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Old 10-05-2012, 02:25 PM   #1 
iElBeau
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Unhappy Dying fish? Perfect water parameters? Help!

Ok so really, this should have been posted days ago, but for some reason, the forums weren't working AT ALL for me.

Anyways. I more or less want to double check my diagnosis with others. Because I am more familiar with this forum and the advice people give here, so I feel like I trust it more than simply researching fish diseases and asking as a newb on random forums I had to join.

So some of you may know, I have (had?) a successful tank with a male betta, and four female guppies. I also bought a new snail after an algae bloom recently, and this one's living! Hooray!

Unfortunately, no one else seems to be faring well lately.

pH close to 8, normal for the area.
Ammonia, Nitrates, and Nitrites were ALL Zero. (actually Ammonia showed as yellow, the lowest on the scale at the pet store).

That didn't make sense to me. My tank is cycled. I had done a 30% water change two days before getting it tested. I got it tested yesterday morning. Three times to eliminate chance of error. With the bottle test kit, not test strips. (I now live really close to a great pet store).

I got it tested because yesterday morning, two of my guppies had died. They had glazed looking eyes, were stiff as a board, and showed no lesions or anything on their bodies. I believe their gills looked a little puffy, and their bodies more cylindrical than usual, but I didn't look too closely.

Of the betta and two remaining guppies, one proceeded to get sick and died in the evening. The sickness appears to have symptoms like this:
- first, clamped fins
- then heavy breathing
- then swimming with their tails drooped down, not straight, near the surface of the tank (their usual level of the tank).
- then swimming in a pattern, usually circles, occasionally deviating from the pattern (all previous symptoms still occurring btw)
- then they turn stiff, like they're planking. Tiana who died yesterday moved at this point to the bottom of the tank and mostly lied there breathing heavy. Ariel who is currently at this point, is swimming at the surface mostly still, but not swimming per se... more wobbling back and forth. She looks more cylindrical than usual. Like swollen on her sides? and she does have use of her tail and fins, but they're all clamped, and she's not using them much.
- I also find they're constantly opening and closing their mouths.
- And they refuse to eat.

Beau on the other hand has been sitting or laying against the base of an ornament, shielded from absolutely any current, and very close to the heater. He lays there panting. Sometimes I think he's dead, and then look veeeery closely and he's still breathing. Barely. Occasionally he goes to the surface for air. He doesn't look stiff or swollen, gills are their normal colour, and he actually looks pretty normal, he just isn't acting it. He appears to have little to no energy. His eyes are also glazed, and I wonder if he can still see or not (I feel he must be able to see a little to keep going to the top and returning to the base of that ornament...)

Now, to give a recent history of the tank.
Temperature recently increased from about 75* to 79* when I bought a new heater. The new heater is accurate to +/- 1*, and I chose to set the temperature there, right in the middle of that "sweet spot" of 78 - 80

There was an algae bloom recently. All the algae that was green turned brown a few days ago.

The other fish who died, died suddenly. I saw some symptoms of lethargy and one refused to eat the evening before, but the pet store was already closed by this time. The next morning they were dead. I pay close attention to my fish, am home quite a bit, and feed them regularly. This came on fast and unexpectedly.

The day before I also noticed an oily layer on the top of the tank. I've never seen something like this. Google & The pet store both suggested absorbing it with paper towels. I did this best I could. It returned again yesterday, and today.

I thought there was a deficiency of dissolved O2 in the tank at first... I'm still unsure about this. I have turned up the filtration, and I manually am agitating the surface of the water every 3 - 60 minutes. They suggested I buy a bubbler.. I personally prefer the idea of buying a plant, but the pet store won't sell me a plant until I get the nutrient levels up in my tank, enough to support it they said. Or I need to buy bacteria in a bottle. Something like that they said. Plus I'd need new lights etc... and I am currently keeping the tank lights off so I don't stress them.

I believe the real problem however is bacterial or viral. As there are no outward symptoms of any fungus, this makes the most sense to me. I've narrowed it down to three possibilities: acute dropsy, fish TB, or gill fluke. All of these have similar symptoms. Personally I think it's acute dropsy, as it began killing so fast... and some of the symptoms of the other diseases don't really fit.

And I am medicating (perhaps too late) with melafix. I know there's a LOT of people who don't recognize this as a good option, but it was that or aquarium salt, and salt would kill the snail. I did try a hospital tank btw, but everyone was affected, so I got to it too late, and I don't understand how. Tbh, I think they're going to die no matter what I do. Ariel is getting progressively worse, and Beau appears to be toughing it out, but he's not faring much better.

Note: In the past hour, Ariel has gone from wobbling, to sort of barrel rolling...

But does anyone have any suggestions on what else I can do for them? Or any other ideas in regards to diagnosis?

Oh and I feed them on a rotation of betta pellets, freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, and guppy flakes mixed with tubifex worms.

EDIT: I'm pretty sure Ariel is dying/about to any minute... She keeps rolling onto her back and just laying like that... and then she starts swimming again a little while after. Every time she lays belly up I go and examine her gills to see if she's still breathing...

I also forgot to mention, the carbon has been removed from my filter, so it won't interfere with medicating.

Last edited by iElBeau; 10-05-2012 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:56 PM   #2 
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Beau is slowly becoming a little more active... I think he may recover? He came to the glass and said hi for about 10 seconds before returning to the ornament...thats the first bit of swimming I've seen that wasn't directly to the surface and back down...
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Old 10-05-2012, 03:32 PM   #3 
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Sorry you are having problems....My first thought is environmental- a contamination of some type or the tank crashed or the contamination caused the crash....Since you don't have mass amounts of active growing plants-you should have nitrate and since you don't have nitrate-this tells us that either the tank isn't cycled, contamination killed the BB and the system crashed and high nitrite is suffocating the fish.

Have you adding any chemicals to the tank you normally don't use-like something for the algae bloom, any chemicals used, sprayed in the house, lots of smoke from cooking, something on your hands.

How long has the tank been running with the current stocking, type of filter used and has this been off-other than for water changes-if so, how long, any recent filter media changes, how much and how often on the water changes, how often do you vacuum, do you move thing when you vacuum, your source water-well water, tap water...etc.....do you have a water softening unit hooked up on the house that uses salt, all additives used in the tank, what size is the tank....

You may have already answered these questions-but I couldn't find them or read over them......
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Old 10-05-2012, 03:59 PM   #4 
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Ugh, sorry you're having difficulties. 1st question, how long has the tank been running? How big is the tank? Also, I don't recall seeing what your normal water change schedule is & how big? Do you do a good vacuum with each water change? IMO, from what you're describing, it is a water issue. I strongly suggest you invest in your own liquid water test kit, it will save you time & headache in the long run. Personally, I would do a 50%+ water change with a good vacuum (1/2 the tank only if its not regularly already).
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:32 PM   #5 
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10 gallon tank. Cycled yes, up and running for 5 or 6 months ish. Guppies have been in it for 4 months. It was moved in late August, but 50% of the water and all decorations, gravel, and filter media were moved in original tank water to maintain bacterial cultures.
I do weekly water changes of about 10 - 20% depending on how much has evaporated, and I vacuum between one and two times a month, and once a month do a 40% change approx.

Nitrites weren't high. They were zero. So that wasn't it. Everything was zero.

Tap water. No additives around. No water softeners. Nothing new or added. Decorations were moved, as I move them once a month with the large change.

And there was a recent filter media change. I use a carbon filter, and I have two filter cartridges in for 24 - 72 hours to transfer bacteria prior to removing the old filter.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:33 PM   #6 
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Beau appears to be recovering - all the guppies died btw.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:33 AM   #7 
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Since the tank is mature-you should have nitrates and since you are showing 0ppm on everything....I suspect that either the testing products are not any good or error in testing and why you didn't see nitrite either..

On a cycled tank your reading should be-
Ammonia, nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 10-20ppm at least on an unplanted mature tank

Good to hear the Betta is starting to improve...
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