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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys

I have a 10 gallon aquarium with a HOB filter and an air pump/stone running. I have had some issues with keeping fish alive in it the past week, but my RCS seem to be perfectly fine and thriving. I've tried to add pygmy corys, but failed, and tried galaxy rasboras, and failed again. They appear fine the day/night I add them (acclimated over 2 hours) and seems within 24 hours they are up at the surface of the water a lot, sometimes gasping, then die. April has been a huge help and has pretty much held my hand throughout this whole ordeal. I thought some of you may have some words of wisdom or ideas and can chime in as well to help me out.

Tank is cycled.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: <5
Temp: 74F

Original pH of the tank was pretty low, 6-6.4, compared to the water the fish came from and thought this may be the cause of the first deaths - maybe pH spikes and crashes in the tank. The pH of my tap water is about a 6.4, and I have learned that Vancouver water is super soft and basically has no buffer. Did a ~20% PWC, got some aragonite/crushed coral and added it to the tank to help buffer the water. I didn't add much, probably about a teaspoon. The day after, pH rose to about 6.8-7. Good! So tried some strawberry raboras. Same thing ended up happening - they ended up swimming at the surface of the water within 24 hours and died. I had 1 lone survivor that outlived the 24 hours, but died shorty after doing a 10% PWC after I removed the other dead guys. One of six shrimp has also died since, but the others still are super red and actively foraging about.

I tested the water this morning, and saw the pH was at a wopping 8. Then I thought, okay, it must have something to do with the water changes and shocking the fish with the low tap pH water versus the high pH tank water. What I don't understand is why is the pH getting so much higher than my tap water? I only put a little amount of buffer in there, and I also have a pretty sizable piece of mopani driftwood in there which should be lowering the pH from what I've read... and I'm scared to do more water changes or remove the aragonite/crushed coral in case it shocks the shrimp and they end up dying too :(. There's also 2 marimo mossballs, java moss, and an anubias in there if that makes a difference.

Lastly, when I'm doing a water change, do I need to be adding some of the aragonite into the newly conditioned water before adding it into the tank? Because I've just been using conditioned tap water (conditioned with Prime) during my PWCs. I also have not managed to lower the pH of the tank at all with the 20% PWCs. I am just really confused. I've been reading up on pH all day and just get more confused the more I read. I know steady pH is better than messing around with it, but I fear with Vancouver tap water I NEED to add something to buffer it and prevent these pH fluctuations.

I don't want to put in any more fish until I figure out what's wrong, but I'm worried my BB will die off with only 5 RCS in the tank right now (I know this is a super tiny bioload). Can I put a pellet in the filter as a source of ammonia until I figure this out?

Sorry for the many many many questions. I just am so new to this and I need help.

Help, someone, anyone!
 

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I don't have any experience with aragonite but from what I've read I understand that people use it to raise/buffer their ph to around 8.0 - 8.2, so that's probably the cause of your spike. If your tap water when you do your water changes is that much lower, you want to avoid large water changes - perhaps 10% at a time max.

Try to get your pH stable before adding more fish. Stability is more important than trying to get the "perfect" number with large fluctuations. And do be sure to slowly acclimatize your fish when you do get more - you want the water the fish come in to slowly change to match the water you will be keeping them in.

If your worried about shocking the RCS, remove them from your tank and acclimatize them to what your new (stable) water will be at as well, just as you would if you were bringing them home new from the store. I'm surprised they are doing well given how much your pH has been bouncing around (with shrimp you want any new water entering your tank to match the pH and temperature currently in the tank - again, do small changes rather than larger ones).

Feeding your shrimp tiny amounts of food will probably still end up with some excess that will help keep your BB up.

There are plenty of "experts" here (including April) so I'm sure you'll get more/better advice when they chime in. Good luck! :)
 

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She got the fish from
Me. If small amount of aragonite or coral should just buffer. I use it in all my tanks and they are just about 7.2 and stay even.
What did you use for cycling? Maybe it released something? And yet the shrimp are ok.
There's either ammonia and your test kit isn't measuring or something in the tank is causing something the fish don't like.
I can give you a tough as nails bigger fish to test with like a tiger barb and see how thst goes. But I'd take the shrimp out and out in a Tupperware or something until your ph is even.
I'd also do another wc . It's not the water that's cycled it's the filter and substrate so you won't lose the bacteria by doing a wc. I'd also add prime as it gets rid of nitrites, ammonia, nitrates and heavy metals.


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She got the fish from
Me. If small amount of aragonite or coral should just buffer. I use it in all my tanks and they are just about 7.2 and stay even.
What did you use for cycling? Maybe it released something? And yet the shrimp are ok.
There's either ammonia and your test kit isn't measuring or something in the tank is causing something the fish don't like.
I can give you a tough as nails bigger fish to test with like a tiger barb and see how thst goes. But I'd take the shrimp out and out in a Tupperware or something until your ph is even.
I'd also do another wc . It's not the water that's cycled it's the filter and substrate so you won't lose the bacteria by doing a wc. I'd also add prime as it gets rid of nitrites, ammonia, nitrates and heavy metals.

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What's throwing me way off is that the RCS are doing very well it sounds like. As April and Shrimpette have mentioned, I'd remove the shrimp and put them into another tank\container, and just keep an eye on the PH and temperature until the problem is icolated in the main tank.

Were the fish gasping for air or anything, besides swimming in the upper part of the tank, or near the hob or anything? I'm just totally thrown off that the RCS are doing good, they're usually more sensitive then fish would be to PH swings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have an empty 2.6 g so I've transferred the shrimp over into there for now until this is sorted.

I used fish food/bit of raw shrimp to cycle the tank. Perhaps something from the raw shrimp contaminated the water? But after the cycle finished I did a huge water change. I've also tested my water at an lfs and their test kit read amm 0 and nitrite 0 too, so it's not my kit. Maybe something in my driftwood?

Some fish did seem like they were gasping for air before they went belly up, but not specifically near the HOB. Could this be a symptom of anything other than lack of oxygen? I have an air pump in there as well, so I would think there is plenty of oxygen in there for them. The gills also were noticeably pink on the dead guys.

The shrimp doing well is throwing me off as well. I've read they are super sensitive to water parameters. So whatever it is, seems to be affecting only fish, not shrimp.

Thanks for the input so far. What a mystery. It's sad to look at an empty tank again :(



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I would just start by removing the driftwood, but with no tank inhabitants, and the testing showing 0-0-<5 I don't even know how you'd go about testing it, other than with a tiger barb like April suggested. I'm at a loss.
 

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Shrimp can be sensitive but I've also had shrimp survive heavy potassium
Permanganate and heavy meds cleaning and disinfecting tanks . Drain and stsrt cleaning and there are live shrimp walking about. So some things they can handle when fish can't .
Water can also absorb things from the environment around them. Sprays, fumes etc into the filter material.
Especially organics.
My dog got sprayed by a skunk once and when I went to clean the filter the whole filter smelled
Like skunk when I rinsed it. Made me realize how easy things can absorb.
I'm
Sorry your having such problems . It should've been easy as you definitely did your research. Perhaps the shrimp you used to cycle with caused a problem.


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Some good advice here. If it was me I'd stop doing everything and just leave the tank alone. How long has it been running? It's sounds like you've missed the cycling process which can take up to 6 weeks to happen fully and if fish are dying the process isn't happening. Give more info on how you started this tank off. How you are cleaning the filter, how long the lights are on. Are you adding stability or cycle? This may be a case of too much at once. It's good to hear you are reading lots :) Give it time
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Some good advice here. If it was me I'd stop doing everything and just leave the tank alone. How long has it been running? It's sounds like you've missed the cycling process which can take up to 6 weeks to happen fully and if fish are dying the process isn't happening. Give more info on how you started this tank off. How you are cleaning the filter, how long the lights are on. Are you adding stability or cycle? This may be a case of too much at once. It's good to hear you are reading lots :) Give it time
The tanks been up and running for about 6 weeks now actually. It took me 4.5 weeks to cycle it from scratch (which I thought was maybe a little quick, but everything seemed to check out). I put in some flake food as I couldn't find any pure ammonia. Didn't get any readings for a couple days so I put a small piece of raw shrimp in a bio bag hanging in the tank. I kept the lights off during the duration of the cycle because I read I could get a ton of algae. It's in a room where it doesn't get direct sunlight, but the room is still lit from other windows if that makes sense. I watched my ammonia levels rise to about 4 and drop, nitrites rise to off the charts for a while (did a couple 20% pwcs) and saw them drop over night after a few days, and my nitrates rose to over 40 after the nitrites spiked. I kept the raw shrimp in there to make sure there was still ammonia to feed the bacteria, and I continuously got ammonia 0 and nitrites 0 for 3 days before adding fish (big water change before adding the fish too to lower nitrates). Plants were in since the beginning of the cycle. Driftwood was added the a few days before adding fish to make sure it didn't change the ph too much. It was also soaked in scalding hot water for 3 weeks and scrubbed pretty thoroughly with a neverused toothbrush, with daily water changes.

I did add one capful of cycle on day 1 of the tank as per advice from a different lfs. But did a ton of research that night and decided that was a mistake and not to continue with it. Following the first day, no stability or cycle was added.

Ammonia still reading 0 nitrites 0 and nitrates < 5 after all the water changes since the deaths. I would think that if the cycle wasn't running properly, I would be getting higher than 0 readings for amm and nitrite?

Anyway as of now, the RCS are doing well in their new 2.6 gallon temporary home. This tank is not cycled, just filled with the old 10g tank water to relocate the shrimp for the time being since they seem to like that water. I'll make sure to monitor the water parameters closely for the shrimp. I've just done a 100% water change on the 10 gallon. I'm going to go on another hunt for some pure ammonia so I can test to see if the BB are even still alive and working without using the fish food/raw stump method. Otherwise time to start from scratch I suppose. SIGH!

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Heres a photo of the tank if that helps with anything.

The sand is pool filter sand, the silicone type, and I rinsed it thoroughly before it went in. Also read reviews to make sure it was okay to use for fish. It was intended for the Pygmy corys to make them happy :(



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I hear yea and it's frustrating, but you're doing everything the right way (perhaps the shrimp just tainted the water some how, which isn't showing up on the tests) and it was enough to bother the fish, but the shrimp were okay with it.

Keep it up, and be as patient as you are, it's unfortunate luck, but you're doing great! Oh and I don't know if that's a crypt in the back or what, but it's beautiful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It's actually a silk plant from petsmart lol! Anyway thanks for the support so far :). It's really encouraging to get actual help on this forum and be a part of such a great community. I will persevere!


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Ahh ok, that makes sense, hahaha! I only had one plant that had a crazy color, and it was pink\purple on the under side. Yeah, just persevere, and let us know if there's any updates. It'll get worked out, and you'll be set. You'll get the hang of the PH after, and then your RCS will likely start breeding rapidly. They especially love grazing in the moss and on the marimo balls, doesn't take much to feed those little guys.
 

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Outside of the tank, what is near your filter and air pump? Do you store perfume or anything near them? Perhaps there is something being drawn into the filter / air pump intakes and being distributed through the tank.

I'm just throwing that out there since you're looking at all possibilities, no matter how unlikely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Your pool filter sand looks so white! Where did you get it from/what brand is it?
The brand is Fairmount minerals and it's called aquaquartz pool filter sand. I picked it up at Canadian tire! 20lb for $10 I believe, so it's not as cheap as others, but it was basically dust free and seems pretty high quality. Not all Canadian tires have it right now because it's not the season for pool parties I suppose haha. I went to the one in south Burnaby and they didn't have them on display but have them in the back. So far I'm loving it! Good weight to it, doesn't really get sucked into my gravel vacuum and really uniform in size.

I believe it's this one: http://www.amazon.com/Pool-Filter-Sand-Grade-Silica/dp/B00JJ5GXSK

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Outside of the tank, what is near your filter and air pump? Do you store perfume or anything near them? Perhaps there is something being drawn into the filter / air pump intakes and being distributed through the tank.

I'm just throwing that out there since you're looking at all possibilities, no matter how unlikely.
The tank is in a dining room that never gets used and has super low people traffic. Pretty much just me sitting in front of the tank, watching it like its a tv lol. Nothing nearby but a wall and fish related things. Thanks for the trying to figure it out though!

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
New test fish still swimming?

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Cherry barb is getting some red colouration on the fins and is picking at the gravel for food so I think that's a good sign. Seems pretty happy. Hides behind the driftwood when I come over and sneaks back out after a while. The other one (I think gold barb?) has kind of just been really timid, swimming/floating around, sometimes swims sideways and swims in circles... Isn't too responsive to me. So I don't think that's a good sign... At least they've lived past the 24 hr mark.

Ps. For everyone else following, April gave me 2 barbs to test out.

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