Why Do My Fish Keep Dying?

SunReign

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Okay, so I have this 10 gallon planted aquarium that currently holds four zebra danios, one ember tetra, and a ghost shrimp. It's heated and filtered, obviously, and every time I test the water it comes out well. It's been running for a year and a half. I keep trying with new fish and troubleshooting -- it could have been this fertilizer, it could be the filter cartridge, maybe the shrimp killed them, might have been a bad batch -- but every time I get new fish they last a few days and happily eat and swim around, but will one by one by one super thin and stay in a corner at the top over the course of maybe a month. They only last a few days or a week after this and honestly I don't know what to do anymore. Since I've had the tank I've tried with Neon tetras, ember tetras, pygmy cories, and scarlet badis but they all slowly die out. I mean, I have one surviving ember tetra. I'm distraught and I have no idea what to do.
 

Ryan P

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SunReign said:
Okay, so I have this 10 gallon planted aquarium that currently holds four zebra danios, one ember tetra, and a ghost shrimp. It's heated and filtered, obviously, and every time I test the water it comes out well. It's been running for a year and a half. I keep trying with new fish and troubleshooting -- it could have been this fertilizer, it could be the filter cartridge, maybe the shrimp killed them, might have been a bad batch -- but every time I get new fish they last a few days and happily eat and swim around, but will one by one by one super thin and stay in a corner at the top over the course of maybe a month. They only last a few days or a week after this and honestly I don't know what to do anymore. Since I've had the tank I've tried with Neon tetras, ember tetras, pygmy cories, and scarlet badis but they all slowly die out. I mean, I have one surviving ember tetra. I'm distraught and I have no idea what to do.
Sorry to hear that. do you have or check your water parameters?
 

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What are your actual water readings?

If your fish get super thin, that's a possible clue of a parasite. It's possible that your other fish are fine because they're not stressed. Sometimes disease is present but the fish don't get sick if they're not stressed. Being transferred from a fish store to your tank is a source of stress. Did you acclimate the new fish?

Did you get your fish all from the same fish store?

So many questions because it's a matter of trying to put puzzle pieces together to figure out what's wrong and how to respond. There are few times when you can say, "This is present," and therefore, "This is the disease." Most times you have to consider all the factors and make an educated guess.
 
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SunReign

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I can grab my readings in a moment. They're mostly from the same source, Petco. My LFS sadly went out of business but the Petco has an amazing fish department. They're all very well taken care of and the staff are super knowledgeable, so I doubt that's the problem.

I do acclimate them. At one point I thought that that was the problem and I did both drip acclimation, adding cups of water to the bag after floating, and just plain floating (which has had the highest success rate). I still had the problem regardless, so I don't think that's it.

I could use as much help as I can get, the more questions the better
 
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SunReign

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Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Ammonia: 0
pH: 8.2 (not the best but all of my other fish in different tanks are doing well)

I usually change the water weekly, mostly somewhere around 25% but it depends on the week. I've been rinsing out the filter cartridge every once and a while to find that water comes out dark brown, almost tea colored, but I'm pretty sure that's just tannins from my driftwood. I'm using the filter that came with the tank -- it's a standard Aqueon with a light to indicate when to change a cartridge but the light doesn't really work -- and maybe that's an issue but I sort of doubt it.
 
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SunReign

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Update: Another danio is dead, though I can't find the body. I think the shrimp ate it.

Please help me out here, I have no idea what to do or why my fish keep dying
 

King o´ Angelfish

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Water changes are good. Dont clean the filter every week though. Clean the filter every other week, and on a different day from your water change. This is so you can stack up on beneficial bacteria. As for the fish dying, your parameters seem overly perfect. Zero nitrate? I think a person would have to be doing daily water changes, and have a densely planted tank to have that reading. What test kit do you have?
 

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O nitrate makes me wonder. Did anything happen that could have caused you to lose your cycle or have your nitrate always been that low?
 

Ms rose

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SunReign said:
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Ammonia: 0
pH: 8.2 (not the best but all of my other fish in different tanks are doing well)

I usually change the water weekly, mostly somewhere around 25% but it depends on the week. I've been rinsing out the filter cartridge every once and a while to find that water comes out dark brown, almost tea colored, but I'm pretty sure that's just tannins from my driftwood. I'm using the filter that came with the tank -- it's a standard Aqueon with a light to indicate when to change a cartridge but the light doesn't really work -- and maybe that's an issue but I sort of doubt it.
do you change to new filter cartrage? do you rinse cartradge out in tap water ot tank water. 0 nitrates sounds like maybe you lost your cycle, assuming you dont have alot of plants in this particular tank... i would be willing to bet if you are changing/rinsing filter in tap this is your issue as you would loos your cycle which keeps fish alive every time tou do something to youor filter. its possibly something else, but the answers to these question can confirm or deny these options
 

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A planted aquarium with lighting issues? perhaps your plants are creating too much co2 and not enough oxygen o2? if you have better lighting they would turn the co2 into o2. Just a thought to test your oxygen levels. Fish will tend to hover in a corner if they don't have enough oxygen as well. Hope you get things working and sorry for your poor fish.
 

CraniumRex

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Aquatic Dreamer said:
A planted aquarium with issues? perhaps your plants are creating too much and not enough oxygen o2?
Sorry, I'm confused by this. I thought plants consumed CO2 and gave off oxygen.

I would think high lighting would certainly have them need more CO2 to grow quickly but I've never heard of any planted tank having too much CO2 unless it was being bubbled in deliberately with a CO2 system. Have I got that wrong?
 

ljg

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Could it possibly be your shrimp? I have heard that some shrimp can be mean to little fish, especially neon tetras. Also like many other people have said, you have probably lost your cycle. How often do you do a full water change?
 

CraniumRex

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I'm equally confused by 0 Nitrates as the previous posters and while I have no experience with ghost shrimp I do have a cherry shrimp tank, so was thinking the shrimp would be as or more sensitive to deteriorating water conditions as tetras if not the other species you have tried.

Have you considered redoing the nitrate test to see if you had a false reading?
Are you seeing nitrates in your other tanks (if yes, proves test kit can measure them).

I'm also thinking possibly parasites. Depending on how quickly you add new fish, you might have had them with the first batch then even if the newer ones were healthy, on it goes. Possibly gill flukes? I believe the inverts are immune to these. If you decide to treat with an anthelmintics or anti-parasitic, you'd likely have to move the shrimp.

Did you see any white poop, or any poop at all for that matter?

Lastly, that brown colour in your filter might be partly tannins but betting it's fish waste. I service my filters about once a month, but I also run pre-filters on everything (sponge over the intake).
 

Aquatic Dreamer

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CraniumRex said:
Sorry, I'm confused by this. I thought plants consumed CO2 and gave off oxygen.

I would think high lighting would certainly have them need more CO2 to grow quickly but I've never heard of any planted tank having too much CO2 unless it was being bubbled in deliberately with a CO2 system. Have I got that wrong?
They do yes but when unlit they have the opposite effect and take up oxygen and create co2, during photosynthesis in daytime they take in the most co2 and produce the most oxygen. When the lights go out there is a chance the plants are taking away from the oxygen levels and not using the co2 ultimately suffocating the fish. You need ample lighting for many hours a day to create the proper photosynthesis for the plants.
 
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SunReign

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King o´ Angelfish said:
Water changes are good. Dont clean the filter every week though. Clean the filter every other week, and on a different day from your water change. This is so you can stack up on beneficial bacteria. As for the fish dying, your parameters seem overly perfect. Zero nitrate? I think a person would have to be doing daily water changes, and have a densely planted tank to have that reading. What test kit do you have?
I use a standard API master test kit. My tank is planted, but not very densely.

Ms rose said:
do you change to new filter cartrage? do you rinse cartradge out in tap water ot tank water. 0 nitrates sounds like maybe you lost your cycle, assuming you dont have alot of plants in this particular tank... i would be willing to bet if you are changing/rinsing filter in tap this is your issue as you would loos your cycle which keeps fish alive every time tou do something to youor filter. its possibly something else, but the answers to these question can confirm or deny these options
Hm. I have been rinsing it in tap. I guess that is a good point, but there's been the pattern of dying fish long before I started rinsing out the cartridge.

CraniumRex said:
I'm equally confused by 0 Nitrates as the previous posters and while I have no experience with ghost shrimp I do have a cherry shrimp tank, so was thinking the shrimp would be as or more sensitive to deteriorating water conditions as tetras if not the other species you have tried.

Have you considered redoing the nitrate test to see if you had a false reading?
Are you seeing nitrates in your other tanks (if yes, proves test kit can measure them).

I'm also thinking possibly parasites. Depending on how quickly you add new fish, you might have had them with the first batch then even if the newer ones were healthy, on it goes. Possibly gill flukes? I believe the inverts are immune to these. If you decide to treat with an anthelmintics or anti-parasitic, you'd likely have to move the shrimp.

Did you see any white poop, or any poop at all for that matter?

Lastly, that brown colour in your filter might be partly tannins but betting it's fish waste. I service my filters about once a month, but I also run pre-filters on everything (sponge over the intake).
I know, the fact that my shrimp is still alive is strange! I haven't really noticed any white poop; I only see pretty normal poop when I change out the water. I've had multiple shrimp since I've started running the tank and they've all survived for a... period of time. Never seemed to be affected by whatever is going on with the other fish, though my current shrimp devoured a few others. I'm pretty sure he killed my old pygmy cories.



I should note that I don't think I've ever seen a positive nitrate reading which is really weird. Like I said, the tank is planted and has had a bunch of assorted inhabitants over the past year and a half I had it. I do remember cycling it, but I don't remember how, or if I did it very effectively.
 

-Serenity-

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8.2 PH is to high for Danios and Tetras. You should lower it to around 6.7 - 7 to accommodate the ph ranges of both fish (Danio 6.5 - 8) (Neon Tetra 6-7)
Shrimp don't eat living fish. Shrimp will eat anything that is dead or almost dead. (Shrimp are scavengers)
I would suggest aerating the water with an air-stone. Just to be on the safe side on oxygenation and movement of the water column.

If anything is still living in the tank I would go to the store and purchase 2-3 gallons of spring water to keep them in temporarily for about a day or two (No more than three days Ammonia will spike) and let the tank cycle.
Snails and shrimp should be fine to leave in tank during this tank process. (their bio-load on the tank is very, very low)
After that's done add fish as if you got them from the fish store.
Float for 30 - 60 minutes. Add some tank water and let sit again for 15 - 30 minutes) then take just the fish (not the water) and put them into the tank.

Make sure when you test the water with that test kit you use another container to get the water for the test vials. Like a cup or something. (Just to make sure if any residue chemicals from previous tests don't leach into the water.

What kind of filter are you currently using and how old is the filter media? Also does the filter media look strange? (White crusty buildup, super green, etc.)

Hope this helps
 
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SunReign

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Serenity, I don't think it's the pH. I have other danios and tetras in a different tank under the same pH and they're doing wonderfully. Also, I do have an air stone that runs on a timer with the tank lights.

What exactly would keeping them in the spring water do? I don't really understand what the benefit of that would be -- I've added other fish from the fish store to them and they still die.

I use the filter that came with the tank. The bio media thing is just a plastic frame that holds the cartridge and a sponge "ammonia filter" that always turns brown and has brown algae hanging from it that I have to clean.
 

-Serenity-

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Don't think you understand what I meant...
Spring water was to keep them in temporarily until you fix whats killing the fish.
The air stone should probably be running all the time. Especially if oxygen in the water turns out to be the problem.
Don't add anymore fish until you know what the problem is.
The Ph is the recommended levels for those fish species.
It may work for fish accustomed to that level of basic water.
Out of my five tanks I don't have a single tank over 7.2 for ph. always between 6.2 and 7.2.
8+ is to basic as anything below 6 is to acidic
Fresh water stream Ph levels in the wild are around 6 to 8.
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