Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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riksworld 04-16-2010 04:39 PM

Problem with water?
Hi all,

Ive had my tank running perfectly for the last 2 years, a 200 ltr tropical commuminty tank setup

came home yesterday, everything was fine, went out for a couple of hours came back and all my fish a dead!, I changed the water just a few days ago, Ammonia, Nitrate and nitrites are all ok, checked them yesterday and water treatment was added for chlorine, does not expire until another 2 years.

Pump is working fine, as far as I can see, temp is fine, I decided to get a cheap test kit which tests for other things incase mine was faulty and it picked up chlorine in the water, so I thought id check the water quality on severn trent water, this is what I got:

Hardness Level Soft No Standard Applies
Hardness Clark 3.45 No Standard Applies Degrees Clark
Hardness French 4.92 No Standard Applies French Degrees
Hardness German 2.76 No Standard Applies German Degrees
Aluminium 51.54 200 μgAl/l
Chloride 24.00 250 mgCl/l
Chlorine 0.19 No Standard Applies mg/l
Coliform bacteria 0 0 no./100ml
Colour 0.48 20 mg/l Pt/Co
Conductivity 128.38 2500 μS/cm at 20C
E.coli bacteria 0 0 no./100ml
Fluoride 0.03 1.5 mgF/l
Iron 16.08 200 μgFe/l
Manganese 1.86 50 μgMn/l
Nitrate 7.29 50 mgNO3/l
Odour 0 Acceptable to customers and no abnormal change Dilution Number
Pesticides 0 0.5 μg/l
pH 8.01 6.5 - 9.5 pH Value
Sodium 7.65 200 mgNa/l
Taste 0 Acceptable to customers and no abnormal change Dilution Number
Plumbing Metals
Copper 0.01 2.0 mgCu/l
Lead 1.16 25 μgPb/l
Nickel 1.08 20 μgNi/l

There is a new faq about changing over to Chloramination, can someone please just check these fiqures above and see if they sound about right?

Im wanting to restart my tank at some point in the next few weeks, I know a new cycle is needed etc, but now unsure what treatments to use to make sure this does not happen ever again as ive lost some good fish, maybe a RO unit or somthing simular, any reccomendations?

My other tank is currently working fine, but this has not yet had a water change and im not keen on performing a water change incase this happens to my oscar tank

Hopefully someone could lend a helping hand and thanks to anyone who responds or helps

Byron 04-16-2010 05:11 PM

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping.

I do not have the chemisty knowledge to say if those levels in your water are high or normal. I would however recommend a good water conditioner that detoxifies chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals, and ammonia. Which one are you using?

As for conditioners expiring, I suppose some might in time, but I am still using a jug of Kordon's NovAqua that I bought at least 7 years ago and quite possibly longer. I have very high chlorine in my tap water, so much you can easily smell it when the tap runs, and I have never had problems--except once when I forgot it in one tank.

Which brings me to the chlorine issue; if it was chlorine I would have expected your fish to show signs within minutes if not seconds, depending upon how much water you changed. Chlorine burns the gills, so chlorine poisoning is proable when the fish suddenly respirate very fast, and at the surface, gasping; they will expire within minutes, again depending upon the chlroine level and how much water was changed. Fish looking "fine" a few days after the water change are unlikely to be dead within 2 hours if there were none of the afore-mentioned signs.

It is possible that one of those substances in the list caused the deaths; I've no personal knowledge of how these toxins work, and there are "safe" limits for some. I do know that copper, lead, nickel, iron and manganese are what are termed heavy metals and these are highly toxic to all life forms, including humans, at specific levels; they are also trace micro-nutrients for plants and are contained in liquid fertilizer but obviously at trace amounts that provide nutrients but not toxins. I understand that fish are sensitive to copper at .002 ppm (humans at 1.3 ppm) but I don't know how that relates to 2 mg/CuL. A good water conditioner that detoxifies heavy metals should be adequate, since the levels in public water is not likely to be higher than for human health and this is deemed "trace" amounts, and water conditioners like Prime and NovAqua will detoxify trace amounts of heavy metals.

Hopefully other members with more direct experience will have suggestions.


riksworld 04-16-2010 05:17 PM

Many thanks for your repsonse, im just trying to find out how this could have happend and try to avoid it in the future, if at all possible

the water treatment I use is Nutrafin aqua plus, this also neutralizes heavy metals

Aqua Jon 04-17-2010 01:46 PM

I did the math on that copper result and 2mg is equal to .002 ppm (ppm is measured via micrograms and there are one million micrograms per liter). Byron said that at these levels fish are sensitive to copper. This could be a contributing factor? But it doesn't seem likely that this alone would be the cause of the catastrophe... so my guess is that multiple factors where only slightly off - each in itself would be no harm and cause little stress to your community, but when all are combined the results may be devastating. Also there is a chance for an unknown killer in the water that a test kit does not test for.

-EDIT- After some continued searching for your killer... I think it is the chlorine. I read a short study on chlorine and the results showed that .16 mg/L are lethal. The results you gave us showed that you had .19 mg/L. Here is the study, read the abstract at the bottom of the page.

Byron 04-17-2010 01:54 PM

True, what AquaJon writes.

Riksworld, I had assumed that the list of tests are from your water company, not your own; correct me if that is a wrong assumption. But as you used a metals detoxifying water conditioner, those metals should have handled (the copper would have been at that level) unless the levels of one or more are higher than the conditioners can detoxify. And that I've no idea.

It is the sudden demise that is so mysterious; perfectly normal one minute, all dead within 2 hours. This suggests to me that something was put in the tank during that period, or was in the tank and suddenly became activated. Is there any chance that something got dumped in the tank, say by kids?

riksworld 04-17-2010 02:33 PM

The quoted results are from what the water compant say, I find it hard to understand how everything can just happen like this, I admit, im not the best person in fisk keeping with only 2 yrs under my belt and I dont like mysteries as it could happen again

The wife was in the living room during this time and she swears blind that no one went near the tank, no one is allowed to even feed them apart from and all chemicals, such as feeds, water treatment etc for the fish is locked up in the safe, just to make sure of this

currently the tank looks like its covered in fog, like a bloom simular to a new cycle, very odd, is it possbile that the water treatment has gone off, even tho its still 2 yrs in date

There is a smell of a chlorine type smell now in the tank, if it is this, then why did it not kill everything at the time of water change and why now

My other tank which is for oscares is ready for a water change and I dont want to take the risk of this happening to these either, so I would prefer to try and get to the bottom of it, even its peace of mind

Its very sad when you put much time and cost in looking after your fish and keeping the tank fine, then this happens

Byron 04-17-2010 03:18 PM

I know what that feels like; I've gone through a couple of "inexplicable" problems, fish dying, can't find the reason, but there is a reason and it will be resolved.

Fog sounds like a bacteria bloom, or something even more serious. I'm going to see who else is online. Hang in there. B.

riksworld 04-17-2010 03:43 PM

Many thanks byron and everyone else, hopefully I can repay the forum by offering some advice, even if its a little

bettababy 04-17-2010 08:07 PM

Before I start digging further into this, per Byron's request... I need to ask... is it possible to get a pH reading on the tap water and also on the tank water? I didn't see that it was tested for along with the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Rapid/extreme pH changes can cause the massive deaths that you describe and I'd like to rule that out before going further.


fish4fun60 04-18-2010 04:49 AM

hello i am new here, i felt i had to register and give my opinion. this may not be relevant, but does anyone have a grudge against you are your family? who has access to your house and tanks? anyone have a key? say family friends etc? i only ask as this is so similar to what happened to one of my tanks 2 years ago

i have 5 tanks, 2 marine, 1 coldwater and 2 tropical, and also a very jealous sister! one day i came home from work and found 1 of my tanks looked like it had crashed, all fish dead,they were fine that morning, but 9 hours later all were dead, just thr 1 tank all others fine, i did the usual tests, asked if anyone had been near or touched seen anything etc no, it smelt of chlorine, test was high for that but all other tests clear , i bought another bottle of water conditioner and tested all normal so not that, this was very puzzling and upsetting, i just couldnt get to the bottom of it

no one had a clue, they could see how upset i was, and it wasnt until nearly 3 weeks later by sister whom inot close too apparantly she has a key to my house, admitted after a big row over the fact i could not loan her a huge some of money, let herself into my house and emptied a bottle of bleach in the tank! she broke down and cried and said she was angry i would not help her out.

anyway,im not saying this is true in your case, but have you had a fall out with any friends, family member, kids etc who would do this out of spite?
i really feel for what your going through. i could be wrong, it could be poisoning from the water company, but just wanted to tell you what happened to me

best of luck and i hope you get it sorted

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