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Hello,

This is my first post in this forum. I have a problem with my aquarium and google hasn't come up with any definite answers.

Problem: Invertebrates constantly die in aquarium; fish don't seem to be affected.

The Aquarium:

Aquarium: 10 gallons. Open top. Freshwater.
Filter: 15 gallon rated hang on back filter. Cleaned often (filter is put into a container with aquarium water, taken apart, and cleaned.
Substrate: 1.5 inches of pebble & sand substrate is taken from an island on a local mountain lake where many species of trout, kokanee, northern pike minnow, peamouth chub, largescale sucker, red side shiner, sculpin thrive. Substrate was thoroughly boiled and dried. Generally grey/yellow in colour, its a mix of many different types of natural lake pebbles. The mix inadvertently has very very few tree particles such as <1cm bits of cypress tree leafs, that have probably been decaying in the lake bottom for decades, impossible to filter out completely.
Parameters: Cycling ended after 1 month. Inhabitants were slowly introduced mid-cycling and currently (6 months later) is testing Nitrate 20, Nitrite 0, Hardness 25-75 (50), Chlorine 0, Alcalinity 60, Ph 6.2, Ammonia 0.5. (Aqiarium shop tests the water). I do weekly 15-20% water changes and clean the gravel with a diy python.
Water: Tap water from vancouver. Left out for over 24h to de-chlorinate. I also add AquaSafe sometimes, but it doesn't have any visual, water parameter or fish behavioral effect in the aquarium. Vancouver water has no chloramines added, with the exception of city of White Rock. When traveling from the refinement station through the city network, smaller stations add extra chlorine to ensure the water doesn't have microorganism blooms.

Occupants:
Fish: Month 1 to 6 (present day) carnivorous 2.5" fish. Yes, 10 gallons isn't enough, but the fish was rescued from someone. The fish Usually sits around the tank, sometimes swims around. Loves to interact with people. At first it only ate live food, but I trained it to eat bits raw salmon flesh/skin/cartilage, raw pork and cooked turkey. Now it takes food from my fingers and seems very happy. Does it's own thing. When its happy, it sits in the tank and rests. When hungry, it swims around the tank, flipping on its side, and turning over pebbles to look for food. Comes up to the surface. It comes to the surface and pops its mouth (makes a splash) when sees me approaching with food in my hand. When it gets full, it lowers back to the bottom of the tank to digest. I scoop out anything it doesn't eat or spits out if it ate too much. Based on the fishes reactions, I feed it every 1-2-3 days. The fish seems to be perfectly fine, no different than it was for the entire 6 months. When it breathes, it slightly opens its mouth and lets water pass through its gills. When swimming or cautious or feeding it doesn't do this, only when in its ambush predator "stand by - hover mode". Could this be an indication of something bad in the water?

Plants: Very few native plants from a local stream. The tank itself has just 5 stems. 4 inches long. They float around, since I tried burying them in the substrate and their roots got damaged for multiple reasons. I soaked them in chlorinated water, checked them, quarantined for 1 month before introducing. The ones in the aquarium got kicked around at some point and had damaged roots, so I put some in plastic bottles at the window sill. They thrived and grew roots and new growths, while the ones in the tank (right beside the windowsill) either decayed or are half-green half-decayed, but seem to be slowly surviving. I have the same plants (1-2 stems each) in jars beside the aquarium, and those are also thriving even in less light. I never change the water in the plant-only containers and they are growing well. The plants not thriving and being in a weird semi-decayed light green/yellowish state for 6 months in the aquarium; some roots in the middle of the stem are starting to form. I put some of the thriving plants from the window sill into the aquarium, and 2 weeks after they seem fine.

Crayfish: 3 native 1" baby crayfish from the same native stream as the plants. They were kept in isolation for 2 weeks, then introduced in aquarium in month 1. They were fed sinking pellets, meats, cucumber, and other recommended foods to promote good molting. Food scraps were scooped when they were done feeding. For many months the crayfish got along. One molted successfully. Did not fight, and the fish left them alone. In month 4 one crayfish seemed to struggle to move. I left 1 healthy one in an aquarium, quarantined 1 healthy and 1 sick in separate containers. The sick crayfish regained the ability to move after 1 day. I put them back into the aquarium and did usual water changes. Another one molted. They seemed to be active, and interested in their environment. I never observed them fighting, just respecting their territories. After a month of them acting fine, two of them seemed to be semi-paralyzed. I isolated them, but they did not recover. They could not move their legs, just wiggle their antennae and clamp their claws once in a while. At most, they could get a burst of movement and crawl for a few inches before returning to this paralyzed state. The gills were moving normally. After 1 week of being in this state, eventually all 3 probably starved to death as they couldn't eat, just breathe and move their eyes. The fish seems fine!!!!

Snails: I had a pond snail in there after the tank cycled. A month later, I just found an empty shell. I assumed the crayfish ate it. After the crayfish died, I got an adult apple snail. The fish was still acting normal. The snail acted normal for 1.5 months. Suddenly, it stopped moving and layed on its side, wiggling. Like an old person who fell and couldn't get up. It reminded me of the crayfish being paralyzed, just like the crayfish. After 3 days, the wiggling stopped, and it died. I isolated it in another container to make sure it was dead before discarding it.

I found some pond snails in the native stream and decided to breed them. They bred in the separate planted bowls. I was enjoying them as a desk decoration. Now the adult snails are 0.6cm in diameter, just large enough to pick up. I observed how much they poop, and how to control their population (leave a cabbage leaf in the water and they will all climb on it). They did not eat or damage healthy plants at all. So I decided to introduce them into the aquarium. Within 10 minutes of dropping in 1 snail, it seemed unable to flip itself upright and was half paralyzed. I got it out, and it recovered. After a week and several partial water changes, removal of suspicious rocks, addition of a nit of crushed egg shell, (crushed egg shell powder in their hatchery doubled their growth rate) I tried this with a second snail, and within 20 minutes it was dead. I removed any suspicious pebbles and rocks, did partial water changes and a month later I tried this with a third snail. It became paralyzed and died within 20 minutes. I always quarantine them afterwards in a separate container for a few days to make sure they are alive or dead.

I have the same substrate in one of the separate containers the pond snails / crayfish lived. Both crays and the snails seemed to thrive in their small isolation / breeding containers, without filters, and no partial water changes.

Problem: It appears that invertebrates like snails and crayfish become paralyzed, and die after long or short exposure to the aquarium. What are the possible causes? (Ph, something leeching from substrate, something leeching from aquarium itself?) What are possible remedies? (throw out all of the substrate and get some other one? besides a pet store, where to get natural gravel, and how to test it being safe for aquariums besides the vinegar test?). Is this problem possibly affecting fish, plants, or just invertebrates?

Google has many studies that show that copper, iron, etc can paralyze crayfish. My gravel doesn't seem to look like any rock samples to be unsafe for aquariums. Changes in Ph can cause sudden leaks of contaminants from substrate into the water. Vancouver water is apparently 7 or 7.5ph, but my tank measures at 6 with weekly 25% water changes. I need to test the tap water as well. Perhaps waste and decaying plants could change the ph, but I remove completely decayed plants and food scraps. The fish barely poops, for its size. Seems like 30 tiny pond snails create more poop in their jars in a week from a single green pea than a 2.5" predator that gulps chunks of meat almost every day.

Any ideas would be appreciated. I can only think of getting rid of the gravel.. But the snails still breed and grow like crazy in the same gravel, even with dirty water conditions and probable ph fluctuations. Could it be some individual pebbles in the gravel that happen to be in the aquarium? If I discard my gravel, I will get rid of a lot of beneficial bacteria, and that can stress my fish? I would also prefer to find my own gravel again than buy some rainbow colored over priced pebbles from the fish store.. I prefer to find the things for my aquarium myself, eventually do a native planted aquarium - the process of collecting and preparing plants, driftwood etc what is appealing to me, not buying pre-made things from a pet store. I wasn't able to move forward with my tank because of this paralysis to invertebrates issue. I would love to try to understand whats wrong instead of just starting the aquarium from scratch, to avoid future mistakes.
 

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Hi and welcome to bcaquaria!
Any chance you can test your tank water for copper? Could be a small piece in a gravel that you missed.
Long time ago I had hard time keeping snails alive until I realize that there was a small piece of copper wire in a tank,

What kind of fish do you have? Any pic?
 

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It would be good to know.

1) Water parameters, pH, GH, NH4, NH3 etc.

2) Do you use crushed coral

2) Species of inverts that died

3) Water changes - how often

4) Components of your natural substrate what kinds of rocks / minerals

5) What are you feeding your inverts

Good chance that your substrate is not inert if it's from natural source. That's just one thing that could be going on.

If you privide the basic info. I am sure you will get other opinions from other BC Aq members.
 

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Hi and welcome to bcaquaria!
Any chance you can test your tank water for copper? Could be a small piece in a gravel that you missed.
Long time ago I had hard time keeping snails alive until I realize that there was a small piece of copper wire in a tank,

What kind of fish do you have? Any pic?
Agree with this, I'm guessing there's something small you're missing in the gravel that isn't in the other two isolation tanks you set up.

Easiest is to probably just swap out the gravel in the tank with

1. Inert stuff you know from a store
2. Stuff you grab and test, probably just got unlucky with the current batch in your tank

Sent from my A0001 using Tapatalk
 

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Have you got copper water lines in your house? If so, water standing in those lines can pick up trace amounts of copper from the water lines.. Run the water long enough to flush the lines of any standing water before filling your buckets for the water changes.
If you are on well water or your municipal water has a low pH, copper will leach out of the lines. The amount is very small, but it can build up over time in the aquarium. Running the water to flush out the standing water removes that bit of contaminated water.
 

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Hi bcaquariua2017
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think that it's illegal to collect native species in BC/Canada and keep them. At the last VAHS auction the bcinvasives.ca people were there and I had a conversation with them about this and they informed me that it was forbidden to collect and keep any local species....sorry but you may want to contact them to make sure that you're not breaking any laws.
Russ
 
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