Our still-cycling tank last night suffered its first loss. One of the yellow-tailed damsels (who had an injured fin) finally gave in.
I've been keeping a very close eye on things, keeping everything clean, not overfeeding, monitoring ammonia, nitrite, etc.
But I noticed the temperature rising last night. I think the sun was warming up the house, and even though it was only 40 outside, the house went up to almost 80. The tank was already running around 79 typically (trying to keep it warm to speed up the first cycle), but it shot up yesterday afternoon to over 80, approaching 83. Just out of the blue.
The fish were all stressing, clearly. We lost one at this time. The others were all very low in the tank, breathing very, very hard.
Of course I turned off the heater. I was already due for some replacement water from some evaporation in the last week. But the temp stayed over 82.
Don't flame me here:
Out of ideas, short of a massive water change (which I wasn't prepared to do, I didn't want to spend time mixing up water), I started (slowly) adding ice cubes, one a time.
Its a 75g tank, and the fish were at the bottom, so I don't think they would have noticed. The cubes melted quickly, and I added them near the filter intake as to quickly disperse the colder water.
After about 20 ice cubes, and two hours later the temp came back down to 80 and the fish snapped out of their coma-like state.
Over night came back down to 78-79, where I wanted it. I know that's a big swing in a short time, but obviously the >80 temps were really stressing the fish.
Was this the worst thing I could have done? Would just a swap with some quickly-mixed up saltwater have been better? The total water quantity of the ice cubes was probably 16 oz or so. I was panicking, the kids were upset and worried, and I had to think fast.
We have a big house, and the tank is in the area with most steady temperature , short of being in a storage area in our basement. But I'm worried that ambient temperatures approaching 80 might make things difficult this summer.
Either way, it worked - temp came down, fish seem fine.
Also, regarding the "fishless cycle" comments I'm bound to get, I'm following the procedure suggested by several LFS
's, and several books. I wasn't aware of the popularity of the fishless cycle until after we'd stocked a few damsels. Everything I'd read on it prior indicated that it was possible
, but not the best way to go.