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Old 02-06-2011, 02:05 PM   #1
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all dead... why?

Hello.

So this is my first post, and while I would love to just say "hi," I'm afraid I have a problem I could use some help with.

I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank that has been in operation for about 10 months or so. I cycled it according to the pet store's directions back when I set it all up, and had little to no difficulties for the first several months.

Back in the Fall, around September or so, some of the fish (mostly tetra varieties) started getting white fluffy patches on their mouths and bodies. I treated with Melafix and Pimafix and all but a Splash Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, and a Dwarf Honey Gourami died. I had my water tested by the pet store for any irregularities, but they said everything checked out fine.

Everything was fine for a few weeks, so I added some Black Neon Tetras and a couple Corys. Everyone survived for a couple weeks, but then the Black Neons started showing the same symptoms as before and died, and the Corys and the Dwarf Honey Gourami and Cardinal Tetra followed another week later. Same thing--medicated with Melafix and Pimafix, had the water tested--everything appeared ok.

I waited about 3 more weeks, saw no symptoms on the Splash Tetra, and added some Blood Fin Tetras and an Orange Bee Shrimp. The Blood Fin Tetras started showing the same symptoms by the end of the day and were all dead by morning.

The cycle continues... Medicated, waited, tested, added a Scarlet Badis and a Kuhli Loach. Everyone was fine for a couple weeks, so I figured maybe I had finally beaten the problem. I bought a Blackberry Shrimp and a new Dwarf Honey Gourami yesterday... Everyone in the tank is dead this morning with white patches on their fins, bodies and eyes, even the tough old Splash Tetra that survived it all before.

Sorry for the long story.

Some basic info:

-10 gallons, operating for 10 months
-30% water changes every week to 2 weeks with tap water and conditioner/vacuum gravel
-Last water change was 2 days ago. New fish were added the next day.
-New fish were acclimated by floating the bags for 10 minutes, then opening the bags to let the tank water in slowly for another 10 minutes before releasing.
-Temp stays between 74-77 degrees F
-I don't have the numbers for pH, ammonia, etc... but the pet store I go to tested and said all of those were in the right range as of yesterday.
-I've had live plants since I set the tank up, though the current ones have been in there for 3 and 6 months.
-Feeding Tetra Pro Tropical Crisps, and Dried Bloodworms--no changes in diet
-Filter is an Aqueon Power Filter 10. Last changed the cartridge about 4 weeks ago

Can anyone tell me how I managed to kill so many fish? I'm feeling like a mass-murderer. If there are truly no survivors left in my tank (haven't accounted for the loach and the bee shrimp yet), I think I'm ready to pack it in and give up completely.

Thanks in advance.

collin
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:11 PM   #2
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Many issues going wrong right now:

1.) You need to get your own liquid test kit. LFS use strips which are inaccurate and often times they'll tell you what you want to hear so you'll get more fish.
2.) Stop adding fish. If there's a problem, stop making cannon fodder.
3.) You need to quarantine. You had a fungal infection that's normally due to very very poor water quality and other ailments. Fungus is often a secondary effect of other problems.
4.) It sounds like you're stocking that 10 gallon pretty heavily. Add less fish.
5.) DON'T change out the filter cartridges. Just change out the carbon if you're running it and then rinse the cartridge free of gunk with tank water.
6.) Don't mix store water with your tank water. Temperature acclimate then dump the bag through a net then take a cup of tank water and rinse the fish out with tank water for a bit before putting them in QT or the DT if the tank is fallow. I personally drip acclimate all my fish/shrimp.
7.) Begin your cycle anew. Try fishless cycling we have a good article in the getting started section.
8.) Get a better filter. It's very hard to over filter.
9.) STOP getting more fish! If there's a problem fix it!

And for future reference:
1 gallon per inch rule is a horrible standard in such a small tank. Additionally instead of getting a menagerie of school fish get 5-6 of one type. These are just my opinions though so feel free to do as you will. The above suggestions 1-9 are musts though
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:28 PM   #3
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Ok, thanks for the response, crepe.

A couple questions for my own clarification--

The independent pet store I go to does use liquid tests, not strips, and I did see the results, just don't remember the specific numbers. Ammonia and Nitrates were not an issue. Should I still not trust what's going on there?

The filter I have has a cartridge that is simply a pouch that contains the carbon. That is what I have changed out on occasion. Are you saying these should never be replaced?

I get the "stop adding fish" part, but what is a realistic duration to wait in a symptom-free environment? I felt like the month I waited between the last death and the addition of new fish a couple weeks ago would be enough to be safe. Apparently not, so how does one determine a truly safe environment?

thanks.
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Old 02-06-2011, 05:20 PM   #4
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The pads should not be replaced. If you can't get the carbon out then just leave it in. The fibrous pads are where the bacteria is being hosted.
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Old 02-06-2011, 05:39 PM   #5
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Nitrates are never really an issue, you need to be more worried about ammonia and nitrItes.
If the filter media gets dirty, you can rinse it in old tank water. Do not replace unless it's falling apart. If you need to replace it, keep as much of the old media in there as possible for about a week.
Sounds like your fish had columnaris.
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Old 02-06-2011, 06:15 PM   #6
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Got it... forgot off the top of my head which were the bad ones between nitrates and nitrites. Either way, testing fine.

The good news is that though my splash tetra looked completely dead this morning, he started swimming again when I went to scoop him out. His fins still have white edges, but at least he's up and about again. I also found the kuhli loach and the orange bee shrimp, both of which seem to be doing ok.

I've quarantined the splash tetra and obviously am not adding any new fish. The question still remains, however, how do I know when it's safe to begin repopulating after the symptoms disappear? Weeks? A month? 2 months? What should I be looking/testing for that I haven't already? Is it possible that it was the pet store water that caused the problem?

Thanks again for all the advice.
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Old 02-07-2011, 01:40 AM   #7
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Like I said, it sounds like columnaris, and you can google it or maybe send a PM to mfdrookie, who has dealt with it successfully I believe.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:49 PM   #8
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Also I would recommend getting even a 20 gallon tank. Not only is that more space for your fish it allows for better water quality and dangerous levels won't spike so suddenly as in your 10.
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