First Aquarium Disaster

Willed
  • #1
In a pretty bad mood after just losing half my Cardinal tetra and maybe more to come. I know they are very sensitive to any changes in water parameters and a more maturely established tank is preferred. That being said over 48 hours they had acclimated very well to the tank.
Then, yesterday, I gave them some hikarI tubifex worms in a freeze dried cube. As soon worms were coming lose, I pulled the cube out. Probably removed 90% of the worms. Didn't realize how many were compacted in there!
Still though, a feeding frenzy ensued. It was a cute thing to watch the tetras go after them. However I knew this was over feeding as some had to have stuffed themselves with at least 4 worms plus.
The next day (today) I come home from work to see several are dead while others are struggling to swim upright, tipping to their side or upside down with expanded abdomens. Meanwhile my Rams are doing wonderfully and colors are starting to come in. They did not participate in the worm frenzy as they were still unfamiliar with the tank.
I check parameters with API every 8-10 hours religiously. 0-0- 5 to 10 nitrates.
I haven't had the heart to research anything yet but I thought I'd start by sharing my experience here.
 
Bradley Moles
  • #2
What is the water temp? Is the tank cycled? Did you add any decorations that could be toxic or any water without enough conditioner?

It is hard to pinpoint the issue but the same thing happened to my brother. Killed every fish in his 40 gallon. We then took out and boiled everything(decorations, gravel...ect.), added fresh water and conditioner, put some bio balls and ceramic rings in the filter and let it get to temp/cycle. Restocked the tank and it is thriving.
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Tank is fully cycled. 82F/27.8C
Water changes (2 done) have added perfectly matched water temperature with prime pre added to tank. Decorations have been in tank for the full duration of the cycle. This was so sudden I don't think it was related to decorations.
I'm looking at the timing of a beyond excessive feeding and the symptoms of bloat and upside down swimming (but still at the bottom of the tank). Gases in their abdomen from too much food?
Thank you for the reply, I want to continue to narrow this down.
 
Bradley Moles
  • #4
Yeah the problem with feeding fish a lot is that they are opportunists that will eat any chance they get because in the wild they don’t know when their next meal may be. Once a fish eats a lot of dry food that food absorbs water and expands in their stomachs. That could’ve been the case. Don’t be discouraged
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Yeah the problem with feeding fish a lot is that they are opportunists that will eat any chance they get because in the wild they don’t know when their next meal may be. Once a fish eats a lot of dry food that food absorbs water and expands in their stomachs. That could’ve been the case. Don’t be discouraged
I have one who still has energy but his belly keeps bring him upside down. He fights it vigorously but now he’s getting exhausted. Is there anything at all I can do to help the remaining tetra?
 
Fashooga
  • #6
I guess water changes and fasting might help. That's really all you can do thus far.
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I guess water changes and fasting might help. That's really all you can do thus far.
It’s so sad that when they finally had a meal after being so shy, got outgoing and adventurous to get a snack, that it may be what killed them.
So Fash, this is that easy and acute to do?
The most frequent mantra is don’t overfeed. And I still did.... I’m going to feed so sparingly now. And presoak most everything in tank water.

It’s so sad that when they finally had a meal after being so shy, got outgoing and adventurous to get a snack, that it may be what killed them.
So Fash, this is that easy and acute to do?
The most frequent mantra is don’t overfeed. And I still did.... I’m going to feed so sparingly now. And presoak most everything in tank water.
I’m so sad guys.
Is it without precedent to kill half a school of 15 tetra with a single overfeeding of freeze dried tubifex?
 
Fashooga
  • #8
Yeah this is the easiest thing I can think of. There’s not cure for over feeding.

People try boiled deshelled peas but I think fasting for a week might be the nest thing to do.
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Yeah this is the easiest thing I can think of. There’s not cure for over feeding.

People try boiled deshelled peas but I think fasting for a week might be the nest thing to do.

But what I’m saying is, I’ve been reading these beginner posts for over a month. Is it really possible after everything fish died from simply eating too many worms? It’s the simplest but most frustrating explanation. I’m sorry, they are my first fish since a young child and I’m taking this loss very personally. Lesson is fish are far better with no food than too much.
I’m still dead body watch before I work in the morning...
They aren’t even in a proper school anymore.... I just don’t know for sure it was the overfeeding! The fact that notoriously sensitive GBRs who didn’t eat seem completely unaffected and happy is my only reassurance.
 
Goldiemom
  • #10
What is the water temp? Is the tank cycled? Did you add any decorations that could be toxic or any water without enough conditioner?

It is hard to pinpoint the issue but the same thing happened to my brother. Killed every fish in his 40 gallon. We then took out and boiled everything(decorations, gravel...ect.), added fresh water and conditioner, put some bio balls and ceramic rings in the filter and let it get to temp/cycle. Restocked the tank and it is thriving.
She gave the parameters so tank is cycled. A pea is used if the overfeeding caused constipation or swim bladder. Otherwise, fasting a few days is a good suggestion.
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
She gave the parameters so tank is cycled.
HI Goldiemom, long time reader first time commenter : )
Actually male for what it’s worth
Ever heard of lethally overfeeding tetra in a single session? I’m a bit traumatized.
Gimme your thoughts whatever they are!

Edit: I’ll remember the pea tip for the future. Current candidates can’t even get there to eat it
 
Goldiemom
  • #12
HI Goldiemom, long time reader first time commenter : )
Actually male for what it’s worth
Ever heard of lethally overfeeding tetra in a single session? I’m a bit traumatized.
Gimme your thoughts whatever they are!

You aren't the first one to ever do it (me). Because the one tetra is going belly up, I would try feeding him just one pea. He’s probably constipated, causing swim bladder issues. After that, fast a few days. Good luck, I hope all works out. Oh, sometimes tetras will school with other tetras of another breed. My green Neons school with my regular Neons.
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
You aren't the first one to ever do it (me). Because the one tetra is going belly up, I would try feeding him just one pea. He’s probably constipated, causing swim bladder issues. After that, fast a few days. Good luck, I hope all works out. Oh, sometimes tetras will school with other tetras of another breed. My green Neons school with my regular Neons.
I respect that. It is the one, but there have been several who had these symptoms and have past away in the last 6 hours. I plan on getting more cardinals, but I pity them in the short term. Calling the LFS tomorrow morning in lieu of another online order.
Edit: so struggle swimming in normal orientation, getting flipped upside down or at least on its side involuntarily, is consistent with swim bladder issues?
 
Goldiemom
  • #14
HI Goldiemom, long time reader first time commenter : )
Actually male for what it’s worth
Ever heard of lethally overfeeding tetra in a single session? I’m a bit traumatized.
Gimme your thoughts whatever they are!

Edit: I’ll remember the pea tip for the future. Current candidates can’t even get there to eat it
Apologies for assuming you were of the female gender. Duh!
 
Hunter1
  • #15
I’m sorry for your losses.

I have fed freeze dried worms occasionally/rarely. They need to be soaked in a cup of tank water for 10 minutes.

A better “live” food is frozen brine shrimp. Soak them in a cup of tank water for 5-10 minutes too.

My fish love live blood worms but I have read they don’t have that much nutrition.

A quality flake food is enough for most fishes unless you are getting them ready to breed.
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
I’m sorry for your losses.

I have fed freeze dried worms occasionally/rarely. They need to be soaked in a cup of tank water for 10 minutes.

A better “live” food is frozen brine shrimp. Soak them in a cup of tank water for 5-10 minutes too.

My fish love live blood worms but I have read they don’t have that much nutrition.

A quality flake food is enough for most fishes unless you are getting them ready to breed.

Yeah. I'm starting to think it's not just the excessive food but the lack of a proper soaking through. While they sank, I think it was more a result of my strong filter out put. Still, how it creates gases that cause the fish to struggle swimming upright puzzles me but may just be beyond my knowledge. I thought like gas or indigestion I know of, I had given my fish some of the same. As I've said maybe ad nauseum in this and private conversations, I'm holding onto my 3 GBR as canaries in the coal mine, waiting on them to tip me off to something more global if they die or show symptoms.
 
SegiDream
  • #17
I'm fairly certain it was the non presoaked freeze dried food that killed them, as previously mentioned from expanding in their stomachs.You're not the first one to make that mistake so don't feel alone. Next time chop the worms into small pieces and presoak them.
 
snowballPLECO
  • #18
I give my fish HikarI freeze dried blood worms once a day coupled with pellets and all my fish have immense coloration and health.. I’ve never “presoaked” freeze dried blood worms, I highly doubt it’s what killed your fish. I’ve been giving my fish HikarI freeze dried worms forever and a good pellet and they are all healthy and show vibrant coloration. I have oscars blood parrots green terrors angels rainbow shark pleco firemouths and not a single one has ever exhibited a sign of sickness after eating freeze dried blood worms
 
mattgirl
  • #19
First off, I am so sorry to hear that you are losing your fish. I know how hard you have worked to get everything just right. This has to be devastating for you

I am not so sure that this was caused by feeding tubifex worms. I often feed mine the same thing and they have never had a problem with them. I don't put a cube in there now but I used to. Now I use my cheese grater and grind them up so I can easily feed them smaller portions. I usually dip my finger in the tank to call them to dinner and then use that wet finger to feed the worms. I even feed my molly fry this way and although their bellies will look like it is going to bust it has never hurt them.

Had you just gotten these fish? Was this their first meal? I am leaning more to bad stock if in fact you just got them.
 
Adriifu
  • #20
I would perform a 3-5-day fast and maybe feed some peas at the end if they're showing signs of constipation afterwards. Good luck and sorry for your losses.
 
SegiDream
  • #21
First off, I am so sorry to hear that you are losing your fish. I know how hard you have worked to get everything just right. This has to be devastating for you

I am not so sure that this was caused by feeding tubifex worms. I often feed mine the same thing and they have never had a problem with them. I don't put a cube in there now but I used to. Now I use my cheese grater and grind them up so I can easily feed them smaller portions. I usually dip my finger in the tank to call them to dinner and then use that wet finger to feed the worms. I even feed my molly fry this way and although their bellies will look like it is going to bust it has never hurt them.

Had you just gotten these fish? Was this their first meal? I am leaning more to bad stock if in fact you just got them.

My neons were fed freeze dried bloodworms before I realized presoaking is better. One of my sub adults swallowed an entire worm, still dry, and died overnight. I don't know exactly why it is an issue, if it's the size of the worm for a such a small fish or because it is dry it gets stuck somehow but this is a fairly well known issue.

Of course if the fish are newly acquired it could be disease, acclimation issues, or water parameters. But strange how it didn't happen until after eating.
 
mattgirl
  • #22
My neons were fed freeze dried bloodworms before I realized presoaking is better. One of my sub adults swallowed an entire worm, still dry, and died overnight. I don't know exactly why it is an issue, if it's the size of the worm for a such a small fish or because it is dry it gets stuck somehow but this is a fairly well known issue.

Of course if the fish are newly acquired it could be disease, acclimation issues, or water parameters. But strange how it didn't happen until after eating.
I am not saying that it can't happen. I soak both blood and tubifex worms before feeding. If the tubifex cube was stuck to the glass in the water they wouldn't have been totally dry. Tubifex worms are much much smaller than bloodworms and soak up water much quicker too. I can see where a dry bloodworm could cause problems for a small fish if swallowed whole.

It is possible this could have happened no matter what they were fed. Lots of times fish are fasted for quite a few days before they are shipped and by the time they get to their forever home they are basically starving almost to the point of death. They eat too quickly and as a result they overeat.

I am saying that it is possible that it wasn't what they were fed that caused the deaths if these fish had just been added to this tank. There are lots of different reasons for fish loss when introduced to a new environment. Over feeding is just one of them.

It is best to get to the bottom of what happened instead of just thinking it had to be this one thing. The OP is new to fish keeping so if we can get to the bottom of what happened hopefully it won't happen again.
 
SegiDream
  • #23
I gave my experience as explanation for my opinion. There is more I could say but to debate this is inconsiderate. OP is doing the right thing by watching the other fish. Hoping they will be fine.
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
I'm going to chime in when I get off work and give another update on their status.
 
Willed
  • Thread Starter
  • #25
I'm going to chime in when I get off work and give another update on their status.

Having these deaths in a new and recently cycled tank come with a lot of possible causes. I do not want to rule anything out 100%
In fact, adding a full school of cardinals and 3 rams within a few days of each other is against recommendations. On top of that, these are two species that demand pristine water with stable safe parameters.
So, when I come on here and say “hey I did this I have a new tank and lost a majority of my fish, how on earth could that have happened?” I myself have trouble ignoring the elephant in the room of risks, acclimation, and water parameters.
For those reasons I have tried my best to monitor ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates 2-3 times daily with a water change or two as needed to remove nitrates ( maybe more than was necessary, adding another variable in the search for the cause)
Occam’s razor aside, I also have my gut to consider, and the specific symptoms the fish showed that had yet to die. When I watched the tubifex rain down the tank, a part of me was saying oh man, this is way too much. As mentioned earlier, I had no idea not just about the presoak recommendation but the density they were packed into a small cube.
I believe mattgirl strikes a good point, if we are looking at overfeeding as a POTENTIAL cause, it doesn’t need to be just because they were freeze dried. While I had sparingly fed a few pellets on their first day (Thursday), Saturday was when they were far more adjusted and confident in the tank. Being freeze dried may have played a major part, the sheer volume of tubifex in the circumstances may have been just as lethal. To repeat their symptoms, their belly was expanded and they were being carried up by it, pulled to their side st a minimum, or vertical, and upside down (maybe after being more and more exhausted).
I had one more die during the night who I didn’t think would make it, parameters checked out this morning and tonight. So out of 14 cardinal tetra I know have 5, who appear very healthy and noticeable don’t have the bigger bellies (maybe they weren’t the more aggressive assertive eaters?) all others had showed some version of the air in belly type of problem to varying degrees until death.
The rams are happy as clams, seemingly unaffected.
I realize this may be one of those times speculation can lead to argument because no one will ever really know for sure including me so let me be clear I don’t expect a magic bullet answer to what happened. I do appreciate everyone’s points of view during this fiasco. And SegiDream please share whatever you have to say, I’m open to any criticism or off topic discussion.
Thanks again all,
W
 
mattgirl
  • #26
First and foremost again I am really sad that this happened at all because I know that you have tried to everything to make sure when you got fish that they would have a safe home.

You made a really good point and something I know about but hadn't thought about in this case. Even when you mentioned they were unable to swim down it still didn't click but now that you mentioned it it makes perfect sense.

Tubifex worms tend to float to the top thus the fish were probably swarming up to the top as they were torn from the block. They were taking in a gulp of air with each mouthful of worms. I know I worry about something like that happening when I see any of my tetras grab bites from the top. The Mollies I don't worry about because they have a shovel for a mouth.

When I feed my tank I float some but also release some under the water so it immediately sinks for the tetras. Some hits the bottom quickly but the Cory's gobble up whatever falls.

The Tubifex worm cube produced the perfect storm for what happened and really and truly through no fault of your own other than just not knowing, lives were lost because of it. Now that you are fairly sure what happened and how to prevent it in the future I think you can confidently replace the lost fish without wondering if they are going to die too.

SegiDream Please know that I wasn't trying to be confrontational at all and if I came across that way, I am sorry. I was just trying to let Willed know that there were other possibilities. I was in no way trying to say that your experience was any less valuable or wasn't a possibility in this case. I really try hard not to offend but sometimes I am not very good at it and my words get twisted up and come across in ways not meant to be. Again, I am sorry if I offended you.
 
SegiDream
  • #27
I have spent a good chunk of my life fighting to be heard so sometimes I come back too strong or too stubborn (especially as I get older it seems, hubby says heaven help us all). So I'm sorry for that as well if I offended you. I was trying to not stress out the OP or derail the thread (and still wound up doing it sorry). Seeing as how we can't be 100% certain of anything, it's kind of a moot point. I like hearing other theories as well cause you never know how someone else can look at the same information and see something totally different or something that was missed.
 

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