Advice re: die-off - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Advice re: die-off

Background:
I have a 2.6 gallon Fluval Spec III. I cycled it for 2.5 months while adding bacteria culture recommended by my LFS. After my ammonia and nitrite started coming down, I planted some foxtail and sword grass. I also added a piece of driftwood. Then I cycled for 2 more weeks for a total of 3 months before testing my water again. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, nitrates >40ppm, and pH 6.6. My plan is to make this a RCS tank.

Anyway, once my water was good, I acquired two otocinclus* and a nerite snail at the recommendation of my LFS to get the algae under control before adding shrimp. 6 hours after adding them, 1 of the otocinclus died. The next morning, the other was dead as well Water tests at this time showed 0 ammonia, 0.25ppm nitrite, and ~40ppm nitrate (so slight increase in nitrite and nitrate for some reason).
Then, after 4 days the nerite hadn't moved at all. I picked him up every day and sniffed him so I could take him out immediately if he died. Unfortunately, today, he smelled awful and I knew he'd died
* (I know now that this was a poor choice, but I allowed myself to be talked into it. I know now that they are schooling fish and need much more space and companions than I could provide in this tank. I have no plans to replace them.).

Am I missing something? What's going on?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 04:06 AM
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anything stirring your substrate?
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 04:06 AM
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What are you running in the rear chamber as far as media? Are you treating tap water or using ro/di? And what's your maintenance schedule look like?

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 05:29 AM
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I find ottos to be hard to aclimate to new conditions and a 2.6g tank does not leave much room for error. We are not likely to find out why they died but can make some guesses. The N > 40 ppm is the first thing that caught my eye.

Even though the tank is 3 months old, we do not know how it was cycled and what kept the bacteria alive. An ammonia spike coupled with high pH in a nano tank is one possibilty. A WC with non treated water is another. Disturbance of accumulated mulm or non treated rotting driftwood is yet another. So would be a big difference in temperature.

In short, there is little information on the state of the tank to narrow the possible causes down.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 10:03 AM
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With pH posted, ammonia would be less of a concern than with pH above 7.0
Is not uncommon for otocinclus which are still mostly wild caught, to do poorly as result of capture,shipping,and then acclimation to dealer tanks, and then acclimation to your tank or mine.
If the plants are doing well,and water parameter's are as posted,you may not be doin nothin wrong just fragile fish,stress,led to the oto's demise.
Nerites are sorta iffy also.
Some sources indicate that the nerites do better in slightly alkaline water with maybe some marine salt added at weekly water change.(shrimp's might not appreciate it)
Opinion's vary on keeping these snail's long term.
I do believe the tank is too small for anything but the shrimps you mentioned,and that the small tank was designed around.
I would perform weekly 1/3 water change with dechlorinated water and maybe try some ghost shrimp and see how they do before committing to the CRS.
All bet's are off if using buffer's that might cause fluctuating water parameter's for nearly all critter's.
Just need to get the tank and you into routine of regular replacement of a portion of water while resisting the urge to over feed possibly.
Personally,,i would opt for a tank of at least ten gal which would afford more room for maybe some small micro fishes and help keep water quality more stable.
Hope some of this helps.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-09-2018, 02:40 AM Thread Starter
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No, there's nothing stirring the substrate... Should there be?

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Originally Posted by Shad Q View Post
What are you running in the rear chamber as far as media? Are you treating tap water or using ro/di? And what's your maintenance schedule look like?

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It's the Fluval filter with the charcoal removed, just the sponge and ceramic media. Maintenance is topping off water as it evaporates, as my LFS told me that water changes in such a small tank could throw the whole cycle off. Is that good advice?

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Originally Posted by OVT View Post
I find ottos to be hard to aclimate to new conditions and a 2.6g tank does not leave much room for error. We are not likely to find out why they died but can make some guesses. The N > 40 ppm is the first thing that caught my eye.

Even though the tank is 3 months old, we do not know how it was cycled and what kept the bacteria alive. An ammonia spike coupled with high pH in a nano tank is one possibilty. A WC with non treated water is another. Disturbance of accumulated mulm or non treated rotting driftwood is yet another. So would be a big difference in temperature.

In short, there is little information on the state of the tank to narrow the possible causes down.
Hm. I always treat my tap water before I add it to the tank. And I've been testing the water values nearly every day, ammonia has never been above 0... I did squeeze some gunk out of the sponge filter though, maybe some debris stirred up in the tank and bothered them?

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With pH posted, ammonia would be less of a concern than with pH above 7.0
Is not uncommon for otocinclus which are still mostly wild caught, to do poorly as result of capture,shipping,and then acclimation to dealer tanks, and then acclimation to your tank or mine.
If the plants are doing well,and water parameter's are as posted,you may not be doin nothin wrong just fragile fish,stress,led to the oto's demise.
Nerites are sorta iffy also.
Some sources indicate that the nerites do better in slightly alkaline water with maybe some marine salt added at weekly water change.(shrimp's might not appreciate it)
Opinion's vary on keeping these snail's long term.
I do believe the tank is too small for anything but the shrimps you mentioned,and that the small tank was designed around.
I would perform weekly 1/3 water change with dechlorinated water and maybe try some ghost shrimp and see how they do before committing to the CRS.
All bet's are off if using buffer's that might cause fluctuating water parameter's for nearly all critter's.
Just need to get the tank and you into routine of regular replacement of a portion of water while resisting the urge to over feed possibly.
Personally,,i would opt for a tank of at least ten gal which would afford more room for maybe some small micro fishes and help keep water quality more stable.
Hope some of this helps.
This is all great advice. Thanks so much. I will start doing regular water changes and try some ghost shrimp before spending money on cherries. Thanks again!
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-09-2018, 02:09 PM
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Water change doesnít make your tank lose cycle. Bacteria live on surfaces, not in the water column. Who knows how much bacteria you have, as you donít have an ammonia source to feed them. So, youíll need to start small, and perhaps water change to keep ammonia down until that colony grows.

If the wc changes pH, temp, etc. too much, that can throw all kinds of chaos at your tank (reasons nano tanks are tough). The advice above for weekly wc and find your water parameters that can be maintained - thatís the key.

Iíve had nerites that last years, and some that drop in three days. Theyíre a bit difficult at times. Perhaps they suffer too much at the store, or in shipping.

Otos are not easy, and really need an established tank. Theyíre not good starters. Also, please donít get fish to control algae - thatís your job (philosophical debate).

Please try again. Youíll find your own best way to succeed.


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I can only grow plants when they're completely under water. Everything else is doomed.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-11-2018, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Well I did a 30% water change last night, and this morning my water parameters are even better than before. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate. I should have done this sooner!

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Originally Posted by Proteus01 View Post
Water change doesnít make your tank lose cycle. Bacteria live on surfaces, not in the water column. Who knows how much bacteria you have, as you donít have an ammonia source to feed them. So, youíll need to start small, and perhaps water change to keep ammonia down until that colony grows.

If the wc changes pH, temp, etc. too much, that can throw all kinds of chaos at your tank (reasons nano tanks are tough). The advice above for weekly wc and find your water parameters that can be maintained - thatís the key.

Iíve had nerites that last years, and some that drop in three days. Theyíre a bit difficult at times. Perhaps they suffer too much at the store, or in shipping.

Otos are not easy, and really need an established tank. Theyíre not good starters. Also, please donít get fish to control algae - thatís your job (philosophical debate).

Please try again. Youíll find your own best way to succeed.
Totally agree. As I said, I have no plans to replace the otos, that was done at the urging of the LFS owner, and a poor choice on my part to listen. I got a nice algae scraper for the aquarium walls and reduced my lighting hours to control algae.

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Originally Posted by Shad Q View Post
What are you running in the rear chamber as far as media? Are you treating tap water or using ro/di? And what's your maintenance schedule look like?

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
Rear chamber houses a sponge filter with ceramic media, and a heater set to 76F. I'm treating tapwater, and until now my maintenance schedule consisted only of topping off evaporation with treated water. But last night I cleaned the filter (in aquarium water) and did a 30% water change and now my parameters are better than before. Lesson learned!
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