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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
:icon_twis This one is really strange. I have 5 Amber Tetras in quarantine. They have been holding over in a fishless cycled tank which appears to be stable for 30 days now. They were holding in super high Kh, Gh water. They even could be tank raised in hard water. I drip acclimated them for 1 hour while trying to match GH,KH values to a T.
Since their release 30 days ago, I have been slowly dropping the GH,KH. They are now in GH 12, KH 5. They came from KH7, GH17. PH unknown. I have a TDS meter arriving shortly since my water changes are 20% tap , 80% remineralized r/o with added trace & Gh booster,& baking soda to slowly lower GH& kH. To this point the fish have been doing fine most of the times but showed some signs of osmotic shock on occasion by hanging on the bottom with a scrape or 2 on decorations which would be unusual for parasite issues in my opinion, they all acted like they were being stressed together. This behavior is usually short lived though. The scrapes usually come after water changes.I add Prime as a de chlorinator.
Today I noticed my second filter in the tank was unplugged. A power head with sponge. My other filter, a small internal canister type was functioning normally. Since (plugging IN the powerhead) the fish hang on the bottom & seem extremely stressed. A couple of the fish scraped the sides of the tank & bottom of substrate. This has been going on all day. I checked all levels. Ammonia no trace, nitrite 0, Nitrate 20ppm, ph around 7.6 which has been that way from the start. Nitrates use to be super high but I have since lowered them.
Now this is the kicker: I decided to (turn off the power head) which was only blowing a small amount of O2 & flow OFF. Soon after the fish broke away from the corner as a group an spread out & even acted if they wanted to eat again, which earlier in the day they refused to eat & hung on the bottom stressed out & scrapping the bottom.The only other thing I did differently was I added 4 or 5 drops of seachem trace the night before since I was worried about my TDS level getting lower because the other day I used a small amount of pure r/o water with some baking soda to help lower my Gh some more trying to get the fish ready for my softer planted tank soon. So I blamed the trace elements making my fish stressed when turning a filter off seemed to improve their condition quickly. The fish all seem much better now with the filter off! Could there be something in the power head causing an allergic reaction????? Or R/O issues since My TDS is unknown at the moment. I am planning on trying to gradually lower TDS & keep it in proper range for the species as well as all the other levels. Any advice or opinions would be helpful. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
47 people read this & no body has a clue. I know it is strange how just a filter could cause a fish to stress to the point of scratching does not make sense. But from what I can see it does explain why the fish behave the way they did. Maybe a high pitch sound wave that comes from the ventura in the power head makes the fish stress & causes them to scratch. Making them nervous??? Don't know? That's my best guess.
 

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Well, Ember tetras are some of the most hardy dwarf fish ever. I've had 400 of them in a 40 gallon tank, all of them getting Ich and all of them to the last one surviving. It is not unusual for them to get Ich after import. But they get over it very, very well. For that reason I consider them very hardy.

You mention the powerhead. Are you sure it's not bleeding some electric current in the water? Many pumps do.

This 20 Nitrate is way high for my taste but the fish could live in it. Could be that your test kits are showing wrong readings. They maybe higher or lower than the actual.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Niko. That is very interesting about leaking electricity. I did not think about that probability. I wonder if I took the filter out of the tank & put my hand in the water to see if I could feel current.
Now the ick thing. So far no spots. They have been in this tank for 30 days at 78. I think ick would have reared its ugly head by now. No other fish have been in this tank. At the moment they are still behaving normally & feeding well without the filter running. But I would not rule out parasites just yet.
Anyway to check current leakage? Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I forgot to mention the nitrates: The nitrate test kit I am using is API. I do trust it even though it is not calibrated. I checked it against r/o water & it registered 0. It was registering up & down levels in my planted tank & was picking up levels as low as 2 ppms in my tap which is impressive. Currently it always shows 20 ppms in my planted tank which would bounce between 10-20 ppm because of dosing KNO3. The point is it was picking up nitrate usage in my planted tank, & the levels seemed reasonable.
It was also showing super high levels of nitrate early on during end completion of fishless cycling, which is typical if you fell behind in water changes. Now I have them knocked down to 20ppm, but waiting on further water changes because of TDS meter. I feel 1 or 2 changes more I will be down to 10-15ppms.That is really not that high.
 

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20ppm nitrate is considered by most to be the limit for healthy fish. Its a little on the high side, some plants will take care of that along with some water changes. I doubt that that is your issue though. Ember tetras are hardy in a sense, but they are also fragile in sense as well. These guys can get stressed very easily. If you chase them around too long with a net or mess around in the tank too long they will literally start spasming and floating on their sides, kind of like fishy heart attacks.

Electricity is possibile i suppose. If you dont run that powerhead all the time, the sponge can foul up and then be spewed into your tank when you turn it on, quickly degrading your water quality.

You didnt mention your tank size or what filters your using, or any hardscape/plants in the tank. These fish originate from slower moving blackwaters. The flow may be to high. They do much better in acidic conditions so let the ph swing down just a bit and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
They are in a 10 gallon. I have six of them. It is a Q.T. tank so plants could be problematic. I kept it simple. 1 internal filter rated for 15 gallons & I also added the powerhead for extra filtration. Now the powerhead could be at the root of all problems for me. Now that I think of it in my planted 10 , I had a lone seprae tetra that would scratch as well with the same filter .The tank has a combo of cheap coated gravel & uncoated substrate. Doubt it plays a role. I always felt it was parasites now I am second guesing that theory because I feel NIKO hit the hammer on the nail. Never considered voltage leakage. That could be a whole other thread on its own. I wonder how many people medicated fish thinking they had parasites when it was voltage leakage.:icon_eek: Not good.
The nitrates at 20 is high but there are people in this hobby that dose to 30 ppms for plants so all the fish are exposed to higher nitrates without problems. I myself do not like to go over 20, but some would disagree. I really believe the nitrates are not the proble & would put my money on the voltage issue rather than nitrate or TDS. Thanks for the input it has been extremely helpful.If there is other advice or opinions on this I am all ears. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I forgot to mention the ph issue. Without CO2 I have little control & do not believe in chemicals or buffers to control it. I let it do its natural thing since I cannot afford to use CO2 on this tank. Besides they were doing fine in a ph of somewhere between 7.5-7.8 at the store. The owner runs his tanks in liquid rock. I would love to drop them a little but how? The more surface agitation the higher the ph. Now even with 80% r/o remineralized it is still high, but thats because in part I am keeping the kh & gh high for now for acclimation. Peat can work but these fish are used to high ph. When they get to the planted tank it will be lower. As kh & gh comes down the ph will fall as well, but not that much.
 
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