Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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iamgray 11-10-2011 10:29 AM

Unwashed lake rocks in a tank...

A coworker just moved his tank from his office into our sitting area... he has convict cichlids and jack dempseys in the tank. Yesterday, I got to work and 3 convicts were dead. This morning, 2 more were dead. He is away at a trade show... so I texted him asking if they needed more hiding spots, because when he moved the tank, he removed most of his decorations and so there were just 3 small pieces of driftwood at the bottom of the tank which really didn't provide any cover.

He texted back saying "maybe... put some rocks in?" So I went to his office, where he had some rocks that he'd brought specifically to go into the tank, grabbed them, and put them in the tank.

He just texted me saying "did you wash those rocks? I got them from the lake."

So... do I take them out and wash them, or... now that they're in the tank, do I leave them, assuming that the damage is done since they've been in there for an hour or so?

AbbeysDad 11-10-2011 11:33 AM

The first thing you should do is PANIC!
Whew, glad that's over.

The next thing you should do is write a note to self to kick yer coworker in the back side for 1) bringing the unwashed rocks to work in the first place and 2) for not saying anything until after you put them in the tank. (Please add to the note to kick him a second time for me [thanks]).

Okay, the reality is if there was any evil on the rocks from the lake that survived being dried out, they're likely in the water now so removing and washing them is pretty moot. I guess you could do it, but I'm thinking it's about like closing the barn door after the livestock got out. Now we tend to treat our tanks with "sterile kid gloves", but imagine all the 'stuff' floating around in the Amazon river and tropical ponds and ditches - eeeuuu. Odds are the rocks from the lake aren't as bad as we could imagine - who knows.

The bigger issue is what's wrong in the tank causing the fish to die. Did the tank move involve new substrate and/or filter material so there is/was an ammonia spike? Were the fish properly acclimated to the 'new' setup/water conditions?


btw, is that a girl on your arm looking at the butterfly?

iamgray 11-10-2011 11:47 AM

Yeah I think I am with you on the pointlessness of removing and washing the rocks, for all of the reasons that you stated.

I have tested the water to check if there was an ammonia spike, and there is a low amount... below 0.25 but not yellow enough to be 0. I am going to do a water change before I leave work for the long weekend.

I attributed the first fish deaths to something that happened when he was pulling decorations out... 3 convicts were hiding inside a conch shell, and when he pulled the shell out (not knowing they were inside), they came out and fell back into the tank with the rush of water. I would assume that'd be pretty traumatic for the poor fishies...

All substrate and filter media are the same, but as mentioned in the original post, many of the original decorations were removed, save for one piece of driftwood. He put two new pieces of driftwood in the tank. The decorations that were removed had been in the tank for months, and were quite sizable... so in addition to the loss of beneficial bacteria, they also lost anything remotely resembling territory dividers. I think he saved about half of the original water to return to the tank after the move.

iamgray 11-10-2011 03:06 PM

Did a 30ish% water change with a slight overdose of prime... hopefully they make it through the weekend! It looks like a few of them have chosen hideouts already amid the rocks I set up in there.

Also, yesterday I quite often saw them gasping at the surface... now they are swimming mid-lower level so that's a good sign!


Originally Posted by AbbeysDad (Post 889751)
btw, is that a girl on your arm looking at the butterfly?

Nope, the only girl in the picture is me. :)

It's a bunch of butterflies all over a milkweed plant, in various stages of development from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly.

iamgray 11-10-2011 06:10 PM

Argh! Today was a very frustrating day in my world of fishkeeping... And it isn't even my tank!!!!!!!

Just before 4pm I went to look at his fish and make sure they were all still acting ok... and I noticed bubbles coming out of the heater. CRACKED! And the water was 82 degrees... I'm not sure if it was cracked before, or if it cracked during the water change (I forgot to unplug it!!). Although I HAD noticed and commented to a coworker that the tank water felt warm while I was starting the siphon... leading me to believe that it was probably already cracked at that point. So I yanked it out and got to leave work early to run into the city and grab a new heater... oi vey.

What an unproductive day. :-? Although on the bright side... I had been toying with going to the tradeshow with him... and was a bit sad that I ended up not going. Now I am happy I didn't go... as I am the only other experienced fish keeper in the building.

Calmwaters 11-10-2011 06:17 PM

Wow glad you caught the heater problem before it wiped out the tank. Hopefully things will calm down and get back to normal for you soon.

iamgray 11-11-2011 11:18 AM

Yeah, no kidding! I wonder how warm the water actually was before the water change... I am sure the water I put in was cooler than what was in there... And the 82 degree reading was AFTER the water change.

Calmwaters 11-11-2011 01:06 PM

Wow that is hot for fish.

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