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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've tried, very unsuccesfully, to keep cardinals in my 46 gallon heavily planted tank. I've finally reached the conclusion that I think my high PH is causing their demise, or at least making them more susceptible to other issues. I've gotten 15 total cardinals from a couple of different sources over the past month or so, and all but 2 have gotten severe ich, a fungus looking something (fish appeared cloudy looking, lost all its color), or just mysteriously died. Initially, they were just dying or disappearing. This latest group is taking longer and actually showing signs of illness. Water changes are done weekly, and all of the readings on the tank are good except for the fact that my ph is very high. In reading today, I now know that the high PH can be a real issue for these guys.

The tank also has 2 dwarf gouramis, 3 cories, 4 ottos, 4 small rams, and a handful of platy fry (parents were moved to a different tank, didn't mess with moving babies), and some yellow shrimp. All are doing fantastic, and the tank is very peaceful. It's just the cardinals that I'm having issue with.

Assuming that the PH is in fact causing my issue, is there a way to acclimate them where they will adjust to the PH, or am I doomed to never being able to keep these guys in my tank?
 

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I have kept them in my 46 gallon bowfront when the pH was around 7.4 (I imagine it'd be a bit lower now from Excel dosing). A good slow acclimation is important; you don't want to rush it. What's the pH of your water?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My ph runs about 8.2. Told you it was high :)

I have not quarantined, and know I should have. The initial group weren't showing any illness, just randomly dying (not saying they weren't sick, just that I couldn't see any obvious signs). I chalked that up to just being unhealthy/stressed petsmart fish. I waited a couple of weeks after the last deaths/disappearances, made sure everything in the tank appeared healthy, and then added 7 more. That addition is when I actually started seeing illnesses. The last 7 came from a different source than the others. I have the one from the first batch (can pick him out because he's quite a bit larger than my others) and one from this last group left. Both appear to be perfectly fine at this point.
 

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I'd wait a minimum of a month before getting any more, and QT them for at least a month before adding them to a tank.

Cardinals- especially stressed ones- are notoriously susceptible to ich, fungus, and bacterial issues that other fish may be carrying but never even show any signs of.

QT really is your best friend when stocking a tank, especially when dealing with delicate fish like tetras.

Do you know the kH and gH of your water? Do you know the parameters of the water these fish are coming from?
 

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My ph runs about 8.2. Told you it was high :)

I have not quarantined, and know I should have. The initial group weren't showing any illness, just randomly dying (not saying they weren't sick, just that I couldn't see any obvious signs). I chalked that up to just being unhealthy/stressed petsmart fish. I waited a couple of weeks after the last deaths/disappearances, made sure everything in the tank appeared healthy, and then added 7 more. That addition is when I actually started seeing illnesses. The last 7 came from a different source than the others. I have the one from the first batch (can pick him out because he's quite a bit larger than my others) and one from this last group left. Both appear to be perfectly fine at this point.
I've had a bit of trouble keeping cardinals as well, but not nearly as much as you. My ph is at 8-8.1 most all of the time, and over the past 3 months, I've had about a 75% survival rate on my cardinals. The ones that die typically won't make it a day past acclimation. Your problem may be acclimation, or bad stock. I know you said you've tried several sources, but if they are all local, is it possible they have the same wholeseller? I only did cardinals during petsmarts $1 sale. Otherwise theyre too expensive to keep in a large group, for how sensitive they are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No clue honestly on kH or gH. I did pick up a test for gH, but haven't used it yet.

Thanks for the suggestions. I know I should have been quarantining, but just didn't. I thought I'd given it enough time that whatever had happened to the initial ones would have cleared the tank, especially since everything else seemed to be ok. I didn't realize these guys were that delicate - I'll take it slower next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've had a bit of trouble keeping cardinals as well, but not nearly as much as you. My ph is at 8-8.1 most all of the time, and over the past 3 months, I've had about a 75% survival rate on my cardinals. The ones that die typically won't make it a day past acclimation. Your problem may be acclimation, or bad stock. I know you said you've tried several sources, but if they are all local, is it possible they have the same wholeseller? I only did cardinals during petsmarts $1 sale. Otherwise theyre too expensive to keep in a large group, for how sensitive they are.
The first sets came from petsmart. The latest came from a large local fish store. I'm doubting they came from the same source, but I could be wrong. I hate having fish die regardless, but at $4 a piece, these are getting to be expensive little buggers! At least the petsmart ones have a 2 week return on them!
 

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Alan had a nice huge school in Napa CA water, pH was 8.2.

Acclimation and good feeding, decent temps, not less than 82F etc seem to be the keys.

KH more than pH also is more important IME.
 

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Drip acclimating the cardinal's might help but in honesty,, I would not expect them to fair well in hard alkaline water with few exception's.
I don't believe they are mass produced like neon's and would fair much better in soft acidic condition's that the majority of them enjoy in the wild.
 

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Alan had a nice huge school in Napa CA water, pH was 8.2.

Acclimation and good feeding, decent temps, not less than 82F etc seem to be the keys.

KH more than pH also is more important IME.
My experience also indicates that hardness is the bigger issue. I find that fish do best in the water conditions that they breed in. Cardinals breed in very soft water.
 

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Wild caught cardinals suffer as detailed in the first post, IME. My lfe sells mostly wild caughts and I faced it many times over. Farm raised are more hardy and my latea batch of 30 farm raised are in mint condition. They can live in high ph if acclimated slowly.

Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk
 

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How long has your tank been set up? What are your other water parameters?

Julia
 
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