Why did my female die?
I started my tank six weeks ago and brought 3 males and 1 female home from a breeder 4 weeks ago. They are fine fish, strong and healthy. I've been doing weekly water changes and testing the water quality once or twice a week. pH stays steady at 7.4 to 7.6, ammonia always at .5 ppm, and nitrites and nitrates both always at or near 0. The tank has a couple medium size plants in it, which are also doing well.
10 days ago, the female gave birth to about 25 fry, 18 or 19 of which survived the first couple days. I lost two in last Wednesday's water change (they dug themselves into the gravel and couldn't get out I guess; I freed a couple others from the gravel, too). The fry are doing rather well at this point - very active, eat well, pooping, etc. Growing for sure.
I thought the female was doing well, too, and the males weren't bothering her anymore; except that in the last week she'd developed some redness around the gills. I was going to go buy another small tank tomorrow and separate her, maybe with some salt in the water. However, she started acting strangely this evening about six o'clock, floating vertically with her head up. She'd try to swim, but kept going vertical. And when I checked at 11 just now - dead. :(
All the other fish are doing great as far as I can tell. Water tests have all levels pegged where they've been for three weeks. And I've double-checked that I'm doing the tests right. (API master test kit, if that matters). So what could I have done wrong? Or was it out of my hands all along?
Cris in Brooklyn
I would like to start off by congratulating you on your fry :-) they are little miracles and will instill you with a lot of pride as they grow!
Now I'd like to say I'm sorry for your loss...losing a fish is always hard. (Its remarkable how quickly you become attached to the little buggers)
What kind of fish do you have? My male Molly once did the same thing, swimming almost vertical with his tail down face up. I've also seen the redness around the gills...it once accompanied Ich in my tank don't know what it was specifically though(sorry I can't be of more help). Ich is easy to spot because it comes with little white spots that look like salt on your fish, usually starts on their fins in my experience.
Every time my fish start acting out of sorts in any way for more than a few hours (some examples would be pinned fins, laying on the bottom of the tank, swimming vertically) I automatically treat them with Jungle Lifeguard.(It saves lives!!) It treats quite a few different diseases so I never really know exactly what they have. But I can tell you that for the most part it works. Its really cheap online...but I also think walmart has it.
As a relatively new tank owner(I'm assuming but Idk if youve had tanks before this) you will need to understand that this hobby has a steep learning curve and there will be some casualties along the way...I'm sorry to be the bearer of this news.(If you didn't figure it out already) BUT As long as you keep an eye on your levels and on your fish's behavior(and treat them when they are not acting normally) you will be fine.
Treating a fish for an illness which is not confirmed is never a good idea. The meds can do more harm than good. If you have fish acting different you need to find the route cause of it, not treat it before you know.
There are times when we do lose fish but generally patience is also a key to this hobby.
Ammonia and Nitrite are both toxic to fish and will effect their health long term. I am going to suggest that your tank is not cycled properly or you are overfeeding. The fact that you have ammonia readings is cause for concern. 6 weeks makes the tank very young. If you did not cycle the tank BEFORE adding fish then this could be the cause of your loss.
Read an article here on aquarium cycling.
The fish may also have succumb to aggression from the other males, a male obviously spawned with the female as you have fry BUT what about the other 2 guys, if they tried to spawn with the female after she gave birth....this could cause her early demise, reason being is she is a weakened state from giving birth and with being the only female, the other males have no one else to turn to, in their hour of "need".
How does one go about finding the root cause? How can it do more harm than good? By messing with the BioFiltration? I've done this for years but am open to other ways...I just don't know them.
Answers to any of these questions as posted by Lupin in the Diagnosis form of the tropical fish disease section of the forum.
1. Size of tank?
2. Water parameters
d. pH, KH and GH?
e. Test kit?
4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)?
5. How long the aquarium has been set up?
6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)?
8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants?
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom?
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors?
9. a. Filtration?
10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used?
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long?
11. a. Water change schedule?
b. Volume of water changed?
c. Well water, tap water, RO water?
d. Water conditioner used?
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed?
How often are they fed?
13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms?
b. Appearance of poop?
c. Appearance of gills?
14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis?
b. What meds were used?
15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary.
There are many factors which can lead to a successful diagnosis and appropriate treatment associated with the illness the fish is showing.
Think of it as this, you do not get prescribed medicines from a doctor who has no idea what you have...you go through a period of diagnosis and treatment is specific to your illness...because fish cannot physically tell us what is wrong, we have to research and offer treatment as appropriate based on the above factors.
A simple change in pH can be enough to have fish scratching at rocks/ decorations etc, the change might be "burning" them if the pH lowers...this we can diagnose as a problem if the aquarists fish require a specific pH range, it can also be a symptom of ich..you can add as much ich medication as you want but that is NOT the root cause.
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