Tank Apocalypse - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 12:06 AM Thread Starter
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Tank Apocalypse

One of my 20h's, low light,low tech, had a complete meltdown. I did a 50% water change (tap water with Prime, same temperature). The next morning I noticed a bobbing fish. I lifted the hood off the tank and all of the fish were dead. I noticed that I had forgotten to turn on the heater so I attributed the carnage to the 5 degree drop in temperature.

In the ensuing days all of the plants--mostly swords, crypts, and anubias--melted away completely.

I removed all the goop, cleaned the substrate, and let the tank run with a concentrated hydrogen peroxide solution. I changed the filter pads, and disinfected the heater and filter components with pure h202. The H2o2 should have killed any remaining bacteria and I did a 100% water change after the H2o2 immersion.

Now a week or so later, the crypts are sending out new leaves but they are melting as soon as they come up.

I thought maybe nutrient deficiency due to the lack of fish but the plants have root tabs.

What can this be?

Thanks for any help!


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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 01:22 AM
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First step for figuring out fish death is to check the water. Ammonia, nitrite? Low temp usually doesn't cause quick death. Disease is the normal result.
Has the tank been cycled? Lots more info needed.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 01:32 AM
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its rather extraordinary that a low tech setup would succumb to such a drastic change over a day or two. There's more to the story than just a temp dip IME...


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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 02:46 AM
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I wouldn't expect a 5 degree change in temperature to be the cause of not only the fish, but plants. Can you provide any additional details of say two weeks events leading up to this along with any available tank parameters.


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 02:58 AM
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It is the holidays, you guys did not do any heavy duty spraying of air scent stuff did you?


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Last edited by Vepr; 12-26-2013 at 03:08 AM. Reason: cannot believe I spelled heavy with an extra e...
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 03:05 AM
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My thought is some kind of cleaner or pollutant got into the tank....


We had a hurricane in which we lost power for days and my tank dropped ~12 degrees. I did not lose a single fish.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 03:14 AM
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Anaerobic dead spots in substrate pop up? Usually due to deep substrate with minimal oxygen exchange
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 04:22 AM
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My tank fluctuates almost 5 degrees on a daily basis with no problems. I have anaerobic areas in my tank that are pretty bad with no ill affects to the fish. Plants rebound as well.

Such a sudden and drastic tank death is outside factors like toxins or some foreign substance in the tap water. Sometimes the water company will do maintenance on the system that can be fatal to your aquarium. Or somebody sprayed air freshener near your tank or cleaned the tank glass or something and isn't admitting it.

List ANYTHING that has changed near or around the aquarium. No matter how insignificant you think it may be.


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of your replies.

The tank was established about ten months ago. Super easy no real problems with it. I changed 50% of the water every two weeks or so. The fish were all healthy community fish.

The water parameters were fine, only thing registering before the water change were the nitrates at 5-10 ppi. I only did a water change so the TSS didn't build up. Presently the nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia are 0. Which if it weren't for the root tabs, I would attribute the present plant deaths to.

The substrate was a flourite/gravel mix. I didn't uproot anything or stir up the substrate with the water change. The tank was about 95% planted. Only a few spots, like under a resin bridge and under the heater, that were not planted densely. I would imagine that the roots would have taken care of anaerobic pockets before they became deadly.

My tank maintenance has been the same over the last month. I haven't changed food. I haven't changed---

Wait a second I added melafix a week prior to the meltdown. One of the juvenile guppies was being picked on and his tail was raggedy. I can't imagine that melafix would cause this though. I have added it to the same tank in the past and the fish and plants were fine.

Other than that nothing out of the ordinary. We don't use spray air fresheners, just scented candles, and nothing around the tanks.

I have racked my brain to explain both the initial deaths and melting and the subsequent melting but I can't think of anything.

I think thelub is onto something, water company maintenance, especially since it was after a water change. I am going to call and check with them.

If it is tainted tap water how do I check it before it kills again?
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 05:23 PM
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I don't feel tainted water is the likely cause. If you did not notice a change in the drinking water, change in your digestion or serious color changes like stirred up rust, I would have a hard time thinking of anything that you would not notice but still kill both fish and plants.
I would expect that it might be something that can never be pinned down at this point as memory fades. Small things that may not even be known. How many of us have finished a water change and not really been sure if we added the dechlor? Two weeks later it is impossible to say when we often don't notice even the same day.
I would have to chalk it up as a big mystery and move on.
I lost my biggest, baddest, fish this weekend. He suddenly went from a $45 dollar fish to trash in an hour.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 09:05 PM
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Did you do any heavy cleaning of the bathroom (or wherever you get your water from) prior to doing the water change?
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-27-2013, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry you lost your fish Planted Rich. It sucks!

Also the post wasn't meant to be a postmortem analysis but an attempt to figure out why the new shoots are dying. I'm trying to save my crypt jungle. What can I do to keep them from melting?

The water company said there had been no notices of maintenance or any issues with water quality in the past month.

I ran another check on the tap water. There was a lot of free iron in the water. I tested tap parameters maybe two months ago and iron didn't register.

The water heater is almost twenty years old so I think its in the process of going caput and releasing rusty water. I haven't noticed it in the drinking water, but then again, I don't run hot water to drink. Maybe? Am I just searching for something to pin it on?


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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-27-2013, 02:14 AM
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That's the part that baffles me. I don't think of too many things that kill fish and at the same time kill plants. Things like ammonia but those are things that we might see and be able to diagnose. Excess iron might kill plants but I don't think of it as sudden and then with fish, I think of it as something to mess with growth or reproduction more than outright death.
In my experience with water heaters failing, I find they are fiberglass lined which makes them more prone to being okay inside but where the fire is on the bottom, they do burn and rust out. My first indication of water heater problems has always bee water on the floor. Do you look in the back of the bathroom stool often enough to know what your water normally does to it? A sudden rust color of flakes there might indicate there was a blob of rust breaking loosing in a line somewhere. Really stretching there though as there are quite a number of fine mesh screens along the way that might catch rust before it gets inside. The water going through the meter can't have much or it stops up the meter. Mystery????
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-27-2013, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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Mystery. I'll have to keep an eye on the plants and the other tanks and hope none of the others are affected.


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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-27-2013, 03:54 AM
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You make have had something you didn't know about on your hands or in the cup/bucket you used to put water in and out of the tank. You may have even washed your hands with soap by accident and it happened.

It could be so many things. I one time didn't wash a cucumber before I blanched it and fed it to my shrimp and I guess there must have been some insecticide on it and I had a massive die off of my shrimp(I always feed them bits of cucumber and they are fine if I was them).

So I mean it can just be the tiniest thing.
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