off the biological filtration...> I'm really worried about the Plecos, who don't show any signs yet. Do you think it would be ok to move them in with my fancy goldfish, who are in a separate tank? Or is that too risky for them, too?      Please help, I feel so bad for letting em down,   - Kim V. <You need... to read... your answers to these and a myriad of necessary information you're not yet aware of is posted on WWM... Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and on to the linked files at top, in-text... and soon. Bob Fenner>

Sudden High pH Fish are Dying  11/16/06 Hi Crew. <Corianne> I am so appreciative of this website and all your experience.   <On behalf of all here at WWM, thank you!> There are times I even travel to the LFS only to find they don't hold a candle to your knowledge!  Such as is the case with me in the last two weeks. <Not trying to say we at WWM know everything, but I can tell you that the vast majority of LFS owners have competing interests (e.g., selling fish, dry goods, etc.) and don't always give the most objective advice.  I highly recommend doing your own independent research through books, websites, forums, etc. prior to relying solely on any LFS' advice.> My tank is Eclipse 3, 26 gallon fresh water with 0 ammonia, trace (less than .5) nitrates and normally a PH of about 7.6-7.8. <A bit confused by the "Eclipse 3" label - I have two of those tanks that contain, well, only 3 gallons of water! You specifically say 26 gallons of H20, so I will presume this to be the size tank you have.  Your water conditions look fine; you may want to periodically check nitrites in addition to ammonia and nitrates, though, just to be sure.>   I am pretty anal about my water conditions and perform weekly 25-30% water changes with gravel vacuum. <Wonderful!!> My livestock consists of 7 Serpae Tetras, 5 zebra danios (long-finned), three green Corys and until recently 2 dwarf golden gouramis.  My tank has-been established since July of this year. <Sounds nice - sorry for the recent losses> My gouramis developed what looked like a parasite infection on their side. It started as a sore and then began to be covered with white cotton-like substance. <Mmmmmm, sounds like fungus, rather than parasites.  Do an image-search for "cotton-wool" or "fungus" and "freshwater aquarium" and see if you can match pics to what you discovered in your tank.  Also, could have been an injury that became secondarily infected?>   After research of your site and trip to LFS, it was felt it was something that Pima Fix would help.  I had read what you had written on the site about this product and decided to try it.  After removing carbon filter and treating with 2 tsp daily for 5 days, both Gouramis were healing.  Then, one of my zebra danios began to exhibit what looked like a curved spine and eventually died.  I performed a water change and lost: 2 Gouramis 1 serpae tetra 1 zebra danios All yesterday. <For all your fastidiousness in keeping the tank water so clean, you likely killed your nitrogen cycle by adding medication directly to the tank.  Never, ever EVER medicate the main tank - EVER.  Even when all the fish are sick - you still want to use a hospital tank to medicate, and allow your main tank to run fallow)  The only thing I can and do recommend doing to the main tank is installing and running a UV sterilizer - and there's mixed views of that.> I checked water again and readings are as above EXCEPT, all of a sudden my PH went from 7.4 to 8.8+.  I am assuming this is due to the Pima Fix but I am frantic that my remaining livestock will suffer or die. <I agree with your assessment.  Get that medication out of the main tank, ASAP, through water changes.  Put the carbon filtration back in.  The remaining fish - are they visibly ill? If so, then you will need to isolate into a hospital tank.  Since you've described a couple of various symptoms affecting fish (fungus or bacterial infection in the Gourami, and what sounds to be "neon tetra disease" in the danio (this is caused by parasites, but unfortunately, there's no known cure), I might recommend starting with a broad spectrum antibiotic like erythromycin, if medication is still necessary.  With regards to the main tank, make sure the water conditions are very clean, and you want to reduce the pH, obviously, which I think will be accomplished by removing the medication.  Try enhancing the food you feed with vitamins or garlic oil to help boost the remaining fish's immune systems.  Keep a watchful eye, best you can do right now.> Any advice? <As per above.  Hope I've helped.> Corianne Durkee <Jorie> Re: Sudden High pH Fish are Dying - PART 3  11/16/06 Hi Jorie, so sorry about caps, was frantic! <That's OK - I understand!> Yes, my tank is 26 gallons Eclipse II. <Excellent.> Water stats this AM are: Ammonia 0ppm Nitrite 0 ppm Nitrate 10 ppm PH 7.8 ppm Temp 80 <All good.  Keep a close watch, though, as your cycle will likely have to re-establish itself, as a result of the PimaFix (as discussed before).> This is after the 25% change last night. <Great.> So far, remaining livestock look OK, swimming actively and eating. <Sounds very good - with proper immune systems, fish can be quite resilient.  Do be sure to feed quality food (frozen bloodworms, mysis, pellets, alternatively) to keep everyone healthy. Thanks again for all your help, will update you. <You're welcome.  Hopefully you're over the worst of it and things will continue to improve!> Corianne Durkee <Jorie>

Basics of setting up a new freshwater aquarium  -- 11/15/06 My 11 year-old son has had a ten gallon freshwater tank for two years. He has had severe difficulty getting fish to survive more than a few months. <Sounds like water quality issues - has he/you ever tested the water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates? My guess is that the tank never "cycled" and the fish were poisoned from one or more of the toxins listed above.  If you don't have a quality liquid test kit, I recommend investing in one prior to adding any more livestock - I use the one from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals and find it reliable, easy to read, etc.  Read here for some basic info. on establishing a nitrogen cycle and setting up a successful freshwater aquarium: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm Another helpful resource is "A Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" by David E. Boruchowitz - I recommend reading these, plus other sources, prior to adding any more fish to the system.> He has  had swordfish, barbs, zebras, Neons, glass cats, plecostomus, a beta, an iridescent shark, gouramis and Corydoras catfish. <Hopefully not all these fish at the same time?! Do be sure to research fish prior to adding them, to ensure their requirements can be and are met.  The beta, for instance, likes very warm water (80-82 degrees F) and doesn't fare well with "nippy" tankmates such as barbs, and the Pleco, if one of the "common" ones, can grow up to 18" long! Best to pick one fish that you want in the setup, then plan the rest of the tank around what other fish are compatible with it. Of course, you must always keep the size of the tank in mind- a 10 gal. is not a sufficient home for either a Pleco or the iridescent sharks...> The filtration system is a "Whisper filter" which has cartridges that you replace every few weeks. We recently added an air stone since I felt there wasn't enough oxygenation and aeration with the filter alone. <The airstone certainly can't hurt, and the filtration should be fine, so long as the tank isn't overstocked.  In a 10 gal., you could perhaps keep three emerald Corys, for instance (they like to be kept in groups) along with a few barbs; alternatively, a beta, with other peaceful tankmates that also enjoy warm waters. I again recommend the "Simple Guide" book for a helpful look at what species do well together and some sample stocking schemes (do be aware, though, that I personally think the author overstocks his tanks...best to err on the side of caution and have fewer fish, to avoid pollution of the water...> At the moment the tank is empty as the last fish  has died. Can you recommend a course of action for restocking the tank (what   type of fish, how many, when to add them, etc.)? Many thanks in advance. <I recommend establish a cycle without fish, as per the article linked above.  I simply use a bit of fish food and monitor the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels until each has spiked, then reduced.  You can search for "fishless cycle" and "aquarium" on google and find lots of info. there.  While the tank is cycling, read and research, determine what fish you want to keep and come up with a stocking scheme.  Then, once the tank has cycled, you can add your first fish/couple of fish (same species, if you are going that route).  You then allow those new fish to settle in, all the while monitoring the ammonia, nitrite and nitrates, doing regular water changes, etc.  After a couple of months with no problems, you can then purchase your next fish - always remembering to quarantine the "newbies" so that they don't bring in any disease.  Never overfeed (only what the fish can eat in 3-5 minutes, once or twice per day), do regular weekly water changes (once the cycle has established). There are lots of useful articles here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm , as well as other places on the 'net, plus bookstores, libraries, etc.  Lots and lots of info. out there - best to read first, have a well-thought-out plan - will minimize fish suffering and deaths.> Stephen DeFilippis <Good luck and enjoy the hobby! Jorie>

Gold fish problems (obviously)... BiOrb metabolite poisoning incident/s  - 11/13/06 Hi I hope you can help me. I have a Biorb tank <These tanks are unsuitable for keeping goldfish... too small, under-filtered...> and have 1 gold fantail and I just bought a black googly( not a technical term!) fan tail yesterday. I did all   the usual introductory procedures and it was happily feeding and swimming last  night. When I came down this morning it is lying on some of the tank weed on  it's side and just flopped over. It is very strange. <Mmm, define "strange"... is actually quite common... to the point of being expected> The other one is perfectly  fit and well. <Not for long> I have had fish in this tank for many years successfully and  cannot understand why this has happened. I had another back fan tail in there  last week but he died of swim bladder disease. I did a water change before I put  the fish back into the tank just in case. Can you please tell me what to do I don't want to lose another one my daughter will be devastated. I am eagerly awaiting your reply. Thank you Carole From England <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisease.htm and the FAQs files linked above.

Tank Going Bad - Wrong Fish Combination  - 11/13/06 Hey there, I am having problems with my fish tank and I am unable to determine what the problem is.  I was hoping you might be able to help.  Let me preclude this by saying that we have never had any problems with water quality and test if regularly to make sure. I have had to Orandas, 2 panda Cory catfish, on Pleco and some snails in a tank for the past year and all have thrived. About 2 months ago we had a catfish die - it looked like it may have been injured (I thought probably by the Pleco who will whap the others when they get too close sometimes).  Now I wonder if it might have been sick. We added a plant to the tank that week - Elodea or something like that... One month ago one of our Orandas who we had had for 3 years (was in a smaller tank for 2 years alone before adding the other fish a year ago) started having trouble swimming and started bumping into things and had buoyancy issues.  It started having trouble digging through the pebbles for food, and lacked the motor control to even get the food when it was floating down towards the bottom.  The fish started turning black around it's bum and we put it in a nurse tank.  I emailed for advice and was told it was probably congenital or recovering from an injury.  The fish, originally all orange, continued to turn black (not a healthy black) and 3 days later was mostly black and dead.  We removed the plant when the fish died as it wasn't doing very well. The others in the tank were doing great and a week later we added a new panda Cory catfish and 3 small goldfish (all together not as big as the one we had lost) with plans to get a bigger tank in a few months as they reached a bigger size. Yesterday, our other mature Oranda started acting funny - less mobile than normal which is funny because he has always been a very mobile and aggressive fish.  Today we found him going the way of the last Oranda - floating on his side at the bottom of the tank, poor mobility and trouble getting food.  Also, he is turning orange/red at the bass of his dorsal fin and his tail fins are getting frayed.  Also, we found our Pleco - who seemed fine yesterday  - dead. All 3 small remaining goldfish and the 2 catfish seem fine. Water quality is still great, so it must be some sort of bacteria or infection... right???  We want to get some sort of medication for the fish in the nurse tank though I don't think he has much hope at this point.  What type of medication should we get though?  And should we be adding medication to the tank of the healthy fish to try to prevent this from happening again?  It seems that once this infection hits it kills them pretty quick and it has been hard to catch in the early stages. Thanks for your time. Matt < The goldfish are cool water fish and prefer water temps in the upper 60's. The catfish and Pleco are tropical fish and prefer water in the upper 70's to low 80's. Sounds like your tank was on the cool side and it was just a matter of time before the catfish and Pleco would die. When they are getting sick they can spread diseases to the other fish and make them sick. When a fish dies there is a big spike in the ammonia which further stresses the fish, making them more susceptible to infections. Try using weather loaches instead of Cory catfish next time.-Chuck.>

Molly environmental disease?  - 11/02/06 Dear Crew    <Kyleigh>   My red wag molly is losing her color.  Would it be ick?  Could it be something else? <Could be either/neither/both>   What are common reasons why they lose color?   <Most often unsuitable environment... but due to social dynamic, general stress...> She sometimes swims horizontally and has a hard time swimming up.  My dad put in Mollie Bright and Melafix that contains Melaleuca today so not sure if there has been enough time for it to help her.  The water levels are all fine, we had them checked today.   The other fish seem fine. She's in a 10 gal tank with 3 neon tetras and 3 danios that were added 1 month ago.     <Mmm, molly species like very different water than Neons... hard, alkaline of moderate temperature: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollysysfaqs.htm You may need to choose which type of environment... or two you want to provide... and choose suitable/suited livestock from there. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance   Kyleigh

Cracked Tank Tragedy  10/27/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> The unthinkable happened a few nights ago to my tank that held a suckerfish, blue eyed cichlid about a year old), three tiger barbs and two foil barbs. The bottom of the tank had cracked and by the time it was discovered it was completely drained. <Oh my, what a nightmare!> It was discovered that the tank had a fault in it to begin with and the stand improper. All the smaller tropicals were found dead, the sucker fish and cichlid barely alive. They were transported by the building manager to a small bowl of water without a heater for about 2 hours before we got the message, unsure of how long they had been there without water already. <Nice manager!> We quickly set up our emergency 10 gallon for the cichlid and sucker and then bought a replacement tank (72 gals) with a suitable stand which is being prepared now. We're cycling it quickly by using treated tap water, water from another tank, the ten gallon, the old filter and a few small healthy fish. Is this the right thing to do? The sucker fish was already moved over last night with the few smaller fish (danios) from another tank and are doing fine in the new tank. The cichlid will be transported shortly once we set up adequate hiding spaces and test the water. <With Bio-Spira, you can instantly cycle the tank.  After adding it to your filter, you can safely add your fish.  If you can't find it locally, these guys ship to CAN: http://fishstoretn.com/bio_spira.html > The cichlid has hardly eaten since the trauma. She has accepted a few bloodworms but most have gone untouched. Her stripes are really dark and she hasn't moved from her hiding spot in the 10 gallon at all today and is paddling her fins very quickly. <Can you blame her?  She's really been through quite a trauma!> We are used to seeing her colours bright, having her greet us. Yesterday, she had expressed some normal behaviors, such as digging and exploring the tank, although still terrified of the sight of people after the trauma. Today she suddenly seems to be more stressed out and hasn't made any effort to eat or move around the tank.  My question is how can we help her de-stress and get nutrition? <Sounds like she'll get better with time.  Be sure to keep her water pristine (lots of water changes) & the traffic by the tank to a minimum--maybe not even turning on the light for a few days.> Is it okay to move her now or will that create too much stress for her to handle right now? Are there adjustments we can make to the water in regards to temperature to promote healing and appetite? <I'd get that Bio-Spira, so you can put her in the larger tank.  That will be less stressful for her & keep the water parameters in check.> She seems to have sustained little physical trauma except for a scratch on one eye, is there something to help that? <Melafix should help heal that.> What is her ideal temperature? <78-82F> Are there any additives, medicines or supplements we can put in the water to help with distressing, healing and to get her nutrition while she isn't eating? <In addition to the Melafix, you could soak her food in garlic juice, to enhance appetite.> Do three day fish feeders provide enough nutrition to sustain her for a while? <I am totally against feeding fish to other fish.  They can carry diseases to your fish & there are much more nutritious foods to feed your fish.  Worms, krill, plankton, flake foods, pellets & even crickets.> We've grown quite attached to this smart, interactive and friendly fish and don't want to lose her. The other survivor seems strong and healthy but this one seems to be struggling, although still holding on. Please help with any suggestions. <Good luck, I think they'll pull through.  ~PP> Christal and Trevor Regina, SK, Canada

Goodness me... bring in another victim of FW Env. Dis.! 10/26/06 I have one small silver dollar in a 30 gal tank that seems to have tail and fin rot starting... <Usually caused by poor environmental conditions. What are the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings on this tank's water? Ammonia and nitrite MUST be at ZERO; nitrate can be as high as 20 ppm, but ideally lower. Do you regularly perform water changes on this tank and when was the last time you did so?> ...what can I treat him with (2 silver dollars, 2  gourami's and a Pleco in the tank)?  Do I need to remove my carbon filter  when I treat the tank.  I just bought these fish yesterday. <OK - first things first.  Did you buy all these fish yesterday? Do you have any experience with tropical fishkeeping?  Read here for important beginner's information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm I suggest you separate the sick fish from the rest - you NEVER want to medicate your main tank, and you don't want to proactively medicate fish that aren't ill.  Read the info. I've provided - my guess is that the problem will resolve itself with proper water quality and other environmental conditions... Also, I highly recommend a book by David E. Boruchowitz entitled "A Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" for beginners - very useful, easy-to-understand information about establishing the nitrogen cycle, keeping fish healthy, and treating if/when necessary.> Thanks for your help <You're welcome.  Now it's time for you to read and research, and help yourself and your fish! Best of luck, Jorie> Kelli <And further, when medicating, yes, you do generally need to remove carbon filtration, as it will only "suck-up" the medication. Please note that since you say the tail/fin rot has just begun, I don't recommend medicating at this stage, just improving water conditions as per the articles attached below.  Best, Jorie>  

Betta and Synodontis Catfish  10/23/06 Hi guys, <Well hello there, this is Jorie> I've had a good read but cannot find what I need, I'll try and be specific: 6 months ago inherited a 15L tank containing 2 Synodontis Petricola Cats, 1 Peckoltia and 1 Banjo Cat. <Far too small for the inhabitants listed...I believe 15 litres equal approx. 3.9 U.S. gallons...this is a small tank!> I have recently upgraded to a 75Ltank with heater, mechanical/bio filter with trickle bar across the top of the tank. <Outstanding improvement, but still under 20 U.S. gallons...still not a huge tank.> This does not create too much aggressive water movement but good aeration. My tank has been running for a few weeks with filter media, plants and water introduced from 15L to help cycle. <Good.> I introduced the cats a week ago and water quality had been consistently nitrates& nitrites 0, pH 7 temp 78-80. <Sounds good.> Yesterday I bought an awesome Betta, some neon tetras and platies. <How many of each? Hopefully not too many...also, if you introduced all these at once, hopefully you are carefully monitoring the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels...this is a significant increase in the bio-load.> After discussion with the woman in the pet store (very reputable have bought many goldies safely from there) I bought this particular Betta as she said he was very active. After acclimatizing all fish over 1 hour he seemed fine not aggressive towards any other fish, and yes, very active. <No matter how reputable the store, you should *always* quarantine new arrivals...just learned this (again) myself the hard way recently...destroyed an entire tank I had set-up for over a year...> I checked all fish this morning no one looked bitten; however when I came home from work tonight I notice that the Betta looks a little nibbled and VERY listless compared to his performance yesterday. He also seems to have lost a patch of colour on his back (see photo) which seems to be spreading albeit slowly. <Check water parameters ASAP if you haven't already - a water change is likely in order...> I have also noticed the Synodontis taking an interest in his tail but they do not seem to be terrorizing him (as far as I can see). <Define "taking an interest"?  Livebearers, including platies, can sometimes be aggressive...just had an experience where I had to move a female molly to a tank all by herself, as she is a holy-terror...> Parameters are all still the same, N's 0, pH7, temp 78 -80 <OK good...> I have added aquarium tonic (King British salt solution) after reading up on your pages but is there anything else I can do? <I presume this is similar to aquarium salt? Am not familiar with the product, per se...> He's such a beauty I really don't want to lose him so early on!! <I understand.> I should have QT'd the fish, I know, but I've never had a problem with this store before (however, am a bit new to the tropical thing). <We all make mistakes - as an almost 5-yr. veteran, I made a pretty stupid one myself not too long ago...all you can do is learn from the past at this point.> Should I move him to another tank? Haven't got a set up tank so would be uncycled, if so? <I would suggest putting the Betta into his own tank, yes.  I myself give both my male Bettas his own 3-gal. Eclipse tank...complete with filtration, heater, etc.  It sounds to me as though your water parameters are good, and the problem is that the Betta is being harassed...could be the cat you mention above, could be the platies...hard to say for sure.  What I can almost positively say is that someone is picking on him...best to isolate, keep warm (at least 80 degrees F), feed quality food and monitor for any signs of further illness.  When a fish gets stressed, it lowers its immune system, making it more susceptible to disease...> Sorry for the bombardment of info just a bit panicked!! <No worries - the more info. the better...> Many thanks for any help you can give me! <You are welcome! Jorie>


Aquarium Help... Killing fishes in uncycled FW systems   10/1/06 I bought a 5 gallon tank (four weeks ago) to make a nicer home for my son's Betta fish.  Long story short I bought additional fish - ended up overstocking the tank and lost six of the fish.  I bought an another identical 5 gallon tank (3 weeks ago) and transferred the Betta - which has since died.   <...?> I am down to three fish (a molly, a tetras, and a catfish) in the original tank and none in the second.  My problem is, my ammonia levels in my tanks refuses to go down. <Cycling takes time...>   My molly just had babies - I'm not sure how many she originally had but I am down to one now.  (I don't have a net and I'm not sure what the baby is eating but the petstore said my tank was too small for a net and to let it alone.)  I have aquarium salt (1 tsp in each tank once a week), I have a bacterial balls in each tank, <These could very well be forestalling the establishment of cycling...> I use Cycle <Not a consistently useful product... Marineland's BioSpira is far superior> (one capful per week) and I treat the tank with fish for ick every day.  I have done 100% water changes in both tanks <Also a poor idea> and 50% to 80% subsequent changes in the last two weeks since.  Every time I do any type of water change my fish get ick. <Bingo...>   I am afraid to do it too often for fear I may suck up the baby or create too much ick (plus the petstore told me to let the tanks be so they could run the cycle). <Ah, yes... good advice> I don't have a testing kit <A worthwhile purchase> but I take my water to the petstore once a week to be tested. <Water changes in transit...> My ammonia levels are not going down and my nitrate levels are only increasing slightly.  Both tanks have whisper filters in them and I haven't rinsed off the good bacteria.  In the beginning I know I was overfeeding but have since learned my lesson and only feed a few flakes a day once a day.  Is there anything additional I can or should be doing to lower the ammonia level? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Your answers and more that you need to know are posted there. Bob Fenner> Clown Loach and Bristlenose Troubles... Actually iatrogenic problems, ignorance, lack of self-reliance... in killing freshwater fishes  9/25/06 Hello WWM helping elves, <Where's Santa?> I am having some troubles with my fish.  I seem to have a slow but steady mortality rate.  I have a 28L tank (sorry, not sure what that is in gallons). <... dismal. Look it up...> It has been up an running with fish for 5 months now, <... in six-seven or so gallons...> but there seems to be a consistent pattern that has evolved in regards to my fish and their lifespans.    We started with 2 goldfish, to get the tank cycled and happy. <A poor idea>   When our LFS man gave us the all clear (he is strict with us) he allowed us to get some tropical fish.   <With pathogens already installed by way of your goldfish adventure...> We have been gradually adding to the tank till now to get a nice community tank.  The 2 goldfish have been given away as there was not so much room as before.  We have 1blue and 1 golden gourami, a smallish angel fish, a bristle nose catfish and 2 clown loaches. <These are too much, way too much for this small volume>    The trouble with the fish is that we are now onto our 3rd catfish, and as of this morning I only have 1 clown loach.  For all 3 fish that have died, there has been a similar pattern.  All have stopped eating, then after 3 days of their hunger strike their tummies bloat, then this goes away the next day, then they die the day after.  Both the catfish only lived for 3 weeks, and the clown loach died 3 weeks after my last catfish. <Ultra dismal... I'm changing my mind, opinion> For the catfish, they just stopped licking the glass, and the clown loach took to swimming upside down near the spray bar pipe - constantly. <Environmental...> I have had my LFS man check my water for everything (I think he dreads every time I walk through the door), <I would as well...> and he says that my water is perfect for the fish that I have and commented that if my latest catfish died it was a factor he cannot test for.  To make me feel better, he has given me a slightly bigger catfish this time in the hopes that it is more hardy. <... the opposite here...> I feed them a combination of dried food, blood worms (once a week), algae wafers and a little piece of zucchini every now and then.  I do monthly water changes of 10% with good water, and keep check on the basic water condition weekly.    I am aware that a 28L tank is not very big, <Bingo> and am wondering if clown loaches are the best choice with the other fish. <Nope... poor choices...> I purchased 2 as they are social fish, but have read that odd numbers are better.  At this time the remaining one I have is small. Should I get 2 friends for it, or should I change the type of fish, or will one more be enough.  I will eventually get a bigger tank, so the fact that they grow has been accounted for, however I would like to know what is best for now and would first very much like them to stop dying. I don't know where I am going wrong, and would like some help before I replace my little one. Ta, from Cian <... Let's see... your real problem is rooted in the too-small world for the species you list. It cannot support this type of life, density... The Bristlenose Loricariids need volumes of three, four plus size to survive... Tiny volumes of water are too inherently unstable to provide proper environments... You might look into much smaller (ultimately) species... Next, your system is very likely infested with some sort/s of disease organisms from the goldfish period... Next, your reliance on others for the care you can only provide is short-sighted to use a kind term... Lastly, the answers to the "present situation" you find yourself the maker/keeper of are of your own ignorance and lack of research... Consider what you want to do, educate yourself, then act... BobF>

Hot Weather + No AC = Tank Problems 9/20/06 Good afternoon everyone. Around noon, air conditioning was restored to my apartment here in FL. I first discovered the A/C had given out when I came home from work yesterday, around 6. Someone came to investigate a couple of hours later, but function was not restored to the unit until today. I have a 29 gal African cichlid tank with 3 large cichlids and an algae eater, and a community tank (CT) of the same size with a few tetras, two brilliant rasboras, two cories (one big, one little) and a Bristlenose pleco. The only misfit here is a Boesemanni rainbow. I did everything I could yesterday to bring the water temperature down. I added an extra airstone. I blew a fan across the open top of the tanks, dropped an ice pack in each tank - the kind that can be either frozen for ice or microwaved for heat. I could feel that the tanks were the temperature of tea that had been allowed to cool...! The thermometer in the CT read 90 degrees (the hottest room, facing the sun)... I was completely panic stricken! When the air came back on, I turned the lights on and looked closely...I thought everyone looked bright, had that healthy, glossy look. The cichlids seemed lethargic but are acting normally now. Everyone ate heartily. Unfortunately, as I was doing a water change in the CT, I noticed my Synodontis nigriventris had expired. He was always hard to spot, usually camouflaged with the driftwood, identical in color to himself. I was horrified to see him bone white and beginning to spoil...I felt so guilty for not noticing him until just now! I changed 3 gallons of water (more to come tomorrow, I don't want to stress the fish further) and added the recommended dosage of Melafix as a prophylactic measure. Should I add this to the cichlid tank as well? < I would not recommend it.> Nothing seems out of the ordinary in there. Is there anything else I can do? < High water temps causes stress and stress may lead to disease. Keep a close eye on things for a couple of weeks. You may not be out of the woods yet.> I am certain no one else is dead, but the cories are not their usual poking around selves. The two of them have spent hours hanging out in their favorite corner. The top fin of the big one might be a little frayed, but it could just be my imagination. I hate to think of the way the upside down catfish perished, but I can only imagine how uncomfortable a 12 degree increase in temp was for everyone in both tanks. Could I have done anything else to "keep cool"? (Hurricane season still isn't over.) <When the power goes out the tanks tops circulating. The oxygen carrying capacity of the water goes down as the water temps increase. You need more water circulation but without power you can't do anything except to do a water change to keep the temperature under control. You can go to a computer store and get an emergency battery pack. These are used to keep computers powered up in case the power goes out. They work very well to power an airpump for awhile too. Check online or at bait shops for battery powered air pumps.> The community tank is filtered with peat, and an Aquaclear power filter with a carbon/resin pouch and a ceramic ring/sponge combo. Any filtration I should add or remove to help my tank get back to normal? < Keep things as is. the peat will keep the water acidic and retard bacterial growth. watch for ammonia spikes because the bacteria that break down the fish waste may have been affected by the warmer waters.> As you can see I am very worried and determined to act in some way! I believe everything will be fine, I just want to make sure I am not remiss somehow. Thank you so kindly for your help. Nicole < Watch things closely for few days.-Chuck>

Fish Concern During Cycling  9/12/06 Hello Crew, I have made the ignorant mistake that other beginners have made.   I did not let the aquarium do its cycle before introducing fish.  I have 10 fish and 3 mystery snails in my 28gal bowfront tank. I have read the fish will start to die near the end of the 'Cycle'.  It has been about a week and no fish have died yet and ammonia levels are about 1.5mg/l.  My question is, as the ammonia increases throughout the cycle should I remove the fish from the tank and place them in smaller containers of freshwater until the chemical levels are normal.  I have performed 2 - 25% water changes and added the product "ACE" (ammonia chlorine eliminator). Thanks for your time < Add Bio-Spira by Marineland. Tank will be cycled within a day.  Or keep fish in tank and continue to dilute ammonia with water changes.-Chuck> Re: Measuring Bio-Load II   9/5/06 Update...10g Fry Tank - 1 of my otos died and so did my other panda Cory.  As per your advice, I will not be adding any more Cory cats to this tank. 35g - I did my water testing and here are the results: pH = 7.6 Ammonia = 0 ppm Nitrite = 0 ppm Nitrate = 7 ppm Phosphate = 0.5 ppm After getting these results, I did a 50% water change.  I haven't retested the water yet, but it still cloudy with a green tint. Help please! Donna < The pH is a little high for wild fish from South America like Oto's. The panda Cory could have been wild or domestically bred. South American fish in the aquarium hobby usually come from warm acidic water. Your nitrates look fine. The phosphates may be contributing to the algae. At this point I would try adding a good activated carbon. It will remove organics and usually does a fine job or removing tannins and other organics.-Chuck>

FW low/no alkaline reserve, env. dis.   7/26/06 I have kept saltwater aquariums for a couple of decades. But I cannot keep Neons/cardinals alive!   <Mmm, not what they used to be... nor is water quality most everywhere...> I have a 45 gallon freshwater tank. I tried gravel only on the bottom with a BioWheel for filtration.  no luck.  I then placed an undergravel filter with a powerhead. the pH always drops from 7 to 3.7 within a week. <Yeeikes! Too much...>   I do a 20% water change monthly.  I cannot figure out why the ph keeps dropping Ideas ?  Thanks! Ron <Lack of buffering capacity (aka alkalinity). Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Please help! FW trials... - 7/25/2006 Hello <<Hi. This is Lisa.>> I have been reading your site and I am so so so confused. I just got a 10 gallon tank and I have two filters going, one on top that came with the tank and one that is under the gravel. <<Did you cycle it? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm.>> We first put two mollies, two glow fish <<Oh god, glow fish. Please refrain from buying these, and dyed fish.>> and one iridescent shark all together in the tank. <<That iridescent shark grows to over 50'! That's right'¦over four feet long, and needs a school to be best.  That fish doesn't belong in most fish stores, let alone in a 10-gallon tank. That's horrendous.  Please take the fish back to point of purchase, tell them how horrible it is that they sold it to you for your 10-gallon, and please, please research your pets before buying them.>> For one week they all were doing great! <<A whole week'¦>> Then the unexpectedly one molly had babies. SO much fun! Still... all doing well. Then the shark came down with ick. We treated the entire tank for a couple of days and all seemed back to normal. Now... our mollies are all dying. We are very sad and SO confused. This may seem like a really dumb question... how do I test the water and for what? <<Get test kits for at least ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.>> What else can I do? <<Return your fish to the store, read about cycling, perform a fishless cycle on your tank, then think about buying appropriate fish.>> We are planning on moving the tank to another room, any suggestions? How often do we need to change this type of tank water? <<Right now that is unimportant.  You have bigger 'fish to fry'.  Get your fish back to the LFS.>> Will a snail help the overgrowth. <<Overgrowth of what?>> Oh... I am really sorry. I have been reading all your Q&A and I am SO confused. PH.. Nitrate.. ammonia.. so confused. <<Cycling in a very quick nutshell:  Fish secrete waste in the form of ammonia.  This is deadly to them and builds up quickly.  There is a bacterium that will develop in the tank that will eat the ammonia and turn it into nitrIte. This is also a very toxic substance.  There is another bacterium that will eat the nitrite and turn it into nitrAte, a far less toxic substance at low concentrations, which is most easily removed by water changes.  Fishless cycling is done by adding ammonia (with NO fish present) or decomposing fish food to the tank for a few weeks until you see ammonia, then nitrite rise, then see those to go to 0, and nitrate show up.  You must keep feeding the bacteria or it will die.  Do not be fooled by products claiming to have bacteria in a bottle, except for Bio-Spira.  It is refrigerated, and is the only product that works at all.>> I really really really appreciate any advice you could offer me! Many blessings ~ Rachel <<Please get your fish back to the store Rachel. DO the right thing and learn before you buy. Lisa.>> New Aquarium With Old Problems ... env. dis.   7/7/06 My husband and I got a new aquarium over the weekend. We bought a total of 10 fish including a betta who is in a separate fish tank. Today we have two, yes TWO of the 9 fish that we put in the big tank and the betta is doing fine. We have had a terrible time with this fish tank. First, the Glass Fish had a fungal infection, so I took it back to PetSmart. 2- A Ghost Catfish had a bacterial infection and died. 3- My son dumped the ENTIRE container of fish food into the aquarium Tuesday morning. I spent a couple hours skimming the tank to get out all that food, cleaning the tank,  and attempting to save the fish. No luck. Our Mono Sebae died, then a Long-fin Red Minor Tetra (beautiful) died. Yesterday morning I found one of the Guppies and my beautiful beautiful and EXPENSIVE Angelfish dead. And the Molly is dead. The two we have left- a Guppy and a Platy. And they don't look too good. Oh, and the betta...but he's doing fine in the other tank. I am quite upset. The water in the tank got very cloudy. It never seemed to get any better. So I took the fish out, drained the tank, cleaned everything and started over. I let the tank cycle before putting the two fish back in this morning. I've been watching them closely today and they both seem to have a dull and patchy cloudy color with damaged tail and fins. Their gills are pinkish and very pale. I was wondering if this could have been caused by the water quality being very poor before I drained the tank or if they could have some kind of infection or disease. Also,  I am very confused as to what type of salt to use in the tank. One pet store told us to get freshwater aquarium salt (bought the kind he showed to me) and another told me that wasn't the right kind to use in a brackish tank. What is the right kind?? And which should I put in the Betta's tank, if at all? Thank you so much for your time!!! Melissa Hall < Wow what a mess. Too many fish too soon. Many of your fish are not even brackish! It takes a month to get your tank fully cycled unless you use Bio-Spira from Marineland. To recap what has happened. First you had too many fish in a new tank with no biological filtration. This means the deadly ammonia from the fish waste started to build up. That is the grey cloudy water you observed. This ammonia is deadly to fish. Even if it does not kill them out right it burns their skin and gills. It also stresses them out to the point that they become very ill. When the entire can of fish food fell in the ammonia levels went over the top. What to do now? Your guppy and platy have been damaged by the ammonia spike and currently have a bacterial infection. If you medicate the tank the antibiotics will probably kill off any good nitrifying bacteria too. I would try doing daily 25% water changes and see if the fish get any better on their own. If you don't see any improvement over the next couple of days then treat with Nitrofurazone or Kanamycin. Follow the directions on the packages. Now you are probably back to square one. Use the Bio-Spira to get the biological filtration going. Please check out the WWM website for tank cycling and brackish water fish. You made some poor fish choices and need to do some research before you purchase any more fish.-Chuck>

Mickey mouse & neon tetras... for a short while in a three gallon bowl   6/18/06 Hi everyone, <Sarah> I wonder if you could help me. <Will try> I was given a 3 gallon acrylic goldfish bowl from a friend of mine with some coloured gravel and plastic plants. Last week I purchased a Mickey Mouse Platy and everything was fine, wasn't eating much though, was feeding early morning around 6am then again at 6.30pm, and spent most of the time at the surface, didn't really know why this I am new to all this, but thought it was just their behaviour and didn't think anything of it. <Such small, artificial environments are hard to establish, keep stable...> Recently I purchased a Neon Tetra the man in the fish store said it will be ok to mix them as they are both peaceful fish. <Not in this setting...> The trouble I am having it that as soon as I put the Tetra in the bowl the Platy started chasing it all around the bowl and now the Tetra is mostly at the top of the bowl and the Platy is at the bottom. Don't know if they are female or males. Would this make a difference? Should I separate them or just see how it goes. Thank you for your support. Mrs. Sarah Ward <What you and your fishes need is a larger, more established world. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and elsewhere on WWM re the "Systems" of these two species... need different water quality than can be maintained in a three gallon system. Bob Fenner>

Problems adding first fish 5/28/06 Hi, <Hello> After cycling my new aquarium (38 gal) for about 3 weeks, the ammonia and nitrite levels were both 0 and nitrate was about 20 ppm. <OK>  I then changed 50% of the water, and yesterday I added some fish (3 yellow labs and 2 socolofi, all juveniles).  Well, this morning I woke up to find all of the labs and one of the socolofi dead.  I removed the dead fish and tested the water again.  Ammonia: 0 ppm, nitrite: 2 ppm.  I immediately did a huge water change (about 75%).  The other socolofi looks ok for now, but what happened?  What should I do now? Confused... <What happened was too many fish to fast.  The biological filtration couldn't keep up with the addition of 5 new fish.  The tank had a mini cycle as evidenced by the nitrite reading.  The last fish will probably be fine but give the new tank time to catch up.  Don't add anything for a couple of weeks, then it will be ok to add 1-2 new fish, after proper quarantining of course.> <Chris>

Fish Perishing - Toxic Water? - 05/20/2006 Hello <Hi.> I was wondering if anyone can help me, I am having a lot of trouble with nearly all my fish at the moment.   <We'll sure try.> I am unsure of the volume of the tank as I don't actually know how to work it out but the size is 3 foot length by 1 foot depth and 13 inches height (if you could tell me the volume in UK measurements that would be really great).   <In inches, length x depth x height divided by 231 will yield US gallons.  36x12x13=5616 ; 5616/231=24.31 US gallons.  Google has a wonderful capability for conversions - if you type "24.31 US gallons to UK gallons" in their search bar, you'll get this result:  http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=24.31+US+gallons+to+UK+gallons&btnG=Search .  So, your tank holds a bit over 20 UK gallons.> The tank has been set up since Christmas (fish where introduced in February).  I do regular tests on the water most recent one today being nitrate 0, nitrite 0, PH 7.2, KH 6 and GH 16 <What about ammonia??> these results have never really changed so they gave me no indication of a problem.   <Have you been testing ammonia, as well??> But everything went belly up (along with a couple of my fish) just over a week ago.   <Yikes!> At that point I had 4 Sunset platys, 4 female guppies, 1 male guppy and a baby Pleccy.  I had noticed a couple of the fish flashing and rubbing so I mad my first mistake of presuming it was just ich <Don't presume anything....  observe the fish VERY closely, try to understand exactly what the root of the trouble is before coming to any conclusions.> and treated them with a white spot treatment along with a 20 - 30% water change, but within 2 hours of adding the new chlorine treated water <By this I hope you mean that you treated the water to neutralize chlorine?> one of my female guppies developed red blotches all over her body and looked like she had lost all the slime coat on her scales.   <Disturbing....  Sounds like a pretty violent reaction to some sort of a toxin in the water.> I put her in quarantine so she didn't rub on the stones and do more damage, and put a aloe vera stress treatment in hoping this would help.   <I, personally, don't much like these aloe treatments for aquarium use.  Nor do I much like Melaleuca treatments for fish.> Within 24 hours she was dead and the blotches ended up looking like stripes.  At first I thought it may have been some sort of chlorine burn but the water I put in was treated the same way I have always done.   <Do you know if the water conditioner that you use neutralizes chloramine as well?  If not, perhaps your township has begun using chloramine instead of chlorine, and this could be the problem?> What where these red blotches?   <More than likely a sign of something irritating or toxic in the water.> Three days later the exact same thing happened to another female guppy.  Now a third guppy is very lifeless just hanging around the bottom with very rapid breathing, but is showing no sign of the red blotches/stripes.  The fourth guppy is acting the same but her body shape has change sort of bullet shape and she is finding it very difficult to swim.  Then last night one of the platys that was healthy and showed no signs of illness at all just suddenly flipped upside down and dropped to the bottom convulsed a couple of times and before I could even get the lid off was dead.   <Very disconcerting....> I then noticed one of the other platys who I thought was pregnant was just puffy and by this morning her scales where sticking out and she was very puffy, now the male guppy is the same.   <All of these symptoms are pointing at something toxic in the water, I fear....> I read up about dropsy but don't really understand how to treat it, does it sound like that is what this is? <Uhh, actually, "dropsy" is a collection of symptoms, not a disease in and of itself....  The symptoms of "dropsy" could indicate constipation, bacterial disease, toxification....> Are all these things linked or are they all different diseases?   <I very much fear that these are linked.> What could have suddenly caused all this?   <Again, my fear here is that some toxin or other in the water is harming the fish.> Are all my fish doomed?   <I certainly hope not.> They are all still rubbing on the ground.  Everything was fine before I done the water change.  All the fish except the pleccy seem to be ill.   <I would urgently do a very major water change with water from a different source.  I would consider getting reverse osmosis filtered water (even drinking water from a water store) and using a bit of a buffer to increase the pH and hardness of the filtered water to match your tank's water....  and see how the fish react to this new water change.> On a side note the pleccy has taken to refusing to eat from the bottom of the tank but instead hangs upside down feeding from the flakes at the surface, I'm a bit worried that he isn't getting the right nutrients by feeding like this instead of sucking algae.  Is he just showing off?   <This is actually not abnormal.  I've had plecs do this before, as well.  He may need more food specifically for him, or you might try using Spirulina flakes for him if he insists on coming to the surface to eat.  One of my plecs in the past learned to eat upside down at the surface, and I used to pop a couple of skinned peas right into his mouth by hand.> I cant quarantine anymore as the small tank cracked (having no luck at all).   <Yikes!> Any help or advice you could give me would be great.  Many thanks. <Try a water change with known "safe" water, find out about your usual source water and chlorine/chloramine, find out if your water conditioner neutralizes chloramine or not, and move on from there.  Oh, also, before that big water change, try to think of anything you might have placed in the tank recently (rock from outdoors perhaps, decor that you're not sure is fish-safe, etc.) that could possibly be a source of trouble for the livestock, and pull it out.  THEN do your big water change, and let's see where that brings you.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> "Spectacular Background" and Fish Death - Coincidence?  Don't Know - 05/17/2006 Hi, <Hello.> Three days ago I purchased a 'Spectacular Aquarium' background. It's made from foam to look like rocks. When we put it in all the fish were fine but I came home today to find all 8 of my tiger barbs dead! I've checked the water pH, KH, GH, nitrate, ammonia and CO2 levels and there all fine. <What, specifically, are the levels?  And what about nitrite> All the other fish seem healthy and are eating. Do you know why all my tiger barbs would have died in the same day?  Please help  -Alex <I would recommend contacting the manufacturer and asking if they have any specific instructions for cleaning or preparation that may have been overlooked somehow.  Beyond that, there's just too little information here for me to go off.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Re: Freshwater 20g... unexpected surprise...  - 5/5/2006 Hello Tom and Mr. Fenner, <<Hi, Geri. Tom again.>> I just wanted to thank you again for all your help. I've been doing small water changes on a daily basis since the last time I emailed and things seem to be progressing relatively well. <<Glad to hear it, Geri.>> As of this morning ammonia is 0ppm, nitrite is .50ppm ( still higher than it should be but getting lower each time I test ) and my nitrates are at about 10 ppm - sometimes the colours are in between the two values on the card. <<Not to worry with the nitrates. Your readings are quite good. You're right about the nitrites but you already know they need to come down. Good for you.>> Unfortunately one of my mollies died a few days ago but am very thankful it was just one as opposed to all of them. <<I'm sorry about your Molly, Geri. We know it happens but it's still a "loss".>> Thank you all for dedicating so much time and energy to the website - I haven't come across another that's nearly as informative and helpful. <<Speaking for all of us, we appreciate your kind words. It makes it all worthwhile.>> Geri <<Tom>>

NTS, FW compatibility - 5/3/2006 Bob, <<Lisa this time :).>> About three weeks ago, I bought a used 55 gallon fish tank to exchange out with my 15 gallon.  The guy I got it from said it was used as a fresh water tank and sat empty for 2 years. <<Ok.>> I washed it up and filled it with city tap water, treated the water with aqua safe and left it filter for 2 days before I put any fish in. <<How did you cycle the tank?>> I had my 15 gallon for 5 years with no trouble at all.  I am having a lot of trouble with the new tank.  In the last 3 weeks I have managed to loose 10 fish and 2 algae eaters.  The tank is set up for fresh water for my gold fish, but in the last round of fish that I bought, I have already managed to lose all of them in the matter of days. <<Goldfish are a cool-water fish, and do not fare well mixed with tropicals.>> They seem to huddle together in one corner of the bottom of the tank.  They rarely even come up to eat.  I have emptied the tank twice and treated it each time I fill it up.  I have also treated it with clear water for the smell (it smells fishy). <<Your tank is simply not cycled.  Please read about fishless cycling on WWM, and look into purchasing some Bio-Spira.>> In this last time that the fish died I noticed that they had some sort of film or slim on their body.  I also noticed that the ones still alive are showing signs of the same film.  Would you know what it is and what causes it? <<This is an environmental/water quality issue.>> Also, any recommendations on what to do not to lose any more fish? <<Get your tank cycled.>> Also, would it be safe to put the fish with the film in another tank that I have had set up for 2 years with no problems, or would that harm the fish in that tank as well? <<I wouldn't.  Get on the Bio-Spira ASAP, and research the compatibility of your fish before stocking.>> Thank you, Kelley <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Water and Electricity    5/2/06 I have a 25 gallon grow out tank stocked with 1 Silver Arrow, 1 Red  Tail Cat, and 1 Clown Knifefish all about 4". Today I stuck my hand in the water to get the thermometer that dropped and felt a slight tingling shock running up my hand. <Yikes and Ouch! Water and electricity are very scary. It's nothing to mess around with.> I did everything to fix the problem and I even called the electrician, who says that there is 50 volts in the tank and who was also stumped by the situation. <I had a similar situation a few years ago. There were 30 volts of stray electricity in the tank and my fish were acting very strange. 2 of them were jumping up at the surface. I had an electrician come out. We unplugged each and every piece of electrical equipment and plugged them back in one at a time until we found out which one was causing the problem. It turned out to be my lights. I removed them immediately and replaced them. > I am looking into a grounding probe or also moving them to a spare 50 gallon tank I may be picking up this weekend. <Look no more, the grounding probe is a must in my opinion. I also had GFI's installed in all the electrical outlets anywhere near a tank.> Is there anything that can happen to these fish within these few days until the weekend? I know about hole in head + lateral line disease and I don't want anything bad to happen. Will these fish make the next few days safely? <I can't say for sure.  There is a much bigger issue here. This is not just a matter of your fish's health or survival. Your own personal safety, the safety of those around you as well as your home are at risk here. There is a potential for much more than loss of your fish.   For more information about electricity and aquariums please do have a look at Bob's articles here'¦ http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FWGFIUseArt.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwelectart.htm As for your fish'¦.if you felt the current to the degree you did for the small amount of time your hand was in the water, just imagine them being exposed to it continually and not being able to remove themselves from it. My fish were exposed to less current and were visibly disturbed by it. It is a definite stress and stress equals trouble. I personally would not be comfortable leaving my fish for any length of time exposed to stray electrical current I was aware of.  As for moving them to another tank that will only help if you are using different equipment and electrical outlets. The weekend is 5 days away, which is much to long to wait in my opinion. I would suggest you place a ground probe on the tank immediately. In addition I would strongly urge you to have the electrician come back out to check each piece of equipment to try to determine the source of the problem and install GFIs as soon as possible. Please be very careful until the problem is solved.> Thanks, Zach <Your most welcome! Stay safe, Leslie>

Scratching Fish   4/30/06 Hello, I have a problem. I have noticed that my fish have been scratching against the rocks. Now, I know what your thinking ick or velvet or a parasite right? Wrong their is no way that could be right because I have treated for every thing and this scratching has been going on for a month and a half so they would probably be dead by now. Any ways I have tested my water and every thing is perfect. The only thing that is funny is that I have a very light, white film covering my tank, but the only way I can see it is if  I look at it at a angle. Do you know why my fish are scratching and could it be from this weird film? Pls help because this makes me very angry. < The term "perfect" really means nothing to me. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm. The pH should be around 7 depending on the fish that you have. The water temp should be around 78 F depending on the species. The white film may be a mineral leaching from on of the rocks and also irritating the slime coat on the fish. The rocks should be very hard. No sedimentary rocks like sandstone, siltstone, mudstone or conglomerate should be used. Check out the rocks, this could be the problem.-Chuck>

Scratching Fish II    5/2/06 <  I never said I had rocks in my tank except the gravel, and I have fake plants. So what's the problem now? <In your second sentence from your original question you stated, "I have noticed that my fish have been scratching against the rocks." So I assumed you were talking about rocks, not gravel or sand. Since you have no "rocks", I would still check the water quality. I still suspect high nitrates.-Chuck> > Scratching Fish > Hello, I have a problem. I have noticed that my fish have been scratching against the rocks. Now, I know what your thinking ick or velvet or a parasite right? Wrong there is no way that could be right because I have treated for every thing and this scratching has been going on for a month and a half so they would probably be dead by now. Any ways I have tested my water and every thing is perfect. The only thing that is funny is that I have a very light, white film covering my tank, but the only way I can see it is if  I look at it at a angle. Do you know why my fish are scratching and could it be from this weird film? Pls help because this makes me very angry. > < The term "perfect" really means nothing to me. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm. The pH should be around 7 depending on the fish that you have. The water temp should be around 78 F depending on the species. The white film may be a mineral leaching from on of the rocks and also irritating the slime coat on the fish. The rocks should be very hard. No sedimentary rocks like sandstone, siltstone, mudstone or conglomerate should be used. Check out the rocks, this could be the problem.-Chuck> >  I never said i had rocks in my tank except the gravel, and i have fake plants. so what's the problem know?

Scratching Fish III With Zero Nitrates  - 5/2/2006 < No nitrates is quite an accomplishment. Many water systems have nitrates in them straight out of the tap. Assuming you really have no nitrates we need to look at what makes fish scratch. The scratching is the result of an irritation to the skin and the fish is trying to remove the irritation. This can be caused by parasites or by chemicals in the water. Since you have "perfect water" I have no explanation for the white film you have in your tank. Usually the parasites that cause this are the protozoans. They don't usually respond to antibiotics. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel, and clean the filter. Treat with Clout. Make sure that all the tablet is dissolved.-Chuck> > > Scratching Fish II > <  I never said I had rocks in my tank except the gravel, and I have fake plants. So what's the problem now? > <In your second sentence from your original question you stated, "I have noticed that my fish have been scratching against the rocks." So I assumed you were talking about rocks, not gravel or sand. Since you have no "rocks", I would still check the water quality. I still suspect high nitrates.-Chuck> Sorry, your right. But i have zero nitrates. > > Scratching Fish > > Hello, I have a problem. I have noticed that my fish have been scratching against the rocks. Now, I know what your thinking ick or velvet or a parasite right? Wrong their is no way that could be right because I have treated for every thing and this scratching has been going on for a month and a half so they would probably be dead by now. Any ways I have tested my water and every thing is perfect. The only thing that is funny is that I have a very light, white film covering my tank, but the only way I can see it is if  I look at it at a angle. Do you know why my fish are scratching and could it be from this weird film? Pls help because this makes me very angry. > > < The term "perfect" really means nothing to me. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm. The pH should be around 7 depending on the fish that you have. The water temp should be around 78 F depending on the species. The white film may be a mineral leaching from on of the rocks and also irritating the slime coat on the fish. The rocks should be very hard. No sedimentary rocks like sandstone, siltstone, mudstone or conglomerate should be used. Check out the rocks, this could be the problem.-Chuck>

Cory catfish tail & fin disappearing... tiny system, no info. on upkeep or water quality    4/14/06 My son has a 3 gallon Eclipse tank that's approx. 2 yrs old. Originally he had 3 fish, one of which was a Cory catfish. Not sure what the others are. All was well for over a year, then the Cory's fin and tail started disappearing. <... Likely environmental... the tank has gone "acidic" with being small, lack of regular maintenance> Spoke to the fish store & they suggested treating the tank with a green medicine. <No... likely Malachite... too toxic and inappropriate...> Did this 2 different times with no improvement to the Cory, and he died after a month or so. <Poisoned> Got another Cory, <...> and this one started losing his fin & tail almost immediately. Treated the tank again with no success, and started wondering if one of the other fish was eating him. (Never saw any aggression.) Got a tank separator (mesh) and have kept him separate for 2 weeks now. Fin & tail don't seem any worse, but no better either. Fish store suggested feeding him a pellet 2x/week. Doesn't seem to like it, and after a few days it gets fuzzy and floats to the top. Just did a water change and the pellet remains stank horribly. Help!! What's wrong with his fin & tail, and what should I feed him? Thanks! <... What re your water quality? Do you change out water on a regular basis? Perhaps a video fish tank would be better, instead? Bob Fenner>

Re: Cory catfish tail & fin disappearing  - 04/14/2006 I do a water change weekly, replacing half the water in the tank, as suggested by my pet store (NOT Wal-Mart). <Good> NO, I'm not a fish expert, which is why I'm asking for help. Could do without smart-aleck comments like suggesting a video fishtank! <Mmm, not for you, but your child. Something is still off, and easily so in such a small volume, with your water quality here most likely. BobF> Heating problems, FW    4/14/06 Dear Crew, <Kari> I've got a bit of a problem. I live in college dorms in good ol' South Dakota, and we've been experiencing really nice WARM weather lately. <Doesn't read as a problem thus far to me!> Because of this, the heat has been turned off in the buildings. Unfortunately, we use steam heating so they aren't turning the AC on for a week or so. The lack of air conditioning combined with the exceptionally warm weather has made my room a constant 84 degrees for the past 2 days. <Steamy> I think that because of all this, my fish tank is overheating, and I need advice on how to cool it down as soon as possible. <Mmm, leave the lights off (at least during the day), push the top back (if you don't have livestock that will "exit stage up", and direct a fan to blow air across the top (taking care to change water out more so for evaporation... This/these ought to "do it"> I don't want to do anything drastic and cause my fish even more stress, but I've looked all through your site and haven't found a good way of reducing heat in a tank. Should I just put some refrigerated bottles of water in? <Mmm, no... or at least unlikely... too much change, too quickly with this method> Here, before I get carried away, these are my tank specs: 10 gallons Underground and Bio Wheel filtration Lightly planted The cover over the tank is just a strip of Plexiglas that doesn't cover the whole thing just the light 2 Male paradise Gourami (mistake, I know. I thought I had bought a male and a female =[ ) 1 Female Blue Gourami 1 Male Betta (He had been in a little betta bowl until reading this site informed me just how cruel and inhumane keeping him in one of those was) 2 Rosy Barbs 1 Male Dwarf Gourami (I did at one time have 2, but lost the other recently to I what I believe you guys call "Gourami Disease") 1 Pleco (Again, an ignorant purchase. I didn't realize just how BIG they got) 3 Mystery snails <The snails might suffer, but the rest of these fishes will be fine with the elevated temperature level you state> 3 (or at least there were when I bought them) Ghost shrimp I realize I'm going to VERY quickly run out of room, and have been actively searching for deals on a larger aquarium. Unfortunately, I won't be able to transport them until I move into the place I'll be staying at over the summer. Things are tight, but OK. Up until recently, my tank has stayed between 74 and 76 degrees. However, over the past couple of days I've watched with growing horror as it's slowly made it's way up to a now sweltering  82 degrees. From browsing the site, I've found that my Paradise Fish like water to be at the HIGHEST 77 degrees. I think this explains their extremely lethargic behavior. Both of them find spots on the bottom and just lay there. Once and awhile they'll swim up to gasp some air, but other than that, they don't move and I haven't seen them eat. They didn't even budge for a tasty Tubifex worm treat. I'm worried for my babies. Although they're all pretty prissy and they have a very strained peace, I still want them to be as happy as I can make them. So far it appears as if it's only my Paradise and perhaps the Betta that have been affected. I'd love to get you all the readings for nitrites, nitrates, pH, etc. but I have yet to buy a test kit (on my list of things to get tonight). Thanks for any insight you may have. Kari <All will likely be fine here. Do leave off with feeding period on days when the temperature is highest. Bob Fenner> Re: Heating problems (More info included)    4/14/06 UPDATE: I just wanted to quick write back with a few more things I noticed. I bought a test kit today. The results are as follows: Ammonia was between .25 and .5, Nitrite was between 40 and 80, Nitrate 10.0, <Mmm, stop feeding immediately... and re-test for NO2 and NO3> GH 300, KH 40-80, and pH 6.8-7.2. Yeah.............I guess that's really bad. I'll be doing a 50% water change tomorrow and adding Cycle. <Good> I already added some today after I tested. I don't get it though, all the other fish are doing great and zipping about like crazy. My snails are at the top only a little bit, but then are zipping about on the bottom. <Bad behavioral signs for sure... crowded, and skipping about nitrification due to nitrate poisoning mostly> The main reason I wanted to write with additional information is I witnessed one of my paradise gourami cough up what looked like a film or something. I just saw a "cloud" of white hazy stuff come out, and a little bit later I saw him cough up a bright red bundle of goo which my Dwarf quickly scarfed down. I saw it twice, and each time after it happened he rushed up to the top of the water, took a breath, and went back down again to laying on the ground. I'm so worried and anxious. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. =[ Thanks again. <Environmental disease... you know what to do... the water changes, cease feeding. Bob Fenner> My poor harlequin is breathing from the surface!? Inherent BiOrb limitations, problems   - 03/26/2006 Dear WWM, <Molly> I am having some trouble with my relatively young tank. It has been up and running for about 3 months now (not including the pre-fish   cycling period). It is a BiUbe. <BiOrb?> I have 6 x harlequin rasboras, 1 x male Betta splendens, 2 x smallish bottom feeders. I have followed all the instructions on setting up a tank religiously and all my readings are always perfect -except for nitrate (NO3)   which always seems quite high -have been doing water changes to bring it down (is coming down slowly). It's in the 50-70 range which my test kit says is bad but not toxic. Is this right? <Not correct. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked files above> Everyone seems happy and fine although the tank gets dirty VERY quickly. <These units have this trend/trait... unfortunately "kill off" much livestock and hobbyists consequently...> I clean the top of the filter tube and the rock I have when I do water changes but they, and my plants (not live) become grubby   very quickly -a few days tops. It is a green sludge, sometimes brown.   Is this algae? <A mix of this and bacteria mainly> Why is it becoming so dirty so quickly? <Inadequate filtration, circulation... the unit itself> Should I change the filter? Or am I feeding too much (once a day a pinch of flakes which all get eaten up)? <Both changes would likely help> -Perhaps I should also mention that during my pre-fish cycling period I put in some live plants but they   kept going brown and dying so I only have plastic now. Any ideas why? <All sorts... posted on WWM> However, this evening I noticed that one of my harlequins seems to be breathing from the surface. He goes up for air for about 10-20   seconds, swims around for a few seconds then goes back for more. No one else is behaving oddly. I am very worried for him. What could it be? <Lack of oxygen, pollution... see WWM re... real trouble once again with this product> My temp is 78-80. Many thanks for your wonderful website, Molly, London. <Please use/read it... and soon. Bob Fenner>

Balloon molly w/ ich... env. dis.   3/14/06 Hello, I have a 10g tank and had two guppies and 3 balloon mollies.  After the first day one of the guppies died.  About four days after that the other one died.  Then a couple of days later one of the mollies died.  Then I noticed that there were white spots on the last two mollies and found out that it was ich.  I bought some cure-ich and have been treating the tank/ fish for two days (2 tsps) so far.  Tonight another molly died and I thought it would because it kept staying up at the top & never really did much else.  The last molly seems to be ok and is  floating around like normal but still has spots.  I read that I could put salt into the tank and so I put about 2 tsps so far.  My question is, can this poor littler loner make it?  Will he survive alone until this ich is gone, and when should I get more fish?  We have well water, but I put in AquaSafe drops and stress coat before I added the fish to the tank.  I have had this tank about 2 1/2 weeks.  What can I do to prevent ich in future?   Thanks, L. Friend <... your system is not "cycled"... and this is likely the root cause (along with the medicine poisoning) for your ongoing troubles... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Tank Parameters   3/10/06 Hi. <Howdy> I have been a reefer for a long time and use your most excellent site all the time as reference, so it is embarrassing to ask this question since I have got that down (thanks to you guys) but here goes. <Hotay!> My wife has a  55gal freshwater tank that she has given up on and I have taken over.  The problem.... she can not keep live bearing fish alive.  Swordtails, Platys and guppies die within a few months.  Danios, Gouramis, Kribensis, Tetras etc live forever.  I can't figure it out. <Some good clues already...> Our water is very hard and comes out of the well with a PH of 8.1.  The other water/tank parameters are: Nitrate 20ppm out of the well depending on time of year I recently found otherwise 0, hence why I bought an RO unit for the reef. <And for your potable uses I trust>   0 ammonia, 0 Nitrite, Nitrate 20ppm, temp 78f (obviously heated in the tank) undergravel filter, a whisper power filter, a Eheim canister filter and standard natural color gravel.  Right now all the tank has in it are a couple gold fish from my pond I brought in for the winter.  I obviously will remove them when I add the other fish but do not want to add anything till I have got everything right.  I don't like being responsible for the deaths of innocent little creatures in my care because I am ignorant.  The tank is cycled and has been running for several years.  We practice good husbandry with water changes, not over crowding, feeding etc. The only thing I can think of is that the PH is to high or there is one parameter in the water that is the problem but I don't know what it could be. <Is likely some aspect/s of the water at play here> I have an RO unit for my reef tank and I was wondering if I should use the RO water, buffer and add any trace elements necessary to it but keep the ph lower, say around 7 or so.   <Yes to using the RO, with just a couple of tens of percent of the "straight" well water (most fishes do need some mineral content).> Any help you can provide me would be very much appreciated. Regards John <The blended water, and your good care in picking out healthy poeciliids, acclimating them properly... should "do it". Bob Fenner>

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