Perplexing water parameters.... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-19-2017, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Perplexing water parameters....

I have a 40g breeder thats been up and planted for a few years. Recently on Christmas I had my family here for dinner.....about 18 people. Over the next few days I lost all of my fish except for 2 gourami. Lost fish include a pair of mated cories, my 4in bumble bee cat, 3 gold tetras and 5 emperor tetra. I tested water and found low pH (about 6) trites 0 and trates under 20. Amonia was 0 as well. Kh was high and ch was low. I've done multiple water changes over the last couple of weeks and still can't get water back to normal. Here are 2 pics of water test strips....

Tank water

From tap (which is what I use)

Anyone have any helpful suggestions on how to get this back to normal?

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 09:53 PM
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Sorry about the trouble but at this point we don't have enough info to help much. There are lots of things to cause fish death and water testing doesn't always show them.
Some things we don't know?
What is "normal" for this tank?
Any heaters, filters or such stopped working correctly?
Too much CO2? Do you add any?
Film covering the top so that the gas exchange is not happening.
A disease running through the tank. Any signs of the fish being sick and not acting right?
Anything done using a different cleaning method than normally used?
Any chance the guests decided to feed them a ham bone or add some new decorations like a concrete statue?
Some sounds silly and I don't mean to laugh at the problem but there are just tons of reasons that we have no way of spotting.

Right now we are totally in the dark.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mache62 View Post
I lost all of my fish except for 2 gourami

Kh was high and ch was low.

Tank water
Sorry to hear about that

Correct me if I'm wrong but I see the KH in the above image as being yellow (so 0) and GH as being purple ( meaning high general hardness). This is a little bit weird as most natural waters, and your tap water have a general KH-GH correlation. When was the water last changed (before the fish died)? I would look at the reason why the KH drops so much. A KH near 0 means the water has little ability to resist acids, also explaining the low pH. Did you add peat ? or wood ? or leaves ?

Maybe the fact that the 2 gourami survived provides a hint... they are very apt air breathers. But as PlantedRich suggested, hard to guess the exact cause. Did you change anything at the tank ? Did anything to it before the guests arrived ?

Hope you get to the bottom of this and create and even better aquarium.

On hiatus till later this year
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 01:19 AM Thread Starter
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Ah you're right...I misspoke, I meant alk dropped to 0 and gh is still there. The only thing I did that day was top off the tank. Nothing else went in. The kids know the tanks are sacred ground. I don't under it either. I've tried adding some alk additive I use in my reef tank....first 1ml tested and no change. Today I added 5ml and still no change. It's very weird. I think I'm going to have to take it down at this point. You're right about the gourami, I guessed the same thing...the only reason they are still alive is because they are air breathers.

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-02-2017, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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I removed everything from the tank, meaning the plants, the driftwood, and the little statue I had in there. I noticed the driftwood was kind of melting a bit which I attributed to the low pH?

I removed the filter, an Aqueon Quiet Flow 75 and cleaned that out as well.

Next I emptied all the water, stirring up the substrate as I siphoned it out. I refilled the tank (using ammo block) and put the filter back on with some filter floss and pads to catch the fine silt that I stirred up.

I've done 3 water changes (changing out filter media too) over the last 3 days and this morning I notice this sulpher smell coming from the tank.

I tested the water:
ammonia - 0
Nitrite = <5
Nitrate = 0
pH = 6

I took out the filter floss and added some carbon.

What the heck is going on? I've never had this hard of a time with a tank. Can/does anyone have any thoughts on this?
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