Emergency ph drop killed my fish overnight. Please help

InHouseFisherman

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank? 30gal
How long has the tank been running? 3 months
Does it have a filter? Emperor 400
Does it have a heater? Marine land submersible
What is the water temperature? 78F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
Was 6 cherry Barbs and a Bristlenose last night this morning 1 male cherry and my pleco
Maintenance
How often do you change the water? 7.5 gal on Monday and 2.5gal on Friday
How much of the water do you change? 30% weekly
What do you use to treat your water?
Api stress coat at Water change
Api leaf zone bi weekly
Api Co2 booster daily
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?
Both on Monday water only on Friday

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? Api master kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0-0.25
Nitrite:0
Nitrate:20-40ppm
pH: 6.8 last night read below 6 this am. Took it to shop read 4.1

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? 2x daily
How much do you feed your fish? Small pinch of flakes
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Fluval bug bites
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? No

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 1.5 months
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? This am
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? 5 dead fish and the one that survived has like luminescent fin tips now (see photo)
Have you started any treatment for the illness? Alkaline booster
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Erratic swimming around air bubbler


Explain your emergency situation in detail.
woke up this am and looked at tank. Around 10am. Only saw 1 fish and he looked weird on his fin tips. I couldn’t find others at first so I started looking around and found them all dead on the bottom. I tested water immediately and ph was “below 6”. I did an immediate 10gal water change 33%. Waited 20 minutes. Tested ph. Still below six. I took samples from beforeand after to shop. Before change ph of 4.1!!! After of 5.6. I bought alkaline booster and rushed home. Using booster brought ph to 6.5. Fins went back to normal in about 6 hours. After another 5 hours tested ph again. Below 6. Used booster again to 6.5. I don’t know what’s happening. Last test was at 11pm. It is now 1130pm.
Please help.
Below are pics of tank and my discolored cherry barb.
 

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Ryngwrayth

Are all beings accounted for? One big reason for a PH drop, is a body someplace, or lots of rotting food.
 
Upvote 0

Salem

Is 6.8 the normal pH for the tank? Do you know your GH and KH? Whats the pH of your tap water?

I'm assuming something in your water source changed and your water was already soft enough to allow for such a swift change in pH. You may want to look into using crushed corals or cuttlebone to boost that up to a more stable level. Make sure to read up everything you can on pH and hardness. It's very easy to accidently cause massive swings when you are newer to adjusting such things.
 
Upvote 0

InHouseFisherman

Are all beings accounted for? One big reason for a PH drop, is a body someplace, or lots of rotting food.
All accounted for.
Is 6.8 the normal pH for the tank? Do you know your GH and KH? Whats the pH of your tap water?

6.8 has been the norm since setup. Due to the soil I use. Tap is about 7.5
No idea GH or KH.
ph has never changed more than .3 from day to night.
Haven’t don’t anything new or different.
 
Upvote 0

Salem

I'm assuming you use a soil that lowers the pH then?
Things that lower pH generally do so by lowering hardness which is sort of like the legs that keep up a table. With a KH below around 4 your "table" becomes pretty unstable or wobbly. This makes it a lot easier to adjust the pH.
Things like alkaline buffer and crushed corals will raise KH and GH. This usually will cause pH to raise as well. If you're using Alkaline buffer you will likely be needing to continue to use this in the long term. Things like crushed corals and argonite sand can be added to the tank or filter and provide a more passive buffer.

Right now if you have a hospital tank or large plastic storage tote it may be a good idea to move the survivors out of the tank for now. You'll want to acclimate them to the new water of course to prevent shock. Your pH dipping below 6 likely has also interrupted your cycle so you may have some issues with ammonia once things have stabilized.
 
Upvote 0

Broggy

hmm i see you are using api liquid co2, i really dont think you need that. plus it might be building up in the water.
 
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InHouseFisherman

I'm assuming you use a soil that lowers the pH then?

Right now if you have a hospital tank or large plastic storage tote it may be a good idea to move the survivors out of the tank for now. You'll want to acclimate them to the new water of course to prevent shock. Your pH dipping below 6 likely has also interrupted your cycle so you may have some issues with ammonia once things have stabilized.

yes. Ultum nature fine soil. And moved fish to another “emergency tank”.
hmm i see you are using api liquid co2, i really dont think you need that. plus it might be building up in the water.
Cancelling Co2 booster. Got it.

does the alkaline buffer normally cloud the tank up? See photo
 

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Upvote 0

Broggy

yes. Ultum nature fine soil. And moved fish to another “emergency tank”.

Cancelling Co2 booster. Got it.

does the alkaline buffer normally cloud the tank up? See photo
i just did a quaick search, and it says that it can sometimes cloud the tank. good luck.
 
Upvote 0

MacZ

Never use any buffers or stabilizers without knowing your GH and KH!

How often do you change the water? 7.5 gal on Monday and 2.5gal on Friday
How much of the water do you change? 30% weekly

So the 30% weekly are separated. That means one 20% and one 5% weekly. That way dilution is basically not happening. Fertilizers and all other additives build up over time that way, while minerals are depleted and not resupplied.
This is a classic setting for a pH crash and the only one, that is actually a crash. It's very likely the water is soft from the start, beneficial bacteria use up KH, no KH means pH can drop freely and most organic compounds that build up are acidic and so the pH will drop at one point. And no, that does not show up in the readings of the nitrogen-compounds.

You want that not to happen anymore, don't adulterate about with buffers, do regular waterchanges of at least 50%. Simple as that.
 
Upvote 0

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