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New Neon Tetra’s died within a week and a half

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I have a 10 gallon tank that has been running since February 2020. We started out with 2 Leopard Guppy males. They have been our sole inhabitants for all this time. I am diligent with water testing and changes. All levels are standard and the tank has been very healthy. Temp and chemistry was all standard through the below described incident, no fluctuations or changes.

I decided to add 4 Neon Tetra per the request of my son. I went to a LFS that sells fresh and saltwater fish, they have been around since 2015. I choose this store in hopes for quality fish and to support local business.

So a week and a half ago I bought 4 Neon Tetra’s, 2 cherry shrimp, and a Java Fern. Once home we did about a 1 hour acclimation slowly adding tank water every 15 minutes. Then we netted the fish out and released into the tank. Within 6 hours one of the Neon’s had died. The next morning a second Neon died. Although the policy of the store is final sale on all livestock, I emailed them to explain what occurred. They stated that the fish were perhaps stressed from being received and then a tank change shortly thereafter. They agreed to replace the fish. I went back to the store 4 days later to give the fish in the store a chance to settle. I brought home the 2 new Neons and proceeded with the same acclimation process mentioned above. One of the Neon’s died within 2 hours of introduction. Two days later all three Neon’s had a few white dot’s one their fins. The next morning the dots quadrupled. At this point I felt this was for sure Ich and not just stress. So I moved the shrimp and the plant to a separate tank and started treating the display tank with Metroplex. The next day I added Fritz Copper safe. Three days later and a small improvement in white dots 2 of the Neon’s died and the last one has now stopped eating.

I am worried about my guppies because I do not want them to die. So far they look ok. But the reason I write this post is to share my frustration. Am I alone here? Should I be upset with the fish store? Was it just a bad fish choice? I have read about Neon’s being more sensitive due to inbreeding. What can I do to prevent this in the future? Am I always going to lose fish to Ich? Maybe it wasn’t ich.

Thanks for your input.
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I'm very sorry about your fish. Anytime you add new stock there is a risk of bringing disease home. Quarantine tanks are good because they keep any diseases isolated and can make them easier to treat, so that would have saved your guppy here, but you might have lost the neons anyway.

It sounds like your diagnosis of ich is probably right on - the white spots are a telltale sign and it's both common and deadly. If you haven't already, I would do some research to get a good understanding of ich's lifecycle because it still poses a threat to the remaining fish. I know there's a lot of information out there about which meds to use, and I will say that the conclusion that I came to is that the most reliable active ingredients are malachite green and formaldehyde. I have used Ich-X successfully, but I think there are others? It's possible I went with Ich-X specifically because it's safe for inverts. But Ich-X kills free swimming ich - so it can stop ich from infecting new fish and from reproducing, but fish that have already been infected will have injuries they have to recover from and some don't make it. Others survive the immediate ich, but then get a secondary infections that can do them in without treatment (antibiotics). Also, the neon tetras might have had more than one malady!

As for your questions about if you should be mad at the fish store or not have chosen neon tetras, I don't know, but no, you are far from alone. Sick fish are one of the most frustrating things in the hobby and I think most people have had to deal with them at some point. As my mom always says "Keeping fish is a lesson in death" and illness is a part of that. You just have to do your best to find the most reliable sources and then accept that there's always a chance new fish won't make it.

Ideally you want to buy fish from a store that quarantines all their fish, but there just aren't any in my area. I know The Wet Spot quarantines their fish and you can order from them online, so that's an option but shipping is $40. I have not ordered from them personally, but I have heard others recommend them, so YMMV. There are basic precautions you can take at your LFS like checking out the tanks in the shop for sick or dead fish and absolutely not buying any fish from a tank where any of the fish seem ill, but a lot of problems are just not going to be readily apparent. I just set my expectations low and run a quarantine tank. Most of the new fish I have gotten have been perfectly healthy, but I also have received shipped fish from a well reviewed retailer with a full blown ich outbreak and I was very, very happy to have somewhere to isolate them.
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