Black widow tetras not eating - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-14-2013, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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Black widow tetras not eating

1. Size of tank? 75 gallons

2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? 0
b. Nitrite? 0
c. Nitrate? 0
d. pH, KH and GH? 7.8, KH not sure, GH 75-150
e. Test kit? API Freshwater master, except for GH (that was a dipstick)

3. Temperature? 78 deg F

4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)? FW

5. How long the aquarium has been set up? since 12/12/12

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
2 black widow tetras-3 years
4 black widow tetras-added 12/13/12
7 serpae tetras-added 12/23/12
10 bloodfin tetras-added12/30/12

7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)? No

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants? All live plants
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? Eco complete substrate, some small gravel
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? Two pieces of bogwood, one large river rock, one fake rock from a cycled tank that is serving as a prop for the filter uptake tube

9. a. Filtration? Eheim 2217
b. Heater? Aqueon 200W

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? 2x T5 48" long, one 10000K the other 6700K on a timer, currently on 7 hours a day
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? Not really; it's opposite a window that faces south, but is rather shaded

11. a. Water change schedule? 33-50% weekly
b. Volume of water changed?
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? tap water
d. Water conditioner used? yes
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? weekly

12. Foods? flakes, micropellets, frozen: blood worms, daphnia, brine shrimp
How often are they fed? 1-2 times a day

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? two of the newer black widows look gaunt, may not be eating
b. Appearance of poop? Can't comment
c. Appearance of gills? look ok to me

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? no
b. What meds were used?

15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary. sorry; they won't hold still

The issue:
I have two black widow tetras who are looking gaunt and I am pretty sure are not eating. I had another black widow from this batch that showed similar symptoms before dying, although its symptoms dated from the day I bought him/her whereas I am fairly sure these fish has been eating until recently. It is hard for me to keep track of absolutely everyone during feeding although I do watch and have tried to direct food towards these two with a turkey baster.
The only other symptoms are that they tend not to swim all around the tank like the others, hanging out at the one end although not hiding in a corner or anything like that.
Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 10 Old 02-17-2013, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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API Master test kit pH & API General Cure

I tested the pH again, and I believe it is actually 7.4. I thought there was a typo on the card, because the normal pH range goes from 6.0 to 7.2 in 0.2 increments, then jumps to 7.6 whereas the high range scale starts at 7.4 then jumps to 7.8. My color definitely matches the 7.4 number.

Anyway, I read other posts and decided to try API General Cure, treating the tank and mixing the powder with flake and feeding that exclusively. Problem is, the two gaunt fish don't eat the flake (that I can see). The smaller one ate a bloodworm yesterday so I am wondering if I should continue feeding bloodworms occasionally too?

I did not read anywhere that this medication is a problem for tetras. They do seem to be behaving differently though, like they are sensitive to the light--? The black widows are acting as usual, but the serpae and bloodfins seem to be swimming back and forth the length of the tank as a shoal and all round acting more frantic than usual, most noticeably with the light on. I've decreased the photoperiod to about 4 hours because I don't want to stress them but I don't want to kill my plants, either!


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post #3 of 10 Old 02-17-2013, 04:25 PM
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Hey mate. On the first problem with the BW tetras. Sounds problematic that you had one die with similar symptoms. Is there a possibility of placing them in a QT. if they look gaunt then I would say stress is the big factor. They maybe at the bottom of the pecking order in respect to the other BW. Competing for food and hence not eating. In Quarantine you may be able to feed them and get some strength back up. The serpae tetra is a known fin nipper. Have there been any signs of harassment towards the other fish?
The blood fin and serpae swimming around frantically problem. Are they showing good colour and feeding well? Is there sufficient plants to provide diffused light? Do you have room lights on before and after the tank lights go on and off? This could be the stressor. How often do you feed them? My fish look for me when the lights go on as it usually means feeding time.
That's about all I have. I hope it helps as I'm definitely not a fish whisperer.
Cheers and good luck
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post #4 of 10 Old 02-17-2013, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Titan; thanks for responding. Is it summer where you are?

I'm not savvy with quoting posts, but regards fin nipping I've seen none. I forgot to mention that I also lost two bloodfins that looked gaunt and may not have been eating but one for sure looked "different" than the others from the day I bought him.

I am currently setting up a QT tank and I think it is a very good idea to try and put the two sickly ones in there to see if they eat more that way. It is odd but these fish won't touch the flakes or pellets, even when it falls through the water column and drifts past their noses. Hard for me to know if there is a pecking order but it is an interesting theory. I will test it when the QT tank is habitable (just set it up today).

As far as the frantic swimming; the serpaes seem to have relaxed a bit and both shoals are definitely calmer with lights out. The plants haven't changed between now and before medicating with API General Cure (which I did on Sat). They are in the process of growing but no, there are not a ton of shady areas.

I did change the photoperiod so the lights go on during the day when the room is already sunny. I can't gradually turn the tank lights on so I thought that might be less of a shock to them.

As far as feeding, I generally try and feed 2 times a day but some days it is only once. Right now I am giving the medicated flakes once a day and I did feed bloodworms too because the tiniest black widow eats that.

Thanks again for your thoughful advice!

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post #5 of 10 Old 02-17-2013, 08:41 PM
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Hey mate. Sorry to hear about the extra deaths. Is there any signs of disease. Be absolutely critical. White spots, frayed fins anything. Sounds like stress is the big contributor. May I suggest getting some shade cloth to diffuse the light until the plants grow out some more. Giant hygrophila ( excuse spelling) its in the profiles as a stem plant. It is amazing, mine grows 1" a week and cut and replant and so on. Can I also suggest removing at least the 10k lamp from your lights. I recon they are getting a small dose of super bright light. That might explain the stress as they all prefer broken subdued light. Even a pillow case or fly screen mesh could diffuse the light.
I reckon the light is the problem. Everything else looks awesome. And yes is is the tail end of summer here. Constantly adjusting my tank heater is annoying me
Keep me posted
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for your thoughts, Titan. The only other signs of anything being wrong was the two late bloodfins who looked overall more scraggly and less sleek than their schoolmates. I have not seen any funny spots or behavior beyond the fact that the two gaunt black widows tend to hang out at one end of the tank.

I have ordered some more plants to give them more places to hide; I have good growth in the tank but hoped some of the stems would have filled in more by now. Plus I'll be able to make the QT much less stressful with some plants.

Switching out the 10000k is a good idea in any case, as it is probably doing the plants little good. And the light has certainly begun to cause them stress.

I'm ready for a little (but just a little) summer weather here...just enough for the kids to go out and climb the trees insead of the walls.

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post #7 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 09:18 PM
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How are the BW tetras doing in quarantine. Are they eating? Have you noticed less frantic behaviour from the others with reduced light?
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-22-2013, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry; no updates as yet as I left the two black widows in the main tank while I treated it. Now I have a nice QT tank with live plants that should be a comforting place for them to spend some time eating and hopefully getting fatter. I will have my husband net them out tonight.

The bloodfins are still bothered by the light. I've decreased the photoperiod and I hope that as the medication is removed by the water this reaction will cease. I read nothing anywhere that says certain tetra species are affected by the two medications in API General Cure (metronidazole and praziquantrel) so I will definitely keep updating this thread in case anyone else is considering using it.

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post #9 of 10 Old 02-27-2013, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Here is an update: I took the bright 10000k bulb out and replaced it with an actinic blue bulb I had on hand. It looks dimmer and the colors of the fish look horrible, but the bloodfins are still photosensitive. It has been a week since the carbon went in the filter and they've had two 33% water changes, so I must be patient. I've had no more losses.
I finally netted out the two gaunt black widows and am trying to fatten them with the only food they eat, the blood worms. They are not happy being in a 10 gallon by themselves, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to put any others in there.
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-08-2013, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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Last update

The smallest black widow (who was in the QT with the next smallest; both were rather gaunt) died after ceasing to eat even bloodworms. The other fish in the tank will (and still does) eat any frozen food I feed, but does not like flakes or pellets. I figure even if it does not develop a taste for those foods it could still survive on the other, as I feed frozen foods on a schedule and there are only a couple days a week when I just go lazy and feed flake or pellets (like after working a 12 hour shift!).

I have left this fish in the QT to give it the opportunity to eat without competition. I still do not know what was wrong with the fish. I don't know if medicating the tank was worthwhile.

In the 75 gallon, there have been three water changes and the carbon has been in the tank for two weeks. I would have to say the bloodfins are still not behaving as they originally did, but are much less skittish and will come out of hiding and swim around when I am near the tank (smart fish; they know I am the sole source of food!).

No one else looks gaunt in that tank, and although it is virtually impossible to make sure all 10 bloodfins eat I am doing my best to keep close track.

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black widow tetra , not eating

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