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Old 10-02-2013, 06:23 PM   #1
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Customary newbie thread (and plea for help)

I'm here - Hi everyone!
I've lurked for a while and have found a lot of insight from the posts here. I'm looking forward to some interesting dialog - not only getting help, but offering a few suggestions from my experiences over the past 10 years.

I started fishkeeping over 20 years ago, but stopped for a while due to life changes. When my oldest child was about 2, we bought some feeder goldfish and started again with a 10 gallon tank. The last of those fish died about 3 months ago.
However, in the last 10 years, I've accumulated several fish. and tanks. and fish. and tanks.... you get the picture.

Craigslist has been my best source for finding healthy, affordable fish and equipment.

I've joined the forum because my most recent situation has me dumbfounded. :
After maintaining a healthy tank of 8 Red Zebra cichlids for over a year, I now have none. I lost one during a tank upgrade about a month ago, but the remaining 7 died this past weekend. Water quality tested out fine. (PH, Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ammonia were all within acceptable tolerances- even with dead fish floating) I CANNOT FIGURE IT OUT - and I'm very hesitant now to restock until I'm confident the tank is fine.
The only thing I've done differently in the last week is add a moss ball from another one of my healthy community tanks. From everything I've found since, mbunas will tear up moss balls, but nothing toxic about them. My Red Zebras didn't seem to bother the moss ball much although I did have a few random fragments shortly after adding it, which I attributed to the moss ball just not settling yet.
I love mbunas and am planning to get several back in the tank once I'm comfortable knowing they will be healthy.

I appreciate any insight or opinions to what might have gone wrong.
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Old 10-04-2013, 01:31 AM   #2
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Sounds like poisoning. Stray lysol spray, perfume, perhaps hand cleaner or lotion applied before cleaning the tank or moving something in the tank?
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Old 10-04-2013, 05:38 AM   #3
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I agree, poisoning is the most likely culprit. Have you had any pest control done, have air fresheners, or forgotten to wash off hand cream etc?
Btw, I love your tank! Having a 'window' into their underground tunnel is a great idea!

Oh, and
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for the responses. For the life of me, I can't think of what would have poisoned them - At best, I may have had soap residue on my hands before cleaning the tank, but can't imagine there would be enough to cause any harm. I'll definitely be more careful about this in the future.

I also thought about the PVC pipe (the underground tunnels) - It was new from the hardware store when I set up the tank about a month before I lost my fish. I rinsed it off well, and didn't use any adhesive, so it should have been fine.

I've also heard from another forum that there may have been some imbalance, although my water tested out okay. I used a new filter with the tank, but transferred over quite a bit of water and the gravel from a prior tank, so thought that would be enough to have a fully cycled tank. I probably should have brought over a dirty filter to run a while and let the tank completely cycle for a month before adding any fish. I used some gupppies from one of my other community tanks to "test" the new tank and they all did well for a week, so I assumed all was fine.

BTW - the underground tunnels are PVC - I have one with 1 1/2" pipe and another with 2". It's just a T and 2 street 45's. Just wash and RINSE them extremely well before using.
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Old 10-04-2013, 04:02 PM   #5
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Just brainstorming here:

How did you clean the tank before filling it?
Had the tank ever been repaired at any point?
Were the parameters of the first tank significantly different to those of the second tank?
How were they acclimated to the new tank?
Have you changed brand of water conditioner?
What signs and symptoms did the fish show before they died?
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Old 10-04-2013, 04:26 PM   #6
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How did you clean the tank before filling it?
It was a used tank. Vinegar and razor blades (trying to clean calcium deposits)and rinsed with LOTS of water.

Had the tank ever been repaired at any point?
Yes. several years ago. Silicon brand/type unknown. However, previous owner had fish in there for a while, then a snapping turtle most recently.

Were the parameters of the first tank significantly different to those of the second tank?
I doubt it, but can't prove it. I used most of the water and gravel from the first tank. Really no different than a 50% water change.

How were they acclimated to the new tank?
Since everything was pretty much the same, I just transferred them directly. There was no stress evidence for 2 weeks following the transfer

Have you changed brand of water conditioner?
no. same stuff.

What signs and symptoms did the fish show before they died?
None, which is why it is puzzling. They were healthy on Friday when I did the water change after they had been in there for 2.5 weeks. On Monday, 5/7 were dead, the remaining 2 also died later on Monday as I was unprepared and didn't have the option to immediately move them to a hospital tank.
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Old 10-04-2013, 04:31 PM   #7
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Well you have me stumped! I'll have to leave you in the hands of more experienced members
I too recently had a fish suddenly die with no symptoms. It's a worry.
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Old 10-04-2013, 04:51 PM   #8
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Cactus pixie asked the right questions. It is a mystery. I would suggest another possible source would be your HVAC if you have a central unit. If you have a vent close to your tank many things can travel through the ducts. I clean the lids on my tanks often since their job is to keep contaminants out of the tank. I would say if your water was good and there was a good oxygen supply somehow a poison found its way into the tank.
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:46 PM   #9
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So - considering I don't have access to a "CSI:Fishtank" lab, is there a way to test the water for poison?
I'm okay with putting the past behind me, but really don't want to go through this again, and want to learn from mistakes.

1. I will wash and RINSE my hands/arms well before working in the tank water.
2. I will use seed filter media when establishing a new tank.
3. I will run a tank with guppies or similar fish for a while before adding more expensive fish.
4. I will be more observant of other possible influences - HVAC, cleaning, etc.
5. I will use a complete liquid water quality test kit - not just test strips.

Although I don't know if any of these are factors, I'll admit that I've been too careless.
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Old 10-05-2013, 05:16 PM   #10
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That is the best you can do. I have also run a tank without filter media but all pumps running for a week or more and then emptied all the water and started the real cycle just to be sure it was clean.
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