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Effects of Nitrite on Discus; very sad!

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My husband and I went through a traumatic tank cycle-crash a few weeks ago with our 125 g. Long story short, after a big water change the tank's nitrite level spiked, and despite doing a 2nd water change immediately, the next morning we woke up to find most of the small fish gasping at the surface and 6 near-dead discus in various un-natural positions throughout the tank. We acted as fast as we could and netted everything still alive and threw them into the 55 g quarantine tank, added every air stone we could find as well as some NACL (salt) to help negate the nitrite effects. Only 5 discus survived and lots of the little dither fish perished as well. Over the next couple of weeks we got the 125 g sorted out and worked with our trusted LFS to diagnose the problem and correct it. (They warned us that our municipal water supply has had changes in the water treatment and that other local customers have reported ammonia and nitrite spikes after water changes).
Anyway, we have re-cycled the 125 g and SLOWLY moved some fish back over into it. The 5 surviving discus have remained in the qt tank and they look TERRIBLE!! Most likely it is Brown Blood Disease as a result of the nitrite poisoning their fragile systems. They are very dark in color, act as if they can't see very well, and are in general less active than they once were. As of this writing 2 more have died since that terrible day, and it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch their slow suffering. We have researched but can find no way to help these poor creatures, and have prepared ourselves for their inevitable deaths.
Use this as a cautionary tale; keep an eye on your tap water parameters as well as your tank water! I will attempt to post Before-and-After-Nitrite pics of the discus below, but I'm still a noob at image posting.

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That is terrible. You might want to consider euthanizing the remaining fish to put them out of their misery. I am sorry for you loss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That is terrible. You might want to consider euthanizing the remaining fish to put them out of their misery. I am sorry for you loss.
Thanks for your thoughts. How does one humanely euthanize a fish? Never had to do that before.

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I would euthanize, if and when you decide to, with clove oil which you can pick up at your local health food store or in health food section of grocery store.

Im so sorry this happened. Nitrite poisoning can be devastating on fish, and especially on sensitive fish like discus.
Not only do you have to deal with brown-blood disease, but neurological issues, shutting down of internal organs, as well as secondary bacterial infections.
I can see that this discus is not going to make it by the clouding of the eye. That is often a late stage indication that internal organs are shutting down and death is near. It will most likely not last until the morning.
 

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Get a bucket of warm water. Add clove oil(IDK what amount). It puts the fish to sleep and is supposed to make them very relaxed. Once asleep and relaxed increase the amount of clove oil. The fish will then just die. I am not sure it will work for larger fish such as discus or big angels. You would have to look into it. Be sure to put a lid on the euthinazation container.
 

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Have you contacted your water provider? Perhaps they can explain what caused the nitrite spike and if it's likely to recur.

Those fish were beautiful.
I haven't had the time to investigate yet but we are taking every precaution when changing water..i.e. not Priming tank beforehand and then filling from Python but instead filling a 50 gallon trash can, Priming it, then letting the water sit for 30 to 45 minutes before filling the tank. This is pretty much the best we can do.

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I would euthanize, if and when you decide to, with clove oil which you can pick up at your local health food store or in health food section of grocery store.



Im so sorry this happened. Nitrite poisoning can be devastating on fish, and especially on sensitive fish like discus.

Not only do you have to deal with brown-blood disease, but neurological issues, shutting down of internal organs, as well as secondary bacterial infections.

I can see that this discus is not going to make it by the clouding of the eye. That is often a late stage indication that internal organs are shutting down and death is near. It will most likely not last until the morning.
Do you know how much clove oil to add to the bucket? Another poster suggested this but was unsure of the amount. I certainly don't want to add any additional suffering.

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I haven't had the time to investigate yet but we are taking every precaution when changing water..i.e. not Priming tank beforehand and then filling from Python but instead filling a 50 gallon trash can, Priming it, then letting the water sit for 30 to 45 minutes before filling the tank. This is pretty much the best we can do.

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Ive also just recently had a very similar experience with my discus when I added a pair of discus to the tank of another pair that they had never been exposed to. It is not that the cause was similar, but the reaction was. There was this same darkening of fish, shut down of organs, whiteness in eyes, extreme sloughing off of external mucus layer. This set off a severe immune response in three discus that killed them all within 24 hours. It was caused by the introduction of foreign bacteria.
We often forget that in some fish ( in most cases cichlids such as discus, angels, Uaru, geophagus- fish that come from very soft, mineral poor waters, of low bacterial make-up) foreign bacteria can be swiftly deadly due to immune response.
In 18 years of raising discus, I had not had this happen before; but, the difference is that before I had kept only Asian strains of discus. In this situation I mixed Asian strains with German Stendkers. Fortunately, my favorite male of this group never had any reaction whatsoever and survived unscathed.



It is just a reminder of how sensitive these fish are.
 

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My dad wants me to get discus and I turned him down. I don't want that kind of commitment and worry. They are gorgeous, but so delicate. I can get other beautiful fish for a couple bucks that are extremely hardy.
 

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Always verify your water parameters at least with a test strip has been my rule of thumb since going through something similar with our municipalities water supply back in 90’s. It’s easy for us to get comfortable with having our formula for water changes down to a science, getting lax with testing and bam, getting hit with something like this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Always verify your water parameters at least with a test strip has been my rule of thumb since going through something similar with our municipalities water supply back in 90’s. It’s easy for us to get comfortable with having our formula for water changes down to a science, getting lax with testing and bam, getting hit with something like this.
So true! We live in central Texas where clean, potable water is a precious commodity. It seems like every other week there is some water crisis going on, whether it's flash flooding from heavy rain, drought and/or water-restrictions, having to boil our tap water prior to consuming or cooking with it in response to emergency warnings of high bacteria levels (likely due to the flash flooding), and so on. The latest crisis I have read about is that local reservoirs and waterways are experiencing infestations of invasive zebra mussels causing clogged pipelines! So Heaven only knows what special treatment concoctions are being introduced to our tap water at any given time! We had gotten lazy about monitoring this and learned our lesson the hard way.
 

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I have a 135 gallon, and I use a 55 gallon Rubbermaid garbage can with a submersible water pump, hoked up to a garden hose.
After I fill the fishtank back up, I refill the garbage can so the water can age, degass, and warm up all ready for use.
In a report from my water supplyer, they stated free chlorine.
So after a few days it should be gone.
But to be on the safe side, I add a prime annyway, usually a slightly overflowed capfull.
I plug the pump in to circulate the prime with the water while I drain the tank.
This has worked well for me.

I am very sorry for what has happened, that is a terrible thing to have to deal with.
.
 

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I have a 135 gallon, and I use a 55 gallon Rubbermaid garbage can with a submersible water pump, hoked up to a garden hose.
After I fill the fishtank back up, I refill the garbage can so the water can age, degass, and warm up all ready for use.
In a report from my water supplyer, they stated free chlorine.
So after a few days it should be gone.
But to be on the safe side, I add a prime annyway, usually a slightly overflowed capfull.
I plug the pump in to circulate the prime with the water while I drain the tank.
This has worked well for me.

I am very sorry for what has happened, that is a terrible thing to have to deal with.
.
Thank you for your thoughts. The process you describe in water changing is now our protocol, too. On a side note, I couldn't believe how much I had to pay for a 44 gallon plastic trashcan with lid and dolly! With delivery from Uline it was almost $150! Who knew that trashcans could be such luxury items? :surprise:
 

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My first attempt I had a cheapo 32 gallon garbage can that started leaking.
I went to do a water change and the floor was all wet, and the can was half empty.

I was reading up on the Rubbermaid site, and the garbage can is supposedly food grade.
 

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Thank you for your thoughts. The process you describe in water changing is now our protocol, too. On a side note, I couldn't believe how much I had to pay for a 44 gallon plastic trashcan with lid and dolly! With delivery from Uline it was almost $150! Who knew that trashcans could be such luxury items? :surprise:
Yeah I just bought two 55 gallon ones, with wheels, and lids from U-Line to go with the 32 gallon ones I have been using for a few years. Now that I have a 100 gallon tank I thought it would be handy to have larger water storage options. But it was insanely expensive and I almost immediately regretted it because I didn't think through the fact that I have to lug these things around! But I guess in the long term they will come in handy. It was definitely useful for filling the tank the first time. I probably would have been fine just buying two more 32 gallon cans though.
 
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