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Old 02-01-2006, 04:45 AM   #1
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What is killing my fish??? HELP!!

Hi all,

Will try and give you a clear and concise history of my tank and my troubles and hopefully get to the bottom of the problem once and for all.

I have a 55g set up for around six months. About 40lb LR, Eheim 2215 canister, CPR Bakpak Skimmer. Amm 0, Trite 0, Trate 25ppm (just switched to RO), pH 8.1, temp 79, SG 1.023

After some initial cycling problems, the tank finished cycling a month or so ago and had one inhabitant (small picasso trigger). My troubles begin 3 weeks ago......

I wanted a porcupine puffer (I realise when fully grown I will need a bigger tank, but I have at least a 125 planned when I get my conservatory built early next year). The LFS advised there would be no compatibility problems with the Trigger.....A week after getting him he died. He'd never eaten, and in the last couple of days he was just hiding in the rocks breathing heavily. Advice from a different LFS was that because the trigger had been in there for nearly 3 months he had probably killed the puffer.

I left the tank for a week and went fish shopping at the weekend. My LFS had a medium dog faced puffer on offer which I bought. I got home and removed the trigger (who was traded in for a small Valentini at the same LFS). So I have two new fish in a fully cycled tank.....for 2 days anyway!.....The Dog Face took a couple of hours to settle in and then came out and was happy swimming round the tank....The Valentini settled in straight away and also appeared happy in his new home....

The dog face never ate on day 1 or 2 (which was not a huge concern, but I thought it a bit strange with a big puffer). The Valentini was picking at bits of the food though.

On day 3 (yesterday) I came down in the morning and noticed that the dog face was curled up on top of a rock and the rear of his body near the tail appeared to be 'caved in'. He didn't look happy at all (glazed eyes, not much movement). A couple of hours after that, he started to struggle swimming round the tank and started bobbing his head in and out of the water. This went on for 20 minutes and then he popped his head out of the water and puffed up a little bit. He deflated within a minute before falling to the bottom of the tank and dieing. At this point, the Valentini still appeared healthy.

A few hours later, the valentini had developed the same 'caved in' lower and rear body and a few hours after that was struggling on top of a rock (heavy breathing).

All water parameters are fine and have been double checked by my LFS. I have no idea what is doing this. Please somebody help!

I have a photo on my home PC (I'm currently in work) of the dog face and his abnormal body which I will post later.
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55 Gall glass. 30-40lb LR, CPR Bakpak 2R skimmer, Eheim 2215 canister, 2 x MJ1200 PHs for flow. 2 NO Marine White tubes, fine layer of Arganite for substrate. Just switched to RO water.

Occupants - Currently re-cycling tank....will be adding 3 Chromis once cycled
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Old 02-01-2006, 05:49 AM   #2
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Thats weird I wish I could help but I am also new at this. But I do have a Porcupine puffer. So I would like to see the answers for this.
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Old 02-01-2006, 05:28 PM   #3
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Is the tank brand new or used? If you used tap water prior to switching to ro then some type of chemical that you don’t test for could have killed them off. The picasso trigger can be very aggressive to new tank mates and your lfs advised you incorrectly IMO.

Both the puffers are in the Tetraodontidae family and generally don’t get along with each other especially when confined to a 55 gal tank. As a general rule you should only keep 1 puffer and are limited on other compatible species that can be kept with it.

How did you acclimate them to your tank? How many ph do you have in your tank and what gph do they produce?
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Old 02-01-2006, 05:39 PM   #4
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did you or LFS check for Phos or othe metals?
Could be tap water issues
How often do you change water? recent water changes using RO?
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Old 02-01-2006, 05:50 PM   #5
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Here is a WAG...Check for any sign of bad wiring, short, anything that might cause stray voltage to enter the tank. Water is a great conductor and if you have something that is putting some electrical current into the water, you can have dead fish. If you know how to test for this, I would check it out just to mark it off the list..

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Old 02-01-2006, 06:24 PM   #6
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did you or LFS check for Phos or othe metals?
Could be tap water issues
How often do you change water? recent water changes using RO?
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Old 02-01-2006, 08:08 PM   #7
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How did you acclimate the fish? Sounds like a acclimation issue.

Phosphates are not going to be a issue with the fish. Nitrates at the level are not going to kill fish so thats not the problem.

What type of water did you use to set the tank up?
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Old 02-02-2006, 04:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
How did you acclimate the fish? Sounds like a acclimation issue.

Phosphates are not going to be a issue with the fish. Nitrates at the level are not going to kill fish so thats not the problem.

What type of water did you use to set the tank up?
The tank was originally setup using tap water with a dechlorinator. I've only managed to do two 10% water changes with RO over the last couple of weeks.

I acclimated the fish over about an hour....floated the bag for 20 mins, then opened it and started adding small amounts of tank water every 5 minutes or so.....is this too short a period?

My water (S.G. and temp) is more or less identical to the LFS except for the nitrates (and any phosphates there may be in there).

As for tank turn over, I have a MJ1200, MJ1000 and the eheim does about 600lph - about 3000 lph in total

I'm getting really depressed with it at the minute. If I knew the cause for definite, then I would be much happier as I could do something about it.

Other thoughts I've had are;

1. could it be lack of oxygen? I have a fairly tight fitting lid (although it is cut in various places for pipes and skimmer etc), but I have a lot of surface agitation. I don't have any O2 test kits though.

2. Possible stress? I have two kids who are in and out of the room, they don't mess with the tank (they've been well trained since birth!) but they do play with their toys in there.
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Old 02-02-2006, 09:35 AM   #9
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More than likely it was the fairly quick acclimation process that did them in. Personally I drip acclimate them for around 4+ hours so they can adjust to the ph/sg/temp of the main tank slowly even if it does match the lfs closely. This article goes into more detail.

You have about a 14X turnover on your tank each hour which should be enough surface agitation for good oxygen exchange. As far as the tight fitting lid that will lead to CO2 issues which can affect O2 and possibly lower ph though. I would go topless or half topless as long as your lights are far enough from the surface or have a glass protector.

I’d also do a 60% pwc with ro water 4 times over two weeks before adding anymore fish. As PC said I would test for stray voltage to rule that out as well.

I would also re-cycle the tank before adding fish to make sure you have a good bacterial colony in place since your tank has gone fishless for awhile.
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Old 02-02-2006, 10:51 AM   #10
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What salt are you using?
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