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Old 07-22-2014, 09:15 AM   #1
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Is this par for the course, or do I just suck at aquarium keeping?

My aquarium has been going for about 8 months now, and I'm wondering whether my experience is just the normal ups and downs of fish-keeping, or if I'm just not cut out for this!

Basically, I keep losing fish, and I can't figure out why. Not all of them. But it looks as though I can only keep "bullet proof" fish that would survive just about anything.

To get the basics out of the way -
Yes, my tank is cycled. I don't test the water all the time, but when I do, it's 0% ammonia, 0% nitrites, and somewhere between 0-12 on the nitrate test.

Tank has many live plants, tough ones like java fern and anubias, as well as a external philodendrum that dangles its roots in the water.

I do a 50% water change every week.

My tank is about 23 gallons.

I have a Aquaclear 70 filter that is running nicely. I carefully squeeze the filter media every 2 or so weeks in old tank water to prevent it clogging up.

At the moment, my tank has 8 black widow tetras, 3 silver-tip tetras, 1 bronze cory, 1 java loach, 1 apple snail. They all seem well and happy.

The problem is with the fish I lost. They seem fine for months, then suddenly, from one day to the next they are either gone, or I find their little dead bodies No sign of illness.

Over the past few months I've lost - 1 honey gourami, 3 peppered cories, 2 bronze cories.

My guesses are -
* even though I checked here, and on Aqua advisor, the tank was overstocked and the fish were under stress?

* Maybe they could not all get enough food - I feed them only every 2nd or 3rd day? Especially the honey gourami who had to compete with those pushy tetras? (I feel very bad about him)

*Mystery substance getting into tank somehow, although I'm super paranoid and careful about that kind of thing.

I'd love to add one or two more fish to this tank - some more bronze cories as a companion to the one that's left, or a bristlenose plec, but maybe I should leave well enough alone? I'd love to add another java loach since I know they don't like being alone, but I simply cannot find one for sale anywhere.

Any help or advice much appreciated, sorry for the long post. I went through a phase where I hardly wanted to even look at the tank because I was so scared I would see more fish had died but I've got over that now and would like to give it another shot.
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Old 07-22-2014, 09:19 AM   #2
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I've been through this in my 20 gal too, heavily planted and healthy as an ox yet seemingly healthy fish drop. Some corys and tetras mainly.. I've chalked it up to poor or exhausted stock.. if you think about it, unless we buy fish when they are small fry their really is no true way to know just how old they are.. people bring in their fish to the lfs quite often.. these fish than get mixed in with their appropriate counterparts..xoxo be a year old? Could be 2 years old??

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Old 07-22-2014, 09:54 AM   #3
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You should probably feed once a day.


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Old 07-22-2014, 10:19 AM   #4
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I've been through this in my 20 gal too, heavily planted and healthy as an ox yet seemingly healthy fish drop. Some corys and tetras mainly.. I've chalked it up to poor or exhausted stock.. if you think about it, unless we buy fish when they are small fry their really is no true way to know just how old they are.. people bring in their fish to the lfs quite often.. these fish than get mixed in with their appropriate counterparts..xoxo be a year old? Could be 2 years old??

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I suppose that could be it. Not likely with the cories, though, as I got them when they were tiny babies. And cories are quite tough, no? It worries me that the bronze cories died.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:20 AM   #5
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You should probably feed once a day.


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Do you think so? I thought they did not need to eat that often, and might be better for the water quality?
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:20 AM   #6
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Age of fish

I agree with Brookster the age of the fish has a lot to do with it. I find if I buy from the LFS and I buy full grown fish they do not seem to last more than six months to a year. What I've started doing is going to tropical fish clubs auctions and buying baby fish that the club members have breed I find these fish extreamly hardy and seem to travel well and last a long time.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:54 AM   #7
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Could it be:

too much water flow in tank?

tank temp too low?

they don't like water changes even temp matched?

I've just given up on neons in the DT and have them in a 5gal where they seem to be doing much better with more colour. About once every 4 months I get a few more fish (last week a baby yo yo loach went walk about over the tank edge so I need to be more careful there darn it). Plants - well, I buy a lot of them
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Delapool View Post
Could it be:

too much water flow in tank?

tank temp too low?

they don't like water changes even temp matched?

I've just given up on neons in the DT and have them in a 5gal where they seem to be doing much better with more colour. About once every 4 months I get a few more fish (last week a baby yo yo loach went walk about over the tank edge so I need to be more careful there darn it). Plants - well, I buy a lot of them
thanks for these thoughts, Delapool.

I've got a big old bottle-baffle on the filter, so there's very little current in the tank. They certainly were unhappy before I did that.

Tank temps too low... I've got the tank at just above 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Could that be too cold?

I've wondered if maybe my temp matching is not so good with the water changes. Maybe I need to be more careful with that.

I'm thinking of changing the buckets I use for water changes, as they are not newly bought ones. Maybe despite all my rinsing etc they still have a trace of something in them.
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:23 AM   #9
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Do you think so? I thought they did not need to eat that often, and might be better for the water quality?

It depends on the fish really but most people feed at least once a day. I feed once a day. One problem people don't take in to consideration when finding suitable tank mates is the feeding. A honey gourami would find it very difficult to compete for food with fast tetra. My harlequin rasbora are so fast the when I place the flakes in and bob my head down to watch they are all suspended back in the water column digesting their flakes. My neons are then the second fastest. Had 10 for over a year. One got columnaris and is still alive but they eat from all areas of the tank.

I did have trouble keeping Cory's and gouramis myself. Especially the honey gouramis. I found feeding them very awkward and was always worried they weren't getting enough and that was feeding once a day. I did have some other issues at the time so I'm not saying their deaths were solely due to underfeeding but I definitely do think it is an issue.

Other things to consider is ph, acclimatisation period. Water change volume and any other stress factors you can think of internal/external. Are they being picked on at night etc.

Personally if I was to have bottom feeders they would either be kept on their own or with 1 or 2 centrepiece fish. I wouldn't get a BN pleco either more food and more waste.

Sorry to hear your story though. Can be very frustrating at times fish keeping.




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Old 07-22-2014, 11:32 AM   #10
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Caliban, I think competing for food was certainly a problem, especially for that honey gourami. The black widows are quite aggressive. I thought he was doing ok, but maybe the stress of it was just too much for him.

I've figured out how to get food to the cories without the tetras noticing - basically sink a pellet for them while I feed the tetras at the other side of the tank. Seemed to work. I fed the cories half a pellet at a time as the pellets seem so huge.

I think you've convinced me not to get a bristlenose plec.

I have not tested the PH recently, maybe I should try that. The PH in my area is pretty high, I think it was 8? I was told that that was ok. I'm super, super careful about acclimatizing fish when I add them. But anyway, they only die when they've already been in my tank for a few months.

I think I better test the PH of the "old water" in the tank, maybe there's a swing in PH when I do a water change...
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:47 AM   #11
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I would up the temp from 73 to 76-78

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Old 07-22-2014, 11:49 AM   #12
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I would up the temp from 73 to 76-78

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I'm going to try that. Gradually, of course
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Old 07-22-2014, 12:11 PM   #13
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What about the contents of the tank before your fish were in it? Did you get it new or used?
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Old 07-22-2014, 12:14 PM   #14
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What about the contents of the tank before your fish were in it? Did you get it new or used?
New, Snaily. All the equipment was new too.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm more and more suspecting my buckets One of them was used to store dog food at some point, and although I rinsed it very well, maybe there's still some kind of contamination there.

What would you guys recommend for new buckets? Any particular kind better, and how to prepare / clean them?
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Old 07-22-2014, 05:48 PM   #15
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New, Snaily. All the equipment was new too.



Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm more and more suspecting my buckets One of them was used to store dog food at some point, and although I rinsed it very well, maybe there's still some kind of contamination there.



What would you guys recommend for new buckets? Any particular kind better, and how to prepare / clean them?

If it was a contaminant is have expected all the fish to be affected.


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Old 07-22-2014, 06:23 PM   #16
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I've had times where seemingly healthy fish just start dying off as well. I would try feeding smaller amounts more often, even some frozen food to boost immunity. Also, I would ask your LFS when they receive their shipments in and try to plan around that. Mine usually gets deliveries on Mondays, so I go in on Tuesday, to give them some time to acclimate but not sit in their tanks forever.


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Old 07-22-2014, 06:49 PM   #17
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I do water changes with new buckets that I use only for the fish, nothing else. And I agree, you need to feed at least once a day and raise the water temp.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:24 PM   #18
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Is this par for the course, or do I just suck at aquarium keeping?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masha View Post
thanks for these thoughts, Delapool.



I've got a big old bottle-baffle on the filter, so there's very little current in the tank. They certainly were unhappy before I did that.



Tank temps too low... I've got the tank at just above 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Could that be too cold?



I've wondered if maybe my temp matching is not so good with the water changes. Maybe I need to be more careful with that.



I'm thinking of changing the buckets I use for water changes, as they are not newly bought ones. Maybe despite all my rinsing etc they still have a trace of something in them.

Forgot about the water baffle! I need to do that as well. Tank temp could be a little low. 73F =22.8C I get.

I keep the DT at 24.5C or just under 77F. I found the neons / cardinals were very slow at 21 to 22C (forgot to switch heater on), ok at 23 to 24 and more lively at 25 to 26C. Currently I have temp at 26C.


Edit - I don't know on temp water matching. I've found some fish hate colder water and get fungal infections while others like my rosy barbs seem to love it.
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Old 07-23-2014, 06:24 AM   #19
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Thanks for all the replies.

My plan of action:
--I've started raising the temperature gradually.
--Started small, daily feeding.
--Will test PH just before the next water change to see if there's any shift in PH with the water change.

I also plan to get new buckets - not convinced there is contamination, but since the more "delicate" fish keep dying, maybe?

I do have some frozen food, haven't used it for some time as it comes in such large lumps Will carve it up into smaller pieces.
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Old 07-23-2014, 09:45 AM   #20
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Is this par for the course, or do I just suck at aquarium keeping?

Good luck! Good to hear from you again.

Just staring at a new iron test kit result wondering why it has no colour.... Just dosed ferts so I thought there would be something.
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