Help Cory Cat die off....

Suzanne17

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Hello- my 29 gallon tank has been up since February when I moved to my new home. It was fully cycled before adding any fish and since adding fish (over a few weeks- up to 16 cardinal tetras, 6 cory cats, and 6 zebra danios along with a whole mess of snails that came from the gravel of my old tank). The fish have been doing great with the occasional single death of a tetra or zebra. Water changes of 25% biweekly. I do tend to overfeed which I am trying to get a handle on as I have had an algae bloom over the past couple of months (green fuzz; green spots on the glass; and the lovely hairy brown algae on the silk plants). Now for my sad story-over the past week, my cory cats have been dying. So far 4 of the 6 have died, two while I was out of town and my pet sitter found them. She noticed as well that the temperature somehow had gotten high (around 86!) and turned it down to its usual 78-80. When I got home today I did a 50% change and removed the dead fish (my pet sitter didn't want to). Water parameters are exactly the same as they have always been: 0 ammonia, 0-5 nitrates, 0 nitrites, pH 6. I know the pH is low but it has been that low since I moved to this house (tried pH UP, didn't work, didn't want to keep adding chemicals). Today when I did the water change I did remove the driftwood that has been in the tank since the beginning just in case it has something to do with the problem.

All of the fish, for as long as I have had this tank, have preferred to hang out at the bottom of the tank with occasional forays to the mid-high level. I feed a variety of foods, staple being flakes, with granules, algae wafers, shrimp, bloodworms,veggies on occasion. No live food.

As an aside...maybe...I did notice about a month ago that the snails had mysteriously died off. I have no idea why. Could the decay from them be causing problems with the corys? Wouldn't I see a change in my water parameters if that was the case?

Any help or advice appreciated.
 
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Suzanne17

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They are leopard...sold to me as julii but I think they are leopards.
 

Kunsthure

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Hmm, I was expecting you to say they were pandas.

Overfeeding is detrimental to your fishes' health and the health of your tank, and the overfeeding may play a role. Feed once a day or once every other day, they'll be fine.

The snail die-off is pretty odd considering the overfeeding usually causes a population explosion.

What test kit do you use?

-Lisa

What test kit are you using?
 
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Suzanne17

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API liquid tests...yeah, the snail die off seems to be what started this little parade of death. I just have no idea what would have caused that either. I was picking them off but they were multiplying like crazy as usual.
 

TedsTank

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80 degrees is pushing it for Corys but perfect for Cardinals.

A Ph 6 is ok.

Most Petstores don't keep fish at a low Ph and acclimizing them slowly is a must.

From your problems it sounds as if you have inadequate filtration and or over feeding.

Although your parameters seem ok...be careful in that a Ph6 can cause some unstable conditions too. It takes longer for the bacteria to adjust and recover if something slips.

I keep SA fish and buffer my tank by adding 8 cups of tap water to 6 gallons of RO water....it keeps me a Ph6.5 and stable. My tank (the 55 gal) runs at 82 degress...Corys never last long!! Tetras love it.
 
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e_watson09

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Well I have a couple questions. Do you add salt to the tank? And also what chemicals have you used in the tank recently?
 

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Good morning,

I'm a bit worried about your pH being at 6.0. If you can maintain 6.0 and not let it go lower it may be ok as Ted mentioned. However, once your pH goes below 6.0 your good bacteria could start dieing off.

You are correct that you shouldn't be adding chemicals to alter your pH levels. They are very unstable and can cause a pH crash resulting in fish loss. There are more natural ways of altering your pH.

For starters I would recommend adding some crushed coral. You can place it in a mesh bag and put it in your tank or your filter if you have room. This will help to increase your pH. Also see the link below concerning pH:
http://www.aquahobby.com/articles/e_adjusting_pH.php
http://www.ratemyfishtank.com/articles/107
Ken
 
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Suzanne17

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I do not add salt. Chemicals-the last time I used pH Up was several months ago; nothing else. I use Stress Coat when I do water changes.
My pH has been 6.0 to 6.2 since I set this tank up in February-that is what it is out of the tap as well. For the crushed coral, will it increase my pH too quickly and stress them?
I acclimatize the fish by the drip method when I bring them home. My LFS keeps a neutral pH so I knew that was a must.
I use an Aquafilter 70 and a 4" airstone...do I need more filtration than that?
Re: temperature...I love the cory cats but don't want to distress them. I could start up my 10 gallon tank and put a school of them in there at a lower temp. I am wondering what would work well in the 29 gallon then at the higher temp, that will get along with the cardinals and dannios, and bottom feed. I will have to research that.
It was just odd that they did so well for several months and then started dying. And I am bemused about the snail die off though I don't mind that as much.

Thanks for the replies...I appreciate it.
 

TedsTank

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You can drop the temp on the big tank. Do it slowly, the cardinals and Danios will be ok...get 76 to 78 degrees. The cardinals and danios, once adapted in the tank don't have to be all that warm either! I keep my tank up cause I have a stunted little discus!!!
 
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Suzanne17

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That would be good because I would prefer to keep the 10 gallon in reserve as a quarantine tank. Which reminds me, I might stick a sponge filter in the 29 gal to seed for a q-tank if I ever need it. Maybe that will help the filtration.
 
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Suzanne17

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Any other thoughts on what has been causing the cory (and, I guess, snail) die off? I am going to let the tank maintain for a bit with the driftwood out and then add the crushed coral if pH is still low but want to hold off on adding fish for a bit.
 

H20girl

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I don't know if it's true or not, but I remember reading that driftwood can lower pH. Where did you get the driftwood? Is the pH of your tap water also 6.0?

You live in Baltimore? This is off topic, but I'm in Baltimore as well and haven't been about to find a good LFS. Is there any you'd recommend?
 
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Suzanne17

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The driftwood came with my previous tank and it had been well cured, but if my pH is low anyway I think it won't help matters to have it in there. The catfish seem to miss it to lean on and swim around. The pH of the tap water, straight out of the tap and no aeration, is low too but I guess to be sure I should sit it out for a day and aerate it and all of that. I'll be checking the water parameters tonight to see what is happening and have been slowly decreasing the temperature. I guess I just was thinking it must have been something acute to cause the sudden die off.

W/R/T LFS- I go to House of Tropicals in Glen Burnie. It's hit or miss regarding staff but stock seems to be well cared for and there is a lot of selection and a pretty big reef section. They also sell pet food in case you have any furry pets as well as scaly, but I don't buy pet food from them. Pretty decent selection of dry goods.
 
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Suzanne17

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Just an update-no further death. pH was reading 6.0 on the API kit but trending towards the darker 6.4. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things have settled out.
 
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