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longirostromeryx 02-21-2011 10:35 PM

Multiple possible diseases plaguing tetras, and and all help/advice appreciated!

I'm new to a fish community forum, and am hoping to find it more useful than my back and forth trips to pet stores and fish specialty shops.

First thing's first, here is my basic tank information:

- 10gal, freshwater tank, set up on Jan 28th
- filtration = TopFin 10, just replaced Feb. 13th
- heater = TopFin 10gal heater, not sure exactly which one
- all water is treated with Tetra AquaSafe plus before added to the tank, and a steady 2tbsp of aquarium salt is also maintained.
- tank is not in direct sunlight, but does receive some sunlight in addition to fluorescent hood bulb, which I keep on 8-10 hours a day.

Here's what's been going on in my tank since I set it up (includes all information not included above.)

- Tank was set up on Jan 28th. Water was treated with AquaSafe plus, heater was set to 78F, 2 tbsp of aquarium salt were added, as well as the recommended dose of Microbe-Lift Special Blend. I feed my fish once daily, and sparsely, alternating between TetraColor and freeze dried brine shrimp.

- 8 neon tetras and 1 pleco were added to the tank on Feb. 1. Water parameters are tested with Quick Dip 6 in 1 strips and API Ammonia test kits. Water parameters from Feb. 1 through Feb. 5 were constant, as follows:

Temperature = 78F
Nitrates = 0ppm
Nitrites = 0ppm
Hardness = 75ppm
Chlorine = 0ppm
Alkalinity = 40ppm
pH = 7.0
Ammonia = 0ppm (this worried me, initially)

- On Feb. 7th, I noticed ich on one of the neon tetras, and immediately began Tetra LifeGuard 5 day treatment. Before adding the tablets, I performed a 15% water change with a grav vac, added an additional 2 tbsp of aquarium salt and removed the carbon from my filter. I also gradually increased the temperature to 82F.

-By Feb. 12th, the ich had gotten worse and 2 neon tetras had died. Water parameters remained the same throughout this 5 day period.

-On Feb. 13th, I performed a 30% water change, as directed to do so. Replacement water was treated with AquaSafe and aquarium salt. A new carbon was activated, and I began Coppersafe to combat the ich.

- Feb. 14th, Alkalinity climbed to 100ppm, but all other parameters remained the same.

-Feb. 15th, pH increased to 7.2, alkalinity remained 100ppm, but the ich began to clear.

Feb. 16th, alkalinity fell back to 40ppm, pH increased to 7.4. Ich continued to clear, so I treated the water with Tetra EasyBalance in hope to stabalize the pH and alkalinity.

Feb. 17th, nitrites increased to 0.5ppm, pH decreased to 7.0. I noticed a few of the tetras had frayed and tattered fins (primarily caudal and dorsal). I did not notice any white on any of the tetras, but added 1/2 capful of Maracyn as a precaution. Ammonia remained at 0ppm, which worried me.

Feb. 18th was when it started getting interesting. I finally had 1ppm of both ammonia and nitrites, everything else was normal. However, it appeared as if the ich had come back, i.e. the tetras had small white specks on their sides, some only on their dorsal fin. Treated tank with another 1/2 capful of Maracyn.

Feb. 19th, I noticed more specks on the tetras, they appeared to be clustered on all the fins, nape regions and around the gills, but they were still small at this point. Fish were still schooling, but I added another 1/2 capful of Maracyn. Water parameters were as follow:

Temperature = 82F
Nitrates = 0ppm
Nitrites = 1ppm
Hardness = 75ppm
Chlorine = 0ppm
Alkalinity = 40ppm
pH = 7.0
Ammonia = 2.0ppm

I treated the tank with 1mL of Prime, which is supposed to remove chlorine, chloramine and ammonia, while detoxifying nitrite and nitrate.

I waited 8 hours and tested ammonia again, read 0.5ppm.

Feb. 20th, my parameters were as follow:

Temperature = 82F
Nitrates = 0ppm
Nitrites = 0.5ppm
Hardness = 0ppm
Chlorine = 0ppm
Alkalinity = 20ppm
pH = 7.4
Ammonia = 1.0ppm

I also lost another neon tetra, so I decided to do another 25% water change with the grav vac. Replacement water was treated with aquarium salt, AquaSafe, CopperSafe. Maracyn and Prime were then added to the entire tank. The ich-like spots were beginning to increase in number per fish.

Feb. 21 (this morning). Water parameters:

Temperature = 82F
Nitrates = 0ppm
Nitrites = 3ppm
Hardness = 75ppm
Chlorine = 0ppm
Alkalinity = 0ppm
pH = 6.8
Ammonia = 1.5ppm

I, again, treated with Prime and EasyBalance. I threw another 1tbsp aquarium salt and 1/2 capful of Maracyn in there as well, because:
- the specks on the fish grew incredibly large, and are yellowish in color.
- the specks are clustered on all the fins (some dorsal/caudal fins are literally covered with it), inbetween the eyes of the fish, along the nape region, and around the gills and on their eyes.
- the fish are all breathing rapidly, shaking their fins in turn, swimming extremely erratically, and darting back and forth. They are not schooling, but did eat when I fed them.
- 2 tetras were just chilling at the top of the tank, one of which started swimming sideways and was consequently euthanized.
- The pleco seems to be fine, i.e. I did not see any ich-like spots since Feb. 18th, and does not have any of the yellowish blotches that the tetras do.

SO, as a follow-up, here are my most accurate water parameters:

Temperature = 82F
Nitrates = 0ppm
Nitrites = 0.5ppm
Hardness = 75ppm
Chlorine = 0ppm
Alkalinity = 0ppm
pH = 6.8
Ammonia = 0.25ppm.
Fish = 1 pleco, 5 neon tetras

I did throw 1/4 capful of prime to try and lower the ammonia and detoxify the nitrites. Is the spike due to the biological filter finally kicking in? Any suggestions about alkalinity/pH? What about the tetras? It's very hard to take a picture of them, because they are so small and darting back and forth, but I'm debating euthanizing them all, and moving the pleco to a 2gal quarantine tank if the tetras' symptoms or water parameters can't be controlled.

I also have a 12gal tank that is not set up, but was recently used. I'm thinking of making that my primary tank, and this 10gal the hospital tank.

Any and all suggestions and advice would be GREATLY appreciated!

Lupin 02-21-2011 10:59 PM

I find the results disturbing honestly.

1. Test strips would be my first issue. It's hard for me to get convinced by the readings. Can you please retest with API liquid kit?

2. Your tank has no stable nitrogen cycle. I would not have added the fish in the first place if your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate were all zero. Zero nitrate is very difficult to accomplish unless your tank is heavily planted with fast growing species of plants. Your tank has just begun cycling. With the unstable nitrogen cycle, there's no way all your fish will survive the process except perhaps the pleco.

3. What species is your pleco? Is it a common species? If so, it is not appropriate for a 10g. It will eventually outgrow the tank.

4. You are changing your medicines too fast.:sad: You should have kept this process very simple. All it takes to battle ich is use salt at a teaspoon per gallon dose, aeration, heat and clean water. I will never advise any of those meds to begin with. They are there as a last resort. Not even copper is one of those I'd advise for ich cases. It lingers in the tank and renders the tank unsafe for any future invertebrates you plan to keep. Some fish are also sensitive to copper traces and copper is more corrosive at acidic pH. If you are not careful with your pH (not able to stabilize it), it will quickly destroy all your fish.

HALT all meds now. Stick to salt at a teaspoon per gallon dose and do series of water changes. Let the carbon stay there for the next three days. There's no way you can remove minute copper traces however. And all you need to add is just salt and Prime, nothing else. Do water changes daily and when you detect ammonia and nitrite. Both should remain at zero while you keep the fish. Let the salt deal with the ich and bacterial infections. No more meds. These meds have done quite a negative impact on your fish already.

If you have access to crushed corals, get a bowl or two of it and put into the tank to stabilize the pH and hardness levels.

longirostromeryx 02-21-2011 11:12 PM

I suppose that's what I get for walking into a popular pet store chain and asking for advice, all the meds and solutions were recommended.

Yes, the pleco is the common species. I've had them before, and was told they only grow as large as the tank allows? If not, then again, I was the fool who believed what she heard.

I truly do appreciate it, and will keep you informed on how this turns out.

Lupin 02-21-2011 11:25 PM

Yep. You are not the first nor will be the last to be on the receiving end of our store "experts'" advice. Everything they tell you connects to sales pitch. If they were sincere with their advice, keeping the treatment process simple is one of them.

Your pleco will still grow up. Stunting it will only make it vulnerable to health issues. I'd rather house that punk in a large pond. There are more plecos appropriate for a 10g. L010a for instance at 3-4 inches in max length fit well there but we'll get on this one once we've resolved your cycling issues.

longirostromeryx 02-21-2011 11:33 PM

Now, I can still use the AquaSafe for treating tap water during water changes, yes? Or should I just add the aquarium salt to some distilled water? I hate seeing the poor fish suffer, and will admit to forgetting how much hardier mollies and platys were over neon tetras during the cycling process.

The neon tetra that was staying near the surface of the tank is back with the others, they tend to cluster around my plants at night- improvement?

Lupin 02-21-2011 11:38 PM

Looks like an improvement.

No need to use distilled water. Tap is fine. Is there any problem with your tap? As long as your preferred dechlorinator can bind chlorine and chloramine and detoxify heavy metals, it's fine. Prime however has added benefits. It detoxifies ammonia and nitrite.

1077 02-21-2011 11:50 PM

Much has gone wrong here and much could have been avoided. Tank did not begin Cycling until the fish were added. Fishes have been exposed to ammonia and nitrite poisoning and have been struggling/swimming in toxic soup from day one due numerous products, and or medications.
Were it me,,I would euthanize the neons and return the pleco which with few exceptions,,grow much too large for ten or twelve gallon aquariums.
I would then perform a 70 to 80 percent water change and treat the new water with PRIME.
I would run some fresh/new carbon in the tank for a three or four days to remove any residual medication present and would add NOTHING to the tank except tapwater and PRIME during water changes from this point forward.No Salt,medications, ph adjuster's,easy balance,stress this or that,medication's etc.
Would read up on cycling a new aquarium and then either choose fishless method of cycling,or begin again with no more than three small active fish such as silver tipped tetra's,bloodfin tetra's,glowlight tetra's,or pristella tetra's. Would feed the fish once every two days perhaps two or three flakes crushed up, and would perform water change using prime if ammonia or nitrites move much above .25.Would not add any other fishes for four weeks.
Would not test,or worry about anything other than ammonia,and nitrites for the next four weeks.While pH and other variables may fluctuate during cycling, it is the ammonia and nitrites that must be kept near, or at zero. All other variables are not to worry over and will sort themselves out as the tank matures.
Anytime you wish to lower ammonia or nitrites, a water change must be performed and prime added to the new water before it goes in the tank.
The less stuff you use in the aquarium,the better chance your fish have. Neons are not a particularly hardy fish and fishes you got could have been sick from the outset.They, nor the Pleco need or appreciate salt,
most freshwater fish don't.
Sounds to me like the fish store saw you coming,and a chance to sell numerous products that are not needed or could have been avoided with a little understanding of how a new aquarium matures (see cycling).
All you really need is tapwater ,and Prime along with patience.
Would maybe look for different source of fish and this forum for advice as opposed to fish store .People here aren't trying to sell you anything.8-)

Lupin 02-22-2011 12:00 AM

I disagree that neons should be euthanized at this point. Give these fish a chance. It's why I advised salt as the only means of treatment. It is doable at this point as ich treatment and nitrite neutralizer.

1077 02-22-2011 01:04 AM


Originally Posted by Lupin (Post 597944)
I disagree that neons should be euthanized at this point. Give these fish a chance. It's why I advised salt as the only means of treatment. It is doable at this point as ich treatment and nitrite neutralizer.

Fish have been exposed to ammonia and nitrite poisoning, damage is permanent (seldom recover), and water changes as described with Prime would be more effective than salt Always, with respect to nitrite toxicity.
Would agree with the use of salt for treatment of ICH, but once damage from ammonia or nitrite poisoning happens, few are those fishes that don't suffer longterm from the effects of same and I would were it me,, prefer to begin anew with healthy stock and perhaps a bit more kinowledge as to what needs to happen while a tank matures (cycles) .I do feel for the fish,,but past expieriences for me,,indicate the fishes slow demise after exposure to toxins at recorded levels which is all that were presented.

Lupin 02-22-2011 01:11 AM

1077, this is just how I personally view the situation. If you take the test kits into consideration, I have not exactly trusted the actual readings until the OP can retest the actual parameters. All is not lost yet until we verify again the actual readings.

Not all cases are the same. We still need to reassess the whole situation before we jump on the euthanasia as a last resort.

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