Water Levels Good But Fish Still Dying? Swim Bladder Or Parasite?

Willow5

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Hi All,

I figured I would try out posting on a forum to see if anyone could solve some problems I'm having with my tank. First some specs:

size: 26g bowfront
fish:
-4 ottos
-2 black neon tetras (used to be 7)
-3 guppies
-2 mystery snails
lighting:
Finnex Planted 24/7
plants:
basic planted aquarium, java fern, anubias, etc
temp:
77 degrees (trying to combat disease)
water specs:
GH: 150ppm
KH: 75 ppm
Nitrate: ~40
Nitrite: 0
Ammonium: 0
PH: ~7.8
water changes:
3 gallons twice a week
tank age:
~2 months

My tapwater has very hard water, so I understand why my PH and GH levels are high. I do add Al's multi-purpose Water Conditioner to the tank with each water change and I have 2 medium pieces of driftwood in the tank.

I am encountering 2 problems: brown algae outburst and my black neons dying.

1. Brown Algae: I know brown algae is common in newer tanks, but it's become a nuisance. I'm hoping my team of ottos and snails will clear it up in a while, but is there anything else someone recommends? Maybe more frequent water changes to reduce any silicate and nitrate levels? I'm worried the brown algae is only the bi-product of a more serious issue in my tank that is causing fish to die...

2. Dying Fish: I've had a grand total of 8 fish die in the last 3 weeks. (3 from the initial black neon shoal, then I added 4 more, then 5 from the second shoal -- I only have 2 black neons left). My ottos and snails are doing okay for now.

The first 5 fish died really suddenly and unexpectedly, there were no signs that I can share.

But these last 3 have all died from what I'm assuming is Swim Bladder Disease? I'm not positive though because they start swimming lethargically and a little sideways for a day, then go vertical for a couple hours, then die. It's all extremely fast.

The last fish who died has a bright red spot on his belly that had appeared. The only cause I can think of is my last group of neons came from petsmart (I know, a horrible idea and I no longer go there) - and they all were the first to die. I'm worried they may have passed on a parasite or disease to the other fish.

If anyone has experienced a similar problem or has any advice overall, I would really appreciate it!
I uploaded a water test picture and a pic of a vertical floating fish.

Thanks!
Emily
 

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LynnwoodFishDad

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Are there any other signs of disease and have the fish in question stopped eating or shown other signs? Based on the rapid timeframe it sounds more like a water quality issue.

Your nitrates are a little high. You may try dosing your conditioner between changes. Was the red spot there before the fish died? If not, blood pools when animals die, so that may have been facing bottom when the tetra passed. All mine are very hardy so it may be the source of the fish. They could be weak fish or your hardness and ph may be very different from the store. Have you tested the water the fish come in?

As nothing else has been impacted, I really think it is something between you and the store. My best advice is go some where else if you can or get a different type of fish.

As far as the algae is concerned, cut down your food a bit and turn the tank light off during the mid-day hours. Other than that there isn’t much you can do.

Good luck!
 
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Willow5

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Thank you for replying so quickly!

They won't eat the day they show signs of sickness, but eat up till then just fine. The red spot was not there before the fish died.

Im not sure about petsmart, but the aquarium store I now go to used RO for their tanks. Ive considered RO but I'm not sure it is worth it for just a hobby 26 gallon tank.
 

LynnwoodFishDad

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You may need to set up a smaller tank that is part RO and Tank water to let the fish acclimate for a few weeks. You could start at 25% and then replace what you remove with tank water over a 12-14 day period.

That may be more expensive than the water. If you’re not adding after this group gets established, maybe replace 50% of your tank water with RO, load in the new fish (plan for a few to die), and then let it be from there.
 
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Willow5

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Hm yeah I've been doing more research into RO and I think I will start adding 50% RO 50% tap water (with conditioning) during the water changes. Hopefully this brings down the nitrates, ph, and water hardness at a fairly stable rate.

Thanks for your input!
 

Islandvic

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Your black neons may have been from a weak strain from thr fish farm, or had already been over stressed during shipment from the vendor to the fish store.

PetSmart isn't the worst place to get fish from. It really depends on the individual story's managers and employees. Many times, local fish stores buy from the same vendors as the big box stores.

For example, check out this LINK to Segrest Farms, one of the nation's largest wholesale fish vendors. The link sends you to their page to look up fish stores by ZIP CODE they sell to. Enter your zip code and in the next drop down box select "40 miles" for the distance. You may be surprised it lists some area big box stores as well as some LFS' in your area.

As for the water change regimen you have, my suggestion would be to bump up your volume of water changes. Removing 3 gallons 2x a week is a bit low in my opinion, especially with the fish deaths and the increase of algae.

Are you only removing water via a pitcher/cup, or are you using a siphon gravel vac ?

If you use a siphon gravel vac to clean the substrate with each water change, you will remove a lot of the accumulated organic matter, which might be contributing to the algae outbreak. This might also reduce your nitrates.

You mentioned having hard water. My pH is the same as yours and I have hard water as well, but my community fish thrive in it with no issues. Many of them I've had over a year now, from when we first got into the hobby.

Your water is probably well buffered like mine, if so then its pH will remain stable, which is more important to the fish.

Most times, fish will adapt to what ever water parameters they are in. They just don't do very well with sudden swings in pH.

If I were in your situation, I'd hold off on the whole RO water deal for the moment. That is a big investment just because you had 2 batches of Black Neons die. I've had the same issue with regular neon tetras on more than one occasion, where 1-2 die the first 24hrs and the other half within 3-6 days. All while in a cycled quarantine tank. I blame it on weak strains from vendors and/or they were overly stressed during shipping.
 

Momgoose56

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Hi All,

I figured I would try out posting on a forum to see if anyone could solve some problems I'm having with my tank. First some specs:

size: 26g bowfront
fish:
-4 ottos
-2 black neon tetras (used to be 7)
-3 guppies
-2 mystery snails
lighting:
Finnex Planted 24/7
plants:
basic planted aquarium, java fern, anubias, etc
temp:
77 degrees (trying to combat disease)
water specs:
GH: 150ppm
KH: 75 ppm
Nitrate: ~40
Nitrite: 0
Ammonium: 0
PH: ~7.8
water changes:
3 gallons twice a week
tank age:
~2 months

My tapwater has very hard water, so I understand why my PH and GH levels are high. I do add Al's multi-purpose Water Conditioner to the tank with each water change and I have 2 medium pieces of driftwood in the tank.

I am encountering 2 problems: brown algae outburst and my black neons dying.

1. Brown Algae: I know brown algae is common in newer tanks, but it's become a nuisance. I'm hoping my team of ottos and snails will clear it up in a while, but is there anything else someone recommends? Maybe more frequent water changes to reduce any silicate and nitrate levels? I'm worried the brown algae is only the bi-product of a more serious issue in my tank that is causing fish to die...

2. Dying Fish: I've had a grand total of 8 fish die in the last 3 weeks. (3 from the initial black neon shoal, then I added 4 more, then 5 from the second shoal -- I only have 2 black neons left). My ottos and snails are doing okay for now.

The first 5 fish died really suddenly and unexpectedly, there were no signs that I can share.

But these last 3 have all died from what I'm assuming is Swim Bladder Disease? I'm not positive though because they start swimming lethargically and a little sideways for a day, then go vertical for a couple hours, then die. It's all extremely fast.

The last fish who died has a bright red spot on his belly that had appeared. The only cause I can think of is my last group of neons came from petsmart (I know, a horrible idea and I no longer go there) - and they all were the first to die. I'm worried they may have passed on a parasite or disease to the other fish.

If anyone has experienced a similar problem or has any advice overall, I would really appreciate it!
I uploaded a water test picture and a pic of a vertical floating fish.

Thanks!
Emily
My opinion: Your pH is fine as long as it's stable. Your GH and KH are fine too for the fish you have.
Check your tap water for those same parameters. You might find your tap water GH and KH are lower than in your tank.
I think a 50-75% water change now (to get the nitrates down) and weekly 25-30% water changes will solve most of the algae problem and probably take care of the dying fish problem as well.
The two small water changes you are doing weekly are not as effective at removing nitrates as 1 large water change a week.
 
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Willow5

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Sorry this is coming back so late! I was traveling. But thank you all so much for the responses and it’s always helpful to know what others recommend just to make sure I’m on the right track. One black neon survived the mass die-off (3 weeks ago now) and he’s been doing great, along with all my other fish and invertebrate. So I think it must have just been a quick rapid disease that spread through that family.
 
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