Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Kim 10-18-2008 01:43 PM

mysterious deaths??
I have a 10 gallon guppy tank that I rescued from my brother at the beginning of the summer. When I transfered the tank all the fishs' health improved and I had no mini cycle & no deaths. One of the fish that looked like she was about to die any minute actually lived for about 3 weeks and seemed a lot more comfortable after I started taking care of the tank. Since then I have lost a lot of fish. I thought that this is weird because the deaths are spaced out and did not coincide with the tank move. Most of the fish that have died have been old, but a few young ones have died as well. What happens to them is that they start getting really skinny and may or may not still be eating. Then, they start breathing rapidly and sitting on the bottom of the tank. Shortly after they die. I should also mention that it takes them a week or more depending on the fish to complete this cycle. At first I just thought that it was because they were old, but seeing it happen to some young fish has made me wonder.

The tank parameter are:
-pH 7.6
-ammonia: 0
-nitrite: 0
-nitrate: between 5 & 10
-temp: 76-78 degrees with no rapid fluctuations
-water changes: 20% weekly (and yes I do use a dechlorinator)
-all decorations are aquarium safe
-no new fish have been added

I should also mention that these fish are the product of probably 4 years of inbreeding, and that I moved the 2 remaining males out to prevent any more babies.

So what do you think? I have thought that since everything seems to be good with the tank that maybe it is genetic.

1077 10-19-2008 04:37 AM

I am sorry that you are losing fish it truly is frustrating . Your parameters appear fine. It could very well be old fish or fish that have genetic problem as a result of inbreeding the latter being difficult to diagnose without autopsy. I would only point out that sometimes if we backtrack we can identify a problem perhaps overlooked. Does your dechlorinator detoxify ammonia, chlorine and chloramines? some take care of one or two but not all three. Also sudden changes in water chemistry can cause stress in fish. Is water you are using at water changes of the same temp. as water in the aquarium? Are you using anything in the aquarium besides dechlorinator? Some people believe adding salt at each water change helps prevent disease but ultimately the fish die due to too much salt that accumulates in the water and can only be removed with water changes using water that has no salt.Products such as stresscoat make no distinction between the fishes skin and the fishes gills and nostrils. It is but one of the reasons in my view that dechlorinator such as PRIME or AMQUEL+ should be the only chemical in your water. Diet is also important for the fish. Most all fish will do better with a variety of foods rather than one specific food. Where the tank is located and how it is cleaned can also affect the fish. One in my view should not clean everything in the tank at once. Maybe clean the glass at one water change. Next water change rinse out the filters in old aquarium water that you take out and stick em back in.If they begin to clog up where this affects the flow of water returning to the tank and rinsing them as described doesn't help then relplace them. vaccum small areas of the gravel at each water change a different area each time. Do not place the tank where room deodorizers, hairsprays, etc can get into the water. you appear to be doing everything right juging from the paramaters of your water and perhaps you know all of this already . I just thought i would offer to help if possible.

Kim 10-19-2008 07:58 AM

Thanks for the reply :-). In answer to your questions:

My water conditioner takes care of chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals. It doesn't do ammonia, which is ok for me because I have no ammonia in my tap water.

I don't add anything else to the water. The weird thing is that I have 2 other tanks and all the fish in those are perfectly fine. Also, the deaths occur randomly, not following a certain time such as water changes.

I feed them a diet of flake food and frozen blood worms (thawed of course). The other fish also get these bloodworms, so I don't think that they are diseased.

When I clean my tank I vaccuum the gravel, but not all spots, and add aged water (it is room temperature but I don't change enough for it to make a difference in the temperature of the tank). I clean the filter pad when it looks dirty and clogged up. Usually once per month. I don't have any algae, so the tank never needs scrubbing.

I don't use any airborne chemicals or sprays in my room.

This just seems really wierd because these fish were living in toxic levels of nitrate for years. My parents never cleaned the tank, and the fish did not recieve a good diet. Then I take them and they all perk up, but start slowly dying quite a bit after the move. I did everything really slowly, and since the deaths came after the move, I'm thinking that it is unrelated. Also, I do things the same in all my tanks and all my other fish are fine.

Like I said, there is no more breeding going on, so maybe that was the only thing keeping the numbers up before? I really don't know.:-?

1077 10-20-2008 02:30 AM

live fish produce ammonia through their urine and poo. Because you have no ammonia in your water source does not promise no ammonia in the tank. I would try a dechlorinator such as PRIME or AMQUEL+. You indicated that the fish lived in water that was high in nitrates before you rescued them. Fish adapt over time to their water conditions even poor water but it slowly impairs their health. Any sudden changes in water chemistry can cause stress and that weakens their immune system. Perhaps the dechlorinator that was used before you got them also dealt with ammonia, chlorine,and chloramines. It is also possible that your other tanks filtration and nitrifying bacteria are more substantial than the tank you are having problems with. However, my money is on ammonia poisoning which is harmful to fish at any levels. This also leads me to believe either you have not tested for ammonia due to the belief that because water source does not contain ammonia that tank couldn't have any or... Your test kit is not accurate.

Kim 10-20-2008 01:51 PM

Sorry, I should have been more clear. Not only does the tap water not have any ammonia, but the tank has never had any ammonia levels as well. I test all my tanks regularly (use liquid test kit), and even before I took the tank there was no ammonia in it, just very high nitrates. So, it would stand to reason that if the bacteria could handle the very large amounts of waste in it before, then the biological filtration must be pretty good.

Also, when I took the tank nothing changed abruptly. During the move, I only did about a 10% water change, and the rest of the water was recycled. We have always used the same conditioner, so I don't think that is it. I should mention that my brother and I live in the same house (it just took me a while and a little bargaining to save the fish) so the water source is the same.

Oh, I cycled my last tank using this ammonia test kit and all the readings were accurate, so I am pretty sure it's not the test itself.

iamntbatman 10-20-2008 02:25 PM

How long after they "get skinny" do they start the heavy breathing thing?

It sounds to me like there may be some type of internal parasite, as that would explain the weight loss.

Kim 10-20-2008 08:32 PM

A couple days after they start looking bad.

Gee, didn't think of that one, I'll have to be careful of cross-contamination just in case, until I figure out what's going on.

iamntbatman 10-21-2008 12:02 AM

I'm not an expert on parasites so I don't know how they spread from one fish to another. This past summer, two of my dwarf puffers started to lose a lot of weight and eventually stopped eating. They had no other symptoms and eventually showed typical "sick" symptoms: lethargy, labored breathing, clamped fins, laying about on the substrate. Two out of the three died, but the third one never got sick. Neither did the tiger barbs or clown pleco. I never medicated as I was never really sure what was going on, but I suspect it was parasites.

Not sure if that's really helpful, but hopefully someone who knows something about treating them will be able to offer more help!

1077 10-21-2008 08:09 AM

Kim, I am sorry, I had hoped it was a water quality issue for this is the easiest to correct. It could very well be some type of parasite that was passed to the younger fish that were affected also. In any event I would keep doing what your doing in regards to maint. The only products that i have used for parasites were quick cure for ICH and jungle's anti- parasite fish food for treating discus for worms. both were effective but may not help in your case at all. Sorry I couldn't help you get to the bottom of your trouble but perhaps by identifying what couldn't be a factor someone can come closer to what the problem is. I would still urge you to try PRIME water conditioner.

Kim 10-22-2008 01:46 PM

Well, the last little fish to get these symptoms died a few days ago. All the others seem fine. If any more start looking bad I will look into a treatment. As it is I will be researching internal parasites tonight as I too don't know how they are transmitted. I'm guessing that it's not through the water because I use the same cleaning tools for each tank and none of the fish in the other tanks are sick.

Thanks for your help everyone.

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