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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I recently setup a 72 gallon aquarium with an 18 gallon sump/ refergium. I let the tank cycle with about 4 fish for around 2 months (The fish that came with the bare tank). The tank contains around 140 lbs of eco-complete substrate and is heavily planted.

I recently placed a large order with liveaquaria.com which included the following tetras

3 penguin tetras
6 rummy nose tetras
6 gold neon tetras
6 neon tetras.
10 cardinal tetras.

The 6 rummy nose tetras were DOA so I wont include them in this discussion. The 10 cardinal tetras were backorder'd and arrived 5 days later than the rest of the tetras.

Unfortunately, I have had very high losses, currently 3 pengiuns, 5 gold, 6 neon, and 5 cardinal tetras are dead.

One thing that I believe contributed to the deaths was overdosing of seachem equilibrium with RO water. I did the serving on the bottle which recommended 1 tablespoon per 20 gallons (makes very hard water). I was also using a combination of acid buffer and alkaline buffer using the bottle dosing. When my fish started to die a few days later, I tried to figure out was was going on. My ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate were below test kit detectable levels when testing multiple times. I noticed some of the fish had bulging eyes and realized it may be the fish lost their ability to regulate osmotic pressure. When I tested the TDS of the water, it was around 550 ppm. I had trouble finding literature on the recommended TDS but I felt the level was far too high.

Since then, I have been doing 5 gallon water changes with pure RO water 2 - 3 times daily to lower my over TDS. My current TDS is right around 230 ppm. The changes are done with a drip pump so as to not shock the fish. When my cardinal tetras arrived last Thursday, my TDS was around 330 ppm. I measured the water they were shipped in and it was also 330 ppm.

My PH is still a little high (my tap water is buffered to a very high PH (7.8 - 8.0) without high levels of KH or GH, not sure what chemical they are using). My KH is current 5 degrees and GH is 3 degrees, PH 7.5. Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate I have not been able to measure detectable levels of. Does anyone have any ideas about what might be killing my tetras and how I could keep the remaining 6 alive (5 cardinal, 1 gold)?

Thank you for the help,
Zack
 

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I don't really know anything other than it's probably better for your fish to deal with the water as-is than to deal with water changing chemicals.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Any other suggestions? I have access to a reverse osmosis filter unit so I either need to mix that with tap water for buffering, or add a different buffering agent.

My tap water has KH of 2 and GH of 1 with a TDS of 180 ppm. It is strongly buffered to a PH of 8.0, not quite sure what buffering agent the water company is using.

I am looking for recommendations of KH and GH values to use for a tetra tank. I know that tetras like soft water... are tetras more susceptible to calcium carbonate or magnesium ions? I am interested in learning the water parameters of hobbyist that successfully keep tetras.

Another thing that I read in my search for answers is that too deep of a water depth can kill tetras during the acclimation process. I read that acclimating them in 6 inches or less of water for the first week will reduce losses. Has anyone else heard this or recommend this advice? I do have a rather deep aquarium and wonder if this may have been a contributing factor to my losses.

Thanks,
Zack
 

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Any other suggestions? I have access to a reverse osmosis filter unit so I either need to mix that with tap water for buffering, or add a different buffering agent.

My tap water has KH of 2 and GH of 1 with a TDS of 180 ppm. It is strongly buffered to a PH of 8.0, not quite sure what buffering agent the water company is using.

I am looking for recommendations of KH and GH values to use for a tetra tank. I know that tetras like soft water... are tetras more susceptible to calcium carbonate or magnesium ions? I am interested in learning the water parameters of hobbyist that successfully keep tetras.

Another thing that I read in my search for answers is that too deep of a water depth can kill tetras during the acclimation process. I read that acclimating them in 6 inches or less of water for the first week will reduce losses. Has anyone else heard this or recommend this advice? I do have a rather deep aquarium and wonder if this may have been a contributing factor to my losses.

Thanks,
Zack
Isn't your water already soft? Or am I wrong?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Robbin, I did read Byron's post at some point during my google search.

In regards to whether my tap water is already soft, it may be soft in terms of KH and GH but I don't think it is in terms of TDS. Kind of like how water going through a commercial water softener is not really soft, just the Mg and Ca ions have been replaced with Na. I believe a TDS of less than 100 ppm is considered soft and less than 50 ppm is very soft? My tap water is around 200 ppm. I primarily got the RO unit for drinking water but would also prefer to use RO water because my tap has very high levels of chloramine.

Anyway, I am definitely interested in hearing some number from people that successfully keep the more delicate tetras, the numbers I am interested in are

TDS
GH
KH

Thanks,
Zack
 

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Hi,

I recently setup a 72 gallon aquarium with an 18 gallon sump/ refergium. I let the tank cycle with about 4 fish for around 2 months (The fish that came with the bare tank). The tank contains around 140 lbs of eco-complete substrate and is heavily planted.

I recently placed a large order with liveaquaria.com which included the following tetras

3 penguin tetras
6 rummy nose tetras
6 gold neon tetras
6 neon tetras.
10 cardinal tetras.

The 6 rummy nose tetras were DOA so I wont include them in this discussion. The 10 cardinal tetras were backorder'd and arrived 5 days later than the rest of the tetras.

Unfortunately, I have had very high losses, currently 3 pengiuns, 5 gold, 6 neon, and 5 cardinal tetras are dead.

One thing that I believe contributed to the deaths was overdosing of seachem equilibrium with RO water. I did the serving on the bottle which recommended 1 tablespoon per 20 gallons (makes very hard water). I was also using a combination of acid buffer and alkaline buffer using the bottle dosing. When my fish started to die a few days later, I tried to figure out was was going on. My ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate were below test kit detectable levels when testing multiple times. I noticed some of the fish had bulging eyes and realized it may be the fish lost their ability to regulate osmotic pressure. When I tested the TDS of the water, it was around 550 ppm. I had trouble finding literature on the recommended TDS but I felt the level was far too high.

Since then, I have been doing 5 gallon water changes with pure RO water 2 - 3 times daily to lower my over TDS. My current TDS is right around 230 ppm. The changes are done with a drip pump so as to not shock the fish. When my cardinal tetras arrived last Thursday, my TDS was around 330 ppm. I measured the water they were shipped in and it was also 330 ppm.

My PH is still a little high (my tap water is buffered to a very high PH (7.8 - 8.0) without high levels of KH or GH, not sure what chemical they are using). My KH is current 5 degrees and GH is 3 degrees, PH 7.5. Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate I have not been able to measure detectable levels of. Does anyone have any ideas about what might be killing my tetras and how I could keep the remaining 6 alive (5 cardinal, 1 gold)?

Thank you for the help,
Zack
Considering your tank is only 2 months old. Not all tetra's can deal with a cycle, black skirts, and white skirts are the hardiest for this. Even if it looks good to you does not mean its good for the tetra's you are using. You need to cycle the tank properly or you will experience what you have been. Cycle fish are danios, and platy's, your tank is to new for what you want to stock it with. This is my opinion I am not an expert but I do have some very mature tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What would be indicators of the tank not being cycled?

When I artificially added ammonia prior to introducing fish, it would quickly break down below detectable levels. I even have had trouble getting measurable levels of nitrate in my system. I believe this is because I designed a nitrate filter sub-section for my filter that passes low oxygen water slowly through seachem de-nitrate biological media. That, or my plants are just using it all up.

I currently have 4 main filters on the tank,
1 emperor 400,
1 emperor 280
1 sump filter sock(intakes also have sponge filter over them)
1 small canister filter (200 gph)

and 1 nitrate filter that runs water much slower at 110 gph.

Thanks,
Zack
 

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What would be indicators of the tank not being cycled?

When I artificially added ammonia prior to introducing fish, it would quickly break down below detectable levels. I even have had trouble getting measurable levels of nitrate in my system. I believe this is because I designed a nitrate filter sub-section for my filter that passes low oxygen water slowly through seachem de-nitrate biological media. That, or my plants are just using it all up.

I currently have 4 main filters on the tank,
1 emperor 400,
1 emperor 280
1 sump filter sock(intakes also have sponge filter over them)
1 small canister filter (200 gph)

and 1 nitrate filter that runs water much slower at 110 gph.

Thanks,
Zack
It takes months for the tank to cycle, no matter how much filters you have running will not matter. The beneficial bacteria needs to colonize in order for the tank to cycle. It took my 75 gallon 4 months to cycle before adding other fish. I cycled it with platy fish. Then and only then did all my levels even out. It also could be where you got your fish, they might have had something wrong with them in the first place. So when you got them they were dying or dead. Not your fault, you did nothing to cause it.
 

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Wait 6 months before putting in Neons, Neon color morphs, and Cardinals.



Science doesn't know why, and it has nothing to do with cycle, but they are eight hours to death spirals in an aquarium newer than that. A year is better.

I don't know jack about penguins.



If your not seeing ammonia, they didn't die from ammonia poisoning in your tank. It is possible they were shipped improperly. Part of your shipment arrived DOA.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I will wait a few months before I try restocking with tetras again. The ones that were DOA were Rummy Nose tetras and it is my understanding they are among the most sensitive species.

I will check some other sections of the forums to see if I can get some numbers for TDS, KH, and GH from experienced breeders and keepers. Slowly adjust my numbers to match, then try again in a few months.

My tank lost quite a few fish initially and I do feel the spiking of TDS up to 550 may have had a large part to do with it. My surviving fish are:

Main tank:
1 cory cat: Unknown species, came with tank
3 cherry barbs
1 celestial pearl danio (other 2 died)
3 zebra danios
a few tetras that haven't died yet
4 otocinclus catfish
4 or 5 glowlight tetras

20 gallon sump
3 ghost glass catfish
1 pencil fish (2 died first day)
3 african dwarf frogs
2 octocinclus catfish
1 scarlet gem badis

I was changing out 5 to 10 gallons of water per day. Any advice on whether that may be too much for a tank of this size? The water is pumped in slowly with an aqua lifter pump during the changes.
 
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