Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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HappyDoodles 05-26-2010 08:31 PM

Tetra is alive but has laid on bottom for days
I have a 30 gallon freshwater tank stocked with 5 neons, 7 platy's, 3 scissortail tetra's, 3 red skirt tetras, 2 lamp eye tetras, 3 catfish style fish, 2 new algae eaters (3 year old died) and 2 tetras with a glowing stripe down side (smallest of these is the problem). I have 12" bubble wand and a Rena filter designed to handle a 75 gallon tank operating and maintained. Water temp is at 80. PH is between 7.5 - 8.0. Chemicals are added as they should be.

For about a week this tetra has laid on bottom and ocassionally tries to swim but doesn't get far (tends to turn upside down as it swims a short distance just before giving up and crashing to bottom again and at times is breathing rapidly and trying to get up).

I have seperated it into a breeder tank within the main aquarium due to small piece of one tip of tail fin missing. I figured it maybe was picked on due and wanted to offer it protection. There has been no worsening or improvement in condition. The fins are NOT clamped. It is not yet full grown and has been only in tank for about 6 weeks though the tank is 3 years old. It is red looking under gills but this may be normal as I don't see other fish from this angle.

I have read the swim bladder may be problem and to stop feeding it may work. I tried this for 2 days but no improvement. I have resumed feeding. I do not want to starve it.

NO other fish are gasping as the sick one does nor do I see any problems such as ich or other fish acting different. No spots, no bleeding, no rubbing on rocks. Appetites of others and swimming habits seem good.

My 3 year old algae eater suddenly died about a week ago without warning though for some reason it had stopped cleaning the tank for about 2 weeks before and ate only the algae wafer when they were given to it. I have had one older platy die last night without any noticeable problem. Old age?

I am puzzled and wish I knew what I could do for the tetra. Anyone have any ideas?

bettababy 05-26-2010 10:45 PM

Can you post your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings please? Any way to get a more accurate reading of pH? 7.5 - 8.0 is quite a wide range.

The problem sounds neurological, for which there is no treatment or help to offer, sorry. The cause of the problem could be from injury, pH shock, temp shock, bacterial infection, and a number of other possible causes. I am concerned because of the growing list of losses in that tank recently, which could all be connected to the tetra that you posted about.

There are some things we can narrow down via internet to help determine the cause, and that would start with water chemistry (test results).
What chemicals are you adding to the tank? How often and how much each time?

HappyDoodles 05-30-2010 10:18 PM

I am unsure what the nitrite and nitrate levels are. I went looking for a test kit but didn't find one. The ph is between 7.6 and 8 which I have been able to now test with a more accurate tester. The chemicals I'm adding are Multi purpose bio support, Water conditioner, Bio-clean organic waste digester all at a rate specified for my tank size.
My tetra unfortunately died yesterday. At the end he did not seem able to move anything but it's eyes and mouth. I am still trying to determine if there is some kind of problem going on though at the present moment no other fish are affected.

bettababy 05-30-2010 11:50 PM

How often do you do water changes? How much water each time? What is the reason for using the Multi purpose bio support and Bio-clean organic waste digester?

Your tank sounds pretty heavily stocked... how often do you feed the fish? What foods and how much each time? It is possible there is a waste issue going on, but without those test results there is no way to be sure. What kind of test kit are you using for pH?

API test kits are available to order online, and the freshwater master kit includes pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, which, for a situation like this, would be most important to know. API is also quite accurate, so you will get results you can trust. Don't waste your money on test strips... they are worthless because they offer very inaccurate results. If you can't get the test kits, can you take a water sample to a lfs and have it tested? Just ask them to write down the exact results for you and what kind of test kit they used, that will tell us how accurate the readings are.

I'm also wondering, how long has this tank been set up?

HappyDoodles 06-07-2010 12:27 PM

I aquired a testing kit that shows the following;
Nitrate 200ppm (unsafe)
Nitrite 1.0ppm (
Hardness 300ppm
Clorine 0ppm
Alkalinity 180ppm
ph 7.8 - 8.4

Above all tested using Jungle Quick Dip Test strips (sorry I bought them before reading your comment about them).

My salinty meter shows 0 (Quite a while ago I had added salt but with water changes it has since cleared out of the tank. I was unsure about adding more at those times because I didn't have a way of knowing where the levels were at.

Water changes are about 20 -25% around every 3 weeks

The Organic waste digester and bio support were recommended to by an aquarium store and another friend who has 4 much larger aquariums to add every week.

Fish are fed once or twice per day with flake food using the 2-3 minute and penny size general rule

The algae eater was getting one algae tablet every day

The tank has been set up for 3 years now. I also have a 10 gallon which is the same length of time and is also showing same readings noted above. (stocked with guppies (6) and a 3 year old algae eater. I have lost no fish in this tank for a long time now and have 2 very young ones (purchased) out of the 6 in it.

I have been adding all the chemicals mentioned in my second reply on a weekly basis except now I have on the advice of a pet store bumped up the Organic Waste Digester to levels of a new aquarium set up for the last 11 days with no change in Nitrate results.

I have also added in tablets into the 30 gallon called Jungle Parasite Clear Tank Buddies as per the directions in order to possibly stop any problems that way though nothing was clearly evident for problems in that regard.

I'm unsure what else to do to try to bring down the Nitrate levels. Any suggestions? Do live plants add any benefit or can that just add to my problems? I also use to get new fry in the tanks but haven't for quite a while. Does the Nitrate levels being high interfere with this too?

bettababy 06-07-2010 01:49 PM

The first thing is that I wouldn't trust the test results from dip stick tests. Those are all known for being very inaccurate and I have seen many people wipe out their entire tanks by using & trusting those things. You can't know what needs to be done unless you have accurate results. Is there any way to get ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH readings from liquid test kits? Can your lfs test it with liquid kits and write down exact numbers for you? Or maybe a friend who has aquariums and liquid test kits could help you out?

I am still not understanding what the organic waste digester is, can you send me a link to the product online so I can see what it is, review the contents of it, etc? There should be no reason to add that kind of product if you are doing proper maintenance. There are a good number of those kinds of products on the market and most of them are very misunderstood. One example would be Easy Balance by Tetra. When that product first came out people began using it in place of water changes... which is not how it should be used and can crash a tank quickly if done so.

In answer to your question about high nitrates and fry, yes, high nitrates can cause issues for spawning any species of fish. A sick fish is not likely to reproduce, and poor water quality will kill newborn fish quickly.

Can you please explain to me the 2 - 3 minute and penny size rule? I am not familiar with that one.

In regards to salinity... with the species of fish you listed, salt is not something I would be suggesting you use regularly. All of the species you listed in the 30 gallon are sensitive to salt. If you can read salinity on a hydrometer or refractometer, that is way too much salt for most freshwater fishes. Salt can be used for medicinal purposes for the guppies if needed, (at this time I see no need) but I would not be dosing any salt into the 30 gallon.

It sounds to me like you have a lfs that is good with their sales techniques and at taking your money. I would strongly suggest you let their suggestions go in one ear and out the other from this point on. If they start to suggest chemical products to you, your first question to them should be "what does it do?" and your 2nd question should be "why do I need this?" Then, read the bottles! The majority of lfs employees know very little to nothing about the products they suggest to you. Their #1 priority is to take as much of your money as they can. A tank with issues will bring you back more often to spend money if you "trust" them to guide you through it, and unfortunately, too many people get caught in that kind of trap.

I will wait to find out about this organic waste digester (product and company name, a link to it online would be most helpful) and some accurate test results. Once we have that info to work with, then we can make some progress.

In the mean time, 25 - 30% water change each week, gravel vac every 3rd change. That is standard maintenance on most aquariums that are not over populated. Increasing the water changes to this will help, and slowing down feedings to once/day will help too.

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