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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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Argh! About two months ago, I had a mass death in my tank. I went to bed one night, and woke up the next morning to find all of my fish dead! The only survivor was my dojo loach and my shrimp. I immediatley took a water sample to my LFS and they said that everyting was perfect.

I just got home from work, and I find that all of my fish are dead agan! It is like Jonestown the morning after. Everything has been perfect, the only thing I did yesterday was rinse out the filter. I dont' know what is going on. My fish load wasnt' very high, my tank has been established since september, I have quite a few plants. I can't really check my water parameters now becasue my fish have been floating in there for god kows how long.

It is so frustrating. My guppies just had babbies too, and I had just bought two pairs of endlers last weekend. My girlfriends kuhli loach is dead too. What coudl I possible be doign wrong. My only guess is high nitrates. I checked them the other day and they were HIGH, like 50+ppm. I immediatly did a 25% waterchange one day, and then another 25% the next. But the thing is, my fish were fine, they didn't seem stressed at all. I never had a nitrate kit before that, o I never knew what my levels were. I just assumed that I was gettign a false positive with the kit the other day. I tested my tap water and my nitrates are at about 10ppm from the tap. So I checked with distilled water and got zilch.

The real kick in teh junk is the fact that I just got back from teh fish store with some new stuff, and was goign to do a water change tonight and move my plants around and stuff. I walk in the door and BAM it was like the photos in time magazine of the Halle Bopp cult people.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 09:58 PM
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Your fish were wearing black sneakers and purple kerchiffs??

Mike

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyDrake
Everything has been perfect, the only thing I did yesterday was rinse out the filter.
That could possibly be a part of the problem. Are you rinsing your filter media in hot water or using anything other than low temperature water to rinse? It could be that you could be killing off enough of the denitrifying bacterium, that with your high no3 readings could have led to a lethal build up. How often do you do water changes? It sounds like (with the high no3 readings) that you were quite possibly over feeding and not doing weekly water changes.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 10:22 PM
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Some data would be helpful, instead of weird comparisons... I mean your fishies definitely did not commit suicide. I could think of better comparisons, but that doesn't help either.

So... how about tank size, set up since when, stocked with what, water changed how often and how much, what kind of filter, how often and how exactly cleaned, Ammonia and Nitrite levels, pH and kH, how often and how much do you dose what fertilizer, how densely planted, how often fed with what food, to get started.


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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 10:52 PM
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I too wonder how the filter was rinsed out.

The filter should be dunked and squeezed in the bucket of water that you remove from the tank when doing a water change, it should NEVER be rinsed under the tap, the chlorine in the tap water will kill off all the good bacteria.

There is one other possibility...

You could have a damaged heater which might have electrocuted your fish, I have heard of this happening.

Good luck,CD
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, I guess I left out the important stuff.

20 Gallon High Tank set up since september
I had teh following fish in my tank:
1 Dojo Loach *Still Alive*
1 Kuhli loach
2 Bubble Bee Gobies
2 Feeder Guppies
2 Royal Blue Guppies and 3 fry
4 Endler Live Bearers
6 Neon Tetras
2SAEs
1 Bamboo Shrimp *Still Alive*
2 Amano Shrimp *Still Alive*
3 Ghost Shrimp *1 Still Alive*

As Far as plants go I have:
2 Amazon Swords
2 bunches of Sunset Hygro
1 bunch of Green Hygo
1 bunch of Teardrop Rotala
3 dwarf Sags
3 small java ferns
1 bunch of anarachis
10-12 vals

I do a 25% water change every week like clockwork on Monday nights

I have a penguin 125 filter with the biowheel removed, but teh biowheel was still there the last time this happened. I clean teh filter itself every two to three months as gunk builds up inside. I rinse the dead plant stuff off of the filter floss once a week or so. I have the Carbon removed from the filter as well.

Ammonia and Nitrite are 0, but Nitrae is through the roof, somewhere between 50-100ppm, but that is with dead fish floatign in the tank possible since last night.

Ph is usually 7.4, with a KH of 5. I can test it now if you think that it woudl be helpful.

I havent' really started dosing ferts yet becasue 1) I dont' have a phosphate test kit yet and I don't want an alea bloom, and 2) my nitrates have been so high I obviously do not need to dose thme. I have been only dosing micros for teh last week or so. For that I made up a solution of 2tbsp plantex with 237ml of water adn doze 1ml every other day. Today was teh day that chould have been dosed. The only other thing that I have been using is the flourish tabs wich are well buried in my substrate (which is plain LFS gravel BTW).

I usually feed my fish twice a day, once in the moring before I leave for work, and once in teh early evening. Typically just flake flood with the occasion frozen blood worms maybe once or twice a week. I don't think I overfeed, anything that doesn't get eaten right away gets cleaned up by my shrimp and every hungry dojo loach. I typically never have food sitting on my substrate.

I hope that helps clear up any questions. I assume the problem is with my nitrates, but like I mentioned previously, the fish seemed fine the other day at over 50ppm. It is just plain weird. Maybe I should put the carbon back in my filer at reattach my biowheel.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cactusdoug
I too wonder how the filter was rinsed out.

The filter should be dunked and squeezed in the bucket of water that you remove from the tank when doing a water change, it should NEVER be rinsed under the tap, the chlorine in the tap water will kill off all the good bacteria.

There is one other possibility...

You could have a damaged heater which might have electrocuted your fish, I have heard of this happening.

Good luck,CD
Never though about that with my filter. I try to just rinse it with lukewarm water that is about teh same as my tank. I Can't really squeeze it out at all because teh floss is attached to a plastic insert that goes in my filter. I am not sure how that would make a difference though. If that was true, then all my fish woud die every time I replaced my filer insert, which does not happen.

As far as the heater is concerned, it looks ok to me.


My current course of action is to tear everything down. I removed all teh dead fish, and left the few survivors in the tank (if they made it this far they should be fine). I am goign to let all the crap settle out that is now floating in teh tank and then do a 50% waterchange adn vacuum the substrate. Then I am goign to rinse off all the plants and rocks with tap water? Would this be bad? I currently have all my plants in a 5 gallon bucket full of tap water to keep them wet while they are out of the tank.

Is it ok to leave them in that water for 24 hours? I don't want to put them back into the tank until I do another 50% waterchange again tomorrow.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 11:18 PM
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I would say its the nitrates... if they are 10 ppm from the tap and you are feeding twice a day and you are only changing 25% a week then its most likely a mass buildup...
Dont forget that overfeeding isnt only from "uneaten" food... the more they eat , the more they ****
I dont think it can be a disease because its rare that any disease will take out a tank load of fish on the same day... its has to be a water quality issue and your nitrates are definately an issue.

Carbon is not the answer...
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 11:23 PM
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Hmm.. Although high Nitrate levels can kill fish over time, I don't think it would cause all your fish to die all of a sudden, even at the level yours is at. I've had Cardinal Tetras survive for an extended period in a tank with Nitrate over 200ppm. (long story, but the tetras are still as healthy as can be)

If you wash your filter this way all the time with no problems, then as you mentioned, it's probably not the cause, although I wouldn't recommend doing it anymore.

You say Ammonia and Nitrite show zero. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to make sure the kits are still good, and not expired.

Regarding the heater, if the heater did not electrocute the fish, might it be possible that the heater may have malfunctioned during the day, causing the tank to get extremely hot? This could have happened, and by the time you got home, it might have gotten unstuck and back to normal. Again, just an idea.

Finally you mention you haven't tested pH and KH yet recently. I think it'd be a good idea if you check. These can get lower over time, and if your KH dropped to a low enough level, you may have had a pH crash.

Other than that, can you think of anything else, however small, that might have been done differently yesterday that could have caused this today?

Before you tear everything down, I'd get the survivors out and see if you can pinpoint the cause, so that it doesn't happen again.

Oops, one more thing, just for our information, do you treat your waterchange water? (dechlorinate, etc)

-Jeremiah
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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No change in teh PH or KH.

I do treat my water with dechlor. 1 drop for every 2 gallons that I add.

The only possiblity that I can think of that may have happened was that I used a new sponge last night to clean the green spot algea off of the glass in my tank. Just your typical household sponge that you can buy at walmart for a 4 pack for 2 bucks. I rinsed it out and then proceeded to wipe down the inside of my tank. I usually use my magnetic scraper, but I wanted to try to do something different. Maybe there was some sort of chemical in that songe that killed my fish...
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 11:48 PM
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PH fluctuations can directly or indirectly kill fish. This would be my first guess. Someone reported a decreasing kH over time, don't remember exactly... was that by chance you? A pH going too low will just kill fish, one that is going up could also cause any NH4 to convert to deadly NH3.

There was quite a fish/shrimp load in there. Probably okay while they are still small. My second guess is that you got a ammonia or nitrite spike. Even though you said both are zero, maybe they were when you measured them the last time, but cleaning the filter might have overwhelmed the capacity of plants and bacteria to convert NH4 and NO2 into NO3... Boom.

Just because fishies can survive 100 ppm or more of Nitrates shouldn't keep us from keeping NO3 below 20 ppm. If this doesn't seem achievable, the tank is overstocked. This can be somewhat offset with good filtration which is cleaned frequently and regularly, and larger water changes.

Untreated water could have caused the dead fish, but you said you were just about to do a water change today, so Chloramine introduced last Monday wouldn't be the reason.


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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the info guys. Maybe I got a spike, but whould it dissappear by now? I tested the water and all was good. If it wasn't the nitrates, there must have been somehtign in that sponge...

Is it ok to leave my plants in the bucket of water for 24 hours or not?
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 12:03 AM
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well.... i'd give it a shot. but good luck!
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 12:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyDrake
The only possiblity that I can think of that may have happened was that I used a new sponge last night to clean the green spot algea off of the glass in my tank. Just your typical household sponge that you can buy at walmart for a 4 pack for 2 bucks. I rinsed it out and then proceeded to wipe down the inside of my tank. I usually use my magnetic scraper, but I wanted to try to do something different. Maybe there was some sort of chemical in that songe that killed my fish...
Yep, that is possible. Some of those sponges are treated with fungicides/algacides/bactericides/whatnot. Better to use stuff that is safe with fish tanks. Those plastic scrapers with a handle are pretty good to remove all sorts of algae from the glass.


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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 02:19 AM
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Wasserpest, yep, that was me about the dropping KH. It usually occurs slowly as a side effect of nitrification. A higher bioload causes it to occur more rapidly.

I agree, even though a fish can potentially survive extremly high levels of nitrate, for the long term health of fish, keeping nitrate at low levels will keep your fish alive and kicking for a long time....

Welp, as disheartening as it may be, what's done is done. The only thing that can be done now is to move on, and try again, being extra cautious for a while. At this point it's difficult to speculate as to what exactly killed the fish, but you have a few good leads as to what to watch out for next time. If it was in fact an ammonia spike that occured between your ammonia tests, an option you might consider is one of those Ammonia Alert monitors that you stick inside your tank. I love these, as they give you a constant at a glance reading of the ammonia level in a tank.

As for the plants in a bucket- They should be absolutely fine in there for 24 hours or even longer.

-Jeremiah
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