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CallieDee 06-06-2012 06:06 PM

Jewel Cichlid randomly dies, worried about the rest of my tank
I have a 55G tank with a TopFin Power 60 filter. Tank is kept at 78F, and testing shows high Ph (around 8) and hard water. Housed in the tank are:

1 Blood Red Parrot Cichlid
1 Jack Dempsey
1 Convict Cichlid (female)
1 Electric yellow cichlid
1 Jewel cichlid
1 pleco

Ok so here is what happened: All of the fish have been fine since we put them in about 3 weeks ago (not all at once). I noticed our water was clouded after the first week but thought it was just a normal bacterial bloom. Anyway, I feed them just normal Tetra brand flakes daily and supplement beef heart once a week. They all got along great and they have been extremely entertaining to watch.

Today they were all kind of lethargic when I fed them this morning, no one except the Parrot ate. That was at around 8 2pm when I got home the Jewel cichlid was laying on the bottom of the tank on its side, breathing heavily and I couldn't find the electric yellow. Then about an hour later the Jewel was dead.

I checked the water and my nitrites were dangerously high and my nitrates were high as well...other than that everything else is normal. I vacuumed the gravel and did a 20% water change. I'm hoping that this helps but what else can I do??


skelator 06-06-2012 06:24 PM

id do a bigger water change than that. nitrite should be 0. nitrate can be tolerated for now. i suspect you put too many fish in before you cycled the tank. did you ever add any beneficial bacteria to the tank at all?

CallieDee 06-06-2012 06:31 PM

Well we added the water and let the tank run for a few days then took the water in for a test and got 3 fish that day and used Stress Zyme and Stress Coat when adding the new fish. Unfortunately I did not know about cycling until after adding the fish. Still working out the kinks in everything for not researching more than just the fish I wanted.

So right now we are down to 4 and I plan on keeping just these 4 in the tank for awhile before adding any. I also should have mentioned that the convict was getting bullied by the JD at first and then they all ganged up on the pleco so I bought Melafix and was treating them with that for a week, as per the container instructions.

I just don't want to lose the other 4 because we have become very attached to them.

skelator 06-06-2012 08:42 PM

you might lose more fish its hard to say. i would cut back on food aswell. do a search about cycling and start reading.

cichlids fight its their nature. its never going to go away. one fish will run the tank and control the others.

my parrot runs my tank but hes almost 11years old and hes a lot larger than my jd and flowerhorn. my electric yellow hides all the time and only comes out to eat as hes the least aggressive.

Tazman 06-06-2012 09:05 PM

You can find out about cycling here - A Beginners Guide to the Freshwater Aquarium Cycle.

You need to need a big water change of at least 50-60% every day until the Nitrites levels drop off. The damage though of the fish already being exposed to Ammonia and Nitrite in the uncycled tank has unfortunately already shortened their life span.

The likely reason that the yellow lab hides most of the time is the water parameters required for the other fish are stressing the lab, labs need hard water whereas the others require medium/soft to acidic water.

If you have an airstone, add it to the tank, this will provide extra oxygen that will be beneficial to the fish during this stressful time. It is nearly impossible to say whether the other fish will succumb or not. Doing the DAILY water changes will really help though.

Your tank is very borderline for keeping a fully grown JD, they really need a 75g tank as they get big and are extremely aggressive if they want to be.

You also should get another filter, these fish are messy eaters and it will also help with keeping the water clear and provide more area for beneficial bacteria to grow.

There is a product as well which would be beneficial to add to the filter or if there is not enough room, directly in the tank in a mesh bag. Seachem Purigen as described here, this will help until the tank cycles fully. It can also be refreshed when it gets used up, so you buy it once and it will last a long time.

I hope you manage to save the other fish, please do NOT replace any fish that do die until the tank is fully cycled, it will only put them at risk.

CallieDee 06-06-2012 10:15 PM

I actually think the yellow lab was eaten because he was the smallest in the tank, but not by much. My boyfriend and I cannot find him at all.

I plan on doing another water change tomorrow, thanks for letting me know how much to take out this time. I'm using an Aqueon gravel siphon now because the gravel needed a good clean, and it looks like I didn't get as much as I thought I did earlier today.

Now here's a question: we have well water so should I treat the water first before adding it or just add it and then add the water conditioner...or just not use the water conditioner and let everything mellow out on its own.

Trust me I am trying to do as much research as possible on water conditions, pH, hardness, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia levels and everything like that, but I feel like everyone has their own way to do it, whether by chemically or "naturally" and I don't want to just throw a ton of chemicals in there.

Thanks again Tazman and skelator!

Tazman 06-06-2012 10:23 PM

Do you have a test kit, preferably a liquid one such as the API Master test kt. If you dont it will be invaluable to you.

CallieDee 06-06-2012 10:34 PM


Originally Posted by Tazman (Post 1108656)
Do you have a test kit, preferably a liquid one such as the API Master test kt. If you dont it will be invaluable to you.

I don't have a liquid test kit, I have 2 sets of test tests only the ammonia levels, the other tests Nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, water softness/hardness, alkalinity & pH. The little pads on each of the strips changes color to whatever the water has for that reading.

Tazman 06-06-2012 11:00 PM

Test strips are very unreliable and it would really benefit you getting the API Master kit, it will set you back about $19.99, also get a test kit for General Hardness and Carbonate Hardness (GH and KH). This will enable you to get a good picture of what is going on in your tank.

Well water may potentially contain high levels of natural Nitrates, which can be a problem. I would get a good water conditioner such as Prime and use that when doing water changes. It is your choice as to you treating the water beforehand. If you have the space, leave it in a pale overnight and treat it with water conditioner. If you dont have the space, add the water conditioner to the tank as you start refilling it, that way it has time to dissolve in the water.

CallieDee 06-06-2012 11:27 PM

Ok so 50% water changes everyday, treat the water with conditioner (we have Tetra brand) and get a liquid testing kit.

So just 2 more questions I promise! Tomorrow is the day I usually give them the beef heart, should I just skip it and give them flakes? And given your experience, about how long will it take for the tank to cycle?

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