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Old 08-03-2006, 08:11 PM   #1
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UPDATE: Need more help -Major Death please help

I have a 26 gallon aga bow front tank, that I have had for 2 years. It is pretty stocked (35 fish but most small). I do weekly water changes of about 20% since my load is high. I did a water change Sunday, Monday I checked my levels and had this:

Nitrate 10
Nitrite 0
Amon 0
Phos 2
KH 0
Ph 6.4 (this is standard for me for two years and fish have been okay)

I have been getting excess algae on my plants (ALL LIVE) so I added half a dose of phosbuster pro for phosphates. I have used it before with no issue.

Last night when I came home, I saw the most horrible thing, fish everywhere dead. I lost 10 fish (9 where dead and one died that night). This is what I lost:

2 Koi Angels (one died later in the nigth -I had 4 angels - the two marbles lived)
6 red eye tetras (all I had of these)
1 Danio
1 redfin tetra

I tested again and got this:

Nitrate 10
Nitrite 0
Amon .25
Phos .5
KH 0
Ph 6.0 (my test never works great so I used the sticks as well that start at 6.4 which is a orange color and mine was yellow)

My Kuhli loaches and frogs look bloated now and like they may die and my other angels seem to be swimming on their side just a little. This is what I have left:

2 marble angels
2 dwarf honey gouramis
4 cory cats
3 kuhli loaches
6 cardinals
1 black skirt tetra
2 redfin tetras
5 danios
2 african frogs dwarf

What happened? My LFS said the PH dropped and told me to add Neutralizer 7.0 at 1/2tsp for 4 days with water change. I did that last night but since my ph is generally low I am afraid of that too.

What do you think happened?
What should I do now?

Thank you.
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Old 08-04-2006, 12:55 AM   #2
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Is your house sufficienly air conditioned during the day? Could well have been from heat. Did you check the heat of the tank at all when you noticed the deaths?

I don't agree with your LFS. A drop of .4 in pH will not kill all your fish. I wouldn't add the stabalizer.

Any way a pollutant could get into the tank when you aren't there during the day? A kid maybe?

Sorry for your losses
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Old 08-04-2006, 01:12 AM   #3
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Also, is 6.0 the lowest reading on the other kit? If it's reading 6.0, it could very well be much lower. Water changes are the only thing that will work. I also have a 26G, same bio-load or more, and I do 50% PWC's weekly, not 20%. Fish are healthy and happy, and hoards when it comes time for feeding. I would do several PWC's over the next few days, can even do 2 a day, til things normalize. And no, don't add any chemicals other than dechlor. Adding anything to adjust ph will just cause more ph fluctuations which will stress out or kill more fish.
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Old 08-04-2006, 07:11 PM   #4
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The temp was 81, I ususally keep it at about 79. No kids, just me. My kits lowest reading is 6.0 yes.

I added the ph up and now my Phosphates are 10, yikes. I am scared to use the phosbuster again since I used it the night before the death. But phosphates at 10 scare me too.

Last night I added 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Now my ph is 6.4 and nitrates 40? Everything else is the same. Should I just keep doing water changes. WIll 50 % effect my bacteria in a negative way and cause me to cycle? Thanks
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Old 08-04-2006, 08:37 PM   #5
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Just do water changes and add nothing other than dechlor. And do anywhere from 30%-50% at least once a day, if not twice, for the next 2-3 days and see where you stand from there. The fish will like the water changes more than adding chemicals, baking soda, etc. Fresh water is what they need.

As for your bacteria, you can do 90% PWC's if you want and it will not affect the bacteria in any way.
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Old 08-07-2006, 09:37 PM   #6
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Okay so I have been doing water changes since Tuesday, about 5 since then. About 50%.
The first day I added PH UP, big mistake but my ph was then 6.4 back to what is normal for me (the plunge took it below 6)
The next two days I added 1/2 tsp baking soda as directed by my LFS (before I posted here)
Now almost a week later my PH is testing at like 7.6 way higher than I have ever had. Nitrate is 5, Nitrite 0, Ammon 0, Phos 5 and Kh is about 2.
Why is my PH so high? And what do I do, I do not want to lose any more fish? Please help. Thank you
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:36 PM   #7
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hey there. you might consider testing your GH/KH levels for hardness. My water is very soft, and causes my PH to fluctuate a lot. Mostly low PH. To stabilize my tanks i added some crushed coral to the substrate, about 1:20 ratio crushed coral to regular PFS (pool filter sand). That will really help get it under control. Just add the crushed coral slowly over a few days, so you do not get a big PH spike.

I don't think PH is the culprit here though. chances are your PH has always been relatively low, and it hasn't bothered them enough to cause a mass death.
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Old 08-08-2006, 12:37 PM   #8
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The pH up buffer contains phosphate, which is why your phosphate spiked. Baking soda or crushed coral is a safer way to increase your pH and buffering capacity without adding any weird chemicals.

If you have live plants in there and they are growing well, you might actually need to add some nitrate. The nitrate to phosphate ratio should be between 10 and 20 to 1. The actual levels aren't as important, and will not harm your fish. This will keep the algae in control and eliminate the need to add more chemicals to get rid of the "excess" phosphate.

My guess is for some reason your pH crashed well below the test kit's bottom reading of 6. A drop from 6.4 to <<6 could definitely take out some fish. I had a similar problem in a 30 gallon, except that my pH had crept down slowly and I didn't notice anything was wrong except that I kept losing plecos. Then I added some penguin tetras and platies and the tetras all died in 24 hours, the platies within a week. I checked my pH and it was around 5.5. I brought it back up (slowly!) to 6.5 with baking soda and actually all my fish perked up.

I am sorry about your loss, and I hope this helps. If you're not sure about the plant dosing idea please check out the stickies in the planted tank forum; they are great.
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Old 08-08-2006, 02:09 PM   #9
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I had he same thing happen to me in my 30gal. In my previous apartment, my pH was about 6.4 with KH ~1 (basically the equivalent of RO water). I had a huge pH crash (<<6) when I added 3 pieces of driftwood, one of which was rather large. I lost a couple of German Rams in the process.

The remedy was to gradually add enough baking soda to raise the pH to 7.0 and the KH to around 8dKH. Once I did that, I had to more problems with pH. The place I moved to (15 miles away) has similar water conditions. I tested it prior to moving, so I knew what I was dealing with ahead of time.

It sucks losing fish and not knowing what the cause is....
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:41 AM   #10
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I had 15 fish in my planted 10 gallon - 7 guppies, 6 neon tetras, pleco, and cory - when I did a water change and dosed for the first time to treat an algea bloom, everything in the tank died withing minutes...Everything except for my cory...

I'm never going to use a chemical additive to remove algea ever again...Never.
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