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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, my fish are dying one by one and I don't know what to do.

Water parameters in my 26g:
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
ph 6.5-7 (have a hard time deciding between the colors)
nitrates 0 (I took the test 3 times today and I REALLY got rough with bottle number 2 and it's not expired)
Aquatop cf400uv canister filter
DIY co2 at 2 bpm, maybe less but never more (citric acid and baking soda version)
Temp 77
Planted tank with water hyacinth, water lettuce, baby tears, bacopa carolina, mini alternanthera reineckii and another that I've not identified with certainty but I think it's a type of hygrophilia, one piece of Malaysian driftwood and one piece of spider wood
We have struggled with various algae's since the beginning and ongoing. We are really struggling to understand the balance for plants and just when we think we're getting somewhere, some new algae pops up. We do 25-30% water changes weekly and we test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates just before the changes, weekly. Everything has been fine.
Until the deaths started we had 8 white cloud minnows for about 2 months. We added 3 otocinclus a few days short of 5 weeks ago.

About a week after the otos arrived a minnow died of no apparent reason. I went to do my daily fish count and he was just dead. I checked his corpse for anything unusual and I could not see anything odd but I'm new to fish keeping. I watch my fish carefully and I did not notice a thing wrong the day before, the otos seemed to be settling in fine as well. I tested the water parameters, spoke to my lfs and watched everyone carefully. About a week or so after the minnow died, one of the otos began acting lethargic and sitting in one spot on the intake tube, near the top. Besides fin clamping I couldn't see anything wrong again. His belly seemed bloated but I know otos should have fat pearls for bellies and so I'm not sure if it was "too" fat. I checked the water and did an extra pwc and watched him. I know that otos are known to have a high mortality rate when brought home so I was expecting to lose at minimum, one. I kept watching to see some visual symptom on what he might have but unfortunately he died after 4 days:( This past Thursday I noticed another minnow and an oto acting "off" I couldn't see anything wrong once again but they aren't right. The oto goes in spurts of being lethargic and then acting normal and the minnow has been hanging out alone in one corner of the tank. On Friday I noticed a different minnow with a fuzz on his head acting a little slower than usual. At that point I am certain something is wrong so the next day (stores were closed) a visit to my lfs sent me home with Pimafix. I read about it and it's seriously controversial whether it works or not but no-one said it killed their fish, just that it didn't make them better so we did 30% water change and began the doing per the instructions on Saturday. The fish with fuzz on his head is not going to make it through tonight I don't think and the other one is looking worse and worse and both otos are very inactive. All the fish are still eating when it's offered.

I don't know what to do because I understand dumping a bunch of chemicals in my tank and hoping for the best can do more harm than good but at this point I KNOW something is wrong and I don't want to do nothing while my fish suffer and die one by one:(
Lastly, the Pimafix directions are not especially clear. It says do a 25% water change at the end of the week but I stopped using the co2 when I started using the pimafix as many sites suggested it lowers oxygen levels in the water and now i'm growing algae like a queen again. Hindsight says "you should have stopped ferts and light too then, silly girl" but I didn't. I need to do a water change today imo the tank looks awful and I know that clean water is the 100% priority for a healthy tank but the Pimafix instructions said after a week do 25%...

I really need some experienced advice please. I've added some pics on my profile of the dead oto and tank.
 

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If your getting fungus id say ammonia . Also you should be registering some nitrates if your cycled. Do a large wc and add prime. Prime removes ammonia, nitrite . All I can suggest for now. First line of defence is wc .


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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I'm currently heating water to do a pwc. Thank you. To be clear, you say fungus because of the "fuzz on his head"? I check ammonia as soon as something seems off. I've checked it often this last couple weeks and have not seen a hint of color in the test. I don't understand how I could miss it? Also, does just the stress of high ammonia cause the fungus or is it some sort of chemical reaction? Also, we usually see nitrates at about 10 ppm on the weekly tests. That's why I checked it three times today and really banged and shook the the #2 bottle. I don't understand how it's zero either unless the Pimafix is messing with the readings?
 

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Ammonia burns cause fungus. If I get fungus its weak immune or fungus from bag water in shipping . Maybe getting bounces in ph from
Co2?


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I agree co2 might be the culprit
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I did a 50% pwc on Thursday evening and a 40% pwc on Friday.

I've read a lot more about ph fluctuations and co2 and I am probably causing fluctuations. Our co2 is diy with a bubble counter and a solenoid. I'm home most days to keep an eye on it but we live out of town and when I leave for the whole day (about 2x/w) I have been leaving it off and we turn it off at night. It been working fine, I guess I just worry about leaving a diy gas in pop bottles unsupervised. I haven't turned it on since last weekend when we started dosing the Pimafix. I won't turn it on again until I understand the potential ph fluctuations and how to properly stabilize it.

I haven't added Pimafix since the Thursday water change as it doesn't appear to be helping at all.

I've tested ammonia, nitrites and nitrates daily since Thursday and April's comment but I've been getting 0,0 and 0. This morning I did get a hint of nitrates <5ppm. I read a lot of forums and blogs and I know that new fish keepers often insist their tanks are cycled when they are not. Since this is my first aquarium and it's only been up since January I am definitely not an expert but we tested ammonia, nitrite and nitrate daily for 6 weeks prior to getting the otos and had 0,0,10-20ppm. Not one single hint of ammonia or nitrites in those weeks. I just don't think our tank is still cycling. Regarding the lack of nitrates in our water, it is fairly well planted and and when i was researching water hyacinth and water lettuce both of those plants apparently use a lot of nitrates. Maybe that is why I don't have any nitrates showing? I'll agree it's odd.

The two sick minnows are dead. Two more are beginning to act ill. The rest aren't schooling and aren't behaving properly. I can't see any physical signs of illness on them - no more fuzz and the fuzz on the one guy is gone. I can't see anything on the minnow corpse.

The oto that was back and forth is definely ill now. Neither of them are active and I haven't seen them attempting to eat anything. The clearly ill one stays well hidden in the plants and I've had a hard time trying to inspect it's body but it was up front for a few minutes today and I took a pic. Her belly looks like it's black inside?

If it was ph fluctuations or ammonia would I still be seeing a decline in the fishes that appeared healthy when the first one starting getting sick? I don't know how long that kind of stress could take to show itself? Is it time to consider meds? I'll be doing another 30% pwc today should I do a larger one? Should I clean my canister filter in case I do have something nasty in my tank?

I've included pics of the black bellied oto, the dead minnow and the minnows that seem healthy as of this morning, although they aren't behaving normally.

EDIT: I dropped a couple flakes in the water to make them congregate so I could take a pic. The to-date healthy fish are using the entire tank, they aren't hovering at the top like that all day. Just the two that are showing signs of being sick today are.
 

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I'm unsure of the problem but I would suggest taking out the sick fish and putting them in a quarantine tank. Just so your other healthy ones don't get sick
 

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I agree pull them
Out. I know a few incidences where people have killed their whole tank off with pop bottle co2. Over dumping .
Hard to say.it could be a bacterial infection. Dead spots anaerobic bacteria if substrate gets moved around and you have a very deep bottom


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It is showing Kamloops weather at 27 Celsius right now (almost 6pm). It might be possible that higher temps are weakening their immune system? Looks like afternoon temperature is in the 30's.
 

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No Otis can take heat. The white clouds could of had parasites they look emaciated. Look for red streaking on the oto if red belly etc could be internal bacterial .


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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sick aquarium update.

Thank you all for the responses. I appreciate the help. I still haven't added anymore co2 since last week. We also have central air conditioning so it was HOT today, lol, but our house stays stable at 23C. We keep their tank at 25C so I don't believe it is a temperature fluctuation. We moved the fish out but most aren't doing very well.

As stated previously, algae has been an ongoing struggle since we started our tank. We did lighting adjustments (down to 8h/d and started adding pmdd. This helped a lot but still wasn't getting it under control. That was when we added the co2 (about 20pmm) and things were getting even better except this one spot in our tank which I have included a pic of. This particular spot won't get better no matter what we seem to do. While reading up on your suggestions I bumped into some posts on cyanobacteria. Could this be what is making them sick? Many people seem not to have any fish issues when they get it but occasionally you can get an especially strong strain that can cause issues. The post suggested that your fish won't fit into any illness category but could become lethargic and eventually die for no apparent reason. It also suggests the fish often won't have any color loss at death. The posts also suggested that the brighter the color of the cyanobacteria the more likely it's a toxic strain.

I did buy some Seachem Paraguard and E.M. Erythromycin this weekend that the Petland suggested but I'm still hesitant to treat my fish without knowing what is wrong. I still can't see any physical symptoms on any of them besides the one bit of fuzz on that minnow but it cleared up with the Pimafix and I haven't seen any new spots on any of the others. We put the tank in a blackout last night with an airstone. We also took the Java moss on the spider wood out since if it is cyanobacteria we feel that area was where it started and the most established. I read up on the erythromycin when we got home and it sounds like it would kill it off but once again I'd rather not dump chemicals in the tank unless I have to.

Is it reasonable to think that the meds won't help the fish if it is cyanobacteria? They are being poisoned and a bacterial med won't do anything for them at this point? Poor little guys:( I feel terrible. As for the tank I think we will try a week long blackout and see what it looks like in there at that point. As for the fish I think I have to wait and see if they are strong enough to bounce back?
 

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From my experience so far, algae usually comes from light and nutrient imbalance. The stronger light you have with less plants that use it along with more nutrients than needed, you'll get algae. That looks like the fuzz algae and I used to get it in one place where my light was shining directly onto my plants. I would recommend for you to lower your lighting hours AND intensity if possible. I would say from 8hrs -> 6hrs. All my tanks are on for 6 hours at most - and the one where I can't control the light intensity is on for 5 hours. It sucks... but algae sucks more =[. If you're also dosing - I would say stop dosing too. A lot of recommendations on bottles don't distinguish between heavily planted tanks, plants that primarily get nutrients from the soil and plants that use nutrients from the water column.
 

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Try doing bigger water changes weekly (I do 50-75% depending on my mood), also set up a quarantine tank for sick fish, and asap get yourself a pressurized co2 system :)
 

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I never read about algae or cyanobacteria killing fish or affecting medicine intake, so I don't think is that, unless it's that super strain you mentioned. I re-read your original post and I believe that your oto(s) might have brought in a disease/infection to the tank. Anything new (driftwood, plants, livestock) can carry something, so it is a good idea to quarantine or treat it first if you are scared. It might not have been present at the beginning, or only show up when the fish get stressed. That's my guess.
 
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