Ph Crash Sick Pakistani (yoyo) Loach Please!

  • #1
Tank Size: 65 gallons
Fish: 2 yoyo loaches, 3 congos, 4 raspboras, 4 neon tetras, 2 glow light tetras, 2 small blood fins, 1 rummy nose.
temp: 80.6F
PH: 4.89 (yes, this is accurate, I checked with calibrated meter and drops to verify)
Hardness: 380ppm
Nitrite: Minimal (safe zone)
Nitrate: Moderate (caution level)
Filtration types: two filters: (1) Canister and (1) 200 gal powerhead to undergravel filter for support, plus oxygenation with air pump and 12" air stone.

I've done three 8% water changes in the past 24 hours and the loach is now wiggling a little rather than just sitting there, but he seems to be in great discomfort and I want to fix this ASAP, but also don't want to shock them.

This tank is fully established and has been running beautifully and happy for nearly 6 months. I went a week without checking it other than daily feedings and noticed both loaches not eating the blood worms on the surface as usual.

I believe it crashed from a big dead spear plant in the back of the tank that went unnoticed due to various reasons (non of which are worthy of excusing this, but it is what it is). However, 4 smaller tetras have recently disappeared over night one by one with no trace.

I care about these fish and want to help them. What should I do?

I will post pics soon
  • #2
pH crashes are not fun at all. It can wipe out an entire tank if the fish can't handle the pH.

You should look in to buying some crush coral. A cup in a mesh bag and put it into your filter should bring your pH up. I tell people here that 1 cup to 40 you might want to explore a cup to see if the pH will come up from 4.89 to possibly 6ish...a cup and a half might bring it to neutral of 7.0. Though I caution by starting with a cup to see how that works and if it's isn't enough add more.
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  • #3
Thank you for the reply, I appreciate it very much. I have already made the necessary changes and will let you know how it goes.
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  • #4
Thank you again Fashooga, your help is sincerely appreciated.

The pH in my tank is now at 6.2 (hopefully rising to 7 by this evening) and the the tetras are more colorful, the rummy nose has his red nose back and best of all, the male and female loaches are paired up again and eating and almost back to themselves. It obviously hasn't been long enough to know if they will have other issues at a result of the stress they incurred from this pH crash, however, they are all much happier already and that's a good start.

Due to this event, I have done a fair amount of research on pH and learned that my lack of general hardness or GH and also carbonate hardness or KH is what allowed the crash to occur. The pH went from 6.8 to 4.79 in the course of a week.

Here is a link to a thread posted on fishlore that addresses GH, KH, and pH (basically the amount of hydrogen ions in the solution, in this case water). I would recommend this read for anyone who cares about their aquatic life. It is not super complicated, but there is certainly more to it than I realized.
  • #5
I’m glad it worked out for you and your fish are doing well. The crush coral should be able to hold your pH for quite a few months. You might need to replace a small portion in a year maybe. But just keep an eye on it if the same problem happens.
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  • #6
I'm sad to say that the male loach has passed.

I had the male and female pair for almost two years and never experienced a pH crash like this before. For the past few months, I switched my water changes to RO water without adding minerals to it. I didn't know it was necessary. I have learned a lot about this in the past few days, so this loss will not be in vain. I feel that I did everything right to correct the pH drop, based on your advice and from what I've read that supports your advice. It might have been stressed too much, or maybe I increased the pH too fast. The female seems to be ok though. She is resting more than usual in the log, but she is still coming out to eat at least. I did another 5 gallon (8%) water change this morning and added a small amount of GH since I use RO water. The pH is now up to 6.76 and seems to be holding at that.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I went out of town for two days and for the first time ever, I left a big API 3 day feed tablet for them. The reason for that is that I've had two neon tetras disappear in the past month. This could have also contributed to the pH crash. I used to feed once a day for 6 days, and then do one fasting day, but I discontinued the fasting day when the smaller tetras disappeared because I thought one of the larger Congo Tetras ate them.

All of the other fish seem ok.

I just tested the water and its showing less nitrate than yesterday with minimal nitrite and seemingly no noticeable amonia.

This is just very upsetting. Thank you again for the help.
  • #7
Greetings and welcome to Fishlore

If you are running RO water you may want to consider using using SeaChem Equilibrium. This will give you good control over the water. I have a five stage RO/DI unit that I have been using for five years with this product. It is also good for the plants. Keep in mind that when topping off the water just use untreated RO water. Use this product with a water change.
Seachem - Equilibrium
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  • #8
Things are very stable now and the female Loach is back to her old self, finally. The only death was the one male Loach, which was sadly my favorite of all the fish. I bought the two Loaches as a pair about two years ago. I was still running a 30 gallon tank at the time and had an invasive snail infestation that I was dealing with. The loaches were about 3" long when I got them and they ate every single snail in less than a week. It was amazing. That, combined with the fact that they were super entertaining to watch made them my favorites. The pair was very playful with each other and I plan to get another mate for the female once the tank has been stable for a week or so.


Thank you Thunder, that's one of the things I added, along with the Seachem Alkaline buffer, however, my GH is now a little high, so I am only adding KH and then a little beneficial bacteria with my daily 8% water changes. Once things are stable for more than 2 days, I will do 8-16% weekly water changes depending on conditions. Since my water looked so clean before and my pH seemed ok due to the bad strips, I assumed everything was fine. I wasn't aware of all of the aspects involved with maintaining a healthy aquarium and thought my plants helps keep things symbiotic since poop wasn't collecting on the bottom.

This video was taken the day after the pH adjusted from 4.79 to 6.2. He was showing improvement from the day prior when the pH was a shocking 4.79, but I feel I may have increased the pH too fast. Either that or he was too stressed from the low pH to fully regain. The crash was probably due to having almost zero KH (Bicarbinate). Whatever the reason, this will never again happen. I now have a digital 3-in-1 meter (pH, Temp, GH) as well as a full test kit for pH, KH, GH, Amonia, Nitrate, Nitrite.

Current Levels:

pH: 7.16
Nitrate: 60 ppm
Nitrite: 15 ppm
Amonia: None
KH: 40 ppm
GH: 240 ppm

Thank you again for the advice.
  • #9
Sorry you lost a fish to it. When I had my pH crash I lost 20 Columbia tetras. I didn't know what was going on and had to actually research it.
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  • #10
I'm sorry to hear that. It would have been horrible to lose all my fish. The one fish alone was very tough for me. He was my favorite though. I have done a significant amount of reading and learned quite a bit from this situation. I now have seachem's alkaline and acid buffers as well as equilibrium liquid GH. I also have a reliable KH and GH test kit and have my digital 3-in-1 fixed to the back of the tank so I can monitor pH, temp and hardness by just looking at it. The color of my fish has never looked better and the female loach is eating blood worms from the surface like she used to. I'm going to add a few more plants this weekend now that the fish are looking healthy and happy again and I'm also going to add a new Loach, hopefully another male.
If you have any advice on identifying a male vs female loach in juveniles, that would be very helpful. My LHS only have young Loaches and it's difficult to differentiate the males when they are this young. I know the mouths should be more pink and the makes are less round, but they all seem to look the same.

Thank you again for all the support.

New water stats:
pH: 7.02
Nitrate: 40 ppm
Nitrite: 0-5 ppm
Amonia: Zero
KH: 2 dK
GH: 7 dK

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