Lost another honey gourami - so sad and frustrating :(

peddidle

I lost another honey gourami today and am at a loss as to why and what to do.

I started with 4 honeys about 6 months ago. Two of them have/had thrived and two have/had been a bit slow to mature and grow. A few months back, one of them suddenly showed severe swim bladder issues and died within a couple of days. I couldn't figure out what the problem was and thought maybe he just wasn't a very healthy fish to begin with - sometimes those things happen. The parameters tested as good (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 8.1 to 8.2 pH, and typical nitrate of about 5ish), and he hadn't been showing anything wrong with him until his sudden decline. It bothered me, but I tried to shrug it off as just 'one of those things.'

Fast-forward to this morning: one of the larger honeys had the exact same thing happen. Completely healthy yesterday, sudden severe swim bladder disease symptoms this morning without an apparent cause, and dead by this evening. I'm so sad. I feel like I've failed them, and I don't even know in what way and how to fix it. Water parameters were good (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 8.2 pH, and typical nitrate of about 5ish).

I looked for signs of bacteria, fungus, bloating--nothing. I'd ask, "What am I missing?" but I've read enough posts to know that there likely isn't an answer.

My honeys are my favorites. They come to the glass to visit every time I stop by their tank. They're peaceful and social with each other. They're relaxing to watch as they inquisitively go about their daily exploration of the tank, pecking at things along the way. They aren't hovering at the top, waiting for food.

But now I'm at a crossroads. Originally (for anyone who has seen my few posts over the past month or two) I was going to purchase a larger tank (54g corner, 75 gallon ensemble, or?) that I was either going to make into a community tank (combine my 10g guppy/endler tank and my 20g honey gourami/rasbora tank and then add more) or do something totally different (goldifsh? cichlids? I was exploring options), but we've had several unexpected and significant life events come up in the past 2 weeks that have made me decide it's best to put that on hold for the moment. That said, we're making a trip out of town (due to one of those unexpected life events) in a few days and will be passing by a couple of fish stores on the way home. Should I try to replace my honeys that keep breaking my heart? Should I try to increase my rasbora shoals? (I have 4 kuboti and 4 purple-blues, though they shoal together as 8 rasboras.) Part of me wants to combine my 10g and 20g into one tank and call it a day now that my stock has become just barely manageable for a 20g alone. *sigh* I'm just venting really. This hobby can be so heartbreaking.
 

Tristen

I lost another honey gourami today and am at a loss as to why and what to do.

I started with 4 honeys about 6 months ago. Two of them have/had thrived and two have/had been a bit slow to mature and grow. A few months back, one of them suddenly showed severe swim bladder issues and died within a couple of days. I couldn't figure out what the problem was and thought maybe he just wasn't a very healthy fish to begin with - sometimes those things happen. The parameters tested as good (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 8.1 to 8.2 pH, and typical nitrate of about 5ish), and he hadn't been showing anything wrong with him until his sudden decline. It bothered me, but I tried to shrug it off as just 'one of those things.'

Fast-forward to this morning: one of the larger honeys had the exact same thing happen. Completely healthy yesterday, sudden severe swim bladder disease symptoms this morning without an apparent cause, and dead by this evening. I'm so sad. I feel like I've failed them, and I don't even know in what way and how to fix it. Water parameters were good (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 8.2 pH, and typical nitrate of about 5ish).

I looked for signs of bacteria, fungus, bloating--nothing. I'd ask, "What am I missing?" but I've read enough posts to know that there likely isn't an answer.

My honeys are my favorites. They come to the glass to visit every time I stop by their tank. They're peaceful and social with each other. They're relaxing to watch as they inquisitively go about their daily exploration of the tank, pecking at things along the way. They aren't hovering at the top, waiting for food.

But now I'm at a crossroads. Originally (for anyone who has seen my few posts over the past month or two) I was going to purchase a larger tank (54g corner, 75 gallon ensemble, or?) that I was either going to make into a community tank (combine my 10g guppy/endler tank and my 20g honey gourami/rasbora tank and then add more) or do something totally different (goldifsh? cichlids? I was exploring options), but we've had several unexpected and significant life events come up in the past 2 weeks that have made me decide it's best to put that on hold for the moment. That said, we're making a trip out of town (due to one of those unexpected life events) in a few days and will be passing by a couple of fish stores on the way home. Should I try to replace my honeys that keep breaking my heart? Should I try to increase my rasbora shoals? (I have 4 kuboti and 4 purple-blues, though they shoal together as 8 rasboras.) Part of me wants to combine my 10g and 20g into one tank and call it a day now that my stock has become just barely manageable for a 20g alone. *sigh* I'm just venting really. This hobby can be so heartbreaking.
Unfortunately I can’t answer your question as to if you should get more. However, Honeys are also my favorite fish and I experience the same problems. It doesn’t seem like swim bladder to me, but one day my fish are super healthy swimming normally, and the next day I see a dead honey or almost dead lying on the substrate not swimming. I am restocking my 40 gallon and I’m debating getting honey gouramis or pearl gouramis because I don’t want the same thing to happen. Hopefully someone who has had a successful honey gourami experience can see this and bring some hope to both of our hearts for the honey.
 
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Utar

Sorry but I don't know much about Honey Gourami, but I have done some research and have the link below. On this website it says these fish prefer a more acidic water, meaning below neutral ph of 7.0. Your water is 8.1 to 8.2 with is alkaline.

You didn't say what your water temperature is, but these fish prefer the temps ideally around 77° or a bit higher. Also they thrive better in heavily planted tanks. Not saying these conditions are the cause of your Honey Gourami deaths, just saying this is what they prefer.

One of the ways you can lower you ph is by using peat moss, add a little in your filter. But do this slowly while consistently monitoring your ph. Too much peat moss to soon will cause the ph to drop to fast for your fish. The peat moss will not harm your fish other then dropping ph, and the water will turn a tea color from the released tannin.

In a 10g I made my own aquasoil using peat moss in the mix. There was no fish in this tank, just a few plants. The tap water ph measured 7.6, and within a week due to the peat moss, the ph dropped to 6.6.

I hope this helps, and hope others will drop by that know more than I do.

Honey Gourami
 
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dojafish

Don't change your pH, especially with what was explained, and even then, don't do it unless you absolutely know what you're doing. I do, however, agree that temperature had not been mentioned. It would be helpful to provide such information to help rule some things out.

If your pH is fluctuating, perhaps consider picking up a gH/kH test kit. Carbonite Hardness (kH) has an effect on your pH; too much might raise your pH, and too little can cause the tank to crash. It might not be something in your tank that's causing swings but your tap water itself. If that's the case then perhaps you might need to pick something up to help reinforce your kH/pH. If your tap water is treated by the city then perhaps chemistry had changed causing an issue.

I don't have experience with Honey Gouramis, they were on my list of fish to keep at one point until I started getting into my ponds for the spring and summer season. I genuinely hope that they're not being overbred for higher demands thus creating weaker stock. This has happened before with Dwarf Gouramis and Neon Tetras.

At this time, because of how long you had your Honeys and the statement about your pH fluctuating even when you had taken things out of the tank, I would definitely recommend you check your gH and kH. Both from the tank and straight from your tap water. Even have a glass of water sit out for a few hours and test that as well.
 
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lilirose

Are you aware that most small Gouramis are prone to a virus called Iridovirus, also known as Dwarf Gourami Disease? If your fish are infected, there is unfortunately not a thing you can do to save them, and they will die for what appears to be mysterious reasons. This is the reason I stopped keeping them myself.

(Edited to add: I see that my mention of Dwarf Gourami Disease creates a link, but unfortunately there's nothing on that page that would be relevant or helpful).
 
Upvote 0

MacZ

On this website it says these fish prefer a more acidic water, meaning below neutral ph of 7.0. Your water is 8.1 to 8.2 with is alkaline.

That reading also made my eyebrows rise immediately.

If your pH is fluctuating, perhaps consider picking up a gH/kH test kit. Carbonite Hardness (kH) has an effect on your pH; too much might raise your pH, and too little can cause the tank to crash.

And this would have been my next point.

In general they say soft water/low pH fish can be kept in harder/high pH water, as long as the levels stay steady. In such cases the general life expectancy of most fish might be diminished, but there are different opinions and studies about it. Most often the fish die suddenly of organ failure, starting at the kidneys or the liver. So much is known.
The opposite (hard water fish in soft water) has often shown to be killing off the fish quite fast, though there are also examples where people kept them quite some time.

Are you aware that most small Gouramis are prone to a virus called Iridovirus, also known as Dwarf Gourami Disease? If your fish are infected, there is unfortunately not a thing you can do to save them, and they will die for what appears to be mysterious reasons. This is the reason I stopped keeping them myself.

(Edited to add: I see that my mention of Dwarf Gourami Disease creates a link, but unfortunately there's nothing on that page that would be relevant or helpful).

The symptoms don't match. The OP would definitely have mentioned the lesions and bumps. And the virus is less common than many people think.

(The link is comprised of two links. One for Dwarf Gourami and one for disease.
 
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peddidle

Thank you for taking the time to make suggestions.

I really don't know where the idea that my pH fluctuates came from or that it kept fluctuating even when I took things out of the tank... neither of those things are about my situation. While my pH is alkaline, it is very stable and I won't be attempting to alter it.

Tank temp is 78. It is moderately planted (though the aponogeton is at its peak right now, so it makes it look more planted than it actually is) and has additional hiding spots and mopani wood.

I'm aware of iridovirus in Dwarf Gouramis. As far as I know, Honeys are not known to be susceptible to this illness, although I have not done extensive reading on it.

It's likely I will just never know why these deaths happened. The other two are the same as always--eating, swimming, exploring, etc. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has been experiencing this, though I'm sorry for your fish losses, Tristen.

Thanks, everyone.
 
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MacZ

It is moderately planted (though the aponogeton is at its peak right now, so it makes it look more planted than it actually is) and has additional hiding spots and mopani wood.

Can you maybe post a picture of the tank?
 
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dojafish

I really don't know where the idea that my pH fluctuates came from or that it kept fluctuating even when I took things out of the tank... neither of those things are about my situation. While my pH is alkaline, it is very stable and I won't be attempting to alter it.

You know. I don't know neither, and I'm the one who brought it up . I think maybe it's because I read that the initial pH reading was 8.1-8.2 or I was mixing up threads in my 3am stupor. My apologies for the confusion.

It's hard to say what could be the cause, everything appears to be in order as far as we know. At this point I could only guess that Honey Gouramis have come into higher demand over the past couple years and that weaker stock have been produced and distributed to try to keep up with the demand.

I forgot to leave input about your wondering as to whether or not you should pick up more. That's ultimately your call whether you feel like maybe you're ready for it, or that you're just completely out of it. I think the fact that you're having trouble deciding probably means you still want to even though this has been a upsetting experience for both you and the fish. You enjoy your Honey Gouramis, and they do well in groups, so I think it can and will be rewarding.

Perhaps, if available for you, pick up Honeys from a different source and be sure that healthy specimens (fins and eyes are in tact, no lesians or damage to the body, clear skin and eyes, active, etc.) are selected to take home. If you want to go the extra mile you could maybe try drip acclimation or just simply adding a little of your tank water to the bag as it temperature acclimates to help them adjust in case there's considerable difference in water parameters.

This hobby can be disheartening when you experience loss, especially that of your favorite and/or most expensive fish. I myself have lost 4 koi just this spring alone—of which I've had for 10-15 years—due to a heavy cane toad mating season (the tadpoles can be toxic and the kois surely ate many due to their foraging and grazing habit). Easily a few hundred if not a couple thousand dollars. I had to treat the survivors and they've lost a lot of weight during that process so now I'm fattening them back up, after completely purging the pond of everything and adding mass amounts of aeration and circulation. I've bought a few young koi and I'm growing them out in a separate pond before they join the big boys and girls.
 
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