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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the last 6 months have been doing a 50% water change every two weeks in my 55g tank (with 25g sump for total of 80g). I use an overflow in the sump that lets excess water go to the drain. That way, I have no buckets to carry. I slowly trickle in tap water (20g per hour) that is at the same temperature as the tank water. I check this temp every 15 minutes to make sure it has not drifted. After the new water has been added, I treat with a chlorine remover and add fertilizers for the plants. Today I stopped the water change early because I saw that the fish were stressed. I added the chlorine treatment and fertilizer, and watched as 6 Cardinals died over the next few hours. I even added more water treatment, and it did no good. None of the other fish died. This tank is heavily planted, and has been running perfectly since it was refurbished 6 months ago. I am suspecting that my local water utility flushed the system with extra chlorine or something. Anyone else ever had this happen?
 

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Cardinals are notoriously sensitive to ammonia, check you water.

There also been some type of toxin in the water. The hardier fish survived, while the cardinals didn't.
 

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For the last 6 months have been doing a 50% water change every two weeks in my 55g tank (with 25g sump for total of 80g). I use an overflow in the sump that lets excess water go to the drain. That way, I have no buckets to carry. I slowly trickle in tap water (20g per hour) that is at the same temperature as the tank water. I check this temp every 15 minutes to make sure it has not drifted. After the new water has been added, I treat with a chlorine remover and add fertilizers for the plants. Today I stopped the water change early because I saw that the fish were stressed. I added the chlorine treatment and fertilizer, and watched as 6 Cardinals died over the next few hours. I even added more water treatment, and it did no good. None of the other fish died. This tank is heavily planted, and has been running perfectly since it was refurbished 6 months ago. I am suspecting that my local water utility flushed the system with extra chlorine or something. Anyone else ever had this happen?
Yes I have, water treatment plant twice a year flushes lines with additional chloramine.
I use enough PRIME or Amquel Plus, to treat entire volume of water the tank +sump hold's.
Some dechlorinator's (most) will effectively treat chlorine, but if tapwater is treated with chloramine,, (chlorine,ammonia),, I would use one of the product's mentioned or one that clearly say's on the bottle that it also treat's ammonia.Especially with 50% water changes such as I perform.
If product does not say it treat's ammonia ,then it merely detoxifies chlorine and leaves ammonia for bacterial colony ,plant's to deal with.
I add dechlorinator before new water start's entering the tank.
 

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I slowly trickle in tap water (20g per hour) that is at the same temperature as the tank water... After the new water has been added, I treat with a chlorine remover and add fertilizers for the plants.
If your description is accurate, then your fish are exposed to chlorine/chloramine from the replacement tapwater for over an hour before you finally add the water treatment. Which would be especially harmful if the water company did a superchlorination.

You should add the full dose of water treatment before starting to trickle in tapwater, so that it can get to work immediately.

I use Prime at 1.5X recommended dosage, which is hopefully enough to cover any superchlorination events. Don't go above 3X, it's reputed to become toxic itself beyond that.

If not Prime then use something that works against chloramine, because even if your water company is known to use plain chlorine, they can switch to chloramine at any time and without notice. My tapwater tests at 1ppm ammonia due to the chloramine. Not something you want in your tank without protection, especially with ammonia-sensitive species.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In my original post, I wrote: "For the last 6 months have been doing a 50% water change every two weeks in my 55g tank (with 25g sump for total of 80g). I use an overflow in the sump that lets excess water go to the drain. That way, I have no buckets to carry. I slowly trickle in tap water (20g per hour) that is at the same temperature as the tank water...." etc. etc. As I indicated, this was no problem for the fish until one weekend where I lost a pile of Cardinals, and then some Corys due to the water utility doing a chloramine spike as part of a maintenance. I have modified my water change protocol in the following way: I found another plastic bin the same size as my sump (25g), and I now place it beside my original sump and fill it with temperature adjusted tap water. I add the dechlorinating chemicals, and then aerate for 10 minutes with an air stone. I then take the pump out of the sump, and put in into the second bin, and pump the treated water into the tank. I then return the pump to the sump, and I am done. This whole operation takes much less time, and is safer. DOH!!! why did I not think of this earlier? It is so obvious now.
 

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Put it this way, you got very lucky for 6 months! That's too much exposure to toxic water. You need to put treated water in a tank. Even people who does first then add water are taking a risk far greater then I would care to gamble with my pets.

I have a 75g and I will only run buckets. Fully treated before the fish see it.

When your adding straight tap water without conditioner your hurting your fill and killing your bb. You got lucky this didn't happen before. Hopefully you learn from this.

.5ammonia is nothing compared to 20g of untreated water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Changing water treatment protocols

I did these large scale water changes, adding treatment afterwards, for over 20 years. Luck was that I had good water. However, when the city discovered that the older part of town had degrading lead pipes, they completely changed the water chemistry, (ph from 6.8 to 7.8) and then started using chloramine, without really telling anyone. I got complacent, and kept on with what was working. My luck ran out. I have adapted. Fish are happy again.... except the dead ones.
 

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Cardinals and neons are very sensitive to just about anything (in my experience anyway). I recently lost 6 neons in the span of about 30 minutes after doing a water change in a 23 gallon tank. Changed about 25% of the water and filler her back up. But I forgot to use the de-chlorinator (prime). I literally watched one neon after another go belly up and float to the top of the tank. I realized my mistake about 15 minutes or so after I finished filling up the tank and then immediately dosed with prime but lost the rest of the neons over the next 15 minutes or so!

So, long story short, I agree that your original method of water changes was likely adding too much chlorine/chloramine to your system. Looks like you've got that correct now though!
 

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There are some points that I don't see mentioned that may have led to your crisis. There are also some hints of people not understanding public water treatment.
When doing the drip, did you treat for the volume of the tank or only for the volume of water changed? Most products state that if treating in the tank the amount should be for the tank volume. It is a matter of diffusion. I think of it as looking for a friend in a crowd. If I look for them among ten people, I find them quickly. But if I am looking for them in a crowd of 100 or 1000, I need many more people helping me find them before it is too late. The chemicals added have to find ammonia in much the same way.

But then there are always the hints that it is the fault of the water supply. Understanding what a company is allowed to do during a chlorine burn will help to understand why it should not harm your fish if you are doing your job right.

We all kill fish now and then but when we don't know why we killed our fish, it doesn't help to blame the water treatment guy. That is just passing the buck and learning nothing, leaving us open to doing it again.

Chlorine treatment levels are strictly enforced by independent testing. The tests are taken at points throughout the system and if I remember correctly they are required to stay between 3 PPM and 10PPM. Read the consumer confidence report for your supplier to find what the tests show as the high and low levels during the year. Check your product and it is likely to tell you it is designed to cover these ranges plus more. So when a water supply does a burnout, they don't just dump a bunch of chemicals and let it come out at your house. Most public health groups would certainly not risk letting that happen.

Have you read the story about them just going out and pouring chemicals in at a fire hydrant to do the burnout? People who don't understand tend to fill in the gaps with stories they make up. Got any idea what happens when you just open a fire hydrant? It would be REAL hard to stick chemicals in! If you add chemicals for a burnout it has to be injected with proper equipment and it has to be done carefully and flushed carefully
YES, your levels may bump up from 3PPM to 5,6 or even 10, but if you do your work right and your dechlor is done right, it does not kill fish.
 

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A possible solution is an in house or under the sink carbon water filter. Dupont makes one for $60. It goes up from there.

I'm thinking about it myself. I had my fish freak out once but they didn't die.
 

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A possible solution is an in house or under the sink carbon water filter.
Would that avoid the need to add dechlorinator to the water?
 

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good to know! Does it "expire" in these types of filters as quickly as the activated carbon added to aquarium filters?
 
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