Something Isn't Right... Help

Discussion in 'More Freshwater Aquarium Topics' started by Jfl0, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. Jfl0New MemberMember

    Hello everyone. I'll start off by stating the basic concerns I have about my tank. It appears fine from the outside until you begin to look at the fish. Lately (72 hours) I have noticed that my three (one died and was removed, the other is presumed dead and MIA) neon tetras are not eating. They showed zero interest in flake food. Before that time the 4th neon tetra went MIA they ate flake food rather happily.

    The second issue, pointed out to me by another person is that I am noticing some strange things going on with my black skirt tetras. Some are exhibiting a small growth near the mouth, one has a slight indentation going into the skin (kind of like if I kept a tight sock on for an entire day) and another exhibits what I believe (but cannot confirm) is a skin fluke. It is very difficult to get accurate photos of the fish, but I did my best in the attached photos. Here are the facts as I know them:

    *The black skirts still eat rather happily.
    *The red eye tetras paused from eating TODAY, but did eat/go for some prepared mysis shrimp today.
    *The neon tetras are not eating for 72 hours now. No interest in food.
    *3 Nerite snails exist in this tank and seem to not be affected.
    *There is a driftwood fungus growing on the branch/tree.
    *Consistent lighting schedule 10am-8pm
    *The tank has been established for over 60 days.
    *A quarantine/hospital tank is READY.

    The numbers of fish are out of recommended specifications- but this will be fixed as soon as this thread problem is fixed.

    3x Nerite snails
    3x Neon tetra (used to have five, one MIA, one buried in yard)
    4x Red Eye Tetra
    4x Black Skirt Tetra

    Temperature: 77.7 degrees fahrenheit
    Ammonia: 0ppm
    Nitrite: 0ppm
    Nitrate: 0-3ppm
    pH: 7.8 (registering high versus Aqadvisor)

    Here are my basic questions.

    1) Will that decaying fish (if it is in there at all) cause the symptoms present? I have tried locating the 4th neon tetra by removing things from the tank and I could not find him. He wasn't under any rocks, plants, driftwood, in or on the filter.

    2) As a pet parent I worry if my fish will die. Are these symptoms fatal? We fear the unknown.

    3) How should I treat the mentioned symptoms? I have the following products ready: API General Cure and Artemiss Microbe Lift.

    There is one other place I want to check for the MIA neon. I figure if I rinse my hands now and check under the stacking stone rocks that it wouldn't exacerbate any problems. Thank you very much for your help.


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  2. Harvster10Valued MemberMember

    what Do you feed the tank. Sometimes fish get to ravenous and bite off more than they can chew. With the tetras has there been any recent changes in or around the tank as they they may be stressed. With the skin condition I would add Esha 2000(or any other anti fungal medication) to the tank to help treat it. If you plan on treating the wood wait till you have finished using medication.

  3. Jfl0New MemberMember

    I have confirmed Question #1. As I was scooping him out I lost him in the substrate... so I am pulling out the substrate until I find the neon tetra's body. This is my most immediate suspect.

    I feed the tank Tetra flakes, freeze dried blood worms and mysis shrimp, in that order of commonality. I do not plan on treating the wood fungus because I heard it was harmless to the fish, and it has not gotten out of hand.

  4. Harvster10Valued MemberMember

    I would probably treat asap. Assuming you crumple the food I think your black skirts will be fine, I think it is a dominance thing is my largest had a lump too. I think you should carry on as you were trying to give something exciting. I’m not sure how to go about this long term.
  5. Jfl0New MemberMember

    As much as I liked the $20-$30 I spent on that awesome substrate- I removed 90% of it from the tank. I am VERY confident that what remained (as it floated it began disintegrating) of our friend who left the mortal coil is no longer in the tank. The total cost of the substrate is more than the cost of the fish, but I don't care. I value their lives over $20-$30 if removing most of the substrate will get rid of potential toxins- and what remains of the neon tetra.

    With that said levels of ammonia/nitrite/nitrate will be monitored daily because of the removal of a large source of beneficial bacteria. I reintroduced the plants and two lava rocks back into the aquarium to try and return some normalcy. The water level in the tank is approximately 75%. I am holding off on a water change for 12-24 hours because I've done enough to scare the fish for one day by literally digging up their home. As soon as I submit this post I will begin treating with API general cure, following the instructions on the package. I will follow that up a few days later with Artemiss.

    I have a blanket draped over the glass so that their stress levels are reduced. The tank can still ventilate, of course (through the back 'top' section). They are hardy fish and I am confident that they will pull through this challenge. I will keep the thread updated. Thank you for the advice.
  6. RtessyFishlore VIPMember

    The wood fungus is harmless, don't worry about that. Give me a moment to re-read and give a better answer/potential solution
  7. RtessyFishlore VIPMember

    1.) The two main concerns about the decaying tetra are potential ammonia and consequential nitrite spikes, and/or other fish eating the dead one and contracting a potential infection.
    2.) I'm not sure the symptoms are fatal right off the bat, but I suggest looking into columnaris/mouth rot
    3.) I've never used either so I can't give a good recommendation, but I have seen the API general cure used on this site before
    The beneficial bacteria isn't really in the substrate much, around 95% is in the filter material, so you shouldn't see a spike from it's removal. You may see a spike because of the dead neon. Neons are very sensitive these days, and can contact a certain untreatable neon tetra disease that resembles columnaris, but since the black skirts are showing symptoms, that can likely be ruled out.
    The treatment plan in your latest post is a really good one, I would start there. However, if you do think it could be columnaris, you would have to order kanaplex or macryn 2 to treat it since it's bacterial.
  8. Jfl0New MemberMember

    Day 3 of treatment: I am adding in the last dose of API General Cure. On day 5 (Saturday) I will do a 25% water change as instructed from the box. I will then treat with Melafix for a week and follow it up with Artemiss, a herbal remedy that helps with things like fin rot, mouth rot, fungi and other ills. I am taking my time with the treatment because I don't want to mix a concoction in my tank.

    All remaining fish are alive.
  9. RtessyFishlore VIPMember

    One thing I recommend is putting carbon back in the filter to remove the medications after you stop treatment but before you move on to the next treatment. You are correct in not mixing them, it can stress them out a lot. I'm glad to hear the rest are doing well!
  10. Jfl0New MemberMember

    Thanks. I will make sure to do that. I just happened to buy carbon and a media bag the other day because I am phasing out filter cartridges.

    The fish (not the neon tetras) ate today. They had a passing interest in eating like before, but were more ready this time to eat. I diced some mysis shrimp up and the red eyes/black skirts ate. The black skirts no longer show signs of mouth growths or side growths- and their 'fullness' seems to be returning. Earlier their bodies had an 'imprint', kind of like if you wore a really tight sock all day and took it off to find marks.

    The neons have not eaten in a week. When the hospital tank is stable (ammonia too high/tank somewhat neglected) I will transfer the neons over to that tank and introduce 3 more as well, monitoring for ammonia spikes a few times a day. I am wondering if they are not eating because they are in a group of three and they are the smallest fish. The move will stress them- but if they are going to die either way I want to try and isolate them and get them to school/calm down with their own kind until reintroduction to the main tank.

    I will postpone melafix for 1-2 days to allow the carbon to work for 48 hours.

    The fish seem more active than the other day, with some resting longer during daylight hours (tank light is on consistently every day from 10am-8pm, 24/7) and some hiding underneath the plants. Those hiding underneath did come out to check out the food.
  11. Jfl0New MemberMember

    Day 7 of observation:

    The red eye tetra and black skirt tetra are WAY more active today then they have been in recent days. They were swimming about this morning as well as resting, but did not appear to be stressed. The neon tetras are huddled near the bottom in cover. I will inspect their physical conditions later today for any signs of illness, and continue to treat if necessary. I believe a 33% water change and addition of activated carbon may have helped them, as the water quality has improved. I will delay their normal 12 noon feeding until 5pm to observe appetite.
  12. RtessyFishlore VIPMember

    I'm glad most seem to be doing better, and you have a very solid treatment plan. However, I don't think I mentioned yet, but it may be worth looking into the neon tetra disease. I didn't think about it at first because more than just the tetras were affected, but if you get to a point in which the neons are the only affected fish, you may want to look into it. Good luck!
  13. Jfl0New MemberMember

    Day 8 of Observation
    Activity has returned to the tank (even the neon tetras move more now) but I have noticed a long, 0.5mm to 1mm thick 'string appendage' coming from one of my black skirt tetras. I JUST treated this tank for parasites- and I am ignorant on diagnosing fish diseases just by looking at them. I am hoping it is just a long dingleberry underneath the fin. Is this a possible parasite? if so Tweedle Doo is getting a two way trip to the hospital tank.

    *10 minutes later- it is no longer present, and I saw it (the poo) floating towards the filter intake. Again, it's no longer attached to the fish. Perhaps he was using the facilities.

    I will be monitoring the neon tetras for signs of 'neon tetra disease'. They do not show any outward signs of the ailment.

    It is with unfortunate news that Schmitt has left the mortal coil. My four Red Eye Tetras are named John, Jacob, Jingleheimer and Schmitt. We unfortunately lost Schmitt. He was found on the bottom of the tank. He appeared alive this morning, but someone in my house commented a few days ago that it seemed like one of the Red Eye Tetras was struggling. It may have been him. Cause of death is unknown. Likely excess stress.

    Schmitt was removed immediately from the tank and an emergency 25% water change was performed. No fish was able to begin picking at him. I likely removed him shortly after being deceased. I will keep an eye on the fish. If I lose another fish I will begin Melafix treatment.

    When the hospital tank has stabilized (100% water change due to high ammonia) The neon tetras will be seperated and treated.
  14. RtessyFishlore VIPMember

    I'm sorry about Schmitt. I'm glad the rest seem to be doing better, I hope it all turns out ok.
  15. Jfl0New MemberMember

  16. RtessyFishlore VIPMember

    That looks like feces to me, and as you probably know white feces can indicate internal parasites. However, I have found that it isn't always the case. What did you use to treat for parasites? (Also you're really doing everything perfectly from what I can tell)
  17. Jfl0New MemberMember

    API General Cure. This medication was applied according to the instructions on the box.  

    One of the Red Eye Tetras, Jingleheimer- is not doing well. He is swimming in place, appears stressed and is breathing quickly.. Ammonia reading is near 0 ppm, water quality is good. There is no outward sign of infection or injury. Filtration and Oxygenation are excellent. I have begun treating with Melafix as instructed on the bottle. I approximated 15ml for 30 US Gallons.

    The black skirts are back to their old selves. They dive and frenzy on food- but the Red Eye Tetras and Neons will not eat.
  18. Jfl0New MemberMember

  19. Jfl0New MemberMember

    Day 9 of Observation

    Schmitt was given a burial yesterday in our yard away from a source of water.

    Here is a list of the fish that have died and their potential COD:

    1) neon tetra (physical shock while transferring)
    2) neon tetra (stuck between glass and driftwood)
    3) red eye tetra (poss. swim bladder disease)
    4) red eye tetra (unknown, found at bottom of tank)

    This morning each Red Eye Tetra appeared to be struggling to stay floating. They were swimming in a vertical direction at about a 80 degree angle. All of them appeared stressed and were breathing quickly. Ammonia is measuring 0ppm and water quality is excellent. Except for the neon tetras not eating, all of the other fish are NOT exhibiting signs of outward stress unless a net entered the water and chased them.

    Red Eye Tetras

    Making an executive decision, I have decided to quarantine the Red Eye Tetras back to the hospital tank (which is now ready). They are continuing to exhibit the same behavior. I then correctly dosed Melafix to the hospital tank sans activated carbon.

    Neon Tetras
    The neons were found swimming 'out of their comfort zone' this morning. They have not eaten in about 10 days from last observation.

    Black Skirt Tetras
    The twerps (black skirt tetras) are behaving normally and readily accept food. They have returned to 'looping', swimming low and then fast and upwards towards their food in a figure 8 like manner. There is no indication of stress or illness in these fish.

    Today's Conclusions
    I don't know what is going on with the red eye tetras. It could be that they just have not acclimated to these tank conditions or they may have come from a bad stock. I will continue to do what I can for what I see as living things and treat them for possible diseases. I will likely cease treating the main tank and focus on the hospital tank, hoping that the neons 'come out of their shell' and eat. Prior to the introduction of the Red Eye Tetras they did accept flake food mid level readily. It is my opinion that there is nothing wrong with the main tank, and that the lack of eating could be due to reduced neon tetra numbers and introduction of the Red Eye Tetras. I want to see what happens when the Red Eyes are removed from the main tank. Sensing that their tankmates were missing, all Black Skirt Tetras and Neon Tetras huddled up in a group in case of potential 'funny business'. A natural reaction- but they won't see any trouble.

    Update: No one is eating again. I am so frustrated with this entire situation. I've upped my water quality, checked my parameters multiple times, checked my temperature, treated for parasites, treated for bacterial infections and there is still a problem.

    I am at my wits end and I don't know what to do. The consequences of the fish not eating are that they are going to die. I've tried searching far and wide for information and I cannot find any. No one will eat.

    Update: End of Day 9
    I am no longer trusting the API Master Test Kit. I have had three different kits/sources tell me numbers that disagree with this kit. I took my water to a fish store [Petco] and they registered 300ppm, or 53.5 dgH. That is extremely hard water. My test strips indicate a dgH of 8.92. This is general hardness. Aqadvisor recommends, as my tank sits- to have a dgH of 12.5. So the water is slightly soft.

    I was told by another fish store that water hardness did not affect fish much, if at all. I am getting contradicting information from another fish store and the internet. Had I known BEFORE HAND that water hardness was critical I would have treated the tank before purchasing my fish.

    So I don't know what to believe anymore. Some treatments work, some don't work at all- but this entire experience is full of nothing but questions, fish deaths, frustration, trial and error and people not knowing what they are talking about.

    pH is also nominal. According to the same test strip as the hardness I am registering a 6.4 to 6.5.

    The water hardness was my last card in my deck. Now I have nothing left. Here is what I have done, to date since I noticed the first problem:

    Proportional water changes
    API General Cure treatment
    Melafix treatment
    Artemiss Treatment
    Ammonia check (OK)
    Nitrite check (OK)
    Nitrate check (OK)
    General hardness check (OK)
    pH check (OK)
    temperature check (OK)
    water conditioner (OK)

    and nothing is making the fish ultimately feel better or behave better. I can't just 'start over' because I have living beings in two different tanks that I will not kill or flush. I'm frustrated- and with all of these what if's, questions, treatments, etc I have no idea what to do anymore. There are WAY, WAY too many variables to keep track of- and everything has checked out to this point.

    I hate to say it- and I will take care of the fish- but if they expire then there is literally nothing I can do- as I have done everything in my power to improve their quality of life. Maybe they are just bored of eating. I can't just add fish either- they might get sick and I will lose them.
    Last edited: May 2, 2018
  20. Jfl0New MemberMember

    Day 10 of observation:

    Observation was not done today- but the black skirts seem to be dawdling and swimming as they will. Food was withheld for the day. The Red Eye Tetras' behavior is largely unchanged, but I did see 2 of the 3 swimming correctly. I made an executive decision to bring home 2 more red eye tetras for the correct minimum of 5. My justification is that they are all going to be treated at the same time, remain in quarantine for a month, and they stand a better chance with me (even with the issues) than in a small holding tank. I am aclimating them right now. No one has died over the past day.

    The Quarantine tank has been treated with the proper dosage of General Cure (by API) and will be dosed again in 2 days, followed by a water change. I will watch ammonia levels throughout the process.
    Last edited: May 3, 2018

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