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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We had our kitchen repainted while we were on vacation this past week. I just came home after a week to find almost all of my tank dead. It is so tragic! I didn’t know that the paint fumes could poison the water! What a horrible night. I feel so terrible for my fish. I lost about 15 beautiful cichlids. So discouraging.
 

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I'm really sorry that happened. :(
But....
In moving forward (so this doesn't happen again or to anyone else), maybe we can work through some W's?
  • WHY? Latex paint is typically pretty non-toxic. A little ventilation and a respirator (breathing paint particulates or sanding dust) are usually all you need when using the stuff. Did you have the painters put down 'Kilz' or something as a primer first, before going with the main coat of paint? Some high-quality paint primers such as Kilz, are known to be highly toxic.
  • WHEN? Did the toxic effects on your fish occur almost immediately after the painting began?
  • WHERE? If there is more painting in the house to be done, is there a suitable place you can possibly move/quarantine your fish temporarily?
  • WHAT? I've done latex painting in the house with my own fish, and not suffered such disastrous consequences before (used a paint brush and roller though - no spraying). Is there a way you can still have the house painted safely without going through this again? What would you do differently?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Happy to help make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else!

I’m not sure what primers they used but I’ll ask and update here. They did spray it on so maybe that is the difference!

It didn’t happen right away, we had neighbours check a few times and they said the fish looked great and even sent photos. It was all the big fish that died. The smaller (1 YO) fish seem to have survived.

We do have more painting to be done so we moved the remaining fish to a small spare tank in our basement. I’m a bit worried because it wasn’t properly cycled, but better than the toxic tank. For context we went from having a full 90g to a full 10g.

What do you think I should do to prep the 90 gallon for the fish to be brought back when all the painting is done?
 

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Hmmmmm.....
What do you think I should do to prep the 90 gallon for the fish to be brought back when all the painting is done?
Okay then. You have a real Fish Killer in the water of that aquarium. Best not to take chances or 'cut corners'... So, I would personally do the following:
  • Push 2, 100 percent water changes through this (now empty?) tank to get things started.
  • Get a LOT of activated carbon/charcoal and run that through your filtration (bagged). Carefully pull some of the established media out of your filtration to accommodate the activated carbon/charcoal, (place that established media back in the tank in a mesh bag if particulate type. If foam, just let those pieces bump and flow around as they please in the tank)
  • Run the activated carbon/charcoal through for a minimum of three to four days (more days won't hurt).
  • Pull ALL of the activated charcoal out, and place the established media back into your filtration.
  • One more 100 percent water change.
  • Then place your single survivor (Yo-Yo Loach?) in there for a full week. Observe closely... If there are no ill effects on that fish?
  • Start things over again!
 
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Sorry for your loss!

Spraying paint rather than using a roller or brush definitely allows the particles to float throughout the home especially if the furnace and/or AC is in operation. I'd also check your furnace filter, more than likely it will need to be replaced after they are done.
 

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Definitely the spray. I have painted in the fish room with a roller, but I wrapped all the tanks completely with sheets and taped them so roller spatter could not get in the tanks. Today's paint doesn't spatter as much, but better to be safe.
 
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