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Need Help With an Aquarium Fish Die-Off

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posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 09:23 AM
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Originally posted by ObjectZero
Do you know what kind of african cichilid you have? Oscar, Firemouth,Servum, Jack Dempsey, Kenyi, Electric yellow lab, Electric blue or Demasoni. There are a few other but this is the normal range, for me at least.



Just for a heads up, Oscar, Firemouth,Servum, Jack Dempsey, these are all south or central american cichlids. The others are malawi mubuna.




posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 10:06 AM
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I have (or had) a tank of assorted cichilids, and in my experience, they will get into territorial fights. I bet your water and everything else is fine. I'm down to one last cichlid in a 55 gallon tank, and she's about four years old. Pointless to add anything until she dies, as she will kill them.

Unless your die off happened overnight, I would go with fighting as the main cause of death.



posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 10:39 AM
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Originally posted by smyleegrl
I have a 55 gallon brackish water tank in my classroom. The tank is established (18 months now). I use bacterial filtration, in addition to mechanical filters. We change approx 1/4 of the water monthly. The aquarium also has life plants.

The fish are assorted African Cichlids. On Friday of last week, we found the largest fish dead. I removed it and gave it a cursory glance; no ulcers, wounds, signs of ick or dropsy. It was too big to flush, so received a ceremonial burial in the backyard of the school.

After removing the fish, I tested the water for amonnia, nitrites, and nitrates. All in the healthy range. I then did a thirty percent water change, added some aquarium salt, and thought no more of it.

Today I found my second biggest fish dead. Again, nothing wrong with the body that I can see. I've been scouring aquarium websites looking for answers but thought my ATS friends might have a suggestion.

All other fish in the tank are active and appear healthy. We are down to six fish, the largest of which is about five inches long.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated....it's upsetting my students and me.



Ok, my fiance alerted me to your problem when I woke up,I've chugged a coffee now so here we go. First here's my credentials. 48 years breeding chiclids,for fun and for selling to stores(I have 6 tanks running now). I was on the board of directors for what was the largest aquarium society in Western New York for 4 years.

Now that said, you have a perplexing problem here. My first question is ,what kind of salt are you adding and what amount are you using? As the tank has been running for 18 months and you have performed tests to prove that the nitrogen cycle is in balance, I think we can rule out a dead fish somewhere unseen in the tank as that would cause an ammonia spike.

As to feeding what do you feed and how much do you feed? If you are feeding anything besides a vegetable green flake, stop now, This is a common mistake with Malawi cichlids. They are almost purely vegitarian and have a long digestive tract adapted for breaking down vegetable matter. Any food that has anything but green flake in it is giving then too much protien. They can't handle that and will have all kinds of problems from it, Including what is referred to as Malawi bloat. A high protien diet really screws up their digestive system.

It seems that your water change schedule will work just fine,so no problem there. Now having said that,don't add any chemicals to the water change. Stress coat promotes the formation of the slime coat that all fish normally have. Unless the tank is brand new, there is no need for this stuff. Since the water you are using is already chlorine free, don't add dechlorinater. This chemical will have nothing to react with and can harm the fish, if it remains unreacted. The truth is that the amount of chlorine in water in most areas is not high enough to do any real harm. if you have a concern about chlorine in the water try using a test kit for pool chlorine to see just how much there is. Some areas treat water with chloramine. This is a particularly nasty chemical that is difficult to get rid of, although there are some treatments avalible to break it down.

If you want to save some money, you can get a plastic container, fill it with water from the tap and use an airstone with a small air pump. Let it bubble for 24 hours open to the air and presto chlorine free water.I have done this in the summer when the chlorine levels are typically higher due to bacteria in warm water. More bacteria in warm water, so they add more chlorine to control the bacteria levels.

As to plants in this system, I am a big fan of live plants in any aquarium. All of my tanks are heavily planted. I typically use anubis species for rooted plants and hornwort as a floater. Anubis is a good plant for an african tank. Although it is slow growing and likes shade. That's why I use hornwort for a floater. It is fast growing and it provides shade for the anubis. The africans will pick at the hornwort, but it will not harm them and is actually good for them. The anubis they will leave alone as they don't seem to like eating the leaves. However they may on occasion dig it up as they are all diggers and it is not unusual to see them moving gravel around.

Now on to the salt. I imagine that you are using one of the commercial salts avalible at aquarium suppliers. Is the water in your area hard or soft. If it is soft the best salt to use is epsom salts. Epsom salt has magnesium sulfate in it and this is a major mineral in the fishes natural environment, it's also cheaper than the commercial salts. I used it for breeding for many years, until I got a hardness meter and discovered that the water in my area is plenty hard for africans. Now I use tap water, and because the chlorine level here is very low except in the summer, I use no added chemicals.
edit on 12/18/2012 by lonegurkha because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 11:07 AM
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The way I tell if the chlorine level is too high is to run hot tap water in the sink. If there is a chlorine smell, then you need to add dechlorinater. This has worked well for me for many years.

The fact that the fish showed no wounds would rule out any aggression from other fish. However if there was damage to the jaw area then that would be a possible indication of aggression. These species are known to lock jaws and roll around untill one gives up. This is usually a display fight for dominance, and they usually don't kill each other.

Sexing these fish is pretty easy as the males of most species have bright spots on their anal fin. These are referred to as egg spots, and they are there to attract the female to the sperm ejection site on the male. These fish are all maternal mouthbrooders and the female lays the eggs and then takes them into her mouth where the fertilization takes place. She will not eat while she has eggs in her mouth. She will release the young in 3 to 4 weeks. Females with what we refer to as a jawful will be easy to spot as they look like their mouth will explode. Their buccal cavity will be greatly distended.

If you have hard water in your area, I would recommend that you discontinue the use of any salt. Adding salt can be a tricky process. Evaporation can cause the salinity to approach levels that the fish can not tolerate. These fish are not brackish water fish. If your salinity levels are as high as brackish water levels then they are too high. these fish like hard alkyline water, and the salts are added to give them the minerals that harden the water and to make the water slightly akyline. 10 to 11 is the normal ph level in the Lake where they live, but they will do just fine at 8 or 9. Even 7 won't bother most species. But they won't like anything below 7.

To get rid of salt in the water all you have to do is stop adding it and continue your regular water changes.If you would like the fish identifyed and could send me some pics, I would be happy to help. If you have any questions let me know as I'm always happy to help.



posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 11:53 AM
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reply to post by lonegurkha
 


Thank you so much!

I don't know if the water is soft or hard, I will try to find out.

The salt I use is called Aquarium Salt from the fish store. I only add one tablespoon at a time, and only after doing a gravel siphon water change.

Both of these fish had spots on their fins and appeared to be the same breed. Perhaps that explains it?

Regarding food, I've always used the African Cichlid pellets sold in stores. I like using them bc the kids tend to over feed and the pellets take a long time to dissolve. I just scoop them out with the fishnet. Do you have a particular brand you recommend?

I'm at home with the flu, but when I'm allowed back in school ill take pictures.

Thank you very much, and please thank your wife for me as well. I really appreciate the help!

edit on 18-12-2012 by smyleegrl because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 12:18 PM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


Since you are using the pellets and I understand your reasons(kids like to overfeed) I use hikeri cichlid excel. Very good quality food and rich in spirulina which is one of these species natural foods. I use this as a treat for the fish and usually feed green flake daily. I just discovered a good site to order food online. This guy is very inexpensive and the food is good quality.good food

Check out this site if you can order online. I just got some stuff here for myself and a good friend who also keeps fish. We were amazed at the prices and the food is top quality. His equipment prices are pretty good to and we were so pleased with the prices and service that we are getting another order together very soon. Again feel free to ask me anytime you need help.

Sorry to hear that you are sick....get well soon. You can usually find out the water quality if you call the local treatment plant. Ordinarlly they are very helpful when you call and may even send you a report on what is in your local water.
edit on 12/18/2012 by lonegurkha because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 04:04 PM
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Originally posted by smyleegrl
reply to post by AnonymousCitizen
 


Good question.

I use dechlorinated water from the store, though. So I don't think that's it.


Do you mean bottled water? Bottled water is not good for aquariums because they lack biologicals. Tap water with the appropriate treatment is much better for the fish.



posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 04:14 PM
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This is for tropical fish, not specifically ciclids. I've had them but I prefer a more diverse tank. Your heavy minerals may be high if you don't take out and replace enough water. Over time they build up. Typically you want to remove slightly more water than what you are planning to and add more fresh. Does the tank have a high rate of evaporation?



posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 05:41 PM
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reply to post by intrepid
 


Not a high rate of evaporation, but a small amount. I usually add about a quart of water weekly in between water changes.

Did not know that tap water was considered safer, thanks for that tip.



posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 06:47 AM
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Checked on fish this morning, all are now dead except for the plecostamus. None showed signs of parasites, sores, or bloat. At this point I'm wondering if one of my darling angels put something in the water. Or maybe the Mayan calendar ends earlier for fish.

So...suggestions on how to reestablish an aquarium before I restock? I won't do anything to it before the holidays, regardless. Do I need to do a full water change? I'll definitely change the filters, but not the bacteria filtration. Should I remove the decorations and scrub them down? They do have some algae, so scrubbing might be a good idea.

Any and all advice appreciated, as always.



posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 06:49 AM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


omg I love aquariums and have had both salt water and tropical... which type do you have?



posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 06:53 AM
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reply to post by usernameconspiracy
 


when we had the tropical tank set up, we were watching it like a tele cos the gupies had babies and I put the special mum into a separate container and when the babies were big enough, let them out and it was like a horror movie, some of them got sucked into the filter and most of them got eaten by the other fish, all of us were standing around, yelling... NO!! and then afterwrd just looking at each other lost.

some did manage to survive hiding in the pebbles.



posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 06:53 AM
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reply to post by Thurisaz
 


Its a 55 gallon tropical tank in my first grade classroom. I had African cichlids, but now I just have a big tank.



posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 06:59 AM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


ok well tropical tanks tend to get more issues with bacteria, fungus issues. Did any of the fish have any spots on them? They are usually very small and hard to see. The temp increases the fungi and tropical fish can die very quickly from a fungi outbreak.



posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 07:08 AM
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Originally posted by Thurisaz
reply to post by usernameconspiracy
 


when we had the tropical tank set up, we were watching it like a tele cos the gupies had babies and I put the special mum into a separate container and when the babies were big enough, let them out and it was like a horror movie, some of them got sucked into the filter and most of them got eaten by the other fish, all of us were standing around, yelling... NO!! and then afterwrd just looking at each other lost.

some did manage to survive hiding in the pebbles.


I did something very similar in a classroom once. We had a mass of frog eggs, watched them hatch and grow. After a couple of weeks I decided it was safe to turn on the filter.

Wrong. I probably scarred my students for life. I I think we had something like two frogs survive to adulthood.



posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 07:08 AM
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In addition, there are some things that will increase your fish's risk of disease. Once a fish becomes sick, the population of disease organisms in the tank increases, and the health of the pathogens also increases. This makes it harder for other fish to resist the disease. For this reason, it is important to remove any sick fish to a hospital tank as soon as you can see signs of ill health.

At this point, it is a good idea to see if you can figure out what caused your fish to become susceptible. Check the points above for some ideas.

Also, if a fish dies in your tank, it is important to remove the body immediately. Not only is the body of the deceased fish contributing to poor water quality by decaying in the tank, but a fish's chance of contracting a disease is many times higher if it eats a fish that was already infected - or worse yet, one that died from the disease!www.firsttankguide.net...


There are drops you can place in the water to kill off the fungi but it can spread so quickly and is not that successful. I used to throw in green frozen food once a week to keep them healthy... can't remember what it was called but it is something that the fish need as a supplement. You keep it in the freezer but I cannot remember what it was called now.

I am so sorry for your loss... I was heartbroken when any of mine died and well, I could hardly talk for days after when my hermit crab died.



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