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Old 09-26-2009, 09:35 AM   #1
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Location: Orlando, FL
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Unhappy How did I kill my fish and can I re-use the plants?

I had a 10 gallon with a HOB filter, no substrate where I kept fish and plants before they go into one of the other tanks. It was set up about 5 weeks ago with filter material from another tank and seemed cycled. It had 2 mollies, 2 little platies and 3 ghost shrimp and 6 bunches of simple low light plants. Everybody had been in there for a couple of weeks and seemed healthy, no algae but the plants were actually growing, mainly the roots.

On Sunday I did the weekly 30% water change. Rinsed the filter material in the tank water as usual. Normally I put some Dr F&S Neutralize (removes Chlorine and Cloramine) in the fresh tap water. I had run out of that so I used Stabilize (removes Chlorine, Chloramine and Ammonia). Monday morning my daughter dumped way to much flake food in the tank. I scooped most of it out with a net. Monday night one of the platies was hanging by itself at the top of the tank, everyone else was OK. I did not feed because there was still some food on the bottom from the morning.

Tuesday morning all fish and shrimp were dead! The skin was already flaking of the fish and they were looking very white, almost like they were cooked... Even the ghost shrimp were solid white.

That evening I cleaned the tank up and tested the water: Nitrites 0.0 Ammonia 1.0.

What happened? Is it possible that the Neutralize removed all ammonia and that my ammonia converting bacteria all starved overnight, causing an ammonia spike from the overfeeding the next day? Or could it be something else?

And lastly would it be safe to rinse the plants and use them in another tank, or will that bring whatever killed the fish (if not ammonia) into the other tanks?

14 gal planted with 7 neon tetras, 1 pleco
55 gal with 1 Mississippi map turtle, 1 crayfish, some ghost shrimp, 10 black neon tetras
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Old 09-26-2009, 10:40 AM   #2
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Chances are the overfeeding caused the ammonia spike that killed the fish. The neutralizer only binds the ammonia, but that is still available to the biofilter so won't be a problem. <Plus most only lasts 24 hrs.>

It takes time for the flake food to rot & turn into ammonia, so the ammonia prob started to climb overnight & caused the demise.

I think it would be safe to reuse the plants. In case there is some infection from the new fish, you might want to QT them. If you keep the plants without fish for a week or 2, the fish bugs should be dead without a host. Another option would be to dip the plants in a dilute (1:10) bleach solution, then rinse well. However, this can potentially kill some plants & i don't think it is necessary in this case.
80 gal FW with 30 gal DIY wet/dry/sump.
9 fancy golds, 1 hillstream loaches, 1 rubber-lip pleco (C. thomasi), 3 SAEs, small school of white cloud minnows, planted.
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plant, plants

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