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Old 12-23-2011, 10:07 AM   #1
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Bad advice from LFS??

About 3 weeks ago I had a major fish die off for no apparent reason. Out of 18 fish I lost everything except for my one peppered cory. Water consistently tests OK with 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites and only about 40 on Nitrates, so I assume it is cycled. I do 25% water changes 2 to 3 times per week since the tank is only a couple of months old. In the past two weeks I've slowly added back 3 platys and also 2 more peppered corys. Last night I added 3 more platys. This morning I look in the tank and 1 of the platys I put in 2 weeks ago is dead and another is having trouble staying upright. It then died about 1/2 hour later. That is the same thing that happened when I had the big die off. Fish would start swimming on there sides and then die. The other fish looked OK this morning and the corys have always seemed fine. They are always very active. Now here is were my question comes in. On the advice of the local Petsmart fish guy, I have never cleaned the gravel. He told me that it shouldn't be done due to lots of good bacteria being in there. I'm now wondering if my fish are basically swimming in a septic tank due to crud and such down in that gravel just rotting away and contaminating the water. I can't come up with anything else. I have noticed since putting all 6 of the new platys in that they stay up at the top of the water most of the time. The do swim around some, but mostly at the top. Suggestions?
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:11 AM   #2
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Clean the gravel at least every other week. You don't need to allow waste to accumulate in the gravel to have beneficial bacteria. Your filter, decorations and gravel will still have beneficial bacteria. Try to get the Nitrates down to under 20.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:18 AM   #3
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I agree that your nitrates are a little high.

How did you acclimate the new fish? Has your pH changed? Temperature fluctuation?

There are many reasons that you might experience a major die-off like that, it's never for no reason.

Platys are a top level fish, which is why they are at the top.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:40 AM   #4
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I agree that your nitrates are a little high.

How did you acclimate the new fish? Has your pH changed? Temperature fluctuation?

There are many reasons that you might experience a major die-off like that, it's never for no reason.

Platys are a top level fish, which is why they are at the top.
PH is consistent. It stays right at 6.6 to 6.8 every time tested. Temp is always at 79 every time I check. On acclimation, I float the bag for about 1/2 hour then net the fish in. Before the big die off, the fish all appeared fine for around a month. They were all very active, ate well, etc. Then one day I noticed one fish in distress. It died, and then one after another the rest died. One other thing, I've noticed the platys don't seem to be eating very well. The original group all ate normal. At this point, I'm at a loss.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:45 AM   #5
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What are you feeding and how often?

Is there any chance that any kind of chemical got into the tank?
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:55 AM   #6
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What are you feeding and how often?

Is there any chance that any kind of chemical got into the tank?
Feed them with regular flake food every 3 days +/-. The corys get shrimp pellets also.

My wife and I are the only ones at our house. Unless I unknowingly had something on my hands during a water change, I don't see how anything foreign could have gotten in the water. I always try to remember to wash my hands before and after putting my hands into the tank. I dose with Prime when doing water changes. The first die off did happen after I got the bottle of Prime I'm using now. Could that have anything to do with it, such as a bad batch for some reason?
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:11 AM   #7
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It's always possible. Prime allegedly has no expiration date, but I would consider a bad batch a possibility.
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:13 AM   #8
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On acclimation, I float the bag for about 1/2 hour then net the fish in.
So...you just float them in the water, and you just plop them in? Do you add any tank water to the fish's bag at all? Did you accidentally get water from the store's bag into your tank?
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:14 AM   #9
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That's also only acclimating the fish to your temp, not your water parameters. Next time, try opening the bag and every 15 minutes, add another couple of tablespoons of tank water to the bag. This helps your fish truly acclimate, then you can net them and place in your tank.

The very best way is a true drip acclimation.
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by LyndaB
That's also only acclimating the fish to your temp, not your water parameters. Next time, try opening the bag and every 15 minutes, add another couple of tablespoons of tank water to the bag. This helps your fish truly acclimate, then you can net them and place in your tank.

The very best way is a true drip acclimation.
Exactly my tanks and my lfs tanks ph/temp is almost identical so I just float for 30min then drop them in. But in your case there must me different water chemistry. What lynda said is right.
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:48 AM   #11
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Any reason the tank is at 79 temp, seems a bit high to me?

I agree acclimating them slowly is better but if the fish are dying off a while after you add them then it probably isn't an acclimation issue. I'd double-check the temp, perhaps it's too warm for them?

Your nitrates are on the high side also; it's best to keep them <20. Does your tap water have nitrate? If not and you are doing 3 water changes per week and nitrates are climbing that high you are either overstocked, overfeeding, or not cleaning the gravel enough (or a combination of the three).
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Old 12-23-2011, 12:19 PM   #12
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Any reason the tank is at 79 temp, seems a bit high to me?

I agree acclimating them slowly is better but if the fish are dying off a while after you add them then it probably isn't an acclimation issue. I'd double-check the temp, perhaps it's too warm for them?

Your nitrates are on the high side also; it's best to keep them <20. Does your tap water have nitrate? If not and you are doing 3 water changes per week and nitrates are climbing that high you are either overstocked, overfeeding, or not cleaning the gravel enough (or a combination of the three).
Nitrates from the tap are right at 20. Definately not overfeeding. Don't see how I can be overstocked right now either. It's a 26 gal bow front with only 3 cories and 6 platys. Well, there are actually only 4 platys now since the two died this morning. Like I said in my original post, I've never cleaned the gravel on the advice from LFS. That's what I was wondering if it could be the root of what's been happening. As far as temp. what should it be set at for the fish I'm keeping?

Thanks so much for every ones input. Hope to figure this one out asap.
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Old 12-23-2011, 12:25 PM   #13
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Yeah, you definitely were given rotten advice on doing gravel vacs. That's crucial to get the fish waste/excess food out of there. And if you wait too long to do it, then you could raise a huge cloud of nastiness which could affect your fish negatively. If you were not doing good gravel vacs, though, your nitrates would be high. That would warn you.
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Old 12-23-2011, 12:47 PM   #14
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Although you definitely should vacuum the gravel, I don't think that's the cause of the sudden die off. Is it possible you still had soap on your hands after you washed them?
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:32 PM   #15
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Although you definitely should vacuum the gravel, I don't think that's the cause of the sudden die off. Is it possible you still had soap on your hands after you washed them?
I try to rinse extra good, but I guess it could be possible.
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:37 PM   #16
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Well, if you're good about rinsing, probably not. I'm just trying to think of some contaminant that might have been introduced to the tank. It sure is a mystery.
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:44 PM   #17
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Do the dead fish have any signs of disease?
Anything you did differently when the big die off occurred?
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:45 PM   #18
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I'm having the exact same problem now. I lost two clown loaches, two bala sharks, 6 Cories, and 5 rosy barbs. All of my water parameters are perfect and I always take extra care when cleaning to not introduce foreign chemicals to the tank. I thought the die off was over but this morning I noticed that one of my Otto's looks real bad. It's weird because the tank has been established for almost a year and I keep other fish that are notoriously sensitive to changes in water quality and they are all still doing fine. I can't figure it out either! Maybe just a bad batch of fish from the LFS?
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:48 PM   #19
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I'm having the exact same problem now. I lost two clown loaches, two bala sharks, 6 Cories, and 5 rosy barbs. All of my water parameters are perfect and I always take extra care when cleaning to not introduce foreign chemicals to the tank. I thought the die off was over but this morning I noticed that one of my Otto's looks real bad. It's weird because the tank has been established for almost a year and I keep other fish that are notoriously sensitive to changes in water quality and they are all still doing fine. I can't figure it out either! Maybe just a bad batch of fish from the LFS?
Maybe the tank isn't getting enough oxygen? What type of filters to you use?
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:52 PM   #20
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I'm having the exact same problem now. I lost two clown loaches, two bala sharks, 6 Cories, and 5 rosy barbs. All of my water parameters are perfect and I always take extra care when cleaning to not introduce foreign chemicals to the tank. I thought the die off was over but this morning I noticed that one of my Otto's looks real bad. It's weird because the tank has been established for almost a year and I keep other fish that are notoriously sensitive to changes in water quality and they are all still doing fine. I can't figure it out either! Maybe just a bad batch of fish from the LFS?
I'm really sorry to hear that. I've never experienced anything like it!
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