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Discussion regarding only Central American Cichlid species. (Guapotes, Jack Dempseys, Red Devils, Firemouths, Convicts, Texas Cichlids, etc.)
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Need help with dying fish mystery

Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:33 am

I have a fully cycled new 75gal tank (about two months). Parameters are perfect and have been double checked on different types of test kits. pH is stable too. Filters- aquaclear 500 and hydor pro rated for 90-120, charcoal, bio balls, ceramics, and floss. I have lost over ten fish in the last month. At first I thought they were dying from shipping stress and the cold, but now I have locally bought fish dying. When I move fish to my small 15 gal to rest they get better. The strange part is, is that there are congo tetras and pictus catfish that have been in the awhile that are perfectly healthy. The only thing in the tank is black caribsea sand and local rocks that vinegar tested safe. The fish act okay for 2-4 days and then go pale, act reclusive, and suddenly die. Thoughts? I started off stocking with acaras, geos, and firemouth. I switched to Africans after to try something local. I have tried salting the tanks according to instructions and adding a slime coat builder.

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:41 am

What are the perfect parameters and complete stocking?

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:04 am

0 ammonia, 0 nitrates/nirites. 7.3 pH, hardness 120. Am. cichlids were the originals with the catfish. Currently 5 congos, catfish, and two juvenile African cichlids (haps I believe). Both of those are local, but the one isn't looking too hot, sitting on the bottom and has trailing white fecals

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:19 pm

Raven4Love wrote:0 ammonia, 0 nitrates/nirites. 7.3 pH, hardness 120. Am. cichlids were the originals with the catfish. Currently 5 congos, catfish, and two juvenile African cichlids (haps I believe). Both of those are local, but the one isn't looking too hot, sitting on the bottom and has trailing white fecals


There's either something wrong with your test kit or your tank is not cycled. How did you cycle the tank?

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:46 pm

I thought it could be my test kit so I took water samples to local stores that test using a different brand. Same results. I did a fishless cycle with ammonia and bacteria. Tested till ammonia read 2ppm, a few days after ammonia dropped, nitrites spikes, then nitrites dropped, and nitrate spiked, did a few small water changes and added the catfish and teras once things read 0 across. Checked every day for a while and things stayed stable. After a few weeks ordered the cichlids. No ammonia spike, I was checking every day and took water to store to be sure.

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:52 pm

O2 should be good too. Plenty of water turnover/circulation, and surface breaking. Is there a disease that could be bothering just the cichlids?

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Sun Dec 09, 2018 5:51 pm

You really shouldn't have a zero nitrate reading in a cycled tank so that is very curious.

Any chance you could get a sample of the tank water from the store that your cichlids were in when you bought them? It seems like a long shot to me but just curious if maybe your parameters are a lot different than theirs.

Which brand and type test kit are you using?

The presence of white feces is concerning though it may depend on IF the fish are eating, what they are eating and if you ever see normal food color feces from the fish. Whitish and thin or thready feces is often referred to as Bloat and there is an article in the illness section of the Library on how to treat it using plain regular Epsom Salt though there is a medicated food available by New Life Spectrum that may work if your cichlids are eating.

If this was an actual disease, I would assume that your fish store would be experiencing the same issues that you are.

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:00 pm

I'm doing weekly 30% water changes so the nitrates would stay low. I've tested using api master kit, seachem, and tetra strips. The behavior really isn't bloat. Only the one had white fecal trails. They all have same symptoms... hiding/resting on bottom, ignoring food, go pale, and die. All that happens within a day or two after several days of normal behavior. The congos have beautiful coloring and relaxed/normal behavior. I'm really at a loss.

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:46 am

What are the nitrate readings which are "low"? As pointed out, they should not be zero in a cycled tank.

What are you using for a water source, and what water conditioner are you adding?

Re: Need help with dying fish mystery

Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:33 am

I am no expert on this, but I had the same thing happen to me before. Fish were fine for 2-4 days, turn real pale and hug the bottom of the tank. Put them in my hospital tank with no meds and they came back. Same results as you. It turned out to be nitrite poisoning. My local tap water perimeters had changed. It had super high levels of nitrite. I had to double my prime dose to offset it. I’ve never put in a drop of tap water in again before testing it. Again, I’m no expert, but thought I might share this with you as it sounded the same.
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