A few issues (Cloudy Water and fish dying)

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A few issues (Cloudy Water and fish dying)

Postby techydan » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:54 pm

Hi,

I've been reading these forums for a while now and just decided to join. I've had a coldwater tank for about a year now, and that's perfectly fine. I got a tropical tank about 9 weeks ago, added some tester fish, went fine, added some more. I ended up with 1 Rubbernose Plec, 3 Cardinal Tetras and 3 Glowlight Tetras. However, two weeks ago, I took a water sample down to the local pets at home, and the Ammonia level was at the 0.50-2.0ppm level, and was advised to do a larger water change and such. We also cleaned the filter media then as well. (In the water from the water change, not tap water)

So two days ago, I took another sample down, and while all my other levels were at safe, the Ammonia level had spiked to 4.0ppm. I'd started feeding them a lot less, I'd done a water change and tried syphoning up any excess food.

We got told that the only other reason it could be was the use of sand instead of gravel, and was advised to:
1. Change that day to Gravel
2. 30% water change that day
3. Monday (Today), do another 15%

So, we went, moved the fish into a smaller tank we had (Which didn't have any heating whatsoever), and took the sand out, replaced it with gravel, did a water change, and put the heater and filter back on. The water was very cloudy (most likely because we'd been trying to take the sand out, and some stayed in the water), so we hesitated putting the fish back in. We decided to put them back in after about 5 hours in the other tank, as the temperature in that tank wasn't right.

Then, the next morning, the plec had died. We added stress coat to try and calm them down, but we believe the fact of getting them out the tank, into another (non-heated tank) for a few hours, and back in, must have took it's toll. Later that day, 2 glowlight tetras and 1 cardinal tetra died. We did the water test today, and while the PH level has gone up from 7 to 7.5, the Ammonia levels have gone down from 4 to 0.5ppm, which we was told was a great improvement. I understand what ammonia is, and was delighted to hear that news.

We were told that the fish probably died due to taking them out of the tank, and was advised not to take them out the tank into another while removing the sand. The reason we did was due to putting the gravel in. However, on reflection, taking them out of the temperature they were used to, catching them in a net and putting them in a smaller tank probably was worse.

I've been told that the tank is returning back to normal, however while we still have 3 fish left, we are still keeping out an eye just in case. However, we don't believe they'll die now as even though yesterday, they were dropping like flies, these are fine and the water is returning to normal.

However, after hearing the water is becoming safer now, we are relieved. We were told to leave the water for 3-4 days (due to the amount of water change done already) and do another 15% water change, and to go back and check the water on the 8th. I've ordered a water test kit to do daily tests myself, however it won't arrive for another few days.

Is there anything any of you would recommend doing apart from what was advised. The water is still quite cloudy, and while they said it should settle in a few days, I was wondering if anyone had any tips? Also, since doing this, the fish which are left, instead of being normal towards the middle/bottom of the tank, are all on the top. I looked online, and I've been told it could be due to ammonia (Which should becoming fine, and before, even if high, never went to the top), or it could be due to not enough air in the tank. I've got two air stones in the tank attached to a pump. and that's on most of the day. Do you have any suggestions on what the reason/problem could be. Do you think any of the other fish will die or do you think they'll be okay?

P.S. - Sorry for the long post! I thought it would be best to tell the backstory on it.
techydan
 
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Re: A few issues (Cloudy Water and fish dying)

Postby san-ho-zay » Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:58 pm

You've had some strange advice. Sand does not produce ammonia. Changing all your substrate would have lost a lot of bacteria.

Water that has a persistent white smokiness to it is usually a consequence of high ammonia levels. Bacteria start to reproduce rapidly and form a haze before they attach to surfaces. Stressing fish by moving can exacerbate problems but I think your basic problem has been high ammonia (and probably nitrite) levels. The cloudiness will disappear when bacteria settle on surfaces and start to do their job.

It's been a week since you posted this. Did you get test kits and see what was going on? Readings for ammonia and nitrite if you have them.

If fish are hanging at the top, they may be suffering from nitrite poisoning. Adding about one-tenth of a teaspoon of salt per 100 litres (yes, that's a tiny amount but it's enough) should relieve it. If you have a nitrite reading on your kit or see fish gasping for air, add that little bit of salt. It stops nitrite affecting the haemaglobin in the fishes' blood.

Don't be afraid of water changes. Unless you use the wrong temperature water, forget to use dechlorinator or do large changes after not having done any for a while, water changes are always a good thing. If ammonia and nitrite are high, you can do 50% a day if need be. Just build up to it, so 10% day one, 20% day 2, 30% day 3 and so on. When push comes to shove, a big water change is better than ammonia or nitrite poisoning.
Richard
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Re: A few issues (Cloudy Water and fish dying)

Postby techydan » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:08 pm

Hi,

Thanks for the reply.

We didn't get told it produced sand (Sorry for the confusion), we got told that it was being stored in the sand, and was told after (by a different person), that they don't ever advise sand because of that.

Yes, I got the test kits. On monday (a week ago), we took another test down, as most the cloud had gone by that point, and our levels were a lot better. The levels of Ammonia had gone from 4ppm to 0.50ppm, and the nitrate and nitrite levels were both safe. We were told by her to wait another 3 days and do another 15% water change, on top of the 30% change done (and sand to gravel change) on the saturday, and the 15% advised to be done on the monday (When we took the test down). Anyway, the levels were going down, we were told it was a significant improvement and it should be fine by saturday (the 8th).

So, we took a water sample back down (after doing tests myself throughout the week), and the women who served us on the saturday was a little confused, as the ammonia levels had stayed at 0.50, possibly gone up slightly (she never wrote the value down), but the nitrite level had increased to unsafe levels of between 0.25-2.0ppm (They never write the figures down), and the nitrate levels were at 10ppm.

They went and found the specialist in fish, and she told us it's clear that the tank is going through a mini cycle, but the filter isn't able to keep up with the levels, and that's why the nitrate levels were what they are. She told us that we were in the last stages (what she could see from the readings), but again, the filter wasn't able to cope. She said we'd been given bad advice (from the staff in that store) and we've taken too much water out and added too much new water, and that with the new gravel, has caused this. She gave this advice:
- Use Nutrafin Cycle and do a full three day treatment
- Do a 20% water change on the Saturday
- Treat again with cycle on Monday (Didn't make it clear if she meant the one-off treatment or the full three day treatment)

So, I've done the three day treatment with Nutrafin Cycle, and I'm now waiting until Saturday to do a water change. And then on the monday, add the Nutrafin Cycle again.

The fish are swimming around like normal at the moment, and have been since Monday. Apart from that, everything else seems to be fine. Is there anything you'd suggest?
techydan
 
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Re: A few issues (Cloudy Water and fish dying)

Postby san-ho-zay » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:24 pm

Sand is OK, but let's not labour that point.

Test kits should really be marked with three levels: none, a bit and a lot. Trying to make sense of small changes in readings is troublesome. So don't worry about small fluctuations from day to day.

A general point is that the test for nitrate is completely incaccurate when nitrite is present. It's not even worth testing and can just confuse matters.

If you see nitrite, add a few grains of salt.

The fish are swimming around like normal at the moment, and have been since Monday. Apart from that, everything else seems to be fine. Is there anything you'd suggest?

They know better than all of us. Keep the water changes frequent and increase the amount at each change if the fish are looking off colour. Match temperature, use a dechlorinator and you'll be OK.
Richard
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Re: A few issues (Cloudy Water and fish dying)

Postby techydan » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:53 pm

Ah okay then. I'm using the water test sheets as guidance from Pets at Home, if you've ever been there. I'm glad you told me to ignore the nitrate test is inaccurate when readings show for nitrite... I'm surprised they haven't mentioned it before. She was actually going on the nitrate levels to give me advice... Even with nitrite levels.

Thanks for the advice.. The fish seem to have got their colour back, I use tapsafe every time I do a PWC, before adding the water to the tank. When would it be best to add a grain or two of salt (The tank is 48 litres, so, going on your measurements given, I need to add around one twentieth in to my tank). I haven't done a water test yet, I got advised by them to do the three day cycle and wait until Thursday to do a water test, as that could void the test, and throw the figures off.

When would you say (from what you know about my tank), to start adding fish back in to the tank. I know they advised me not to due to the ammonia levels just going in to the unsafe levels (0.50ppm, when safe is between 0-0.25ppm and unsafe is 0.50-2.0ppm). I'm going to do a water test on Thursday and a PWC on Saturday, and I'll test the levels again on Monday, to give the tank time to settle after the water change.
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Re: A few issues (Cloudy Water and fish dying)

Postby san-ho-zay » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:59 am

If the fish have their colour back that's a good sign that they are OK with the water.

The tiny amount of salt is only a short-term measure if your test kit shows a significant nitrite reading (more than a hint of pink) and the fish look stressed. Once the tank is dealing with ammonia and nitrite it's not required. The dechlorinator probably produces enough salt for small amounts of nitrite anyway. (The chlorine just becomes sodium chloride).

I wouldn't add more fish until the ammonia and nitrite are reading zero and have done so for a week. Then only add a proportion of what you have. So if you only have three fish, only add one. Let the ammonia and nitrite settle back at zero, then add two to the existing four, then three to the existing six. Just bear in mind that 48 litres doesn't support that many fish (probably around 10-12 small fish).

A new tank (say less than six months old) is prone to little spikes of ammonia and nitrite. As bacteria form deep films in the filter, on the substrate and other surfaces, it becomes more resilient. So tread carefully for now, especially as you just changed your substrate. Remove uneaten food. No need to clean your filter for example, unless it gets really clogged (which is unlikely).
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