Mixed tropical fish not eating, acting lethargic - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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FYI just added a few photos of the tank to my aquarium profile.
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post #12 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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Most of this was covered in my first post but I see you guys like your lists :) So I'll put everything here for convenience's sake.

1. Size of tank? - 60 gal (4' W)

2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? - did not test
b. Nitrite? - 20-25
c. Nitrate? - .5
d. pH, KH and GH? - 7.4, 100 alkalinity, 150 hardness
e. Test kit? - Quick Dip 6-in-1

3. Temperature? 78-80 F

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

5. How long the aquarium has been set up? 7 months

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
1x Convict Cichlid (dwarf/deformed size) - maybe 2", 4 months
1x Electric Blue Ahi - 4", 8 days
1x Pink-Tailed Chalceus - 5" - 2 weeks
2x German Blue Rams - very small - 7 months
2x Bala Sharks - one is about 5", the other 3.5" - large one 7 months, small one 4 months
2x Albino Catfish - very small - 7 months
1x Pleco - very large, probably 8 or 9" - 6 months

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? Fake plants
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? Gravel
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? Lava rocks, some decoration (see aquarium photos)

9. a. Filtration? Emperor dual-wheel bio filter
b. Heater? Generic tube heater attached w/ suction cups to inside of tank

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? Generic hood light - long tube bulb
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? Indirect light from nearby windows for morning/afternoon, light turned on in evening for about 4 hours

11. a. Water change schedule? Every 2 weeks
b. Volume of water changed? 35%
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? Tap water
d. Water conditioner used? API Stress Coat
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? With every major water change

12. Foods? Tetramin tropical flakes, tetracichlid flakes & pellets, blood worms (dried), algae wafers (pleco)
How often are they fed? Twice a day

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? Grouping in one area of the tank, bala sharks not eating or swimming much, cichlids rubbing themselves against substrate and rocks.
b. Appearance of poop? Fine
c. Appearance of gills? Fine

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? Yes with Maracyn Plus - 4 total treatments - then added nitrate/nitrite reducer (2 treatments), finally aquarium salt (1 treatment)

15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary.- Tank photos are in my aquarium profile, can take close-up shots of fish later tonight.
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post #13 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 11:30 AM
From what I can see, there are a couple issues that may be making the situation worse.

1) I would do more frequent water changes of less volume. 20-25% weekly will likely make a bigger difference than 35% every 2 weeks. Gravel vaccuuming can be done once a month, however if your tank looks dirty it can be done more often.

2) Adding aquarium salt wth medications can be extremely hard on your fish. Does your filter have a carbon insert? I'm unfamiliar with the type of filter you have. Carbon will filter out any chemical medications in your tank, and it's important to make sure all the medications are out before switching to a new treatment plan.

3) If it is in fact ick, turning the heat up to 86 won't necessarily do anything in a few days. It doesn't kill the ick, it simply prevents them from being able to reproduce. As far as ick treatments go, it's either medication at regular temperature, OR aquarium salt with the heat turned up. Don't do both (not sure if you are, but when you get a lot of advice from different people quickly, sometimes you do some things from each person and make it worse).

4) Water parameters are not normal. Nitrites, as previously posted, should be at 0. Parameters should be:

Ammonia - 0
Nitrites- 0ppm
Nitrates <40ppm

Ammonia is one of the most important and telling tests in terms of water conditions. Ammonia poison will silently but quickly kill your fish. High nitrites indicate that your ammonia levels are not balanced.

The important things for you to do right now are do frequent water changes and keep the water clean. The med you were using doesn't appear to have done anything, so get that out of the tank through either water changes (if you change 20% of the water each time, in theory it will take at least 5 changes to get all the medication out. More to be safe) or by adding fresh activated carbon to your filter. It is OK to do small water changes daily if your fish are under stress.

Good luck!

PS - NOT all species are tolerant of aquarium salt. Your catfish will be definitively intolerant of it. Albino catfish will be extremely intolerant. Either remove them, or don't keep adding salt. Catfish are partial surface air breathers, they may be OK in a makeshift QT tank - large plastic container, etc. If you can add an airstone to the container, that will make a huge difference. Give them some hiding spots and change 100% of the water daily, and they could be fine for a week outside of the main tank (obviously watch for signs of distress, but if you must use aquarium salt they need to be removed).
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post #14 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 11:47 AM
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There are a few issues that I see going on here. The first is the fish that are being kept together. The convict cichlid is from central america and is found is harder basic water. Convicts can be very territorial and can get rather nasty especially when spawning like most other cichlids. The electric blue ahli also known as blue hap comes from Lake Malawi in Africa. This is also another very territorial and aggressive fish. They need a ph of at least 8 and hard water. Blue rams need very soft acidic water if wild caught, if tank raised than they need to be kept close to within the conditions that they were raised. Bala shark will get too large for the tank that you have them in, they can reach up to 14 inches, and are a shoaling fish and need to be kept in groups of at least 5. Also the pleco that you have I am sure is probably the common pleco which also attains rather large sizes reaching up to 18 inches or more. With the mix of fish that you have right now I am sure that the fish are probably experiencing a lot of stress, even if you are not seeing aggression between the fish, there are chemical pheremones that are being released into the water that the fish will pick up on and will cause them stress.

Another issue that I see is the water change schedule. Water changes should be done on a weekly basis of 40 to 50% of the water being changed each week. This will help to remove the crud from the water that you filter is unable to remove.

The other issue is the level of your nitrites. In a cycled aquarium ammonia and nitrites should be 0, and nitrates should be 20ppm or lower, but a reading of nitrates. If your ammonia or nitrites are above .25 I would carry out water change of 40 to 50%.
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post #15 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys for the excellent advice. @tf1265 - It has two filter slots, currently both contain normal filters. I do have carbon salts that I can sprinkle in there. I did a 50% water change 3 days ago, so is it ok if I do another 50% water change tonight to remove any lingering medication? Or do a smaller water change and add some carbon?

And you were right - I did take the advice of multiple people and added some aquarium salt before the Maracyn was completely out of the tank. I also added some nitrate/nitrite reducer (maybe 8 hours earlier) to try and get the parameters back in order. From now on, I'll make sure there is no lingering medication and will do more frequent water changes.

I think I agree with Barb that the fish diversity could be contributing to this stress. Considering this tank will soon be too small for the balas and pleco, perhaps I should return them to the LFS. I could use this opportunity to get more cichlids and optimize the water quality for them. I've got to stop taking advice from my LFS whenever I ask about fish ("Oh yes, they would get along great with the fish you have!" etc etc). Part of the problem is I didn't research some of these fish before bringing them home.

So considering I am going to be sticking with this 60 gal tank for awhile, what would be some good tank mates for the convict & blue ahi?
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post #16 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 01:21 PM
I'm sorry I did not see the catfish when I recommended the salt. If possible I would try to get rid of your fish that do not belong and do not add anymore in till you get your water quality under control. I myself don't think the convict and blue ahi are great tank mates but I could be wrong. Once you get your water under control the 25% weekly will be great but with your issues now I would do more.
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post #17 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 01:30 PM
Believe me, almost all of us (definitely myself included) have taken bad advice from a pet store and purchased fish that were BAD for our tanks. I've learned now to go the store and see what's available (or ask what might be coming in in the next week or so), if there is something new that I think might be a good addition to my tank I come on here, ask some questions, do a little reading, and then if all checks out I go back to the store and make my purchase. It takes more time, it can be a pain in the butt, but now I am extremely happy with my tanks and confident that the fish they contain are happy and healthy.

It is definitely alright to do another 50% water change. As long as you are conditioning the water (and you've said you are, with api stress coat which is a good one), water changes are the single greatest component to healthy fish. Add some carbon as well, it will catch any traces of medication that might still be in there.

The good news is that even though it took some mistakes and some casualties, you're learning a lot of lessons and the next time an issue arises in your tank you will be MUCH better equipped to handle it quickly and as stress-free on your fish as possible.

Good luck! Once you've cleaned up the mess the pet store got you in, next step is to determine if there is still some kind of disease or fungus lingering in your tank that needs to be taken care of.
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post #18 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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@k19smith - That's ok. I should have been more careful yesterday - I was kind of panicking wondering what to do, and didn't take the time to filter out the Maracyn first. Lesson learned. Fortunately the catfish seem fine but I will definitely not be adding anything else until I've done a few water changes.
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post #19 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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@tf1265 - thanks, that makes me feel a little better. I am somewhat emotional about losing ANY pet even a tiny fish and I've been feeling kind of helpless in not knowing how to deal with it. After improving water quality further, I think I need to make the decision about what kind of fish to have in this tank and remove the ones that don't belong.

On that note - I love my blue rams and they seem to have done great in this tank. If I did get rid of the balas and the pleco, and stocked the tank with more cichlids, do you think I could get away with keeping them? It seems cichlids are rather temperamental in what they like, water quality wise and neighbor wise - do I have to go 100% cichlid or is there an acceptable mix?
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post #20 of 54 Old 09-08-2011, 04:16 PM
The one thing I can say about keeping cichlids is CAVES CAVES CAVES.... I'm currently re decorating my 75 gallon cichlid tank. I also stocked mixed fish and I'm slowly getting there now. I am finding having more caves and hiding places is stopping my cichlids aggression problems tho.
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