FAQs on Freshwater Toxicity/Poison Situations
Related Articles: Freshwater Diseases, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Choose Your
Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options
by Neale Monks,
Related FAQs: Environmental Disease 1,
Environmental Disease 2, Environmental Disease 3, Environmental Disease 4,
Trouble-Fixing, & FW Blue-Green Algae/Cyanobacteria,
1, Freshwater Disease 2, Aquarium
Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish Parasites, Ich/White Spot Disease, Worm Diseases, Nutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease,
Aerosol Lysol poisoning, GF 3/2/13
I have a terrible emergency and need help asap! I walked into my living
room to see my daughter's friend spraying aerosol Lysol directly into my
As fast as I could, I grabbed the water changing bucket ( 5 gallons)
filled it, added aqua plus, and put my 7 moors inside.
I took out my filters immediately and did a 50% water change,
<Dump it all out... now>
adding the necessary amount of aqua plus, with an additional 50 ml. This
was all done within moments of the poisoning. I had to put my fish back
in ( they are very large, including fins they are twice the size of my
hand), the bucket wasn't big enough and they were in danger from my
other pets. I had them in the bucket for 3.5 hours before I had to put
Was what I did enough?
<I would do another few 50% changes... every few hours; treating as
I know I will find out by tomorrow :( but is there anything I can
<Add activated carbon in the water/filter flow path>
Also what can other fish owners do in this case of emergency? I looked
for a really long time before I found this forum and there was only
advice on a tank cleaned with Lysol when I looked elsewhere. I also
phoned my fish supplier, who advised me to do the process I had already
done. If u can help me out I can't even tell u how much I would
appreciate it. I love my fish :'(
<Hoping all will be well, Bob Fenner>
Re Aerosol Lysol poisoning 3/10/13
Hi bob, thanks so much for your help. I did end up doing another 50%
water change with treatment about 2 hrs after the fish were put back in
Before that I set up an isolation tank. I had to use a Rubbermaid tote
because nothing else was big enough and I was really skeptical of using
the bath tub because of contaminants.
About four hours after the second water change I put my fish into the
iso tank, where they stayed until morning.
I emptied my entire tank and cleaned everything, additionally setting up
a separate iso tank for my plants and another for my snail's. I did
forget to mention that I have 4 Apple snails, but they survived!! A
little stressed but I believe they will be okie dokie. The tank sat for
the night with cycle and salt. I slowly added the living things in the
morning watching for signs of contamination/ poisoning. After 3hrs of no
ill signs from the snails I put the fish back in. It was a long and
stressful couple days but the work was definitely worth it, I had zero
casualties :-D thank you once again
<Ahh, thank you for this follow-up report. BobF>
Hello, I apologize in advance for any grammatical or other errors as I
am typing as fast as I can.
<No need. Slow down. Few fishkeeping problems -- short of fish jumping
out -- need immediate fixes.>
Tank-20 gallon long, ammonia was 0, nitrite-0,
nitrate-5, pH-7.6, temp 78.
6 zebra danios, 1ADF, 1 female Betta, 4 ghost shrimp, countless cherry
Planted with Amazon swords, fast growing weed like plants and Amazon
Frogbit, and flame moss. I do weekly water changes of about 30%, I age
my water for 5-6 days because it comes out of my tap at an
ammonia reading of 2.0.
<I see. Be sure to use a good quality ammonia remover with your water
conditioner, or else choose a water conditioner that includes ammonia
remover. If you do that, you shouldn't need to age water for so long,
though leaving water to stand overnight before use is a good idea. In
any event, if you aren't wild about the quality of your tap water, try
doing two small 10-15% water changes a week rather than one big 25-33%
water change. Maybe on Saturday and Sunday. That way, your fish won't be
exposed to such big "shocks" if the water quality or chemistry isn't as
good as it should be.>
I just did a water change and all was well. 2 hours later I notice a
Danio darting around in panic mode, upon further inspection 1 Danio is
dead, another is close and the rest are schooling in a panic behind the
<Not good. In most cases, a water change would be recommended, at least
25%, and perhaps 50% if you can trust the new water will have about the
same water chemistry and temperature as the old water. If your tap
water's water chemistry is okay, it's just the ammonia in the tap water
that's worrying, then treat with a good quality ammonia remover (such as
Ammo Lock). After treatment, it *should* be safe to use. Just be sure to
dose carefully; overdosing a bit isn't normally a problem, but if you
under-dose, that will leave behind ammonia that can harm your fish. For
what it's worth, consider a good all-around water conditioner that
treats ammonia, chlorine, chloramine and copper, as these are the "big
four" killers in tap water.>
Everyone else is fine. The cherries are eating happily and my female
Betta is doing what is normal for her. I checked the parameters and all
is the same except my ammonia is reading at .25.
<Cherry Shrimps are good bellwethers, and if they're happy, the tank
should be safe and healthy.>
This is apparently from my tap water but I do the same process every
week and have never had a problem, when I do the change it will
sometimes register a little but then rectifies itself within a day.
There has never been a reaction like this before, and I asked my husband
and he has not touched my aging water. I am assuming they have been
poisoned but with what?
<Assuming the tap water was okay, the usual poisons are things like
airborne toxins (insecticide for example) and pesticides brought in on
things like wood taken from the garden and plonked in the aquarium.
While paint fumes can be toxic, most modern paints don't seem to be
especially harmful to fish if the room is ventilated adequately well.
Nonetheless, paint fumes are a possibility.>
And why are only the danios affected?
<Hard to say.>
There is no reddening of gills or streaks associated with ammonia. I put
in a big bag of charcoal and a bag of zeolite but I can't do a water
change because there's more ammonia in the tap than the tank!
<Water conditioner that neutralises tap water ammonia makes that tap
water ammonia safe, though it will still register if you use an ammonia
Incidentally, if your water is treated with chloramine (and most city
water supplies are nowadays) this will give positive ammonia readings as
well, even if your water conditioner treats chloramine. Overall, I feel
ammonia test kits are too misleading and don't recommend them. Use a
nitrite test kit instead, because there are fewer reasons why these
should give misleading results.>
Any ideas? Please help I don't want to lose the whole tank!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Emergency!!! 1/11/13
Yes Neale, thanks so much, I use Seachem Prime but I do have some ammo
lock on hand, I can use that and do a big water change.
<If the tank seems settled now, I'd change 25%, and see what happens.
Wait a few hours after that before changing more.>
I always check the cherries first because I know they are sensitive but
they are fine, even tiny ones. My substrate is sand, i did move a cave
and vacuumed under it, is it possible I dislodged anaerobic gas?
<It's a possibility, but realistically, hydrogen sulphide oxidizes so
quickly it's unlikely to cause problems. After all, ponds and marine
tanks routinely have sandy substrates with lots of anaerobic decay, yet
no-one worries about them. If you have snails burrowing through the
sand, then the risk is even smaller. If you are worried, lower the
waterline a bit (or raise the filter outlet) so the outflow from the
filter causes more splashing; this helps to drive off gases like
hydrogen sulphide and chlorine even more quickly.>
Re: Emergency!!! 1/12/13
Neale, I really really appreciate your quick response, especially during
The remaining danios are venturing out a tiny bit but they are mostly
still schooling behind the driftwood.
<Should settle down if other fish are apparently okay. Danios aren't
especially sensitive fish, so if more delicate species are okay, then
the water is presumably "safe" for danios.>
Everyone and everything else is normal. I will do a 25% change now using
the Prime, and monitor the tank. I just can't believe the suddenness (is
that a word?) of it. My aging water sits inside a cabinet with nothing
else in it in a bathroom that never gets used. I am stymied and
frustrated but I will carry on. Thanks sooooooooooooo much, you are the
<Hope it all sorts itself out. Cheers, Neale.>
Just two questions. Metal poisoning symptomology
I would like to thank WWM for all the help with my ten gallon aquarium,
although there is only 1 Trichopsis vittata left (they killed each
As I was reading through the site, two questions popped into my
1. What are the most common symptoms of heavy metal poisoning?
<Lethargy, non-feeding, ataxia, discoloration>
2. If I do not see a fish eating, but there are fresh pieces of fish
poo in the tank, is it safe to assume that the fish is eating? (
assuming that there is only one fish in the tank)
Thanks in advance.
<... Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Sick Betta- Tried everything with no luck.... May be
I am an avid reader and am so thankful to have found your site last
year. I am desperate need of help. I've looked through the site and
was unable to find a situation similar to mine. I have a big, beautiful
red Betta. Tank specs: 5 gallons, heated between 76-78 degrees,
filtered, gravel bottom, 2 live plants (both ok for Bettas) 1 synthetic
plant to help keep current from filter slower. I do a 25% water change
at least every two weeks, and a 50% water change once a month. I use a
water conditioner and aquarium salt.
He gets a varied diet of Betta pellets and shrimp. I have studied and
researched your site to try and provide him with the best care
possible. Up until now he was happy, healthy and playful. In fact I was
able to nurse him though a bout of Ick when I first got him with your
About a month ago I noticed dark green algae
<This might well be a Blue-green... Cyanobacteria... can be quite
starting to grow in his tank. I tried to manage it by cleaning
the spots that showed up when I'd do his water change. It got to be
worse than normal so I decided to take him out and clean out the tank
and gravel. I am very careful about contaminants and do my best to keep
things as stable as possible in such a small system. After adding him
back into the tank he was in bad shape in less than 24 hours.
<I further suspect BGA... becomes more toxic w/ attempts to
At first I though it might be a stomach problem, minor swelling on his
belly. I treated by adding aquarium salt to reduce the pressure and
didn't feed him for several days. No change. He was and is spending
considerable time on the bottom of the tank and at the top on his
plants. He seems to have difficulty swimming, unable to stay at the top
of the water, sinking back down.
Next I tried just maintaining his usual routine and keeping the water
conditions normal as they had been, hoping he would normalize.
<This is what I would have done as well>
He seemed to get a little better and was eating regularly again,
if not as much- would float back down after two or three bites. Now
he's in worse shape and the algae is back. He hasn't eaten or
responded to me in the last two days now. I'm worried he's
suffering and I'm at a complete loss. Please let me know if there
is anything else I can do? And if not, how best to end his suffering
painlessly. Thank you for your time.
<Mmm, please read here for background:
I might go the extreme route here of removing the fish... tossing the
live plants... bleaching the entire system... rinsing, re-filling...
and moving the fish through a few rinses (to discount the conveyance of
BGA spores) to eliminate the Cyano. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Betta- Tried everything with no luck....
Thank you so much, Bob! I went through and read the posts about the
BGA- nasty stuff. I'm pretty sure now that that is exactly what it
<Was/is my best guess>
The tank has been getting more sunlight recently and I wondered if that
was causing the algae to grow.
<Could well be>
I know algae is common in tanks, but I wondered if this was a
type that was harmful to the fish.
<There are bio-assays... I think you've been doing one>
I'm going to remove him from the tank, bleach the system as
you recommended and start fresh with the plants. I hope it's not
too late and that I can get him to bounce back. I really appreciate
your time to email me back. The amount of time and research that you
all put into the website is phenomenal. It is so reassuring to know
that there is a credible,
reliable source that I can trust. Take care!
<And you my friend. BobF>
Re: Sick Betta- Tried everything with no luck.... Non-aq.
Hi again. I have one last follow up question. I've gone and
bleached the system, replaced the gravel and added new plants (umbrella
<Mmm, what is this... the scientific name? There are several popular
"aquarium" plants sold that are actually not aquatic>
I picked up a new filter- Tetra whisper 10i internal power filter. It
says it works with up to 10 gal tanks. It looks to be a little bigger
than my previous filter, also a Tetra whisper. I'm concerned that
its too strong for him, especially right now when he is not at full
<Likely is fine>
I've placed the plants around the filter to try and disperse the
flow, I'm not sure its enough. I'm also torn because I know
that the more water movement, the better to keep the BGA from growing
again. Unfortunately it doesn't have a flow control. I've read
through the filter posts and seen that both the gravel filters and
sponge filters are recommended for Bettas.
<Or small internal or external power filters... there are even
I don't think I'll be able to find those in my area.
<Can be ordered via etailers like Dr.s Foster & Smith
I know I can order them online, however my main question is this:
should I leave the filter off in the meantime?
<Yes; I would>
Second: What do you personally recommend for a filter for a 5 gal Betta
tank? He's a pretty big Betta and used to be a strong
<Mmm, you could just search w/ the string "Betta system
filters"... Whisper 3i...>
Thank you again for your advice!
<Not advice; and this may seem something similar, but what I'd
likely do given the stated circumstances. BobF>
Re: Sick Betta- Tried everything with no luck.... Non-aq.
In regards to the plants, they're Top Fin from PetSmart- growl - I
did add some semi-aquatic Golden Ribbon plants (Dracaena
<This genus is terrestrial... see WWM re... the search
to float on the top which I've used before without any issues
I thought, and the umbrella plants (were sold to me as aquatic, growl
again. I'm not sure on the scientific name, but they do look
similar the Anubias plants?).
<Also not likely truly aquatic>
Looking on the posts regarding stocking tanks with live plants I
see that PetSmart and Top Fin have used non-aquatic plants? For crying
out loud, I am so disgusted with those people.
I won't go into detail the problems I've had with them
and the horrible information I've received- I've gone back
after speaking with them and researched on your site to find that the
information was just bad.
Unfortunately, I'm in Montana and at this point I have very little
resources for my fish. Is there an online resource for good quality
<Quite a few actually. Search... read Aquariumplants (.com)>
Or is there at least one thing that PetSmart might have that
would be safe for my guy?
<My fave: Ceratopteris>
I am going to check and see if they have any of the following
grasses by any chance: Anacharis/Elodea/Egeria,
Myriophyllum/Parrotfeather, Ceratophyllum/Coontail. >
<These are too cold-water to be of tropical use.
all my fish are dying help!
Mysterious FW losses 1/6/12
Dear Wet Web Media,
I am a fish novice, but had a fresh water tank when I was a kid.
I have been caring for my sisters 29 gallon fresh water fish tank
since late July when she moved, and I guess have become the
owner, as she wont be back till minimum next August.
My sister had two Clown Loaches and a Coolie Loach for many many
years. I think 9 years. When she left for NY we came over to feed
her fish every few days, and during that time the more dominant
Clown Loach took all the food and the other Clown Loach became
very small, while the other became huge.
<Happens... need large systems, to live in shoals... groups;
to prevent such bullying effects>
The dominant Clown Loach nipped at the little ones' tail, and
the little one started to waste away.
After maybe a month of coming over to feed the fish every few
days, my husband and I moved into her apartment to house watch
and better care for her fish. Everyone seemed fine, the little
Loach not eating much, and remaining very small and very skinny,
but alive and behaving normally.
Then one day, two or three weeks ago, the subservient loach died.
We figured because he was so skinny, was 9 years old, and not
eating that it was probably inevitable and didn't think there
was a problem with the tank or water quality.
Then it all went downhill...
Being shamefully ignorant, we went to buy more Loaches for our
dominant Loach, as we thought he's a school fish and needed
The aquarium store we purchased the new fish from was a very bad
store, there were dead fish in many of the tanks, and the woman
was not helpful.
Because of our ignorance we thought we were "saving"
these fish from a horrid store, rather than we could maybe be
bringing illness to our tank.
We purchased 4 Zebra Danios, one Clown Loach who was the same
size as our Loach, two African Dwarf Frogs, and a High Fin
<The one extant large loach is not likely to share the bottom
w/ these last two>
The frog tank was especially bad, with dead frogs everywhere and
eels eating the dead ones in a frenetic fashion.
The frogs died after a week. Again, we weren't sure of the
cause, as there was none of the symptoms from your list. They
just died. Still, everyone else seemed fine and we didn't
change the water or do anything as we were leaving soon, and had
not educated ourselves completely on proper fish care.
A few days later we went away for 5 days for the holidays and had
a girlfriend come over every other day to feed the fish.
When we returned there was only one Zebra Danio left, and no
traces of the others, not even body remnants. Nothing.
<Strange that the Danios perished. These are fast, smart fish
w/ a good deal of aquarium conditions tolerance usually>
The Loaches were acting very aggressive about food, so we thought
they'd eaten these guys. Our friend was no help, and
hadn't even noticed that any fish had gone missing or were
dead, so we had no idea what happened.
Then, convinced that there was no illness, we still didn't
change the water,
<"Didn't change the water"...? You need to do
regular partial change outs.
Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm
and the linked files above>
instead buying more Zebra Danios for the Zebra and three
<Mmm, too easily killed by whatever (Butler) is doing so
This time from a nice, well maintained store.
The next day a guppy was found dead and half eaten. We still
thought the loaches might be eating them, as there seemed to be
nothing wrong with the fish, and the Loaches were still acting
Then the next day, another guppy was dead, and another Zebra
Danio was dying. Finally we could see that no one was attacking
them, and that they were dying from something else. We went to
bed, and the next day the Zebra was dead and the Coolie Loach was
dying. He was pale, and barely moving.
We then FINALLY moved into gear:
We tested the water, and the Nitrate and Ammonia and everything
were in the normal range. We did a 60% water change, and at the
recommendation of the fish store guy, purchased Maracyn powder
for the tank, following the directions of a packet per 10
gallons, which for us was three packets for five days.
Our Coolie Loach died a few hours later, which was really
upsetting, as he had been around forever and was VERY hardy. I
couldn't find any white spots or any other discernible signs
of a specific illness, though there seemed to be a small red spot
on one of his gills.
We are now on the second day of treating the tank with
antibiotics. I removed the filter as I read that it can filter
out the antibiotics. This morning we woke up to find the new
Clown Loach dead! Again, no outward signs of anything! and now
the other Clown Loach, that has survived EVERYTHING is acting
sick. Normally a greedy guy, who never misses a meal, he
hasn't come out once for any food, seeming to hide in his
tube. Again, outwardly he looks fine, it's his behavior that
indicates something's wrong.
<I'd put the filter back on, change out a good deal of the
The Zebras and Guppy's seem fine, but there is a whiteness on
the blue guppy's back, though it doesn't seem to have any
texture, that seems to be getting bigger, though he's
swimming fine. Because he's a new fish, I'm not
completely certain how he looked before, but I thought this might
be an indication of Ick or the other white bacterial problems
Today in a last ditch effort to save my Loach I added a tsp of
powdered vitamin C to the tank, hoping to boost their immune
systems. I haven't found too much on this online about
Vitamin C but took a chance as my mom did it once for these fish
and they were much better the next day, and because they're
dying so fast I wanted to do SOMETHING! I understand it can make
it more alkaline<?>
<Mmm, actually the opposite... will decrease alkalinity. Do
you have measure for this here? Not the same as pH>
but read that's not necessarily a bad thing?
<Depends on the existing water quality and the livestock
So, that's where we're at now. Do you have any
suggestions for other possible illnesses?
<Yes; it's past time to review the make-up of this system.
Something is amiss here... maybe rotting driftwood, perhaps a
toxic rock, ornament... some source of metal? >
Was this contracted from the awful aquarium store?
And are we doing the rights things now? We are involuntary fish
owners, as these were my sisters fishy, but I feel terrible that
my ignorance could have cost these guys their lives, so I would
now like to be more educated on fish care as to never repeat my
mistakes. Any help would be much appreciated!!!
<Let's have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtoxicenvdisfaqs.htm
Does any aspect/element of these situations pertain to yours? Bob
Re: all my fish are dying help!
Thanks so much for the response.
I looked at the links you sent and have again checked the water
Here are the numbers:
PH Balance: 7.4
which means our tank is more Alkaline? correct? too Alkaline?
<Mmm, not a "balance", but a discrete
"point"... and alkalinity is NOT the same measure...
but an indication of resistance to change (downward, and acidity
upward) on the pH scale... Please read here:
and the linked files above>
<... likely nitrite, not 'ate... toxic>
it was 0 before but I guess because we took out the filter for
the antibiotics to work, it raised the Nitrates.
We have some calcium carbonate?
<One aspect/component of alkalinity and hardness>
hardened white deposit around the tank when the water evaporates,
but not a "THICK" amount as the person in your link
The guppy's, Zebra Danio's and Pleco seem fine now, while
the Loach is still alive, but breathing very fast and not eating.
He remains in his tube below hiding.
We have two rocks, a tube, a tower and three plastic plants, but
all are made for aquariums, so I'm not sure if there's a
toxicity from them. The rocks, tube and tower have all been a
part of the tank for years, while the plastic plants were added
with the Frogs a few weeks ago.
We are still continuing with the antibiotics as I want to finish
the course - which will be finished Monday, and haven't put
the filter back in yet..
though perhaps I should?
<... as stated previously, I would>
I'm torn on this as I want the antibiotics to
finish their course and not be filtered out, but I don't want
the Nitrates to get too high. Thoughts?
<Please search, read on WWM re NO3... and also, we ask that
folks limit graphics file size to a few hundred Kbytes... yours
here are ten megs...>
Also, I forgot to mention this before and perhaps this may be the
but when we changed the water a few days ago we noticed that
the water heater was cracked.
<Ahh! This may be the source of your fish loss troubles
here> Upon removing it, the crack widened and the heater
obviously broken, and it smelled like it was burning... we took
it out and bought a replacement asap, but would a cracked heater
make the water toxic?
Maybe that was the problem?
Another issue may be that when we got the new fish, after
acclimating them to our tank in their baggie for 20 minutes, we
simply poured the fish into the tank, including the water from
the fish store.. we did this with all of the new fish, adding up
to around 4-5 baggies the first time, and three baggies the
second time a few weeks later. Could this have contaminated our
Another change that may mean nothing, but I'm trying to list
all possibilities is before we bought the Pleco, the tank had A
LOT of algae.
Once the Pleco was introduced he started eating it all, and now
there is absolutely no algae, or not much. Could this have
changed the PH balance?
<Could affect, yes>
I've attached a few pics of our tank, with close ups of the
white deposits, and tried to show you the Guppy that seemed to
have some discoloring though he moves too fast to get a good
Finally, I guess we leaned towards it being an infection rather
than a toxic environment because all the fish started dying once
we purchased the new fish. of course the skinny loach *did* die a
few weeks before the other fish were added, but again, we figured
he'd gotten weak from not eating, and died from that.
Thank you so much for the help. Any further advice would be much
<Keep reading. BobF>
|Re: all my fish are dying
Oye Ve! The PH stuff is hard to understand!
<Take your time... new, but simple concepts>
so you think it's the heater? But why aren't they getting
We changed the heater two days ago, as well as the water.. how long
would it take to improve?
<A couple weeks...>
Also, I just checked out our Clown Loach who has emerged he also
has one small red spot and one dark spot on his gill, and he's
looking pretty bloated.. this looks the same as what I saw on the
Coolie Loach Eel that died two days ago (though the Coolie Loach
was not bloated).. is it possible that we have two problems? The
toxicity from the broken heater and some sort of infection from the
Also, should we lower the PH? Is 7.4 too high?
<No and not>
attached are smaller files.. sorry about the big pics :)
<Already deleted. No worries>
Thank you for the speedy answers!
<I feel the need. B>
Re: all my fish are dying help! 1/6/12
oh and Nitrite is: 0.25
<As I stated two emails ago>
NITRATE color was between 0 and 5.0 on the chart - what does that
<See WWM Re>
Tank in distress. FW, diag./troubleshooting
w/o much to go on 11/26/11
Hello my friends,
I am hoping that you can help me, you are really my last hope. I
have been trying for months to straighten around my 35 gallon hex
tank, but to no avail. I have a wonderful community of
livebearers and pygmy Corys, but I am losing fish at an
astronomical rate. It feels like I will get everyone healthy and
things under control for a few weeks, then lose another round of
fish and start all over again.
<Something... very wrong here...>
I have seriously tried everything I can think of at this point. I
have done HOURS of research online trying to find a solution, I
have tried everyone ounce of advice I have been given and nearly
every medication I can find.
<A poor situation>
I have been doing 25% water changes weekly, as well as vacuuming
the gravel. I have tried replacing the
gravel, replacing the plastic plants, bottled spring water,
treated tap water, changed the diet, changed the filtration, salt
treatments, Melafix, Ich and fin rot treatments... nothing seems
to stop my fish plague! I have my water tested weekly, my ph is
perfect for live bearers,
<Slightly alkaline I take it>
the nitrates and phosphates are in a normal range,
<values please; not subjective commentary>
my temp is steady and perfect- yet my fish are still dying. And
what is most troubling, is every fish has had
different symptoms. Some fish show no signs of distress at all, I
just find them white and half eaten at the bottom of my tank.
Some fish will start shimmying and sink to the bottom and die in
a few days, some get all "spastic" and dart like mad
from the top to the bottom, and are found dead within days. Its
just so bizarre and no one has answers for me. The fish that is
currently in isolation is a sweet little balloon molly that I
had for nearly a year. Her mate was the last to die, and it broke
I nursed him along ( ever hand feed a molly? yea.) for nearly ten
days, but he finally slipped away. I tried everything I could to
save him, including a vet visit.
<Did this Vet. examine (microscopically) the dead, live
No one had answers. Now his mate is dying. Two weeks ago I
noticed a bumpy ridge on her head, and brought her in for an
inspection. I was told that since there was no discoloration she
was fine and I had
nothing to worry about. The mass grew, became bulbous and turned
a clear/milky color. This morning I found her with a massive
crater in her head where this growth had burst. All the other
fish were chasing her around picking at her face so I am assuming
that everyone needs to be treated if I can correctly diagnose
this issue. Someone please help me, I don't know what to do.
I feel like I am torturing these fish. I am ready to give them
all away and retire this tank for good. You are my last hope.
*sincerely, distressed fishy mom
<Through all these treatments, losses have you tested for
chemical parameters other than what you note above? My first
guess is that you have a toxic ornament/decor item/s in this
system... Like a geode. Please list all the items found here and
send along well-resolved images of the system.
What do you have for filtration, SOP for treating new water? What
died first and symptoms? My next guess is a general fluke
(monogenetic trematode) involvement. You don't list using an
Anthelminthic in your blitz of dosings... Again, did the Vet.
take a scraping from the bodies, gills of the lost fishes? Bob
Re: Tank in distress 11/26/11
> Dear Bob, thank you so much for your fast response. It is
nice to feel
> supported right now.
<My goal is to assist you; solve whatever the cause, source of
mortality was/is here>
> To answer your questions-the vet was useless. He did nothing
but look at
> my fish and say " yes, your fish has died." He ran
no tests, he asked no
> questions, and he treated me like I was crazy for bringing
in a lowly
> balloon molly. For tests I do not have actual ratings,
levels, or even know
> exactly what was tested for chem. parameters as I had them
done at the
> pet store and they simply said "everything looks
normal". Ph I do myself, it
> is always between 7.6 and 7.8.
<Mmmm, a bit high. Is this the same as the pH of your
source/tap water after it has sat for an hour or so? I
also have a question re the white object... rock, decor item in
the pix you've sent along... Is this something intended for
aquarium use? I might well remove it, soak it in new water... do
a "bio-assay" w/ a fish or two to see if this is a
source of toxicity>
and temp stays between 75 and 80 F.The first
> fish to die was a Chinese algae eater. He was
"fat" when I bought him, the
> pet store guy said he was just "happy and fat" so
i took him home and added
> him to my tank ( upon being educated I have discovered this
in and of
> itself was a wrong move. I should have quarantined him, but
I did not know
> this at the time) the next morning I found him LITERALLY
exploded in my
> tank with all of his innards and guts hanging out.
<Yikes...! And possibly a good clue>
Everyone was eating him.
> So I removed dead fish and brought him back to the pet
> explanation. just a new fish. ( big help huh?) From that
point I began
> losing fish quickly and in rounds. I would find a mass of
dead fish (
> sometimes as many as 10) clean them out, sterilize the tank
( boil rocks
> and decor) and move on. I have in my tank 2 rock structures
> several plastic plants,
<Mmm, I need to know if these are from an aquarium store or
not. Artificial plants from other places can have metal
"stems"... and be toxic>
and one very old Japanese moss ball ( this is the only living
<Cladophora... this is fine, but do see my note re other algae
The filter is one that sits on the back and is rated
> for a 50 gallon tank ( mine is only a 35 so it should be
For water I stopped using tap ( the tap water even killed my
house plants) and
> I am using store bought spring water.
<Mmm, don't use this... a highly variable product. Best to
just use tap...
Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm
scroll down to the water issues tray>
I am kind of a beginner with
> aquariums, this is really my first. The tank was given to me
by a friend so
> I set it up and chose live bearers ( I like to see the
> Reproduction at first was fantastic, everything was happy,
all kinds of
> babies at all different stages, now the tank is nearly
empty. I wont add
> fish until I know they are going to live. I've added
some pictures, hopefully
> they will help. I only have my camera poe so they are not
fantastic but the
> best I can do.
*update, my molly just passed. But maybe we can learn from her
death and save the others. I did not think to take a pic of her
before she died, I am so sorry.
RIP misty and Ike, at least you are together again.
<Mmm, now the bit about algae; in particular "blue green
algae"... though it can be most any colour. IF you have a
slimy feeling growth on your growth, plants... can't make
this out in your pix. This could be a/the source of toxicity
here... calling for (really) a complete break-down, bleaching and
starting over. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwbgafaqs.htm
Do read Crystal, make notes if you have questions... We'll
fix this system.
Re: Tank in distress 11/26/11
> ok, I have read both articles, and I will switch back to tap
> move away from store bought. I took the 5 gallon container
that I have been
> carting water back and forth with, filled it with tap water,
and it is
> sitting under the table for a few days to "air
out", I have several
> different water conditioners to remove chlorine and other
> from tap water, so I should be all set to switch back to tap
> Wonderful info, thank you very much.
> All the plants and rocks in the tank are specifically
> aquariums, the white one has small plastic plants imbedded,
and the other
> rock structure was a gift to me from a guy who does tanks
> he had given it to me as a "tank warming "gift.)
so everything in the tank
> is specifically aquarium friendly. I have had this same man
over MANY times
> to assess my tank, and he can't find anything wrong with
either my tank, or
> the fish, yet my fish keep dying.
<Some other poison source then>
> I don't have any visible algae problems, though I'm
sure there is something
> in there for the algae eaters to eat as they haven't
starved. The other odd
> thing I wished to mention, the pygmy cories and algae eater
are all fine,
I haven't lost a single one of them, but I have lost dozens
of guppies and
> now two mollies. I don't know if that is pertinent, but
as you say every
> detail helps.
<... Do please look up (Google, images) Columnaris...
Chondrococcus... Much of the symptomology you list fits this
bacterial problem. B>
Thanks again for listening-
Re: Tank in distress 11/26/11
> I have looked into this particular bacteria before, but it
doesn't seem to
> visually match. None of my fish ever had any rot around
their mouths or
> fins, no discolored patches, or white film. But then again,
this is the
> first time I have had a visual symptom of any kind to go by.
All the other
> fish showed no physical signs of illness beyond slightly
> or bloating.
You could barely tell they were sick, but they would have odd
> behavior patterns, then show up dead! I have treated the
tank for fungal
> and bacterial infections ( a general umbrella treatment of
The ONLY thing I haven't treated for yet is internal
> was cautioned against this until I know for SURE if
that's what's going on,
> but I am thinking perhaps this is my last option?
<Mmm, no; not the last. Check back at our original
Do you think I should
> treat for bacteria and fungus again anyhow?
For internal parasites?
Or do you feel this is this a water condition problem?
<Have already made my principal speculations... likely IS
I am so sorry to ask so many questions, I am just incredibly
tired of losing my fish. :/
> Would it help to know the actual tanks history? What was in
it before I > started with it? Or will that affect it now,
several years later?
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtoxicenvdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. B>
I have > struggled with this tank since I first started it up
to be honest. I've
> restarted from scratch 4 or 5 times since I set this tank up
3 years ago.
> Thank you again for your incredible patience with me, I
think I should bake
> you a cake or something.
Re: Tank in distress 11/27/11
> That's it! this is the problem! you figured it
out! I have never before
> been educated concerning the difference between acidic water
> water, I ( being in a small northern Maine town) don't
have many outside
> resources pertaining to fish, no vet to turn to ( as I
already stated) and
> this is something I would have NEVER been able to figure out
myself! I know
> my water is hard here, that is why I chose guppies in the
first place ( now
> you can see a bit of the incorrect thought process) and the
ph kit I bought
> is a generic on that does not test the alkalinity! This
quote has saved my
> fish tank!!!
> "Changing pH directly is dangerous. Concentrate on
carbonate hardness --
> what your test kit calls alkalinity -- *aiming for around
> calcium carbonate*... "by understanding that GENERAL
> CARBONATE hardness are different things. General hardness --
> measure in degrees dH, and with the "GH" test kit,
is how much calcium and
> magnesium salts are dissolved in the water, for example
This stuff doesn't necessarily affect pH."
This article would have NEVER caught my eye if you hadn't
pointed it out! I have been fiddling with the ph quite a
bit over the past two years because I was told it was
too high or too low etc., when it really isn't the PH that is
killing my fish! Every week i scrape off a THICK layer of
white crusty stuff from my filters edge and off the top of the
tank where the water has evaporated.
I didn't know this wasn't normal, so i just kept cleaning
it up without paying much mind to it! So I need to buy a GH test
kit? Is this correct?
Will you please try to explain to me 150-200mgL calcium
carbonate, or will a GH test explain itself?
<Is more completely explained by searching/Googling on the
Net. This IS the principal source of water hardness... and
resistance to change in pH ("buffering")There is, and
should be some degree of General Hardness in all waters. Only
distilled, reverse osmosis... other filtered or specialized
waters lack it/this. Absolutely necessary in home aquariums, but
not at too high concentrations>
I feel that part of my tank problems is me finding incorrect
information on the web. I will NEVER
go anywhere besides your site EVER again. You are incredible!
Thank you so much.
Tank suddenly toxic
Dear Wet Web Media,
I have read many articles on your site, and I'm very happy to have
found this amazing resource. But I am still very confused and am
getting conflicting advice. My tank is 29 gal. and has been operating
for several years. I use a Penguin 170 for filtration, and there is an
inch of gravel, plastic plants and 1 live plant in a pot. Until
yesterday, I had 3 Danios and 1 algae-eater, and really wanted more
fish. I stick with the basic community fish -- Danios, platys, mollies,
<Ah, now, you do realise that while Danios are soft water fish and
do best at pH 6 to 7.5, Platies, Mollies and Guppies are hard water
fish that need hard, alkaline water with a pH around 7.5 to 8.>
Recently we moved to a new apartment, and moved the aquarium
successfully, and put most of the same water back in. We added 5 gal.
of new water, and the gravel was pretty well washed in the process.
After the tank had been running in the new place for 2 weeks, and I had
done another 1/3 water change, I thought I was ready to add some fish.
I use a test-strip kit that measures several things at once. No matter
what I do to the water, the nitrates always measure 20-40 ppm (this has
been the case for the whole life of the aquarium).
<Likely your tap water has this; check.>
Nitrites are usually zero. Total hardness is always "hard,"
or even "very hard."
<This is general hardness; important for fish health, but
doesn't really affect pH substantially.>
Alkalinity is low -- 40 ppm. PH is 6.2, very
<Alkalinity is carbonate hardness, and this is the stuff that
stabilises pH and, crucially, creates the alkaline conditions Mollies
and other livebearers need. At pH 6.2, you'd find keeping these
I added 2 guppies to the tank yesterday, and this morning the nitrites
are measuring .5 ppm. The guppies are hovering near the top of the
water and not moving around much. I added a capful of Prime, as the
label indicates it can be used to neutralize nitrites in an emergency,
but there has been no change.
Here are my questions:
1. Why would adding 2 guppies send the tank over the edge, as it were?
What do I do now?
Using the Rift Valley salt mix described at about 50% the quoted dose,
perhaps reducing the Epsom salt ratio a bit, should help create the
hard, alkaline, basic pH conditions Guppies, Platies and Mollies need.
Don't replace all the water at once -- the pH change will be severe
on the fish -- but a series of 33% water changes over the next three
days should do the trick safely. Alternatively, remove Guppies and
stick with suitable soft water fish -- X-Ray Tetras for example are
among the best, safest community fish out there. Common Penguin Tetras
are also good.>
2. Could the gravel have been TOO washed? The local pet store (there
are no specialty fish stores around here) tried to tell me to tear down
the tank again and wash the gravel or even replace it. This doesn't
seem right, according to articles on this website.
3. Should I add something to correct the PH? I have been reluctant to
make the tank a sort of "chemical soup," but I'm told
only Danios will survive in water like mine. I see from articles on
this site that PH is very important, but also that it's not a good
idea to "mess about" with the water too much. I did try
adding "Correct PH" to the water the other day, which is
supposed to raise it to 7, but there has been absolutely no change. Now
I don't know what to do.
<Changing pH directly is dangerous. Concentrate on carbonate
hardness -- what your test kit calls alkalinity -- aiming for
around 150-200 mg/l calcium carbonate. That's a middling
level acceptable for most livebearers (though honestly I'd skip
Mollies) and tolerable for hardy soft water fish like X-Ray Tetras,
Danios, Corydoras, etc.>
Thank you so much for any advice,
Re: Tank suddenly toxic 7/19/11
Thank you to Neale for all the information. There is a lot of chemistry
here, so I'm studying the articles and trying to make sense of it
all. One thing that's confusing is that usually, hard water seems
to be associated with alkaline water -- but I have hard water
that's acidic. For now, I'm just doing more water changes while
I figure things out.
<Joy, start by understanding that GENERAL hardness and CARBONATE
hardness are different things. General hardness -- which you measure in
degrees dH, and with the "GH" test kit, is how much calcium
and magnesium salts are dissolved in the water, for example calcium
oxide. This stuff doesn't necessarily affect pH. So you can have
lots of it in the water, but still have a low pH. Carbonate hardness is
the one measured in degrees KH and with the "KH" test kit.
Now, the carbonate hardness is the carbonate and bicarbonate salts, the
ones that raise the pH above 7.0. Even moderate amounts of this will
raise the pH to 7.5 or so, and at high concentrations the pH may be 8.0
or even higher. It's perfectly possible to have high general
hardness and low carbonate hardness. When added together they make up
the total hardness, but that's something aquarists rarely worry
themselves with (though perhaps they should!). One confusing aspect is
that in America especially you will often see the GENERAL hardness test
kit give its results in milligrams/litre or parts-per-million of
Why, I don't know. But it should really be in calcium oxide, which
is what's used in science and, as you should now see, is closer to
what general hardness is all about. Anyway, once you understand that
general hardness has little to do with pH, while carbonate hardness has
a lot to do with pH, figuring out what you see as a paradox becomes a
Fish itching... not Ich or velvet --
Some of the fish in my planted low-light 30g aquarium are
itching'¦ it started off with one of four of my
Corydoras habrosus a week ago... I just thought maybe
this was normal, as I had acquired them about 2-3 weeks prior. However,
the other three since became "lazy" and just keep to
themselves in a corner, but do go up for a breath. I also thought this
was normal, with them being nocturnal.
<Four is rather too few for this dwarf species; even for large
Corydoras species a group of four would be shy and hide away during the
day. Keep C. habrosus and other dwarf Corys in groups of at least six,
and realistically a dozen or more. They're cheap to buy and
don't place much demand on the filtration system, so there's
not really any excuse.>
Additionally, in my current war against blue-green
algae, I added 4 zebra Nerites during a blackout 2 weeks ago
as I heard they eat some BGA.
<Hmm'¦ no, not really much good against cyanobacteria.
There is a brackish to marine species, Puperita pupa, that may eat
cyanobacteria, and because it's called the "Zebra Nerite"
by some, it can be confused with the freshwater species commonly
traded, such as Neritina coromandeliana. That species only eats green
algae and diatoms.>
Today I saw one of my Neon tetras flash himself against a plant. At
this point, I am sure it must be a disease.
<Well, Neon Tetras suffer from several diseases and have a poor
survival record in hard water, so above all else, be aware that you
won't have much success with Neons unless you buy good-quality
stock and keep them in coolish (22-24 C) water that is soft (1-10
degrees dH) and slightly acidic (pH 6-7).>
It is not Ich or velvet, I think. On my fattest neon, it seems there
are punctures in the skin (I can't really tell). Other than that
and the flashing, it does not seem there are any other symptoms.
Water parameters are all at correct levels, so I'm not concerned
<You may not be, but I am! Without some declaration of the water
chemistry and water quality in actual numbers, I can't help
Water changes are 25% every Saturday.
Looking forward to your response'¦
<Likely a variety of environmental issues at play here, as well as
stocking choices that may need to be revised. Do understand that
cyanobacteria indicate fundamental problems with an aquarium including
high nitrate and phosphate levels; poor water circulation at the bottom
of the tank and/or around plants; and insufficient lighting. Review,
and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish itching... not Ich or velvet -- 06/25/11
Thank you for the information about the Nerites.
I suppose I'll keep them anyway, their shells are quite pretty and
I'm sure there's enough diatoms and green algae at the back and
right panel of the tank... I never clean those unless Cyano is growing
immensely on them. Less than two months ago, my tank was covered in the
stuff, for the past 3 weeks I have gained the upper-hand on the stuff
and now it is really reduced to just small patches. I think you'd
be impressed! I improved the tank dramatically'¦ extra
circulation, improved maintenance, more suitable plants (this is a
<Ah, yes, sounds good. Agreed, Cyanobacteria are easiest to
"fix" by improving things and letting other plants, algae
Anyway, the tank is stocked as follows...
1 Rummy Nose
2 Harlequin Rasboras
5 Neon Tetras
8 Glowlight Tetras
1 Clown Pleco
1 Dwarf Gourami (surprisingly healthy...)
4 Salt & Pepper Corydoras
4 Zebra Nerites
4 Amano Shrimp
<Hmm'¦ not completely surprised the Corydoras habrosus are
hiding, given their small size compared to some of these
I know the tank is probably overstocked, but I'm going to be moving
the rummy nose and harlequins to another tank soon. I don't know if
I can add anymore C. habrosus?
Temp: Maintained at 75F, but these warm Summer temperatures are bumping
this up to 78-84.
Tank is injected with DIY co2.
<May be redundant in a low-light system, and in fact may even cause
problems. Remember, CO2 isn't the limiting factor in a low-light
system, and the slow-growing plants wouldn't care anyway. So you
have this extra variable that could be displacing oxygen and lowering
pH. Review, and act accordingly.>
Re: Fish itching... not Ich or velvet -- 06/25/11
The inhabitants appeared more happier once the water was made more
acidic and soft.
I also think it affected the Cyano, presumably because bacteria has
trouble in acidic environments'¦
<Don't think this is likely'¦>
The plants also seemed to do better.
Does this have anything to do with my original problem?
<Hard to say. Do review the various things mentioned in previous
messages. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish itching... not Ich or velvet -- 06/26/11
Good morning my friend,
It does appear the fish have definite symptoms of a disease. Last
night, before lights out, one of the Neon's red line had lost a lot
of it's intensity.
<Neons do lose their colours at night, as you probably have noticed
already. But if their colours go during the day, that's a sign of
stress and/or disease. It isn't one particular thing, though Neon
Tetra Disease is the most common species-specific problem Neons die
from (of course more Neons are probably killed by poor water quality,
predation by Angelfish, being kept too warm, being kept in hard water,
and so on).>
At the time I also noticed my Espei have an incomplete orange
colouration (i.e., they're missing a patch of orange). I was
concerned it may be the dreaded Neon Tetra Disease.
<Quite. NTD is essentially untreatable, and infected fish should be
euthanised (see WWM re:, but 30 drops of Clove Oil in a litre of
aquarium water does the trick nicely).>
This morning, it appears there is a cloudy coloured patch on one of the
neon, but the neon has regained the intense red it had. The growth does
not look cottony.
<May be either Finrot, Fungus or something called Mouth Fungus,
actually a bacterial infection, Columnaris; do see WWM re:
distinguishing them and treatment.
Some useful medications, e.g., eSHa 2000 in the UK and Seachem
Paraguard in the US treat all three.>
The Gourami is being his usual arrogant self and doesn't seem
affected by anything. The Rummy nose has a real intense red nose... The
glowlights are well too.
<Have tried. Cheers, Neale.>
!!Emergency- please help!! Dish soap in tank
Please help- someone has put an ornament coated in dish soap in my fish
tank and my beautiful big black moor is very sick.
I removed him as soon as I realized what had happened but that was
about 5 minutes after the soap was introduced.
Right now he is in a bowl of clean water and I have put 1/2 T of salt
in the water.
Initially the fish's fins lost colour along the edges and he began
to float on his side.
After adding the salt his fins returned to a normal black colour but he
is still unable to right himself. His gills are barely moving- sorry
for the messy letter but I am typing this with one hand. Is there
anything else I can do or try?
<Place this fish in another established system of volume, increase
Thank you Gina
re: !!Emergency- please help!! Dish soap in tank 5/22/11
I had done that but I think the initial damage was too great. Much to
my profound sadness, the moor did not survive the night.
Thank you: Gina
<Ahh, sorry for this accidental loss. B>
My fish are dying... killed 1/1/11
I set up an aquarium about 2 months ago, maybe a little more even. It
still has a cloudy (milky) tinge to the water.
<Not good... indicative of A) the system not being cycled, B) being
under-filtered, C) being over- and/or mis-fed...Do you have water
quality values/tests to relate?>
Not so obvious looking at the aquarium from the front, but looking
through the side (which is longer), the
cloudiness is obvious. I keep having fish die, generally one by one,
and that continues to this day.
I started out a several goldfish,
<? In how large a volume...?>
which we now have in my daughter's aquarium, then gradually stocked
up the fish to a total of 6 Lyretail mollies (3 silver, 3
<Actually, not easily kept...
Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm
3 Kuhli loaches, 3 albino Cory catfish, 7 cardinals, 5 Rasboras, 6
coral platys, 3 guppies. The 5 goldfish that are now in another tank
were also there for a period of time.
<Mmm, goldfish "carry" a large parasite load generally...
could easily be resident, passed on to your tropicals now>
The first to go were a molly and a couple of Rasboras. The other
mollies seemed fine, as did the Rasboras. I did a 10-15% water change,
and took a sample to the pet store. They said it looked fine so they
replaced the fish. Then I think some cardinals
<... not compatible>
and another molly died. Same thing, water change, tested fine, store
<They are fools, or at least foolish here>
Later another cardinal, then later on another, and another molly dies
as well. Everyone else looks fine to my untrained eye.
At this point I'm doing small water changes a couple of times a
week or more, and adding de-chlorinator and "stress coat" to
<Not of use>
The fish actually began to look pretty stable before we left to visit
my family for Christmas.
Water still a little cloudy. I had put in a couple of plants to see if
that might help the biological process.
<Ahh! A very good idea, move>
Also put in a "beneficial bacteria" solution that the fish
and set up a small motorized fish feeder to feed twice a day. Tested
the feeder before leaving, it seemed to work fine.
Getting back from vacation, found most of the cardinals dead, three
more mollies gone, 1 or 2 of the Rasboras gone, and a couple of the
platies as well. Did a water change, again about 15%. In the days
following, found another cardinal dead, then a Rasbora, and today a
What am I doing wrong (or what "right" am I not doing)?
<Likely the system is not cycled... Do read here re:
and the linked files above till you understand your situation>
I have a 65 gallon tall tank (36"x18"xsomething tall), two
filters (Emperor 280 came with the aquarium
package and an older filter I happened to have hanging around, not sure
brand or size but it has a bio-wheel in it too), and a heater.
<These are inadequate... Again, you need to have your own test kits
for ammonia, nitrite... at least>
The only other pertinent detail I can think of is the physical
condition I noticed on some of the mollies. At least two of them, once
it became clear they were in trouble, seemed to have trouble swimming
and developed a deformed spine.
It was clearly warped into an "S" shape. Haven't noticed
this on any of the other fish. I haven't noticed Ick, which is the
only fish disease I can readily diagnose. I also just put in a number
of Amazon sword plants that were given to me, hoping this will help any
biological issues in the tank. But I don't think I'm making any
Can you help?
<You can help yourself, your livestock by reading where you've
been referred here>
Thanks in advance for your assistance!! Chris
<Welcome. Bob Fenner
Re: My fish are dying, salt-softened water 1/3/11
Thanks so much for your quick response!! Good articles. I have some
more details that you asked about.
Nitrate = 5; Nitrite = 0; Hardness = 15-20; 0 chlorine; PH = 8.2;
Ammonia = 0.
I generally feed the fish once daily. We live in San Antonio, TX, which
has a very hard water, but like most here we have a water softener
<Avoid this water for your pet-fish use... the sodium from the salt
recharging ends up being too much for your livestock>
Outside tap is not on the softener, though, so I could easily add
harder (not softened) water.
<Best to get most from here... and just enough from inside to warm
Bought some aquarium salt at recommendation of the person at the
aquarium store. More fishy deaths... another cardinal, a Cory and a
I am curious also about the comment on filtration...the 280 should
handle tanks up to 50...and my older filter was on my old 40 gallon
tank...are the two together not enough for the 65 gallon?
<See WWM re... do both turn over all the water in your system ten
times per hour?>
I would not be sad to get a new filter, the 280 makes a lot of noise
and drives my wife up a wall.
<Ahh! There are many other better filters that are quiet>
Thanks again for your help!!!
Silicon<e> and dying fish???
I was reading about artificial plants on the net. There is this site
that describes using silicone as a base for fake plants. My husband
went and used GE silicone II as a plant base and put the plant in. The
that the stuff was not "aquarium safe" My husband then said
that meant it wasn't safe to seal an aquarium with and the
manufacturer does not want a lawsuit if a huge tank explodes from the
Anyway, the plant was in there all night and the fish were acting weird
this morning. One was hanging out under the filter, the other two were
acting normal. I checked on line and found out that this silicone is
to fish, so I removed the plant and did about a 90% water change and
replaced the salt. The three mollies are just hanging out now, but that
may be the stress from the huge water change. Anyway would Epsom salts
help or do I just wait to see if it is too late. I will no longer let
make any aquarium decisions again. Thank you!!!
<Greetings. Yes, it is true that you need to use only aquarium-safe
silicone around fish. The silicone itself isn't toxic so far as I
know, but the anti-fungus chemicals added to the silicone usually are
toxic, and the
aquarium-safe silicone lacks these. Removing the silicone from the
tank, and then doing one or more large water changes, should bring
things back down to normal. The addition of fresh carbon to the filter
would also be very helpful. After a week, remove that carbon and throw
it away. Cheers, Neale.>
<<RMF would like to try correcting misstatements I have made re
the use of various "Silicone" formulations... They are NOT
necessarily toxic, but often unsuitable in other ways. Please see the
discussion here: http://www.gtaaquaria.com/forum/showthread.php?p=107998
Mea culpa, but I have misunderstood that 100% Silicone on labels was
and is NOT the same product/formulation. ONLY ones distinctly labeled
FOR AQUARIUM USE should be employed for such>>
Re: Silicon and dying fish??? 12/29/10
I was e-mailing yesterday about a fake plant with a silicon base, that
was toxic to fish. I mentioned I removed the plant and did two water
changes yesterday that replaced about 90% of the water each time. Two
of the three mollies are back to normal this morning, but one is at the
bottom and will not come to the top even for food. She is just there.
The other two mollies are adult size. I got this smaller molly in a
tank with a group of adults and the guy at the store said she is either
a baby or a runt. Anyway it doesn't look like she will make it. My
question is: Is the fish suffering??
In that case is it better to put it too sleep or should I wait until
she passes on her own??? Thank you!!
<Only you can tell if the fish is suffering. But yes, if she's
doomed, there's no point waiting. Do read here:
The ice method mentioned in old aquarium books isn't humane, but
the clove oil method is, and 30 drops in a litre of aquarium water
quickly sedates and then kills suffering fish. I highly recommend this
method because it's safe, cheap and reliable. Drug stores sell
clove oil, sometimes as Eugenol.
Please help!! Sulfur, FW wipe-out syndrome/s
I'm not sure what happened, but the other night my 200 gallon tank
started to smell faintly of sulfur. Never had this problem before.
<Danger... a good idea to execute/do a good water change-out 20-30%
via gravel vacuuming. You may well be experiencing a type of
"break down syndrome" w/ populations of microbes that produce
such smell predominating... can poison your livestock>
The next morning, after putting in some StressCoat and Amquel the night
before, our African Knife and our Cori were dead, and our 15 year old
iridescent shark was still alive, but obviously very ill. The
house reeked of sulfur. All three fish had their mucous coat just
peeling off in sheets. We did a 50% water change, vacuumed the heck out
of the gravel, cleaned out and replaced most of the media the canister
filter while adding a lot of charcoal to hopefully remove the
Before bed, we added the appropriate amount of stress coat. Today, the
shark looks much better, but I know is not out of the woods. The tank,
thankfully, no longer stinks. Some sites have recommended an antibiotic
at this point, but I don't know what to use. NEVER had this problem
Any idea what we messed up on? Thank you so much!! - Maria
<I would NOT use/place an antibiotic. Too likely to compound issues,
troubles... like stop nitrification totally. Usually these types of
syndromes are due to overfeeding, lax maintenance... but often enough
"just happen". Hence the need to stay diligent. Am very glad
you have a sharp nose, were able to and acted quickly. Adding more
filtration, circulation, aeration... making sure to vacuum at least
part of the gravel each (weekly) water change period... greatly
decreases the chances of such episodes.
New tank syndrome in established tank, or something
else? Neale 12/27/10
Hello all! It has been a number of years since I had to post WWM for
help, but I've got myself into a pickle and I need another
experienced head to examine what is going on in one of my tanks. Tank
in question is a 125 gallon planted freshwater tank. Tank has two
Whisper 60 rear mounted filters and 1 Fluval 405 canister. They have
been in continuous operation since Spring of 2006. I had let the tank
population dwindle because I was considering changing it from a
Rainbowfish piece into an African Cichlid tank. However, the pH in my
tapwater runs on the low side for African Cichlids so I decided to
stick with what I've done best over the years, primarily Rainbows.
About 5 weeks ago, here is where the population stood:
1 M. boesemani rainbow @ 5.5" (very mature)
<At this, oh yes!>
2 M. mogurnda @ 4.0" (mature breeding pair)
2 Botia almorhae @ 3.0" 1 A. spilurus @ 5.0" (last of a home
bred school from years ago)
1 Brochis splendens
<Much happier in a group>Typically I do 25% water changes weekly.
Source water is tap. Normal water parameters are 78 degrees, pH of 6.2.
In preparation for adding new fish, I did a slightly larger water
change just to make sure the top gravel was completely
disturbed/vacuumed. I probably replaced about 40 gallons of water and
let it sit overnight.
<Better by far to have such new water set for about a
week>Everything was fine in the morning, the fish were happy and
vibrant. I ran all the tests you'd expect. pH was 6.2,
<A bit low... I'd likely add some simple baking soda (sodium
bicarbonate) to new water in preparation for use... with a heater,
ammonia was 0, nitrite was 0, and the nitrates came in very low,
between 3 and 5 ppm. This seemed normal, the tank was barely stocked
after all. So, off to the LFS I went. I came back with 6 more Brochis
splendens, 6 very small Botia macracantha, and a pair of quarter sized
parrot cichlids. Prior to introducing the new fish, I tested their
water from the store for pH and it came in at 6.8. Given that their
reading was slightly higher than my tank,
<Actually, this 0.6 pH point difference is quite large... this
scale, like that for earthquakes (Richter) is a base-ten logarithm...
do please see Wiki or such re'¦>
I slowly acclimated them and released them. The fish seemed perfectly
fine in about an hour. As a general rule, I don't feed new fish. So
I skipped the nightly feeding. In the morning I gave them a light
feeding of Aquarian flake food. At night I gave them the usual feeding
of frozen bloodworms. Still, all was well.
<Mmmm. Bloodworms have recently fallen out of favour as fish
36 hours after the fish were added, I noticed the water turning hazy. I
thought, oh boy, here it comes. I've heard of this happening, but
never had it happen to me. New tank syndrome in an established tank. I
tested the water for ammonia. Nothing. I ceased feeding completely at
this point. I continued testing the tank about every 8-9 hours for
ammonia, nitrite, and pH. The pH never changed from 6.2 and my ammonia
and nitrite readings kept coming back at 0. Yet, before I knew it, all
of the new Brochis and Botia species were displaying signs of ammonia
poisoning. Clamped fins, whitish streaks on the sides, red inflamed
gills, listlessness. I was so convinced that ammonia was present I went
and bought new testing kits and blamed my prior readings on being
expired. The new kits continued to bring me readings of 0. Not knowing
what else to do, I tried to manage things by doing 25% water changes
twice a day,
<Good>once in the morning, and once at night. At one point, about
3 or 4 days into this, I did get a slight reading of about 0.25 ppm on
ammonia. By this point, fish were starting to die off. I lost half the
loaches and half the Brochis catfish in about 3 days. Within 96 hours
of the water getting cloudy, all of the new fish were dead, but more
disturbing, some of the old timers were beginning to get ill. By the
end of a week, I lost my remaining boesemani rainbow who was very old,
and also my last spilurus cichlid. About 10 days after the cloudy water
first appeared, I was down to the original Brochis splendens and only 1
M. mogurnda. So I let things settle down for about 2 weeks and just
kept an eye on the tank. The water returned to crystal clear. Even
after getting the reading of 0.25 ppm ammonia, I never got a nitrite
reading. My highest reading on nitrates came in at 5 ppm, which if
anything, led me to believe the nitrification process was working just
fine. So, about 10 days ago, I went to a different fish store and added
six M. Praecox rainbows. These fish have been doing just fine. They are
active, eating healthy, and acting crazy, like rainbows. 2 days ago, I
went back to my other LFS for 6 more Brochis splendens and another pair
of parrot cichlids. I added these fish Christmas Eve. They were doing
fine Christmas day. Today, I just about fell over when I found one of
the new Brochis catfish laying belly up on the bottom of the tank. The
new parrot cichlids, who are about 3.5", are clamping their fins
and refusing to come out of their rocky holes. Their gills appear quite
agitated, their eyes have white spots in the middle. All of the
remaining new Brochis Splendens have white edges to their fins and
white stuff on their eyes as well. The Praecox rainbows? Nothing
abnormal about them. Water currently tests at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5
ppm nitrate, pH is still 6.2 So now, I am really puzzled. Even if I
never got the readings I expected, I am convinced the first disaster I
had roughly a month ago was due to adding too much stock at once,
overloading the biological system, causing the cloudy water and an
ammonia spike, which killed all the new fish and most of my existing
<Mmm, really? In a 125 gallon system? I don't know>
Now? The original Brochis catfish is doing fine, the original Mogurnda
gudgeon is doing fine, the week old Praecox rainbows are doing fine,
but the new catfish and parrot cichlids are going through a remarkably
similar event. Could it be that the pH change from LFS water from 6.8
to 6.2 is causing this?
<Is a contributing factor; but should NOT be the sole determinant
I've made this kind of pH swing with new fish before with no issue.
If the pH of the store water was originally well over 7.0 I'd be
much more apt to blame this first. I'm hesitant to do anything that
might bring the pH in my tank up, because the other 8 fish are fine. I
would like to save the new fish, but I am not sure how. I do not have a
hospital tank at my disposal, I am afraid.
<I'd leave them where they are>
I am just at a loss as to what all this means and what to do next. I am
hopeful the experienced minds at WWM can point out something I missed.
Needless to say, I think I'll stick with the store where the
Praecox Rainbowfish were bought!
<Let's see... the new water, the 40 gallons could be a factor...
Municipalities are unfortunately given to "pulsing"
"sanitizer" and "other conditioners" at times into
their potable/mains water supply (I would call them re... the number
will be on your "water bills")... The Bloodworms could have
contributed to the cloudiness... and possible "biological
poisoning" pursuant... through chemically feeding some noxious
species in the water... But I too discount the likelihood of
nitrogenous waste issues really causing mortality here... and
pathogenic disease. I would point you to reading on the Net, Ed
Noga's et al's in-print works on fish pathology, but the
reading would take a few tens of hours... and not for-sure yield a
satisfying resolution. Bob Fenner>
<<Please let me add a couple of points here. Firstly,
Melanotaenia species from New Guinea tend to do best in moderately
hard, neutral to slightly basic water conditions. They don't need
"liquid rock" by any means, and in the wild may well inhabit
quite soft water conditions, but under aquarium conditions water
somewhat on the hard and alkaline side of neutral does seem best.
You'll often see Melanotaenia boesemani used as a dither fish
species for Tanganyikan cichlids, and that gives a fair idea of the
sort of conditions it'll thrive under. I'd aim for 10-15
degrees dH, pH 7-8. The second thing to remember is that pH affects
biological filtration, and the lower the pH, the less effectively
biological filters work, to the degree that they all but stop close to
pH 6.0. The ideal pH for biological filtration is about pH 7.5 to 8.0,
and that's another reason to use moderately hard, slightly basic
water should the option exist. As Bob says, baking soda will raise pH
by raising the carbonate hardness. I'd add a little Epsom salt too
to raise the general hardness, 10 degrees dH, 3-5 degrees KH being
about perfect for Rainbowfish of all types. Mogurnda spp. Sleeper
Gobies enjoy identical conditions, and your Brochis should thrive under
them, as will most loaches, assuming good water quality and plenty of
oxygen (this latter often the make or break issue with loaches rather
than water chemistry). Also as Bob has pointed out, some water
suppliers send out water fine for drinking but less good for
fishkeeping. Problems can also happen if you're using a domestic
water softener. The use of an RO filter and the use of soft water
("Discus") or hard water ("Rift Valley") buffering
salts may provide the best workaround depending on your requirements.
Re: New tank syndrome in established tank, or something
Thank you Bob & thank you Neale!. I actually have a copy of Ed
Noga's Fish Disease book.
<I 'broke down" and bought the 2d Ed. for my own Xmas
I haven't needed it in a while, time to blow the dust off the
jacket and see what I can find. Your suggestions for adding baking soda
seem like the appropriate path to take.
<Yes... simple, of value and very safe>
I've done some more reading on the relationship between pH and
biological filtration and I like what I have learned. I'll need to
get a fresh GH/KH kit to help monitor the transition. In the mean time,
I have done an additional water change, premixing 1 tsp of baking soda
per 5 gallons of water, and replaced 25 gallons of water.
<Good... I'd add a bit more>
This has slightly raised the overall pH in the tank, to 6.3...maybe 6.4
- it's hard to tell on the color card. I am assuming raising the pH
1 basis point every 24 hours is gradual enough.
<One tenth is fine>
I will aim for 6.8 and see where that leaves me. The water here is
great for Discus & other Amazonian enthusiasts. For everything
else.....well, I'll be polite and not say it.
Thankfully, there have been no additional casualties in my tank. The
Brochis catfish seem a little more lively and the parrot cichlids do
not seem to be breathing as rapidly since adding the baking soda/water
mix. The Praecox rainbows seem to be enjoying the slightly elevated pH.
If anything, I expect they'll handle the change just fine. I've
kept more than 20 varieties of Melanotaenia rainbows and if I've
learned anything, they are adaptable and hardy.
I'd put them up there with gouramis in terms of general
<Thank you, and Neale. BobF>
Re: New tank syndrome in established tank, or something
The Praecox rainbows seem to be enjoying the slightly elevated pH. If
anything, I expect they'll handle the change just fine. I've
kept more than 20 varieties of Melanotaenia rainbows and if I've
they are adaptable and hardy.
<<I will add here than the genus Melanotaenia includes a variety
of species from both Australia and New Guinea, and while some come from
hard water habitats, others from soft water, they do generally tend to
be adaptable. Still, each species should be judged on its own merits,
and it's wise to establish the needs of a given species before
buying it. Furthermore, farmed livestock may exhibit different
tolerances to wild fish.
Melanotaenia boesemani for example is widely farmed, and given the
farmed ones have different (weaker?) colouration to the wild ones,
it's not impossible they're less or differently adaptable too.
If in doubt,
moderately hard, around neutral pH water conditions tends to serve
Melanotaenia species well: i.e., 10-15 degrees dH, pH 7-7.5. Cheers,
Texas Holey Rock and cigarettes (RMF?)
I have an unfortunate situation that I can't find info on anywhere
else on the 'net and I think it's something that should be
posted in case anyone else runs into this problem. I bought some Texas
Holey Rock off eBay, when it arrived I opened the boxes and took all
the rocks out and inspected them. The seller said they had only been
cleaned with water, there was a bit of dirt on some and they were not
the bleached white of previous rocks I had purchased but I figured it
would be OK if I scrubbed them and rinsed them off with clean water and
then put them in my tank (they were only a light tan). However, as soon
as I got the rocks wet they *reeked* of cigarettes.
The seller swears the rocks were never kept by cigarettes -- fine, but
there is no way with the way they smell that the seller is telling the
truth. I'm almost certain if I put these rocks in my fish tank they
would not only make my entire tank smell of cigarettes, but would
probably kill my fish as well (it's a 50 gallon Malawi Mbuna
<Actually, it's pretty unlikely. My parents smoked like
chimneys, yet my dad kept a fish tank, including a reef tank, all the
time.><<RMF is not so sure; would NOT just place this rock,
WOULD test a bit of it w/ some inexpensive aquatic life exposure
What I am wondering is, is there a way to clean these rocks so that
they are useable in the tank?
Will the method of bleaching and soaking the rocks get rid of all
traces of the cigarettes?
<Hydrogen peroxide should do a good job, then rinse a few times, and
leave to dry for a couple days. H2O2 breaks down pretty fast into
harmless water and oxygen. Otherwise bleach, diluted until it's
just the faintest smell, can work as well. Rinse thoroughly. An old
trick is to place suspect material in the cistern of a flushing
lavatory. After a few weeks, the stuff will be so thoroughly and
repeatedly rinsed that most dirt should be washed away.>
Or is the stone so porous that no matter what I do it will still be in
<There's an element of that, but at the same time, if a rock is
difficult to clean using bleach, it's also difficult for trapped
chemicals inside the rock to leach out. If you place carbon in the
filter, and replace that carbon every two weeks, you should absorb any
nasty chemicals in the rocks.>
Because of the strong smell I refuse to boil the rock, I don't want
to create a health hazard that affects other people.
<Don't see this being an issue at all.>
Your input and knowledge would be of most help. Thanks in advance,
<If it's really unusable, you may want to return the goods,
dispute the sale with eBay, and/or leave eBay feedback as necessary. If
the rock was being sold as aquarium-grade material, that would imply
it's basically clean. Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>
: Help... Not in your articles ! Induced RO issues,
FW... - 8/17/10
So sorry to bother you once again, but I have lost so many exquisite
fish and I'm ready to give up.
I can't see them die anymore. I've literally spent thousands of
trying to understand the science of how to manage these water
parameters and it seems ultimately impossible. I write one more time to
see if you have any further ideas.
I have ornamental goldfish ... 3 in a 55 G and 3 in a 75 G.
I have Canister filters and HOB plus underwater pump on each tank.
There is heavy filtration, bio media and surface movement. Water
changes every 5 days religiously with vacuuming and no overfeeding.
My fish are floaters on pellets, so they get veggies and some raw
shrimp. My tanks are clean and tested every day, ammonia, nitrite and
nitrate are kept at 0 with water changes and Nitrazorb.
<Much too high.>
calcium undetectable on a test.
I put in a 3 stage reverse osmosis unit in my house... but the PH is
still outrageously high, at 9.8.
<This doesn't make sense. Are you sure it's an RO unit? A
domestic water softener IS NOT an RO filter. Domestic water softeners
merely remove carbonate and bicarbonate salts that create limescale. If
you do have an RO unit, if it's not producing water with 0 KH, 0
GH, and pH 7 then your unit isn't working correctly, either because
of configuration or maintenance.>
The city water and RO water both behave the same.
<Which shouldn't be the case.>
If I age the water in large tubs for 4-5 days, the PH drops to around
8. When it is added to an aquarium, and a PH of 8 is established with
KH at 160, GH at 200, the Ph begins to rebound back up every single day
until within a week, the PH is up to 9.8 again and my fish are dying.
(no more vacations)
What am I missing in the buffering that I cannot stabilise the PH? I am
out of ideas and I've resorted to using Acid Buffer by Seachem to
try to hold the PH by adding the recommended amount every day or every
<No no no'¦ don't use "pH down" products in
this way; acid buffers are to hold an acidic pH, not to create one.
It's a shame the manufacturers are a bit disingenuous about
Sometimes it works but too often, it is unpredictable and I have a yoyo
Ph.... this method of controlling PH is volatile, unpredictable and
The fish become lethargic and unhappy until I change water again at day
5. I have had problems with Flukes/gill Ich and white edges on fins
from bottom sitting. After eating, every fish is desperate for oxygen
and gobble bubbles frantically until after an hour of this, they begin
to float upside down from all of the bubbles they have swallowed. The
amount of filtration and splashing in my tanks is ridiculous... the
sound is like living under Niagara Falls. I know this all has to be due
to the erratic water parameters.
I have been using the Rift Valley mix, with half RO and half tap water,
as Neale suggested.
<Which will work perfectly if you're starting with true RO
water. Indeed, a bucket of pure RO water, with about 25-50% the Rift
Valley salt mix added should create something good for a broad range of
species, around pH 7.5, general hardness around 10 degrees dH. But if
the RO water isn't 0 general hardness, 0 carbonate hardness, and pH
7, then obviously this isn't going to work.>
But with the nightmare of dead fish continuing, I stopped using Rift
Valley and switched to Lake Malawi salts (Seachem) hoping that it would
have a broader buffer content.....but it takes A LOT of it to bring the
KH and GH up.... and doesn't do enough to drop the PH.
<Again, should work fine with RO water. The Seachem product is much
the same as the DIY Rift Valley mix in terms of result, just cheaper.
On the plus side, with the Rift Valley mix, you can tweak the Epsom
salt and baking soda up or down to raise or lower the GH or KH values
I end up with my KH too high and the Ph still at 8.8. So I have
resorted to using Seachem Acid Buffer just to try to get the PH down.
But I cannot hold the PH no matter what I do, and the stress on my fish
is deadly. Even when KH and GH are within good parameters, there is no
calcium in the water, I discovered 2 weeks ago. I never previously had
a specific test for Calcium, and only concerned myself with KH and GH.
I bought Aquavitro Calcification and have slowly been trying to raise
the calcium. It is just below 100 now today.
<Let me stress that your problem IS NOT what you're adding to
your water. Whether you use the Rift Valley mix, the Seachem product,
or any other buffering mix, when added to RO water at about 50% the
dose for Malawi cichlids, you should get something more or less perfect
for Goldfish. But your problem is that your supposed RO filter is not
producing RO water. THAT is your problem. Establish what's wrong
with your RO filter, and once it's producing pure water, with 0
general hardness, 0 carbonate hardness, and a pH around 7.0, then
you'll be all set.>
Here is a direct link to our city water analysis, but these parameters
tend to fluctuate.. Only the Ph remains at 9.7 and sometimes as high as
10. Three months ago the GH was over 300, and now it is extremely
Please if you have any suggestions or can recommend a further strategy,
please help. I would do whatever it takes to keep these fish healthy...
I know there have to be answers, but I just can't watch any more
fish dropsy and die when I am gone for a weekend.
<Amy, do please read here and the articles linked at the end of the
piece. There is something very amiss with your RO system.
Apart from maybe Malawian or Rift Valley cichlids, or else Central
American livebearers and Goodeids, I can't think of any fish that
will thrive in water at pH 9, 200 mg/l dH. Cheers,
Established Tank Meltdown 8/2/10
First, as many have said, thanks much for your help. Your website is
<Thank you for your kind, encouraging words>
I've been keeping tanks for about 15 years now and thought I was
pretty good at it--but apparently not as good as I thought. I have a 75
gallon tank planted freshwater that's been set up for about 5
years--two moves in there, but the community, plants, and drift wood
have been pretty constant. I had five clown loaches (largest about 4
inches), 8 giant Danios, 6 Australian rainbows (the ones with red
stripes), and 7 or so skunk cories. About two weeks ago I noticed that
the fish were in distress--and there was a rotten egg smell.
<Trouble with a capital "T">
I assumed I had a pocket of hydrogen sulfide under one of the pieces of
<Which I'd remove pronto...>
and did a massive (80%) water change, took everything out, vacuumed the
gravel, and seemed to stop it--but then two days later came down and
all the giant Danios, all but 2 Australian rainbows, one clown loach,
and two skunk cories were dead.
I repeated the procedure daily for three days, and got good readings
all around (nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia at 0) and no smell. So
thought I was out of the woods. Transferred four silver dollar sized
angel fish from another tank and planned to get replacement loaches and
cories and rainbow fish, though not the Danios (since I needed schools
for my remaining schools). Today, went to do a quick water change, and
checked the readings--and the ammonia was really high, 4 ppm, but
nitrate and nitrate were still zero.
<Well... your nitrifying microbes have either been killed off, or
are metabolically inactive. In any/all cases it is necessary to
re-start the biological filtration here. Happily, there are currently
ready-working cultures to be had (e.g. Dr. Tim's One and Only).
Please feed not at all as long as the ammonia registers more than 1.0
ppm, and read here immediately:
and the linked files above. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Established Tank Meltdown
Mr. Fenner (or whomever is on call now),
Thanks so much for the fast response. I do appreciate it. As soon as I
detected the excessive ammonia reading, I did a massive water change,
added some bacteria I had on hand (which was old--so ordered BioSpira),
and last night, this morning, and at noon, the ammonia read between
0.25 and 0.50 ppm.
<Ahh! Much better>
I am planning to do a follow-on water change (smaller than
yesterday's tonight, recognizing it'll slow the cycling, but
quite worried about my fish. I can move some to another aquarium, but
they're not really suitable, as my 48 gallon tank has only tinies
<I would still (definitely) gravel vacuum the smaller tank and put
this "gunk" in your uncycled one>
I really didn't ever expect to have a crash such as I've
had--wondering if adding gravel or the filter media from another tank
would help, as it does with initial cycling?
<Indeed it usually does>
Should this be treated as a normal, new cycle, then?
Sorry to sound confused. I read the link and it certainly sounds as if
this should have been expected. I just "assumed" with a 75
gallon tank and a reasonable fish load (it was reasonable, wasn't
it? Let me know please if it was excessive--5 mid-sized clown loaches,
8 giant Danio, 4 striped rainbow fish, 7 cories--please),
<Should be fine... unless the Clowns are huge>
that despite vigorous cleaning of the gravel, and brief removal of the
<I'd leave this out>
that the cycle would last. Oddly, all the plants seem very, very happy.
Any further advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Anyway, thanks much for your time. I love your book (if Mr. Fenner is
responding) and greatly appreciate your help (whoever is
<And you, BobF>
Re: Established Tank Meltdown 8/2/10
Bob (if it's still you),
Thanks for letting me call you that. One loach was about 4 inches, the
others about 3 inches, so thanks for the reassurance on that.
<Under six inches is fine here>
I did note in this email (missed it in the first), that you highly
recommend removing the driftwood. If you say to do so, I will. It was
all purchased in aquarium stores, and most of the pieces have plants
growing on them, including one really big broad-leafed plant. But if
you say I need to remove them, I will.
<I would at least "gouge out", remove the anaerobic/soft
parts of the wood that were rotting... provide more circulation about
Any explication would be greatly appreciated, however. I have driftwood
in the 48 gallon tank too; it has only a dwarf ram, 8 cardinal tetra, 8
tiny rainbow fish (can't remember their names--but the males trail
magnificent fins and they're less than third the size of the
average rainbows?), half a dozen pygmy Rasbora, and a banjo catfish.
Does the driftwood in that tank need to come out too?
<Depends... Please read here:
and the linked article... B>
Re: Established Tank Meltdown -- 8/3/10
<Tis I, Bob>
(Or whomever is there.)
I really appreciate your help. And I need it.
<Certainly welcome Margaret>
I read all the articles about driftwood, took mine out, looked at it,
poked at it, and found no fungus or soft spots. So I put it back in. If
you tell me that was a bad decision, I'll pull it out.
<Mmm, is/was this the source of anaerobiosis? The "rotten
egg" smell that likely led to your losses? Has simply moving it,
cleaning about it obviated the source?>
I don't know what's going on, though. Clearly, though, I've
been a bad fishkeeper, all unaware. I have two tanks, one 75 (as
I've talked about below) and one 46 gallons. I was changing the
water (I do a 40% water change
every two weeks)
<I'd do half this every week... in point of fact, I do>
and decided to test, since I have had such bad results with the other
one. Again, this tank has been up and running for five years--moved
twice in that time, but been in its current location with its current
occupants (give or take a few tetra, as they die from time to time) for
more than two years. The occupants are 2 dwarf rams, 8 cardinal
tetras, 6 miniature rainbow fish (the kind where the males have flowing
fins), 8 pygmy Rasboras, and a banjo catfish (about 2.5 inches). Had
planned to add 6 pygmy corries and 5 more cardinal tetras. O.k., the
test results were 1.5 ppm ammonia, 1 ppm nitrites, and 0.5 ppm
nitrates. I dumped in a bottle of SafeStart. But what am I doing
<Something is and/or has suspended nitrification. Did you read where
I originally referred you to? I would feed NOTHING till both NH3 and
NO2 were under 1.0 ppm>>
I feed frozen food, a mixture (brine shrimp, bloodworms, veggie), 2
cubes per day to that tank. I do a 40% water change every other week.
Change out the filter media (carbon) once a month. Have BioWheels on
<Something... again, has "poisoned" the beneficial
microbes involved in the forward (chemical reactions) in nitrogenous
demineralization in these systems... What?>
My larger tank seems stable now--ammonia still registering, but at 0.5
ppm and nitrate and nitrite are both zero. Still, what happened?
<Do read again: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm
scroll down to the yellow coloured tray...>
Again, 40% water change every two weeks. I feed that one (or did before
the massive die off and would like to replace the
inhabitants--particularly feel sorry for the sole clown loach) 3 cubes
Any additional advice for long term fishkeeping is welcome. Have been
arrogant--advising new keepers on the cycles, on the minimal fish loads
for tanks, and yet here I am--in dire straits.
Thanks for your professionalism and assistance.
<Please write back after reading the trouble/fixing FAQs files...
Ich, cloudy eyes and poor water quality. 8/2/10
I have a 55 gallon tank in trouble. I have a mild case of ich going on,
cloudy eyes on 2 of my fish and really bad water quality.
<Meaning what precisely? Is the tank newly set up? Or massively
I just changed 50% of the water, am lowering the PH and put in
Nitra-Zorb to help with the ammonia and nitrates.
<Uh, no. Understand this. Randomly changing the pH will severely
stress your fish. Usually a fixed pH is best, and the value itself
doesn't matter much so long as it doesn't vary. Exceptions
exist for those fish such as livebearers that MUST have a specific pH,
in this case a basic pH between 7 and 8.5, and if kept below the pH
range will quickly sicken. Now, there's nothing much you can add to
remove ammonia and nitrite. Nitrate -- with an "a" -- is not
the same thing is as nitrite -- with an "I". Nitrate is not
especially toxic. Nitrite and ammonia are very toxic. Nitrite and
ammonia can be reduced -- diluted -- through water changes but
essentially the only way to remove them is via biological
Do I need to remove the Nitra-Zorb in order to begin treating with
Maracyn and Quick Cure?
<Nitra-Zorb will physically remove ammonia, but in doing so slow
down maturation of a biological filter. It is almost NEVER a solution
to a poor water quality crisis. You'll see it's usually
marketed for use in reef tanks as a chemical filter to remove nitrate,
in other words, to improve already good water quality. It's not a
replacement for biological filtration.>
I can not find any information telling me if that will absorb the
<It shouldn't do, but it isn't relevant here anyway.>
The fish are definitely stressed and a few are not eating.
I am confident that I can get the water quality back to normal (which I
believe was disrupted from previous ich medications),
<Some medications can, will stress biological filtration, and if
that's the issue here, you need to treat the tank as if it's
cycling. Don't feed the fish at all, do 25-50% water changes daily,
and if your fish are salt-tolerant species like Guppies and Mollies,
add a little salt to the water, 0.5-1 teaspoon per gallon should be
fine. Medicating without
restoring good water quality is pointless. I will point out that
therapeutic doses of salt and Epsom salt can be used to treat Ick and
Pop-eye respectively, and in both cases WILL NOT affect filter bacteria
at all. Do read:
but I do not want to wait to start treatment with the Maracyn as the
cloudy eyes are very concerning to me.
Re: Ich, cloudy eyes and poor water quality. 8/3/10
Hi Neale, the tank is not newly set up or overstocked.
It had a spike in PH (it is not normally this high), ammonia and
<Ah, but why? Ammonia shouldn't really rise above zero once an
aquarium is cycled. Whilst all aquaria experience slight pH *drops*
between water changes, pH *rises* are rare, and usually imply the
addition of some sort of calcareous material such as limestone to the
tank. The pH will also go up if ammonia levels rise appreciably,
ammonia being a basic substance when dissolved in water.>
I am doing the daily water changes to try to reduce all 3, but the fish
health and appetite remain poor.
Immediately following water changes, they all seem to be much happier,
but it is if the tank is cycling as suggested and by morning they are
<Sounds as if that's exactly what's happening. Your job is
to figure out what's wrong with this tank. Let's assume
there's nothing calcareous in the tank. Let's also assume your
tap water contains no ammonia, but check that.
So we'll put down the pH rise to non-zero ammonia levels. Now, why
would a mature filter stop working properly. The four factors are
these:  the size and number of fish;  the amount and types of
food being used;  the correct functioning of the filter; and  the
health of the filter bacteria on the biological media. So, review
critically how many fish are in the tank and how much they've
grown. Reduce the amount of food you normally give, and don't feed
at all while non-zero ammonia levels persist.
Look to see that the filter is adequate to the task at hand, and
consider adding another filter. Finally, rinse off the biological
media, and if its irredeemably clogged, replace up to 50% of
I've been down this road before and I think it's a combination
of my tap water and an older aquarium.
<I don't see why.>
The ich and cloudy eyes are a new addition to this nightmare
<Both of these could be a result of stress caused by non-zero
I will try to treat both with the aquarium salt versus other
One question for you, what are your feelings about ammo-lock?
<It's a fine WATER CONDITIONER. It is not a cure-all or a magic
bullet. By all means use it on tap water that has non-zero ammonia
levels. But do not for a nanosecond imagine it will help lower ammonia
levels in your
aquarium. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ammonia produced by
Will it help keep the fish less stressed during this
I should also tell you that I am using stress zyme to try and boost the
<Largely useless. I presume you already have some biological
filtration going on, which implies happy bacteria somewhere in the
tank. These will be infinitely more useful than any bottle of anything
sold in your pet shop.>
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any
ideas)<<None further>> 7/26/10
My poor fish seem to be in great distress and I was hoping that you
could help me out.
Firstly, water in tank = 400 liters (about 105 gallons), ammonia - 0,
nitrite - 0, nitrate 5.0
<Sounds fine so far.>
Fish = golden Danios x 16 and Albino Corydoras x 4
Temperature - 25
<Bit warm for these fish; if you can nudge this down to 22-24 C,
that'll suit both species much better.>
Ordinarily my tank maintenance routine would include a weekly vacuuming
of the gravel, and a partial water change of about 100 or 150
<OK. Now, do be careful with the gravel cleaning part. A gentle stir
with a stick is usually better than anything rougher than that. If you
have live plants with roots in the gravel, you shouldn't stir the
gravel at all. If you have no rooted plants, keep the gravel real
thing, maybe 1-2 cm, so that it's easy to keep clean and anaerobic
conditions don't develop. Anaerobic conditions are fine in tanks
with rooted plants because of the way plants and anaerobic bacteria
interact, but if you have a gravel bed without plants you don't
really want anaerobic conditions; at least, not if you're not going
to maintain in as a "Deep Sand Bed" analogue.>
My current tank is a fairly new set up, it's been running for about
2 months or so, (we've just recently relocated to a new country, my
last tank was a 60 gallon with 12 golden Danios and 2 apple snails. No
problems whatsoever, tank ran smoothly for two years -not a single
death nor any sign of disease or parasites (aside from the ich they had
in the store which was easily treated in quarantine when I brought them
home), the fish, snails and tank went to a friend of mine when we left
(boy I miss it!)... but anyway, I digress'¦
My Corydoras started dying (I had 8 originally), the water seemed
alright (but I did fairly large partial water changes (daily) anyway
because I couldn't think of anything else to do.) Then I noticed
these teeeeeeeeeeny tiny little threads hanging off one of the Corys
fins, they were less than a millimeter long, only just barely
<Anchor Worms, Lernaea, are quite common among Corydoras, and I
assume that's what we're talking about here. But please confirm
with your retailer.>
When I looked closely I noticed all the Corys had them, I checked wet
web media but my search keywords turned up way too much irrelevant info
so I dumped the Cory with the most threads into a bowl and took him
back to the LFS from whence he came.
At the LFS a fin sample was taken and we had a look under the
microscope. Turns out, it's a rather heavy and unusual fluke
infestation. I was advised to do a salt dip, and given two courses
worth of fluke/worm medication (active ingredient = Praziquantel).
<Won't work on Anchor Worms.>
I bought my tank from this LFS as well, so I got as accurate a dosage
recommendation as I was going to get. Got home, dipped the remaining
Corys (I had 5 at this point) for 15 seconds (they couldn't handle
more than that),
<Really? Any kind of dip works by stressing the parasite, and if the
dip is too brief, then the parasite won't be affected. It's
best to choose something that allows you to submerge the catfish for a
reasonably prolonged period of time. Remember, the longer the
then put them back in the tank. I then crushed up the tablets and
medicated the tank. I was told that I would need to repeat the
treatment in 7 days time, but to vacuum the gravel for excess
Aside from one Cory dying the next day (his abdomen became swollen and
there seemed to be internal bleeding) everything seemed ok, the rest of
the fish carried on as usual. I tested the water daily (fearing the
medication would kill off my bio filter, and lead to ammonia spikes,
but the ammonia stayed 0 and so did the nitrite.)
There was a lot of excess medication trapped in the gravel,
<No, no, no. Medication doesn't get "trapped"
anywhere. In fact it is metabolised by the filter bacteria usually
within 24 hours.>
so I thought that if I vacuumed up small areas over a period of 3 days
I wouldn't have to shock my fish with a massive water change on the
day I re-medicated.
This is where the trouble began, the morning post vacuum/partial (about
100 litres) water change (yesterday morning to be precise), one of my
Corys was breathing rapidly at the bottom of the tank, his abdomen
looked swollen and empty (no food, he hadn't been eating), I feared
that what happened to my other Cory, was happening again, but aside
from that, the Danios were acting strange too... they were all
clustered in a group on the gravel, breathing quicker than usual.
<Sounds like stress.>
The three other Corys seemed fine. I tested the water, ammonia 0,
nitrite 0, I wish I had checked PH but I didn't. I did my usual
"I don't know what else to do panic stricken water
change", changed out 150 liters of water, added 50 ml Melafix (I
never use Melafix... clearly, I was desperate).
<Indeed. And if you have a suspected case of poisoning, adding
anything is a bad idea. The idea is to simplify water chemistry, not
complicate it. A 25-50% water change is a fine idea; adding another
medication is a bad idea.>
The fish were looking well and truly poisoned by this point, red
streaking along the fins and body, parked on the gravel, gasping. I
took out all the decorations, and phoned the LFS. They said that I had
already done a partial water change and added Melafix (which apparently
is what they would have recommended) and they didn't know what else
I could do.
<Melafix is almost completely useless.>
The water got really cloudy, not with dirt, debris or medication, but
what looked like a weird white algae bloom, there were lots of little
tufts on the glass and even a whole area of my black gravel went a
<Sounds like you have a deep gravel substrate, and in stirring it up
vigorously you disturbed the anaerobic layer within it. Understand that
anaerobic decay in gravel is inevitable once it's deeper than, say,
5 cm/2 inches. In itself it's harmless, and indeed useful, since
the bacteria that live there convert nitrate into nitrogen gas. So far,
so good. But if you stir a deep gravel bed too vigorously, you can
release reduced inorganic chemicals into the water column, as these
react with the oxygen they dramatically lower the amount of oxygen
available to your fish. Plus, there's a risk of releasing large
amounts of hydrogen sulphide all at once. Again, in small amounts this
is harmless, and tiny bubbles of the stuff percolate out of deep gravel
beds all the time. These tiny bubbles react with oxygen before they do
any harm. But if you release big lumps of hydrogen sulphide all at
once, you can poison the fish and lower the pH dramatically.>
Miraculously, none of my fish died during the night (I had nightmares
about them btw). The Danios are still huddled at the bottom, but the
Cory I was sure would die actually seems a little better, he's
rooting around for food. I dropped a Cory food tablet in (which usually
causes a feeding frenzy for the Corydoras + Danios alike) but none of
the fish seemed particularly interested. So I took it out and put in a
bit of the Danios flake food, which dropped to the bottom and the
Corydoras ate it (well, at least they ate something). Danios still
don't have any appetite (really worrisome).
<I'd not feed for the next few days. Do not feed until the fish
are behaving normally, and even then, half-rations for the first few
So now my question is, should I add a dose of Melafix again today (LFS
and should I risk treating the tank for flukes tomorrow given the
delicate condition they are in?
<Use a medication safe for use with catfish. I fear that 15-second
dips aren't going to make much difference.>
I never use aerosols or cleaning products in the room with the tank, (I
clean the place with water + cloth, and just use a vacuum cleaner for
the floor - I am actually paranoid about toxins getting into the tank).
I always rinse my hands before sticking them into the tank for
maintenance. The tank does have a hood on it.
<Yikes! I'm staggered the Danios haven't jumped out
When I took my Cory to the LFS, I brought with me a sample of my tank
water, so that they could verify that my tests were accurate.
I don't add aquarium salt, I don't use anything to bring PH up
or down. Usually, the only thing that goes into my tank is
de-chlorinated tap water.
Is it possible that the tank waters PH dropped due to the medication,
and that I brought it up too much with my water changes? Would that
cause my fish to behave this way? The tap water has a PH of about 8 or
so and my tanks current ph is 7.2 or there about. I don't know what
it was before I changed the water. I did a partial water change about 2
days before I started the first round of fluke medication.
<I'm confused by what your Corydoras are actually affected by. I
think you need to pin down precisely what the problem is. Praziquantel
is used against internal worm parasites -- primarily nematode worms --
and external monogenean flukes. Formalin may also be used to treat
external flukes. Anchor Worms need an organophosphate medication. In
any case, you do need to pin down what parasite you're dealing with
and medicate accordingly. With that said, Flubendazole is generally
considered a better choice for sensitive fish than Praziquantel, and
Flubendazole should cause your fish any problems if used correctly.
Formalin is a common medication for external flukes, but it is highly
toxic, to the aquarist as well as the fish, so should be dosed
carefully. That your retailer is recommending Melafix is alarming,
because even the manufacturers of this product wouldn't be daft
enough to suggest it as an antidote to poisoning!>
Thank you so much for your time!
<It isn't obvious if the problem here is the Praziquantel or the
gravel cleaning. On the one hand, fish can react badly to Praziquantel,
and stress symptoms can be a lot like those of poisoning: heavy
breathing, lethargy, loss of appetite. But on the other hand,
disturbing anaerobic layers of gravel can suddenly change water
quality, water chemistry, and dissolve oxygen content, and again,
symptoms here can match poisoning. If this was me, I'd do a 50%
water change while ensuring water chemistry remained constant; I'd
stop with the Praziquantel and switch to Flubendazole; I'd stop
feeding until the fish are acting normally; and finally I'd leave
the gravel alone. Perhaps in the long term I'd remove all but the
thinnest layer of gravel if the tank doesn't have rooted plants,
but if it does, I'd leave the gravel completely alone. Fast-growing
plants like Vallisneria and Amazon Swords do a great job of keeping
gravel clean and with their help the anaerobic layer works to your
favour, optimising water quality by removing nitrate.>
<Hope this helps.> <<Me too. RMF>>
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help.
Thank you for the response! :)
<Happy to help.>
Well, the guy at the LFS seemed pretty positive about his
identification (he's the owner, it's a different person that
works there that keeps recommending the Melafix),
he gave me the scientific name of the fluke but I didn't quite
catch it (I could phone in the morning and ask though).
<Please do. Makes a big difference. Anchor worms, Monogenean flukes,
gill flukes are all very different things.>
Only a tiny amount were actually visible to the naked eye, under the
microscope the infestation looked a lot worse. The visible threads
dropped off within about an hour of the medication being added (of
course, I can not say whether the microscopic ones are off or not.)
<Sounds promising though.>
I think you misread the part about the hood, I *do* have a hood on my
I don't have a planted tank, but my gravel is fairly deep and I
certainly stirred it all up a lot (much more than usual).
<If you have no plants, then you only need enough gravel to stop
light bouncing off the bottom of the tank, and to shore up any
ornaments that might move about otherwise.>
Thanks so much! I'll do a water change right away, and when the
fish are better, I'll move them to a temporary tank while I take
out the excess gravel, then do a partial water change and let the tank
settle for a day before I put them back in, sound alright?
<Yes, if I was removing gravel, I'd move the fish to a big
bucket, remove all the gravel, replace with a thin layer of carefully
cleaned gravel, and then replace all of the water in the tank. I'd
then acclimate the fish to the new conditions just as if I had bought
them from new. In other words, remove 75% of the water in the bucket,
and then over an hour add cupfuls of water every 5-10 minutes until the
bucket was filled. Then net the fish out and add them to the aquarium.
I have done this many, many times and if you're careful it's
I'll put the temp down as well :)
The Danios are still looking awful, cowering and gasping. Two have
<Danios are sensitive to low oxygen concentrations. On the other
hand, gill flukes damage the gills and will also cause them to feel
"suffocated". So as stated before, it's difficult to know
precisely what the deal is here -- gill flukes, toxic conditions caused
by anaerobic gravel, or poisoning because of the medication.>
Thanks again and I'll let you know how it goes :)
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Hello again... again!
<Hello, hello, hello.>
Okay, so I did about a 45% water change last night after I got your
first email, it was 2:00 am by the time I was done, so I figured
I'd go to bed and hope for the best. The water was crystal clear
after the change. I didn't touch the gravel.
This morning the water was cloudy again, the slightly bloated Cory
died, 2 of the Danios seem perfectly fine, the remaining 3 Corys seem
ok for the time being (I'm not putting any food into the tank so I
can't comment on appetite). The rest of the Danios seem only very
slightly improved, huddled in a group, some (as opposed to all) are
gasping desperately, some tails bending up in a bit of a U shape, the
red streaking seems to have faded slightly on some of them (could be my
imagination though). Two Danios still have clamped fins.
<Hmm. Well, may be residual from whatever happened before. Only time
will tell really. There's nothing you can "add" to the
water to magically improve this sort of shock or poisoning. Carbon will
of course remove many toxins, but it will also remove medications,
which is why you wouldn't use it in this situation. But do remember
that if you suspect poisoning, using a package of fresh carbon can be
helpful. It won't do anything for pH changes, hydrogen sulphide,
and so on. Just toxic organic chemicals -- medications, paint fumes,
I phoned the LFS man, he didn't know the exact species, but said
they are definitely monogenetic Trematodes, not flatworms.
<Right; see previous messages about which medications to
The "medicine" that I vacuumed out of the gravel is actually
just some form of binding agent they put in the tablets (or something
to that effect.)
<Can't imagine such binding agents would cause any problems, or
at least ones where siphoning would be the solution.>
He said to hold off on the fluke meds for now (he didn't think the
medication was the problem) and to leave the tank alone for today, then
see how the fish are doing tomorrow, and if they don't seem much
improved, to do another water change. He seems to think the tank is
contaminated, but neither of us knows how, or what with.
<If in doubt, strip the tank, replace all the water, add new gravel.
Alternatively keep an open mind for things like non-safe ornaments,
rocks, or pieces of metal, especially copper, that might have got into
My water change buckets are all fish only and kept with my other tank
bits and bobs (siphon, net, pincers, etc.) next to my tank.
I feel like I'm running out of time to save these fish and I just
don't know what to do. It's truly horrible watching them all
suffer like this'¦ Also, I want to get to the root of the
problem because I don't dare get new fish until I find out
what's gone wrong here.
Is there something wrong with my mechanical filtration?
<Shouldn't make much of a difference. Silt particles don't
kill fish. Go visit any river on Earth, and chances are the water will
be FAR murkier than anything in your aquarium.>
Did I not set it up correctly? The tank has two built in wet/dry type
filters, with a sprinkle bar. I run filter floss in one, and ceramic
noodles in the other. Everything seems to be running alright, I've
rinsed the floss out (in aquarium water, when I do a partial water
change) on one or two occasions but there just isn't much stuff in
there to rinse out :/ If there was something wrong with my mechanical
filtration, would it cause the symptoms that I'm seeing in my fish?
(...grasping at straws now.)
<Indeed'¦ I don't think any of this is the
I have traces of copper in my water (copper pipes I guess). I was told
to let the tap water run for a bit before filling the water change
<Yes, this will rinse out the worse of the copper in your pipes, but
any half-decent water conditioner should neutralise copper anyway. So
again, should not be an issue.>
I've been doing that (was doing it anyway to get the temperature
right.) I don't know exactly how much copper is in the tank water
but I was told that it's very little (when I took my Cory and water
to the LFS). I don't have a copper test kit, could this be the
problem? Should I get a test kit?
At what point should I consider euthanizing my fish? They are certainly
stressed out, but are they in pain?
<I'd give it a couple days before doing anything drastic. Maybe
replace 25% of the water each day as well, just to further dilute
whatever problem there might be. If you're not medicating, then add
carbon the filter, or if you can, a high-end "super carbon"
of the sort used in marine aquaria, e.g., Polyfilter.>
thanks again for your time
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Thanks again for your reply, here's a quick update. :)
I did add some carbon to the filter (last night, after the water
change), the LFS man also recommended it today when I called him,
(forgot to mention it, sorry!) I will take the carbon out when I do the
next fluke treatment.
Anyhoo, one of the Danios (with the really badly clamped fins) died,
however, quite a few of the other Danios are a perking up. They are not
normal by any stretch of the imagination, but they do look visibly
better. A few are still gasping, swollen gills, streaked with red at
the base of their fins and mouths, parked on the gravel doing scorpion
impressions (best way I can describe it). The 3 remaining Corys still
seem ok, no gasping, no bloating, no red streaks, no red gills.
Another symptom to add to the list is very very very thin, long,
stringy white poo... like a sausage skin without the filling. This is
from the Danios (I don't think I've ever seen the Corys
<Could be a reaction to the medications, especially if the
medications shifted some worms inside the fish, but really, who
As for possible dÃ©cor disasters... I have black gravel (man
made stuff, don't know what it is exactly except that it was
stupidly expensive). Some of it is rust coloured. Don't know if
it's important but I'll mention it anyway. Bought it brand new
with the tank.
<I tend to favour natural gravel as the safest, but anything sold as
aquarium safe shouldn't be toxic. Still, I will mention Corydoras
are happiest with _smooth_ silica sand as sold in garden centres. Costs
very little, and though it's a bit pale initially it darkens over
time and the Corydoras go bananas burrowing into it. A thin layer is
perfectly safe, and ideal for use in tanks with fake plants.>
One beautiful hollow tree aquarium ornament, I had one just like it in
my old tank, but after two years the paint had all but worn off, so I
purchased a new one (months ago) to use in the new tank (figured
I'd get it ready before the move). I gave it a coat of polyurethane
varnish to stop the paint coming off (I've read it's safe for
aquarium use), and it was at least three months after I varnished it
before I put it in the tank, up until then it had been in it's
cardboard box. It's been in the new tank ever since I first set it
<Again, should be safe.>
Aquarium plants with metal wire in the plastic stems. I put these in
the tank on Friday to see how they would look, and took them out on
Saturday when things went bad. To be honest, I didn't even realize
they had metal in them (they are made for aquariums), but I did notice
some rusting when I gave them a closer inspection. Surely they
couldn't have poisoned the tank in such a short time period???
<Seems unlikely, but if they're rusting, yes, I'd chuck
'em out. All-plastic aquarium plants are the best if you're not
going to use live plants.>
Thanks again for all your help!! :)
<Glad to have been of help. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Hello Neale ^_^
Well, the Danios seem to be improving, some of them really have made a
remarkable turnaround :)
Most of the streaking seems to be gone now, and most seem to be a bit
calmer. A large group of them are still in their usual spot on the
bottom, but they look a little less awful.... mostly'¦
The Corys are not as active as usual, they've spent pretty much the
entire day in one spot (near the Danios). Now and then one will poke
around the tank a bit and then go back to the same spot. No signs of
distress or bloating.
I've removed the carbon and given the tank it's second (and
final) round of fluke meds. The medication does not seem to be
bothering anyone, so yay to that. I'm supposed to do a partial
water change in two days, according to the instructions ...*sweat forms
on brow*... Do you think I should run carbon for a bit after I do the
<No need to use carbon until you've finished the course of
Is it ok to use the carbon that I've just taken out or should I get
<Best to discard "used" carbon. It needs to be replaced
every couple of weeks anyway, if you choose to use it.>
As for the Corydoras sand... I was toying with the idea (before
disaster struck) of having a sandy section in the tank for them. Like a
sand pit, perhaps partially outlining it with small pebbles, or plants
I have loads of tank floor space to play around with and I thought it
would look cute. I would much rather go for a dark coloured sand, but I
read somewhere that Corys need white sand. Is that true? Why would the
colour make a difference to them?
<Dark sand, such as Tahitian Moon Sand, tends to be a glass
byproduct or volcanic sand. These are abrasive and damage the
Corydoras. Remember, these catfish push the stuff through their mouths
and gills. Unless the manufacturer explicitly states a dark sand is
safe for catfish and burrowers, avoid it. I personally wouldn't
rely on advice from retailers if the sand is unmarked as safe for
burrowers. At least some retailers are ignorant of this issue, and a
few doubtless say anything to make a sale. Smooth silica sand is
invariably the best and safest choice.>
Concerning live plants. I've always kept apple snails in my
freshwater setups (they are beautiful), some of them would eat plants
that I put into the tanks and some of them wouldn't.
Since I'm pretty rubbish when it comes to identifying one apple
snail species from another (and believe me, I've spent many long
hours staring at pictures on applesnail.net trying to spot the
difference), I tend to default to plastic or silk plants. I don't
have any snails in my current set up, so if you have any hardy plant
<Oh, many. Good minimal effort plants include Cryptocoryne wendtii,
Vallisneria spiralis, Java fern, Java moss and Anubias barteri. All
these will adapt to a range of conditions and aren't fussy about
light or CO2. If you have strong lighting, 2 watts per gallon or more,
then Hygrophila polysperma is another excellent choice though it needs
pruning to stay nice and bushy. Floating plants are a mixed bag because
some are badly effected by condensation under the hood. Indian Fern and
Amazon Frogbit are two easy species.>
I have 5 fluorescent light bulbs (tubes... whatever :p). They say on
their boxes that they support plant life, but I don't have much
experience in the aquatic plant department. So please take into account
that my lighting may be sub par. ^^;; I would love to have some non
stagnating live plants in the tank! Are the plants you mentioned in
your earlier email (Vallisneria and Amazon Swords) easy to take care
<Amazon Swords can be easy to maintain, but they need a deep
substrate, monthly fertiliser pellets pushed into their roots, and
strong lighting. I've never had much success with them because my
catfish always eat them, but that aside, the common species Echinodorus
bleheri is generally not difficult to keep.>
Since I still don't really know what went wrong, would you suggest
I strip the tank and start over once the fish complete their fluke
<If you decide to switch to a planted tank, then you'll probably
need to do something the substrate. That being the case, breaking down
the tank and rebuilding it wouldn't be a bad idea. Keep the filter
running by sticking it in a bucket of water, and you can leave the fish
in there too. That way, there's no rush and you can spend a few
hours getting the substrate, rocks, bogwood and plants just
I can keep the fish in a quarantine tank in the meantime. By strip of
course, I mean new filter media, cleaning all the dÃ©cor,
replacing the substrate (or boiling my current gravel -- would take a
while :p). completely draining the tank, and giving it a thorough
clean. It would mean cycling the tank all over again too'¦
<No, keep the filter running. Admittedly, easier if you have
canister filters or box filters; undergravel and hang-on-the-back
filters are a bit more awkward in this regard.>
Or should I just carry on with the usual tank maintenance, and hope for
<Up to you. Certainly leave the tank as it is for a few weeks, and
don't change anything until you're happy all the fish are
healthy again. But after than, do what you wish.>
You see, if my fish die in the near future, I won't know whether
it's due to flukes, stress, poisoning, a combination of the
aforementioned things, or something else all together. If you were in
my situation, what would you do?
Thank you so much for your time, I can't tell you how much I
appreciate your advice, and that you take the time to help people.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Hello Neale/Bob :)
I'm afraid that I'm still having fish trouble, and I
still can not pinpoint what the problem is.
<Mmm, something is/was toxic... forestalling cycling
establishment if memory serves>
The good news is that my bio filter seems to have stabilized,
ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5.0
The fish are all behaving normally now, but are dying slowly
anyway. Every other day I find a dead Danio. I am now down to
less than ten Danios, and only two Corydoras.
<Can we, should we "start anew" and chat re whatever
may be a/the root cause here? Do you have any geodes, seashells
or such in your/this system?
Is there possibly a source of ammonia (e.g. a kitty litter box
nearby?). Do you know of the product PolyFilter? It has a
propensity for changing colours depending on what's in your
I have a cycled quarantine tank (about 150 liters), standing by,
as I obviously would like to replace the fish that have died, but
I'm too scared to purchase any new fish as I don't know
exactly why my current fish are dying.
<Me neither... but there is a cause>
Since I had a heavy fluke infestation (as diagnosed by LFS guy
with microscope), I'm worried that parasites might still be a
I'm attaching a photo of my latest deceased Danio, you can
just about make out some white... stuff... along it's side.
It was very difficult to photograph, and I would like to know
whether you think it may be a parasite,
or something else.
Thanks for your time! :)
<... Please read here re treatment:
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Hi Bob :)
Thank you so much for taking the time to puzzle this out with
Ok, starting again.
Tank = 400 liters,
ammonia - 0
nitrite - 0
temperature - 23Â°/ 24Â°
filter #1 - Eheim canister filter
filter #2 - filter that came with the tank, contains ceramic
Fish = 8 golden Danios - 7 which appear normal and healthy, one
seems to be dying, lays on bottom, curved spine, no appetite,
breathing seems a bit labored but not gasping desperately.
Fish cont. = 2 albino Corydoras, seem healthy and active.
DÃ©cor = 2 x live java ferns (recently added), several
plastic aquarium plants,
<Do please check these... some that show up are ornamental for
non-aquarium purposes... Have covered metal stems!>
one ceramic aquarium log ornament, about 4/5 cm black aquarium
I have no other pets, I do not smoke, do not use detergents in
the room the fish tank is in, do not use air fresheners. I always
rinse my hands and arms before and after doing anything in my
tank (I would get gloves but haven't found any that go up to
my shoulders :p). I don't know for sure _if_ my fish _were_
poisoned, but the symptoms seemed to point in that direction.
Here's a quick sum-up of everything that went wrong... in
First, my Corydoras started dying off, rather suddenly, one at a
time. On close inspection I noticed some organisms hanging off
their fins (at this point the Danios seemed in perfect health). I
took one of my Corydoras to
the LFS, a fin sample was taken and I was told that I had the
worst fluke infestation the guy had ever seen. I was told they
were monogenetic Trematodes. I was given two doses of
Praziquantel, 40 tablets, 20 to be crushed up and used at a
I gave the tank it's first dose of Praziquantel, all fish
seemed fine except that one of the Corydoras (who had been taken
to the LFS) bloated up and died. Kept an eye on the ammonia and
nitrites, fearing the bio filter would crash due to the
medication, ammonia and nitrite remained 0.
<Prazi shouldn't do this>
Four days after dosing the tank I did a small water change (fish
were behaving normally before this). The next morning the Danios
were behaving abnormally, grouped on the bottom looking skittish.
Did a larger water
change and added Melafix
<Worse than worthless... please see WWM re>
(I guess I thought it would help them heal, prevent fungus post
fluke damage, I didn't think it would harm them).
<This herbal... can disrupt nitrification and worse>
The fish (Danios, not the Corys) became severely stressed after
that, red streaking appeared, and they lay on the gravel gasping.
The LFS guy said they sounded like they had been poisoned, but I
didn't know what could have poisoned them.
I decided to write to WetWeb media, hoping that I could figure
out what was going on. Neale suggested that perhaps I disturbed
the gravel too much, releasing toxins into the water.
I vacuum the gravel pretty regularly without such catastrophic
results but I had hoped this was the source of the
toxins because at least that way I would have a reason for why
this was happening.
The Danios were in severe stress for several days, then slowly
started to improve and behave normally (small groups at a time).
I gave the tank it's second dose of Praziquantel a day later
than I was supposed to. Kept an eye on the ammonia + nitrite,
both were 0 until one day I got ammonia readings.
There were no dead fish in the tank, and I had not been feeding
so I could only assume that the ammonia spike was due to my bio
filter crashing... exact cause unknown.
Right now, my filter seems stable, but my fish have been dying
anyway. I don't know what their cause of death is, flukes,
toxins, stress, disease?
<Me neither... but microscopic analysis can prove/disprove the
presence of flatworms>
I've ordered some poly filter, do you think it'll help
<It will... in terms of water quality and possibly revealing
a/the source of trouble here... e.g. turns colours dependent of
the presence of materials of note... blue for copper, reddish for
<Steady on. BobF>
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Hi again Bob :)
The sick Danio died, but I'm happy to say that the rest
really do look like they have made a 100% recovery.
I'm also happy to say that I miscounted, I have 8 surviving
Danios zooming around the tank like little torpedoes.
I scraped both sides of the dead Danio, and took a gill tissue
sample. I checked it out under my microscope and didn't find
anything out of the ordinary. If there were flukes, they would
have come off with the scales right?
I scraped a bit of skin off too... It felt pretty horrible
cutting up my pet.
<Only need gentle, at slide angle, pressure to remove slime...
not scales et al... Unless the specimen is dead; in which case
I'd cut a piece of the gill/branchiostegal out/off and
examine that as well (perhaps under a slide cover and a drop of
Ammonia and nitrite are still a beautiful zero and I've
resumed regular feeding habits.
I'm going to give the tank some time, see how things go...
add the poly filter when it arrives and see what happens :)
Thanks for your patience and advice!
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob,
any ideas) 8/12/10
Hi again Bob/Neale :)
My poly-filter arrived this morning :) The only colour appearing
so far is a very light brown.
I was thinking about getting some new fish this weekend, since
they have to go into quarantine for at least a month anyway,
it'll give me time to monitor the stability of the main
<Mmm, I'd likely wait on this... just in case>
My quarantine tank is a aqua one, AR-850, 165 liters (43 gallons,
US), cycled and has a heater. It's also decorated in a style
similar to my main tank (it helps to have a pretty quarantine,
that way I feel less tempted to move the fish before their qt
time is up :p). The tanks only permanent resident is a ceramic
frog, that I "feed" to keep the filter bacteria
<I see... well, good-sized...>
Now what I wanted to know is, do you think it'd be okay to
put 20 golden Danios into my quarantine tank?
<If it's cycled, should be fine>
I don't usually get more than 12 Danios at a time, but since
I lost so many fish, I'd rather not beat around the bush
anymore than what I have to. For my final stocking numbers in the
main tank I'd like to have 30 golden Danios, + 8 or 10
My main tanks capacity is 515 liters, but with the gravel and
dÃ©cor I estimate the actual amount of water to be
about 400 liters.
If everything goes well with the new Danios, after their
quarantine period is up, and once they've settled into the
main tank without problems, I was thinking about getting 8
Corydoras... but I'm a little concerned since the last batch
had flukes (and possibly some sort of internal parasite). What
really worries me is that I can't tell that something is
wrong with Corydoras until it is too late...
<Could be treated prophylactically>
Should I blast any future Corydoras with anti parasite/worm/fluke
meds as soon as I get them home into quarantine?
<Mmm, don't like the term "blast", but dosing
would be fine>
What can I do (besides checking water quality) to ensure the
health of future Corydoras?
<Observing them at your dealers mostly>
Or perhaps, you'll suggest some other sort of bottom dwelling
fish that may be more suitable for me?
<Archived... on WWM>
Your site really is amazing, thanks for all the info!
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Hi Bob :)
Thanks again for your response! :)
Checked the poly-filter today and it has turned a light blue,
It's in my tap water (copper pipes, perhaps), and I guess my
dechlorinator doesn't remove it (it says it removes chlorine
+ chloramines + metals (unspecified) )
I'm going to hold off getting fish for a while longer (taking
your advice), and I think it'd be a good idea to get some
poly-filter for the quarantine tank too.
Also, I'm not convinced my fluke problem is solved. I noticed
two specs on one of my Corydoras tail fin, which may or may not
be flukes / fluke activity (it's definitely not ich)... Would
it hurt my fish to do a Prazi
treatment again? Are flukes really difficult to get rid of
<No and not generally>
I do apologize for constantly bothering you. It's just
different when you keep fish... a dog or a cat you can take to
the vet when things don't seem normal, but it's
challenging when you keep aquatic pets and things go wrong that
are not in the area of your personal past experience. There are
numerous fish forums out there on the web, but it's difficult
sometimes to judge good advice from bad.
Thanks! Have a lovely weekend!
<And you. B>
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Hi Bob! :)
Just wanted to report that all is well here :) Thank you for your
time and advice (a special thank you for recommending the
<Ah, yes... a "shot" in the not so dark... Part of
I've decided not to do another Prazi treatment, since the
medication says to "use caution" if the tank contains
snails or Corydoras :/ All the fish seem so happy and normal at
the moment that I'd hate to throw a spanner in the works
I have one final question if you don't mind... I've been
looking into mail ordering fish (over night delivery), and have
been reading through your acclimation FAQs/articles. Ordinarily
I'd just drip acclimate new fish, but I get the impression it
would be a bad idea if the fish were in their bags for a long
<The accumulated metabolites and CO2 can be problematical,
I've read some scary stuff about PH dropping as soon as the
bag is opened...
<Actually, rising... with disastrous concurrent change in
ionization state of ammonia>
So what would be the best way to acclimate fish that have been in
their shipping water for an extended period of time? Float, and
then net into the quarantine tank, without mixing water? Or drip
<Please read here... as per marine... the second article in
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob,
any ideas) 8/26/10
Hi Bob! :)
I've been restraining myself from contacting you these past
three days but I can't hold out any longer, sorry!
After I last wrote to you, I went to a different (closer) LFS to
purchase a copper test kit (since the poly filter was turning
blue, as was the poly in the quarantine tank). The LFS guy asked
me if I was using the warm water tap, and I told him I was. He
said that the warm tap water is the source of my copper and that
I should only use cold water, and to use boiling water to get the
I don't know if it's due to my using the warm tap water
in the past, not using enough dechlorinater or what, but I've
killed off my bio-filter at some point, in both tanks. Both tanks
have nitrite spikes, the main tank is between 0.50-1.0 ppm, and
the quarantine tank is between 1.0 - 2.0 ppm.
There are no fish in the quarantine tank, just a decomposing
Ammonia and Nitrate are zero in both tanks.
I've noticed bacteria blooms in both tanks post water change.
Although, the blooms were a lot worse when I was using the warm
tap water. The water in the quarantine tank is crystal clear at
the moment (I only do a weekly water change on it), but my main
tank has a bit of a soft focus look to it, as I have been doing
partial water changes (and gravel vacuuming) daily since
detecting the nitrite. The water is very clear immediately post
water change, but then a little while later it gets that hazy
look... not too bad, but it's noticeable. The water changes
don't drop the nitrite reading, but it seems to stop the
nitrite from rising.
<... do you drink this water?>
I've been reading through your nitrite FAQs and I'm
confused, some say to do water changes, and others say to leave
it alone and wait for the cycle to establish itself. A lot of the
FAQs recommend bio-spira, but that is not available to me. The
only bacteria "helper" I can purchase here is Nutrafin
Cycle, which I've heard can actually delay the cycle.
<Perhaps... there are other products>
I've read that salt can help fish cope with nitrite, but my
fish (Danios, Corydoras) are not salt tolerant at all, from what
I've read. I've read that Corydoras could develop dropsy
The fish seem ok at the moment.
So do I feed the fish every other day, do a weekly water change
and hope for the best? Or do I continue to change the water
(about 100 liters) daily?
Should I add salt?
<Just feed sparingly... time going by>
Hope you have a great weekend!
Re: Fish seem poisoned, please help. (Bob, any ideas)
Wow, that was fast! :)
Ok... so I don't need to do the daily water changes? How high
would the nitrite have to go before I panic?
<... more than 1.0 ppm with a concurrent high pH... Do you
know how to search WWM?>
I'm hoping, that since it is a large tank, with few fish, the
nitrite won't spike too badly.
PS: Good thing I didn't get those 20 Danios!!! :)
<Ah yes. BobF>
Goldfish, tiny unfiltered tank, the usual story...
I have a comet goldfish that is about 2.5 inches long.
<Will get much bigger than that, if kept properly. Comets are really
pond fish, and even in an aquarium should top 6 inches/15 cm within a
couple of years, and potentially reach 8 inches/20 cm or more.>
I have him alone in a 10 gallon tank with no filter
<Not good enough; this is precisely why he's sick.>
but I do change 50% of his water 1-3 times a week and test it for
nitrates and ammonia regularly.
<And? What are the results from these tests? Remember, anything
above 0 nitrite and 0 ammonia will stress him. Nitrate is largely
He is about 1.5 years old and started having problems when we upgraded
to a bigger tank for him and his buddies about 2 months ago.
<The problems weren't caused by the bigger tank, that's for
It all started with Pop Eye, I learned I was over feeding
<Overfeeding doesn't cause the damage, that's a myth.
Overfeeding swamps the filter with nitrogen, and water quality
plummets. In a reasonably large, adequately filtered aquarium
overfeeding is unlikely to cause problems because the filter should be
able to handle a little extra food.
But if someone keeps a fish in a tank that's too small and
doesn't have a filter, then even with normal rations there'll
be ammonia in the water, and if you overfeed, that ammonia level
quickly reaches dangerous levels.>
and secluded him to this 10 gallon tank around his 2nd week of having
it. I treated with Maracyn 2 and he seemed to get better,
<Temporary, at best. Environmental problems aren't cured with
drugs any more than fat people lose weight by switching to Diet
he went back in the community tank. He got Pop Eye again so I
sequestered him again and treated him then he seemed better so back in
the tank he went.
Then a week later I noticed his fins were all clamped together.
<Spotting the pattern yet...?>
Treated him for a week with Maracyn, seemed better, all but the top fin
were totally open, back in the tank he goes. Two weeks later I see this
weird round white circle on his side and he looks like he is getting
slimy stuff on his side.
Now I decided to just keep him in the 10 gallon tank for a few months
until he is totally healthy so I can stop setting up and taking apart a
tank. I treat him with Maracyn, he gets better and his top fin opens up
beautifully at the exact same time as his back fin develops tail
<It's environmental; fish his living conditions, then treat the
symptoms, and he'll stay healthy.>
At this point I really don't want to spend any more money
so I let it go for 2 days then I just cave and start treating him with
Maracyn again. So now his tail is very short , about .75 inch and the
end has grown dark brown, I've been treating him for 3 days,
tonight he gets
his 4th dose.
I'm leaving to go out of town for a week in 4 days and I really
don't know what else I can do to get him healthy.
<Read what these fish need, and then keep them properly. You
can't keep Goldfish in small, unfiltered bowls and tanks. Never
could. Just because you see them in bowls on TV doesn't mean that
works, any more than Superman can fly just because he does in the
movies. Goldfish are animals and animals have requirements.>
I do use aquarium salt, 1tbs per 5 gal
and I do 5 gal water changes so I don't mess up the levels.
<The levels were messed up a long time ago! Try and understand what
you're doing, rather than flailing about. Remember the nitrogen
cycle? You presumably learned about in school, in biology class.
Certainly taught to everyone here in England. Anyway, nitrogenous
wastes come out of the fish, and have to be processed. If they're
not, the ammonia sits in the water, causing all sorts of harm. Think
about how you manage that ammonia -- FILTRATION!>
I also feed him a little once a day but will tell the person taking
care of him to only feed him every other day to keep waste down. Aside
from doing a water change right before I leave is there anything else I
can do? Is the tips of his tail getting darker a good or bad thing?
<Likely ammonia burns, and definitely not good.>
Is there hope or am I fighting a loosing battle?
<If it is a losing battle, it is so because you chose not to keep
this fish properly. Remember how Hitler lost the Second World War
because he decided to invade Russia? Lack of understanding and planning
cost him dearly.
That's where we are here. Any aquarium book would have told you
Goldfish need large tanks and they need filters.>
Re: Goldfish, tiny unfiltered tank, the usual story...
When I test his water the levels all come back at 0.
<What levels? The pH should be between 7 and 8, not zero.>
The main fish tank (20 gal with 5 other goldfish)
has filter and the water tests fine, I have taken it to pet shops and
tested it myself.
<Might well be fine while they're small, but honestly, I
can't believe it's "fine" if these are big fish. Been
at this game for far too many years...>
I'm just hesitant to pick up a filter for the 10 gallon tank he is
because it should be temporary.
<A bad plan.>
Ideally he will go back into the main tank. I was told that I could
avoid getting a filter as long as I do partial water changes every
couple of days.
<Well, perhaps, for a while. But clearly he's ill, so this
obviously isn't working, is it? What more can I say...>
I have actually taken samples of his water into pet shops and been told
that the ammonia and nitrite are at 0. At this point is it better to
put him in the main tank with the filter or keep him separate and do
the regular partial water changes?
<It's the lesser of two evils, yes.>
Also is 10 gallons really to small of a hospital tank for a 2.5 inch
<Yes. Because people do this is precisely why most Goldfish die
within a year of purchase. I don't have stock in companies that
make aquaria! I'm telling you the truth, as opposed to what you
want to hear.>
The idea is to eventually move them all to a 125 gallon tank by the end
of the year.
<Now that's more like it! But even a 55 gallon tank would be
fine for 4-5 fancy goldfish.>
Just a side note, these are my boyfriends fish and he had no idea what
they needed or how big they would get when he got them a year ago.
<Hence the need to read a book before doing anything else.>
It wasn't till he moved in and I talked him into upgrading the tank
because they looked crowded and the subsequent health problems occurred
that I read up on it and realized what he had gotten us into!
<My pleasure. Cheers, Neale.>
How to treat undiagnosable illness (RMF, any other
I have a 55g FW community tank. From time to time, 1 or 2 of my
critters will just up and die for no apparent reason. If it's more
than one, they're always the same species.
<Interesting, though perhaps a clue that different species are more
sensitive to different stresses, so more or less likely to sicken and
The only symptom is that for 2-4 days before they die, they begin to
hide out more and eat less. Then one day I just find them dead.
This has happened on and off for, well, ever since I've had this
tank, about 2.5 years. The timing seems totally random, e.g. it
doesn't happen after I bring home new fish or anything like that.
I'll just lose a fish or two every 4-6 months. I have never seen
any other disease symptoms - gills look normal, eyes look normal, no
lesions/spots/etc, no change in color, no fin loss, no listing or
difficulty swimming, no other behavioral changes other than hiding and
(often) not coming out to feed.
<Does seem to suggest an environmental and/or stocking problem. In
other words, the fish grow, a tipping point is crossed, some fish die,
the tank "relaxes" as the tipping point is reversed, the fish
grow some more... and so on.>
I dose the tank with Melafix when I see this start to happen, which may
help stop whatever it is from spreading, but certainly never
<Indeed. I'm not a huge fan of this product. It may help against
mild external infections, but against serious external infections or
any type of internal infection it is essentially useless.>
I just found one of my pearl gouramis dead this morning after seeing
this pattern for a few days. The other one is also starting to hide
I know you'll ask about maintenance, so here goes. I do 25% water
changes usually every week, sometimes I miss a week.
<Fine; so do I!>
Filter cleaning every 2 weeks without fail.
<May be overkill. Are we talking about external canister or
hang-on-the-back filters? These are best left alone as much as
possible, and when they're cleaned, it should be very gingerly.
Honestly, I clean my external canister filters every 3-4 months. Others
would argue it's better to clean them a bit more often, maybe 6-8
week intervals. But still, the idea is leave the bacteria alone as much
Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate always read 0.
I don't gravel-vac very often, maybe every 2-3 months-the tank is
very densely planted and I can't really get deep into the gravel
anyway-but when I do vacuum, I'm not picking up sludge or
<There are actually good reasons to leave the gravel alone and not
stir it at all, ever! If you have plants, the roots are already
carrying oxygen down into the sediment, so the gravel is being kept
"clean" through microbial processes. Stirring gravel can
I have a UV sterilizer. I'm fanatically careful about not getting
traces of soap in the tank. No plastic decorations or anything like
that. I do ~not~ use carbon due to impact on plant nutrients.
Don't think I'm anywhere near overstocked. I have 2 pearl
gouramis (well, 1 now), 5 ghost glass catfish, 2 flag fish, 1 Ancistrus
(not full grown), 4 threadfin rainbow, 6 Endler's. I feed them
Spectrum, moderately, and skip feeding 2x week. Occasionally I feed
some frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp but not regularly.
KH is about 3.4 (60 mg/L), GH 4.5 (80 mg/L). CO2 injection. pH is 6.9.
I leave the CO2 running at night and run a couple of airstones to blow
off excess CO2, so pH is pretty stable - it goes up just a hair at
night, but definitely never more than 7.0.
<I wonder if that's true. I'm hugely suspicious of pH
fluctuations in soft water aquaria. I always argue that people keeping
fish purely for fun aim for moderately hard, slightly basic conditions.
Soft water fish won't mind, and nor will plants, but the additional
carbonate hardness will ensure a nice, stable pH. Something like 10
degrees dH, 4-5 degrees KH, and pH 7.5 is acceptable for a very broad
range of community fish. Changes in pH can cause severe stress on fish,
and the last time I experienced my own mass mortality of aquarium fish,
it was Vallisneria softening the water that seemed to cause the pH
drop. It's also important to remember filter bacteria cannot abide
acidic water, and their preferred pH is 7.5 to 8.5.
Below pH 6 they essentially stop working altogether. So if you have a
sudden, perhaps overnight, pH drop, you have a double whammy: acidosis
affecting the fish, plus filter bacteria that are becoming
So (finally, thanks for reading this far!) I have 3 questions:
1. Does my maintenance seem reasonable given my stocking? 25% change,
say 3 weeks a month b/c I might miss a week.
<Yes, seems fine.>
2. Is the level of die-off I'm describing considered
"normal"-losing a fish or two every 4-6 months, with no
qualifiable disease symptoms?
<Is not normal, unless the fish are fairly old. If you have a tank
of 5-year-old Neons, then yes, they're likely geriatric and will be
shuffling off their mortal coils. But if the fish are just a year or
two old, then no, it's not normal.>
3. When I start to see this malaise, what should I do? I could
quarantine, but unless I'm going to apply some sort of medication,
I don't see the need-the malaise never seems to spread very far,
usually it's just 1-2 fish in the same species. And if I should and
medicate - what should I treat with?
<I do not think this is bacterial or viral, so medication isn't
the issue here.>
Once I start to see these symptoms, the outcome is always death, so
maybe I should just quarantine and try some sort of very broad-spectrum
antibiotic - the 'nuclear option' as they say? Kanamycin
Thanks so much for any advice you can offer!
<Cheers, Neale.><<I'd like a list of what has died...
in what order, over time. There may well be "something"
toxic, anomalous in this system (e.g. a geode or such) or outside...
for instance a kitty litter box, or use of an aerosol in the vicinity.
A unit of PolyFilter might reveal (by colour change) the nature of this
possible poisoning. BobF>>
Re: How to treat undiagnosable illness
I should also add that my tap water quality is very good. I've
looked at the district water quality reports. Very low metals, low
<Don't think this is the issue here. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: More: re: How to treat undiagnosable illness (RMF, any
other ideas?) 5/19/10
Geode... interesting. I don't have a geode but I do have a
fist-size rock is exposing what looks like quartz on one face --
<Ahh! A too-likely culprit>
at least I assume it's quartz because I can't imagine what else
it could be. What is the problem with geodes? Potentially same problem
<Yes. Quartz (mainly silicon and oxygen) itself is generally not
harmful, very water soluble period, but there are many impurities
associated with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fused_quartz
There are labs that can/will test such rock/s... For now, I would
definitely remove it from your system>
Litter box is in the other room. We use clay litter with no
No aerosols or cleaning products used in the vicinity. But I will
follow your advice on the Polyfilter.
<Please do... will send along to Neale. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: More: re: How to treat undiagnosable illness (RMF, any
other ideas?) 5/19/10
Thanks for the detailed response. I don't think the nightly pH
swing is significant, and it's up not down. The only significant pH
fluctuations I've ever had were when I failed to notice my CO2
running out and ended up with an empty canister and off-the-charts high
pH. I've had 2 of those events -- but neither one was even remotely
associated with any illness or die-off.
<I see. Well, all I can say is that I've seen these events in
both ponds and aquaria, so they're worth considering.>
Very interesting though that higher pH is tolerated by soft-water fish,
I've heard that before but never quite absorbed it. And that bit
about Val.s softening the water. I learn something new every time I
chat with you folks!
<Biogenic decalcification; Vallisneria, Elodea, and various other
plants that prefer/require hard water use dissolved carbonate and
bicarbonate as their carbon source alongside/instead of dissolved CO2.
If you choose such plants and grow them in water with a high carbonate
hardness, adding CO2 fertilisation is redundant.>
I am curious though about the recommendation to do less frequent filter
cleanouts. It's an external canister. I've always been told
that every 2 weeks is a good schedule to avoid excess nitrate
<Ah yes, the "nitrate factory" idea. Not really an issue
in freshwater tanks, especially those with good plant growth. Every
situation is different of course, but provide water quality is good and
water turnover remains optimal, I'd suggest leaving the filter for
somewhat longer periods than 2 weeks between cleaning. A month is more
than adequate, and as I say, I do mine even less often.>
I do wash out (using tank water of course) a fair amount of
'dirt' from the fine sponge when I clean every couple of
weeks... most of that is likely decaying plant matter I suppose...
<Yes, and contains minimal nitrogen, being mostly cellulose.>
but I have no problem taking your advice as license to be a bit lazier
about filter cleaning. ;)
FLOWERHORN CHLORINE BURN - 4/19/10
I have a king kamfa 3.5" and I changed 70% water the other day,
later I reailised that there was some white calcification on my
aquarium glass I didn't really bother thinking it will settle down
on its own but it did not, 2 days later I checked my water tank and it
was recently cleaned and a lot of chlorine was put in to that, my fish
lost all its colour on 2nd day and became completely white, changed
100% water made sure it was chlorine free, and its been 3 weeks that
the colour has not come back and flowerline on my fish has completely
disappeared and it has started getting some black patches on its fin
and body which is unusual. can some one help me with this please.
<Well, provided you're offering good conditions and a healthy
diet, this fish should recover by itself. Flowerhorn cichlids need
hard, alkaline water with zero ammonia and zero nitrite. Middling water
temperature and lots of oxygen are important. Do read here:
I assume you've done weekly water changes, any traces of chlorine
are long gone now. Since the fish hasn't diet yet, it presumably
wasn't exposed to lethal amounts of chlorine. But do make sure you
didn't kill the filter bacteria. A common problem when "deep
cleaning" aquaria is to worry about unimportant things, like lime
scale, while creating serious trouble by killing off the filter
bacteria. Check ammonia and nitrite levels are zero.
If ammonia and nitrite are zero, the pH is around 7.5, the hardness
above 10 degrees dH, and the temperature around 25-28 degrees C, this
fish should recover on its own. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FLOWERHORN CHLORINE BURN
Thanks for the reply, how do I regenerate the filter bacteria, coz when
I did 100% water change I washed the entire aquarium accessories,
including filter media, that's why I guess my fish has now got
black patches on its fin,
<Yes, very likely. Ammonia burns from non-zero ammonia levels can,
will discolour fish.>
I tried giving him a salt bath, but it still has black patches on its
lips forehead and fins. please help
<Your tank is essentially cycling again. This will take 4-6 weeks to
put right. Cut down on the food by 50-75%, and do 20-30% water changes
every 1-2 days. If you find ammonia above 0.5 mg/l, or ammonia above
1.0 mg/l, do a 50% water changes. Treat live biological media like a
baby! Rinse in aquarium water if it needs cleaning. Otherwise NEVER,
EVER wash under a hot tap, use cleaning fluids, or allow to dry
<Good luck, Neale.>
Freshwater tanks, possibly poisoned 4/13/10
Hi all. Hope you can give me the best direction on what to do with my
two freshwater tanks. One is a 20 gallon tank that houses about a dozen
male Platies and the other a 40 gallon tank that houses a dozen
Corydoras and 30-40 female Platies.
On Saturday night, I did a 50% water change on both tanks. I noticed
Sunday that the snails in my 20 gallon tank had started to creep up
towards the top of the tank and accumulated on a fake floating
<A bad sign.>
Seemingly like they were trying to get out of the water.
<Correct; when stressed for whatever reason, aquatic snails will
crawl up and rest just above or below the waterline.>
Monday morning, I found a dead Platy in my 40 gallon tank. Then Monday
night I found two dead Platies in the 20 gallon tank. I'd
previously only lost 2 Platies over the span of several months. The
Platies in both tanks were hanging out at the top and breathing
rapidly, more so with the Platies in the 20 gallon than the 40 gallon
but quite a noticeable change in all the fishes behavior overall. For
example, my Corydoras were making more dashes to the top than usual and
the water looked a bit cloudy in both. On check my ammonia, nitrate and
nitrite levels were at 0.
A couple of days before I prepared the water for the last water change,
I had a sewage backup in the tub I use to fill the buckets. After the
plumbing was fixed, I cleaned the bathroom with 409 and bleach and then
rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. Is it possible that the residue from
these chemicals was transferred to my buckets and water and then to my
<Normally you shouldn't get cleaning fluids into the drinking
water pipe work, so just because you've cleaned the drains
shouldn't affect your drinking water. On the other hand, if you put
cleaning fluid in the buckets you use for the fish tanks, then yes, you
could have residues left behind.>
If this is the issue, I had also cleaned out the tubing to my Eheim
filter for my 40 gallon tank and not sure what I should do, if
anything, about that. I'm just at a loss it could be anything else
as I've had no problems for quite a while and have made no changes
other than water, added no new fish.
<Right. It does sound like a sudden environmental problem of some
More importantly, how should I proceed with water changes or addressing
<Do check that other things didn't happen when you did the water
For example, if you did a big water change following a long period
without water changes, then you could expose the fish to a sudden pH
change. Some well water supplies are notoriously variable in water
chemistry immediately after being drawn. Stirring the substrate can
release toxic gases under some circumstances. So there's a variety
of things to think about.>
I rinsed out all my buckets several times tonight and cleaned out my
siphon hose and performed another 50% water change on both tanks using
a different bathroom altogether. It seemed to ease the Platies desire
in my 40 gallon to hang out at the top but in my 20 gallon my Platies
are still breathing rapidly at the top. A couple do not look well at
all and I'm hoping they are still alive in the morning. I'm
going back and forth as to whether or not I should switch all the
Platies to the 40 gallon as I don't know if the extra stress will
do them harm, but if the 20 gallon tank doesn't stabilize, I
don't see another choice (I had the males separated for the females
because I'm phasing out Platies in general but I'm remiss to
give them away or other unsavory options).
<I'd certainly keep doing big water changes, perhaps 2-3 more,
each time making sure the outgoing water chemistry is the same as the
water chemistry of the water going into the tank.>
Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated.
Re: Freshwater tanks, possibly poisoned -
Thanks Neale. I've lost two more fish overnight in my 40 gallon
Several fish in both tanks are in dire straights. I rechecked all the
levels and the only different number was my Nitrate in the 40 gallon
was at 10. My pH was 7.2 in my 40 gallon which is lower than the fixed
at 7.6-7.8. I do a mix of baking soda, marine salt and Epsom salts as
my carbonate hardness does drop drastically without bringing down my pH
in rapid succession. Quite honestly, I haven't been checking the pH
regularly because it was so stable for several months since figuring
out the mix. So I don't know what kind of a bounce I'm truly
<Ah, now, this could be a factor. You mentioned Platies, which in
common with livebearers generally, are acutely sensitive to low pH.
They're happiest in liquid rock, so beef up the carbonate
The last water change before all this started I did was about 4 weeks
This last one before my tanks crashed, I did do more siphoning and
picking up rocks and caves that I normally don't go around. Also I
usually only change 30-40 % of the water but did 50% per I went about a
week or two
longer than I usually wait. ?? Ugh. :( I don't know what the
<If you have low carbonate hardness, the pH drop through
acidification can take the pH into the acidic range within 4 weeks. Do
a big water change and you swing from, say, pH 6.5 up to 7.5. This
would certainly be enough to
stress, possibly kill fish.>
I just did another 50% water change in both tanks and already most of
the fish in my big tank are back at the top of the tank breathing
rapidly again. In my 20 gallon, they seem to be faring a little
<Do have a look to see the filter is working. Also check that the
temperature is correct. I've stunned fish by adding freezing cold
water without thinking (they do recover from cold quite quickly) and a
stuck heater can reduce oxygen concentration so much filtration stops
and fish suffocate.>
Can you clarify if I should be doing the 2-3 water changes you
suggested immediately right in a row or wait a few hours?
<If fish look stressed, then changing water to flush out potential
toxins is the lesser of two evils. But you do have to ensure water
chemistry doesn't change wildly.>
I've tried to hit the temperature straight on and am using
identical mixes but the water from my tap comes out at no less than 8+
so I wasn't able to hit the same pH with the water change with my
<Platies and hardy farmed Corys shouldn't be too fussed, so long
as you more or less have pH 7.5-8, 10-20 degrees dH water.>
Re: Freshwater tanks, possibly poisoned - 4/13/10
I'm going to try and be as clear, concise but thorough as I can
Hopefully, something in my details will pop out at you.
A pattern starting emerging after the 2nd major (50%) water change
I have lost no more fish but I do expect to lose some (hopefully not
This is what I observed today:
1st Major (50%) Water Change: Fish showed slight improvement for a few
minutes in the 20 gal tank. 40 gal tank no improvement.
2nd Major (50%) Water Change: Fish in both tanks 'perked' up.
Meaning they stop hanging out at the top of the tank, breathing still
relatively fast but not as labored or rapid. The went back to their old
routines of bothering each other and picking at algae/plants and
swimming around. The exception would be the handful of fish who had
been in the worst shape (leaning on plants, trouble swimming) those
seemed to still hover at the top of the tank with rapid breathing but
did improve (no leaning). 2 hours post water change, every single Platy
at the top of the tank again with labored, rapid breathing. Even about
2 dozen or so fry that usually hide in java moss (breaks my heart).
3rd Major (50%) Water Change: Fish in both tanks 'perked' up as
Somewhere between 3-4 hours post water change, every single fish at top
of tank again.
4 Minor (20%) Water Change: Did this in 40 gallon tank only. No change
whatsoever, all fish still in distress.
5 Major (50%) Water Change: Fish in both tanks 'perked' up as
before. I have to go to bed so I don't know how long this will
I checked the parameters in both tanks and my change water before the
4th/5th water changes. As follows:
40 Gallon Tank: 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 7.6 pH 76 Temp 130 mg/L
for Carbonate Hardness Heater Working Normally Filters (Eheim
Professional 2080 - I think is the number - and dual sponge filter)
both working normally.
You said to check, they are both running water through as usual. Not
sure if I should 'check' something else. Large, long airstone
20 Gallon Tank 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 7.6 pH 77 temp 130 mg/L
for Carbonate Hardness Heater working normally Eheim internal filter
working properly as is Eheim overhang filter.
Change Water (after treated): 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 75 average
temp 140 mg/L for Carbonate Hardness (off 10 mg/L from both tanks)
Before 5th major water change I purchased new 5 gallon buckets. I had
never cleaned old buckets with chemicals but changed anyways. Purchased
new Baking Soda and Epsom salts for my mix. Only thing I did not change
out was Marine Salt as stores were closed (this salt is approximately 1
year old). Changed airstone out I use for aeration as well. Still using
bathroom that was not cleaned with bleach recently to handle and fill
I have had both these tanks up and running for over a year using the
same processes for water changes every time. Again, everything was
stable before I did a 50% water change last Saturday night.
What can I do now? I'm expecting to wake up to disaster again in
the AM (as well as fail a test tomorrow as I've got no sleep,
energy or time to study with this crisis, but I digress). It's like
something in both my tanks is poisoning the water or starving the
Thanks so much in advance. This is excruciating to watch what my fish
are going through.
<Gina, at some point worrying about what happens delivers
diminishing returns. If this was me, I'd do this. Remove the fish
to a large bucket of water. Euthanise those clearly in distress. Put a
heater in the bucket if needs be, plus a filter if you can. Now, strip
down the aquarium. Discard whatever you can, especially anything
porous, e.g., carbon, Zeolite, seashells or Tufa rock. Put live plants
aside for now, in a bucket or dish where they're wet and sunny.
Basically, you're removing anything that might have absorbed
poisons. Deep clean the aquarium. Stir and rinse the gravel thoroughly.
Wipe down the glass. Don't use any cleaning fluids at all, and make
sure the water you use to clean the tank is drinking water. Doesn't
need to be dechlorinated, but shouldn't have any risk of carrying
cleaning fluids. I use a garden hose for this sort of thing. Anyway,
clean the tank, then put it back together. Fill with 100% fresh water,
dechlorinated and buffered as required. Put heater back. Allow to warm
to at least 20 degrees C. Reconnect filter. Now, with the aquarium
running with basically clean water and materials, but the same live
media as you had before in the filter, this is essentially a new tank.
So you'll want to use a "drip method" to adapt the fish
to these conditions. Essentially empty the bucket they're in down
to the bottom 25%. Over the next hour, add a cup or so of water from
the aquarium to the bucket every 10 minutes. The bucket should fill
within an hour. Net the fish out, pop them in the aquarium, and hope
for the best. Discard the water in the bucket. With luck, the
conditions will be entirely "fresh" and the fish should be
fine. If they are, you can then decide whether to put the live plants
back. Though it isn't likely they'll have absorbed toxins,
it's possible. Add a few, wait a day or two, and then keep adding
more as needs be. Otherwise, throw them all out and buy new plants.
Re: Freshwater tanks, possibly poisoned 4/15/10
I wanted to thank you for your time and energy helping me sort this
I've been a little stressed so I'm not sure if I came off as
unappreciative or a raving lunatic.
<Didn't seem that way at all, so don't worry.>
I'm down to about 2 dozen Platies and still have all of my
Corydoras. I stripped down the 20 gallon tank per your instructions and
put it back together using new sand for the bottom. Currently I've
got the fish in this tank and another 10 gallon tank I wasn't
using. They appear to be doing well but I'm not too optimistic
<Let's hope for the best.>
You said to get rid of anything porous but to keep my live media.
<Correct. There's a balance to be struck. Certain materials like
limestone can absorb toxins and give them up later on. Plastic
shouldn't do this, but there's a small risk.>
I'm pretty confused on this point and before I take any filtration
apart in 40 gallon I want to make sure I understand. All of my live
media, e.g. sponge filters, filter pads, ceramics, etc ... look to be
porous. You gave
examples of what to toss. Could you clarify what type of live media I
<I'd keep it all for now.>
I've got all my rocks and ornaments set aside. I don't have
anything remotely as porous as the Tufa rock example you cited but have
several different types of standard rock. Is the best thing to toss
them or is there another option?
<Non-porous rocks like granite and slate should be fine.>
Everything seems to be porous and evil at this point but I don't
want to toss away good money because I'm paranoid.
<Quite so. Ceramics, non-porous rocks, glass, plastic, etc. should
Thanks again. I hope your day treats you well.
Re: Freshwater tanks, possibly poisoned 4/16/10
<Hello again Gina,>
Oh boy. I hope you're not sick of me yet (she says meekly).
I think my issue may be resolved. I stripped down the 40 gallon and
reset it up keeping my live media and some of the gravel. I transferred
my 3 remaining male Platies as test fish and will slowly add back the
nonporous materials as the days go on and monitor.
Anywho, I would like to phase out the Platies from my system. I
don't want to say I don't like them as they are beautiful but I
sure don't enjoy the reproduction levels and bullying that
<Certainly aspects of livebearers commonly overlooked. Unwanted
babies can be easily taken care of via predators such as Asian
killifish, glassfish and angelfish. But yes, the males are bullies when
not kept in sufficient
numbers. I like to keep one male and two or three females when keeping
livebearers, or else a sufficiently large group in a big tank that
allows aggression to spread out.>
I'm looking for more peaceful fish that don't reproduce en
masse and all the complications that brings regarding what to do with
the fry. Would my 20 females be okay (happy, not stressed) to keep in
the 20 gallon tank for
3-6 months so I can ensure that pregnancies are over with?
<Wouldn't be my recommendation at all. Even going by the
hopeless "inch per gallon" rule this would be overstocking.
Is there a local fish club you can share these fish with? Or else, move
the males and keep the females. The females aren't
My concern is if I put them back in the 40 gallon tank, I'll never
be able to round up all the fry well enough to weed out all the males
in time (I've tried and failed at this over the past few
<Do try biological control!>
Ever try to catch one particular male Platy in a 40 gallon
'breeder' tank with 40 identical looking fish and obstacles
such as rocks and plants? Those dudes are fast. Well, you could and
probably have done it.
<Two nets. Use one to drive the fish, and the other to catch it.
Removing the rocks is usually essential.>
Also, I must have read something wrong in my initial research or just
gotten confused. I have my tank temps set to 77 F but reading again, it
seems both my Platies and Corydoras would be happier at 75 F.
I have Albino and Peppered Corydoras (different species, the 2 groups
stay separate for the most part). For Peppered Corydoras, fishnet.com
says that 73.4 F is the max. Between the two, what would be the best
<A degree or two either way doesn't matter. But the main thing
is neither Platies nor Bronze Corydoras nor Peppered Corydoras -- the
two species most usually sold as "albinos" -- prefer water a
little cooler than, say,
Gouramis or Cardinal tetras. You're after about 24-25 degrees C,
72-75 degrees F. Besides Platies and most Corydoras, this is also ideal
for Swordtails, Neons, Danios, and quite a few other fish.>
My Corydoras never spawn (well once after a water change but the babies
did not survive)
<That's the clue! The water change! Corydoras should be kept
fairly cool as stated, and then exposed to a much cooler water change
sort of like rainfall, but with the heater set slightly higher, up to
25 C/77 F, so that the fish think its rainfall on a hot day. I've
written some personal experiences here:
Note that I kept my Peppered Corydoras outdoors through a British
summer, and they spawned the next morning after bringing them back
indoors in September. While Corydoras aren't coldwater fish, with
the exception of things like Scleromystax barbatus, they are much less
than many people think.>
so I'm a bit worried this means they are unhappy. I really, really
like the Corydoras. But it begs the question, when any species of fish
reproduce, don't you have to separate out the babies and then the
babies from each other to eliminate chances of inbreeding?
<Somewhat, but if you're keeping a mixed collection of farmed
Platies, with three or four males and at least as many females, the
genetic mix should be okay. On the other hand, if you have Platies that
all came from a local
breeder, so they're all brothers and sisters, yes, inbreeding
becomes a major problem. I will mention here that livebearers cause a
lot of problems through inbreeding, and things like spine deformities
and faulty swim bladders are extremely common. This is one reason I
like wild-caught livebearers such as halfbeaks, or those species like
Limia nigrofasciata that haven't been too intensively bred.>
It's hard to get excited about babies if I shouldn't keep
<I understand. But partly it's about honing your skills, even if
you don't rear any baby fish. Each time you get a bit better.
Breeding Corydoras isn't especially hard if you start with the
simpler species, but the fry are small, much smaller than livebearer
fry, and therefore more prone to fungal infections and predation. A
good approach is to move leaves with eggs into a breeding trap or net,
let the fry hatch out there, and rear them within that net for a couple
of months or until you're ready to move them to an 8-10 gallon tank
where you can rear them away from other fish.>
Re: Freshwater tanks, possibly poisoned 5/8/10
My problem has returned. About 2 days ago, I noticed the same type of
behavior that preceded the kill off of much of my stock 3 weeks
Snails going to the top, fish gasping for breath at the top. I
performed two 50% water changes on my 40 gallon tank and conditions
improved for an hour or two, then they began to gasp for air at the top
of the tank again.
Exactly like before.
I promptly moved all of my fish to my 20 gallon and 10 gallon tanks and
everyone is alive and well. Maybe I jumped the gun on moving the fish
but I didn't want to take any chances this time.
<Indeed. I'd have left the fish where they were, and would have
simply done one or two water changes, checked the filter was working
properly, and checked the pH was where it should be -- pH crashes are
not uncommon and can cause fish to gasp, react just like an ammonia
So now I'm looking at my 40 gallon tank and don't know what to
Everything was fine for over two weeks after I broke it down, rinsed
everything and reset it back up throwing out anything porous and slowly
adding decorations and fish back in. I have been performing 10-40 %
water changes daily as my ammonia levels started going off the charts.
I assumed my tank was going through a recycling phase.
The night before this all started happening again, I had performed two
35% water changes right in a row. Now that day I had been at work and I
work with dogs and use a lot of chemicals to sterilize the facility
which get on my skin and I wash my hands with soap probably no less
than 20 times in a shift.
I'm thinking I have directly poisoned my tank twice now by changing
the water with chemical residue either still on my skin or in the
bathroom (as was my suspicion the first time).
<Possibly, but not particularly likely. If you want, wear rubber
gloves like those you'd use when washing dishes, or latex gloves
from a drug store.>
I really don't know of course but can only assume that the rapid
decline of my fish after water changes is something I am contributing
to directly via my person. There have been no chemicals (not even
cooking oil) used in my house since prior to the first incident.
It's just odd as this last time, I had been doing only single water
changes daily but upped it to 2 to get the ammonia at precisely 0 and
the first time this occurred was also after a larger than usual water
change. I know it's not a pH bounce this time because I have been
monitoring the numbers very carefully (and doing daily water
I have since purchased gloves and will never stick my bare hands in the
I'm planning on breaking down the 40 gallon and resetting back up
which is fine as I'm changing the tank over to a planted one. Can I
still keep my live media, slate rock and pea gravel and sand when I set
<Yes, but I'd keep the filter media only, and thoroughly clean
everything else, especially the gravel. Do check the gravel smells
"sweet" before using it again.>
Or am I risking toxins being released back into the tank at a later
date if I do?
<Not from the biological media, no.>
Although I'm pretty sure I poisoned the tank a second time, I have
this nagging doubt in the back of my head that it was a delayed toxin
release from the first incident. Or something else entirely.
<Could be either. It's a mystery really.>
Although, I can barely afford to replace everything, I certainly
don't want to get a planted tank set up for this to happen yet
Re: Freshwater tanks, possibly poisoned
I thought I'd update you.
This issue was caused by my water hardness not poisoning.
You know the pH thing you mentioned half a dozen times during this
conversation. Yeah, that.
This is where you say, I told you so. :) Apparently the marine salt
that I use for the mix to fix my carbonate and general hardness was
compromised or old and all I had to do was purchase new salt and the
<How odd. Kept cool and dry, marine salt mix should stay stable for
a very long time.>
Amazing how critical thinking skills go out the window when you
Everything became a confirmation bias that is *was* poisoning and so
why check the hardness. Gosh.
Thanks for all your help. I'm just relieved that the issue is
<As am I.>
<Take care, Neale.>
Heavy metal poisoning from a decoration?
Is it possible that an aquarium decoration from China can be leaching
heavy metal into the water?
<Sure. There are children's toys with lead paint, so who knows.
Is it likely, well, that's a whole different question. Anything
from a reputable brand should be safe enough.>
The top has a shiny blue paint while the rest of the castle is quite
different. The 26 g tank has been running for 2 weeks...all tests for
nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, ph, general hardness and carbonate are
within normal ranges.
<Define "normal". Let's recap. For Platies, you need
at least medium general hardness (10+ degrees dH) and medium carbonate
hardness (4+ degrees KH). The pH should be around 7.5, but that pH
shouldn't come from a pH potion, but from the carbonate hardness in
the water. Temperature should be a little cool, about 22-24 C. Water
quality must be good; 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite.>
The ph of my well water is 6 but the tank is stable at 7.5.
<How did you achieve this?>
Of 2 Platies initially introduced (1 male ,1 female), the female died
in 2 days. The male seemed fine. I got a female to replace the one that
had died and she also died within 2 days. Both fish that died appeared
fine externally but both seemed stressed. Thinking that the male might
be harassing the single females to death, I bought 2 new females so
they would feel safer. The original male seemed to slow down and start
spending most of his time on the bottom and not eating. When he swam it
was a shimmy kind of swim, his poop was very pale, and his vision
seemed affected. He died today. The 2 females are doing well although
one doesn't explore as much as the other and also seems less adept
at eating. I changed about 20% of the water today and removed the
castle. I plan on doing another water change tomorrow. The filter is
designed for a 20-30 g tank so should be adequate for filtration.
Any thoughts or suggestions? I am very upset that something I may or
may not be doing is needlessly causing the death of these poor fish.
Thanks for any help you may be able to give.
PS I also plan on getting my well water tested just in case but I
don't suspect that is the issue.
<I think the "castle of doom" hypothesis is a bit of a
long shot. By all means take the thing out and see what happens. But
I'd concentrate on making sure the water has sufficient carbonate
hardness and isn't too warm. Also check the aquarium is fully
cycled and properly filtered. Cheers,
Re: heavy metal poisoning from a decoration? --
Wow, thanks for your quick reply.
<Clearly I have a completely empty social life and nothing better to
I have no clue why the ph is 7.5 and my well is 6.
<Oh. For reasons that aren't clear to me, some well water has
unstable water chemistry. Perhaps CO2 dissolves into it, lowering pH,
and once drawn from the tap, the water degasses, and pH rises.
Alternatively, there may be minerals that are stable when the water is
in the aquifer or whatever, but once brought to the surface and warmed
up, these minerals change. In any case, I do recommend people with well
water draw their water out the day
before they use it, leave it overnight, and then test the water
chemistry in the morning. If necessary, adjust the water chemistry
using a small dose of Rift Valley Salt Mix. The recipe is meant for
keeping hard water fish,
and is listed per 5 gallons; if you use one-fourth to one-half those
amounts, you should get something pretty good for general community
If you're keeping Platies, you're aiming for moderately hard
water, around 10 degrees dH, 5 degrees KH.>
I assumed perhaps shells in the substrate which is supposed to
"river rock" but I didn't see any evidence of shells.
<Unless you have a lot of shells, the impact they have on water
chemistry is fairly minimal.>
I have a fake driftwood log and plastic plants.
<These shouldn't alter water chemistry at all.>
Something raised the ph besides me :-) but it is consistently 7.5.
<That's fine for community fish.>
The KH is 60 - 80 mg/L ( I have 2 kits...one is a reagent and the other
is a dipstick and they yield different results.)
<This is towards the low end of the recommend carbonate hardness
scale; acceptable for soft water fish, but unsuitable for livebearers
and other species that like hard water.>
But wouldn't you expect a lower ph with that KH?
The GH is 80 mg/L.
<80 mg/l of what? Calcium oxide or calcium carbonate? Assuming
calcium carbonate, this is fairly soft, and not to the liking of most
Water temp is 75-76 F which is warmer than you suggested.
<But not too warm. Platies should be okay.>
No ammonia, nitrate, nitrite.
I just discovered a newborn today! I would guess only a few hours
Open Body Sores/Striped Raphael Catfish culprit?
Rainbowfish hlth./env. 1/10/10
We have a 55 gallon tank with: 2 turquoise Rainbowfish, 2 zebra
Danios, 2 emerald Cory cats, 2 praecox Rainbowfish, 1 Australian
Rainbowfish, 1 Plecostomus, and 1 striped Raphael catfish.
<Mmm, the Rainbows are social species... should be kept in
Recently we've had a problem with our Rainbowfish having open
body sores and subsequently getting Popeye twice.
<Water quality? Measures?>
This has gone on for probably 4 months now and we've done
treatments with: Lifeguard, Melafix, Tetracycline, and EM
<Mmmm. Please read here:
and the linked files above>
Our last attempt at treatment was done by setting up a hospital
tank and dosing only this fish with the Erythromycin. After
several courses of treatment we had quite a bit of improvement,
but the sores were still present. We placed the Australian back
in the 55 gallon tank with the others about 6 weeks ago.
Now the sores are looking worse and the Popeye is back again. I
also noticed that one of the praecox rainbows has a huge gash in
it's side. I checked the water levels and they're all
<Please send values, not subjective evaluations>
Four days ago I started dosing the entire 55 gallon with
<Worse than worthless... see WWM re>
at the recommendation of pet store, because it is inexpensive
and supposed to treat the problems we are experiencing,
<... it will not. In fact, it forestalls folks seeking, using
sometimes disrupts nitrogen et al. cycling... is worse than a
but it doesn't seem to be doing much. Today I noticed that
the praecox seems to be struggling and staying at the surface of
the water, so I put both it and the Australian in the 10 gallon
hospital tank, added aquarium salt, and started treatment with
the Erythromycin and aeration with an air stone. Do you have any
suggestions on what else I can do?
<Yes... water changes, the use of carbon et al. chemical
filtration, the adjustment of water quality, determination of
root cause/s here... There is something amiss with the
environment... NO treatment/medicine is going to solve
I'm also wondering if you have any opinion on whether the
Raphael cat may have caused the injuries to these fish with his
hard and spiny exterior?
<It has not... Lives on the bottom...>
<Please send along water test data, history and make-up of
this set-up, images of all including the livestock if you can.
Pictures Re: Open Body Sores/Striped Raphael Catfish
<Mmm, no. Unfortunately no pix attached. Please try again.
please find pictures of the Australian Rainbowfish that has
Popeye and body sores as well as a picture of the praecox
Rainbowfish that has the gash on its side. Please also note that
where I said, "Recently we've had a problem with our
Rainbowfish having open body sores and subsequently getting
Popeye," I was referring to only the 1 Australian
Rainbowfish that I've attached the pictures of.
Re: Open Body Sores/Striped Raphael Catfish culprit?
The pictures should be attached this time. Also attached are
photos of the water chemistry as of this morning in the 55 gallon
tank (which I replaced the carbon in yesterday after transferring
the sick fish into the hospital tank). It seems the levels are
<They are... do you agree that there is detectable ammonia and
nitrite here? Toxic!>
The temperature hangs around 76.6F.
It was unclear as to whether you wanted pictures of the healthy
fish, <Mmm, no>
so none are attached (I did try to take pictures of them, but
they're too fast to catch.)
<The Praecox is ich infested... the others...>
It may be of worth to mention that the reason we don't have
several of each social fish is because we've had some
problems in the past with a malfunctioning heater.
<?! Replace this>
Over the past couple of years, our heater has malfunctioned three
times causing our tank temperature to soar to 90+ degrees,
which has killed off probably 10-15 of our fish. The last time
this happened was during the time that the Australian was
treating in the hospital tank, so I don't think it's
related to the condition.
As far as the praecox with the gash in the side, it died
Should I continue to treat the Australian in the hospital tank
with erythromycin until I figure out what is wrong in the 55
<First and foremost, the water quality... whatever is
subtending nitrification needs to be FIXED. Pronto... See WWM
the third tray down. The issue here is a priori environmental.
Pouring in more med.s is counterproductive. BobF>
|Re: Open Body Sores/Striped Raphael
Catfish culprit? 1/11/10
Thanks for link as far as where to look for information, however,
there are a lot of links and stories and I'm not sure what
exactly it is that I'm looking for instruction on.
<Hello Heather. Platydoras-type catfish are generally extremely
hardy, and the last fish to show signs of stress. So if your
specimen is currently sick -- and I better make the point here
they're social animals that don't thrive kept singly --
it's a good idea to review the reasons why. As Bob mentioned, a
broken heater serves no purpose. When shopping for a new one,
choose one that either has a clip-on heater guard, or else pick up
a heater guard that can be fixed over whatever heater you buy.
These catfish are notorious for burning themselves as they nestle
against the heater. They like to hide, and switched off, a heater
is mistaken for a plant root or something. By the time they feel
the heat when the thing switches on, their skin is burned. Catfish
don't have scales -- their armour is actually just thickened
skin -- so unlike most other fish that can slough off damaged
scales easily, catfish can be severely harmed by otherwise
superficial burns and cuts. Optimal water conditions should ensure
spontaneous healing of such wounds, but any trace of ammonia or
nitrite, as well as excessive heat or cold, will stress the fish
sufficiently to allow secondary infections. In any event, if
you're getting a variety of sick/dead fish, it's a very
good sign the aquarium environment is poor. Review tank size,
filtration, diet, etc. and act accordingly. To recap, a community
of talking catfish and Rainbowfish would need to be upwards of 180
litres in size and equipped with a robust filter rated at not less
than 4 times the capacity of the tank in turnover per hour (e.g., a
200 litre tank would need a 4 x 200 = 800 litre/hour filter). Water
chemistry should be neutral (pH 6.5-7.5) and the water slightly
soft to moderately hard (8-15 degrees dH). Avoid extremely soft or
extremely hard water, and don't add salt.
Ammonia and nitrite should both be at zero levels all the time; if
they're not, then the filter is immature, the filter not
properly maintained, the fish overfed, or the tank overstocked.
Re: Open Body Sores/Striped Raphael Catfish culprit?
Thanks for the information, Neale. Fortunately, our Raphael catfish
is not the one with the sores.
It is the Australian rainbow that is having the problems with the
wounds that won't heal and the recurring Popeye.
<Almost certainly a water quality issue, perhaps aggravated by
collisions with solid objects, fighting amongst themselves, or a
Check the Rainbows aren't throwing themselves into the glass
because of sudden noises, lights coming on in the dark,
To recap my previous discussions, we have a 55 gallon tank with: 2
turquoise Rainbowfish, 2 zebra Danios, 2 emerald Cory cats, 2
praecox Rainbowfish, 1 Australian Rainbowfish, 1 Plecostomus, and 1
striped Raphael catfish.
<I see. I will make the observation an adult Plec, anything
upwards of 20 cm, and up to 45 cm when fully grown, can overwhelm
an aquarium this size, preventing good water quality. There is no
obvious reason to keep a Plec in a tank this size, and you'd be
much better with an Ancistrus Bristlenose.>
We use an Emperor 400 BioWheel filter (400 gallons per hour) in
conjunction with a submersible bio filter. We should be getting a
pretty good flow with these.
<In theory, yes. But even the best filter clogs up with time,
and some designs waste precious filter media space on stuff like
carbon and Zeolite you don't need.>
I'm not sure if you saw the photos of the sick fish or the
water chemistry, so I have attached copies for your review.
As you see, our levels were a little high.
<I'll say! First check your tap water doesn't contain
ammonia or nitrite. It shouldn't, but some supplies do. Water
conditioners are available that neutralize (not remove) the ammonia
that comes with tap water (no good for fixing ammonia produced by
fish, though). If your water contains nitrite, that's a bigger
deal, and you really should call your water supplier.>
In an attempt to solve this problem, I did some gravel vacuuming
today and a huge water change.
<Gravel cleaning doesn't dramatically change much of
anything, though it makes the fishkeeper feel a bit better I
suppose. There really shouldn't be much organic matter in the
gravel assuming the tank is properly filtered and you stir the
gravel a bit each time you do a water change.>
The levels are still the same, though. I'm wondering if the
fact that our tap water tests high for ammonia has anything to do
<Yes, can do. Obviously a filter neutralizes ammonia at a fixed
rate, and is designed to remove the ammonia produced by the fish.
If you also have ammonia in the water, and this isn't
neutralized first, then filter could be overwhelmed. The WHO
recommend water for drinking contain less than 0.2 mg/l, and higher
levels are often taken to imply a mix of dirty water (i.e., sewage
or agricultural run-off) with potable water. If you're getting
above 0.2 mg/l, pick up the phone and call your water supplier.
Such levels are potential health hazards to you and your family,
let alone your fish.>
I've read online that although the results say it's ammonia
(on the tap results), it may just be chloramine that shows on the
test as ammonia.
<Yes, this can happen. The interaction between chloramine,
dechlorinators, ammonia removers, and ammonia test kits is complex.
See for example these explanations by manufacturers:
The bottom line is that using one or more products to condition
your water (for chloramine and ammonia) may be necessary, and at
least initially, try doing small (10-20% water changes more
frequently to avoid flooding the tank with extra ammonia. As an
experiment, try skipping a water change one weekend, and see what
happens. If you find ammonia and nitrite drop to zero after a
couple of days and stay there for the next ten days, then the
problem is the TAP WATER. If the ammonia and nitrite levels do not
drop to zero, then the problem (in part at least) is THE AQUARIUM.
Why? Because even a crummy filter should process the ammonia in
your tap water. Once it's gone, it's gone. So if levels
don't drop to zero, that means there's some other source of
ammonia that keeps topping up the levels in the water.
This is, of course, the fish (either directly, or via the food you
Regardless, I don't think either are probably things I want in
We use AmQuel Plus when doing water changes. Any suggestions on
what to do next?
Emergency!! Yeast in my tank!! Please help!--
Please help me with a tank emergency. I have been using homemade CO2
(yeast method) for a couple of weeks in my planted 75 gal tank. Last
night my new CO2 mix over-bubbled and sent yeast flowing into my tank.
I noticed it almost immediately. As an emergency measure I moved all of
my fish into my 10 gal tank. Yikes!! (about 55 inches of fish in there,
although at their current size it's closer to 35 inches) I added
some Melafix with the fish.
(catching them was very difficult) I did a total water change all the
way down to the gravel, vacuuming as I went. I pulled out most of the
plants and rinsed them off, as well as the rock decorations.
Couldn't pull out the driftwood.
I refilled the tank and let it run overnight. Dosed the tank with
Flourish excel and BioZyme. I have two hang on the back filters,
filtering 750 gals per hour. Today the water looked much better but I
noticed flecks of whitish stuff on the driftwood, and some yeast
bubbles at the water line. I vacuumed the gravel again; another 10
gals, and refilled. Cleaned both filter outflows and changed the carbon
filters in both. After it settles again I plan to swish it around with
a net to try to get as much as possible sucked up into the filter. Then
tomorrow I plan to do another gravel vac.
My poor fish are still crowded into the 10 gal but I don't know
which is the lesser evil. I don't know how long the 10 gal bio can
handle the stress of the extra fish load. But I don't know what
effects the remaining yeast might have on my fish. I haven't tested
Is there anything that will eliminate the yeast?
<Water changes; a series thereof. I'd do 3-4 50% water changes
across a day, and then acclimate the existing fish to the flushed out
aquarium just as if you'd bought them new, the idea being to
minimise water chemistry stresses.>
Have I gotten a sufficient amount out to not harm my fish? What if they
eat some of the yeast as they are feasting on bottom food? Any other
<Can't imagine yeast would be terribly toxic. It naturally
occurs in aquaria anyway.>
You guys are so great! You have helped me a few times when I
couldn't get my answers anywhere else.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Emergency!! Yeast in my tank!! Please help! --
Hi again, Neale,
Thank you for your oh-so-quick response! What you all do is really
admirable, and I really appreciate your help.
<Glad to help.>
I wanted to give you a follow-up on my yeast fright for anyone else who
may have been unfortunate enough to have this happen. It seems that I
"dodged a bullet" because I was right there when it happened
and caught it right away. One of the guys at my LFS had it happen while
he was at work, and within 3 days lost $300 worth of fish and all his
I lost two fish, and those were a guppy and a Danio that had been
living in my 10 gal when I unceremoniously dumped all my other fish in.
They didn't survive my two Golden Wonder Killifish. (I honestly did
not think they were big enough to eat guppies and Danios but,
<Indeed; Aplocheilus are far more predatory than many
At any rate I did not lose a single fish to the whole process; even my
Blue Ram is doing great. Nor did I lose a single plant! After my second
water change the tank settled and looked great and tested well so I
moved my fish back in, in groups, slowly acclimating as you suggested.
It is now two weeks later and all is well.
I didn't even get a case of Ich!
The Praecox and Boesmani Rainbows immediately began spawning behavior
again as if nothing at all had happened. The interesting result of
this, though, is that ever since they were all moved out and back in
again, all of my fish are schooling together every day. (Except the
Killifish) Even the Ram will school with the rainbows and Congo
So, we have survived and for the time being I have decided against
using any CO2 and am seeing if I can achieve the same great, healthy
plants with Flourish Excel.
<Not all plants need extra CO2, and if you combine slow-growing
bottom plants (like Crypts) with fast-growing surface plants (like
Indian Fern) then CO2 is not essential. The slow-growing plants will
get enough from the water, and the surface plants enough from the air.
CO2 is really only crucial where you have fast-growing, submerged
Plastic poisoned tank?-- 12/04/09
Hi guys, I hope you're well this afternoon.
<Am trying to "get w/ the program" fresh this
I'll try to be succinct here...2 days ago, I helped my mother build
and install a java moss wall in her freshwater planted tank. We used
PVC pipe to make "goal posts", hung over the side. Then used
plastic, black "pet proof" screen for windows and screen
doors, fastened with plastic zip ties.
I have used the same PVC and the same zip ties in my FOWLR tank for
many years with no ill effects (same brand, same store even).
<These, the pipe, screen and panduits are all chemically-inert/safe
for aquarium use as far as I'm aware. I've used them all for
many years myself>
I sandwiched the moss between two pieces of the screen, tied on with
<This last is also fine IME>
All the stuff was new, clean, and not contaminated with anything. The
java moss was stuff we pruned out of the same tank, put in the clean
water-change fishtank-only bucket, and then put right back into the
tank, attached to the screen.
The rest of that day, and all of yesterday, everything was fine.
Then this morning when she turned on the tank lights and sat to look at
it, the entire animal population of the tank had died except 3 lone
stragglers (2 Gourami and an Aust. rainbow, who don't look like
they will make it either). This was a 48 gallon, well established tank
with about 15 small tetras, some Corydoras, and another rainbow in it.
Also a huge population of tiny snails that bred like crazy in the
plants. All dead, in a matter of hours.
The moss in the screen seems fine, all the plants are unchanged.
We removed the remaining fish to quarantine, and have started doing
water changes. But without any clue as to what would cause this, we are
at a loss. Presumably, somehow, a PVC and plastic moss
<Wait; "plastic moss?" I thought this was the real
wall leached something into the water and killed everything =( The
screen itself is just plastic or rubbery material coating a
"core" of nylon fiber.
<And sorry for misunderstanding here as well. I was referring to
"stock" plastic screen door material. I don't know what
it is you're using here>
We have ruled out temperature problems, aeration problems, kids
throwing stuff in the water, electrical leaks, all the usual. What
could have possibly caused this and what can we do?
-distraught, Earl Clay III
<Mmm, I'm thinking a bit of experimentation might be in order
here... with just one of the materials used in a large pickle jar,
bioassay organisms (perhaps "feeder" guppies)... But am
considering that something altogether not mentioned may be a/the cause
of mortality. Soap on someone's hands for instance, or some other
toxic material in/on a container used in the whole set-up process...
Perhaps a glass cleaner, or cooking oil or such in the air the day of
the work or just after... As the possibilities of poisoning are vast
here I suggest your read: http://wetwebmedia.com/toxictk.htm
and the linked files above. Yes, including the "marine"
input. Please make it known if this reading brings anything live to
your consciousness. Bob Fenner>
Re: Plastic poisoned tank? 12/4/09
Hi Bob, thanks much for the fast (and early!) response.
<I felt the direness/need to reply ASAP>
Hope it's warmer where you are than here by Lake Michigan...
<Have got my "Holmes" portable heater on low... but right
next to me>
looks like it's gearing up for what we like to call an "ice
hurricane", what in kinder areas would just be called
"snow". I have read all WWM's info on toxicity and ruled
out all the usual culprits like aerosols, soap on hands or in buckets,
and the like. Barring that, nothing that hadn't been there in
routine use for the whole life of the tank, which makes me look hard at
the moss wall, which is the only thing that changed in the time between
a thriving tank and a dead one.
The java moss is indeed live Vesicularia dubyana , grown from a tiny
sample into a monstrous several-pound mass within 8 months or so.
<This is assuredly not the root cause here>
The screen we used is the following stuff:
Pet D Fence Pet-Resistant Screening
Made of vinyl-coated polyester, fabric is much heavier than traditional
fiberglass or aluminum screening. Resistant to tears and damage caused
by household pets.
<Mmm... I did a Google search with the question: "is polyester
toxic to fishes?" and here:
So, vinyl and polyester...could this have leached stuff into the
<I do think the Polyester might be implicated here>
Or possibly killed the snail population, which maybe then resulted in
killing the fish? Or maybe the culprit killed the substrate microbial
population, resulting in the same chain of events, in less than 48
<Mmm, the last is not too likely, the former, less still>
Our plan for now is to get some small snails as bioassay animals and
maybe put some of the screen in with them in a quarantine setup and see
what happens. After the day of water changes (35 gallons changed) the 3
surviving fish seem to be hanging on (with the Australian rainbow
seeming none the worse for wear). Might there be visible signs on the
fish, that I could look for, which might give further clues as to the
specific toxin/gypsy curse involved?
<None to look at grossly on the surviving fishes... but do remove
the screen if you haven't done so already... and add some
Granulated Activated Carbon (in a bag in the water flow path)>
The plants are all still showing no signs that anything ever happened.
So if nothing else, if we can isolate what killed off every last snail
out of a monstrous population of them, while leaving plants intact, we
might be able to strike it big selling our new pest snail removal
<Mmm, I do like the way you apparently think. Or should I state,
"It appears we think alike">
Thanks again, hope to catch you at a convention sometime, I owe you
<Ooooh, now you're talking. Do please see the search above...
Think over your impressions... And do report back what your
experiments, further experiences reveal. Cheers (and biers),
Re: Plastic poisoned tank?-- 12/04/09
A few comments that might be helpful.
I doubt the tiny snails suddenly "bred", but if conditions
turn poor, substrate-living snails like Melanoides will make a brisk
bee-line to the surface. This is often a very good clue that a
freshwater tank isn't working. Lack of oxygen is the classic
stressor, but I've also witnessed them do this when the pH suddenly
drops. Your correspondent would be wise to check the carbonate
hardness. If he has soft water, biogenic decalcification can
dramatically change the pH, and in doing so stress/kill the
<Oh! Please do retrieve, or I will, the sent corr. and send this
note on to the original querior. Please don't think you're
"doing me wrong" for intervening, offering your useful
Plastic products sold as safe for aquaria should be perfectly safe, and
I always recommend people buy such items unless that can be sure other
products are safe (e.g., because the item is sold as safe for holding
potable water, or for use in ponds, etc.). However, you do need to be
careful with items sold for use in vivaria, as these may not be
designed to be constantly submerged. I'm also skeptical of
suspiciously inexpensive dyed silk plants, fake ferns, etc.
My final comment is that the two times I have seen sudden mass deaths,
they were indirectly my fault. The first time was underestimating how
quickly Vallisneria would decalcify soft water when photosynthesising
rapidly, and the second time when I placed some wood in a tank without
knowing that wood had been recently sprayed with insecticide. I'd
encourage your correspondent to review any recent changes to the tank
or its immediate environment. These are, I feel, more likely to be the
problem than gradual poisoning by something that was already in the
<All excellent advice. Will forward. Cheers, BobF>
PVC and Fish (RMF?) - 10/24/09
I recently put a gray colored PVC pipe into my fish tank (as a filter
modification). I have a 50 gallon filled with guppies. The water has
turned green, not like an algae green. I suspect the pipe has leaked
chemicals into the water, but I am not 100% on this.
The pipe does have a dreaded "made in china" label on it, and
when I walk into the room, I smell a funny rubbery scent or
<The smell is coming from the aquarium? That would be pretty bad
Anything that comes off something stuck in an aquarium -- whether dye,
ink, or chemicals used to cure or treat the plastic -- is potentially
I inspected the pipe, but it doesn't look like it is fading or
pealing apart in any way. Is pvc, particularly gray colored ones,
dangerous to fish?
<Usually not, at least, if bought as "safe for use with
PVC is widely used for pond and marine applications.><<All so.
Is this paint on the pipe filled with lead and/or should I worry about
this and/or how can I test for this?
<I can't imagine it would be worth testing; the test kit would
cost more than replacing the PVC pipe. So why not just locate a
suitable supply of piping usable with potable water, and replace the
questionable pipe you already have?>
Thank you very much,
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: PVC and Fish - 10/25/09
Thanks for the kind reply - I
discovered the smell was coming from a nearby suitcase, but as for the
discoloration of the water, I still don't know what is causing
<Hmm... the plot thickens. Sounds as if someone put something inside
a suitcase, and it rotted. Children are wont to leave sandwiches and
the like in their luggage, so bear that in mind. Hope you find the
Ammonia (Bi Orb tanks; fatalities; poor water quality; the usual,
Hope you can help, tried everything I can from various web sites but
getting know where .
I've a 30 l /8 US Gal Bi Orb which has been running for about 6
months, set up end of December , added fish slowly as suggested and got
up to 6 Tetras and 2 Guppy's by mid March with no problems but was
aware was now getting to maximum tank occupancy .
<Do understand that 30 litres, 8 US gallons is much below the
minimum recommended size for tropical fish aquaria. Even 10 US gallons
would be borderline for things like Neon Tetras. More importantly, Bi
Orb tanks are an "odd" design that actually isn't all
that good for keeping fish. They look nifty, I admit, but the spherical
shape is the worst possible for fish in terms of surface area to volume
ratio. The key thing is that there isn't a lot of oxygen getting
into the water. So while they're widely sold, I strongly recommend
against people buying them.>
For no apparent reason started to get an ammonia reading at the start
of April , 0.25 , done partial water change about 10/20% added water
conditioner and added cycle , following day all reading back to normal
tested water again couple of days later and ammonia starting to appear
again , this is still happening now .
<It's probably not a "no apparent reason" issue, but
rather something that's gradually developed. Ammonia comes from the
fish, and it's removed by the biological filter. If you have
ammonia in the water, it means you
either [a] have too many fish; [b] have insufficient filtration; and
[c] you're adding too much food, and what the fish don't need
is ending up in the filter and rotting. It's also worth mentioning
that as time passes a
variety of things happen. The fish grow, for one thing, and a fish
twice the length it was will actually be eight times the mass, so as
fish grow, they produce much more ammonia than we think. As time
passes, silt clogs up the biological filter media, be they sponges or
ceramic noodles, and the silt suffocates some of the bacteria. So over
time, filters process less ammonia, and to remedy that the media needs
to be rinsed off
I've done partial water changes now , vacuuming the gravel media ,
anything from 10% up to 50% , 2 to 3 times a week but after a couple of
days ammonia starts to come back and rises very sharply . At first I
was adding Ammo Lock or Ammonia Remover but haven't done this for a
month now , just the water conditioner and cycle , at water changes ,
however even when I add cycle now I don't get a biological bloom
<Sounds to me as if this tank is overstocked, insufficiently
filtered, and perhaps too much food is added.>
All other readings are fine and have never changed .
<What are they?>
The tank currently has only 5 Tetras in it now as 1 of them and the 2
Guppy's have died , they showed no sign of illness and were
behaving normally , they didn't go all at once and were taken
straight out once found , last one to die was the Tetra about 2 weeks
The current tank conditions are Temp 26 , ph 6.4 , ammonia .25 ,
nitrate 0 nitrate 0
<Woah! Guppies cannot possibly be kept at pH 6.4! These are fish
that need hard, basic water: around pH 7.5 to 8, general hardness 10+
degrees dH. If you live in a soft water area, it's best to keep
Guppies in a brackish water system, adding 6-9 grammes of marine salt
mix (not aquarium salt or tonic salt) per litre of water. This will not
be acceptable for Tetras though.>
Hope you can help
Water Chemistry, FW, bewared home water softeners! 5/5/09
I have well water that has a PH of 8.2, however, I have my water for my
house on a softening system.
<Do not ever use water from a domestic water softener in a fish
tank. Most reputable water softener installers will tell you this,
alongside also telling you not do drink the softened water. Domestic
water softeners don't "soften" the water in the way
aquarists mean it; all they do is replace the limescale-causing salts
with sodium, and the resulting sort-of-soft but saline water is just
horrible for fish.>
Thus the problem is that I have a high PH but soft (GH/KH) water.
<Use the drinking water tap, which should be unsoftened. If your
water is "liquid rock", there's really nothing wrong with
that. Sure, you can't keep Neons, Ram cichlids and other soft water
fish -- but there are plenty of fish that *prefer* rock-hard water!
Start with the Livebearers, either the regular kinds (Guppies, Platies,
etc.) or the more unusual ones if you need a challenge (Limia, Ameca
splendens, Xenotoca, etc.). Rift Valley cichlids as well as all Central
American fish (including cichlids and Central American characins, such
as Cave Tetras) thrive in very hard water, as do Goldfish and many of
the European/West Asian killifish. So there are plenty of options; see
Is this even possible, is it because of the softening system?
Can I put fish that prefer a high PH with hard water into my tank that
is a high PH with soft water?
<No. Fish don't feel pH; it's actually trivial. Aquarists
tend to talk about pH because it's an easy, High School concept
they're familiar with, and much of the time it describes water
chemistry adequately well: hard water has a high pH, soft water a low
pH. But the fish really don't care; what they worry about is
hardness, both General and Carbonate. Do see here about water
Thanks for your expert advice. Sincerely,
Large Koi, Fan-Tail Goldfish and Carbon Monoxide... --
03/03/09 Dear Crew, First of all, I want to let you know that
I have spent the last 7 hours or so reading your FAQs and articles on
the Peacock Eel and the Kuhli Loach that I just rescued from Wal Mart.
I consider myself, not expert, but at least knowledgeable of freshwater
aquariums as a hobby since I have been in possession of at least one at
any given time for my entire life. Your information has been extremely
beneficial to me because I had never even heard of a loach before
today, but I felt so bad for the little guy wiggling around all by
himself and I am planning on getting more as soon as possible. What I
am trying to say is that when I brought these creatures home I had no
idea what to do with them; the first thing I did was Google them and
came across WWM and I have been sitting here asking question after
question and getting them ALL answered. Thanks a lot!! OK...here is the
real question: A few weeks ago my son was in possession of 2 koi (about
8") and two large (10" from end to end) fan-tail goldfish and
a menagerie of other small fish (Giant Danios, smaller goldfish, tiger
barbs, some Neons, and several others) in a 55 gallon tank. All of a
sudden they started getting a slimy, spotty coating and about 24 hours
before they finally died, it appeared they had slime trailing off of
them, and the other fish would sometimes nibble at it. They just laid
at the bottom of the tank; they would not eat or swim at all. I treated
the fish for ick when they first started showing spots, but that
wasn't it. Then I used a broad spectrum antibiotic, Tricyclene, but
that didn't work. I finally treated them with this Lifeguard all in
one treatment for bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections and
that seemed to work because they started swimming and eating again, the
spots and slime cleared up and they stopped dying. We lost both Koi,
one Fantail and all but a small handful of the others. The interesting
thing is this: My son's bedroom (where he keeps his fish) is in the
basement, where the furnace is. Right about the same time the fish
started getting sick we were starting to have problems with our furnace
(it smelled bad when the heat kicked on). We had the gas company come
out and they said everything was fine. Then, about a week later, our
eyes started to burn and we got headachy and just didn't feel very
good. Luckily, my children were gone to their dad's the week all of
this was happening. When my husband called the gas company again they
came out and this time the carbon monoxide was so high we had to
evacuate and we had to buy a new furnace. The level of carbon monoxide
was 300 times what would have caused our carbon monoxide detectors to
go off if we had had one. We were lucky to be alive, and the gas
company said that we were alive only because I would open the windows
and patio doors when the smell would get unbearable and our eyes burned
and we would feel nauseous. DO you think the carbon monoxide caused
this reaction in the fish? And if you do, what kind of infection do you
think it was? I am sorry this question is so long and I really
didn't mean to get into such great detail, but these fish were very
special to us; my son especially. He has had them for as long as he can
remember, and telling him that they died while he was at his dad's
was more horrible than you can imagine. It seems as if I am haunted by
these fish and I feel horrible that I couldn't save them in time.
Please help me put this to bed finally. Lana <Lana, the short answer
is that I don't know anything about the toxicity of CO to fish,
though I assume if they breathe the stuff, it's bad for them for
the same reason it's bad for humans. In humans, it binds
irreversibly with the haemoglobin molecule in blood, reducing the
capacity of your blood supply to provide adequate oxygen. But the
question I can't answer is whether CO would dissolve rapidly enough
to be taken up by fish and so cause disease. CO is slightly more
soluble in water than CO2, but that isn't saying much, as anyone
trying to add CO2 to a planted aquarium will testify! On the other
hand, even small amounts of CO are toxic, so quite possibly you could
have a chronic stress situation leading to a variety of symptoms such
as those you've described. In any case, your priority is to ensure
that CO levels in your home are safe, and if that means using a CO
detector, then that's obviously a useful investment. But I'd
not immediately consign any problems to the CO incident, and as always,
do a check of nitrite and pH, just to check water quality and water
chemistry are as they should be. Sometimes coincidences happen, and we
ignore one problem because we thought it was actually part of another.
Re: Large Koi, Fan-Tail Goldfish and Carbon Monoxide...
Spiny eels in community tanks; mail-ordering fish
3-4-09 Thank You, Neale, for your quick response. We have,
in fact bought two CO detectors for each floor of my house, and so far
all is good! We have not had any new aquarium deaths since our new
furnace was installed, but I have been keeping a close eye on this tank
since it was infected; I used to leave it up to my son to let me know
when his fish need maintenance (I suffer from fibromyalgia and it is
not easy for me to go up and down the stairs) but now I go down at
least twice a day to make sure the tank looks good and the fish are
doing well. I have a new 26 gallon tall aquarium with a bowed front
with a few Dwarf Gouramis in it along with a Striped Peacock Eel and a
Kuhli Loach. I have been looking for more Loaches to add to this
aquarium but so far have been unsuccessful. I have called all of my
local LFSs, and even those more than an hour away and I am being told
that those are pretty rare and good luck finding them. I am thinking
about looking on the Internet to buy them; What are your thoughts on
purchasing fish via Internet and what should I look for/watch out for?
Lana Brown <Hello Lana, I'm happy to help. Be careful adding
loaches other than Kuhli loaches to your 26 gallon tank: Striped
Peacock Eels (Macrognathus aral, I think) are slow feeders and usually
starve to death in community tanks. It's critical there's
nothing nocturnal that will compete for frozen bloodworms and the other
live or meaty foods you're giving it. Unlike catfish, spiny eels
aren't scavengers and won't eat dried or pellet foods. So you
must take great care choosing their companions. Do also note the
maximum length of Macrognathus aral is around 60 cm (24 inches) and as
such much too big for your tank when mature. At that size it will be an
accomplished predator too, so those Kuhli loaches and likely any small
fish like tetras will be viewed as food. See here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/spinyeelsmonk.htm Anyway, as
for mail ordering fish, without a doubt the key thing is that they have
some sort of guarantee of live arrival. Lots of people obtain fish by
mail order and do so successfully. After all, fish are shipped to pet
stores by mail order! So the basic system is sound. But if the mail
order company is putting it's "money where it's mouth
is" in terms of guaranteeing their livestock arrives in good
health, you can be confident they know what they're doing. That
said, nothing beats seeing fish in the flesh, and species like Kuhli
loaches should turn up in most aquarium shops on a regular basis.
Unknown Freshwater Disease FW Stkg, Water Quality, No
Information 3/1/2009 Hello there. <Hi Nick, Mike here> I
have a small 5gal freshwater setup and have been experiencing a disease
problem for the past couple months. <5 Gallons is rather small for
anything except a Betta.> I've lost about 7 or 8 fish now total.
<Ouch!, what kind of fish?> When they contract the disease, the
fish clamp their fins to their sides and swim with an odd
"waggling" motion. In addition, they breathe rapidly and have
somewhat of an ashy hue. <This isn't a disease, this is
environmental\poor water quality. Have you tested your water?> I
have been gradually adding aquarium salt to see if that would help
prevent spread of the disease, but it doesn't seem to be working.
<Aquarium salt is pretty much useless, and this isn't a
disease.> After removing a dead fish, the rest will be perfectly
fine for a week or so, and then another will come down with the disease
all of the sudden, usually dying within 1-4 days. <Wow, There are
more questions here than answers. How are you filtering this aquarium?
What species of fish, how often are you changing the water?...I could
go on and on...> Could you possibly ID the disease from my
description or point me in the general direction for treating this?
<Almost certainly environmental based upon the information given.
You really need to start reading. Start with these, covering both setup
Re: Unknown Freshwater Disease Re: >> FW Overstocked,
Water Quality, 3/1/2009 <Hi Nick> I just realized what
could possibly be the problem. I completely forgot about changing and
cleaning filter media- it's been about 1 and a half months since
last cleaned. <Ah Ha!> When I cleaned it out yesterday I washed
quite a bit of brown gunk off the filter pad and sponge. <The sponge
is a biological filtration medium - bacterial colonies live there,
converting the toxic ammonia to slightly less toxic nitrite and then
non-toxic nitrate. If you washed the sponge, you destroyed the
bacteria.> I had had about 11-12 fancy guppies in the tank
initially. Could my forgetting to clean for a month and a half cause
results like I was seeing? <11 - 12 guppies is too many for a 5
gallon tank. That said, more likely than not, when you cleaned the
sponge, you killed all of the bacteria, forcing the tank to cycle over
again.> The rest of the fish have appeared completely healthy while
1 or 2 have been dying per week for about the past month. The first
fish that died would have only died a week or so after a good cleaning.
<Likely from ammonia poisoning> That's the only thing that
confuses me. <Read here my friend, all shall be revealed:
Re: >> FW Overstocked, Water Quality,
3/1/2009 If they cannot be rinsed with tap water, how should I
going about cleaning the filter media? <The filter media can be
rinsed, or better yet, replaced. The sponge which should not be
replaced) can be rinsed in either dechlorinated tap water or in a
bucket of tank water when you do your regular water changes.>
FW Fish Deaths 2/23/09 Hello guys/gals! I wrote a
few weeks ago concerning my blue ram, Lymphocystis, and fish death ...
You asked me for more info so here it goes (sorry it took so long).
60gal ... Little over 1yr old. 2 whisper 60 filters, 3 air stones. My
ammonia is o, nitrites o, nitrates 40 or less. pH is 7.4, temp is
78/79f. I do a 50% wc once a week. Fish stock(after deaths): 4 Angel
fish (1in babies) 2 bamboo shrimp 4 black neon tetras 3 cardinal tetras
1 dwarf Gourami 4 emperor tetras 3 German blue rams 1 Mickey mouse
platy 9 neon tetras 3 Otocinclus catfish 3 peacock gudgeons 2 sword
tails And before you give a lecture about the tetras they school within
groups of the other species. Anyways you asked what fish have died ...
In the past month I've lost 1 angelfish, 2 blue rams, 1 oto and 4
emperor tetras. I thought it was the blue rams disease killing
everything but this the other day I could have swore I saw black algae
growing on the fake plants ... Its possible it could've been in
there for MONTHS. So my question is this ... Could OTS or the black
algae have something to do with the sudden deaths? I KNOW it's not
my tank maintenance bc I keep my tank clean and I have always kept a
tight cleaning schedule. Thx! Nick <Your nitrates are too high for
many species. I usually recommend to keep the nitrate levels at 20 ppm
or less. This may not be your fault. Check the nitrates of your tap
water. In many agricultural areas the nitrates may be as high as 50
ppm. This is because years of fertilizer use have leached through the
ground water into the aquifers and now the nitrates are in the ground
water. So how do you reduce the nitrate levels when water changes
won't work? Live plants will help. This black algae is growing
because of the nitrate problem. I would recommend getting an R/O unit.
These pretty much reduce everything and leave you with mineral free
water. Lots of articles on using R/O on WWM. Initial cost may be high
but well worth it in the long run. Many for sale on eBay.-Chuck>
Re: Fish death FW Fish Deaths II 2/23/09 Thx! That
could possibly be the problem as my tank does have live plants in it. I
have recently moved and I have not tested the new water. In terms of
nitrates, its not always that high its usually 20 or less but 40 is the
max its ever gotten. 2 more questions : If I test my tap water and it
DOSN'T give me any kind of reading what else could be the problem?
(I keep my tank lights on for 12hrs a day and I do not have any other
algae growth in the tank, and also its only growing on the plants
hanging at the top of the tank). < The water at your new place may
be different in terms of water chemistry (pH, hardness, etc...) and
fish usually don't like big changes. Combine that with the move and
the fish could be stressed by a combination of both factors. Test the
new water and compare the results with what you were getting at the old
place.> If I do get a high reading what other options do I have
other than R/O water saying as I really don't have the $ for that.
Thx again. < With a R/O unit you know exactly what you have in the
water, nothing! This way you can add the buffers to get the water where
you want it and keep it there. The other alternative is to match the
fish up with the water you have. Hard alkaline water is good for many
fish but not so good for others.-Chuck>
Gasping fishes (RMF, thoughts on this
mystery?) 8/21/08 Hi Crew, I am hoping you can offer me some
suggestions because I am not sure what I should do. <Oh?> Monday
I did a relatively large water change in the morning on my 35g planted
tank. I normally keep my water changes 25-30% but exceeded this to
approximately 50% because I wanted to do some deeper siphoning where
there are no plants. <In itself should do any harm, unless you
carbonate hardness is so low the tank is "balanced on a knife
edge" as far as coping with normal background acidification
goes.> All replacement water is treated with Prime water
conditioner. The filter sponges (two AquaClears) were rinsed in tank
water. I keep filter floss on the top for extra physical filtering and
this was replaced. This is normal procedure for me. That afternoon the
hydro went out for about 3 hours. <The hydro? What is that? Some
sort of filter?> On Tuesday I had a swordtail gasping at the surface
and generally looking unwell behaviourally but no physical symptoms
that I could describe to you. He died. Then a dwarf neon began to
display the same behaviour and again died quickly. <This is a Dwarf
Neon Gourami?> Last night I noticed one of the baby platys seemed to
be off with a little surface skimming and this morning dead. Now I see
one of my threadfin rainbows and another young platy exhibiting the
behaviour and suspect they too will soon perish. <It sounds to me as
if you added something poisonous. I have done something similar once
before, by adding wood to a tank without realising it had been sprayed
with insecticide. Many fish died quickly, with essentially the same
symptoms you describe. By contrast the fish that didn't object to
the poison came through unscathed showing little more than heavy
breathing and a certain loss of appetite. Poisons can be of various
types, the most common being things like paint fumes and bug sprays.
But there's also the danger of bleach, detergent, and other
cleaning materials being used in buckets and not completely rinsed out.
Stuff can get into buckets and pipes accidentally, especially if you
store them in the same place as cleaning tools or garden equipment.
It's wiser to store them somewhere safe, perhaps in the cabinet
itself, so they can't be accidentally contaminated.> Normally,
this quick succession of deaths would point to water quality issues and
since I guessed it is always possible that I put the tank through a
mini-cycle, I tested this morning and everything checks out. Nitrite
and ammonia 0. Ph 8.0 and Nitrate 20 which is consistent with my tap
water. The threadfins and wrestling halfbeaks were the latest additions
but that was 6 weeks ago. The threadfins went through the normal 2 week
quarantine the halfbeaks did not. This is because my quarantine tanks
are not suitable for jumpers. That said, they were specially ordered in
for me and at the LFS for 5 days. I know that these fish are treated
with erythromycin on arrival. The manager was not there one day last
week when I was in and I saw employees adding it to the tanks. The
halfbeaks are so far thriving and growing. <It may well be the
Halfbeaks aren't fussed about whatever toxin got into the tank.
Once settled in, they are certainly quite hardy fish, particularly
Dermogenys spp.> There are potentially a few other hints. Last week
I added a male swordtail who I have had a year in another tank (the
dead fellow from above) I added him to impregnate a female Lyretail who
I have also had for some time. It was my intention to keep her next
brood but she did not appear to be pregnant (approximately eight weeks
after she last gave birth) although she had been exposed to males and
pregnant in the past. She suddenly showed up dead but I thought the
male perhaps had become overly aggressive with her and killed her.
<Would tend to agree with that analysis.> I am sorry but other
then telling you that it was last week sometime I cannot pinpoint the
time line. There were no hints of illness with her. The only other
potential hint is a platy who is presently in quarantine due to popeye.
I recently had a male "come-of-age and he is rather aggressively
chasing the other platys at times, I assumed the pop-eye was due to
trauma suffered at the hands of the rogue. She has recovered well in
Epson salt and isolation. <If one eye has "popped",
that's usually trauma; if both, then environmental or some systemic
infection.> Lastly, I would like to mention that this tank contains
along with plants a happy school of Corydoras. I mention this because I
know in any suggested treatments, these fellows need special
consideration. <Unless these are some funky wild-caught species of
Corydoras, they'll likely be tolerant of whatever medication you
use. I've never had problems treating Peppered or Bronze Corydoras
for example with standard Ick medications. That said, the old salt/heat
approach is perhaps preferable.> I do not think that waiting this
out is good idea as it seems to be continuing but I do not know what
steps to take. <The usual: daily water changes and close observation
for further symptoms, at least for the next week.> Should I add
carbon to the filter? <Not a bad idea at all. Will remove many
toxins. Remove and dispose of the carbon after 1-2 weeks; it'll be
saturated by then anyway, and you run the risk of the toxins leaching
out in the long term.> Should I put a UV light on it? <I
wouldn't bother. Doesn't sound like this is caused by a
waterborne parasite.> Will this help if it is bacterial in nature? I
am on a well and we have had a lot of storms and rain, it is possible
the well in contaminated (we do not drink the water). <Ah, this is
certainly something worth considering. You can get stuff like ammonia
and nitrate running off fields into the water table, and these can
stress/kill fish. Do check the water for ammonia before adding to the
tank and see how it registers. Would tend to recommend only using
potable water for aquaria, unless you're sourcing from something
known to be (at least acceptably) safe, such as rainwater outside of a
city. Treating inbound water with water conditioner and filtering
through carbon isn't a bad idea at all.> The family is going
away for a few days at the end of the week, so I could shock the well
then and have all the bleach run through before they return?
<Somehow I don't think this is biotic but abiotic.> Any
suggestions you have would be much appreciated..... Aileen <Cheers,
Neale.> <<Mmm, the "Prime" might have gone bad... or
there may have been a bunch of chloramine pulsed into the municipal
water for that day... Or some sort of negative interaction with either
these and some biota here... My usual advice to mix/store change water,
avoid such large % change-outs. RMF>> Re: More re: gasping
fishes (RMF, thoughts on this mystery?) 8/21/08 Sorry Neale,
<Aileen,> Hydro is electricity. It has been a stormy, wet summer
in Ontario... <Ah, I see.> I know this could saturate the soil
and increasing leaching into the water table. My nitrates in the well
climbed to 40 this winter. I suspect this was due to a failed corn crop
last summer. The soil was treated (herbicides/ fertilizers), but the
corn crop failed. I suspect this would leave some of the stuff
available to my well if there was enough water to transport it there.
This well is not new, it is the old hand dug well lined with field
stone and apparently highly susceptible to contamination. Anyway the
nitrates are down to 20 now and remain so. I just tested the tap water
for this and ammonia which is 0. I did a water change on the "big
tank" Monday morning, though it was a 25% water change and
inhabitants are demonstrating no ill effects. That said it is a much
bigger volume of water and a much smaller water change. Would this be
enough of a dilution factor? <Bob seemed to be recommending against
big water changes, which is certainly good advice if you can't be
100% sure that water chemistry/quality of the incoming water is
consistent. But if the water coming in is of similar quality/chemistry
to the water taken out of a pond or aquarium, you can really change as
much as you want. It's fairly standard practise among freshwater
aquarists to change 50% per week.><<Unfortunately, much of the
mains/tapwater sources in the world have become questionable in modern
times... Again, my advice to only change about 25% maximum in any given
period and to pre-mix/store change-out water to avoid such issues.
RMF>> My water has plenty of carbonate hardness Neale. You had me
test and retest the water, and although it does change with aeration
and time, it was not enough to cause stress to the fish. This is also
why as a safeguard, I always kept my water changes to about 25%.
<OK. Well, if that works, best stick with it. As Bob suggests, this
will minimise variations between water changes. It sounds as if your
incoming water is simply too variable to be "trusted".>
Well, since I began this return email the threadfin has died, as has a
wrestling halfbeak! I had not even realized that one of the halfbeaks
was sick. This is really upsetting, but I suspect you know that. <Oh
dear.> I have done a partial water change (50% out only 25% in) with
a bucket of aged water and added carbon. It is the only aged water I
have on hand. My buckets are dedicated fish buckets and have been in
use a year. Prior to being fish buckets they were restaurant food
bucket. Though I am certainly not the only inhabitant of this
household, I really do not think there is contamination by way of that
route. We drank the water here until, because of the fish tanks I
discovered the high nitrate level. Regular testing of potability
regarding fecal coliforms had in the past revealed low levels, but
shocking the well remedied that. It was literally due to the fish and
WWM that we stopped drinking the water. <OK. I'm not an expert
on drinking water, so I'll cry off commenting in that direction.
And I have zero experience of well water (it just isn't something
that's common in the UK) so I have to be careful about commenting.
But the general advice is this: the water that goes into your tank MUST
be approximately the same water chemistry as what was taken out.
Obviously a fish in a river isn't swimming in the same water from
moment to moment, but the water flowing past the fish will have more or
less the same water chemistry all the time. So in the aquarium, when
you do a water change, that's your paradigm: new water, same water
chemistry. If you can't guarantee that, do smaller water changes so
that any fluctuations are diluted.><<Mmm, if I may, I strongly
recommend looking into using a simple RO or more involved at-home water
filtering system... and blending about half of this water for
changes... and using the filtered water for your potable (drinking,
cooking) needs. RMF>> My gut feeling is that something is in the
well or the siphon that I cannot test for. Because the 100 gal is fine,
I use the same buckets for both , but I use different siphons on the
tanks. How, I have no idea. I would be really interested in your
thoughts on the dilution factor mentioned above. <Proportionally
smaller water changes will reduce the risk of water chemistry
shock.> However, I am going treat as if there has been contamination
of some sort. I think the well water should go in for a complete
analysis, but that will not be in time for these fish. I do not see an
obvious date code on the Prime but I will write Seachem just in case
they know something I don't. I have had this particular container
about 2 months. Could bad food be a possibility? <Bit of a long shot
really.> These guys get spectrum grow (young fish and pregnant
females) as a staple with various vegetable flakes and fresh
vegetables, particularly peas. The big tank has older and larger
fellows in it and get the regular spectrum and less of the vegetable
based flake, although everything else is the same. <All sounds
fine.> In regards to my other slips.. the "dwarf" is
Melanotaenia praecox and the Corydorus are not funky, they are the
typical but delightful juliis and sterbai. <Right.> "My
usual advice to mix/store change water, avoid such large change-outs.
RMF" Yes. I am aware of this. During this water change I was so
focused on the bottom I did not think about the amount of water I was
removing. <If you keep incoming/outgoing water chemistry the same,
this isn't an issue. I have done 70%, 90% water changes many times
without problems. If you think about it, moving a fish from the pet
store to your home aquarium is a 100% water change, and your fish
survive. Sure, you might take care to acclimate them, and if doing a
"big clean" I would certainly remove the fish to a 5 gallon
bucket of old water, and then acclimate them to the new water over 30
minutes by swapping out some of that old water with new water. Maybe an
approach you might take next time around.> Even then I could have
replaced it and should have I guess. I siphon this tank into the
buckets so if I suck up a platy baby I can put it back. I have
developed a really good relationship with the manager of a local store
and she takes any excess young I have for credit. It also means that
now when I ask a question she cannot answer, she tells me she
doesn't know instead of just making one up and of course now I can
answer some of hers. As far as the storage, the sheer volume of water I
need every week has complicated this as well as complacently: I have
been getting away with it...until now. <It sounds like small but
frequent water changes, perhaps coupled with nitrate-management
approaches (e.g., fast-growing floating plants) would be the way
forward. Restrict feeding and don't overstock, and then you may
find weekly 20-25% water changes will be acceptable.> I do want to
put an old and therefore well rinsed rain barrel in the basement. They
are of sufficient volume and come complete with a lid and tap. . I have
been a little concerned about the plastic and leaching and had not yet
checked this out. I am of course now very sorry that I had not moved on
this sooner Thanks again for your help gentleman. I do hope I can stop
this. <So do we.> Aileen <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A little more Re: More re: gasping fishes
(RMF, thoughts on this mystery?) 8/22/08 Hi, Just a quick note to
let you know that it seems to have abated. I did lose a couple of fish
last night still, but there are no new casualties today and nobody is
indicating any stress. Surprisingly the species that escaped totally
unscathed was the Corydoras. I wish I knew what I had done or more
specifically what was introduced into the tank to cause this, but I
have yet to figure it out exactly what or when it was introduced.
However, I shall carry on and follow your recommendations and hopefully
this will not happen again. Not pleasant at all..... Thanks again for
your help with stopping this potential wipe out Aileen <Hi Aileen.
Thanks for the update. Not sure I was able to offer much constructive
analysis, but it sounds as if you have some idea of what *not* to do in
future, so that the chances of this happening again will be reduced.
Good luck, Neale.>
Ooh.. that smell... Dechloraminator 6/22/08 Hi crew,
<David> Well, here's an interesting one... while
preparing a batch of FW for a water change, I noticed a very
strong sulfur odor from the water change bucket. I'm sure
this is not a good thing... <Agreed> I've been using
tap water in this place for a few years and never noticed this
before, and I usually sniff the water to make sure I don't
smell any residual chloramine. It's reservoir water, not well
water, and does not smell at all sulfury out of the tap. So,
what's different... this is a fairly new bucket, but I have
used it for water changes a few times already. It's very warm
in the house today, so the water in the bucket is around 80-85F,
which isn't typical. I noticed the smell within a couple of
hours after putting the water in the bucket, so I can't
imagine this could be any kind of bacterial problem... could it?
<Mmm, no...> I added dechlorinator (Amquel), GH (Seachem
Equilibrium), and some acid buffer (also Seachem). Are any of
these products known to produce that smell, when used in normal
quantities? <There are... the Amquel... may be "too
old"... does have the capacity for generating this smell...
Should be tossed if so> Or, could the low pH of the water be
reacting with the plastic? <Doubtful. Most of these buckets
are "food grade" safe polyethylene... Contain no
Sulfur> The pH in the bucket is probably around 6.0 or
slightly lower, i.e. bright yellow on the test kit. I've been
adding the acid buffer and then waiting a while before I add the
alkaline-- maybe I shouldn't do that-- ? -Dave <This pH is
actually not "that" low... the container is almost
entirely non-reactive... It's the dechloraminator almost
assuredly. Bob Fenner>
Re: ooh.. that smell 6/22/08 Bob, thanks for the quick
reply. I did a test, last night I prepared a fresh bucket, added
the Amquel and GH but did not add the acid buffer. This morning
there was no sulfur smell... but I did notice a faint chlorine
smell, even though I tend to use a bit more dechloraminator than
suggested on the label. So this seems to support your idea that
the Amquel is past its due date. Perhaps the sulfur smell was
some interaction between the Amquel, the higher temperature
yesterday, and the acidic properties. <Mmm, maybe. Thank you
for this follow-up. BobF>
Lysol...! 3/12/08 My "sweet" son dumped
Lysol on all the rocks we were cleaning from our fish tank. They are a
mix of quartz, volcanic (very porous) and sandstone?. Are these rocks
in any way salvageable? We have one lonely old African Cichlid and were
in the process of building up a new tank.... gotta love kids! Thank
you, Deanna <Mmm, I'd give them a long rinse in hot water,
perhaps a bleach washing (please read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm "Children, the promise of
tomorrow... If they make it that far!" Bob Fenner>
Paint fumes, FW aquatics toxicity -- 10/30/2007
Dear WWM Crew, I have recently (over the past week) lost fish in my
29-gallon 9-month-old freshwater aquarium. My 4 catfish died a few days
ago, followed by my 2 angelfish yesterday. Today, after work, 3 zebra
Danios and 1 rasbora were gone. I did a 50% water change 2 days ago
(even though parameters were normal). How realistic is the possibility
that paint fumes might be the reason? The aquarium sits at the bottom
of a stairway, and the walls being painted were the stairway walls, and
also the upstairs hallway. The painting has gone on over the last 7
days (really, last weekend and this weekend), which is also when my
fish started appearing sick. The tank is covered. Water parameters are
normal, I keep a fairly fastidious water change schedule per your
site's recommendations, and have not had a problem until now.
I'm wondering if I'm seeing "flashing", although it
may be that I'm watching the fish *really* closely for the first
time and exaggerating what is perhaps normal behavior. My remaining
inhabitants are 6 gold barbs (who seem to me to be quite hardy), a
dwarf gourami not appearing well, and 2 harlequin rasboras, who do seem
to be twitching (actually, 2 of the gold barbs seem to be twitchy). I
don't see anything attached to their bodies. In researching on your
site, I came across the suggestion that paint fumes can have a
deleterious effect, but was not able to infer if this was a rare
occurrence or a common one. Thank you for your time, and please let me
know what you think, I hope I've supplied the correct information.
I did go to my LFS this afternoon and managed to confuse myself right
out of the store. Katie <Katie, paint fumes are extremely toxic to
fish and can easily kill them. Assuming that the aquarium is otherwise
fine in terms of nitrite, ammonia, pH etc you can probably put down a
mass death of fish to paint fume. Really, you should relocate an
aquarium to a part of the house not being painted. If that isn't
practical, then putting the fish in one or more large (5 gallon)
buckets with lids in another room (ideally with a filter attached) can
work too. Do regular (daily) water changes and the fish can be kept
like this for several days in a centrally heated home. The degree of
toxicity varies depending on the paint and how much fresh air moves
through your home. In the meantime, you need to do massive water
changes to flush out the fumes from the water in the tank (say, 2 x 50
water changes today). Most of your fish will be getting poisoned from
the water, into which the fumes dissolve. Air-breathing fish (like
Corydoras, loaches, etc.) are at greater risk, because they take in the
fume-laden air directly. Different species have different tolerances.
Cichlids on the whole are "canaries" when it comes to
poisons, keeling over at the first sniff. Good luck, Neale.>
New water Caused Fish Loss 4/16/07 I have a 55 gallon
freshwater tank. For the past few weeks, after I feed the fish, the
excess food that was not sucked up by the 100 gallon filter I have on
there, fell to the bottom and started to collect around the decorations
in the tank. I did what I could to remove 90% of it, but it sticks to
everything in a glob. My water tested fine for ammonia, nitrites,
nitrates and the pH hovers at right around 6-7. Yesterday, I was
topping off the tank the way I always do and the tap water had no odor,
but within 30 minutes of adding it to the tank (I only added 1 gallon
and it was treated with tap water treatment) all of my fish went to the
top of the tank and were gasping. Within an hour, I had lost all 20 of
my fish, including 2 Cory catfish and one lace cat. The rest were for
my kids and were fancy fish, and mostly tetras of various kinds. My 2
snails made it! Within that first 30 minutes and all day yesterday, the
tank was emitting a VERY STRONG Sulphur smell? I tested the water after
all the fish died and the only thing that was elevated was the
nitrates? I have Nitrazorb in the tank at all times and have never (in
5 years) had a total loss. What would be causing the Sulphur smell and
how do I fix it. I have since moved my snails to my cichlid tank and
they are doing fine. I topped of the cichlid tank with the same 1
gallon of water and have had no issues at all? Any ideas? I'm
planning on draining all the water tomorrow and rinsing the rocks,
etc...Basically starting from scratch on that tank to avoid a total
loss again. The kids were devastated. Any help you can suggest would be
greatly appreciated. At a loss!? Shay Einhaus < OK, Stick with me
here. I think I can explain what is going on here. It may be a little
confusing but I think I know what happened. Excess food that is not
removed from the tank is broken down into ammonia. This is deadly to
fish. In an acidic pH like the one you described, there is no ammonia.
The ammonia is bound up with an extra hydrogen molecule to form
ammonium. This is less toxic and loved by plants. When you topped off
your tank the water was probably alkaline and shifted the pH from an
acidic to basic environment. All that ammonium iron then reverted to
ammonia and you had an ammonia spike that started to "burn"
the fishes gills. This caused all your fish to rush to the surface,
since they had less active gill tissue the were starving for air. This
didn't happen in the cichlid tank because it is already at a high
pH so all the waste is an ammonia and the new water didn't change
the pH. I would make the following recommendations. Only feed your fish
enough food so that all of it is gone in 2 minutes once a day. Remove
any uneaten food. Food going into the filter does not count as gone. It
is out of site but not out of the system and is still affecting your
fish. Get rid of the Nitrazorb. This effects the biological filtration.
When the resin has expired and can no longer absorbed any additional
nitrogenous wastes , it will cause the toxins to rapidly accumulate for
no apparent reason. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all part of a
normal aquarium system. I would recommend that you use Bio-Spira from
Marineland to add the additionally bacteria needed to properly
breakdown the wastes in your aquarium. Check the water you are adding
with the water that is already in your aquarium or at least remove some
of the old water to reduce the waste before adding any new
Poorly Fishes, need more info. - 4/7/07 Hi <Hello
there> I wonder if you can help. We are new to keeping fish but
brought a 80 litre tank 4 months ago. We have been very careful and
done everything that we should. Over a 8 week period we purchased 5
platy's, 2 guppy's, 5 Glowlight tetras, 3 Neons and 2 upside
down catfish. <Mmm... this last, Synodontis nigriventris... may
prove to be too testy for some of your more easygoing fishes> About
6 weeks ago we noticed that one of the yellow and blue guppy's
looked more yellow, it died 2 days later. We then noticed that one of
the orange platy's had a white spot on it as did a few of the
others. We spoke to the Fish shop and they thought it was Ich and we
treated accordingly and the spots disappeared. The big Spot on the
orange Platy left a ulcer. Then we lost the other Guppy and then the
Catfish - perhaps the catfish due to the Ich treatment. The tanks seems
healthy the readings are as they should be <Mmm, values please>
and we are doing regular water changes and we are having lots of
babies. <Generally a good sign> We have managed to save about 30
babies and have put into a nursery tank but over the last couple of
weeks this has dropped to about 10 babies..............and then there
are 9 babies in the main tank that all seem to be doing fine. Could
this be Velvet or multiple diseases that due to out inexperience we
have missed symptoms??? <Yes... there could be other
disease/pathogenic at play here... but, treating for such carte blanche
is always a bit of a risk... There are intolerances, toxicity to
consider in administering said "medicines"... I would like to
know the water test measures you have, the history of the maintenance,
your set-up, before advocating a course of action. Please do respond
with this information, and we'll go on from there> Please help
Yours Frustrated Jo x <Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Poorly Fishes 4/8/07 Hi Bob <Joanne> Many Thanks or
reply. <Welcome> In response to the Set-Up and readings we have a
Record 80, 80 Litre Tropical, Freshwater Tank with a inbuilt filter
system. There are only artificial plants in the tank. The readings are
PH 7.2, ammonia 0mg/l, Nitrites 0mg/l, Nitrates 10mg/l. <Okay> To
add to the whole issue I went to the fish shop yesterday and explained
what has been happening, the guy thought that it sounded like Velvet
and gave us King British Velvet Control <... don't see the
ingredients listed on the Net... what is in this product? Aren't
companies required to list such in your country?> medicine and
within an hour all 5 of the Platy's were at the bottom of the tank,
gills clamped and rapidly breathing. We did a 50% water change and
within an hour <Good move> they seemed to be fine and are now all
swimming around the tank as normal. Could it be the toxins, <The
toxins? "It" was the product used> I am even more confused
as through it all the tiny babies in the main tank were fine and still
are. Whilst the adults looked as though they were going to die the
babies were swimming around as normal. I would have thought that
whatever it was it would have hit the babies first. The 5 Glowlight
tetras, 3 Neons and the catfish seemed fine. Cheers Jo x <Likely
"classical" habituation at play here... the old/er fishes
raised in very different conditions. BTW, you might read-up on the
desirable water quality of the species you list... not much if any
overlap... twixt the livebearer/s and not... Bob Fenner>
Something has gone horribly horribly wrong! (high pH and white
water in fw tank) 2/22/07 Hi Crew, I have a major situation on my
hands. I have a 24g planted freshwater tank. I came home from my
evening college class last night, and my tank water was white and
cloudy. <Mmm, what had been done with this tank/system recently? The
last day or so?> I immediately did a 50% water change, and left the
tank overnight. There is no change today. After scouring WWM for an
answer, I initially thought it might be a bacterial bloom.
<Possibly... from an overfeeding incident? A death?> That is,
until I got home from work... I tested my water and my pH has gone from
7.4 to 8.0! I tested my source water, which comes from a private well
that is not treated with anything, and it's pH is 7.4. My ammonia
is 0 and my nitrites read at 0.05 ppm. I've already lost a bamboo
shrimp and an albino tiger barb. I want to save the rest of the
inhabitants... They are all trying to bail out (literally). I can't
figure out what happened, since I don't dose anything really (I use
SeaChem flourish tabs in the substrate and I use a fizz-tab CO2 system.
So, here's my question... What the heck happened and how do I fix
it? Sean <First of all... "don't panic"... well, do
panic in terms of action here... At least I would run some activated
carbon in your filter flow path... Better still would be to move all
the tank inhabitants to another system if you had/have it... or even to
a friendly LFS till we can figure out... or luck into this system
fixing itself. Bob Fenner>
Re: Something has gone horribly horribly wrong! (high pH and
white water in fw tank) - 02/22/07 Hi Bob, Thanks for getting back
to me. I added a packet of activated carbon when I did the 50% water
change. The tank is looking 100 times better today. <Ah, good...>
I can actually see the back glass. all my fish have calmed down.
They're no longer trying to jump out, and they're looking at me
like they're hungry. <Good signs> All I've done with the
tank in the last week is a little cleaning. I removed some well,
actually quite a few) dead leaves from some of my plants and cleaned up
some hair algae that had started showing up. <Mmm, this last might
be at root (no pun intended) here... some types of algae are quite
toxic... and get "upset" when "fooled with"... All
the more reason for regular maintenance and... what's that
oxymoron?... dynamic equilibrium> I forgot to mention, I think my
heater broke. As I was doing the water change, I thought the water felt
a bit warm, and I noticed there was an unusual amount of condensation
on the inside of my aquarium cover. My thermometer didn't show that
the temp was high... and it's not a cheap stick-on one. I replaced
the heater with a spare my soon to be mother-in-law got at a yard sale,
still in the box, for $1. It's working exactly as it should.
<Good> Come to think of it, I'm really not sure when the
shrimp died (I found the other one dead this morning), since everything
went haywire either while I was asleep or while I was at work. I
suppose the shrimp could have died in the night, causing a bacteria
bloom that wasn't noticeable until the lights were on...
<Yes> But I'm still confused by the high pH. <... Well...
it's possible that the shrimp dying, decomposing... provided
sufficient nutrient... that it boosted photosynthesis, and your water
wasn't all that well buffered for resisting an upward trend in
pH... Maybe I should write for CSI? Call be Bobby Bruckheimer from now
on> I guess I won't worry about it too much. I'll just use
some RO or DI water as I'm doing water changes to get it back down
to 7.4, where it matches my source water (unless you advise otherwise).
Is there anything else I need to do? Sean <Thanks for this
Please Help Solve my mystery... over-treated, killed off
nitrifiers, toxified with "clarifier", no mystery 2/20/07
**Stuff is bolded so you guys can "skim" all my rambling
haha.** <Can't see in the response tray...> Hi, It's
Brittany again. I've been *having some problems*. Alot <A
lot> of my fish have died, and my tank is no longer a mostly-molly
tank. Here's my current set up, please look at the pictures too.
<Pix didn't "come through"> *Fish :* 1 female 24
Karot Gold Molly, 1 female lyretail Dalmatian molly, 1 male black and
gold sailfin molly, 1 male Moscow guppy, 1 male cobra guppy, 2 female
fancy guppies, 3 Cory catfish (I'm pretty sure 2 are male and the
other is female), one "sucker fish". I have 5 molly fry, 1
guppy fry, and 1 young sucker fish "separated" in the tank.
*Water:* *Hardly any salt* since I'm all out, *78 degrees*, Has*
tap water conditioner* in it... and is *currently very green*. <...
something wrong here... Nutrient abundance, lack of filtration...>
This "green" issue has been going on for quite awhile now. At
first, *it would happen every once in awhile*. Once some of my fish
started getting sick,* I would treat them with medication*. <...
what sorts? Most of these are toxic... to the fishes, other life in the
system> After medication was used as directed, or sometimes before
the full "7 days", *the water would become cloudy and foggy
looking*. <Yes... killed off your necessary beneficial (filter...)
microbes> A few times I finished the medication use to see if it was
just "normal". When the cloudiness didn't clear up (after
a few 25% water changes and such), I bought some "Water
clarifier". <Also toxic> That stuff was a nightmare and made
my tank even worse, and no, it didn't "clear up after a few
days" as some pet store people had said. So, I resorted to my last
option: full water change. <...> *My fish were dying and I
wasn't going to sit there and watch them continue to suffer. With
limited funds, I didn't have the means to buy some miracle
product.* <There is, are none> After the full change, my water
was so clear, I had forgotten what it looked like to be so beautiful!
The fish were happy, spanning their fins and sails, and chasing their
reflections. <Except it isn't cycled...> *When two more fish
got sick, I again used the medication...* <.......> and when the
water began to cloud again and turn greenish, I was frustrated. *After
about a 50% water change, the tank was clear again.* Since it was my
favorite male (Tyson, as you may or may not recall), I was not going to
do nothing about it. *So, I submerged a 2 gallon tank into my 28 gallon
tank (since I only have one heater) and installed a 3 gallon filter for
the smaller tank.* <Good> Here is where I placed Tyson for
medication treatment. At first he was ok, but then he started to lay on
the bottom and become depressed. I tried a few things... blah blah
blah, it's off topic... but as sad as it is to say, my poor Tyson
died. I believe he has Tuberculosis or something untouchable and
incurable of the sort. <Poisoned> Through his death and the
*method of separation, I learned that separating and medicating a fish
this way WOULD NOT cloud my water*. So, of course, when my young male
catfish got some modified "Version" of pop eye, I*separated
him out in the same way *. When my male sailfin got sick with Popeye, I
added him in with the catfish. Here is where the cloudy water mystery
began. * I only medicated the small "bowl" inside my tank.
Yet, somehow, 2 DAYS after I began medicating these two fish, my main
tank is green as green gets.* I can hardly see my heater on the back
"wall" of my tank, and I'm amazed the fish can see. A few
days before, this happened when I was just medicating the catfish, so,
*I did a 50% water change, and that seemed to clear things up.* Now,
two days later, my tank is the greenest I've ever seen. *There is
no algae build up on the glass and the cories and sucker fish are
thriving.* My lyretail molly, like all the ones before her, is fading.
*I don't know what it is about my mollies... especially lyretail,
but they all end up the same... with this "curving of the
spine" and then death. The fish never appear "sad", as
in, they don't separate themselves out of stop eating, until
minutes before they die.* So, the mystery... for a recap because I know
I'm "long winded" in all aspects of communication: *1) My
fish are lessening by the week* <No mystery here... they've been
poisoned by your treatments, are in an uncycled system> *2) my water
is hopelessly green and cloudy despite partial water changes*
<Ditto> *3) My lyre's don't ever survive!!*
<Again...> The only catch.. I don't have any money. I'm a
young adult going to college this summer, so I still live with my
parents. Money goes towards gas. I have full access to a HUGE kitchen
with all sorts of things that may be "natural remedies" for
cloudy and green water. <Actually... none necessary, advised> I
don't have money to replenish my aquarium salt, but there's
plenty in the kitchen which I have not used in the tank. I have Melafix
and Pimafix, <Worthless> API Stress Coat, Tap water Dechlorifier/
Conditioner, and different food sources. Please help me fix my problem
and save my fish with the resources I have available. Right now I'm
going to do a "full" water change of my tank. I have removed
and scrubbed my filter because it had algae collected in it. The filter
is still good for another week. Again, sorry for the long email!
I'll bold the important stuff or something for a quicker
"browse". ~Brittany~ <All you need is your (obvious)
intelligence, and to apply yourself... Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and
the linked files above... Your system is uncycled... you've been
poisoning your livestock... Bob Fenner>
Iron In The Aquarium, FW 2/12/07 Hey Chuck, I have the wire
artificial plants in my tank and the metal is actually rusting. I can
see it through the plastic and on the bottom glass of my tank. Is this
ok for the fish and the water? < A little iron is naturally found in
many sources of tap water due to rust found in the pipes. Many newer
homes have copper or plastic piping but a little iron will not hurt the
fish but would be relished by live aquatic plants.-Chuck>
Gold fantail thyroid tumor? Likely Simazine poisoned -
1/22/07 Hello crew, <Rachel> I have a one-eyed gold fantail
named Polyphemos, <Ahh!> about 5 inches long from nose to the end
of his tail. A few months ago I bought a 5 gallon Regent acrylic tank
for him (up from his old 2.5 gallon) <Yikes... needs even much more
room than this> with a built-in filtration system and bio-wheel.
After reading the FAQs, I realize he should have twice that much space,
<Easily... better four or more times> but I have nowhere to put a
10 gal. tank until I move out of this apartment. Having lost several
goldfish in years past due to poor water quality, I've been
diligent about changing Pol's water - 20-30% weekly. <Good> I
had a friend feed Pol over Christmas break. He seemed fine when I got
back, although there was a lot of algae build-up, and his dorsal fin
and tail had changed to black - I chalked this up to the dark
algae-covered environment. <Mmm, both more likely due to declining
water quality> I scraped some of the algae off the tank, did a
partial water change, changed the filter, and added the recommended
amount of "Algae Destroyer Liquid." <... Simazine...
toxic... I do NOT endorse the use of this compound for/in ornamental
aquatic use> Pol seemed fine for the rest of that week, and soon
began to change back to his normal gold color. However, he has now lost
his appetite completely, and as far as I know has not eaten any of his
food for close to a week. (Until yesterday his tank was bare except for
some river stones, which made keeping track of and disposing uneaten
food a breeze.) He now spends most of his time sitting in the corner of
the tank with his nose in the air and is breathing heavily.
<Start... changing the water... daily... a gallon or two... stored
from days previous...> He occasionally darts to the surface and
swims normally when disturbed but soon settles back in the corner. He
doesn't seem to be in danger of starving just yet; he was perhaps
overfed while I was on vacation, and his fins and scales are all normal
and healthy. But when he first lost his appetite, I noticed a small
reddish-white bump on his throat (see picture, attached). I thought at
first from his symptoms that it might be flukes, did a partial water
change, and treated with Parasite Clear, which involved a 20-30% water
change before the second dose. 48 hours after the second dose of the
medicine, the bump was still there, and the area of redness appeared to
have grown to 2-3 mm in size. I did another 20-30% water change, tap
water as usual properly treated with a dechlorinator, hoping that it
was a water quality problem, perhaps tied to the algae remover
chemicals. Nothing seems to have helped. Ammonia levels are
undetectable, pH is at 7.5. I don't have a nitrite/nitrate test
kit, but I'm assuming from these recent water changes every couple
of days that it's as close as I can get it to optimal. Usually he
eats Tetra Exotic sinking mini sticks for dinner alternated with
Tubifex worms for breakfast, and has always until now been extremely
interested in food. He doesn't show interest in it at all now, even
when I drop the pellets directly on top of him. Since reading the info
on these pages, I've tried feeding him a thawed frozen pea, without
the skin; no response. I added a layer of gravel and some live plant
bulbs last night, hoping that they could help create a more natural
environment eventually, or at least a more comfortable surface for him
to sit on. Although it's been fine until now, I've also added a
bubble stone in case there's a problem with oxygenation. Besides
this bump, the rapid breathing, and constant sitting in the corner, he
looks healthy, but refuses to eat. From looking at the charts at
www.fishyfarmacy.com, I thought it might be a thyroid tumor,
Chilodonella, or maybe even a rock stuck in his throat. <Mmm, no...
these are distant possibilities... Your fish has been poisoned... by
the initial questionable water quality... next, the Simazine...>
I've thought about trying salt, but the last time I salted a tank
my fish died - I was using table salt without iodine as recommended by
some other website, and wasn't sure whether that death was due to
using the wrong type of salt or the inevitable progress of the
infection. <More likely by far the latter> I've got a bag
full of meds from my disease-ridden poor-water quality days, but I
didn't want to dose him up with more chemicals before I knew for
sure what was wrong. Any advice or diagnosis you have would be very
much appreciated! I think he could hold out for a few more days to a
week without eating, but I'm out of ideas for what else to do to
help him. Thank you, ~Rachel <>< <If you had another up and
going system I'd move the goldfish to it... as you don't seem
to... dilute the present ones toxicity... Bob Fenner> Bubbles
appearing on gills and bodies...HELP! - 1/18/07 Greeting,
WetWebMedia. <Greetings, Ashley. JustinN with you today.> I am
writing because my mom's 12 gallon tank (which I help maintain) is
having some trouble. <Ok> Today was partial water change day, so
we took out about 25%. I scrubbed the algae off the walls with a new
sponge, and vacuumed the gravel, and cleaned the plants and
decorations. <When you say 'new sponge' do you mean a sponge
made for aquarium use, or a standard kitchen sponge? If the latter,
kitchen sponges are manufactured with anti-molding agents and bleach
soaked into them before shipping, as to keep them sanitary.> When I
finished the job, I re-filled the tank. I put Wardley's Chlor-safe
in, I've used it before with no ill effects. Then the trouble
started. <Am I to understand you refilled your aquarium with
chlorinated tap water, and then added your dechlorinating product after
the fact? Oh, no no no, my friend. You need to be mixing this in a
container before adding to the aquarium, to allow the dechlorinator to
fully neutralize the chlorines and chloramines.> The tank has a
medium-sized Angelfish, a Boesemann's Rainbowfish, 4 Giant Danios,
2 Kuhli Loaches, a 'Rhino' (I think Chocolate is actually what
it is) Pleco, and about 7 or 8 Zebra Danios. I know it's
overstocked, but the Angelfish is still small, and as he grows, he
shall be moved, and the Zebra Danios are feeder fish for a frog. They
don't eat much. <Oh my! Overstocked does not even begin to
describe it, my friend. Your Pleco will too likely grow far too large
for the confines of its current aquarium, as likewise your giant
danios, rainbowfish, and angelfish will need larger quarters with time.
This doesn't even begin to consider the nitrogenous waste
accumulation that must be occurring, or the psychological and
physiological crowding taking place!> Anyway, as soon as I'd
refilled the tank, they all began gasping at the surface. Bubbles began
appearing on their skin, and gills, and a few were on the
Angelfish's eyes. I wasn't worried (since the occasional bubble
appears on them all the time) until the bubbles appeared on Jack's
(the angelfish) eyes and everyone's gills. <Mmm, the effects of
chlorinated water/toxins in the tank> And then, I took them all out
of the tank and put them in water from an older tank, so I could clean
the tank out again. I wondered what could have caused this, and now
I'm thinking either the sponge I used to clean the walls, or the
bucket I used to refill the tank, or maybe the Chlor-Safe was expired.
Or maybe I just took out too much water. I did use a tiny bit of bleach
on the plants, but it wasn't that, because I hadn't even put
them back in the tank yet. <Was likely a double-whammy attack here,
from the (likely) inappropriate sponge use and chlorinated tap water
combination.> Then, while they were in the bucket of older tank
water, a Giant Danio jumped out. It took me a while to get it, and when
I put it in the bucket, it got worse, and went belly-up, then died. I
looked at it, and thought it was because of the tank, but it was indeed
the one who'd jumped out. So then I was relieved, until I noticed
some sort of fuzz on Jack's long fins. When I put him back in his
tank, I discovered that it was more bubbles. So this time, I took out
nearly 80% of the water, and added more water to it, using Aqua-Safe
instead of Chlor-Safe, and added some Aquarium Salt to help their
slightly inflamed gills. And I added some old tank water so they
wouldn't be in a totally new, 'uncycled' tank. <The old
water will help some, however, the water does not contain your
nitrifying bacteria. This is located on the surfaces of your aquarium,
such as the glass, substrate, and decor.> So far, they've been
okay, one Zebra went belly-up, and I removed him, but everyone else
seems okay. They still have bubbles on them, but just on their fins,
and they still are 'breathing' rapidly. What else can I do?
<If another fish has died, then all is not ok. You have already
begun my first recommendation, by executing another water change.
Furthermore, from here on out, when you go to do a water change, mix
your tap water and dechlorinator in a separate container such as a
bucket before adding to the aquarium, and allow a few minutes for
neutralization. Secondly, you really need to reduce the bioload in your
aquarium, it is direly overstocked.> I'm sorry for the
excessively long email, thanks in advance for any help you can give!
Ashley <No worries for the email length, Ashley. The details help us
evaluate the issue. -JustinN>
Bubbles appearing on gills and bodies...HELP! -
1/18/07 Thanks. I am sorry, I failed to be specific about the
water. I do put the dechlorinator in the water before I put the water
in, and let it sit for a few minutes. And I wrote the wrong name for
the Wardley's Chlor-safe. It's actually called Chlor-Out. The
sponge was a new kitchen sponge, and it came in a 4 pack, and I'd
used one of them before with no ill effects in another tank... <Or
you used it before, and it didn't have as much of the antimicrobial
treatment on it last time... Either way, these sponges are not made for
aquarium use, nor are they suitable for them. Get an algae sponge and
just rinse it thoroughly, you'll be glad you did. Peace of mind is
important, you know *grin*> Well...a few more fish have died.
Another Giant Danio died, and we only have 4 out of the 7 or 8 Zebra
Danios left. Then, just a few minutes ago, the Pleco died. I put a
little bit of Melafix in there, since Jack's fins are looking a bit
ragged, and the net was a bit rough on them. What else can I do now?
Everyone else seems fine...But then again the Pleco looked fine until
he started floating at the surface and couldn't swim down. :(
<Melafix will likely not be doing anything but exacerbating the
problem at this point, Ashley. There's a toxin of some sort in your
water that's making things amiss..> Would it be wise to move
them to another 20 gallon tank? It only has 6 Zebra Danios in it, and
it just finished cycling a few weeks ago. <I think this would be
wise, yes> I feel terrible, because these fish were just fine until
I cleaned their tank. I'm almost afraid of cleaning my other tanks
for fear of killing them. (But I'll do it anyway, just with a
confirmed fish-only bucket, and no sponge) <Perhaps its time you
invested in some wonderful magnetic algae scrapers? There are many
available, such as those manufactured by Mag-Float, and they make the
algae cleaning a breeze... I have one on all of my tanks, even my 2 and
a half gallon acrylic Betta tank! Otherwise, as long as you're
premixing your water, I see nothing wrong with doing other tank
maintenance here. You might also look to your tap water output quality,
perhaps something has changed there that is mal-affecting your aquatic
charges? Good luck! -JustinN> Ashley (And I did leave the other
message below, you already responded to that one, thank you very much!
My fishies would be grateful if they only knew how much you guys help.)
<Thank you for this, my friend.>
Water Changes 9/7/06 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here.> I
understand that this issue is more than adequately addressed on your
webpage but the more I read, the more confused I get so please be
patient with my tale of woe. I bought two goldfish for my daughters 3
weeks ago. I got a 20g tank and let it sit for about a week, putting a
small amount of flake food in everyday. <Did you test the water,
during this cycling process? How about a 90% water change, before
adding the fish?> After introducing the fish, I overfed which
resulted in high ammonia. After doing partial water changes every
several says and reducing feed, I have the ammonia down to .5ppm.
Today, however, the nitrite shot up to 2ppm. One of the fish is hanging
out on the bottom behind a plant. I did a 50% water change and the
ammonia is now .25ppm and but the nitrites are the same. The fish still
looks stressed. I have been adding API stress coat, Cycle (which is see
is junk) and ACE (also junk?). I have no live plants, about 2 inches of
gravel and a Whisper 20 filter. Water temp is between 75 and 80 which
is probably too high but not sure how to lower it (I live in the Mojave
Desert). <Definitely a bit uncomfortable for goldfish...> I plan
to add a real plant and switch to frozen (thawed) peas for feeding.
What else should I do!? How much of an emergency is this? <Ammonia
& nitrites are extremely toxic to most fish. Goldfish are a bit
hardier than tropicals & can handle poor water conditions a bit
better. I still suggest water changes, water changes, water changes!
Your tank is still cycling. The only product I'd add is Prime.
~PP> Thanks, Russell
Re: Nitrites and fancy goldfish- help Seachem's Prime
9/8/06 OK thanks! This morning the ammonia is 0ppm and the nitrites
are still 2ppm. The fish still looks stressed but ate. Neither fish
went for the peas but ate the flake food OK. <I would feed very
minimally, while trying to cycle your tank.> What is Prime?
<Prime is IMO the best water conditioner to use for your fish.
removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. See: http://www.seachem.com/products/product_pages/Prime.html>
Water temp is down to 72 after leaving AC on all night. <Glad to
hear they're doing better. Keep doing water changes. ~PP>
Re: Nitrites and fancy goldfish- help Seachem's Prime
9/8/06 OK got the Prime (I found it on www right after my email
this morning) and added a plant so we will see what happens. Also did a
25% change. How long does it take the Prime to work? <Should work
instantly. Are you using enough for the entire tank, not just the water
you're replacing? You should be.> Also, I assume that even if
the Prime is working and detoxifying nitrites, it will still test
positive. Think I read that somewhere. Thanks for your help! My
daughters don't want to loose their new pets. <With the right
care & tank size, they can live >20 years! ~PP>
White Cottony, Furry Substance... FW toxic situation, no useful
data 8/30/06 I hope you can help us. We have a 55-gallon freshwater
aquarium. We've had it about 2 years. We have not added any new
fish in about a year. We have two catfish about 5 to 6 inches long, a
goldfish about 8 inches, a tiger fish <Mmm, wonder what this is
species-wise?> about 8 inches, 3 small berry tetras, <And
these> 2 eels, <And...> and an albino frog. <Xenopus
laevis?> Again, all have been living in harmony for about a year. We
have small river gravel and large rocks and fake plants. <Not a good
idea to mix tropical and non-tropical life...> Recently, the smaller
of the catfish started acting very odd and would swim straight up very
fast and bang his nose on the tank lid. It was constant and loud and
lasted for about a week, at which time the behavior subsided and he was
back to normal. About this same time, a white cottony, furry substance
started showing up on our rocks, then the plants, and now the gravel.
<Likely some population/mix of mostly algae...> It is spreading
rapidly and taking over the tank quickly. The catfish that had been
acting strangely, <Some algae produce toxins...> but then was
doing fine, died yesterday and the larger catfish looks like he is
almost dead as well. The goldfish also does not look healthy either and
the eels are no where to be found. We drained and replaced about 1/3 of
the water in the tank today, but I can't seem to find anything on
the internet that describes what is happening in our tank. Please help
us before we lose all our fish! Is this a fungus? Where did it come
from? How do we get rid of it? Thank you for any help or advice you can
supply. <Could be a toxic situation concerning the algae... but w/o
any data re water quality, the actual species involved... not possible
to make other/better speculations. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the
linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Can a new aquarium filter be defective?? 8/21/06 <Yes>
All of my fish died within 24 hours of replacing a filter.
<Frightening...> I emptied the tank, cleaned (with no soap, etc.)
with aquarium sponge. Rinsed all decorations, etc. When I started the
tank using only the under gravel filter the water looked fine. Then
when I added the bio filter, the water appears to have tons of little
white particles in the water. <Likely bits of packing material, or
plastic bits from manufacture?> I have never had this before. After
circulating for 24 hours, it still looks the same. Could it be from the
filter (it came from the same pack that was used prior to the fish
dying)?? <Yes... though I've rarely seen, heard of this. Do you
have a means of magnification? Perhaps the store where you bought this
unit does... I would take a water sample into them for testing, a
look-see. Measures of nitrogenous wastes at this point could easily be
from the stress, death of your livestock> Deborah Marsh <I would
thoroughly clean (dump, rinse, re-fill) this system, and leave running
w/o livestock for a few weeks before trying some hardy animal to do a
bio-assay. Bob Fenner> Amquel et al. going bad - 8/10/2006 Hi
Bob <<Tom, actually. Greetings.>> Have you heard of Amquel
or Novaqua 'going bad'? <<Can't say that I have, DR.
In fact, Amquel is reported by Novalek to remain stable indefinitely. I
have not seen any "stability" reports on NovAqua or NovAqua
Plus+, however.>> <Mmm, RMF has... not common, but can become
contaminated with live bacteria...> I add dose of each to a FW
75gal. on a monthly or bi-monthly basis and the last time I used it, my
water got very cloudy and within days I had an algae bloom. This has
not happened before and am wondering if these products caused it?
<<Perhaps, but not for the reason you suspect, i.e. the
product(s) going bad. To the contrary, DR, the Amquel, in particular,
might have done its job a little too well. Consider that one of the
indications that an aquarium has completed cycling is the growth of
algae. Not uncommon at all for new aquariums to experience the type of
"bloom" that you did. The result, most frequently, of a
sudden splurge, if you will, of nitrates. My thought is that your tank
was in equilibrium but on a very tight line. An "imbalance"
occurred during the last water change that partially starved your
bio-colonies, perhaps due to using the Amquel. A minor ammonia build-up
took place, which the remaining beneficial bacteria "jumped
on" creating a temporary increase in nitrate production. The
ever-present algae spores had a field day with the excess nutrients in
the water and you inherited a "bloom".>> I e-mailed
Novalek, but they will not respond to this question. All water
parameters are good and nothing else has changed. <<Might be a
little late now, DR, but check your nitrate levels again. On a side
note, just stick with the NovAqua during water changes. The less you
treat your tank, chemically-speaking, the better, manufacturers'
recommendations notwithstanding. ;)>> Your help is, as usual,
greatly appreciated...Thanks again...DR <<Happy to help, DR.
Re: Amquel et al. going bad - 8/10/2006 Hi Tom.. <<Hey,
DR.>> Thanks for the fast response and informative answer.
<<Not a problem.>> I should have mentioned that I do a 10%
water change on mon. and Thurs.. of each week. This keeps nitrates down
to 10 or less. Monthly I do a 25-30% change, clean filter pads (2
emperor 400's) vac gravel, clean inside of glass, add seasoned,
heated, aerated water and the Amquel and Novaqua. Do you think I am
overdoing it? <<No. In fact, you could write the book! I'd
still drop the Amquel from the picture, though. Hard to argue with
success but this still seems to be the source of the problem, in my
opinion.>> My wife and daughter think I'm nuts for working so
much on these but...I also use this schedule for my 100 gal. FW, and my
29 gal. FW. <<My wife and daughter have given up on me! As long
as the tanks are taken care of...>> Thanks again...DR <<Any
time, DR. Tom>> Re: Amquel et al. going bad - 8/10/2006
Hey Tom.. Write the book??? WWM is where I learned all of this! If the
beginners/newbies would just do the maintenance and forget the chemicals and
stop gap measures...there would be a lot less redundant questions on WWM! To all
you beginners....DO the water changes and the rest will take care of itself!
Thanks again Tom...DR <<Sound advice, DR. Best regards. Tom>