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Fish keep dying...

3542 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Robin
I've been a fish owner for 3 years now. I have 2 malawi tanks and this one.
- Had 13 fish in 55gl - varoius haps and peacocks, all male, roughly 1.5" each
- NH3/4 - 0
- NO2 - 0
- NO3 - 10ppm
- PH - 8.2
- KH - 9 degrees
- Temp - 79.5
- 10% water change weekly
- Using Hikari Ultimate water conditioner
- Fishless cycled - added fish 24 march.
- Water parameters have been steady for a month since I've got the fish.
- Feeding once a day varying from Frozen life line Omega 3-20, Hikiari Cichlid bio gold plus and Cichlid gold sinking formula.
- Ehiem classic 2217 filter - haven't changed any filter's since starting tank. was going to next weekend, that would be 5 weeks, I didn't want to disturb the delicate bio balance to help establish a good tank.

I've lost 5 fish since Thursday night, all peacocks, now soon to be six, only this one's a hap. Not sure what's going on. I've tried to examine the fish that died...the only factor that looked the same was a semi bloted belly. I watched behaviors of all the fish in the tank, the ones that look like they are gonna die usually sit on the bottom, look like they are having trouble breathing and have a slightly swollen belly. I cut back on food as soon as I saw the first fish die, I only feed them once every other day now. Plus I've been looking for signs on parasites to see if I should add clout...nothing has lead me to that thought process yet.
My other fish seem to be 100% normal, Eating and swimming fine.

any thoughts??
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Robin, thanks for the thoughts, I will respond to each :thumb:

Robin said:
Hi Christian,

A couple of thoughts and a few questions for you.

Where your tank is barely a month old I would re-check your parameters. Make sure you're using good quality test kits that are not out of date. Generally speaking the ones that use test tubes and liquid are more reliable then the paper strip kind.
My water parameters are on the money. I am using a API kit barely 6 weeks old. I have been doing my own testing once a week for the last three years so I feel I am qualified to say my parameters are good. Yes I've had my issues in the past - cloudiness, algae blooms, ect. But I have none of those now. Not trying to be argumentive, just stating fact for your info

The tank is relatively lightly stocked but even still I think you'd be wise to bump up your water changes to 30% a week.
not sure I agree with this thought. I've had Malawi fish for the last 3 years, no not in a 55 (20 and 10) and no not peacocks and haps (Mbuna). I've had perfect water in each of these other two tanks by doing 25% a week, although when first starting out on those tanks I did 10% weekly for 2 months then bumped up to 25 as to not upset the bio balance.

How long does it take from the time the fish go from eating and swimming normally to sitting on the bottom? Overnight? A few days? Do they still show interest in food once they've started sitting on the bottom?
This is the tricky part. This all started last Thursday and i've had to work this weekend so my time with them has been limited. I'll explain the best I can. I'm not sure about the eating and swimming part to sitting on the bottom. My wife liked these fish vs the Mbuna because they seemed to regularlly be in the mid water swimming around for all to see. It all happened very suddenly. I've always counted fish numbers when I feed to ensure they are all getting some food. Then on Thursday I was missing a fish. I noticed him dead in the back of the tank half eaten by the other fish. I'm guessing all the fish that eat at him ingested something bad and that's whats killing my fish now.
No, they do not show real interest in food once sitting on the bottom. Also when they swim around they seem like they are running into the bottom...kinda bouncing off the bottom like they are blind

What are you using for a declorinator? Do you routinely add any products to the tank?
Hikari Ultimate declorinator - only Seachem Malawi/Victoria buffer and Seachem Cichlid Lake Salt. All products used as recommended. Basically I use all product at water changes only and only enough to treat the new water I put in.

When you feed how long do you feed them for?
this could have been an issue too. I know I'm only supposed to feed them what they can eat within 20 to 30 seconds. But with so many fish, and fish that were greedy (the Red Emperor) it was hard to maintain this. somtimes went for a min or even a little longer. But only once a day.

Any marks on thier bodies? Fuzzy growth? Nipped fins?
no, nothing...this is what I was looking for, some signs of infection or aggression.

When they are sitting on the bottom do they try to swim but seem to 'sink' like they are too heavy?
yes...kinda. see above

Did all five fish that died go down at once?
no. One Thursday, two friday and two saturday. This am I had one fish showing the same characteristics and tonight I have two's really beginning to irritate me, only cause I'm not sure why or how to fix it.

Had you recently done a water change?
yes, wednesday am

Dude, I'm not sure. all I know is the fish were not cheap and I went through a lot of research to get the fish I wanted and now they are dying for no apparent reason. I have Clout but i'm not sure I need/want to use this method. There is nothing htat has given me a reason to think I need to. Yes there is some signs of bloat but I'm not convinced that's the issue. I have a hospital tank but I can never tell what fish are gonna die next, they just do without much warning. Actually I was surprised to see that one fish I mentioned in my original post still alive when I got home this evening.

anyways..thanks for replying!! :D

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Robin said:
It all happened very suddenly.
How suddenly is important to know. With bloat you normally see a progression of symptoms over a weeks time. First fish start spitting out food, then they stop eating, you may or may not see long stringy white or clear feces. Fish may gasp and will become lethargic. Towards the end they may get a bloated belly. Also its more typical for bloat to effect one fish at a time.

It may be bloat, but I'm far from being convinced that it is-yet. wednesday after the water change I noticed all normal fish looked bloated or acted sick in any fasion...i'm telling you dude, it was wierd.

You mentioned you did a water change just prior to all this happening. Go over everything about the water change. Any chance gasoline or soap or some other toxic residue was on your fingers and got into the tank? Could anything toxic have come into contact with your water changing buckets or python?
Usually with a toxin in the water you'll see all fish react in some way so I'm not convinced that this is what is happening either. Do you pick up their food in your fingers when you feed them? This is one way a toxin from your fingers could be transferred to the fish and some would get more of it then others.
no chance, I always wash my hands, rinse thoughly and dry...been doing this technique for years. The bucket is used for fish only...even has a "fish only" sticker on it...entire family knows its for them and not to use it. I checked with all of them for the one used it. AS for the food, yes I feed with my hands but again...been doing this for years with no ill effects...if I think I do have something on my hands I will wash first.

How about aggression in the tank? That's another killer that kills fast with few symptoms prior to death.
no or very light more than normal for juvie malawi peacocks and haps. Again though didn't notice any aggression at all, but I can't watch 24-7

So...I lost three more fish last night, one i pulled out due to had the symptoms. Really frustrated right now. So I am going to vaccum tank and do a 50% water change then treat with Clout. I'll let you know how it goes. btw, the other 5 fish look normal since last night at this time.
Robin said:
Sorry, one more question as I just re-read your post.

On thursday when you found the first dead fish did you happen to notice if all the other fish were eating?

its cool. They all seemed to be eating fine, never have I noticed hiding or spitting out food. Yesterday I did notice 2 fish were not eating..those fish died a few hours later
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