Fish And Plants Keep Dying In This Tank Help

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by Koiman, May 26, 2018.

  1. Koiman

    KoimanValued MemberMember

    Hi FishLore,

    Background: I am making this post for my friend's tank. I do not know why all the livestock in his tank has been dying so rapidly since I helped him to set it up. In my more than a decade of experience in this hobby, I haven't seen anything this bad. We really need some help FishLore.

    History: This tank has been running for around 5 years now. We gutted and redid the entire tank about two months ago. However, the cycled filter and filter media remained unwashed and unchanged throughout this whole process.

    The Makeover: We added Eco-Complete Substrate to the tank to make a good 1.5" layer along the bottom. We added Dragon stone and some manzanita driftwood (for a moss tree). To make the moss tree, we used some aquarium safe sponges we got online and Loctite super glue gel. We added some red ludwigia repens, pearlweed, jungle val, subwassertang, and african bolbitis. We also replaced the old light with the 36" Beamswork EA LED light. Again, the old filter (a 40 gallon canister filter), was not washed or touched throughout the whole process.

    After the Makeover: Plant growth skyrocketed, everything was going really good up until about 3 weeks ago.
    A massive wave a hair algae and brown algae struck the tank with such a force that I've never seen before in my time in the hobby. All the gravel, stone, and driftwood was absolutely ravaged by a deadly combo of the hair algae and brown algae in just two days. It was absolutely horrifying to see. First the jungle val all melted even after a period of growth. Then the pearlweed stopped growing (it was growing absolutely insane before) and became covered in a small coat of hair algae. The subwassertang moss completely died and became a rust colored dust where it was originally growing. Then it became covered in hair algae. The bolbitis got lost in a cloud of hair algae and the ludwigia repens is currently in the process of being destroyed by hair algae. Its leaves are also turning the same rust color as the subwassertang did. At the same time his plants were dying, his few fish all died within a 3 day timespan. I thought that this was all some nutrient fluctuation, so I advised him to remove the hair algae daily and then to do 25% water changes every other day. Up until this point he hadn't done a water change besides topping off evaporated water since the day we set it up. I believed that the fish all died around the same time because he got the fish (some tetras) in the same batch about 5 years ago.

    I gave him three guppies from outside tubs because these things were practically bulletproof. Or so I thought. It was the last straw today when all three died within a two day timespan after about a week since they had been added to the tank. There is definitely something inexplicably wrong with this tank.

    Tank Stats:
    • 30 Gallons
    • 40 gallon Canister Filter
    • 36" Beamswork EA LED Light
    • Eco-Complete Black Substrate
    • 8.1 pH
    • 0 Nitrite
    • 5ppm Nitrate
    • 0 Ammonia
    • No Fish Currently
    • The parameters have been the same since the tank was setup and hasn't fluctuated at all, hence adding to the confusion for what is going on
    Please read the captions on these photos below.

  2. Sergeant Pepper

    Sergeant PepperWell Known MemberMember

    For the algae, the only reason I can think that it would get that out of control is light. The lights are on for too long or that tank is getting direct sunlight.
    I would do a blackout period on that tank. Turn the lights out for a few days and cover it with a towel. It will deprive the algae of it's source of food. I would then seriously limit the amount of light per day this tank gets. 6-8 hours max.
    For the fish deaths, I honestly can't think of why right off the bat. Has the tank been vacuumed over the substrate? How recent are those tank parameters? What temp is the tank kept at? Whats the time table of getting fish to them dieing?
  3. OP

    KoimanValued MemberMember

    My friend says the light is only on for 7-8 hours everyday since its been set up. The tank doesn't get any sunlight. I will tell my friend to try the blackout period, was a bit hesitant to do it at first in fear of killing the plants in his tank, but since the plants are already almost all dead, what is there to lose?

    Parameters have been taken just a few hours ago, but he has been testing atleast every other day for the past two months since the tank has been setup. Same parameters every time.

    Tank is kept at around 72-76F (22-24C).

    The time table for all deaths looks something like this
    2 Months ago, all the fish were alive.
    3 weeks ago, all the fish died in a 3 day timespan.
    1 week ago, we added three guppies.
    Today they are all dead, one died yesterday and two died today.
  4. Sergeant Pepper

    Sergeant PepperWell Known MemberMember

    Although you might not remember this, when these fish died was it around a water change? Perhaps when he's doing a waterchange, he's not checking the temp and shocking them. Or, I would have him check the pH on his tap. Perhaps pH swings?
  5. OP

    KoimanValued MemberMember

    Just asked him the above questions and he only started doing water changes after the fish started to die off. He said the temp of the new water is the same as the tank water.

    He also said that when the guppies started dying off day before yesterday, he noticed a pH swing from around 7.8 to 8.2 if that helps. I am starting to think my friend may have Old Tank Syndrome. Just watched a video on it from Aquarium Coop. Hopefully this is the case.
  6. Sergeant Pepper

    Sergeant PepperWell Known MemberMember

    Well he should definitely be doing water changes pretty regularly. At least weekly. Also if he's only done water changes after fish death, is he just topping off when the water gets low? That's a bad practice and can be the cause.

    A pH swing can definitely kill fish, but I'm not sure how much of a swing is deadly.
  7. Ms rose

    Ms roseWell Known MemberMember

    iv heard any more then 1 point example: 6.2 to 7.2 is suposed to be safe. i was told folks who use co2 have these such swings daily and maintain healthy fish. this is hear say though ut look into it to get more difinative answer
  8. OP

    KoimanValued MemberMember

    Thank you so much. I will inform him that it is recommended that he continue the water changes. We may also try a blackout so that the algae will die off. Hopefully the tank can start on a new foot.

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