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The Hard Water Horror Important

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by fireflyy, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. fireflyyWell Known MemberMember

    hey fishlore, it's certainly been a while! i haven't been able to get on as much recently.

    now, i have a terrible tale to tell. my tanks haven't been doing so well recently. several lives of fish have been lost, and they were all named and dearly loved. i just made a huge beginner mistake that could've been avoided if i just would've done the simple task of- you guessed it- testing my water.

    after late spring started, i noticed my fish falling ill with what seemed to be parasitic infections, but i'm still very unsure. i went out and bought meds, but by the time i used them, either the fish was too close to dying, or the meds were ineffective. here's what went down:

    primary symptoms (occured in every sick fish):
    - discoloration
    - lethargy
    - hollowed in belly

    secondary symptoms (occured in some sick fish):
    - fin rot
    - swirl-like and raised mark in belly of fish
    - tumor
    - swim bladder infection
    - excessive gasping for air
    - stringy poo
    - inflamed? vent

    i tested the usual ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and i got the usual results, 0,0, and 5-20 nitrates. i did water changes weekly and made sure to never skip one. but what did i forget to test for?


    that's a mistake i will never make again; i've learned my lesson.

    after finishing the rounds of medication, i finally tested all the parameters. i thought it couldn't be pH because i have hard water, and so it should never buffer.

    nope, i was wrong. turns out the whole time my pH had been rising up beyond my usual 8.0, and the fluctuation had been making my fish sick.

    so, down in the southern us it gets hot during late spring and summer, and hot means evaporating water. i have to top-off once or twice a week. i didn't see any harm in this whatsoever.

    but.. i soon figured out that when you're putting hard, calcium-rich water onto those calcium deposits (hard water stains), your KH rises, and therefore your pH rises with it.

    and there was the root of the illness.

    my solution to this is to use distilled water for top-offs during the summer, and continue to water change often until my pH becomes 8.0 and stable again.

    but the fish illness issue is not yet solved, and i want to figure out what illness this is and how to treat it. hopefully you guys can help me out with this, and i can save as many lives as possible. i've been stressing myself out feeling bad for these guys, and i want to redeem myself.

    best regards,
  2. AvalancheDaveWell Known MemberMember

    gH is mostly Ca and Mg
    kH is carbonate and bicarbonate

    Calcium carbonate will increase both. In this context, only kH affects pH.

    I'm not sure the small amount of water in a top-off could change pH that much.

    Try to find a vet that sees fish.
  3. fireflyyWell Known MemberMember

    i need to buy a liquid kit to test my KH and GH. i've been meaning to get one anyways. maybe i'll know more then.

    i'm not sure what else could cause it, the illness started exactly when i started doing top-offs. i've had the same decorations in the tanks for a long while, and my tap water tests as the usual 8.0. the pH increase occured in both of my tanks.

    vet visits are very expensive, i'd rather buy some medication to treat the fish at home.
  4. scarfaceFishlore VIPMember

    I'm not convinced your pH fluctuation is the cause either. Like you said, sounds like an illness.
  5. SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

    many fish can acclimate to harder water.

    topping off between weekly water changes shouldn't cause these types of symptoms. perhaps the parasites were dormant during the winter and once it warmed up became active and started infecting your fish.

    what fish do you have?
  6. fireflyyWell Known MemberMember

    before illness spread, my tank was stocked with 3 guppies, 3 honey gouramis and 6 ember tetras. now it has 2 honey gouramis and 5 ember tetras.

    something was probably introduced with a new fish.

    but the pH fluctuating worries me, i want to limit stress as much as possible. what do you think could be the real cause of it, then?