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Old 07-05-2012, 12:51 PM   #1 
vaw103
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Unhappy Lots of Fishy Drama!

Beware of long post, lol.

This is a link to a thread I posted awhile back, and it should explain most of my dilemma: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread....ighlight=crazy

All of my fish had been asymptomatic (my Platys and my bettas), but I've lost about 4 platys in the past week. I started out with 2 females and 1 male, but separated them by gender once I finished cycling a new 15 gallon tank. I went out and bought 2 more males and 1 female, again, keeping them separated by gender. I lost one male within' hours of bringing him home, so I assumed he was just a weak fish. I brought the fish and a water sample to PetCo, and they gave me a new one, no problem. A few days later, that one died too. This morning, I found one of my original males (I've had him about 3 months?) dead, too. I also lost one of my original females (I had her about 4-5 months?) within' the last week or so too.

I know that I should probably post this in the "Other Fish" thread, but since I'm losing Platys in both tanks, I'm thinking that it's not some mysterious disease killing the fish, it's the high pH of my water. My two boys are also living in my insanely basic pH, and I'm beginning to get concerned about them, too, which is why I posed it on this thread.

I didn't notice any symptoms in my platys, except lethargy. That was in the new fish though, so I assumed they were shy/getting adjusted to their new environment. They all just up and died. My bettas are both happy as clams, but I'm still scared for them.

Here's a run-down of what I have:
15 Gallon: Fully cycled, 0,0,>20, ~80*. I do a 4-5 gallon water change once a week. It has three Platy girls in it. Two seem to be really well, the other is a bit more shy, so I'm concerned about her. I'm special ordering 3 dwarf female gourami for this tank in a few weeks , so I want to make sure everything is sorted out before I spend a billion dollars in shipping on them.
10 Gallon: Fully cycled, 0,0,>20, ~80*. I do a 3 gallon water change in this one once a week. It had 3 male Platys, but is currently down to one. Poor lil' guy must be lonely
5 Gallon: Fully cycled, 0,0>20, ~80*. I do a 2-3 gallon water change once a week. My veiltail boy lives in this one. He used to live with the Platys in the 10 gallon, but one of the boys bullied him like no other, so he's on his own now.
3 Gallon: This one is a little crazy, lol. I was trying to cycle this one. I seeded it with a nylon sock full of gravel from my 10 gallon and the heater that was in my ten gallon (the 10 gallon is still heated, but I gave that tank the new heater, instead of the 3 gallon). I was doing fish-in, with my new plakat. It's been a few weeks now, and I have yet to see any positive readings. I haven't seen any ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates. I use the API Master Freshwater Test Kit, and it works for all my other tanks, so I don't think it's defective. Since I haven't seen any positive ammonia or nitrites, I've been doing weekly 75% water changes instead of two, This one is also heated ~80*.

Oh, and the water that I use for water changes in all of the tanks is aged for a few days.

I know that the 3 gallons is small for a plakat, so I planned on moving him to my ten gallon with the platy boys once they all established their territory. I figure with his short fins, he's a lot less likely to get nipped. But with all this drama, I don't want to move him yet.

So I'm wondering on what you all think I should do? Do you think it's some mysterious disease? Or is it just my insanely high pH? Should I be worried about my boys? If it is the pH, what should I do to control it? I'm afraid to start adding chemicals, I think it would be hard to keep the pH balanced. My high pH is at least stable. Should I just switch to bottled water, and supplement the minerals? Thanks for taking an hour to read all this, haha. I really appreciate anything anyone has to say!
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:35 PM   #2 
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Platy actually need medium-hard to hard water, and a basic pH. They are not acidic softwater fish like Bettas are. Do you know your waters GH? While GH, KH, and pH are all related, a high pH does not mean you have hard water. Also, do you have a whole house water softener system?

While they have a temperature range listed up to 82 degrees, that is really high for them. They do much better in cooler water, 68-74 degrees.

Warm water has less oxygen in it, do you have air stones or live plants?

You say you age your water, is there a reason? While letting water sit for a day will allow the chlorine to outgas, it does nothing for Chloramine which many municipalities are switching to. If you're already using a water conditioner, aging the water is just taking up valuble space for no benefit ;)

80 ppm Nitrate is excessively high too, and to top it off if you don't shake that #2 bottle with a vengence each time you use it (for 1 min or longer) it gives a false low reading. You should check to see if any is present in your tap water, and also do water changes in sufficient quantity to keep Nitrates under 60 ppm as an aboslute maximum, but under 40 ppm is best. In fully planted tanks it is not difficult to keep these under 5 ppm which is ideal.

The final consideration is these fish should be kept in a tank no smaller than 20 gallons (long not tall) to provide enough swimming space, but this would not cause them to die in a short period of time.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:40 PM   #3 
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You also didn't post what your pH actually is. "Insainly high" can mean different things to different people ;)
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:57 PM   #4 
vaw103
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I haven't tested my GH or KH. Should I go out and buy a test kit for them? PetCo is only about 6 minutes away, so it's no big deal to go out and get some. Yeah, I have a whole house water softener system (at least I'm assuming that's what it is, lol. It's in my basement, and it's the kind that uses salt. All the water in the house runs through it, as far as I know).

I definitely didn't know that Platys do better in cooler water. The only reason I bought them, was because I wanted to do a community with my betta, and I thought they preferred the warm water, like bettas.

My ten gallon has an air stone, and 3 live plants. My 15 gallon doesn't have any air stone, but there's a pretty strong filter current, and I'm currently quarantining/treating live plants that I bought for it with coppersafe to *hopefully* avoid a snail infestation. My 5 gallon has a filter baffle, and a couple live plants. I do have a decoration with an airstone, but I haven't plugged it in yet because I forgot to pick up an extra check valve, whoops! My 3 gallon doesn't have any live plants, but it has an air stone and a gentle filter (:

The reason I age my water is because it's pH is 7.4 out of the tap, but my pH rises dramatically as it ages. I talked about it in the link that I posted to my old thread. My aged pH, well, PetCo calls it 9.0. My High Range pH test kit goes up to 8.8, which is supposed to be a dark purple, but my tube turns bright magenta. I checked the water quality report from my water source, and they said it has 1.9ppm of chlorine. Which I'm guessing is why I get the huge pH change as it ages...my mom making fun of me for the pluthera of aging water sitting next to my fish tanks..

Oh, no! I meant the ~80* as the temperature in my tanks , not the Nitrate readings. I would cry if mine were that high! I keep all of my tanks under 20ppm

And don't worry, I take out my anger on that #2 bottle! I have a stopwatch that I use on my phone to make sure I'm shaking it long enough, and I'll violently bang it on the table a couple of times, too, hahaha.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:29 PM   #5 
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If your pH is THAT high, then yes that is likely the cause of your fish's short lifespan. Platy's are best in a 7-8 pH range, but tank bred fish can be more adaptable ... but not that adaptable.

You will want to use pre-softened water if possible. There is usually a tap on the water main before the softener system. Outside faucets are usually before the softener too (no sense wasting money on water for the lawn after all). Those types of systems add lots of salts to the water, so the total dissolved solids (TDS) is off the charts, this isn't good for fish.

Livebearers also need to minerals to survive, so you want the water un-tampered with. I would check the pre-softened water to see if its pH skyrockets like that too.

No point buying a kit for GH/KH as you would only use it once. Next time you go to Petco bring a water sample and ask them to test it. Better is to go to your towns water utility and ask them (call them, or see if it's on their website in a water quality report). GH is General Hardness, KH is Carbonate Hardness.

If it jumps in that water too ... then you'll have to take steps to adjust it. The best way is to take pre-softened water and mix it with RO water (reverse osmosis). You'll have to find the right balance that shifts the pH down into the 7's.

Platys and Bettas should not be mixed though, they do not share the same water parameters. They should also, as mentioned, be in a 20+ gallon aquarium for long term health.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:41 PM   #6 
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You will want to use pre-softened water if possible. There is usually a tap on the water main before the softener system. Outside faucets are usually before the softener too (no sense wasting money on water for the lawn after all). Those types of systems add lots of salts to the water, so the total dissolved solids (TDS) is off the charts, this isn't good for fish.

When I talked to OldFishLady, she also mentioned the salt being bad for the fish. When she said that, I switched from using tap water from the sink, to using water from my outside hose. I actually have some water from the hose that I've had sitting for a couple days, so I'll go and test it when I'm done with this post I'll test the pH straight out of the hose spout, too. I can't find anything on my city's water quality report about GH or KH, so I'll give them a call when I'm done testing the water.

How exactly do I get RO water? Do I buy it, or do I do something to my tap water? Sorry, I'm completely ignorant lol.

I also had no idea about Platys/Bettas a bad mix, or that the Platys would need that large of a tank. Again, I'm totally ignorant. Now that I know that, I'll stop buying my current platys little buddies, and look into different fish once the ones I have die out (Jeeze, that sounds so morbid!)
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:00 PM   #7 
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Alright, I'm completely dumbfounded!

Here's a picture of what I got for the pH. The tube on the left is aged water from my outside tap. The tube on the right is water from one of my tanks. This was using the high range pH. Since I got the lightest color for the aged water, I also tried the normal pH range. The normal pH range goes up to 7.6, and the color matched that. So I guess we'll call it a 7.5?

The water that's been sitting out is in gallon jugs, with the caps off. Is that not enough to let the gasses out? Is that why the pH hasn't come up? When I aged my tap water, I did it in an open bowl.

I've been using the lower pH water for a few weeks now. So why hasn't the pH in my tanks come down at all? I've done at least 2, probably 3 water changes with the lower pH water. Is it going to take more for it to come down?

I don't think it's anything in my tanks causing the pH to go up, because the tap water I was using before in my fish tanks had the same high pH as my tanks do. Wow.. I feel like I'm not making any sense, lol
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:09 PM   #8 
vaw103
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I just got off the phone with my water supply people, they said that the general hardness is 12grains/gallon, but they couldn't tell me the carbonate hardness.
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:12 PM   #9 
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Thought: My water is rather soft, and using an air stone raises my pH a smidgen (like 0.5). While it oxygenates the water, it also removes CO2.
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Old 07-05-2012, 08:25 PM   #10 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vaw103 View Post
Alright, I'm completely dumbfounded!

Here's a picture of what I got for the pH. The tube on the left is aged water from my outside tap. The tube on the right is water from one of my tanks. This was using the high range pH. Since I got the lightest color for the aged water, I also tried the normal pH range. The normal pH range goes up to 7.6, and the color matched that. So I guess we'll call it a 7.5?

The water that's been sitting out is in gallon jugs, with the caps off. Is that not enough to let the gasses out? Is that why the pH hasn't come up? When I aged my tap water, I did it in an open bowl.

I've been using the lower pH water for a few weeks now. So why hasn't the pH in my tanks come down at all? I've done at least 2, probably 3 water changes with the lower pH water. Is it going to take more for it to come down?

I don't think it's anything in my tanks causing the pH to go up, because the tap water I was using before in my fish tanks had the same high pH as my tanks do. Wow.. I feel like I'm not making any sense, lol
The old water likely has a very high KH, which is what buffers pH. The higher the KH, the harder it is to change pH. It will continue to eventually go down as you do changes until it matches your source water, but consider doing a 50% change a few days in a row to speed it up. That high of a pH isn't good for the Betta either.

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Originally Posted by vaw103 View Post
I just got off the phone with my water supply people, they said that the general hardness is 12grains/gallon, but they couldn't tell me the carbonate hardness.
grains/gallon (gpg) is fairly similar to degrees (d). 1 degree = 1.043 gpg so you can pretty much just say you have 12 dGH, which falls into the medium-hard range (under 8 dGH is soft water).

That is okay for plattys, and the Betta will tolerate it. If you get your pH to what your un-softened tap water is (~7.5) you should be okay in terms of water parameters but you'd still have the space problem. Betta's with other fish though is really hit or miss. Bettas are not community fish. Some will tolerate others, some will not. Aggression is not always evident when you watch.

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Originally Posted by RainbowSocks View Post
Thought: My water is rather soft, and using an air stone raises my pH a smidgen (like 0.5). While it oxygenates the water, it also removes CO2.
That's correct, dissolved CO2 is acidic, so once driven out it is not unusual for the pH to rise. The amount of this change though is tied to your KH. Soft water usually has a low KH also, thus a larger change in pH.
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