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Old 07-07-2010, 04:07 PM   #1
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2 fish deaths in 3 weeks

Hi guys,

I've just 5 minutes ago lost my second fish in 3 weeks, so I thought it best to ask for some advice.

I had a 10g nano tank, which happily housed an ocellaris clownfish, magenta dottyback, and yellow clown goby, for 2 1/2 years. At the beginning of March this year, I moved house and also "upgraded" to a different tank; the same size, but a bit neater and with a built-in light. My fish survived the 1-hour journey absolutely fine, with the only potential issue being my magenta dottyback whose gills seemed to turn red after the first day, and stayed like that until he died, but other than that he's been just fine. All fish seemed to settle in to the new tank very well.

All of my new tank parameters have been the same as my old tank: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20-40 nitrates (I know this is high, and I'm trying to reduce it, but I don't have any corals/inverts in the tank), pH 8.2, SG 1.024. The only difference is the tank temp: the tank is in a poorly insulated part of the house at present until we get everything sorted, and has risen from ~25c (max 2 swing per day), to ~29.5c with the recent hot weather we've had over the last couple of months. But, the temperature rises gradually, and never goes more than max 1.5 either side.

The first problem started 3 weeks ago with my clownfish when I was changing the filter media and doing a waterchange. I didn't expect any problems as this was the third time I'd done this exact same thing, which involves gently lifting some of my live rock so I can lift the filter up to replace the media, which inevitably stirs up some debris in the tank. This swirled around for a while and then settled back down when I put my filter back on, as usual. This time, after darting for my fingers in the tank as he has done for almost 3 years, and looking as alert as ever, I noticed him gulping at the surface. This was then followed by some quick "spasms" around the tank, banging into rock etc., lying upside down on the bottom, and then sadly dying. I was incredibly sad about this, as I put so much effort into the tank changeover and journey, and have had these fish in my previous tank, with no problems at all, for close to 3 years. However, I put it down to it "being his time", and possibly him gulping in too much of the "debris" when it was swirling round the tank after I disturbed the rock.

But, today, I was just doing a normal waterchange - not even a filter change, so no debris - as I always have done: SG/temp matched to tank, mixed in a bucket with a powerhead for a minimum of 24hours (this time it was mixing for 3 days), but straight afterwards, I noticed all fish were behaving strangely: both clown gobys (I now have a green clown goby also, which has been in there for a couple of months) were breathing heavily, which has now stopped. But, the main problem was with my dottyback, who straightaway was lying almost on his side at the bottom of the tank, breathing very heavily and with his mouth open. He moved positions approx. 30 mins later, and 20 mins after that, after a couple of spasms, is now dead.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong, other than the nitrates, as ammonia is 0 (I've tested on two kits) and all other levels seem fine. I do have quite a bit of green algae in the tank, which may be consuming a lot of oxygen, and also I understand that higher temperatures can reduce the oxygen level. But, why would both fish die straight after a waterchange? I don't understand.

Hoping for some advice?
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Old 07-07-2010, 06:13 PM   #2
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Could be just coincidence as far as after the PWC. Do you have a PH pointed toward the surface for extra aeration. Can you get a water sample to your LFS to get a double check of your water test results.
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Old 07-07-2010, 06:41 PM   #3
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are you using tap water or ro/di water,if your using tap then test it as it is a new water supply.
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Old 07-08-2010, 06:29 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies guys. I guess that both PWCs could have caused stress in both of the fish, and caused them to succumb to another issue quickly. The filter actually points up from the bottom of the tank to the top, and disrupts the surface quite a bit. I'll take a water sample to my LFS today, thanks for the suggestion.

I use RO (not DI) water, as we have hard water here, but it never measures more than 3ppm (TDS). Both clown gobies seem fine this morning; after 6 years of keeping marines (old nano tank for 2 1/2 years, and the rest in a 40gallon tank, not the same fish though), this is the first time I've had any unexplained deaths like this, as I'm always so careful with everything. It just seems like the PWCs contributed, particularly to the clownfish death as there was so much debris stirred up in the process?

I'll report back what my LFS says.
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Old 07-08-2010, 12:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
The first problem started 3 weeks ago with my clownfish when I was changing the filter media and doing a waterchange. I didn't expect any problems as this was the third time I'd done this exact same thing, which involves gently lifting some of my live rock so I can lift the filter up to replace the media, which inevitably stirs up some debris in the tank. This swirled around for a while and then settled back down when I put my filter back on, as usual.
The fact that the fish was gasping immediately after you stirred up some junk sure sounds like ammonia poisoning. I know you said you tested it with two kits, but even so... it just sounds too coincidental.

You have to lift up live rock to change a filter pad? Is this one of those bio-orb tanks?
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kurt_Nelson View Post
The fact that the fish was gasping immediately after you stirred up some junk sure sounds like ammonia poisoning. I know you said you tested it with two kits, but even so... it just sounds too coincidental.

You have to lift up live rock to change a filter pad? Is this one of those bio-orb tanks?
Yes, it's a BiUbe; I wanted a tank that was simpler to maintain as my last nano tank was very fiddly. The live rock unfortunately will only fit on top of a plastic lid on the top of the filter housing. Other than this, it's a tank that's working well for me; I'm doing all maintenance as I always have been, not using their service kits etc.

Could stirring up all that cause ammonia poisoning then? Is it just luck that the other fish weren't affected by this last time?

Also, yesterday I just did a normal waterchange - no filter change - so there was no debris in the tank, and that's when my dottyback died. My other two gobies seem fine and have been acting normally all day.

I dropped a water sample into my LFS today, and am picking it up in the morning.
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:40 PM   #7
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Just got the results back from the water sample I took to my LFS, and ammonia/nitrite are 0, everything else in check, although they didn't test the oxygen level (is this worth me doing?).

My clown dying straight after the waterchange where I stirred up all the gunk would at least be a reason, if that could cause ammonia poisoning/respiratory problems with all the gunk flying around, even if just for 5-10 minutes max. But, it still doesn't explain why my dottyback went straight after the last waterchange, where I didn't stir up any gunk as just did a simple 25% waterchange (no filter change).

I'll keep testing my levels every few days; I'd just love to know exactly what happened though, and if I did anything wrong. It's such a shame as they survived a 1 hour journey in a bag, the changeover to the new tank, and were fine in there for 4 months, and this just came completely out of the blue, as I'd changed the filter twice before as well, with no problems.

I change the filter every few weeks; to minimise any future problems with the gunk (until when/if I find another solution), would it be an idea to put the fish in a bucket for a few minutes while I change the filter, and the gunk settles down afterwards? I know this isn't ideal, but maybe a better solution than them being in the tank at the same time?
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:11 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by MarkW19 View Post
...But, it still doesn't explain why my dottyback went straight after the last waterchange, where I didn't stir up any gunk as just did a simple 25% waterchange (no filter change).
Yeah... that sounds like there's something wrong with your water, doesn't it? You said you matched salinity and temperature, so it seems like we can rule that out. How are you measuring salinity? Refractometer or hydrometer? Hydrometers aren't the most consistent things in the world and having "identical" readings between two containers of water might not be all that identical.

Where are you getting your water? Is it RO/DI or tap?

Quote:
I change the filter every few weeks; to minimise any future problems with the gunk (until when/if I find another solution), would it be an idea to put the fish in a bucket for a few minutes while I change the filter, and the gunk settles down afterwards? I know this isn't ideal, but maybe a better solution than them being in the tank at the same time?
That seems like it would cause even more stress. Not sure I'd do that...
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:04 PM   #9
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I use a refractometer, and always get the SG either spot on, or max. 0.001 either side. I make my own water using an RO unit (non-DI), and get TDS readings of 2ppm or lower.

Whenever I change the water, I only ever do a max of 25% (often 20%), every 2 weeks; so it just seems odd that my dottyback would die straight after a waterchange (I did the exact same thing I always have done, every 2 weeks, for the past 3 years with him).

I'll take your advice on not doing the bucket thing, and will see if I can find another solution for the filter issue. At least we may have an answer to my clownfish dying after all the gunk, I knew that stirring the gunk up wasn't ideal, but I didn't know it could cause ammonia poisoning, particularly after I'd done the same thing twice before with no problems...
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:49 PM   #10
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when was the last time you changed the membrains in your ro filter,it may also be worth connecting a DI unit inline after your RO unit as well
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