Rummy nose tetras in the 29 gallon: a history

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midthought

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Just venting/chronicling here.

The history of this tank so far:

March 7 - picked it up off Craigslist
March 14 - make the mistake of using Red Sea Florabase as substrate
April 1 - tear it down down and redo with Fluorite, black sand, decor, and live plants. Borrow seed bacteria in the form of filter cartridge, gravel, and fake plants from my deconstructed 2.5 gallon.
~April 1-6 - dose pure ammonia to grow the bacteria.
April 7 - tank appears fully cycled (reading 0,0,<10)
April 8 - added 3 small sterba cories and 3 true rummy nose tetras (from LFS 1). Total rummies 3.
April 9 - added 6 false rummy nose tetras (from LFS 2). Total rummies 9: 3 true and 6 false.
April 10 - 1 true rummy nose tetra dies (whirling disease), get replacement from LFS 1. Added one female GBR. Total rummies 9 (3 true, 6 false).
~April 11-13 - More rummies die (probably stress from acclimation; offhand unconfirmed diagnosis is columnaris), get *some* replacements from LFS 2 for the false ones. Total rummies still 6.
~April 14 - Think I see ich spores on a rummy nose (and no other fish). Turn up heat to 84. Whole tank loses a lot of activity because of the heat.
~April 15 - One more rummy dies. Total rummies 5 (1 true, 4 false).
April 20 - install new light unit -- 2x65 watt power compact, but I'm keeping the actinic bulb off. GBR seems to not like the brighter light, hangs out in the shade or behind driftwood a lot.
April 21 - 1 more rummy nose tetra develops symptoms and dies within a few hours (probably stress from water change; offhand diagnosis is columnaris). Second rummy is also acting strange but hasn't died yet. GBR seems to be hiding out a lot, but comes out to eat. Total rummies 4 now (1 true, 3 false), including the one with odd behavior.
April 22 - only 3 rummies are visibly schooling, 1 true and 2 false. Can't find body of the last one, which was last seen swimming as if it was part of an invisible school (back and forth across the tank but not with the group). The tank has almost zero activity to look at it. Cories are utterly inactive, GBR is often hiding in the back under driftwood or foliage, and rummies are afraid to school.

No ammonia or nitrite spikes throughout any of this. Live plants have helped to keep nitrates fairly low at 15 ppm.

I should have quarantined. I'm just thankful my cories and GBR have not come down with anything through all this.

At this point, I'm kind of torn. I don't want to keep feeding this tank rummies as I'm clearly having problems keeping them alive, but the three remaining are acting very timid because they're so low in number now. If the remaining three die, I think I'd just replace them with more hardy schooling fish. I was considering harlequin rasboras but need to do more reading on them. But then again, the three fish look aren't looking sick at all, just scared and rightfully so. So I can try getting more rummies and hoping that my three won't die from stress by the time that they're ready to be introduced, or I can take the three I have to the LFS. Not sure if that's even the best option considering that the tank is still in the middle of the heat treatment for ich.

I feel bad about the rummies. :-[ I wasn't expecting these problems with the new tank. I knew that good parameters were key and that the GBR is reputed to be hard to keep alive when you first bring home, but I wasn't prepared for so many rummy deaths.

Update: I found the dead rummy. He was kept from floating to the top because he died under a plant. He looked like he'd been dead for a while, since his body basically fell apart when I suctioned him up with a turkey baster. His eyes were cloudy, whereas the dead rummy from 4/21 didn't, but maybe that's just a sign of how long he'd been dead in the water for.

Right after I dropped in some sinking pellets for the cories, I also found planaria as well. Just in a corner of the tank where the most debris is. I wiped them down from the glass with a mag-float. Guess I will cut down feedings quite a bit.

One of the three rummies looks to be getting lost from the other two a lot. He was hiding in a flower pot, which is not normal rummy behavior, but when the other two went past, he joined up again. Then got lost again. Things aren't looking good for the rummies.

One of the cories is noticeably less responsive than the other two as well. Everyone's lethargic from the heat, I think. No signs of disease though. I don't know what to do. I'll take some video tomorrow, though it all feels very useless.
 

harpua2002

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Sorry your tank is having problems. If you can hang in there, it will be enjoyable for you eventually instead of a source of frustration.

I have a couple of theories about what's going on. 1- All of the species you've chosen to stock are ones that don't tend to do well in newer setups. Since that's what you want, I really don't see a way around it, but generally speaking, all those fish fare a lot better in tanks that are at least a few months old. 2- rummies might not be tank raised. IME the wild caught rummies are much harder to keep and do not tend to acclimate well. If you can find a LFS that sells tank raised rummies, they should actually be quite easy to keep. I have never had any trouble with them when they are tank raised (the LFS's should know; the supplier will likely tell them if the fish is wild or tank raised).

Anyway, those are just a couple thoughts I had. I hope things turn around for your tank soon.
 

LyndaB

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I'm so sorry for your traumatic experience in what is usually a peaceful hobby.

I'll add to the theories, if I may. It is usually advised to begin adding fish slowly to a new tank. It sounds like you got all 13 inhabitants within a 48 hour timeframe. That would've really impacted your bioload.
 
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midthought

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I found the third rummy dead, stuck in a nook of driftwood. Two left now, one false and one true. For all the trauma in this tank, the true one has a rather red nose. I guess maybe the stress is bad but the parameters are good.

harpua2002 said:
Sorry your tank is having problems. If you can hang in there, it will be enjoyable for you eventually instead of a source of frustration.

I have a couple of theories about what's going on. 1- All of the species you've chosen to stock are ones that don't tend to do well in newer setups. Since that's what you want, I really don't see a way around it, but generally speaking, all those fish fare a lot better in tanks that are at least a few months old. 2- rummies might not be tank raised. IME the wild caught rummies are much harder to keep and do not tend to acclimate well. If you can find a LFS that sells tank raised rummies, they should actually be quite easy to keep. I have never had any trouble with them when they are tank raised (the LFS's should know; the supplier will likely tell them if the fish is wild or tank raised).

Anyway, those are just a couple thoughts I had. I hope things turn around for your tank soon.
Thank you for your comments. I"ll admit I have no idea about whether they were tank raised. They came from 2 LFSes in any case, but neither had them marked either way. They looked to be about the same age and rather young though, compared to the large ones in the LFS display tanks, so that might support tank-raised...? Or maybe what they do is catch a bunch and then only bother selling the younger ones...? I could ask the next time I go back to the stores though.

I was heartened a bit when they all got decent coloring (see ) but that was only a couple days ago really. There's been a lot of death since then.

LyndaB said:
I'm so sorry for your traumatic experience in what is usually a peaceful hobby.

I'll add to the theories, if I may. It is usually advised to begin adding fish slowly to a new tank. It sounds like you got all 13 inhabitants within a 48 hour timeframe. That would've really impacted your bioload.
Thanks for your comments as well. Yes, unfortunately I know I added a bunch of fish in a short period. It's embarrassing to admit, as I rather know better. I feel all the guiltier because of that. After all my planning, I do make impulsive buys like that once I'm actually in the store. I thought that they were all pretty small and if I was on top of water changes, it would be all right. The water quality was good the whole time and I thought that would be enough.

I'm down to just 6 now -- the GBR, 3 cories, 2 rummies. To look at the tank, there's not much activity at all. Although, from where I sit in the other room, I just saw a cory dart up to the surface like they used to do. I hadn't seen that in a while.

I'm not as worried about the GBR at this point. She hides a bit, but that doesn't seem too abnormal with the harsher light and the way the tank is designed at the moment. (There's a lot of hiding space out of the light in the back of the tank, out of view.) But I'll be very worried if the tank temp goes back down to 78-80 degrees in a week and the cories don't all perk up. I've been hoping that it's the heat that's made my cories so inactive. But I just don't know what I'll do if the temp goes down and they continue to just sit at the bottom.

Just a thought...I wonder if I disturbed a pocket of noxious gas when I was cleaning out the tank on 4/21. I took out a rock formation that's hollow on the inside, and when I took it out to clean it, I noticed it smelled...funky. It didn't really hit me until I was browsing threads just now that it was sulfur.

Still, I don't know much about those pockets of gas, and I don't know if it makes sense that it would kill off one or two fish but not others. I also don't know how long it takes for them to die. Certainly my other fish are fine, so I'm a bit puzzled. I do know that my sandbed is probably deep enough or such pockets -- it's definitely 3 inches at the deeper sections.

I really should invest in some Malaysian Trumpet Snails soon, but I have a slight paranoia them exploding in population, exacerbated by quite a bit of unfounded paranoia about slimy things. Especially slimy things that can crawl up glass.

Edit: I read up a little on this, and although it often seems like an overblown fear people have, I know I smelled it. And I found this from this website:

The main health concern caused by H2S is gill damage marked by increased opercular movement and respiratory arrest. Fish may seek areas under waterfalls or near aerators in order to obtain more oxygen. Fish exposed to near lethal levels of H2S over prolonged periods show other signs of disease. Symptoms include poor feeding and an increased susceptibility to common diseases and parasites.
I had to look up opercular, but basically it's a bony flap on the gills. My concern now is that my GBR that's hiding in the back -- well I thought it was normal because the back is just as shady and and secluded as other parts, but what's in the back of the tank that isn't in the front of the tank is the airstone. So if my GBR was at some point hit with this gas and is having problems taking in oxygen, back there by the airstone is where she would want to be.

As well, maybe the fish are exhibiting faster gill movement than I gave them credit for. Should gill movement be such that I don't really notice it? I am a bit lost in that area.



Editx2: More info from

Turnover of the thermal stratification of a lake as described above, can release large quantities of dissolved hydrogen sulfide. Even in the presence of adequate amounts of dissolved oxygen, hydrogen sulfide can interfere with the ability of fish blood to carry oxygen, resulting in death of the affected fish. Larger fish are the most affected by this condition. Signs of hydrogen sulfide poisoning include disoriented and dying fish; dark, decaying organic material; and the odor of hydrogen sulfide.
Disoriented could describe the rummies that died.

From

It takes about 20 minutes for anaerobic bacteria to start fermenting and producing toxic gases. Whether or not a fish will be toxed depends on how close they are to outflow when it is turned, how long it is off and on the volume of water. So a single fish can just belly up if it is right in the first jet that comes out. Low levels of hydrogen sulfide don't kill fish, just stress them. They will sometimes wobble or float for a while, then seem OK. Chronic hydrogen sulfide toxicity will stress fish to the point that their immune system crashes and they develop disease.
Also Old Tank Syndrome in the aquarium, What is it, and what do we do about it?:

Old tank syndrome seems to for tanks several years old though. Mine doesn't fit that description, but the smell was definitely there in the rock formation.
 

LyndaB

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I hope you and your fish have a more peaceful day. It certainly sounds like you're doing your homework on this problem. You'll end up a better fishkeeper as a result. Sometimes the lessons are very hard ones. :console:
 
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midthought

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Thanks, Lynda.

Update on the rummies. The two that are left are not schooling together. This is not good news. The true rummy looks normal and good, still red and all that, reacts as normal as ever to me coming to the tank, tapping, etc. The false one though is acting a little odd. Doesn't respond as much to tapping on the tank and is off floating on his own somewhere.

One of the three cories has been acting odd in a very particular way -- like he's deaf and blind. He doesn't respond to tapping on the window or me coming up to the tank. Well, the other two cories don't particularly react to me walking near the tank unless I get right by the glass next to them. But this one acts like nothing phases him at all. This cory also has been "tilting" -- like watching someone fall asleep and then jerk back awake. After he tilts, he'll swim around a little to get his bearings. In the video below you can watch him do it twice, once around :09 and once around :29.


Edit: the video was taken last night. That's why the rummies are still schooling together.

The false rummy died, looks like very recently. I have just the true one left.

Did a water change today and found about half a carcass of something I can only assume was a cory cat. Sigh. Explains why I've only seen two cories in the last couple days, though I thought one was just hiding in the back with the GBR.

Down to 2 cories, 1 GBR, and 1 rummy.

Also checked the parameters and everything was perfect (again), 0 ammonia and nitrite, 10 ppm nitrate.
 
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