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Old 06-22-2016, 10:10 PM   #1
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Fish dying in newly cycled tank

Hi all,

Hope somebody can help me out here. First the basics:

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0 (or at least I can't see any reading for it)
PH: 7.5 ish
Temp: 77-79 (depending upon which thermometer you believe)
36 gallon bow front
Fluval 306
1 6" air stone
using mix of CaribSea Flora Max Planted Aquarium Substrate and black sand - about 1-2"

Tank is new. Had water in it for about 3 weeks. I did a fishless cycle using DrTim's Aquatics One & Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria and DrTim's Ammonium chloride. Also used a dechlorinator. After about one week I would get a reading of 0 ammonia a few hours after adding the ammonium. Never saw much of a spike in nitrite and no nitrate readings. The tank is planted so that may explain the lack of nitrates.

After the first week of good readings I bought 3 neon tetras from a LFS. Unfortunately I didn't notice when I bought them but they were heavily infected with ich. I didn't see that until I got them home. The store, despite its great Yelp reviews, does not accept returns. Fish behaved normally at first. But within 24 hours one died and 2 days later the other 2 died. Thinking back one did look like he had a bloated belly.

Ok so now I crank the heat to 97 to kill the ich. One week later I try adding more fish as I assumed first fish died of the ich. So I added 5 zebra danios, 4 cory cats and 2 nerite snails from PetCo (since the LFS was not good). Added DrTim's Aquatics First Defense Stress Relief & Immune Support before adding the fish. Acclimated the fish via floating bag for 15 mins, then 1/2 cup tank water for 8 mins then another 1/2 cup for 5 mins. Then netted fish into tank - no store water got put into tank. Everybody seemed great the first night. The danios ate (Hikari micro pellets) and schooled, the snails were active and the corys were very active. The corys did NOT eat. They had no interest in the shrimp pellets I had for them. However the next day 2 out of 3 of the pellets were gone - so maybe they ate them during the night.

24 hours later the corys are not acting normal. They are now lethargic and not schooling. Two of the zebras now have enlarged bellies and are spending a lot of time near the surface of the tank. Fast forward one more day and two dead danos (the big bellied ones). Nobody is eating now. 3 danios are still alive but one is porcupined. Only one ate today: freeze dried blood worms. One snail is active, one is not. Trying algae waffers for the corys but so far they aren't eating either. Still lethargic and not schooling. The corys look like they are breathing pretty heavy. I did around a 25% water change.

Did some research and it looks like dropsy is killing the danos. Not sure with the corys. So the question is what could be causing this? I know stress is a big factor in dropsy - but other than moving to a new tank what could be causing this stress?

Thank you ahead of time for any insight or information anybody might have to help me out.
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Old 06-23-2016, 09:01 AM   #2
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Hi, welcome to the forum and sad news on your fish

I'm sure other people will chime in so I think my question would be what ammonia level were you dosing the tank to and how often? What was the highest ammonia reading you got?

I just want to check the tank is cycled and the test readings are all correct as it would be unusual not to have nitrates reading. I have seen nitrites not show up even though tanks cycle so the 0 nitrite reading could be possible.
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Old 06-23-2016, 09:35 AM   #3
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Hi, welcome to the forum and sad news on your fish

I'm sure other people will chime in so I think my question would be what ammonia level were you dosing the tank to and how often? What was the highest ammonia reading you got?

I just want to check the tank is cycled and the test readings are all correct as it would be unusual not to have nitrates reading. I have seen nitrites not show up even though tanks cycle so the 0 nitrite reading could be possible.
Thanks for the welcome. Wish it was under better circumstances that I created an account.

I was following instructions on the bottle. 1 drop per gallon which targets 2ppm. I ended up doing around 34-35 drops figuring the substrate and decorations made my actual water volume around 34-35 gallons, not 36. Dosed with the ammonium a total of 4 times I think and never saw it stick around. Assumed the starter bacteria from the DrTims was working when I saw that. Further assumption were the plants are why I never saw a nitrate uptick. Even with the fish dying I still read 0 ppm of ammonia. I was thinking maybe my tester was bad so I bought API's Freshwater Master Test Kit and that also reads 0.

Also an update: 2 of the corys were dead this morning. No improvement on the remaining two. Danios are still hanging on.

Thanks
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Old 06-23-2016, 10:06 AM   #4
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Just checking but 0 readings for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all the time? Never any ammonia reading of say 1 or 2 ppm?

It's night time here unfortunately. I would pick up something like seachem prime which will detoxify just about everything and do a 30% water change and see if they perk up.

http://www.seachem.com/prime.php
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Old 06-27-2016, 03:21 PM   #5
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I would say your tank is not cycled.
I'm sorry for what you're going through.
Please, try and do a full cycle either with a hardy fish or fishless and what I mean by a full cycle is without any bottled bacteria or if you want a faster cycle if you can, use a piece of filter media from an established tank.

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Old 07-08-2016, 01:00 PM   #6
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So here's an update - things still aren't good. My detectable ranges in the tanks are all still good. Ammonia is between 0-.25 (hard to say on API test, I think it is closer to 0 but there is a very slight green tint to the yellow). Nitrite still undetectable as well as Nitrates (again a planted tank).

On July 3rd I added 3 zebra danios and 2 almano shrimp. One almano died within about an hour of adding him. Found out after words they are very sensitive to water changes. Got him replaced with another that I introduced with drip method for about 1.5 hours. So that put the livestock as 4 zebras (one being from the original group - he still won't eat but seems fine otherwise), 2 almano shrimp and a nerite snail.

First few days everybody seemed fine. The 3 new zebras were eating the Hikari micro pellets and the occasional freeze dried blood worm (also Hikari). I was feeding twice a day what they would eat in a minute or so. The original zebra still won't eat. The shrimp are doing well.

Then on Wednesday (the 6th) one of the zebras got a bloated belly and what looked like internal hemorrhaging. It died that night. Then yesterday another zebra pineconed up and died that night. Both of those look to be dropsy. That makes at least 3, if not 4, fish dying in this tank from dropsy. The corys very possibly did die from an undetected ammonia spike because I introduced too many fish too fast. My research on dropsy and what causes fish to get it is leaving me puzzled. All of the measurables of the tank are good. It should be low stress.

The one common thing I can point to for all fish deaths is the food they ate. I am wondering if a I had a bad pouch of food? Has anybody ever heard of bad food causing this? It was not expired but since its the only thing that is making any sense right now I tossed it and am replacing with Omega One.

Should I give up and drain the tank, throw out all substrate and plants, sterilized the filter, toss its media and start over? Problem with that option is I have nowhere to house the surviving livestock. The zebra that won't eat is going to die eventually by starving himself to death. But the snail and two shrimp are doing great. The other zebra is a ? right now. His belly seams more-or-less normal.

I'm getting desperate here so any advice is welcome.

Thanks
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Old 07-08-2016, 01:39 PM   #7
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how many plants are in your tank and are they growing a lot? I worry that your test kits are not good because even with plants covering most of the surfaces of my tank and growing fast, I usually have a low but measurable nitrate reading.
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Old 07-08-2016, 02:09 PM   #8
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how many plants are in your tank and are they growing a lot? I worry that your test kits are not good because even with plants covering most of the surfaces of my tank and growing fast, I usually have a low but measurable nitrate reading.
Not a ton. I wouldn't call it heavily planted. Most plants are growing - a few are melting. But I don't have much stock in the tank either so there isn't a lot of bioload to feed the cycle. I will check all 3 of my levels tonight when I get home from work and update the thread - tbh I haven't check the nitrate for a few days. Ammonia is what I have been checking daily.
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Old 07-08-2016, 02:19 PM   #9
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yeah, plants that are melting are adding to ammonia problems, not sucking up nitrates
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Old 07-08-2016, 02:36 PM   #10
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yeah, plants that are melting are adding to ammonia problems, not sucking up nitrates
I understand that and when I confirm the plant really is dead I remove it. I check the ammonia daily and only right after the first die off did I see it read anything remotely high. Even then it was only around 1ppm which should still be safe for most things. Maybe it was higher and dropped before I tested it. Now daily it shows between 0-.25. PetCo has tested the water twice and said everything looks good. Granted they are using the worthless paper strips. Unfortunately I don't have a LFS I trust to get a second opinion. But I'm using the liquid API kit which is not expired and getting the same results.
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Old 07-08-2016, 03:00 PM   #11
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I would stop adding new fish until your tank if fully cycled and rid of ich.
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