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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Trying to figure out why my pygmy cories are dying one by one. I have a 10 gallon tank with a 603B SunSun Canister. It is planted. I did do a recent water change couple days ago about 60% because I ripped out my Amazon Swords that was growing too big. Also, had to manually remove a lot of algae that was in the tank.

I always use prime when doing water changes and the water temperatures are always around 76F degrees. My water parameters are Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate ~5-10ppm the color is orange don't know the accuracy.. I did notice that the tank temperatures rises pretty high close to 80F since I don't have AC at home. To alleviate the problem I have the water level lower and have the filter and power head make ripples right above the water line. I did get the water temp to drop back down 76F.

What could be causing the death of my fish? Do you think when the light turns on it causes too much shock and stress that it kills them? My shy emerald danio enrythromicrons seem to be holding up stronger then the pygmy cories. This is the 4th death since I started the tank up almost a year ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Can only offer that I have had problems keeping them alive as well. They seem to die off one or two a month in my tanks so I gave up trying.

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Yeah, I've had mine for a couple months as well. They eat well and look very active. And out of nowhere they just die, one by one. I had about a dozen and I am down to 3 or so now. I only see one hiding a lot. I might just stick with my emerald danio erythromicrons. I had one that looked super skinny and starved because it wouldn't eat, but the past few days it got fat real quick. Which was a relief. They seem more bullet proof then the pygmys.
 

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My pH level is pretty high in the 8 range the last time I checked. I thought most fish can get used to high pH? Correct me if I'm wrong please.
I think they can in as much as they don't die right away, but people act as if a few generations of captive breeding can change their fundamental biology. I believe in evolution and selection, but often the fish aren't very many generations removed from their wild cousins.

I haven't seen any studies comparing total lifespan between hard and softwater, but my own experiences have been that keeping softwater fish in softwater leads to fewer problems. I think that means less overall stress, and problems being less likely to occur.

Then I see a few little things like this:
FWHardness

"Dissection of neon and cardinal tetras has revealed damaged kidneys in specimens kept in hard water aquaria"
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think they can in as much as they don't die right away, but people act as if a few generations of captive breeding can change their fundamental biology. I believe in evolution and selection, but often the fish aren't very many generations removed from their wild cousins.

I haven't seen any studies comparing total lifespan between hard and softwater, but my own experiences have been that keeping softwater fish in softwater leads to fewer problems. I think that means less overall stress, and problems being less likely to occur.

Then I see a few little things like this:
FWHardness

"Dissection of neon and cardinal tetras has revealed damaged kidneys in specimens kept in hard water aquaria"

What would be the most cost effective way to soften the water? I don't have the funds to get a RO Water set up. If not, I'll look for some nano fish that do well in hard water.
 

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Rain water mixing if you're not in an area in which polluted rain is a real worry is a cheap way to soften your water, but you need a sterileish collection unit as well as a large bucket to keep for the rain water and for mixing with tap to create your ideal pH.

Then you run the issue of having trouble if you end up in a long dry spell and can't do water changes for an extended period of time.

You also have to think about far more than your pH number to determine your actual water hardness.
 

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Absolutely, KH is far more important (and TDS).

Peat filtration can work to some degree, but given we both have Rocky Mountain water RO is the only consistent method. There are $100 RO units out there, or rainwater, or something like peat (though there are collection/environmental issues there too).

Bump: Buying RO water can work for now too, though I'd be pananoid and at least get a cheapy eBay tds meter to make sure the store unit doesn't kill your fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Absolutely, KH is far more important (and TDS).

Peat filtration can work to some degree, but given we both have Rocky Mountain water RO is the only consistent method. There are $100 RO units out there, or rainwater, or something like peat (though there are collection/environmental issues there too).

Bump: Buying RO water can work for now too, though I'd be pananoid and at least get a cheapy eBay tds meter to make sure the store unit doesn't kill your fish.
That sounds like a lot of work to have a low tech type of tank. I think I'll start looking for fish that do well in hard water and go that route. I do plan on upgrading to a 20gal long in the near future.

I'm wondering if it caused shock to the fish when I was testing to see how long the tank can last without doing a water change other than topping off the water for about a couple weeks.
 

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Softwater tanks aren't low maintenance tanks if you don't have an RO machine.

If you weren't doing many water changes and only topping up, you'll make your hard water even harder. The pure water will evaporate, leaving the mineral content behind. That's why you need to remove some water periodically. Just my opinion too, but a 10 gallon is too small to be a no change sort of tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Softwater tanks aren't low maintenance tanks if you don't have an RO machine.

If you weren't doing many water changes and only topping up, you'll make your hard water even harder. The pure water will evaporate, leaving the mineral content behind. That's why you need to remove some water periodically. Just my opinion too, but a 10 gallon is too small to be a no change sort of tank.
So you're saying doing more frequent water changes would be the best way to go?

Would doing water changes once a week help? Or should I be doing more and should I be doing 50% or less?
 

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I don't know about any of that but persevere with the Pygmys and you will be well rewarded.
I bought about 40 overall on 2 shipments lost around half at about 2 months later (now). The deaths have stopped.
The remaining are doing well in 7.9 water (was 8.5 out of the tap) and are great fun to watch.
I have a feeling it is more to do with their smaller size making them more susceptible to transport damage/stress than water parameters unless they are way out of line.
Mine are not the greatest water stats @ 7.9 in tank and 465 or so TDS but I watch it now and as I say dying off has stopped and the remaining Pygmy are awesome to watch.
 
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I would go the RO/DI route rather than trying to add something to your water (peat moss) to change the pH. Regardless of how hazardous your current parameters are to your fish, fluctuating parameters would be even worse. Peat moss has the chance of leading to a fluctuating pH but that is much less of an issue with an RO/DI filter. However, they are quite expensive for a new owner and often generate a fair amount of waste water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I would go the RO/DI route rather than trying to add something to your water (peat moss) to change the pH. Regardless of how hazardous your current parameters are to your fish, fluctuating parameters would be even worse. Peat moss has the chance of leading to a fluctuating pH but that is much less of an issue with an RO/DI filter. However, they are quite expensive for a new owner and often generate a fair amount of waste water.

Well I'm trying to avoid the RO/DI method because I don't have the funds. And would like to keep the costs of running this tank on the low side. If I don't have success with my remaining Danio Erythromicron and Pygm Corys. I will look into different breeds of fish.
 

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When I lived in Colorado on a well, I had great success breeding honey gouramis. Also had great success with hardwater cichlids (african) and Barbs, and saltwater tanks. I was able to grow some corals on old calcareous rock, keep damsels and other easy saltwater fish no problem. I ran a 29 gallon salt water tank using nothing but an undergravel filter. But could not keep many soft water species alive for very long. Even with softer water here in Va., I lose corys more often than any other fish, except maybe neons. It's usually right after a water change, and the pH or hardness changed enough to send them into shock and die??? My best guess anyway. I don't keep corys anymore. Tired of trying and losing. Have you thought about saltwater? You live in a great place waterwise. That whole area of Colorado used to be ancient ocean.
 

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I don't know if this actually helps or not but buy some indian almond leaves and break them in half toss them in your ten gallon.
It does color the water a bit like weak tea. Little critters feed on the leaves and the cories feed on those.
It may soften the water a bit and gives the fish a place to forage in the leaf litter.
I do 20-25 percent weekly water changes faithfully. Don't ignore filter maintenance and keep your temps consistent
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I don't know if this actually helps or not but buy some indian almond leaves and break them in half toss them in your ten gallon.
It does color the water a bit like weak tea. Little critters feed on the leaves and the cories feed on those.
It may soften the water a bit and gives the fish a place to forage in the leaf litter.
I do 20-25 percent weekly water changes faithfully. Don't ignore filter maintenance and keep your temps consistent
Yeah, I need to be a little more consistent with the water changes. I should definitely clean my filter, it's been a while now that I think about it.

Does the Almond leaves lower it better than driftwood? When I used to have one, it didn't make any difference in pH levels. So I don't want to waste time on those if it doesn't work or if it causes too big of a swing.

Bump:
When I lived in Colorado on a well, I had great success breeding honey gouramis. Also had great success with hardwater cichlids (african) and Barbs, and saltwater tanks. I was able to grow some corals on old calcareous rock, keep damsels and other easy saltwater fish no problem. I ran a 29 gallon salt water tank using nothing but an undergravel filter. But could not keep many soft water species alive for very long. Even with softer water here in Va., I lose corys more often than any other fish, except maybe neons. It's usually right after a water change, and the pH or hardness changed enough to send them into shock and die??? My best guess anyway. I don't keep corys anymore. Tired of trying and losing. Have you thought about saltwater? You live in a great place waterwise. That whole area of Colorado used to be ancient ocean.

I went with freshwater because I figured it might be cheaper and easier then salt water tanks.

Yeah, I'm definitely done adding more pygmy cories since they are super sensitive to the water changes. I'll keep an eye out on the 3 that I have. The other day I was down to two, don't know where the 3rd one hid.

My honey gourami was doing great until he died out of nowhere. Guess they are known to get sick easily. Might do another one again in the near future.
 
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