I put my 75 gallon tank together, put the gravel in, 40 lbs of lace rock, filter, lighting, etc.
Set my 20 baby african cichlids still in the bag in the tank to allow the temperature to acclimate. Double and triple check ph, temp, etc. Set the fishes free. They were happy as pigs in a mud puddle on a hot summer day. :)
I sit back and admire the fishes.
I go to bed, sleep 9 hours, wake up in a great mood, go check the tank and 9 of them were missing. I took out all of the lace rock and look, I could not find them. So I say to myself, maybe they ate each other. (Ive never owned african cichlids, but I have owned larger cichlids - oscar, severums, etc)
Then I call my buddy at the fish store, and he was puzzled. He says to me, "there is no way".
I got home and look again. There was still only 9 missing, but this time, the fishes were near the surface - gasping.
I checked the ammonia levels, they were so high that they were unreadable to my tester. Nitrates were also slightly elevated. So I looked at the filtration system. The flow was not up to par, then I noticed, the intake screen for the cascade 1500 was missing.
I immediately unplugged the filter and take it out from under the cabinet. Take it to the bathtub and disassemble it.
There were 8 dead and 1 at the bottom swimming around.
I felt like an idiot. I took the 1 that was alive, put him in the tank. Did a 1/2 tank change, add a healthy dose of bacteria/ammonia remover - forgot the name, its new to my LFS but its Hagen Brand, dropped in an air bubbler, and clean out the filter and re-install everything. I used a peice of media to cover the hole as a make-do screen.
A few hours later the fish were back to normal.
I went to looking for the screen and could not find it to save my life. My friend at the LFS brought me another one.
Later that day, I asked my fiance about it. She said she saw it, it was on the kitchen table. She thought it was a broken sprinkler part and threw it away. (I have a lawn care business, aside from the fire house) I was not happy, but I held my tongue. She did not know any better, so I could not blame her. But I did give her an education incase I am out of town or something.
All levels are perfect and Remaining fish are doing very well.