losing fish slowly after a few months of having them please help
OK after taking a couple years off from all fish aside from a few bettas, last summer we decided to do another tank. Due to our hard water we're really limited to no tetras etc... It was setup and running fine, a month later (August) we added fish slowly over the next couple months. So the tank is a year old. The original barbs we had (Red Glass) we exchanged for something easier going in april, they ate too aggressively and then would run and hide any time we went near the tank unless it was with food. We have NO idea how such friendly fish got so scared of everything. No bumps to the tanks, we don't have kids or other pets, nothing happened that we can possibly think of. So we exchanged them for platys to get our Ram to not seem like she needed to run and hide. She was brave when the barbs hid she'd be in the middle of the tank looking at us all proud of herself. But she was starting to pick up their behavior. With the platys and a few danios everyone was happy again. The danios which everyone says are hardy didn't make it, there is only one left, they all but two died within a week or two of getting them. The platys it's the same, but they have been dying off one by one since early-mid June. We swapped them out in April. So they were in the tank for two months before getting ill, or whatever. A month ago the one danios got pinecone scales so we had to euthanize him. No else seemed to be sick in the slightest. Then the platys started dying. The only symptoms were they would not eat and would hide, no real bloat, no fin damage or anything else. The last one to go did look like she had narrowed fins especially her tail fin. The male was heavily harassing her, so I'm not sure if that was the cause or not. We had planned on getting more fish tomorrow when we'd be near a pet store, but she died this morning.
Now the one that we're most concerned with is the German Blue Ram. Now we know the conditions in the tank are no where near ideal for her. We were reassured by many people that steady water is better then trying to fight the ph and hardness. She was very slowly acclimated to the tank and has been very happy. All the pet stores around here have similar water issues, so they are already somewhat acclimated to very hard water. She looks wild. When she's all full of herself and flaring and showing her bright colors for us we've counted 8 bars on her! She is by far one of the best fish we've ever had, and we've been doing this for 17 years together! Some days she gets these mood swings and will sit by herself behind our decoration and in the plants a bit. But within a day or two she's back out. I call it her pms. It seems to happen maybe once a month or so. She gets nervous when a fish dies though. She hides from the fish until we scoop it out, which is normally very soon after it dies. But it's like she's human and knows what's going on. We've dealt with ich and other things with her and she's been fine. But again the last two days she's been hiding and won't come out. This morning she tried to eat but like she gets when she's like this she'll spit everything out, look at us then go back into her hiding spot. With the platys dying lately I'm very scared she's going to die. She seems fine aside from the hiding and not eating. She is breathing slightly heavier, but nothing too alarming. No clamped fins, no weird spots or cuts or bites or anything.
She is normally very goofy, like I've heard many GBR are. She'll even play, when I clean the tank she comes to taste me, then I gently chase her with my hand and she'll run then turn and charge back at me. We'll play a little during every water change, she just loves it! When I pull my hand out she'll chase it on the outside of the glass too. She seems to know her name and will come running. And man she'll win any staring contest you can throw at her! She'll even stick her whole head out of the water to stare you down when feeding them. She also is the protector of the tank, when the barbs would fight the cories and pleco for their wafers she'd chase them all away. She helps the pleco chase the cories away when he wants his wafer. She's really just a great fish!
So I'll fill out the form, I really hope someone can help.
1. Size of tank? 37 gal
2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? 0
b. Nitrite? 0
c. Nitrate? <5
d. pH, KH and GH? 7.5, GH180 (high I know!!)
e. Test kit? that liquid one in all pet stores
3. Temperature? 80
4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)? FW
5. How long the aquarium has been set up? 1 year this week
6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them? 1 bristle nose pleco, he's now full size, got him in Oct, 4 cories, got 2 in dec and 2 in march, two are full size two are just shy of full size, 1 GBR, she's full size, we got her in early sept, 1 zebra danio, full size got it in april, 1 platy male, full size not sure when he was bought we got them in two batches of three at a time one in early april one in late. we just had the last female die this am, and two died in the last two weeks, they've been going about 1 a week or so for the last 5 weeks.
7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)? no but the last fish added was at the end of april.
8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants? fake we have about 9-10
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? gravel
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? rocks, and fake driftwood and two small terra cotta pots for caves
9. a. Filtration? normal hang on the back filter that came with the tank topfin
b. Heater? yes topfin
10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? turn them on at about 8am and off about 9pm normal plain fluorescent
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? in the late fall through early spring it gets about an hour in the evening, the rest of the year no, but the room is fairly bright.
11. a. Water change schedule? weekly we do a light vacuuming and change about 10-25%, then every month we do about 40-50% change with a heavier vacuuming.
b. Volume of water changed? see above
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? well water, no chlorine, no treatments, reads the same as the tank water when we test it.
d. Water conditioner used? no
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? see above
12. Foods? algea flakes, top fin color enhancing flakes, omega one color flakes, freeze dried bloodworms, freeze dried shrimp, and frozen shrimp
How often are they fed? little in the am and the pm we vary with each meal but normally they get flakes and algea flakes for atleast one of their meals, the worms and shrimp are more treats they get every couple days. We also will go a day without a meal in the morning or evening once a week or so to give their digestion a bit of a break. We did this with out betta and have just done the same with these guys.
13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? see above (fish seem to be dying for no reason and our GBR is not acting normal)
b. Appearance of poop? normal
c. Appearance of gills? normal
14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? no
b. What meds were used?
15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary.
not sure if it really matters as they look normal aside from the danio who has had a curved back for a few weeks, but otherwise still is normal. I'm not sure if that is age or not?
here is the tank (when we still had the barbs)
new fish tank after photo - gardengirl13 photos at pbase.com
and here is Spud- our german blue ram back a while ago, she's bigger and prettier now!
spud looking pretty photo - gardengirl13 photos at pbase.com
This is a total guess on my part, given you don't have any specific symptoms. I had a similar scenario that turned out to be internal parasites (worms). Danios died over time, guppies, corys, etc. Finally got a break when I actually observed some Camallanus worms poking out the angelfish's vent. I treated my entire tank for that pest and, other than an occasional issue with protozoans that crept into my tank via plants, I haven't had any more issues with unexplained fish deaths.
Not certain if that's your issue, but I now treat all my tanks with an anti-parasitic once per year. Not everyone here recommends treating prophylactically, but it has worked for me. The treatment I use also covers ick and some other common critters.
I also quarantine the heck out of anything I buy, fish or plants!
We will be setting up a cheap 10 gal quarantine tank at some point soon as we need to restock this tank again. I'm not sure what to get though!!?? I want to keep it to a more community fish but no tetras as they HATE our water. Somehow we've managed to keep the harder fish to keep like the GBR fine in this tank, she must have been born and raised in hard water. We bought her thinking she was a bolivian, and weren't paying attention when the person netted her not another fish. Of course they only charged us for the bolivian which was almost half the price. But we didn't notice until we got home as she was very pale and the only way to tell was when we looked at her eyes. We were very nervous about keeping her, but she has been one of our more hardy fish. Aside from the higher ph and hard water her tank is immaculate, so maybe she just prefers that?
So I'm hoping people will answer this part about stocking!! My husband wants cherry barbs quite badly saying he's read all over that they are really more peaceful then other barbs and seem to be ok with these tank mates? Would that be ok? With the GBR in the tank for almost a year now she has staked out some areas she has and will chase others away from. I assume she'll hold her own against the new barbs, but I don't want her stressed. I've heard I can order a male for her online that will be about the same size so she could have a mate, but I won't do that since if he doesn't like her he may kill her. I'd rather her be moody about not laying eggs rather then be killed. The more community fish we've gotten seem to ALWAYS be the ones to bring in ich and other issues. We had other barbs without problems, and the more community aggressive ones seem healthier and hardier.
Also when can we start restocking? I don't want to do it now when we're treating parasites.
First I'd avoid adding any new fish for a month. You may need to retreat the tank, depending on if you see any results from the parasite treatment (it's kind of a shot in the dark approach and may not be your problem!).
Posting another thread on the forum regarding stocking would be your best bet for a response.
When should they start looking/acting better if it is in fact parasites? This morning the GBR didn't eat, wouldn't even come up to try. Her anal area is slightly looking swollen. The platy tail fins seemed narrower this morning but now seem better again. He has clear poop coming out but then it turns to normal food color half way up, so maybe it's working it's way out of him? Everyone seems ok still.
i hate to say it, as this is why we took down our old tank a few years ago, it discourages me so much to have fish that seemed so healthy just days ago look and get sick. It's so frustrating! We've been doing this on and off for about 17 years now, you'd think we'd get use to losing a fish here and there. But when we get so attached it's really hard. I'm already so stressed out afraid to lose this ram! I just don't know what to do for her!?
We planned on giving it at least a month, but I wasn't sure if it should be longer. I'm so worried right now that if they die I'm not sure I'll even replace them.
I do believe it could be parasites as well. You should always QT new fish for atleast 2 weeks. QTing will prevent from your whole tank suffering like it currently is. If the fish in QT are showing signs of illness, extend the QT period to include the treatment time. When I finish treating ill QTed fish, I add an extra week to 2 weeks to insure this fish is healed and ready to move into my main tank.
That's the problem though, we got the last new fish in April, no one got sick until 2 months later. A month quarantine wouldn't have solved this problem. We plan on doing this from now on, but this instance doing so wouldn't have made a difference. We're very lucky though as it seems to be only 1 of the original 6 fish have gotten ill. It's been all the new ones. But it just happens to be the one old one who is the queen of the whole tank and that we'll miss the most.
Every time we've gotten problems in the past it's always been weeks or months after getting new fish. The first case of ich happened sooner though, that was only a week after putting new fish in. The second case of ich happened about 4-5 weeks after adding the first group of three platys, then this happened 7-8 weeks after adding the last set of platys. Not sure why the last two problems happened so long after getting the fish. The water parameters haven't ever spiked or changed. So I'm not sure why the signs took so long?
Regardless, in QT you can treat for parasites. Parasites can remain hidden and you never know about them until later on. There are methods of treatment that does not harm the fish if they do not carry parasites.
Good advice! May I ask one more question that may be relevant - where did you buy your fish?
I went through 14 juvenile angelfish and couldn't keep any alive until I started quarantining and doing some preventative treatments for parasites for every fish (and plant) I buy (while they are in QT). The "big-box" pet stores typically recirculate water through all their tanks, have very rapid fish turnover with new ones every week. Perfect conditions for disease transmission. From a business perspective, it works for them - I've personally spent $20+ dollars on medicine to "save" a $3.00 fish!
Sometimes it takes a while for parasite loads to build to high levels.
Just thought I'd touch on the PH issue as it's really the only thing I can offer. I have very soft water (gh of 2) and a high ph (7.8) and have not had much trouble with losing fish. Platys do not love my water but i've kept 2 for about 6 months now and they are very happy. Lost some angelfish over bullying issues (only the strong survive in my "Amazon" hahah), and snails are an absolute no go for me, but captive bred fish tend to acclimate pretty well to most water conditions as long as it is treated for chlorine, stable, and clean. I've had black neon tetras and candy cane tetras all doing very very well. Cept the 2 that mysteriously disappeared (right into an angelfish's mouth im sure"
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