I lost my Feather fin catfish, Jim, after 4yrs. I'm looking for advice so I can learn from this horrible loss, please help, I'm very torn up about this and honestly don't know when I can bring myself to buy another fish, but I want to know what went wrong.
Unfortunately it happened shortly after I left out of state for three months, my fish savy roommate was taking care of the tank. So sone info is second hand. Sorry if timeline is wonky on tank, as I was more focused on water parameters than how long.
Background: Jim was over due to be moved out of my 25 gallon (he was supposed to be an upside down catfish and got much bigger than anticipated). I had the new 40 set up with minnows and Java fern, starting cycling. It had been seeded with media from old tank. Then I got accepted for an out of state internship. I decided to move Jim early to lessen the issue of someone "fish sitting." I was not worried as the new tank would be understocked, and I invested in several bottles of Prime and Stability by Seachem. Also I had Purigen in the canister filter and read that some non-Seachem conditioners react adversely with it. I moved the ceramic bio media from old filter, into the new filter.
I tested daily the week before I left/the week I put Jim in the new tank. When I added Jim, ammonia, nitrate and nitrites were all zero despite having the minnows. I chalked this up to three tiny fish in a big tank. With Jim I saw ammonia pop up to .5, but it took about 1.5 weeks. I was using prime and stability daily. When I left, ammonia was low, no nitrites or nitrates. I instructed roommate to alternate Prime and Stability while testing weekly at minimum. I got her test strips, as she was not used to the API liquid kit. And figured she would test more frequently with strips.
Two days after I left, I got pic of a seemingly normal Jim. (He had small scratch she wanted me to see.) Two days later I get a text and picture of a sick Jim, and the next day he had passed away.
1~What type of fish is afflicted? Synodontis eupterus. Very quick onset. Roommate thought it was a fungus, but sent photo and immediately looked like a slim coat issue to me. Jim was cloudy all over, and looked to be "shedding" a bit. He was staying in corner at the bottom, not under his log like normal. Next day, he had completely shed his slim coat all over the tank, and died not long after that night.
The minnows were hovering at the top near the water output.
2~What are your tank parameters (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, temp, pH)? Please give exact values.
I don't have my parameters sheet with me. But I recall them pretty well. Ammonia took a long time to show on test, and I assumed because bigger tank and very understocked (API liquid test kit). When ammonia read .5, I did 25% water change. Mostly as I was leaving for my internship that week. When I left, nitrites and nitrates still 0. Temp 78 (up to 80 on hot summer days when room has hard time keeping cool). pH was about 7.8-8. my roommate sent parameters the day she noticed symptoms. The readings she texted me were:
Nitrates/nitrites between 0-0.5 very hard to read
3~ How large is the tank? How long has the tank been set up?
40 bow front. Was set up for about 1.5 months.
4~What type of filtration are you using? Please give the name and number (i.e. Fluval 304) and amount of gph
Fluvial 406(I think) canister. It does 200 L per hour
5~How many fish are in the tank? What kinds of fish are they and what are their current sizes?
Feather fin, about 8 inches. And three minnows, 1 inch and less.
6~When is the last time you did a water change and vacuum the gravel? How often do you do this? How much water do you remove at a time?
Did two water changes. (Sand bottom, Flourite). Tried to limit changes to allow bacteria to further establish, and test kit did not show the need. I did first change to help clear some floating dust specks from new sand, 1 week after adding minnows/after set up. Second change about 3 weeks later, despite low ammonia reading, minnows were flashing. My roommate did a 25% change at onset of symptoms, about 1 week after last WC
7~How long have you had the fish? If the fish is new, how did you acclimate it/them?
4 years. When moved to new tank, acclimated in bucket with old water. Added 2 cup new water every 15 mins, for 1.5 hrs.
8~Have you added anything new to the tank--decor, new dechlorinator, new substrate, etc.?
Whole tank was new. But I'm dealing with lots of new variables. This was my first, sand bottom, planted tank and drift wood. Plants are some young Java fern (3 inch tall). I also used Purigen to help control tannins (soaked manzineta root for 1 month and was still leaching some tannins). First time using Seachem Prime and Stability. Used API products in old tank. Filter was "new" to me, my first canister.
9~What kind of food have you been feeding your fish, have you changed their diet recently?
Same diet. Omega One shrimp pellets,. and Omega One algea wafers every 1-2 weeks. Omega One flake for minnows, very tiny amount into tank as they were so tiny.
It almost seems like ammonia poisoning?? But the test strips AND kit never showed ammonia above .5