Weird Fish Behaviour - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 35 Old 04-14-2010, 11:32 PM
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Test kits are a vital part of maintaining a healthy aquarium. And for those who believe test kits are not needed, I hope they don't ever need to medicate their fish. Many medications, if put into water showing any ammonia or nitrite, or high nitrate levels, can become toxic. Anyone who medicates without first testing the water to be sure its safe is taking a huge risk in wiping out their entire tank.

Quite often problems arise out of nowhere, especially in mature tanks. With problems such as this, the first place to check for problems is the water quality. Without those test results, anyone can guess at the problem, but there is no way to pinpoint or properly ID the problem. While many fish illnesses would need the required lab work to positively ID them, there are many that can be ID'd closely enough without it, close enough to properly treat the problem. Many of those problems can also be caused or brought on by water quality issues, another reason to check those test results. If we don't know what the problem is there is no way anyone can offer a safe treatment plan.

When buying test kits, be sure to get the liquid kits. Test strips are useless as they don't offer accurate results. Liquid kits are the most reliable after digital meters, and much cheaper than the digital meters. API puts out one of the most accurate kits on the market. It's in the top 3, with Sera brand being the #1 in accuracy, but also the highest in price. Accurate results are important, can mean the difference between life and death.

I will keep watch here for those test results. Without them, unfortunately, there isn't much else anyone can do at this point. Sorry, thats just how it works.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #12 of 35 Old 04-14-2010, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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No problem bettababy. I appreciate your honesty and your help. I'll make sure to try and get results so this problem can be resolved.
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post #13 of 35 Old 04-16-2010, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Okay...I may try this water test again, because I'm not sure how accurate I got them (liquid test kit):

pH : 8.0 (I recently just ran out of pH down, but my aquarium has been giving me the "basic" color for a long time, and just to check what it was since my test only went up to 7.6, I used a high-range pH indicator and got this result)

Nitrite : 0 ppm
Nitrate: ~0 ppm
Ammonia: 0 ppm
kH: 5

My aquarium is planted, if that's pertinent.
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post #14 of 35 Old 04-17-2010, 01:01 AM
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When did you do your last water change vs when you did the testing? Also, how many fish are still in this tank? Can you list them (species and how many of each) please?

The alarm bells start to go off that something isn't "right" when the tank is 5 yrs old/established and there is 0 nitrate. Also, can you test pH of the tap water (or whatever water supply you are using for the tank) please? I need to know if the tank water is testing the same for pH as the tap water that you put into it during water changes.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #15 of 35 Old 04-17-2010, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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My last water change (as of writing this) was last Sunday (April 11th), I got my aquarium water tested yesterday (the 16th). I do my water changes on Sundays.

I unfortunately can't tell you the pH of my tap water, other than it is probably equal to, or 7.6. I do treat it during water changes though, and bring it down to 7.0-7.4 or around there when I add water. During water changes, since I don't have a high-range pH indicator, all I get is 7.6 for my aquarium water.

As of today, these are the animals in aquarium:
4 Amano Shrimp
2 Female Sword Platies
2 (M/F) Sunburst Platies
1 Dalmation Balloon Molly
1 Sterbai Cory
Various really small brown snails.
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post #16 of 35 Old 04-18-2010, 01:48 AM
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How are the other fish looking and acting now? This, honestly, is a tough one because the 2 "sick" fish are now dead and I haven't heard of any other fish showing any symptoms. I am still stumped on the test results showing 0 nitrate. By this time the tank should be cycled and showing "something" for nitrate, even if it is low, just because there are fish living in the tank and there is food going in.

The bent spine you mentioned could have been caused by a number of different things, and again... with everything you have posted, I can find no solid explanation to offer you at this point. I took the opportunity to look at your aquarium photo, and I don't see enough plants in there that I would expect them to consume the entire nitrate content in such a set up. It takes a lot of plants to use just a small amount of nitrate... so honestly, at this point, I am sorry but I can't offer you any solid answers. At best I could take a few guess's based on the given info.

If I were to guess, I would say it is possible there could be a bacterial infection or a protozoan infection that hit the fish... either of those could produce the symptoms that you described in those species of fish. I see no solid evidence either way which of the 2 it could have been, and without current fish showing any symptoms, I'm going to advise you to just keep a close watch on the tank for a while.

If you notice any changes in the fish, however subtle and trivial they may seem, please post them. Please don't add any type of medication at this time. If you were to put the wrong med in there now, it would very likely do more harm than good.

Also, if any of the other fish begins to show any problems, try to get a clear pic, as close up as possible, of the sick fish. Pictures often make all the difference in the world, especially when trying to diagnose an unknown illness via internet. (working online as I do gets very frustrating because without the ability to run the proper lab work.. all anyone can do is make an educated guess) While some of us have enough experience to recognize many common illnesses, and to properly identify a problem enough to treat it safely and effectively, situations such as yours can be quite frustrating.

Your water test results... I have to admit that I am a little baffled at the straight line of 0's. Even in my own tanks there is at least a 5 - 10 reading for nitrate, which is to be expected. Do you have carbon in your filter? How often do you change the carbon? Also, I'm wondering, when you do water changes, how much water do you change each time? And one last question... how old are your test kits? If you have the ability to take your water in to a lfs and have them test it, just to compare the results, that could be a big help. If they confirm what yours read, then I would feel more confident that those numbers are accurate. It's very rare to find a system that is so completely and perfectly balanced.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help to you at this time. I can't always get here every day, but I will keep a watch over this thread and continue to help in any way I can. Oh, and before I go I want to mention... after rereading this thread from the beginning again tonight, having a cory for a few months is not something I would consider "a long time". When we are dealing with a fish that has an average life span of 7+ yrs, a few months is a very short time.

I still consider a fish "new" to the system for the first 6 - 8 months, as that is how long it can take for some problems to present themselves and for a fish to really settle in and adjust to everything new in its changed environment. Even people take that much time to fully settle into a new lifestyle/living arrangement. I am not trying to be rude or insulting, so please don't feel offended by my comment. This is just something I felt important for you to know. If you should run into a problem in the future, be sure to again list a time span that you've had your fish so that we are able to identify how "new" a fish is to the situation. That can help eliminate or identify certain problems. I was so glad you listed a time span this time, thats something many people don't think about when posting.

I hope from this point on things clear up and go well for you. I think you have a great tank going and hope you'll post pictures as it changes/grows. I love to see how things progress in other people's tanks as much as in my own.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #17 of 35 Old 04-18-2010, 02:52 AM Thread Starter
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First, thank you so much for spending the time to help me. I appreciate having the help of someone so educated and experienced in this hobby assiting me, and it's hard to be insulted or offended by someone who is trying hard to help. =] I can only hope that my answers are clear and accurately convey my situation and they portray the information you need.

To address your question about the other fish (and shrimp) - as far I can tell - they're doing great. Feeding well, swimming, bright coloring.

About your question concerning the carbon, I use a SeaClear 18 gallon Tall Eclipse I aquarium, and it uses a carbon pad, which I assume uses carbon? Recently I started using two; I place one on top of the other so I have extra space for bacteria and I change one (the oldest) once a month. I plan on eventually taking out the bio-wheel, because it's very noisy.

Every time I do a water change, I take out and replace 5 gallons. I treat the water before I add it with conditioner and pH down.

The age of the test kits: I used a friend's of mine, and he told me it's "old" - that's the freshwater one - but the saltwater one; which I used to find the kH, was bought within one year. He's a chemist, and still uses it himself, so I thought it's okay. It's the API brand.
I personally own a API pH indicator/adjuster kit.

In the next couple of days I will go to the LFS and double check my water parameters; I checked them again today - or yesterday, rather (the 17th) and got the same results.

I apologize for the misconception. Several months felt like a long time for me, so that's how I expressed it. I will keep in mind what you said about the time range.

I actually got a new vallisnera plant and did some redecorating, so I'll try and update my pics. :D

Thanks again!

Last edited by shootingstar26; 04-18-2010 at 02:58 AM. Reason: Clarification
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post #18 of 35 Old 04-19-2010, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Today I got my water checked. Here are the results:

Nitrate: 0
Nitrite: 0
Total Hardness: 150 ppm
Chlorine: 0
Alkalinity: 180 ppm
pH: 7.8
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post #19 of 35 Old 04-20-2010, 12:38 AM
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Ok, it actually sounds at this point like you are in good shape. I would leave things alone and keep close watch for any symptoms in the remaining animals.

Seeing that you have inverts in the tank, all the more reason not to add any medications. Most meds are highly toxic to inverts, fresh or saltwater. If you don't have quarantine set up at this time, this would be a good time to consider it. Then, if something shows up again suddenly, you have the option of either moving the inverts out to keep them safe during a treatment in the main tank, or to move the sick fish out to treat them safely away from the main tank. That choice will depend on what type of illness situation you are dealing with and the type of meds needed to treat it.

I look forward to seeing your pictures and wish you the best of luck!

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #20 of 35 Old 04-20-2010, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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Awesome. Thank you so much bettababy! :D
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