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Old 02-01-2006, 10:42 AM   #1
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What is killing my fish??? HELP!!

I've cross posted this on both the general forum and this one. Hope that's OK?

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, 02:54 PM   #2
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First off, in answer to cross posting, we really prefer you don't.

Now on to your fish problems. First question is what is your acclimation procedure. Second question is did you actually SEE the fish eat at the LFS.
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Old 02-01-2006, 03:03 PM   #3
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The one thing that comes to my mind are the nitrate levels. Though 25 ppm may be low to some standard, but to new fish that may actually escalate health problems if the animal is harboring an illness or parasite. These fish are wild caught for the most part and can have anything regadless of what your LFS does or doesn't do to prevent as much as possible. There will always be a risk of something from a wild caught fish and the very reason why one should have a QT.

Something that can help with those nitrates other than smaller, more frequent water changes is to customize the eheim canister or remove it altogether. Canister filters can trap waste debris within it's mechanics and structure, leaving room for built up nitrates. This should be meticulously maintained. Use nitrate reducer absorbing beads along with carbon and with fish like that...perhaps a little bit of zeolite too. Clean the unit at least once a month if not bi weekly. Rinse any bio media in used tank water to spare the bacteria, but clean out the hoses, the impeller and the housing, o rings, etc.

BTW...triggers should always be the last fish introduced and if you ever house lions and puffers together...remember...lions can eat puffers and get away with it. The puffer should be introduced prior to the lion which should be obviously incapable of swallowing the puffer. Introducing lesser aggressives first can greatly reduce tank aggresion.
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Old 02-03-2006, 06:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCTFish
if you ever house lions and puffers together...remember...lions can eat puffers and get away with it.
I wasn’t aware of that, is it because they are both poisonous? Also he said Valentini and not Volitan so he was attempting to keep two puffers in a 55 gal which I’m sure lead to aggression and possibly their deaths.
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Old 02-03-2006, 09:35 PM   #5
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I know Valentini was mentioned. I just stuck that in there for info. sake. Not many people know that about lion fish and lions are a common fish on the wish list of those who do keep puffers. Like a 'oh BTW...being you keep puffers...keep this in mind' type of thing.

I highly doubt it has anything to do with the both of them being poisonous. I think it's more because of the lion having strong stomach juices to handle eating puffers.

We really don't know what killed the first puffer. Maybe the trigger harassed it, maybe not. It is apparent however that there is a problem upon introduing a new fish and the only thing showing is nitrate even if it is low to our standards. May not be for a new marine fish that could be harboring an illness or some sort of parasite. Elevated nitrates to what the fish are use to being in (this case, the ocean vs an aquarium) may be just enough to escalate these problems hidden within the fish. Both puffers are sick so I doubt it has anything to do with one picking at the other, unless they're stressing each other out by releasing their toxins in the tank at each other, but I've never really seen any problems between those two species except for the occassional nip at the tail the valentinis have a habit of doing.
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We, as a people, know so much more about outer space than we do about our own oceans. This lack of knowledge can very well spell the dangers that lay in wait for us.

The oceans surely would swallow us before a rock comes down to smite the planet of it's life.
Nov/2004
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Old 02-04-2006, 05:54 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses guys...

At the moment my tank is fishless......I intend to re cycle it (using ammonia) and once I'm satisfied it's fully cycled I'll do two 50% water changes (with RO this time). What would you recommend as the best fish to start out with after that? I don't want to spend too much money (given the amount I've lost on the 3 puffers!).

I was thinking of using damsels and keeping them for around 4 weeks to make double sure it's not the water causing a problem (although all test suggest otherwise). I know that they're buggers to catch though!

Now that I'll be switching to RO to reduce the nitrates, I'll also be able to keep inverts so I need fish which ain't gonna eat them!
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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 02-04-2006, 07:16 AM   #7
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Damsels are good starters for the fact they're hardy, but hell to introduce new fish to sometimes...LOL. They remind me of African cichlids. Anyway...there is one species that aren't so bad with aggression and those are the chromises...particularly the green chromis. Blue reef chromis are gorgeous and easy on new fish compared to other damsels, though may cost a little more than the average.

Switching to RO will make a big difference to the overall health of the system...not to forget yourself as well. I stopped drinking tap water quite a few years ago.

You should set up a QT and keep new aqusitions in there for up to two weeks to make sure they're not harboring any diseases or parasites. If they are, then you treat them right in the QT. If they are clean and nothing breaks out after that time, then they're deamed safe to add to the system. Much much less hassels, heartache, work, and money in the long run. A QT doesn't have to be suffistocated. A simple glass ten gallon tank fitted with a sponge filter, heater, thermometer and a hide out for the fish. Don't even need substrate. Better off without in a QT for the sake of possible parasites that can hide in substrate. Makes it easier to erradicate the little buggers if the need arises.

A hint for catching fish...

Leave an opened net in the tank. When you feed the fish...put the food in the net. Let them get comfortable with it and do it daily. Then, for the day you are ready to try to scoop them up, do it quickly and be accurate. The downfall...it only works once...LOL. They seem to catch on after the first time. Another method would be to get a fish trap. You could always opt to keep the damsels.
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We, as a people, know so much more about outer space than we do about our own oceans. This lack of knowledge can very well spell the dangers that lay in wait for us.

The oceans surely would swallow us before a rock comes down to smite the planet of it's life.
Nov/2004
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