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Old 08-26-2008, 01:23 AM   #1
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Unhappy Oh no! Dead fish after PWC

I did a PWC on my active 5 gal after testing and found the water had a pH of 6.2 with Nitrates at 80 (all other values good). Recently, PWCs have been instituted so there is a bit of crap in the gravel. I stirred up the crap...dipped out ~2 gallons and added ~2 gallons of dechlorinated water (Pure used....have always used Pure). I did this last week and didn't have any problems. The only thing different from last week is that I replaced my filter (full) with a rinsed and swung cartrige. Oh yeah...the temp of my tank is 80 exactly (no heater just good light keeps it regulated...getting a small tank heater soon). I did the PWC 1 hour ago. I went to check the tank temp and found my glofish dead and floating in the tank. What could have happened? The glofish wasn't my favorite, but I hated to find it in that condition. Stumped and worried for my platy (my fav in the tank). I rechecked the parameters of the tank and found it to have Nitrates of 60 and pH of 6.5 ish. Upon examination of dead fish I noticed that his underside looked a little irritated. I wonder if he got caught in the current of the new water and injured. Has that ever happened to anyone else? Did I mention that I am bummed?
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:00 AM   #2
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Those Nitrates are rather high. You need to up the percentage and/or frequency of your water changes. Nitrates should be kept under 40ppm. Higher levels could have contributed to the death directly or indirectly by making the fish susceptible to disease.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:06 AM   #3
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Its always hard to say what causes a death if there are no symptoms that you can see. I agree with Joy though, those levels of nitrates are too high and can only cause problems. I would setup a PWC schedule and stick to it. It is the easiest way to make sure your tank and the inhabitants are happy Good luck and sorry for your loss.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:24 AM   #4
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You mention that you put a rinsed cartridge in the filter. Was it an established cartridge - cultivated with the nitrifying bacteria? Or was it a new cartridge that you just rinsed before adding it to the filter? You don't mention an ammonia spike, but I'm thinking that if there was a small spike, that could have caused death quickly in a sensitive fish.
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Old 08-26-2008, 06:12 PM   #5
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Purrbox & Meegosh: I know the nitrates are high, that was the main motivation for the PWC. Honestly the water change last night was the second change to happen since the tank was established >1 year ago (I was a bad hobbyist until recently). The 2 water changes (not just top-offs) were within a week of each other. The PWCs are going to happen more frequently now...no worries. Should I do the PWCs more often than once a week?

An t-iasg: I changed out the cartridge, but the gravel in the tank and the bio-wheel were always in the tank. I thought that would be enough to keep the good bacteria level in the tank.

I did fail to test the ammonia last night when I noticed the dead fish. Should I be worried about the acidic water conditions? I really need a 7 based on the preferences of the fish in the tank, but I can't seem to get there. Will doing the PWCs more often help keep the pH more neutral?
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by tabbycat0282 View Post
Should I be worried about the acidic water conditions? I really need a 7 based on the preferences of the fish in the tank, but I can't seem to get there. Will doing the PWCs more often help keep the pH more neutral?
No and no. Fish prefer a STABLE pH over an "ideal" pH. Do not condition your tank with pH up or down.
PWC's will not lower or neutralize your pH because your pH is based on your tap water. There are some non-chemical items you can add to your tank (like driftwood) that _may_ lower the pH a .1 or .2 or not affect it at all. I wouldn't worry or fiddle with your pH.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:05 PM   #7
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As far as PWCs, I have been doing about 20% PWCs in my tanks every two weeks. In your case you might have to do two a week to get the nitrates back down to normal reading, but after that I would do every other week. As far as the filter media, I hardly ever change the filter media, I just rinse it off with some of the water I take out during the PWC process.

Most people at the LFS will tell you to change it every couple weeks or monthly but there is really no need unless it is deteriorating badly. They are just trying to sell you more stuff! I had the same polyfiber in my 10g for about 3 months before it started tearing apart and I decided to replace it. The key is to clean it off when you do your PWCs and it works just fine.

Like Alaris said, fish really prefer a stable pH. I wouldn't worry too much about it since you can't change it a whole lot. Hope it helps.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:44 PM   #8
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Thanks Alaris and Meegosh. I feel stupid....but glad to get the info on this. I have checked my water and it goes into my tank at a 7, but as I said before my pH is 6.2-ish. I will work on doing more PWCs to get the nitrates down and maybe that will help the pH more in a gradual manner. I have a 5 gal tank, so how much water is recommended to be changed at a time? I changed out 2 gals last night because I was upset with the nitrates (they hadn't changed from the other PWC that I did the week before).

Should I be stirring up all the crap that has built up in the gravel before I do my PWC? I can't figure out a way to vacuum my gravel (only 5 gal tank and have 2 plants) and thought that stirring up the gravel was the closet thing I could do get rid of the build up. I have a metal spoon that I use to move around the gravel enough to send the build-up flying then dip out the water.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:14 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tabbycat0282 View Post
Thanks Alaris and Meegosh. I feel stupid....but glad to get the info on this. I have checked my water and it goes into my tank at a 7, but as I said before my pH is 6.2-ish. I will work on doing more PWCs to get the nitrates down and maybe that will help the pH more in a gradual manner. I have a 5 gal tank, so how much water is recommended to be changed at a time? I changed out 2 gals last night because I was upset with the nitrates (they hadn't changed from the other PWC that I did the week before).

Should I be stirring up all the crap that has built up in the gravel before I do my PWC? I can't figure out a way to vacuum my gravel (only 5 gal tank and have 2 plants) and thought that stirring up the gravel was the closet thing I could do get rid of the build up. I have a metal spoon that I use to move around the gravel enough to send the build-up flying then dip out the water.

Thanks for the feedback.
I have a feeling that you haven't tested the pure water that you've been adding to the tank. It doesn't always have a pH of 7.0. Actually you should be thrilled that you have a more acidic water as it lowers the amount of nitrates in your tank. Joy completed understated it when she said "those nitrates are rather high". I'd be embarrassed to have ANY of my tanks over 10 ppm. I highly doubt I have one that's over 5 ppm. 80ppm is certainly toxic to fish as is >40ppm.

Honestly, I'd recommend putting your gravel in a separate container, putting the inhabitants in their own container, and then dump ALL of the water out and start over. This time use half tap water and half pure water if you are insistent on using pure water. Is your tap water that bad BTW? Next gently rinse the gravel/substrate in water that's between 74-84 degrees to get rid of any excess wastes while maintaining the beneficial bacteria population. A clean 5 gallon bucket is excellent for this task. Put the rest of the stuff back in the tank and don't forget to rinse your filter!
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:21 AM   #10
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I'd recommend picking up a Lee's Mini Self Starting Gravel Vac, it's the perfect size for performing water changes and gravel vaccing smaller aquariums.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:54 AM   #11
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bs6749:
I have tested the water that I put in my tank. Fresh from Tampa tap...
nitrate-0, nitrite-0, hardness-15, chlorine-1.5, alk-120, pH-7.5
Tampa tap after Pure added as recommended on bottle (2 drops per gal)....
nitrate-0, nitrite-0, hardness-15,
chlorine-0, alk-120, pH-7.5

I have expressed that I do not like the nitrate level of my tank. Again, I am trying to make up for the damage that I have caused.

I will take your recommendation to start over very seriously. I have a new tank (another 5 gal) that I have been wanting to start up as a Scarlet Badis/RCS tank. I think that the best thing for the 2 fish that I already own would be to keep doing the PWCs in their tank, get the new tank up and cycled, transfer them when I get it completed, and start over with the old tank and eventually have it cycled for the Scarlets and RCS. By then my current fish should have more normalized nitrate and pH levels and able to adjust to the better tank. I was going to put off starting the new tank for a week, but now I will get it started by this weekend.

I know that adding some of the gravel from the old tank will help the cycling process of the new tank but I have 2 problems with that. Will the bad mojo from tank #1 then be part of #2? Will snails and eggs transfer over through the mesh of the stockings?

Purrbox: I will get that vac when I go to purchase the substrate for my new tank.

Of course this had to be brought to my attention (my crappy tank conditions) the very first week of the semester. Why doesn't this sort of thing happen when you don't have anything else to do???
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:36 AM   #12
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I have a feeling that you haven't tested the pure water that you've been adding to the tank.
You misunderstood. She isn't adding "pure water." She is adding "Pure" - a chem that I assume is her dechlorinator.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:40 AM   #13
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When I first added my rosey red to my new tank, he go caught in the current and stuck behind the heater and died. I was bummed, because he was the kind who'd follow my finger back and forth, back and forth. Needless to say, I turned the current down. =[ Sorry for your loss!
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:43 AM   #14
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Just double checked the bottle. I got the name wrong. It is called Prime by Seachem...not Pure.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:43 AM   #15
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I know that adding some of the gravel from the old tank will help the cycling process of the new tank but I have 2 problems with that. Will the bad mojo from tank #1 then be part of #2? Will snails and eggs transfer over through the mesh of the stockings?
#1 The bad mojo in your current 5g is lack of maintenance. So that will not be in your gravel. Just kind of swish the gravel around in your tank water when you pull out a sample to kind of "rinse" off the poo/debris. (Don't run it under tap water of course.)

#2 More than likely the snails/eggs will hitchhike on your plants. Do you have live plants? Do you have a snail problem? If you have a large/growing population of snails this means you are overfeeding your fish. You only want to feed your fish what they can eat in 5 minutes. Any leftover food you'll want to remove from the tank.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:54 AM   #16
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Just double checked the bottle. I got the name wrong. It is called Prime by Seachem...not Pure.
That's why I couldn't find anything called "Pure" when I searched. ^_^
Good product, Prime.
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:09 PM   #17
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I feed my fish every other day once per day. I think the snails are thriving because of the debris that has built up in the tank. I started with 5 snails and now have an uncountable population. I try not to overfeed my fish. I do have live plants currently but I think I will start from scratch in the new tank. I worry that if I take out the happy/blooming/thriving plants in my current tank that the water conditions will only get worse in that tank while my fish are still in there waiting (PWCs every couple of days) for the new tank to be ready. Is this a stupid idea Alaris?
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Old 08-27-2008, 06:26 PM   #18
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I worry that if I take out the happy/blooming/thriving plants in my current tank that the water conditions will only get worse in that tank while my fish are still in there waiting (PWCs every couple of days) for the new tank to be ready. Is this a stupid idea Alaris?
I don't really know about that. I'm sure someone else can give better advice about plants & cycling.

As to the snails. You could sink a leaf of lettuce and then in the morning you should have a good portion of snails on that leaf and then throw it away. For your plants you could try dipping them: Aquarium Plants | My views, Steve Hampton, on how to succeed with aquarium plants
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:52 PM   #19
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Update
I tested my water today to find:
Nitrate-80, Nitrite-0, Hardness-150, Chlorine-0, Alk-40, pH-7-7.2, Ammonia-.25
I decided to get a vac and add a couple more plants (sword and java fern)
I have used the vac and can not believe what I was finding....lots of green particles coming out of the gravel. My gravel is green and blue (cheap brand) so I wonder if some of the green particles could have been from the gravel, but is is very likely to just be all the debris that has built up over time. Thank you Purrbox for recommending the mini gravel vac.

The bucket I used to catch the water is white, but by the time it was full (1g later) you could not tell that the bucket was white for the dark green liquid that was in the bucket. I removed the artificial tank decoration and fish before I vac'd and added the new plants. I just added the fish back to the tank and am not going to put back the artificial decoration.
I think the platy likes the java fern...she keeps swimming through the 'fancy' twists at the ends of the larger leaves. Pleco hasn't yet figured out that he can hide in the sword.

I am going to wait for the debris to settle and then do another water test. The results will be posted soon. I hope this helps!!
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Old 08-28-2008, 01:02 AM   #20
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All of the new parameters are the same. My platy is investigating her new plants, and the pleco is chillin next to the base of the sword. Did I mention that I found a sword that has a shoot? Very interesting to look at.

Thanks to all those that have been giving me advice, and I hope that those that are reading this thread are learning from my past mistakes.
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