Fish Kill - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Fish Kill

Good morning, I'm looking for some help here as I cannot figure out what is going on. I'm in the middle of a fish kill that has hit 3 of my rasboras, three cores, a peacock gudgeon, and about 7 neons. I have made some changes to my tank recently, but I don't know what those changes would have caused a problem. Here's some more info:

ph:8.2 Ammonia:0 Nitrite:0 Nitrate:10-20PPM. 75.3 degrees. I've already done one water change.

In an effort to get more CO2 into the tank, I switched out my atomic in-tank diffuser for an in line diffuser. However, I've not seen the drop checker change from blue. I upped the bubbles some a few days back, didn't see a change, so I dropped them back down. I even changed the drop checker fluid thinking that was the culprit, but still no change. Still blue.

Because CO2 was coming out of my Eheim spray bar, I pointed the out put down more instead of up. I obviously lost my oxygen exchange, so to counter that, I pointed my circulation fan up to get the ripple back. I was afraid that leaving my spray bar pointed up with an in-line diffuser would waste CO2.

I changed the tubing on my Eheim filter to some vinyl tubing from out at Home Depot. (As I write this, could this be the culprit?!?!?!?)

I removed a piece of drift wood I had in there and replaced it with an artificial ornament. This was done 3-4 weeks ago.

I dropped in some new plants including a moss ball about a week ago.

Here's what I've done to try and help the situation:

Added an airstone for a few hours last night. I noticed a couple of fish spending time at the top of the water and wondered if there were getting gassed out by the CO2.

I removed the inline diffuser and put the in tank diffuser back in on 1-2 BPM. I also pointed the spray bar up again to get good surface agitation.

If someone could please offer help, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm really at a loss. I hadn't thought about the tubing until I started writing this, so I'm going to change that out now as well.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 12:56 PM
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1-2 BPM is nothing in terms of co2, so it's not that unless your aquarium is a cup. I'm running 8-9 BPS in a 60g. I doubt it's the vinyl tubing too unless there was something inside it before you used it.

Are there any visible signs on the fish, specks, dots, scratches etc?

Fish being close to the surface could also be ammonia, my fish did that when I had a spike. But you said you measured 0, so probably not that either.

I'm not sure what it might be, but if fish looks fine and all your readings are fine that leads me to believe something has gotten into the water that shouldn't have.
You could try adding activated carbon to your filter to suck up the "nasties". And I would do smaller water changes, something like 25% every other or 3rd day until things start improving.
Water-changes are always good when you have issues, as long as the new water and old tank water has pretty much the same parameters.

Edit: Oh, and you aren't feeding them often/large amounts of red mosquito larvae by any chance? I had fish die from that, and read other people have too. Just a thought


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Last edited by Malakian; 06-01-2017 at 01:06 PM. Reason: added info
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, I forgot to mention I'm running a 45 gallon. I was in a hurry this morning trying to get out the door for work :-)

I can't see any issues with the fish. No sign of ich, no growths around their mouths or anything. That's what's got me scratching my head. I did notice on my albino catfish that he seemed to have an indentation in his belly area. I didn't notice any irregularities on any other fish besides him. It's almost like his abdomen are just ahead of his anal fin was all caved in.

I'm also not feeding them any red mosquito larvae. Thanks for the help though!

I hadn't even thought of the activated carbon, so I'll make sure I get some of that in there tonight when I do my water change. At this point, I've almost got to think that there could be something leeching from the vinyl tubing I was using. I did a small bit of poking around this morning and it seems like vinyl should be safe, but I'm wondering if there was something in this tubing causing the problem. I changed out the new tubing and put the old back in place this morning, but I didn't have time for a water change, so I'll do that tonight.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 03:39 PM
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I find little trouble with tubing but it could have had some type of oil, etc. on it from the store. I like to do a quick bleach run on anything new like this as it is a way to remove much of the "wildcards" we never know about. One big thing that I might question is the new decoration. They are sometimes not as good as they should be as they are often cheap imports.
I favor large water changes with water which is well matched with the tank water. My thoughts are that good water is the best when we don't know what might be there. Dilution is a good thing for almost everything, whether it is pollution of some form or disease.
A key element of my tank operation is to do all things slowly and not too many at one time. If I have to rock the boat, I do it gently?
Another important thing to learn is how the fish act normally, so that it is easier to spot when they begin to act "off". How they act before dying is a really important clue to observe if possible.
Lack of O2 will often send them to the surface where the gas exchange takes place. CO2 too high may not do this but they may simply go to the bottom and act "droopy" when it is not too far out. Fish react differently from type to type so expect some like the cory to act different than the neon for instance when they are facing the same problem.
Knowing how each react is your early warning to check things closer at times.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response Rich. The ornament in question was in my aquarium for 2+ years before being taken out, and has been stored in my aquarium storage bin since then, so I wouldn't think this could cause a problem.

I think though the lesson I learned here was exactly what you pointed out, which is to not make too many changes in a short period of time. I also should have prepped the tubing better than what I did. I did run hot water through it prior to install in order to clean it and make it more flexible. I really should have bleached it though. I think I'll do that in the future.

On your comment regarding O2/CO2; Would you have reason to believe that my CO2 is too high even though my drop checker, which had been working fine, is telling me it's not? I'm perplexed by the fact that the drop checker is always on blue now. I actually ordered new indicator solution that should be here today, so I'll be anxious to try it. Can the indicator fluid expire? I've had the drop checker for a year and a half, when I switched over to a planted tank. Perhaps the indicator solution isn't viable anymore?
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 06:41 PM
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Not sure about it aging. Not something I've run into, though. But there dos seem to be more complaints about the fluid that folks get at times. I find mixing my own is not too hard at all and since it is just a visible clue, rather than a high tech reading, I find my methods of measure and mix is good enough. Somebody may have the "recipe" handy but I will do a look for it in my pile of paper. I guess part of my thinking on that is that I trust doing it myself almost as much as I trust what I might get online?
Another thought might be to try moving the drop checker around , up and down in the tank to see if a different location might change things. Not too big chance but easy to try.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeH11980 View Post
Thanks for the response Rich. The ornament in question was in my aquarium for 2+ years before being taken out, and has been stored in my aquarium storage bin since then, so I wouldn't think this could cause a problem.

I think though the lesson I learned here was exactly what you pointed out, which is to not make too many changes in a short period of time. I also should have prepped the tubing better than what I did. I did run hot water through it prior to install in order to clean it and make it more flexible. I really should have bleached it though. I think I'll do that in the future.

On your comment regarding O2/CO2; Would you have reason to believe that my CO2 is too high even though my drop checker, which had been working fine, is telling me it's not? I'm perplexed by the fact that the drop checker is always on blue now. I actually ordered new indicator solution that should be here today, so I'll be anxious to try it. Can the indicator fluid expire? I've had the drop checker for a year and a half, when I switched over to a planted tank. Perhaps the indicator solution isn't viable anymore?
You mentioned your PH was at 8.2, so if you're separately testing PH vs just looking at drop checker. I don't think you're getting too much CO2. My PH drop goes from 7.6(tap) to 6.4 without the fish having any issues. I run 6-8bps on my 29 gallon. I would definitely get carbon in your filter though ASAP like Malakian said.

Are you using any chemicals in your tank that you didn't mention?
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-01-2017, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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I'm out buying carbon as I type this

No other chemicals other than dosing PPS every day.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-02-2017, 08:35 PM
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I'm out buying carbon as I type this

No other chemicals other than dosing PPS every day.
How are things looking now? Anymore losses since starting the carbon?
Also, I'd discontinue your PPS dosing while running carbon. Just wasting chems, it''ll sponge most of that up.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-02-2017, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for checking back in. I got carbon in last night around 8:00 (work and my son's baseball game), so it's not been in there for a full day. I got home last night and no more dead ones, but this morning, I found my last neon stuck to the filter intake and I can't locate 1 of my 2 remaining corys, so I'm guessing he's gone too :-(

I'll drop back tonight when I get home. Hopefully there's no more losses. I've got a pearl Gourami that I've had for 2+ years now that I really hope survives. I've also got Rasboras that are nearing 3 years of age, and they've been dropping one by one, but I"m hoping that stops as well.

This is probably the most frustrated I've been since I've been aquarium-keeping. I started a thread a few weeks back because I was having BBA issues, so I tried to do some things to curb that (remove driftwood that was covered with it, installing inline diffuser) and now I'm killing my fish.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-03-2017, 01:23 AM
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Just throwing this out there: when you changed the tubing on your filter, how long was your filter stopped? One of the risks of a power outage is that ammonia builds up in the filter while it's stopped, then shoots out into the tank when the power starts up again. Also, ammonia becomes more toxic as the pH rises. A pH of 8.2 seems very high and would cause the ammonia to be much more toxic. I would try to lower the pH, possibly by using RO/DI water in your water change. Put in some Prime to try to detoxify the ammonia (or anything else). Another thought: there could be something new in the tap water, like Chloramine. Using RO/DI would help mitigate that risk too.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-03-2017, 01:40 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, now that's really interesting. You bring up the fact that my pH is really high, which I've always known. However, I used to have driftwood in the aquarium which obviously would have brought that down some. Do you suppose that the change in pH could have affected the fish negatively? I took the driftwood out and did a water change at the same time, so that would have been a big swing in the pH. However, I had no fish die until a couple weeks after the removal of the wood. This might also explain why my dropchecker won't change from blue. Same hardness, same CO2 injection, higher pH equals less CO2 dissolution, right??

I don't think the filter was off long enough to cause any problems. Probably was off 10-15 minutes. And like I said, fish deaths didn't begin for a week after that.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-08-2017, 07:29 PM
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You should test your pH with a broad-spectrum test kit, some of the kits out there are only accurate if the pH is within an expected predetermined "high/low" range (i.e. 5.0-6.8 and 7.0-8.6, just examples). If your actual pH is outside of the range of your test kit then you can get false readings.

That said, I too thought that your pH was a little on the high side for the stock in your tank. Most of those species, save for the gourami (I think, I don't keep them) are all happiest in soft, acidic conditions, somewhere in the 6-7 pH range.
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