Help! All but one rasbora dead

sleepycloud

Hello, all. I don't know if this is the right section to put this, but here goes.

About a week and a half ago I added 6 kubotaI rasbora and a betta fish to my new, recently-cycled 10 gallon planted-aquarium. All was going really well, but Friday night I noticed my rasboras were acting weird- they weren't schooling and being their active selves around the center of the aquarium, and when I approached them, they were swimming very lethargically, like lazily bumping into each other and resting on leaves and such. Some of them had already dropped dead.

My husband started pulling out the dead fish while I tested the parameters, thinking that perhaps I jacked up the ammonia level since this was a new aquarium, but the ammonia and nitrite levels were at 0 ppm, and I believe the nitrates were around 5.0 ppm... The temperature was reading around 79F. The parameters otherwise looked normal, except the water was very acidic, sitting at around a 6.0, according to my test kit. I've had an issue with my water becoming acidic before and was recommended by another user on here to add a bit of baking soda to my aquarium, which helped greatly and for a long while my aquarium pH was sitting actually around a pH of 8.0. I hadn't been adding baking soda to my water changes because I thought it would've been a bit better to get the pH down to the lower range of 7.0 so it would be more natural for most of the fish environment, but I didn't realize the acidity would drop so much in such a short amount of time. After the water change, I went ahead and added a teaspoon of baking soda to the aquarium and turned out the lights.

The next day, a final rasbora died, but I still have one that looks quite healthy. He's swimming and darting around, albeit a bit slower than his usual self. My betta fish appears completely fine and is active... I'm not sure where to go from here... I'm guessing it was the acidity that might've killed them, but I want to make sure it might not have been due to other factors.

Some other things I think might be worth mentioning:
+ I usually keep my aquarium light on for awhile (I get up around 6AM and keep the light on until around 9PM, so I can enjoy the aquarium when I'm home, too) and although I don't keep it on full brightness, I wonder if it might've stressed them out too much?
+ I did add 3 amano shrimp a few days ago. I drip-acclimated them, but did not quarantine them before putting them into the tank. They appear fine, however, and are active.
+ I added No Planaria to my tank about 2 weeks ago or so to kill off a hydra and bladder snail infestation, several days prior to adding fish.

I'd really appreciate the help, guys.
 

TWiG87

The light isn’t an issue. How much of a ph change occurred over a 24hr period? Fish can be very sensitive to ph swings and anything larger than .2-.3 in 24 hours can sometimes be fatal. If you’re water parameters are good, I can’t think of much else besides a parasite.
 

sleepycloud

The light isn’t an issue. How much of a ph change occurred over a 24hr period? Fish can be very sensitive to ph swings and anything larger than .2-.3 in 24 hours can sometimes be fatal. If you’re water parameters are good, I can’t think of much else besides a parasite.

I don't know how quickly the pH changed. Before I added fish to my aquarium, I tested the parameters to make sure they were at safe levels before finally adding livestock. The pH at the time was around a 7.6, I believe; it had been sitting at an 8.0 for awhile so I hadn't been too worried about adding more baking soda since I thought it would be better for it to be less hard anyways, but I guess the recent water changes helped the aquarium's natural tendency to become acidic (I have very hard tap water, so I'm not sure what is making my aquarium water acidic).
 

Dunk2

I don't know how quickly the pH changed. Before I added fish to my aquarium, I tested the parameters to make sure they were at safe levels before finally adding livestock. The pH at the time was around a 7.6, I believe; it had been sitting at an 8.0 for awhile so I hadn't been too worried about adding more baking soda since I thought it would be better for it to be less hard anyways, but I guess the recent water changes helped the aquarium's natural tendency to become acidic (I have very hard tap water, so I'm not sure what is making my aquarium water acidic).

With a pH of 7.6, why are you adding baking soda?

EDIT: Sorry, I missed that you said your pH had been low. In my opinion, using baking soda is never a good idea. It can result in pH swings and you’ll always b e chasing the pH level.
 

John58ford

I get sad when rasboras die so I did a little motivated digging. A bit late I guess.

I looked through your old threads and saw you are using: Aqueon Plant & Shrimp Aquarium Substrate, 5 lbs, Standard Amazon.com : Aqueon Plant & Shrimp Aquarium Substrate, 5 lbs, Standard : Pet Supplies

And had quite the experience getting your pH up to where it was or if the tap. A few people helped out and got you sorted with a dose of baking soda.

There are multiple reviews (even on this Amazon link) I have found scattered about claiming the substrate lowers pH to 6.0 there are a few others that claim it pulled the pH to other numbers, but ultimately that substrate isn't inert. This is common with "planted" substrates.

I don't have experience using a substrate like this so I can't make any estimations of how fast it dropped but as twig pointed out pH will affect your fishes osmoregulation. I wouldn't expect the betta to be affected as quick as a rasbora, rasbora are fairly fragile vs a betta. Also, numbers chasing is a dangerous gamee to play. Did you get a gH/kH kit? While baking soda will raise kH, it won't be a stable way to raise gH without some other minerals like calcium. If you are number chasing, make sure to test for both.

gH and kH will be there buffers holding your pH up against the substrate that is lowering it, ultimately it would be easier to change that substrate out for one designed to run your target pH, or to leave it. But if you want to continue chasing: coral, dolomite and limestone can buffer your pH more consistently and longer that baking soda, and would ultimately be gentler for the fish.

I wouldn't completely rule out a parasite in rasbora, the last batch I bought had NTD, it didn't get lethal until about week 3 but looking at the photos of them after I was made aware they are susceptible to it made me feel dumb as I had even named the one that had the most obvious symptoms, due to the symptoms... Your fish are only 1.5 weeks in, though the lfs may find your pH number different than expected they may still give you store credit if they have a 14 day policy. I would wait to introduce any more until your remaining stock clears a full quarantine period in your care though, in case something does appear to affect your betta or shrimp.
 

sleepycloud

With a pH of 7.6, why are you adding baking soda?

EDIT: Sorry, I missed that you said your pH had been low. In my opinion, using baking soda is never a good idea. It can result in pH swings and you’ll always b e chasing the pH level.

What would be a good long-term solution?
 

sleepycloud

I get sad when rasboras die so I did a little motivated digging. A bit late I guess.

I looked through your old threads and saw you are using: Aqueon Plant & Shrimp Aquarium Substrate, 5 lbs, Standard Amazon.com : Aqueon Plant & Shrimp Aquarium Substrate, 5 lbs, Standard : Pet Supplies

And had quite the experience getting your pH up to where it was or if the tap. A few people helped out and got you sorted with a dose of baking soda.

There are multiple reviews (even on this Amazon link) I have found scattered about claiming the substrate lowers pH to 6.0 there are a few others that claim it pulled the pH to other numbers, but ultimately that substrate isn't inert. This is common with "planted" substrates.

I don't have experience using a substrate like this so I can't make any estimations of how fast it dropped but as twig pointed out pH will affect your fishes osmoregulation. I wouldn't expect the betta to be affected as quick as a rasbora, rasbora are fairly fragile vs a betta. Also, numbers chasing is a dangerous gamee to play. Did you get a gH/kH kit? While baking soda will raise kH, it won't be a stable way to raise gH without some other minerals like calcium. If you are number chasing, make sure to test for both.

gH and kH will be there buffers holding your pH up against the substrate that is lowering it, ultimately it would be easier to change that substrate out for one designed to run your target pH, or to leave it. But if you want to continue chasing: coral, dolomite and limestone can buffer your pH more consistently and longer that baking soda, and would ultimately be gentler for the fish.

I wouldn't completely rule out a parasite in rasbora, the last batch I bought had NTD, it didn't get lethal until about week 3 but looking at the photos of them after I was made aware they are susceptible to it made me feel dumb as I had even named the one that had the most obvious symptoms, due to the symptoms... Your fish are only 1.5 weeks in, though the lfs may find your pH number different than expected they may still give you store credit if they have a 14 day policy. I would wait to introduce any more until your remaining stock clears a full quarantine period in your care though, in case something does appear to affect your betta or shrimp.

Thanks for doing some digging for me, I think I saw those comments about it dropping the acidity in other peoples' tanks as well but this seemed like "the" substrate for a planted tank; it's what I was seeing in people's videos and photos all the time, and I didn't imagine that it would drop the pH so drastically. It's the only thing that makes sense, though. I live in Minnesota and the water is hard-- you leave water in a cup for a few days and there's some type of mineral build-up in it.

By "number chasing," are you talking about trying to get like a specific range? Like me trying to lower the pH in the 7.0s? I don't have a gh/kh kit, but I'll probably get one here soon.

EDIT: I'm assuming you have more experience with rasboras? I looked up kubotaI rasbora care and it said that the fish tolerates a level between 5.5-7.5, so it can't be that the water was too acidic for them, I don't think...
 

John58ford

Thanks for doing some digging for me, I think I saw those comments about it dropping the acidity in other peoples' tanks as well but this seemed like "the" substrate for a planted tank; it's what I was seeing in people's videos and photos all the time, and I didn't imagine that it would drop the pH so drastically. It's the only thing that makes sense, though. I live in Minnesota and the water is hard-- you leave water in a cup for a few days and there's some type of mineral build-up in it.

By "number chasing," are you talking about trying to get like a specific range? Like me trying to lower the pH in the 7.0s? I don't have a gh/kh kit, but I'll probably get one here soon.

EDIT: I'm assuming you have more experience with rasboras? I looked up kubotaI rasbora care and it said that the fish tolerates a level between 5.5-7.5, so it can't be that the water was too acidic for them, I don't think...
I do keep a rasboras, and have played with breeding them but I'm not an expert. In softer water they will be more likely to display breeding behavior, and that's pretty fun to watch.

Number chasing (at least in my context) means trying to alter any of your tanks hard parameters in a rapid way. Using baking soda, Epsom salt and other powdered solutions usually offers a very quick, rapid change to your parameters, and doesn't last as long as using stones, corals, or shells. Due to this you get a pattern where the gH, kH, and pH swing wildly through a water change cycle as by the time you test and realize one thing is off, the others are on a lag following the trend as well. Over correcting usually ensues unless you get very scientific and regimented in your testing and adding routines.

The number chasing causing the swing is the danger I would look at in the process, where it is highly likely your fish would survive in 6.0 as your substrate will try to hold the tank to, it's not as likely that they will continue to osmoregulate correctly as the numbers swing.
For example if your tank is at 6.0, two weeks after a water change, then you change 50% of your water with 8.0 tap water, it will change your tanks pH from 6.0 to 7.0 within a few minutes as you dump the water in. This swing is the dangerous bit you will need to consider, not the gradual drop over a few weeks. If your tank is dropping from 8 to 6 any faster than 2 days though, that also would be too fast.

There are allot of intricacies to buffering, it's the one reason I built my current project to tie a bunch of small tanks together and make buffering the hard numbers easier to do gradually, but there are so many little details. You need to look into your water parameters, what you are trying to grow, your fish parameters, and then make actions. It can't really be sumed up in one forum reply.

Personally, I would try leaving your pH be where the tank is going to move it. See if your remaining chosen stocking survives through a quarantine period of a month or three. Then continue with your tank as it is being cautious of introducing new fish and using the drip method since your pH will be so uncommon.

Alternately, (what I would actually do) vacuum out the pH altering substrate, put in some inert small grain gravel or larger grain sand and see what your homes natural water can support. Though it might make the plant choices seen a little narrow, ultimately it could still look cool and would be easier to maintain/adjust if required.

To summarize that book... As far as tank parameters, I prefer stability over specificity.
 

Inner10

What would be a good long-term solution?

I disagree that baking soda is a bad idea, it's a great way to increase KH but I wouldn't dump a scoop directly in a tank.

Even at a pH of 6 Rasboras should be fine, they likke soft acidic water and are really tough fish.

Tell us more about the tank and your source water, as well as it's parameters.
 

sleepycloud

I do keep a rasboras, and have played with breeding them but I'm not an expert. In softer water they will be more likely to display breeding behavior, and that's pretty fun to watch.

Number chasing (at least in my context) means trying to alter any of your tanks hard parameters in a rapid way. Using baking soda, Epsom salt and other powdered solutions usually offers a very quick, rapid change to your parameters, and doesn't last as long as using stones, corals, or shells. Due to this you get a pattern where the gH, kH, and pH swing wildly through a water change cycle as by the time you test and realize one thing is off, the others are on a lag following the trend as well. Over correcting usually ensues unless you get very scientific and regimented in your testing and adding routines.

The number chasing causing the swing is the danger I would look at in the process, where it is highly likely your fish would survive in 6.0 as your substrate will try to hold the tank to, it's not as likely that they will continue to osmoregulate correctly as the numbers swing.
For example if your tank is at 6.0, two weeks after a water change, then you change 50% of your water with 8.0 tap water, it will change your tanks pH from 6.0 to 7.0 within a few minutes as you dump the water in. This swing is the dangerous bit you will need to consider, not the gradual drop over a few weeks. If your tank is dropping from 8 to 6 any faster than 2 days though, that also would be too fast.

There are allot of intricacies to buffering, it's the one reason I built my current project to tie a bunch of small tanks together and make buffering the hard numbers easier to do gradually, but there are so many little details. You need to look into your water parameters, what you are trying to grow, your fish parameters, and then make actions. It can't really be sumed up in one forum reply.

Personally, I would try leaving your pH be where the tank is going to move it. See if your remaining chosen stocking survives through a quarantine period of a month or three. Then continue with your tank as it is being cautious of introducing new fish and using the drip method since your pH will be so uncommon.

Alternately, (what I would actually do) vacuum out the pH altering substrate, put in some inert small grain gravel or larger grain sand and see what your homes natural water can support. Though it might make the plant choices seen a little narrow, ultimately it could still look cool and would be easier to maintain/adjust if required.

To summarize that book... As far as tank parameters, I prefer stability over specificity.

No worries on the long replies; I like them and need all of the information haha... I was definitely "number chasing" a lot in the beginning here because I had some trouble getting my aquarium to start cycling properly (long story) and so I was trying to be careful to do everything right. I saw that a low pH could stop the cycling process all together, and it had gotten to the point where I was doing almost daily water changes. The pH would be sitting at like a 7.6 after a water change and then fall back to like 6.7 over two days. Was super confusing; didn't realize pH would change that drastically, and I also didn't realize that fish are a lot more tolerant of acidic water than I had realized.

Thanks for all of your input!
 

sleepycloud

I disagree that baking soda is a bad idea, it's a great way to increase KH but I wouldn't dump a scoop directly in a tank.

Even at a pH of 6 Rasboras should be fine, they likke soft acidic water and are really tough fish.

Tell us more about the tank and your source water, as well as it's parameters.

Sorry to get back to you so late; things have been quite hectic for me this week. I'm not sure what other information to provide about the tank other than its a 10 gallon, heavily planted, and I used No Planaria recently for a Hydra infestation. My source water is very hard-- minerals build up wherever water sits, but the exact GH and KH levels I don't know. I ordered a testing kit for those off Amazon after this ordeal happened and am awaiting its arrival.

The parameters at the time I tested whilst the fish were dying were Temp = 78F, pH = 6.0, Ammonia = 0, Nitrites = 0, and Nitrates = 7. I tested the water yesterday and the ammonia levels had increased to a 0.25, so I did a 30% water change (I think this might be due to my betta fish killing off the last surviving kubotaI rasbora; I noticed him singling in on the lil guy and flaring at him... He was surprisingly healthy-looking the day before, but when I got home yesterday he was laying at the bottom of the tank with both of his eyes missing).

After thinking about it more, I think--and I'd love your input on this--it might've been me using hand lotion that killed the rasboras. I've had them for 2 weeks and they were doing perfectly fine. The only thing that changed was the last Tuesday I bought a new hand lotion from Bath & Body Works, and if you've ever been by that store in the mall, you know how highly potent their fragrances are for their products. I've been moving lily pads around the surface of the water so the fish could see when I was feeding them, and I'd also use my fingers to push the food down so that the fish would see them floating and come grab them... I also would stick my whole hand in there, trying to tempt my betta fish with a blood worm.

I thought my fingers were fine since I had washed them, but I've been applying the hand lotion liberally at work because of how dry my hands have been this winter. I usually apply the lotion on after every time I wash my hands except for before I come home, because I knew I would be sticking them in the aquarium. Today, however, after washing my hands I STILL smelled my lotion on them so I think it's just much stronger than I gave it credit for...
 

Inner10

Sorry to get back to you so late; things have been quite hectic for me this week. I'm not sure what other information to provide about the tank other than its a 10 gallon, heavily planted, and I used No Planaria recently for a Hydra infestation. My source water is very hard-- minerals build up wherever water sits, but the exact GH and KH levels I don't know. I ordered a testing kit for those off Amazon after this ordeal happened and am awaiting its arrival.

The parameters at the time I tested whilst the fish were dying were Temp = 78F, pH = 6.0, Ammonia = 0, Nitrites = 0, and Nitrates = 7. I tested the water yesterday and the ammonia levels had increased to a 0.25, so I did a 30% water change (I think this might be due to my betta fish killing off the last surviving kubotaI rasbora; I noticed him singling in on the lil guy and flaring at him... He was surprisingly healthy-looking the day before, but when I got home yesterday he was laying at the bottom of the tank with both of his eyes missing).

After thinking about it more, I think--and I'd love your input on this--it might've been me using hand lotion that killed the rasboras. I've had them for 2 weeks and they were doing perfectly fine. The only thing that changed was the last Tuesday I bought a new hand lotion from Bath & Body Works, and if you've ever been by that store in the mall, you know how highly potent their fragrances are for their products. I've been moving lily pads around the surface of the water so the fish could see when I was feeding them, and I'd also use my fingers to push the food down so that the fish would see them floating and come grab them... I also would stick my whole hand in there, trying to tempt my betta fish with a blood worm.

I thought my fingers were fine since I had washed them, but I've been applying the hand lotion liberally at work because of how dry my hands have been this winter. I usually apply the lotion on after every time I wash my hands except for before I come home, because I knew I would be sticking them in the aquarium. Today, however, after washing my hands I STILL smelled my lotion on them so I think it's just much stronger than I gave it credit for...

Using hand lotion certainly isn't recommended, but I doubt it killed your fish. If you have hard water your water your water probably has a good buffering capacity, which shocks me it was so low. Perhaps your substrate is buffering the water? It would be nice to know your KH and GH, and check the KH of tank vs source water.

So I'm not sure why they died, bad batch of fish, pH swings, contamination etc. Keep an eye on your parameters, avoid additives directly to the tank. It's safer to doctor your water in a pail then use it in a partial water change.
 

sleepycloud

Using hand lotion certainly isn't recommended, but I doubt it killed your fish. If you have hard water your water your water probably has a good buffering capacity, which shocks me it was so low. Perhaps your substrate is buffering the water? It would be nice to know your KH and GH, and check the KH of tank vs source water.

So I'm not sure why they died, bad batch of fish, pH swings, contamination etc. Keep an eye on your parameters, avoid additives directly to the tank. It's safer to doctor your water in a pail then use it in a partial water change.

Oh really? :c I saw a post on Reef2Reef where a guy was freaking out about his wife sticking her hands (with lotion on them) in his *90* gallon tank, and people were saying that the fish would "probably" be okay. I thought for sure my little rasboras in my 10 gallon tank would be done for!

I definitely am wanting to check GH/KH too, I think my kit will arrive tomorrow. The substrate DOES lower my pH, and quite significantly, too. I saw reviews where a few people complained about it dropping the pH, but I didn't realize that it would be *THAT* dramatic.

Stinks :/ I ain't rich ;-; those kubotaI rasboras cost a pretty penny, and I'm so disappointed that my care skills crashed and burned 2 weeks into owning fish, after all the work and research I put into my tank.

I LOVE the kubotaI rasboras, and one day I would love them in a tank dedicated to them. Maybe I will just stick with ember tetras for now, once my aquarium stabilizes again..
 

Inner10

Oh really? :c I saw a post on Reef2Reef where a guy was freaking out about his wife sticking her hands (with lotion on them) in his *90* gallon tank, and people were saying that the fish would "probably" be okay. I thought for sure my little rasboras in my 10 gallon tank would be done for!

I definitely am wanting to check GH/KH too, I think my kit will arrive tomorrow. The substrate DOES lower my pH, and quite significantly, too. I saw reviews where a few people complained about it dropping the pH, but I didn't realize that it would be *THAT* dramatic.

Stinks :/ I ain't rich ;-; those kubotaI rasboras cost a pretty penny, and I'm so disappointed that my care skills crashed and burned 2 weeks into owning fish, after all the work and research I put into my tank.

I LOVE the kubotaI rasboras, and one day I would love them in a tank dedicated to them. Maybe I will just stick with ember tetras for now, once my aquarium stabilizes again..

Neither my assumption nor theirs is based on any science. It's good practice to not put anything like lotion or contaminates in a tank...

Some substrates buffer very heavily at first and required multiple water changes in the first month before they stabilize...and their lifespan varies. I'm not familiar with your substrate, but in my experience with buffering substrates is you can't fight them. You will just use up their buffering capacity faster.
 

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