This Can’t Be Happening Again! Help Please!

Lauren4events

Well Known Member
Messages
690
Reaction score
206
Points
88
Experience
3 years
Ok, as many of you know, I struggled for a long time with getting my 60 gallon tank to cycle. I have an overcrowding issue because my fish are all livebearers. And they never stop having babies.

Anyway, after adding a canister filter on top of my two other filters to the tank, and also eight live plants, I finally got it cycle. It has been good for a while. Until now...

Recently, I started having random fish deaths. About 1 every week to 2 weeks. The weird part, is that unlike my previous experience with illness, there are no symptoms here. It’s the weirdest thing. No change in color, no change in behavior, eating and swimming normally, no clamped fins, no raised scales, no bloating, no flashing or scratching, no fungus or worms… Literally nothing.

Because I have so many fish, I do a 40-50% water change every single day. I know some of you are going to say that’s too much. But my fish are used to this. It’s what I have done every day for over a year. Up until recently, they have always seemed very happy. I wish I didn’t have to do daily water changes, but with the amount of fish I have... it feels necessary.

Anyway… Something happened. And I don’t know what. Last night I did the same thing I always do. 40% water change with seachem prime, and stress coat.

When I woke up this morning, I had 4 dead fish. Plus 1 that died before I even did a water change last night. Again, nothing in the days prior that would’ve led me to believe they were sick at all. I knew something was wrong with the 1 fish right before she died. But only the 10 minutes prior to her death. Her mouth was stuck open and her behavior (that I’ve seen before) told me that she was dying. Earlier that day, she seemed fine though.

Here is what I got when I just tested my water :
pH: 7.4
Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

How could my cycle be gone? I test all the time. I usually have no ammonia or nitrite and 10-20 nitrate.

I’m so confused! I don’t know how this relates to my dead fish... but they have to be connected, right?

A lot of my fish are acting strange today too. Slight more lethargic than usual and showing less interest in food. Which is very strange.

Does anyone have any idea what could be going on? I recently started adding stress coat on top of prime. Just because they have been a little jumpy and seem a little stressed in general. I thought I was helping. And I chalked this behavior up to stress. Having a lot of fish causes stress and leads to illness. I’m aware of this. But can’t findg anyone to take fish. I’ve tried so many things... so let’s not get into this again now, please.

I’m just interested in an explanation on how my beneficial bacteria could’ve been killed. And what could be killing my fish. I have not added any meds. I never forget to add dechlorinator. I’m not doing anything different. I feel like I’m losing my mind and I don’t want to go through this again. I’m so upset and have no clue how to fix this. Please help!
 

Jenoli42

Well Known Member
Messages
1,348
Reaction score
830
Points
98
Experience
4 years
Lauren4events said:
Ok, as many of you know, I struggled for a long time with getting my 60 gallon tank to cycle. I have an overcrowding issue because my fish are all livebearers. And they never stop having babies.

Anyway, after adding a canister filter on top of my two other filters to the tank, and also eight live plants, I finally got it cycle. It has been good for a while. Until now...

Recently, I started having random fish deaths. About 1 every week to 2 weeks. The weird part, is that unlike my previous experience with illness, there are no symptoms here. It’s the weirdest thing. No change in color, no change in behavior, eating and swimming normally, no clamped fins, no raised scales, no bloating, no flashing or scratching, no fungus or worms… Literally nothing.

Because I have so many fish, I do a 40-50% water change every single day. I know some of you are going to say that’s too much. But my fish are used to this. It’s what I have done every day for over a year. Up until recently, they have always seemed very happy. I wish I didn’t have to do daily water changes, but with the amount of fish I have... it feels necessary.

Anyway… Something happened. And I don’t know what. Last night I did the same thing I always do. 40% water change with seachem prime, and stress coat.

When I woke up this morning, I had 4 dead fish. Plus 1 that died before I even did a water change last night. Again, nothing in the days prior that would’ve led me to believe they were sick at all. I knew something was wrong with the 1 fish right before she died. But only the 10 minutes prior to her death. Her mouth was stuck open and her behavior (that I’ve seen before) told me that she was dying. Earlier that day, she seemed fine though.

Here is what I got when I just tested my water :
pH: 7.4
Ammonia: 0.25
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

How could my cycle be gone? I test all the time. I usually have no ammonia or nitrite and 10-20 nitrate.

I’m so confused! I don’t know how this relates to my dead fish... but they have to be connected, right?

A lot of my fish are acting strange today too. Slight more lethargic than usual and showing less interest in food. Which is very strange.

Does anyone have any idea what could be going on? I recently started adding stress coat on top of prime. Just because they have been a little jumpy and seem a little stressed in general. I thought I was helping. And I chalked this behavior up to stress. Having a lot of fish causes stress and leads to illness. I’m aware of this. But can’t findg anyone to take fish. I’ve tried so many things... so let’s not get into this again now, please.

I’m just interested in an explanation on how my beneficial bacteria could’ve been killed. And what could be killing my fish. I have not added any meds. I never forget to add dechlorinator. I’m not doing anything different. I feel like I’m losing my mind and I don’t want to go through this again. I’m so upset and have no clue how to fix this. Please help!


Hmmmm.... first off, i'm so sorry for your losses!

next, let's try to solve this!

ok, have you tested your tap water? you should to see if anything about it has changed.

second, with the amount of water changes you're doing, i think you're showing 0 nitrates because of the water changes. unless you didn't shake the daylights out of test bottle #2 and the test tube after you added the 10 drops of bottle #2? at least 30-45 seconds for bottle #2 and a full minute for the test tube. but i'm sure you know that.

third, if you're showing ammonia, either you have ammonia in your source/tap water or you have a few dead fish stuck somewhere which is causing a small spike.

fourth, any chance any chemical got in the tank? suntan lotion? moisturiser? cleaning soap/liquid?

that's all i've got for now... i hope we can help!
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #3

Lauren4events

Well Known Member
Messages
690
Reaction score
206
Points
88
Experience
3 years
044B7267-CA09-477B-8A4E-FAAC4ADC37A9.jpeg
Also, here’s something new. Not sure if it’s anything... but there are white dots on the sponge in my filter. Is that just from my ceramic media pellets or is this something else?

Jenoli42 said:
Hmmmm.... first off, i'm so sorry for your losses!

next, let's try to solve this!

ok, have you tested your tap water? you should to see if anything about it has changed.

second, with the amount of water changes you're doing, i think you're showing 0 nitrates because of the water changes. unless you didn't shake the daylights out of test bottle #2 and the test tube after you added the 10 drops of bottle #2? at least 30-45 seconds for bottle #2 and a full minute for the test tube. but i'm sure you know that.

third, if you're showing ammonia, either you have ammonia in your source/tap water or you have a few dead fish stuck somewhere which is causing a small spike.

fourth, any chance any chemical got in the tank? suntan lotion? moisturiser? cleaning soap/liquid?

that's all i've got for now... i hope we can help!
Thank you for your response!

I tested the nitrate 3 times and I shook it like crazy. So I don’t think there’s a mistake there. I’ve always done large daily water changes and it has never caused the nitrate to be 0. It’s never been lower than 5, since it cycled. Even immediately after changing the water.

I just tested my tap and the ammonia is 0. Before I posted this thread, I looked all over my tank and lifted everything. If there’s a dead fish, I don’t know where it could be hiding.... I gravel vac too. So under the rocks isn’t even an option either. With the exception of new fry, which are in my tank often. It’s a nightmare. But there wouldn’t be more than one or 2. If that.

I always rinse my arms and hands, as well as my siphon thouroughly before I change the water. I honestly don’t see how any chemicals could have got into the tank. And no one else lives here. But that would at least make sense. I just don’t think there’s any way that could be the problem. Unless I am sleep walking and I don’t know I’m doing it. Lol. Very unlikely.

I’m completely stumped.

Actually, I lied. I’m thinking about it and there is one symptom. But it’s one I’ve had for a long time. My fish have white, stringy poo. Which I know usually means parasites. But they have had this for months. It has just started feeling like normal now. That’s why I didn’t think of it when I posted my first message. This still wouldn’t explain 5 deaths in 12 hours. 4 of which were over night. And why my fish are acting strange now. I’m going to change some water again... but I’m a little worried because I only have stress coat. I used the last of the prime today and didn’t get to the store. I will go tomorrow, but stress coat is all I have. And that won’t detoxify the ammonia. Which I now have for some reason that I just can’t figure out. Thoughts?
 

Jenoli42

Well Known Member
Messages
1,348
Reaction score
830
Points
98
Experience
4 years
Lauren4events said:
Actually, I lied. I’m thinking about it and there is one symptom. But it’s one I’ve had for a long time. My fish have white, stringy poo. Which I know usually means parasites. But they have had this for months. It has just started feeling like normal now. That’s why I didn’t think of it when I posted my first message.
ah! white stringy poo = bad... and i wonder if it's linked to the white dots in your sponge filter? if you had fine silica sand, i would say that's what we're looking at but you said you have gravel.

i think we have a parasite issue here because otherwise i'm stumped, too. the reason i'm cautious is that i don't know of any parasite that would make you lose your cycle! losing your cycle comes from:

* not dechlorinating your water (which you are careful about so strike that)
* pH dropping below 6 (yours is 7.4, so nope)
* some medications (you haven't used any, strike that)
* some evil chemical or anti bacterial (you're careful)

so, i have a guess at what's going on with your fish but not your cycle...

Time for reinforcements! There are some excellent sleuths i'm going to be cheeky and call upon here. @mattgirl @MissRuthless @Gypsy13 @TexasGuppy @CanadianJoeh and @Brannor is getting a crash course in live bearers so i'm keen to know his thoughts.

I hope you don't mind me tagging yous. ops:
 

AquaticJ

Fishlore VIP
Messages
6,193
Reaction score
4,443
Points
458
Experience
5 years
Also, roughly how many fish do you have? If you're doing daily 40% changes, you have no nitrate in the tap, and you do have a bit of ammonia in the tap, I would expect your results to be like this. (sometimes tap water can test for ammonia, even when it usually doesn't)
 

TexasGuppy

Well Known Member
Messages
1,250
Reaction score
491
Points
83
I was going to say dead fish, but you had that covered. I have no idea on zero nitrates. I'm afraid I can't be much help either.

Edit: you ran out of prime.. is that stress coat+? I didnt think just stress coat was a conditioner?
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #8

Lauren4events

Well Known Member
Messages
690
Reaction score
206
Points
88
Experience
3 years
MissRuthless said:
Well something definitely killed off your bacterial colony. Can you explain, step by step, exactly what you do when you change your water?
Sure. I always rinse my arms, hand and siphon is tap water only for a couple minutes. Then I run warm water through my tubing to make sure there’s no old water in there. Next, I unplug my filters, then siphon out my water with (I forget the name) —attached to my kitchen sink. I gravel vac, trying to be careful near my live plants. I remove about 40% of my water. Sometimes more. Next, I run clean water through the tubing for a couple minutes while I dose the tank with prime and stress coat for the full tank volume (60 gallons). Then, I use a new plastic cup to scoop water from my tank into the hob filters. Lastly, I add the water from my hose. I’m careful to keep the temperature the same. When I’m done with everything, I turn my filters back on. That’s honestly it.
I rinse my filters in tank water—never at the same time (I have 3) occasionally. I cleaned one a couple days ago, for example. Am I missing something?
Jenoli42 said:
ah! white stringy poo = bad... and i wonder if it's linked to the white dots in your sponge filter? if you had fine silica sand, i would say that's what we're looking at but you said you have gravel.

i think we have a parasite issue here because otherwise i'm stumped, too. the reason i'm cautious is that i don't know of any parasite that would make you lose your cycle! losing your cycle comes from:

* not dechlorinating your water (which you are careful about so strike that)
* pH dropping below 6 (yours is 7.4, so nope)
* some medications (you haven't used any, strike that)
* some evil chemical or anti bacterial (you're careful)

so, i have a guess at what's going on with your fish but not your cycle...

Time for reinforcements! There are some excellent sleuths i'm going to be cheeky and call upon here. @mattgirl @MissRuthless @Gypsy13 @TexasGuppy @CanadianJoeh and @Brannor is getting a crash course in live bearers so i'm keen to know his thoughts.

I hope you don't mind me tagging yous. ops:
I went through the same thought process and I’m stumped. I’m afraid I have a parasite too. But it’s probably been there for awhile. And it still doesn’t explain what killed my bb or 5 fish at once. I’m going crazy.
AquaticJ said:
Also, roughly how many fish do you have? If you're doing daily 40% changes, you have no nitrate in the tap, and you do have a bit of ammonia in the tap, I would expect your results to be like this. (sometimes tap water can test for ammonia, even when it usually doesn't)
My tap has no ammonia or nitrate. So that’s not my problem. I thought of that too.

If I had to guess, I would say I have 60 fish. Maybe more. It’s bad. But my lfs won’t take fish. And I’ve already rehomed over 300 fry. I’m out of options with people to take them. And I’ve also tried separating the males and the females... but the males get aggressive and fight each other. They will kill each other and it’s too horrible to watch. So I stopped trying to use that as a solution.

It’s honestly such a nightmare. I didn’t want fish. My ex left me with them. At the time, I knew nothing about fish. So I have been trying to learn as fast as possible to treat these fish humanely. But I don’t think an overcrowded tank is humane. I just don’t know how to fix it. So I change 40-50% water every day. I hate it. But I’m trying to do right by them. And that’s the only solution I have right now.

Most are still pretty small juveniles. So it’s not as bad as it will be when they get bigger. It’s a major cause of stress in my life. So having fish die isn’t a bad thing for my tank. I just don’t want to be causing it. You know?
TexasGuppy said:
I was going to say dead fish, but you had that covered. I have no idea on zero nitrates. I'm afraid I can't be much help either.

Edit: you ran out of prime.. is that stress coat+? I didnt think just stress coat was a conditioner?
Yes, I have stress coat plus. Which removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals. It also has aloe vera. But it won’t do me much good with the ammonia I have now. And I’m afraid it will get worse. Since I don’t know what’s causing this in the first place. I’m very frustrated.
Any other ideas? I’m open to any suggestions.
 

mattgirl

Fishlore VIP
Messages
9,387
Reaction score
8,192
Points
608
Experience
More than 10 years
I am thinking An Angel Fish or two would cut down on the over abundance of fry but that isn't going to help what is going on with the recent deaths
 

tunafax

Well Known Member
Messages
1,267
Reaction score
787
Points
128
Mouth stuck open is a classic sign of Nitrate poisoning, though it appears with other types of poisoning as well.

How's your city water? Heavy metals etc?


Edit - it is also possible to overdose water conditioner. Very hard to do short of dumping the whole bottle in, but possible.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #11

Lauren4events

Well Known Member
Messages
690
Reaction score
206
Points
88
Experience
3 years
mattgirl said:
I am thinking An Angel Fish or two would cut down on the over abundance of fry but that isn't going to help what is going on with the recent deaths
Thanks for the tip. I should probably figure out the problem before subjecting more fish to whatever is wrong here though. But once I get this under control, I will look into it. Thank you!
tunafax said:
Mouth stuck open is a classic sign of Nitrate poisoning, though it appears with other types of poisoning as well.

How's your city water? Heavy metals etc?


Edit - it is also possible to overdose water conditioner. Very hard to do short of dumping the whole bottle in, but possible.
I have no nitrate in my tap or my tank. So that’s for sure not it.
I don’t know anything about the heavy metals or any changes in my tap. I don’t even know how I would get that info
I used both prime and stress coat plus. But only the directed amount for both. Could it be because I used both and only should’ve used one? Although that also doesn’t help explain what killed my bb...
*sigh
I still have no clue what’s going on... does anyone? Any guess? Literally any idea could help here... so please. Say whatever comes to mind.

tunafax said:
Mouth stuck open is a classic sign of Nitrate poisoning, though it appears with other types of poisoning as well.

How's your city water? Heavy metals etc?


Edit - it is also possible to overdose water conditioner. Very hard to do short of dumping the whole bottle in, but possible.
Keep in mind that I do large water changes every day. So you would think this would’ve been a problem a long time ago. Not all of the sudden... over a year later. Right?
 

Jenoli42

Well Known Member
Messages
1,348
Reaction score
830
Points
98
Experience
4 years
I tend to think that getting an aggressive fish to help solve your too many fry and live breeder problem is a great solution once we figure out what's gone wrong...

having said that, if we don't figure it out it sounds like you might not have a problem in the near future - you'll have an uncycled tank with skeletons

at this stage given how careful you sound like you're being i'm left with

A. sudden change in tap water chemistry (eg, treatment plant suddenly flushing the lines and causing heavy metals or toxins to fish in your water)

B. some other source of poison...any construction near you? are you remodeling or painting anything in your home?

i had cardinal tetras mysteriously die suddenly as well and was stumped. this was recent and we decided it was either a combination of various stress factors OR when i rinsed a plastic fake plant i did it in water that was hot enough that poisons leeched out and didn't cool it off before adding it to the tank. this was a pretty far fetched idea but it was one of those low quality cheap things (it was for our quarantine tank).

the reason those look like attractive possibilities is that they would explain both the BB die off and the fish problems (maybe).

i tend to be skeptical about coincidence - but i just can't link parasites to BB die off without medication.
 

Gypsy13

Fishlore VIP
Messages
4,622
Reaction score
3,043
Points
198
Experience
More than 10 years
Could you describe in detail one more time the process of your water change routine? I listened to that part several times and have one issue with it. So please do a repeat for me?
 

tunafax

Well Known Member
Messages
1,267
Reaction score
787
Points
128
A long shot, but what is the PH of your tap water?

It's something in the water, or something added to the water with conditioner.
Or lack of oxygen, but that's rare.
 

Fashooga

Fishlore VIP
Messages
4,822
Reaction score
2,753
Points
348
Experience
More than 10 years
I'm wondering whether you have more dead fish somewhere in the tank that decayed enough where there might be bits of just meats in the gravel.

I know you've been trying to reduce the amount of fry you have. You have a factory of fish going there.

You have 2 HOB and a canister filter, you clean each filter every water change every day? If that's the case I think your kind of over cleaning it. Cleaning everyday might have made the bb useless, you should let it gather as much of the BB it can take on...maybe clean one filter one month, the 2nd the next month and the third another month, though a canister you can really clean it twice a year.

I use Stress coat, that's it. Been using that over the 10 years I've been doing this hobby. If your afraid of over pouring it I would recommend you buy a spray bottle. Each pump is 10mg...which is really = to 1 gallon...this prevents over dosing (which isn't a bad thing) and saves money from over dosing.

I know you been trying to do well with the tank but I think having a tank that is essentially a factory of new babies by the min I would consider maybe finding a fish you really want and let it clean up eliminate the population. This might save more trouble in the long run.
 

Gypsy13

Fishlore VIP
Messages
4,622
Reaction score
3,043
Points
198
Experience
More than 10 years
Ok. Here’s why I was asking the question of you water changes: I have used stress coat for ages. After joining fishlore, I wanted to try prime. Being uncertain, I did research. Then I contacted Auburn University. This is what I was told when I asked about using prime and stress coat together. Stress coat is sodium thiosulfate. Adding it with prime to an overpopulated tank can lead to ammonia levels rising. He also said if the tank is overpopulated, I must be over feeding because if I weren’t moms n pops would be taking care of some of the fry. I knew I was over feeding cause I dint want the poor babies to die.
Just a side note here.
 

mattgirl

Fishlore VIP
Messages
9,387
Reaction score
8,192
Points
608
Experience
More than 10 years
Gypsy13 said:
Ok. Here’s why I was asking the question of you water changes: I have used stress coat for ages. After joining fishlore, I wanted to try prime. Being uncertain, I did research. Then I contacted Auburn University. This is what I was told when I asked about using prime and stress coat together. Stress coat is sodium thiosulfate. Adding it with prime to an overpopulated tank can lead to ammonia levels rising. He also said if the tank is overpopulated, I must be over feeding because if I weren’t moms n pops would be taking care of some of the fry. I knew I was over feeding cause I dint want the poor babies to die.
Just a side note here.
Good thoughts and deductions. That reason has been rolling around in my mind too ever since I read that stress coat is a new addition to this tank. It could very well be conflicting with the Prime or something else in the source water.
 

tunafax

Well Known Member
Messages
1,267
Reaction score
787
Points
128
@Gypsy13 this feels incredibly right since it would be a good explanation for a few totally random and out of nowhere instances of "bad city water" and "mysterious parasite" and "bad luck" I had since I began coughing up the big bucks for Prime. Very interesting! Hmm.
 

Colt Frost

Well Known Member
Messages
1,228
Reaction score
210
Points
98
Experience
2 years
I don't know if this could be an issue, but my tap water, I have to be very careful because I have undissolved calcium that dissolves in my aquariums. It causes a skyrocket in my ph level. But ya the mixing of water conditioners might be doing something. For example I've heard prime mixed with prazipro causes a reaction.
 

MissRuthless

Well Known Member
Messages
753
Reaction score
386
Points
78
Experience
5 years
I would stop using the stress coat and just stick with prime... I don't know the mechanics of stress coat because I've never used it, but other products that make claims like "stimulates slime coat production" do so because they contain irritants, which causes the fish to produce more slime coat to protect themselves from the irritation. I assume being a sodium type chemical, this is how it works. Supposedly it's harmless, but it seems like not the best thing to me so I don't use it. I did not know that it interacts with prime like that so I'm glad I don't.

I agree that if these fish were dumped on you like that, and you are not interested in breeding them and are struggling to keep up with them just because you have to, you should get rid of them and put your new fishkeeping knowledge to a better, more enjoyable use by getting some fish that you actually like. Put them on Craigslist, and/or post in our BSTF forum, and someone who enjoys keeping tanks full of baby machines will take them off your hands. That's a lot of work to be doing for fish that you don't really care for, and it'll eventually make you sick of having fish. If you're willing to work that hard though, you deserve a tank of beautiful fish that you love.
 
Toggle Sidebar

Aquarium Calculator

Follow FishLore!





Top Bottom