Canister Filter Failure and a Total Die-Off - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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Canister Filter Failure and a Total Die-Off

After tank maintenance the canister filter failed to start when plugged back in. I added a sponge filter, right away, and started cleaning a hang on back. I added some filter pad from the canister and two 100mL bags of Purigen to the hang on back, installed and started it up.

The fish (15 Cardinal Tetra, Six Emerald Cory, Ghost Shrimp, and Nerites) were acting normally and I tested the water twice over the next two hours. Both water tests were 0, 0, 40. Which is where the water usually sits.

I went to bed.

This morning, everyone is dead (aside from the shrimp and snails). There is a shocking amount of foam building up on the surface. The foam is breaching all the openings in the lid.

I'm absolutely crushed, hollowed out, and feeling a tremendous weight of guilt.

Does anyone have any experience with this sort of tragedy? Please share.

I'm going to clean out the dead fish, clear up the foam, and leave the tank running for a few weeks while I figure this out.

Thanks for your help,
KG

29 Gallon. Regular water testing (0 Nitrite, 0 Ammonia, 40 Nitrate). Low-tech planted. 10% weekly water changes.The canister was a large Sun Sun that has been running for four, or five years. Daphnia/ Spirulina/ Micro Pellets.
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post #2 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 03:21 PM
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What did you clean the HOB filter with?

Was the sponge filter new?

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post #3 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
What did you clean the HOB filter with?

Was the sponge filter new?
I aggressively rinsed the HoB in a bucket of water collected during the water change.

The sponge filter was *brand new* (right out of the box), and was squeezed and rinsed in the bucket of water change water.

It's likely that the cycle crashed. I can't explain the massive amounts of foam, though. That and the complete decimation.

I'm sad.
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post #4 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 03:43 PM
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I aggressively rinsed the HoB in a bucket of water collected during the water change.

The sponge filter was *brand new* (right out of the box), and was squeezed and rinsed in the bucket of water change water.

It's likely that the cycle crashed. I can't explain the massive amounts of foam, though. That and the complete decimation.

I'm sad.
The foam had me thinking you used soaps which can kill livestock, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

If you didn't see any ammonia I don't think your cycle crashed, a crashing cycle doesn't cause foam either...

Can you think of any additives that may have gotten into the tank causing the foam? Any oils or anything in the filter? Anything odd or "off" with the sponge? Maybe the canister filter burnt up on the inside and released some oils or nasties into the water?

@Greggz did your water foam up with your oil incident a while back?
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post #5 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
Can you think of any additives that may have gotten into the tank causing the foam? Any oils or anything in the filter? Anything odd or "off" with the sponge? Maybe the canister filter burnt up on the inside and released some oils or nasties into the water?
The only new thing I have been using is Simple Green from Aquarium Co-op. I've been dosing for three weeks with no signs of this foam.

The sponge also came from Aquarium Co-op and looked perfect. It seems to be a well made product that we kept on-hand for an emergency.

The oil is a possibility. I'll check for signs of something like that.

It's burning me up that we had all this sh*t ready for an emergency just like this and everything f*cking died anyway.

Thanks for your input.
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post #6 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 04:02 PM
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The only new thing I have been using is Simple Green from Aquarium Co-op. I've been dosing for three weeks with no signs of this foam.

The sponge also came from Aquarium Co-op and looked perfect. It seems to be a well made product that we kept on-hand for an emergency.

The oil is a possibility. I'll check for signs of something like that.

It's burning me up that we had all this sh*t ready for an emergency just like this and everything f*cking died anyway.

Thanks for your input.
Did you test for ammonia / nitrite as soon as you noticed death?

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post #7 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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Did you test for ammonia / nitrite as soon as you noticed death?
I did not. It'll be the first thing that happens when I get home, for sure.

I'll add a photo of the foam before starting the clean-up.
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post #8 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 04:39 PM
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I did not. It'll be the first thing that happens when I get home, for sure.

I'll add a photo of the foam before starting the clean-up.
Ah, I misread and thought you did test and didn't see any ammonia. It could have been ammonia poisoning then. Still not sure on the foam.

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post #9 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Ah, I misread and thought you did test and didn't see any ammonia. It could have been ammonia poisoning then. Still not sure on the foam.
Apologies for the confusion.

I tested nitrites (0) and ammonia (0) at 10:30 PM. The sponge filter was installed early in the afternoon and the HoB was installed at 9:20 PM.

I went to bed and woke up to sadness.

Thanks for all of your comments.
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post #10 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 06:31 PM
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@Greggz did your water foam up with your oil incident a while back?
Mine was an oil leak from a pump in my RO tanks. The pump was not designed for aquarium use. Any motor for aquarium use should be oil less.

To me this is definitely looks like some type of event.

I have had a few in lifetime of keeping fish. It's always something introduced into the tank that should not be there.

Once I used a sponge that had an anti-bacterial in it. Killed several fish before I performed back to back to back water changes. Looked at another one that was still in the wrapper, and it said "not for aquarium use" right on the package.

Another time I had a bottle of excel sitting on top of my canopy while I had it opened for cleaning. It fell in the tank, and within minutes fish were gasping for air. Lost a few, but a bunch of water changes saved the rest.

The other time was the oil leaking from the pump.

But in each case, it was something that got introduced into the tank that caused it. I am betting that is the case here too.

I would be examining every single thing that went into the tank, or touched anything that went into the tank.
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post #11 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 08:25 PM
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Did you change any water? If so how much? Are you on well or city water? Thoroughly cleaning your filter means you washed all your bacteria down the drain.
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post #12 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 08:41 PM
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I might lean toward looking at the "why" of the foam!
It may have been caused by a sudden change in the water flow around the tank. Is it possible the HOB was creating a different action causes something that has been in the tank fo wind up with a major film covering the top and not letting the proper gas exchange to let badout and O2 in?
There are also times when new items from the store have been sprayed with things like pesticides while in the back room, etc.
Daughter spraying hair spray while I worked with the fish was one of my close calls.
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post #13 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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Did you change any water? If so how much? Are you on well or city water? Thoroughly cleaning your filter means you washed all your bacteria down the drain.
We're on City water.

I've been doing a 10% water change every weekend for a few months.

I only cleaned the filter housing. All of the media was taken from the existing, failed canister. It was a 3x5ish piece of sponge and a 100ml bag of Purigen. I added an additional "new" (refreshed) bag of Purigen and a sponge on the intake. Aqueon 30?

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post #14 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 10:15 PM
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So sorry to read this.


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post #15 of 66 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
I might lean toward looking at the "why" of the foam!
It may have been caused by a sudden change in the water flow around the tank. Is it possible the HOB was creating a different action causes something that has been in the tank fo wind up with a major film covering the top and not letting the proper gas exchange to let badout and O2 in?
There are also times when new items from the store have been sprayed with things like pesticides while in the back room, etc.
Daughter spraying hair spray while I worked with the fish was one of my close calls.
While the sponge was brand new, I did try to prepare it by squeezing it a bunch (10-15) times in a bucket of water change water (WCW?).

I really think you nailed it with your comment about the poor gas exchange. This sponge filter is equipped with an air stone that makes very fine bubbles. The flow setting was too robust, blanketing the entire surface (and then some) with a thick head of bubbles. It definitely looked like a foam.

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