one dead, another on the verge
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one dead, another on the verge

This is a discussion on one dead, another on the verge within the Tropical Fish Diseases forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Hi everyone, My background as a freshwater aquarist is rather limited. I kept one betta fish for over two years before he had to ...

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one dead, another on the verge
Old 11-05-2009, 03:01 AM   #1
 
one dead, another on the verge

Hi everyone,

My background as a freshwater aquarist is rather limited. I kept one betta fish for over two years before he had to be euthanized due to cancer.

Afterwards I decided to try my hand in a community tank, so I didn't completely clean out tank, only changed 50% of the water, before adding the tetras and another betta.

Initially I had 6 fish in an established tank: 5 diamond tetras and 1 very mild mannered betta. They got along for almost two months.

The issue started to occur a few days ago after I went on vacation for 1 week. I had done the water and filter change the day before I left, and had asked my roommate to feed my fish for me. When I came back, a foul smelling brownish gunk developed around the feeding hole, and the diamond tetras were lethargic. I suspect overfeeding.

I immediately changed out 30% of the water and proceeded to change out 15% everyday for the past two days. Second time I change out the water, I noticed one of the diamond tetra developed a bloody eye. The next day he died. Today after I changed the water again I noticed another tetra developed a bloody eye, and is at the surface gasping for air. This time I went ahead and scooped him out, and put him under a mild anesthesia so I can take photos of the infected eye.









So far all the other fish seem to be ok, but since this case happened twice I suspect it is more than just a coincidence. I just want to know what causes this symptom.

Below are standard info to give some environmental context. Thank you for your attention.

Regards, Theresa

1. Size of aquarium (# of gallons)
8 gallons

2. Is your aquarium setup freshwater or brackish water?
Freshwater

3. How long the aquarium has been set up?
4 months

4. What fish and how many are in the aquarium (species are important to know)
One betta splenden and four diamond tetras

5. Are there live plants in the aquarium?
yes

6. What temperature is the tank water currently?
84 degrees F

7. What make/model filter are you using?
Biorb Life S30, undergravel

8. Are you using a CO2 unit?
No

9. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day?
Not direct

10. When did you perform your last water exchange, and how much water was changed?
approximately 15%

11. How often do you perform water changes?
Weekly

12. How often and what foods do you feed your fish?
Tetramin, freeze dried brine shrimp and/or freeze dried bloodworms. Twice a day.

13. What type of lighting are you using and how long is it kept on?
Biorb LED lighting. 14hour extended daylight

15. What are your water parameters? Test your pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
Last time I tested the water using the strips, everything was nominal (pH was about 6.8, no nitrite, small amounts of nitrate. Ammonium strip indicated mildly stressed but it has been like that for weeks despite the religious weekly water changes). Just took out another water sample to take to the aquarium for another test.

Also, one teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon.

16. What test kit are you using and is it liquid or test strips?
Test strips

17. When was the last time you bought a fish and how did they behave while in the pet store tank?
Almost two months ago, fish were spunky and would swim up and down excitedly when it is feeding time.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:32 AM   #2
 
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An eight gal tank, established or otherwise is too small for schooling fish such as the diamond tetra which can approach 3 inches as adults. There just isn't the swimming area needed.
I suspect the overfeeding caused a possible ammonia spike which considering you report slight traces of ammonia for weeks now,is killing the fish. There are no safe levels of ammonia for tropical fish. In an established tank with healthy biological filter,the ammonia and nitrites must read zero all day ,every day. As mentioned , the eight gal. is small and water quality in small tanks is much more difficult to maintain. Many who keep only a single betta which would be ideal for your tank, change 25 percent of their water twice a week,each week, and it is a good practice.
Also ,you should be using a dechlorinator such as PRIME or AMQUEL+ with each water change. These two water conditioners will help detoxify AMMONIA,CHLORINE.CHLORAMINES< and to a lesser degree,nitrites.
Were it me,(and it ain't) I would keep a single betta in the eight gal and perform water changes as described until such time as you can spring for a larger tank to better accomodate additional fish.
As for the eye problem, It is possible that a bacterial infection has developed behind the eye causing swelling. I personally,have no expertise in proper diagnosing of fish ailments but I can tell you that so long as fish are in crowded conditions,and are exposed to even low levels of ammonia, the prognosis is not good.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:38 AM   #3
 
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1077, the ammonia toxicity depends on the temperature and acidity. Even 0.25 itself is safe if the temperature is no more than 80 degrees with a pH ranging from 7.4 and below. The acidic water would have neutralized most of the ammonia by converting it into ammonium. I do wonder however what exactly the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are. Those are very vague. Theresa, could you please switch your test strips to API liquid drops? Avoid the test strips altogether and invest in a master test kit by API which cost at least $25.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:50 AM   #4
 
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With all due Respect Lupin, I do not agree. Weeks of exposure to even low levels of ammonia would represent a chronic condition in the aquarium that fish are being exposed to daily in addition to salt being added on a regular basis which I nearly forgot to mention.
I am aware of the toxicity of ammonia at lower pH values.

Last edited by 1077; 11-05-2009 at 03:53 AM..
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Old 11-05-2009, 05:10 AM   #5
 
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We're speculating at the moment how high the ammonia is so unless the actual results are posted, then we cannot just argue and continue speculating further ammonia is the main culprit when there are various issues that may also be responsible for this scenario including the salt which you have pointed out. Furthermore, if you read Theresa's post, her fish started going downhill only after she came back from her vacation so for you to speculate the fish may have been exposed for weeks to ammonia, that is still an inconclusive finding.
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Old 11-05-2009, 05:51 AM   #6
 
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Lupin, I am capable of reading although it may appear otherwise considering my often horrific spelling. If you would note the response from the original poster (question #15) It is that response which speaks the loudest to me. Poster indicated they have been measuring small levels of ammonia for weeks.
I shall apologize for any misunderstanding you and I may have,but make no such apolgies for voicing an opinion that from my perspective, is probable contributer.
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Old 11-05-2009, 07:20 AM   #7
 
Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
Also ,you should be using a dechlorinator such as PRIME or AMQUEL+ with each water change. These two water conditioners will help detoxify AMMONIA,CHLORINE.CHLORAMINES< and to a lesser degree,nitrites.
I do and have used Amquel at every water changes, ever since my first betta. Sorry I didn't specify that earlier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
Were it me,(and it ain't) I would keep a single betta in the eight gal and perform water changes as described until such time as you can spring for a larger tank to better accomodate additional fish.
Oddly enough, I asked the aquarium (not a chain like Petsmart) whether my tank will be too small to accommodate a community. She said that as long as I religiously do 10-20% water changes every week and change out the filter each time, and that I'm not starting from a brand new tank, a small school of tetras (5 fish) should be ok. That seemed to be the case for the first couple of months but it could be that the overfeeding simply brought the tank to a critical point.

And the strange thing is that the betta is showing no symptoms whatsoever. Are bettas really that much more hardier than most fish?

Thanks for the responses. I'll keep you posted once I get the water result from the aquarium later today.
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Old 11-05-2009, 02:20 PM   #8
 
Results back

Here is the result for the water:

GH: ~30 ppm
KH: ~20 ppm
pH: ~6.2
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 40 ppm

Ammonia: 1.0 ppm

I went and purchased the liquid test kit as suggested. Ammonia is quite high, so I think it is safe to say that the fish are suffering from ammonia poisoning. I've been using the strips for the past month and it never showed level this high. I'll keep the pictures up for visual references.

Thanks a bunch for the suggestions...I'll do another water change, this time 50% of the tank, and try again. I'll keep changing the tank one gallon a day with an extra dose of Amquel and see if it helps at all.

Regards, Theresa
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Old 11-05-2009, 05:52 PM   #9
 
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Hmmm...That's weird. With a pH that exceedingly low, the ammonia should have been converted to ammonium making it less toxic. It appears with your pH that low, the bacteria cannot process most of the ammonia into nitrite. They tend to be less active in acidic water. Perhaps this may be because the 15% water change you were doing, is not enough. I'd simply change the water to as much as 50-60%. What we need to do here is adjust your hardness levels. KH at 20 is very soft. Do you have crushed corals, limestones or oyster shells? Those can be used as they contain calcium carbonate to increase the hardness thus increasing the pH. Keep the pH to at least 7.0-7.6 range and watch your ammonia. Do not elevate the pH further as the ammonia itself is already high and can instantly kill your fish if you're not careful.

Lower your temperature to at least 78 degrees. 84 degrees isn't really required and it also can deplete oxygen levels aside from the fact ammonia can burn their gills.
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Old 11-05-2009, 07:01 PM   #10
 
Water changed

Hi Lupin, thanks for your suggestion. I've taken them all to heart.

Put the fish in an emergency tank, I'm down to 3 tetras and 1 betta now...the one in the photo didn't make it. :( I just changed out about 62% of the water (gravel vacuumed extensively), replaced the filter, put Amquel+ treated water back into the tank, and lowered the heater to 78 degrees.

I tested the initial water condition:

Ammonia: 0 ppm
pH: 7.2
GH: 120 ppm
KH: 80 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm

This is the baseline for the initial water condition. Other than it being a little basic, everything looks good. But like you suggested, I will monitor the hardness, pH and ammonia for the next few days.

Another question: Do you know if activated charcoal can soften water?

Thanks again for your help. :)
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