55 gallon tank with Lake Malawi cichlids. Established for several years. Undergravel filter, cannister filter, 2 power heads. Substrate cichlid sand. Broke down tank tonight with fish in it. Removed rocks, vaccummed well, cleaned filters and power heads, put everything back. Filled tank up. Started pumps. Fish doing well, enjoying new water. Five minutes later, fish gasping for breath at top of tank and dying. Lost 2 but removed others to emergency tank and they are doing well. Terrified to put them back in tank until I know what the problem is and it's 2 AM here with no one to ask. Husband and I have had fish for several years and never seen anything like this. Ammonia, nitrite levels - 0 PH 7.5 (a little low).
What the devil did we do????
Is this a gas release from sandy substrate? Should the undergravel filter be removed? What do we do now? Please help - would actually like to sleep eventually tonight.
a change in PH, even slight can shock the bejeesus outta a cichlid. Aslo, what about temps? Have you tested your tap water? Checked expiration dates on water treatment? What did you use to clean with? Was this a 100? change or just a big one? How often do you do a full break down cleaning?
Oh, also... check your heaters for signs of moisture inside. If there is, it's possible it could be releasing a mild (to us) current through the water.
Test water weekly, partial change bi-weekly, 50% change and clean filters monthly. Break down tank yearly - involves moving a ton of rock. Not 100% change, just large one.
Disturbed some fairly packed sand that was under giant rock pile. Toxic gas release??
not a clue, put it in a cup and stick your hand in there and see if it tingles? I didn't just suggest that.
I sounds like your yearly change did release something that had been dormant. If you can afford to keep them in QT now, a lot of realllllly smart people will be awake in the morning. I will say however, WATER CHANGE. If something is wrong it's best to get as much out as possible. I'd do a 50 now and in the morning before trying putting them in again.
Sorry you lost some.
Will do the water changes - have a 20 long I can put them in overnight - not going back in tank until I know what happened.
Thank you for all your help!
Would agree with water changes to remedy this.
Might also consider attaching powerheads with reverse flow to undergravel filter . This ,,if not being done already, would make undergravel filter much more efficient by forcing water down through the lift tubes of undergravel filter and forcing the water back up through the substrate as opposed to pulling water and waste down through the substrate where over time,it can build up under the plate of the undergravel filter and cause afore mentioned gases to form ,and also to affect pH by allowing collected organics to acidify the water to a degree perhaps not appreciated by your particular cichlids.
Would also take care not to clean everything at one time in the aquarium. Would clean filters in dechlorinated water or old aquarium water (no tapwater) and would clean the tank in stages. Perhaps one week, clean the filter,the next week ,vaccum the substrate and sift the sand afterwards and clean the glass.The following week clean the powerheads.
By cleaning everything at one time, we can destroy sizeable amount of beneficial bacteria that gathers or colonizes on all surfaces in the aquarium.
by cleaning in stages,,we are assured that not too much bacteria is destroyed at one time .
Considering you are recording traces of ammonia from the tap ,I would strongly urge the use of water conditioner such as PRIME or AMQUEL+ ,both will detoxify the ammonia from tapwater. Hope some of this helps.
LOL you're welcome, 1077 sounds like he's got some know how going on. Good luck!
I do use PRIME always - best thing out there I've found for dealing with our tap water. Have been thinking about investing in a reverse osmosis filter because of the crappy quality of our water.
Am definitely going to do the reverse flow powerheads, excellent suggestion!
Guess this one falls under the heading of "I knew better but I did/didn't do it anyway." Dumb, dumb, dumb. I've read a hundred times NOT to break down the whole tank at one time to clean it and I did it anyway. Probably not as bad as "my laziness killed 2 of my fish." Now if you could tell me WHY people do dumb things when they KNOW better *sigh* ...
Thank you for all your help and advice. Now if I just can get rid of that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that tells me I've REALLY screwed up ...
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