High pH Massacre

Bindel2303

Earlier this week I did a large water change in my tank like I have done several time, but this time I suddenly noticed several fish missing or looking ill. With in a few hours I had lost half my fish and by the next day all 8 of my mixed tetras had died and later in the day I had a molly and platy die on me. after evacuating the last fish and my dwarf frog into another tank I tested the water levels and the pH was like 7.8. This is why higher then the tank normally was at and I had no Idea how it happened. After tarring down the tank and starting over I tested the pH after the tank sat over night, and the same thing. I finally decided to test my tap water and that turned out to be the culprits.

So what should I do? Should I try to lower the pH before I put my fish back in it, if so how do I handle water changes? Also how should I acclimate them not to shock them to death? Also I want to get more fish, what fish can I get that won't be killed by such a high pH, because I understand Tetras like it below 7. And lastly, will my Mollies and Platties still reproduce successuly in such a high pH?

Any help I can get is much appreciated. I'm going to continue reading what I can, but I wanted to get this out here now to get as much help as I could.

Thanks
 

Butterfly

What was the ph to begin with? 7.8 is not a terribly high ph. Livebearers will breed quite happily at this ph. I have kept a large variety of fish at that ph for years. A high ph should not have killed them that fast.
I noticed that the tank was a bit overstocked. How long has it been set up? what are the water test readings for ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates?
Carol
 

Bindel2303

Well I hadn't tested the water in a couple of weeks so I can't tell you for sure but last time I did the ph was around 7 and everything else was in order. Ass my fish were dying I tested everything and everything was fine except for the ph had skyrocketed. I thought I might have disturbed a nitrate pocket when doing the water change, but from what I read, and people I've talked to it seems more of a ph shock then that, especially with my tetras being the first ones to go. but like I said, this is what I have gotten from reading and talking to LFS people, I really don't know. I think it was just too much to fast because when I did the water change hadn't realized my tap water's ph had risen that much.
 

Butterfly

You really don't run into Nitrate "pockets". Nitrates would be in your water as an end product of Nitrites.
Since the tank was a bit over stocked I was concerned about Ammonia and Ntrite readings. Both will kill fish rapidly if the readings are high enough. When figuring stocking levels the adult size of fish need to be calculated and it looks like you are about there.
I definitely wouldn't add any more fish until you figure out what killed the others.
How long has the tank been set up? Sorry for all the questions but that's the only way I know to help you figure out what's going on.
Carol
 

Bindel2303

No problem with the questions, I completely understand why, **** your the one trying to help me, I'll help you as best I can. Well like I said before, my fish didn't start dying until immediately after I did a large water change and when I checked the Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite levels they were all really low, like barely on the chart. I know my tank was over stocked, but that's mainly because, as you said, I didn't take adult sizes into consideration when buying the fish, and a couple of them grew quite a bit. I was going to wait to buy anymore fish until this is figured out, but when I do I'm only going to buy like 2. As far as how long the tank has been set up, its been since May or June, that is until they all died this week and I did a complete tare down. Speaking of which you said that livebearers will live and breed happily in a higher ph, this is successfully, like fry to full grown? And also could a change of .8 ph have been the reason my tetras died, considering I read they like it no more then 7. I'm still confused on the Platy and Molly thought. Although to be completely honest, I know the molly died, but the platy, well I have no idea what happened to him. I woke up the day after the massacre and couldn't find him. He was there the night before, but I haven't seen him since, even after taring the tank down, and none of the fish left were big enough to eat him. So, needless to say, I'm sure hes dead, but I'm still confounded on what happened to him.

Once again, thanks for your help
Chris
 

Butterfly

Look around to see if maybe the Molly may have flipped out. If not maybe he was stuck in there dead and caused an ammonia spike (just guessing here )
If the tank has been set up that long it should be well cycled so that rules out one of my concerns If you have any Ammonia or Nitrite readings that means there's a problem somewhere.
That is a big difference between 7.0 and 7.8 but it's still puzzling me why it would make them die that quickly.
Fish will acclimate to just about any ph it just needs to be done gradually. Since you were only doing a water change the water from the change would have been greatly diluted and not raised the ph a whole lot.
yes I have raised live bearers, had them breed and raise fry at that ph.
I have also spawned and raised fry from Angels, bristlenose and corys at that ph. That's really not an uncommon level.
Were any of the fish new?
Lets keep digging
Carol
 

Bindel2303

Well I don't think my platy could have died and caused an ammonia spike in 8 hours but that's just my guess. And yah, I did look every where, around the out side of my tank, the filter, everywhere including places impossible for him to get to, but still no sign.

As far as the high ph water being diluted, well that's not highly likely. This is my fault. See the water had gotten a little green tinted and there was a lot of waste (fish not food) on the bottom so I did an extremely large water change. I took out about 2/3, dumped about half that amount back in of fresh water, then took it down to probably only a quarter of the entire tank, before filling it back up. So, any chance of the water being diluted went out the door. I know, that was incredibly stupid. I tried to do something that should have taken a couple of days and did it in a couple of hours.

So does this make any more sense, was that what probably cause this?
 

capekate

Well I don't think my platy could have died and caused an ammonia spike in 8 hours but that's just my guess. And yah, I did look every where, around the out side of my tank, the filter, everywhere including places impossible for him to get to, but still no sign.

As far as the high ph water being diluted, well that's not highly likely. This is my fault. See the water had gotten a little green tinted and there was a lot of waste (fish not food) on the bottom so I did an extremely large water change. I took out about 2/3, dumped about half that amount back in of fresh water, then took it down to probably only a quarter of the entire tank, before filling it back up. So, any chance of the water being diluted went out the door. I know, that was incredibly stupid. I tried to do something that should have taken a couple of days and did it in a couple of hours.

So does this make any more sense, was that what probably cause this?
Hello, sorry to hear about your fish loss, its so frustrating not knowing what went wrong. If I may add, changing your water down to the level you did should not cause any problems for your fish. I would ask tho, did you make sure the water temperature of the new water was at or close as possible to the tank water? A sudden change in temperature could have caused shock to your fish. Also, with the fish waste as much as you say it was, you can have a nitrate spike in no time and it would take something like a high nitrate to cause your fish to die.
Here is an example. Yesterday, when I went to feed my angel fish, who are usually very active when they see me coming with food, did not even go to the food. I knew this was abnormal for them. When I fed them in the am they were fine and eating fine. As soon as I saw them acting differently then they normally do I knew there was a problem. One was hanging in the back of the tank and had no interest in food. Those with angelfish know this is highly unlike them. So I took a nitrate reading and sure enough, my nitrates were sky high!! This is not normal for the tank, and my guess is that I was over feeding them lately cuz they are such piggies. I did a 60% water change right away and this am they are both doing fine.
So what I am saying is that conditions can change very fast, and in a tank that is small and overstocked it can happen quickly and you can loose fish fast.
About your lost platy, are you sure you didnt loose him during the water change? Its possible...
Good luck with your fish and remember, when they start acting differently then they usually do, the best course of action is at least a 50% water change.
~ kate
 
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jeme

This may be a silly question...

Did you add water conditioner to the new water when you put it in?

Julie
 

Bindel2303

no, I dont' even know what water conditioner is. The only thing I added was a little bit of anti-algae stuff, only like have the normal dosage.
 

jack11

k then it was probably the chlorine/chloramide that is in most peoples tap water, you need to go out and buy water condition to treat the water and remove these chemicals which can as in your case kill nearly instantly.

Jack
 

jeme

Okay, Bindel, this is what you need to do. Go to any pet/fish store or supply place (even Walmart or places like that probably has something that will work).

You need to get a water conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramine. Most tap water is treated with one or the other, and some water districts add more at certain times of the year, which could be why you had a problem this time.

There are many different brands, just be sure it removes both chlorine and chloramine. Usual dose is one teaspoon per ten gallons.

If you did a complete tear-down on the tank, you'll probably have to go through the whole cycling process again. If the molly and platy have survived through all of this, chances are they'll survive cycling the tank. The frog breathes air, so he should survive too.

Don't add any more fish until the cycle is complete again, then add just a very few more. Maybe another couple platies and a molly.

Hope this gets things are back on track for you.

Julie
 

Bindel2303

So this cycling thing I'm new to. I didn't know about it when I started my first tank, and the last time I washed my tank out I didn't let it cycle either, but I'm not sure if I've had problems resulting from it. How long is this going to take because my surviving 3 a crammed in a tank too small for them? I read the article about it, but are there any tricks besides expensive chemicals I can use to speed it up.
 

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