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jjacks1 07-03-2010 02:23 AM

Help! Emergency!
 
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.

TexasTanker 07-03-2010 02:44 AM

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?

TexasTanker 07-03-2010 02:45 AM

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.

jjacks1 07-03-2010 03:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TexasTanker (Post 416523)
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?

PH was 7.8 - PH new water 7.5. Usual tank temp 80 degrees - current tank temp 81 degrees. Have tested tap water - slight touch of ammonia right out of the faucet, usually use a little extra conditioner, takes care of problem. Water conditioner just purchased this week, not expired. Only used algae scraper and vaccumed sand - didn't use anything else to clean with.
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??

jjacks1 07-03-2010 03:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TexasTanker (Post 416524)
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.

Black plastic Renna heater that goes with Renna cannister filter. Not cracked or broken. Unable to tell if there is moisture inside. Any way to check?

TexasTanker 07-03-2010 03:08 AM

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.

jjacks1 07-03-2010 03:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TexasTanker (Post 416530)
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.

LOL Think I'll try the cup of water thing - just what I deserve for killing 2 of my favorite fish.
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!

1077 07-03-2010 06:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jjacks1 (Post 416520)
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.

Could very well be anaerobic conditions under the Undergravel filter or in sand substrate and disturbing the area may have released gas (hydrogen sulfide). Best to sift the sand regularly to avoid this.
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.

TexasTanker 07-03-2010 07:50 AM

LOL you're welcome, 1077 sounds like he's got some know how going on. Good luck!

jjacks1 07-03-2010 11:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1077 (Post 416550)
Could very well be anaerobic conditions under the Undergravel filter or in sand substrate and disturbing the area may have released gas (hydrogen sulfide). Best to sift the sand regularly to avoid this.
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.

Think you hit the nail on the head. Checked with my "expert" this morning and he said toxic gas release.
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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