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miksan 01-16-2013 12:18 PM

Emegency - Pant and Fish Die-off
I am not a newbie - I began 40+ years ago and have kept/raised SA, kept/raised rift lake, kept/raised reef coral - but one is never too old to learn. I have come full circle, convincing my wife last year to allow one freshwater tank.

The tank is a 40g Uniquarium rectangular dwarf Cichlid and planted tank. I recently changed out the lighting from a Marineland LED reef to a Marineland LED plant lamp (The 10K reef lamp LED system was slowly burning up the plants and I got tired of replacing plants every three weeks). There is no under gravel filter. Planting medium is Caribsea FloraMax and Caribsea sand (both freshwater).

The water test kit was recently changed from an API Master Test Kit to API 5 in 1 (due to suspension problems with the Master Test Kit's Nitrate titrate solution bottle #2). Here are the strip results:

GH: 60
KH: >240
pH: 6.5-7.0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 20

The fish are gradually dying off. The plants (including Anubias and Sword) are going soft/rotting in the stems and leaves turning yellow and dropping off. Although the water tests are good, I have proactively dosed the tank with Prime. The plants receive Flourish Excel - I have not added Iron - but that doesn't explain the fish die-off. I am doing a partial water change, even though this began after a water change this past weekend.

Any help or advise is appreciated! TIA!

Mikaila31 01-16-2013 01:32 PM

which marineland led fixture is the light? Also are you making sure not to overdose excel?
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Byron 01-16-2013 03:47 PM

There are a few things here I would want to check into. The fish deaths are the more serious and may or may not be related to the plant issue, since you mention plants dying regularly prior to this.

How long has the tank been running before the fish began dying? Were any new fish added within the month or two before the fish deaths began?

What symptoms are the fish showing, anything that is out of the norm?

I second Mikaila's warning on the Excel. Personally, I would never put this in a tank with fish. The only ingredient is Glutaraldehyde [Seachem call it Polycycloglutaracetal but if you check the Health Fact sheet it is glutaraldehyde] and this is a disinfectant used to sterilize, in antifreeze, in embalming fluid...etc. It will kill some plants outright even at normal doses [Vallisneria and some mosses seem particularly sensitive]. I would cease using this as it will be one less problem for the fish.

Has anything changed with your tap water? Thinking GH, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate?

Have you checked that no toxic substance may have inadvertently got in the tank? Children sometimes add stuff without knowing. Anything chemical in the pails or other aquarium equipment?

The change in light can often cause trouble for plants, but this is certainly not going to kill off fish, so I think we need to be looking elsewhere.


miksan 01-17-2013 11:45 AM

Thanks for you responses Mikaila31 and Byron. I will attempt to answer both of your queries and also update the situation.

I am currently using the Marineland 24-Inch to 36-Inch Aquatic Plant LED Light with Timer (reference ). For more than a year I used the Marineland Reef Capable LED Aquarium Lighting System (reference - You can also view my tank here under the product review by M.Ross) - The plant version was not available at the time. When it did become available, I wasn't ready to part with the extra money and was content on replacing plants, which don't react favorably to 10k reef lamps.

I was using Seachem Flourish Excel, 10ml/40g, once per week in an effort to boost plant growth. I will discontinue based on your recommendation.

New fish (neons and Otocinclus) had been added two days prior to a partial five gallon water change. I used DI water (pH ~7.5) from the local Marine shop, that I have done business with in the past. I also changed out the Nitrate filters and Poly-Filter, used in the prestage filtration. I added the proper dosage of Seachem Discus buffer and Neutral regulator to the tank. It was that evening that I notice a couple of neons dying - they were randomly swimming within the current without any strength - they were easily captured.

Yesterday, I did an emergency 15g water change - Only this time I used my own house water (soft pH ~9), and treated each 5g with the proper doses of Seachem Prime, Seachem Discus Buffer and Neutral Regulator, and API Leaf Zone and Amazon Extract. I removed the Poly-filter and Nitrate filter from the prestage filter. I have retained the aerator in the prestage filter that runs at night when the lighting is off. So far, so good. I have not lost anything further. I still have three Bolivian Cichlids, several Otocinclus cats, and four neons. They ate well this morning.

One other product I have had bad experience with that causes fish-kill is Tetra's EasyBalance Plus - One can observe the "suffocation" - Immediate supplemental aeration and water change is required unless your willing to part with your fish - But you may already be aware of this product.

Let me know if I have answered your questions.

miksan 01-17-2013 11:48 AM

Any possibility of anaerobic bacteria causing the fish-kill following the gravel cleaning?

Mikaila31 01-17-2013 11:50 AM

Your using way to many products. What is your reasoning for using the di water then the buffers/Ph products? They are not typically recommend. Need Ph, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite readings still.
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beaslbob 01-17-2013 12:16 PM

Big thing I see here is plants dying, ph low and Prime being used.

Stop using the Prime.

Stop doing water changes, just replace evaporative losses.

then check to see if pH goes up and the plants start growing new leaves.

my .02

Mikaila31 01-17-2013 01:05 PM

He has not given actual tank Ph or hardness so I dissagree with that. Also just not doing water changes is a poor way to increase hardness and Ph, it will also likely lead to nutrient deficiencies if he does not have them already.
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redchigh 01-17-2013 02:06 PM

What plants do you have in the tank?

Anything that looks like this?

If so, remove it. It's probably the problem. (The pic is of Hygrophila Balsamica)

Mikaila31 01-17-2013 02:06 PM

Edit, just noticed it in the first post lol. the water has plenty of hardeness for the fish you have, maybe a bit much... What are you tap parameters?
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