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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I isolated my holding yellow lab around 18 days into a 10G with a sponge filter. I kept keeping an eye on her but she would not release her fry around 28 days. Yesterday morning, day 30, I noticed her moving up to the surface a lot which I thought was odd. I thought that there may be something wrong with the water but did not think anymore of it. I thought this may be normal if she's trying to release her fry. Then soon enough, I saw one fry come out a few hours later, in the afternoon. Then about 2 -3 hours later they were all out. 14 of them. I still saw the mom acting weird so I dropped some food for her thinking she was very hungry and I don't want her to start eating her fry. She would not eat so I just moved her back to the main tank. A couple of hours later, I checked the fry and they were all dead :( The only think I can attribute this to is a spike in amonia. What else could it be? I didn't have a test kit so I could not test.

I've changed the water every week on the 10G. The only thing I can think of is that I failed to take all the uneaten food debris that was left. I would drop 1 or 2 small pellets once or twice a week for the mom but she would not eat. I meant to pick them up but kept putting off getting a turkey baster or battery water filler because of the holidays. This is definitely lesson learned. Hopefully, this will happen again in another 3 mos.
 

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Test kits are well worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just realized though that uneaten food shouldn't produce amonia. If the female was not eating there should not be amonia. Do uneaten food produce nitrite perhaps?
 

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She would produce waste - she's just using her body mass for nutrition for herself and the fry/eggs.

2-3 weeks of just water changes and no cycled filtration could definitely cause a problem. :(
 

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I'm a little confused with your story but I think something else might have been at play besides ammonia.

I first thought that you only dropped in some food (a couple pellets) after the female spit out the babies and then moved her right back into the main tank, but then later you say you dropped in a couple pellets once or twice a week. Next time, you won't have to drop in any pellets for a holding female, she won't need to eat until the babies are out.

Either way, my guess is the food had little to do with it, unless it was a lot of food. Food turns into ammonia when it decays, and then into nitrite and finally nitrate. Thats one way of fishless cycling. But if you still saw the solid food, then it hadn't decayed and turned into ammonia yet. Even fish that aren't eating produce ammonia. Its a byproduct of their respiration system.

You really need to test your water or all we can do is guess. I will take a guess, but keep in mind it is only a guess.

First, the growing fry in mommas mouth are in the same tank water as the mom. I would find it pretty odd if ammonia/nitrite only went to toxic levels after the fry were spit and after you reterned the female to the tank.

My guess is, levels were elevated all along. You said the female spit the babies out 12 days after going in the 10g tank. You also say that the female was up near the surface. 12 days is about the right time for nitrite to start appearing in a cycle. A fish at the surface is a sign of a lack of oxygen. I recently read an article that said that nitrite poisoning has the same effect as lack of oxygen - something called brown blood disease that prevents oxygen from being absorbed into the fishes bloodstream. When I put all this together, I think that maybe a nitrite spike could have been the cause of the fry deaths. The mother had just started showing the symptoms (being at the surface, maybe would had been gasping except for the fry). This is a stress, and holding females under stress can spit out the fry. You also said the female didn't eat after spitting out the fry - another sign of the stress. You then returned the female to the main tank before it had been exposed long enough to kill it, while the fry were left in the 10g with elevated nitrite levels for a few hours more - long enough to kill them. Had you not returned the female, I'm guessing it would have too died at about the same time or shortly after the fry.

Do you know what your pH is? I ask because a lower pH will cause ammonia to be less toxic - possibly why the female did not show signs of high ammonia earlier on. Also, possible that the 1 fish did not produce a high enough concentration of ammonia to be harmful to the female or the eggs, but once converted to nitrite it was enough nitrite to be harmful.

Sorry for your loss. Next time, as soon as you see a female holding that you want to save babies from, you can set up your sponge filter in your main tank to get it seeded. Then when you remove your female AND the sponge filter to the fry tank, it will have had a couple weeks to get started growing some bacteria - probably more than enough for a single mbuna mother and fry.
 

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I think this is what is being said, but if you don't cycle the fry tank or use an established filter, you will want to change the water daily. Even when the fish breathe ammonia is produced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, I guess established gravel ( a little bit) and rock is not good enough. I also used water from my 75G to start with but I think the rock and gravel would have more esablished bacteria than the water. I had an extra Penguin 150 that is established, I should have used that. I was just scared that the fry will get sucked up. But I think If I put a sponge at the end of it, it would have been fine, at least the bio wheel would have had bacteria. I think it will be much better next time.
 

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Water doesn't generally contain the bacteria.
Substrate /other surfaces contain very little.

It's your bio media (as you state) that holds the bulk of your BB.
 

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I missed that...if you had a full tank of established decor and gravel I would have thought it would be enough as well.

I have put new fish and a new filter on a tank with established glass, decor and gravel and been fine.

You may never know since you could not test. :(
 
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