Dying fish - Help!

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Stitsbabe

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Hello there,

I’m hoping someone may be able to help me out with a few problems I am experiencing with my aquarium.

Basically I am losing fish at what I consider to be an alarming rate and I simply cannot figure out why.

I have a 40 gallon(UK) planted aquarium, heated to 77’f.
My filtration system consists of an EHEIM External Filter ecco 2236 and and a Fluval 4 Plus Internal Filter.
I conduct a 10-20% water change weekly. The clean water is treated with AquaSafe and brought up to temperature before being added to the tank. Once a month I have been rinsing the fluval sponges in the removed tank water and I am yet to do anything to my external filter.
The tank was set up in May, plants were added in June and finally my first fish were introduced in early August.

All appeared to be going well until about 5 weeks ago when I awoke to find one of my tetras had died suddenly. It had seemed perfectly well the night before, had not displayed any strange behaviour and had been feeding well.

Since then I have lost 2 beautiful baby Angels, 2 Guppies and 1 Bolivian Ram (F).

The Ram is my latest casualty, 1 of a pair, given to me with the tank (introduced after cycling of course) she died last night and I’m actually very upset about it.

They always seem to die during the night, none of them appear unwell before hand (believe me I have been keeping a close eye on all of them).
I did have a dragonfly larvae in my tank, I suspect he hitched a ride with some live food or plants, and was advised that he may have been to blame for the guppies deaths, but I feel this is unlikely since none of the dead fish have had any obvious external damage to them.

I did lose a Dwarf Gourami too, but he was quite obviously badly bullied while I was away for the weekend, He died in the quarantine tank.

I test my tank water every few days. Todays test results are

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
pH: 6.8

I’m completely stumped! I honestly cannot work out why my fish keep dying!
Obviously, I am desperate to rectify any problem and stop this from happening. So, if anyone has any ideas or suggestions, I would be extremely grateful to hear them.

Many thanks
Amanda
 

Timesdragonfly

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I don't have any advice for you, I just want to extend my sympathy. I've had fish die for no apparent reason. After making it through the cycle, three of my zebra danios died over night. I never did figure out why. I think maybe a fluctuation in the pH. Do you use any chemicals to get your pH to the right levels? Chemicals can create an unstable pH wich is more deadly than a less than ideal pH. It's the quick changes that kill the fish. Anyway, I'm sorry you're going though this, and hopefully someone in this group can help you.
~J~
 
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Stitsbabe

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Thank you for your sympathy, Timesdragonfly.
To answer your question, No, I don't use any chemicals to alter my pH.
The only chemical addition I make to the tank water is AquaSafe and that is never added directly to the tank.

I really hope this problem is sorted soon. It broke my heart yesterday morning finding my female ram dead....I hate to think of the prospect of losing any more of my fish, they are part of my family.
 

Isabella

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Your water is fairly clean, so it probably is not a part of the problem. When was the last time you have added any new fish to your tank? Oftentimes, new fish added to a tank may carry diseases that are not apparent at the time when you get the fish. Some diseases may start showing after a while. This is how maybe all of your fish are getting sick and dying? Besides, what exactly does it say on the label of AquaSafe?

P.S. Do the fish eat and behave/swim normally before they die? Is their coloration good? Any growths/grains/patches or films on their bodies?
 
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Stitsbabe

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Firstly, Thank you for your reply.

The last fish introduced were 4 angels(2 of which died within a week of being introduced), I'm guessing it would have been about 6 weeks ago give or take a few days. I suppose they could have been carrying something, but they were fine during isolation and the two remaining angels appear to be thriving.

AquaSafe: For all Tropical, Coldwater and Marine Aquaria.
Quickly neutralises all harmful chlorine and dangerous metal ions.
The unique colliod ingredient coats the gills and sensitive membranes of fish to protect the whole fish against wounds and abrasions.
Helps to protect against bacterial and fungal infections and aids the healing process.
Contains vitamin B1 which reduces fish stress in the aquarium.

Treat all tap water before it is added to the aquarium by adding 5ml of AquaSafe for ever 10 litres of water. Stir well to ensure AquaSafe is evenly mixed.

All of the fish have behaved and swum completely normally up until they have died, there have been no external signs of illness, fed normally, no gasping or lethargy, good colouration....They just seem to die overnight!
I have carefully examined the dead fish for signs of damage or growths, finrot etc, but have found nothing.

As I said before, I am completely stumped....I feel powerless, just like I'm sitting here watching and waiting for another one my fish to die :-\
 

Isabella

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Stitsbabe said:
The last fish introduced were 4 angels(2 of which died within a week of being introduced), I'm guessing it would have been about 6 weeks ago give or take a few days. I suppose they could have been carrying something, but they were fine during isolation and the two remaining angels appear to be thriving.
Well, six or so weeks could be enough for the disease to lie dormant in a fish's body and show up at the end only. However, as you have described, your fish had no signs of any diseases whatsoever. What also can happen is that if the water conditions at the fish store (from which you buy fish) are very different from your tank water's conditions, then the sudden change of environment can cause too great a stress on fish and - as a result - it can get sick from this change. For example, your nitrate is 5 and pH is 6.8, and suppose the store's nitrate is 20 or 30 and its pH is 7.5 or 6.2 ... this would be enough of a shock to fish. Have you acclimatized the newly-bought fish properly? It's always important to acclimatize new fish, or else they can get sick too.

As for AquaSafe it seems good to me, and unlikely to be the cuase of the problems.

I suppose all you can do is continue close observation of your fish, and perhaps increase your water changes, say 30% weekly, or 20-30% twice a week, so that your nitrate is at 0, just in case. If they continue dying even with perfect water, then I really have no idea what may be causing these deaths (if it's not some disease).
 

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I am so sorry for your loss. I completely understand being attached emotionally to your fish, and the feelings of fear and frustration at this point... I wish I could help.
We'll add your tank to our prayers tonight,
Denise and Hope
 
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Stitsbabe

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Indeed, I know the shock of environmental change can cause fish to die and so I am always careful to acclimatise new fish properly.

If it were just newly introduced fish that were dying, I would perhaps be a little less concerned. However, the worry is that my already well established, previously healthy fish are succumbing to this mystery illness with no apparent symptoms.

I shall increase my water changes to twice weekly 20 -30%(I'll do one tomorrow) and continue to monitor my water quality. As you say, all I can really do other than that, is keep a close eye and wait.

I really hate feeling like I'm sitting here watching my fish dying and doing nothing! - Not true I know, but it still feels that way.

Thank you so much, for taking the time to help and advise me....I really appreciate it.
 

Isabella

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Stitsbabe said:
Thank you so much, for taking the time to help and advise me....I really appreciate it.
You're very welcome, and I am also sorry for your losses. It seems to me that you're very well informed on fish keeping and that you'd know what to do even without our advice here But it's always good to ask, nevertheless. And yes, it is very strange what is happening to your fish for no apparent causes ???
 
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hopesmom said:
I am so sorry for your loss. I completely understand being attached emotionally to your fish, and the feelings of fear and frustration at this point... I wish I could help.
We'll add your tank to our prayers tonight,
Denise and Hope
I think that is one of the lovliest things anyone has ever said to me....Thank you, so much!!
 
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Isabella said:
It seems to me that you're very well informed on fish keeping and that you'd know what to do even without our advice here But it's always good to ask, nevertheless. And yes, it is very strange what is happening to your fish for no apparent causes ???
Thank you, I try to keep myself informed(My father would probably still put me over his knee if I didn't ;D). I was raised in a household that kept large numbers of fish and have kept them myself since I was a very little girl. Having said this, with all the fish keeping knowledge I have gained over the years, I am still learning! Previously I have only kept small tanks and usually only single species per tank....having a large community aquarium is a new experience for me and a daunting one at that!

As much as it is frustrating for me, not to find an instant cause and process to follow to rectify the problems I am experiencing, it is somewhat reassuring to discover that I have not committed some henous fish keeping crime and that others are as equally confused as I am by this strange course of events.

Even if I have inadvertantly created/caused this problem, at least when I finally find out what the problem is, what caused it and how to fix it, I will have learnt something and will never make the same mistake again.
 
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