Mysterious loss of cardinals? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-07-2006, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Mysterious loss of cardinals?

Bombay said
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IME otos are delicate during the first couple days at the lfs. I've been told (and read) that they are caught using a toxic chemical that stuns them. Some of them eventually die because of this. I've lost one or two in the initial days, but rarely lost one after that.

Back to the subject: the only other thing that I could think of is temperature. Hopefully you've kept a log before and after the addition of the new filter. Here is why. Prior to setting up my eheim 2026 on the 20 gallon my temp was around 70'F...and I was using a small Whisper hob. I hadn't added any fish yet, so I didn't have a heater. Next, I added the filter (still no heater). I also added a coralife digital thermometer. Since the addition of the filter, the temp is a steady 78-79. That is approx a 9'F difference! I still haven't added any fish, so this wouldn't have been a problem. For you, I guess that sudden rise of temp...maybe coupled with something else could have hurt your cardinals.

Since the subject of your original post was "should I switch to a canister?", you may want to start a new one that specifically talks about the cardinal loss.
Thanks for suggesting that I start a new thread. Maybe more people with similar experiences can chime in with some insight.

As for the temp, I have been keeping track of it. I had a bout of ick a month ago, and had the temp up around 84 F. I had brought it back down to 78 F a week before I got the Fluval. I just checked now and the temp is 80 F, so it's a pretty small difference. Plus it's pretty cool in my living room, so even at this time of year, the heater still turns on.

If it's due to temp, shouldn't they improve after the temp stabilize? They all seem to be continuing to suffer, which is why I don't understand. With the exception of rapid breathing and a slight loss in colour, everything appears normal.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-07-2006, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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I see lots of people have looked, but have not had any insight, so I thought I would rehash some details here, to give more info.

Basically, I have a 20 gallon tall with the following parameters:
Red Sea Flora Base
pH = 7.0
KH = 2
GH = 5
nitrate = 5 ppm
ammonia = 0
nitrite= 0
temp = 78
Lighting = Coralife 65W PC

Four weeks ago, I had a bout of ick in the tank while I was away on a business trip, and it killed off 10 of my cardinals plus one rummy nose tetra by the time I got home. I raised the temp up to 84 F and used API's Ick Cure at half strength and managed to save the rest of my fish. Up to this time, I had been using a Penguin 100 w/ biowheel for filtration.

I had been having trouble getting my CO2 concentration over 10, as you can see from my measurements. There was a sale at a local SuperPet and I got a Fluval 204 hooked up (seeded it with the filter material from the Penguin, and hooked it up, in an effort to reduce surface agitation and subsequent release of CO2. A day later, I started to lose cardinals. They all look healthy, except rapid breathing. Now I am down to 3. Two nights ago, at Bombay's suggestion, I started running an airstone at night when the lights are off. This morning was the first morning I woke up to no dead fish. But the 3 are still breathing rapidly, and one is struggling to swim. The two Rummy Nose are starting to show the symptoms too. Could the cause be too high CO2 at night and not enough O2?
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2006, 06:42 AM
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man,no amonia ,good filter,hmm.That's a head scratcher.Just an idea,what does the water smell like?Imean get your nose just off the surface and take a good whiff.You really shouldn't smell anything.I have Cardinals too so if you find a cause I would really like to know the answer.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2006, 11:52 AM
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Well, why not ad an airstone at night and/or turn off the CO2 and see how your fish respond. Then maybe you could determine if it's a CO2/O2 issue.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-08-2006, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Two nights ago, at Bombay's suggestion, I started running an airstone at night when the lights are off. This morning was the first morning I woke up to no dead fish. But the 3 are still breathing rapidly, and one is struggling to swim. The two Rummy Nose are starting to show the symptoms too.
I think this would have been sufficient to test your theory about the CO2/Oxy. Based on no fish loss after the airstone, it appears that it MAY have helped. Have you done a partial water change lately (sorry I can't remember). Could there be any possibility that the cardinals were sensitive to the new plastics, the new media, etc?

Or, if you did do a water change at the time of the filter addition, could your tap water parameters changed?
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-09-2006, 04:26 AM Thread Starter
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So here's the low-down. I have been running the airstone every night. No more losses. But what I have also done is raise the output of the 204 to very need to the surface to increase agitation (just low enough so there is no splashing. So now that things seem to have stabilized, I of course have to start changing things.

Did a 30% water change tonight. Measured parameters were:

pH= 7
nitrate = 5 ppm
KH = 3 (added 1.2 teaspoon of baking soda)

Everything looks good so far. I'll keep up with the airstone for a while and see. I don't like it though. My tank went from quiet (Penguin 100) to silent (Fluval 204) to noisy (air pump).

Oh well. Oh yeah, one more thing, I took the plunge yesterday and started dosing dry ferts, but I'll start another thread on that.

Thanks for all your insight guys. I just wish it hadn't taken so many losses for me to clue in. I am down to my last 3 cardinals now.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-09-2006, 04:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brotherd
man,no amonia ,good filter,hmm.That's a head scratcher.Just an idea,what does the water smell like?Imean get your nose just off the surface and take a good whiff.You really shouldn't smell anything.I have Cardinals too so if you find a cause I would really like to know the answer.

Nope, no smell whatsoever.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-09-2006, 12:19 PM
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Wow, I am just really surprised that your specs are so solid thru all of this...no movement in pH, nitrates, etc. That is great.

Well 2wheels, I am sorry we weren't able to warn you that replacing the power filter with a canister may increase co2 retention and ALSO could drive a sudden change in 02 levels for your fish. It does look like you caught it though...and maybe we all learned...once again.

With the airstone and pump on a timer, it becomes automated. Now, you could use a gang valve and bleed off some of the co2 each night...but that would require vigilance and would become a pain in the arse. With pressurized, that would be different story. Perhaps the additional surface agitation could replace the airstone...or maybe you could keep the surface agitation a little higher and supplement with another source of carbon such as excel. Lastly, they do make an internal air ouput device. I assume this would be quieter than the external air pump. Might want to check one out. I've seen them at drsfostersmith.com and other places.

Now, there still could have been another cause, don't want to rule everything else out yet (the temp change, perhaps some 'fumes' or dust from the new plastic and media, cologne on arms, bug spray in room, etc etc)
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-09-2006, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, thanks, Bombay. I am still keeping an eye on everything. I'm going to try to keep the KH a bit higher at 3 to 4 by adding more baking soda twice a week instead of just once during the water change.

Yup, another lesson learned. For now, I will just put a timer on the air pump and deal with it that way (haven't bought a new timer yet, I've used all the spare ones up in the two tanks - a total of 4). I am just glad I still have a few cardinals left.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-10-2006, 01:54 AM
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I had problems w/ my cards last week when they stopped eating. The parameters were ok, but they went on a hunger strike for days, the odd thing is that they were the only ones acting strange. After i changed the carbon in my filter they were back to normal within hours. I'm guessing that there was something strange that went undetected.
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Originally Posted by Bombay
perhaps some 'fumes' or dust from the new plastic and media, cologne on arms, bug spray in room, etc etc)

Tank: 20 gallons, 62 watts t5, DIY CO2

Unemployed, poor, and still living off the parents.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-10-2006, 04:04 AM
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Cardinals are sensitive fish. It could be fumes or toxins, but I am sure you dont have to worry about regular house dust unless it is out of control. I run an open top tank with cardinals and plenty of house dust and cat hair gets into the tank. Just make sure you do regular water changes.

I do not know how cardinals are caught, but I would be surprised if they are chemically stunned. Cyanide is used to stun and capture larger marine fish. I have never read about it being used for tropical species. I have seen the use of traps and dams.

Right now I would bet on lack of O2. My air pump failed on me a few weeks back and my cardinals were the hardest hit. One was laying on its side on the moss heavily gasping. I did not expect any of them to make it, but I caught it in time and they all made a full recovery in 24 hours after I got the air going.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-10-2006, 04:24 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keck
Right now I would bet on lack of O2. My air pump failed on me a few weeks back and my cardinals were the hardest hit. One was laying on its side on the moss heavily gasping. I did not expect any of them to make it, but I caught it in time and they all made a full recovery in 24 hours after I got the air going.
Wow, that sounds just like the symptoms mine showed. I always thought fish gasped at the surface when they have problems with O2. I guess everyone was right (especially since I proved it by adding air) and it was the high CO2/low O2. Oh well, at least I'll know better for next time.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-10-2006, 04:47 AM
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This is just a guess, but I think they all start out gasping at the surface as 2 of my cardinals were doing just that. However, as the body is deprived of O2 I could easily imagine them tiring out a sinking to the bottom.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-10-2006, 04:59 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I guess they succumb so quickly that they can't make it up to the top anymore.
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-10-2006, 05:23 AM
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Cardinal'ss are sensative fish at first, once they acclimate they are very hardy, I keep them in my 29g with Florabase, KH of 1 to 2, ph 6.0.

You have a KH2 out of the tap? what is happening is once the C02 kick's on it is driving the 02 out, while also lowering the ph rapidly, low ph is fine, they like it, they need the 02.
Raising the spray bar was a very wise thing, no need for airstone, I use lilly pipes, so every evening when lights off I raise the pipe to surface, in the morning, I lower it again, while maintaining good C02.
Cardinal's also love soft acidic water! low ph high 5's to low 6's.

Once you get a better feel for the cardinals with a low KH you won't need the baking soda.

How are you diffusing C02? I would suggest a glass diffusor, you can get much better diffusion with less C02 than reactor's

So, in a nutshell, use the spraybar or pipe to strike a balance anytime it is needed, with surface aggitation, at night, raise the bar till it gives a light splash on surface.

Craig

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