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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Either my LFS is reprehensible (and i don't think they are), or there's a major tank problem.

...Or a major “me” problem.

I've clearly messed up, made rookie mistakes, possibly relied a little too much on my LFS for advice… but how can I do right by these last little dudes? Thinking it's time to throw in the towel and give them away.

1. Size of tank? 736.60mm x 304.80mm x 2971.80mm
2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? 0
b. Nitrite?
c. Nitrate? unknown
d. pH, KH and GH?
According to, the water perameters in my area are:
Alkalinity`````````````mg/L````````87.8``````80.8 `````85.2
Hardness ( as CaCO3 )``mg/L````````125```````116```````122
Total Solids```````````mg/L````````198```````168```````180
This comes out to a GH of less than 7 and a KH of less than 5.
e. Test kit? API Test Kits for Ammonia and Nitrite

3. Temperature? 78F

4. FW (fresh water)

5. How long the aquarium has been set up? 3+ years

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
1 juvenile spotted Hoplo: about 2.5 cm, about 1.5 months
1 juvenile bronze (green) Cory: about 2 cm, about 1.5 months
1 adult bronze (green) Cory: about 7 cm, about 3 years (but he was an adult when I got him)
1 Tracked Nerite Snail (Neritina natalensis sp. "Tracked"): 1.5 cm, 1.5 weeks
3 Zebra Nerite Snails (Neritina natalensis sp. "Zebra"): between 1 – 1.5 cm, 1.5 weeks

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? NO Fake plants? YES 4 plastic plants
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? Black Sand aka Black Slag
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? a piece of driftwood, a rock ‘cave made out of 2 pieces flat rock, 4 smaller flat rocks to hold up sides

9. a. Filtration? AquaClear 300 aka: AquaClear 70; current: Air (vertical)

b. Heater? Stealth Pro Shatterproof Heater

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? Incandescent Solar Series 2 x 25 watt bulbs
b. Any sunlight exposure? YES How long? Indirect for about 4 hrs/ day; afternoon

11. a. Water change schedule? & b. Volume of water changed? Used to do about 25% water change 1x a week, but with feeding issues, now do about 10% every 2 days or so… will take some water out, a day later will put new water in, etc. Seemed it would be easier on fish with slower changes. Big tank for only 3 fish, so a less than full tank doesn’t seem like an issue.
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? Used to use tap water, but now using filtered tap water
d. Water conditioner used? Prime by Seachem - removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? Top only - enough to get any 'junk' off of it, but didn't disturb the gravel

12. Foods?
Bloodworm (frozen) occasionally
Sera San (dry / prepared) or Omega One Tropical Flakes (dry / prepared) daily
Hikari Sinking Wafers (dry / prepared) occasionally
How often are they fed? Used to be a bit daily but they’re eating very little, so every second day these days
13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? Lethargy, seemingly. I'd say they weren't eating at all except they are still living, so i assume it just happens at night.
b. Appearance of poop? I never see any!
c. Appearance of gills? Nothing of note that I can tell
14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? No.
15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary. (below)

Started with a Hoplo and Bronze Cory Cats (rescues from a public school and extremely bad conditions. No idea how old they were when I got them)
Made numerous rookie mistakes, they have survived for 3+ yrs with me. Think they are/ were extra hearty and gave me a false sense of security in that I was on the right track.
Hoplo died 2 months ago. Cory has been in bad shape for about 1 month. Keep finding him on his side/ upside down. Go to net him out and he’ll swim away. He’ll seem fine for a few days again, then I’ll find him seemingly dead again.
Regardless, the two of them survived about 10 other corys over the last 3+ years.

New group added about 1.5 months ago:
2 (male and female) Kribensis, 1 Dwarf Gourami, 2 hoplos and 4 Corys (to add to 1 Hoplo & 1 Cory)
Assured by store:
that this wasn’t too much at once and
Kribensises & Gourami would be peaceful with the cats (I love catfish and don’t care that they’re plain/ ugly. I just want them to be happy)
Problems started (or maybe just continued??)
Two days later I found one new hoplo dead
Kribensises traumatized the tank – nipped their fins, etc. Took them back to store.
Tried to keep Gourami but he took on the aggressor role esp. during feeding time- wouldn’t let anyone eat. Tried feeding rings, upper tank/ lower tank food, night/ day feedings. Nothing worked. Sent him back to store too.
Lost 3 of the new corys over next 2 weeks. I figured they were just too freaked out to eat, or they were already too weak by the time the Gourami left. Or the nipped fins were too much for their little bodies to heal.
Figuring the aggressive fish were the stem of the problem(s), bought 4 new Corys last week (and 4 Nerites) to keep the last two Corys company
All new Corys dead two days later

Possible clues/ errors:

I don't see any evidence of disease BUT notice that the cats don’t have barbells. Originally blamed on the aggressive fish, but I believe also could indicate a water quality issue? Thinking back, this seems like it could have been a problem for a while. Most would lose barbells then eventually die (but not ever all at once until recently)

Acclimatization? And I JUST (yesterday) found something new that said that corys are actually quite sensitive (as NOT indicated by the one I had for 3 years who survived through much) and that I shouldn't be doing the 'floating bag' thing... as recommended by my LFS. So that might account for the most recent deaths?

pH? But again the one Cory survived for 4+ years with same (and worse before I got him) water.

Over-Cleaning? When I was having the Gourami/ Kribensis issues, there was a lot of leftover food on the bottom of the tank, so I was cleaning it... too much? Have tested for Nitrites and Ammonia a million times and both remain at zero.

Substrate issue? The hoplo wedges himself between heater and glass (as you can see in pic). Assumed he was chilly and/ or hiding from aggressors, but now I wonder if he doesn’t want to be on bottom? Someone suggested my black slag could be too sharp. They use it in their tanks at the store. I brought up concerns safety and it leaching and LFS assured me it was safe. Moved a big flat rock from under the water flow to other side of tank. One cory is sitting there now, or under. He hasn’t gone away from the rocks since putting them away from the current

Anaerobic pockets? Moved some furniture around when cleaning before new comers came both times and now have found out that I should have been sifting the slag around during cleanings – which I wasn’t.

My oldest Cory is on his last fins now (I think this time for sure). That will leave me with one unhappy spotted Hoplo and one unhappy green Cory. I can’t with good conscience keep sending fish to their doom in my tank. I also can't with good conscience keep community fish nervous and lonely for the rest of their time with me either. I've read and read and read about fishkeeping but every time I turn around, I realize that I've done some new awful thing to these poor creatures. Clearly with so much info available I'm not always pointed in the right direction - until I realize I've made some new grave error. I initially was saving the two fish I got from imminent death. Now my fish need to be saved from me. Unless I can get this figure out, my fishkeeping days are certainly over. It's too cruel for them and too heartbreaking for me. I view my fish as pets not animated furniture, so I actually care.

Obviously it could be a bunch of things - but if anything specifically jumps out at anyone (and in particular how to fix it!), I would be really, really appreciative.

I seriously can't stand that I've done this to them. :-(



1,607 Posts
i'm wondering if the substrate is too sharp. i use playsand and havent had any problems with my cories. i don't really know anything about hoplos though. it seems like your water should be fine for the fish you have. i DO think maybe you added too many at once though.

i'm having a hard time converting your tank to gallons, but it seems like it should be large enough to accommodate everyone...

9,426 Posts
:-( so sorry to read this…but please don't give up,
i would still change some of the substrate to sand,if he survives his barbels
should grow back…my ones did…i felt so awful i didn't realise it was the gravel
wearing them down either.
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690 Posts
I'll bet the kribs got to the corys, same bottom territory, corys aren't smart enough to avoid the kribs. I see nothing about any quar procedure for the new fish, this may have introduced some bacterial issues.

Set up a bare bottom hospital tank, add the corys. Drop the temperature a bit, 72-74F, and feed maybe 1/3 what you normally would. If you have chlorinated tap water 50% water changes daily for a week, wait 10 minutes before adding dechlor.
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18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Still swimmin'

Thanks all for your input, suggestions and sympathy. I've removed all of the slag from the tank now and already see evidence of growth of the barbells back. I also took out the carbon media from the filter as several people said (on another message board) that it might not be so healthy for fish, and regardless if it actually might be doing damage, it simply isn't necessary unless you're getting meds out of the water, etc.

I'm sure I'm not in the clear with the remaining fish, but there's a slight gleam of hope. I don't know how these little battle-axes have survived this long, but I'm trying my best to do right by them now.

Going to get some Quickrete play sand this week, some plants, and probably a new filter.

Thanks again,


9,426 Posts
awwww i sincerely wish you all the very best of luck,
please keep us posted.

840 Posts
get well soon

A little live or frozen food might help them heal faster. And be a treat after such a rough go. Mine love mysis shrimp thawed from frozen. Best of luck to you and your catfish!
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