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Old 09-24-2008, 06:38 AM   #1
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sudden discus death for TWO discs!!! (make that THREE) :(((((

i am completely befuddled here. i have a total of 4 discus. three were doing absolutely fantastic; they were active, had great appetites, presented deep colors, and were responsive. the one on the bottom of the pecking order was a bit gaunt; he was really finicky about what he ate and more shy than the others. i worried about him.

so this morning, i turned on the lights and fed the fish. they were all doing well.

i left for the day and came back at night. i went to feed them and i noticed three of the discus were in extremely poor shape. the gill areas on two of them were white. and they two had heavy body slime.

i quickly did a partial water change, and added some stress coat and a bit of aquarium salt in a bowl and submerged it into the tank.

two of the 4 discus had no sense of balance, they were being pushed around by the current and had almost no ability to control themselves. i took those two and put them in a breeding net enclosure. less than five minutes later one discus died. a minute or two later, the other discus died.

the other discus that looked in bad shape was still mobile. i tried to catch him and put him in the net but he evaded me and ran behind some shelter. i decided to let him stay there. the 4th discus seems alright.

in addition to all this, my large male angelfish is breathing abnormally. his gill covers are protruding a bit, and his gills are pulsating a bit more rapidly with larger movements.

the only thing i did in the past few days was a partial water change. yesterday i added the some flourish excel, about 2x the normal dosage to kill off a rebound in algae growth (instead of 15ml for 30gal i dosed 30ml for the 30gal.) could the increased dosage of flourish excel resulted in the fish death? in everything i've read, anything over 3x is usually dangerous, but people have implemented 4-5x dosages without any adverse issues. from what i've read, high doses of flourish excel depletes the oxygen capacity of the water, but my tank is heavily aerated.

tank parameters:

temp - 83F
ph - 7.2
ammonia - 0ppm
nitrites - 0.25ppm
nitrates - 20ppm

the tank is heavily aerated through a powerhead.


as i was writing this, the third discus that went off to hide did also succumb to whatever condition affected him and the other two.
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:51 AM   #2
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actually, i take it back about the 3rd one. he's just really still. i was able to catch a glimpse of his mouth moving very slowly, but moving nonetheless.

i really hope he makes it. he was the first discus i ever got, and he has lots of personality to boot.
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Old 09-24-2008, 08:36 AM   #3
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First, there's no reason that there should be a current in a discus tank. They don't like fast flowing waters.

Second, you have nitrites in your tank which shouldn't be there if the tank was properly cycled and if the tank was properly maintained. Those could have definitely stressed the fish.

Third, I'm guessing it was a bad move dosing Excel. If that's the only thing you did recently then it's obviously that which is causing the problems for the discus and if the angelfish is also breathing rapidly you can bet that the fish are stressed from the Excel.

What size tank are they in? I'd do a 90% water change right away if you want to save the other fish in the tank. Then later on tonight I'd consider doing another 90% water change. I'm also confused when you say that the discus "presented deep colors" since this is the first sign to tell a novice discus keeper that something is WRONG (pigeon bloods and abinos lack the ability to turn dark). I feel that you may have not done enough research before purchasing these fish.

Fourth, before I even read your post I went to look at the pics of the fish to see what they were like. The one on the bottom is severely stunted and was emaciated as well, which means either internal parasites or it wasn't eating. Anyhow, it was weak already because of these factors and the additional stress from the Excel was too much for it. The other one that died didn't look like it was as severely stunted as the other one but was stunted to a certain point. You need to start out with quality fish and problems like these can often be avoided. Was the top one a leoparad or turquoise and the bottome one a cobalt?

Fifth, don't add slime coat for the discus. This is almost like an irritant to them for what I've been told. Aquarium salt is okay but not sure why it was added in this case. Before adding something to a tank, know what the purpose of adding it is and know it's effects. Now go do a water change!!!!!!!
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Old 09-24-2008, 02:26 PM   #4
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Sorry for your losses.

I haven't kept discus, but did a bit of research on them when I was planning my 125. Everything I read stated that they have to have pristine water conditions, that any ammonia or nitrIte would be detrimental to them.

Do you know why you have the .25 nitrIte?
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Old 09-24-2008, 03:50 PM   #5
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BS6749 has some great points. First before adding discus you need to have a well cycled tank, no ammonia or nitrites present at all! Doing a water change is a must, I personally would do a 75% water change. How much excel did you add? Discus can handle ferts like Excel but in small doses to acclimate them to it. Discus can't handle any form of water parameter change suddenly. Also add an airstone to the tank and reduce the current caused by the filters as suggested.

I would have to agree that it is most likely that the bottom discus had internal parasites, which can be quite common in discus not purchased from a breeder. I keep prazi pro on hand when I acquire new discus and QT them for 2 weeks min, before adding them to the tank. Unless I know the breeder and know they have been dewormed and QT'd there.

BS6729 has given you excellent advice. You need to do some research on discus before purchasing anymore discus. Good luck and keep us posted how you do.
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Old 09-25-2008, 05:57 AM   #6
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actually, the discus were purchased by the GF as a gift. she knew i was into the idea of 'em, so one day she brought me a bag with three discus. she's pretty upset with the loss of two of them.

i've done the high dose of excel in past to clear out algae and never witnessed any adverse effects.

as per the recommendation, i did a huge water change.

i don't understand what's going on with the nitrites. i do partial water changes 1 to 2 times a week. i siphon all fish waste, uneaten food (pretty rare... they're good about finishing everything), and any other particulates that settle on the surface. maybe siphoning deep gravel is unsettling something?

right now, the neither the two surviving discus or my 4 angels are happy. the large one is still breathing rapidly, w/ his mouth constantly open. the big one and two others normally have red eyes, but the eyes have lost all color. they're not moving much. when i fed them, two of them picked at the food; normally, they got nuts during feeding time. as for the discus, the two are constantly hiding. normally, they're always out and about.

with the emaciated discus. i always thought he was picky and as a result didn't eat much. while the others ate anything i gave them and picked everything clean. this one would only eat frozen foods. he was also on the bottom of the pecking order.

i guess on the flipside the killies and the opaline gourami are very active.
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:49 AM   #7
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There will always be one or two fish on the bottom of the totem pole, that's just the way it is with discus. If you had two that weren't a pair you would see one that is dominant and one that is always showing dark and stressed/submissive colors. Discus are a schooling fish and should be kept in a minimum of 5-6 fish (unless you have a breeding pair) to spread out the aggression and so one fish isn't continuously singled out. In my tank I have for example an Alenquer that goes after my high fin spotted leapard. She in turn goes after one of my carnation snakeskins who in turn goes after one of my blue diamonds, in turn goes after the another blue diamond or my smaller carnation snakeskin. It's rather amusing to watch because the same process is repeated time and time again. Each fish knows who is higher up on the totem pole than they are and they act accordingly.

Test your levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate again and report back. Keep the lights of for a couple of days and see if that helps. Also, if they aren't eating just stop feeding them as there's no sense in polluting the water any further and fasting them will most likely peak their interest after 2 days without food (this is perfectly safe) and most likely you'll see them happy to greet you at the front or top of the tank on the third day. It may also be wise to cover up the front and sides of the tank by taping newspaper or something so they can't see anyone walking around. Be sure not to make any loud or sudden movements with heavy footsteps near the tank or else you may spook them. Not being able to see should have a calming effect on them.
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Old 09-30-2008, 05:10 AM   #8
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i don't get this. the nitrite levels are creeping up.

i did a 90% water change and waited. the fish seem to be doing much better, but i can't explain why the nitrites were at 0.25ppm in the beginning, and why they're at 0.5ppm now.

i'm doing PWCs every other day of about 25% and dosing Amquel+ daily.

fortunately, the ammonia's 0, but i really have no idea why the nitrites are starting to build up from 0ppm a few weeks back.
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Old 09-30-2008, 10:50 AM   #9
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you have/had 4 discus, 4 angel fish and killies and gourami's in a 30 gallon aquarium?!?! or did i read something wrong? i cant imagine how you have such low nitrites considering how many fish you have in a 30 gal tank??? discus alone need a min of around 50gal one angel should be in a min 30gal, i think your only prob is way to many fish in a little 30 gal tank!
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