Tetras Dying After Introducing New Filter Help

Discussion in 'Advanced Freshwater Aquarium Topics' started by Aquariophile, May 23, 2018.

  1. AquariophileNew MemberMember

    I have a 55g aquarium cycled for about two years. I was using 2 Fluval C4 hob filters, and I had frequent issues with one of them, so decided to get a canister filter. I got the Penn Plax 1200.

    I installed the Penn Plax last Friday. I decided to keep using one of the C4 for the time being, and I took the biomedia (Matrix) I had in the other C4 and in a box filter that I kept in the aquarium if I needed to start a quarantine, that I placed in the Penn Plax with a lot more of new Matrix for the top tray (I also have Purigen in there). I also have 2 trays full of new biohome (another biomedia that I'm using for the first time). The bottom tray is sponge and floss. I probably have close to 10x more biomedia than before, albeit most of it is not cycled. But I didn't take out any cycled biomedia out of my previous setup. I also added Sachem Stability to help colonizing the new media.

    So everything was fine until yesterday (Tuesday). In the morning, I noticed that 3 ember tetras and 1 lemon tetras were dead. I had to go to work, but measured ammonia which was at 0. When I came back from work, 5 more embers were dead. I tested: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 20, ph 7.2. Not knowing what to do, I did a 50% water change and added more Seachem Stability. I also decided to run carbon (which I've never done) in case there was some toxicity in my water that I could not detect.

    I also turned off the air stone I had and lowered the flow on the Penn Plax (and moved the direction of the diffuser), since the only other change I could see is that I have more water circulation than before, and I'm wondering if they died of exhaustion.

    This morning: my remaining 3 embers and 4 lemons dead. Coming from work: 1 lemon and 2 glowlight tetras dead. So I decided to further slow the water flow.

    My aquarium was well stocked: about 105% according to aqadvisor. I have corys, platys, neon tetras, gold tetras, glowlights, endlers, danios, and now 1 remaining lemon tetra. I never had any issue in the last 2 years. I tested: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10.

    All my fish appear fine. That said, I'm now worrying about oxygen, since I don't know if I have enough water circulation.

    Any idea what's the problem and what I should do? Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading.

  2. RtessyFishlore VIPMember

    Dang, I'm so sorry you're going through this. I'm not sure I have the answer, but did you rinse the carbon cartridge before putting it in? Did the new filter come with a carbon cartridge? Did you rinse the new filter under the tap or anything? Any chance you had lotion or something on your hand while putting it in? I'm sorry for your losses

  3. AquariophileNew MemberMember

    Thank you. Yes, I rinsed the carbon before using it, but since the problem began before I used the carbon, I don't think that's the issue. There was a carbon bag with the new canister filter, but I didn't use it. I used a bag I had for the Fluval C4.

    I rinsed the new canister filter in tap water, same I use for water change. I do have doubt that maybe there was some chemical residues in the canister (although I didn't see or smell anything), hence I decided to use carbon.

    I don't use lotion, and I don't think I had anything on my hands.

  4. RtessyFishlore VIPMember

    That's really strange, maybe try contacting the company? I'm sorry, I really can't think of anything else. I hope you can figure it out.
  5. AquariophileNew MemberMember

    Lost another glowlight during dinner time. And it looked fine a few hours ago, I'm really lost here.
  6. Adrian BurkeValued MemberMember

    Try and observe one that is in the process of dying. This could give you a clue. Truly sad, how many fish are left?
  7. Gypsy13Fishlore VIPMember

    This is horribly sad. I’m so so sorry. Are your parameters staying the same? What did your fish look like when they died? Did you happen to get a pic. Or can you take pics of the ones you have left? Maybe we can get a clue from them?
  8. AquariophileNew MemberMember

    Update: no more death in the last 20 hours. All the fish look fine, although the only surviving member of my group of 12 ember tetras is hiding, which I guess is not surprising since it's a schooling fish, but it gets out to feed. Yesterday it was hiding so well I didn't know it was still alive

    The sole surviving lemon tetra (I had 8) is also looking fine, as well as my 4 surviving glowlight tetras (one wasn't looking good early this morning, but now is ok).

    My other fish: 6 corys, 4 leopard danios, 9 platys (2 are babies), 12 neon tetras, 3 otocinclus, 5 gold tetras, 3 endlers. All of them look in good shape.

    So I'm left with two theories as to what happened:
    1. Something toxic got into my water, via the new canister filter or otherwise; or
    2. I had too much water movement and they died of exhaustion.

    I decided to add an airstone 2 hours ago, I didn't like the very limited agitation on the surface. I saw that although none was gasping, all the fish, in particular the neons, were staying higher than usual in the aquarium; they're now all back to their regular level. Also, I like the bubbles!

    So hopefully all will be good now. I feel bad for the lemon and ember being alone, but I won't add any fish before at least 2 weeks, more likely a month.
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
  9. PatientStarsValued MemberMember

    Do you run the straightwater diffuser on the filter, or the spray bar? If you think the filter flow is too much, the spray bar would make a HUGE difference. I have a 50 gal stocked with nano fish- guppies, furcata rainbowfish, harlequin rasbora, etc. I went through 3 other filters trying to find one with a flow rate my little guys could handle.

    I now run the PennPlax 1000 with the spray bar attachment, which is aimed at the back wall of the aquarium to further limit the flow it creates. And I have two airstones to keep the oxygen levels up, even though the angle of the spray bar does a good job of providing surface agitation.
  10. AquariophileNew MemberMember

    I use the spray bar. I tried the straight diffuser for a few minutes at first, but quickly realized it was too much. My spray bar is now positioned like yours, aiming at the back wall of the aquarium. For the first few days, I positioned it the opposite way, i.e. aiming at the front of the aquarium.

    So my current set up is similar. I run the spray bar aiming back, I have an airstone in one corner, and on the other side I still have a Fluval c4 hob filter which is pretty good at providing surface agitation. I was keeping it only for the transition, but I'm not so sure anymore.

    I feel that the spray bar as positioned does not provide enough surface agitation, but maybe I'm just being nervous after loosing so many fish.
  11. PatientStarsValued MemberMember

    Hmmm... ok. Could be that there was a small trace of something from the packaging in the filter canister or the tubing. Hopefully the problem has righted itself and you don't lose any more fish. Best of luck!
  12. AquariophileNew MemberMember

    Yes, could be a trace of something that got removed by water change and running carbon.

    But I also used the spray bar aiming at the front for almost 4 days. I then played with the angle so that it would aim up and lowered the flow (turning the out valve partly off), and it's only yesterday night that I ended up aiming straight at the back of the aquarium (with the valve fully open). Hence one of my theory that they were exhausted since no lost since this last adjustment.

    I guess I will never know for sure, since I have no intent to aim the spray bar to the front in the future.

    But like you said, hopefully the problem has righted itself.
  13. AquariophileNew MemberMember

    Update: I lost one gold tetra yesterday, but I'm leaning toward thinking that it was just old. I lost a first gold tetra about 2 months ago (at that time only second fish I had lost in 18 months), and I got them 2 years ago.

    So, having more time on this Saturday morning, did a bunch of tests:

    Aquarium water: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 30, PH 7.2, Phosphate 0.25
    Tap water: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, PH 7.2

    Nitrate is surprisingly high in the aquarium, since I usually get to that level only if I'm at least 2 weeks without water change (it's been 3 days since a 50% water change). Still it's an acceptable level, but I believe it shows there was some bacterial activities and cycling going on (maybe I still had 0 ammonia and nitrite because of Purigen?)

    For ammonia, since I had a 0 reading a few days ago but I was expecting some trace in tap water because of chloramine, I tested both aquarium and tap at the very same time to compare colors. They were both identical, very much yellow (API test). I could not tell them apart.

    I also tested nitrate in tap twice, since I was surprised to have a reading at 0. But there's really no doubt (again very yellow).

    I will now do a small water change, and hopefully everything will be fine going forward.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that I had too much water circulation and some species (lemon and ember) could not survive. In fact, looking at how my fish behave now, I'm thinking that I've always had too much water circulation, it just wasn't at a deadly level before. For example, my neons and my glowlights are swimming a lot more at different levels instead of remaining in the bottom third. The danios were always midway in the middle and the top, and are now a lot more at the top.

    I was probably a bit too obsess by oxygen in my water, as shown by some of my posts. So hopefully, I will have learned a lesson out of all that happened and I will be able to provide for a better environment for my fish in the future.

    Thank you to everyone who answered my posts.

    I always welcome comments and suggestions, but I'm also providing this update for the benefit of anyone reviewing this thread and faced with a similar problem.
  14. Gypsy13Fishlore VIPMember

    Thank you for the update. I’m sorry you lost another finbaby. :(

    I’m glad everything seems to be going ok for you now though. Keep posting. You know we love pics of fish and their habitats! :)
  15. PatientStarsValued MemberMember

    Not glad to hear you lost a fish friend, but glad to hear your problems may be solved.

    I had issues with too much waterflow as well. I went from a high flow filter with an air stone on each end of the tank, to the spray bar aimed to create as little flow as possible with both airstone directly underneath it. They kind of balance each other out now, and my fish have the option of hanging out near all the turbulence, or heading to the other side of the tank for calmer waters.

    It's actually rather amusing watching my rainbowfish dart through the bubbles a few times, getting launched up high before falling back down, and then return to their normal spot in the calmer area. It must be like a visit to an amusement park for them! Haha

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